Next Cats: New Orleans PF Victor hoping to keep Kentucky interested

broberts@herald-leader.comJune 13, 2013 

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Some basketball recruits — even at the highest levels — would rather not go someplace where immediate playing time isn't a guarantee.

They'll sit back and study the situation, making sure there are no other commitments at their position and watching out for any returning players who could be a threat.

Craig Victor is not one of those recruits.

The power forward from New Orleans is just looking for the best possible school. And he'll have no problem competing once he gets there.

"I love competition," he said Thursday at the National Basketball Players Association Top 100 Camp. "It's not that I'm going to run from the competition. If I feel like that's the right place for me to go and there's competition there, I'm going."

That place could be Kentucky.

The 6-foot-8 forward had more or less settled on a list of schools until John Calipari swooped in this spring and changed the game with a visit to Victor's high school. Calipari didn't offer Victor a UK scholarship, but he has made it clear that he's interested.

"I've been talking to the assistants on a daily basis, but I've talked to Coach Cal twice since he visited the school," Victor said.

It's that consistent contact that has kept Kentucky on his list.

"They're keeping in contact and letting me know they're paying attention," he said.

Every other school on his list has already offered, and Victor said the programs recruiting him the hardest have been Ohio State, LSU, Arizona and Oklahoma State, along with UK.

The five-star prospect is considered the No. 19 overall recruit in the class by Scout.com. He's a solid rebounder who can score close to the basket and has the ability to stretch out and hit jumpers.

His defining characteristic — according to most scouts — is his motor. When the ball is in play, Victor doesn't stop.

"I work so hard," he said. "That's the thing — when you ask my teammates or anybody I've played with, they'll tell you. I just love to compete and I don't want to lose. I hate losing. I don't know how other guys take it."

A winning program is one of the main attributes Victor is looking for in a school. He also craves a rabid fan base and doesn't want to play with any "knuckleheads."

He mentioned top UK target Stanley Johnson as a player he'd like to play alongside at the next level. Also on that list were Arizona commitment Parker Jackson-Cartwright and incoming LSU freshman Jarell Martin.

Victor was planning a trip to Arizona earlier this month, which would have been his first official visit. He had to stay back in Louisiana so he could take the ACT, but the western Wildcats remain one of three schools that he said would get an official visit. The other two are Ohio State and Oklahoma State.

He's already familiar with LSU, the home state school with the local fan base and, in his words, "tremendous" coaching staff.

Victor said he had a tight bond with LSU assistant Robert Kirby, who left after last season for a similar position at Memphis. LSU replaced him with Korey McCray, who had recruited Victor at UCLA.

He doesn't think the personnel moves were a coincidence.

"They know I had a relationship with Coach Kirby, and they hired him," he said. "Then he takes another job at Memphis and they bring in Coach Korey. ... So it's pretty obvious that they want me to stay home."

Then there's Kentucky. If Calipari comes through with an offer, Victor will use one of his five official visits on a trip to Lexington.

"Oh, yes sir," he said.

Until then, he'll wait on the Cats ... as long as they keep the phone lines open.

"The only offer I'm waiting on is Kentucky," he said with a smile. "I won't lie to you, I'm looking forward to that."

Ben Roberts: (859) 231-3216. Twitter: @NextCats. Blog: ukrecruiting.bloginky.com.

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