CINCINNATI — Now that he's re-opened his recruiting process, former Kentucky recruit Vinny Zollo wants to keep his options open and his mind clear of what-ifs.
"We're right now enjoying going out and getting to play in front of evaluators and coaches and stuff," Zollo said Monday at the adidas-sponsored It Takes 5ive camp at various locations in the Cincinnati area. "It's a good experience not having to think about anything. Basketball is such a mental game. To keep a clear head and go out and play, I think you'll play your best when you do that."
Zollo speaks from experience.
After committing to UK as a ninth grader, he transferred from Ohio to Clark County. The move allowed ever-judgmental UK fans to eyeball the would-be Cat. It didn't help any that he played as a sophomore last season while recovering from an off-season leg injury.
"I'm not going to lie," he said. "... I felt like I have to do this or I have to perform. I thought like that.
"I matured a lot that year and realized the injury made me a lot stronger. I realized you just go out and play the game. Things like that make you mentally stronger."
Zollo, a 6-foot-8 forward, came to understand his return to the recruiting process does not represent a setback.
"I wasn't sure if I was going to UK," he said. "That was up in the air. Nothing has changed since then."
Zollo noted the "solid communication" he's had with the new UK assistant coaches. That communication covered the change of playing style: from the high-low power game of Gillispie to the slash-to-the-basket Dribble Drive preferred by Calipari.
Zollo hasn't given up on the idea of becoming an effective perimeter player.
"You change as a player," he said. "Right now, I am trying to involve my guard skills a lot more."
The Indiana Elite team includes several big men, which frees Zollo to play on the perimeter.
"Right now, it's a question mark," he said of his perimeter skills. "We don't know."
Meanwhile, Zollo has received scholarship offers from Oklahoma State and Dayton. He visited Notre Dame last weekend when the Indiana Elite team practiced in South Bend.
Big Brazilian impresses
Fabricio DeMelo, a 6-foot-10 center from Brazil, drew a who's-who of college coaches when he played Monday.
Among the coaches who nearly circled the court were Kentucky's John Calipari (plus assistants Orlando Antigua and Rod Strickland), Roy Williams of North Carolina, Gary Williams of Maryland, Billy Donovan of Florida, Rick Barnes of Texas, Bob Huggins of West Virginia and Oliver Pernell of Clemson.
The coaches probably liked what they saw. DeMelo moved well, showed no frustration when he did not get the ball and made a few nifty passes.
A crowd of reporters wanted to talk to DeMelo after the game, but he declined all requests. His coach for the Florida Rams summer team said the player did not feel comfortable in a group interview setting.
The coach, Matt Ramker, said DeMelo had been in the United States for fewer than 18 months. He said the schools high on DeMelo's list are Connecticut, Louisville, Syracuse, Florida State, Miami, Texas and Florida.
DeMelo attends Sagemont Upper School in Weston, Fla.
A definite Kentucky flavoring enveloped the It Takes 5ive camp.
There are 21 teams from Kentucky in the event, which has separate divisions for ages 15-and-younger through 17.
Players from Lexington represented all five public high schools, plus Lexington Catholic and Lexington Christian.
Davis biding his time
Jeremiah Davis, one of the fuzzy-faced prospects former Kentucky coach Billy Gillispie liked to recruit, is getting a different message from new UK Coach John Calipari's staff.
"They tell me to wait," Davis said Monday. The UK coaches are concentrating on prospects in the high school class of 2010.
Davis, who will be a junior next season, was a target for Gillispie. The process became public about the time Gillispie raised eyebrows by offering a scholarship to eighth-grader Michael Avery.
Calipari isn't above pursuing underclassmen. He reportedly offered a scholarship to Perry Ellis, who will be a sophomore at Wichita (Kan.) Heights High School in the fall.
But Davis must wait, which suits him fine.
After noting that Memphis expressed a recruiting interest earlier in his career at Muncie (Ind.) Central High, Davis said, "Hopefully that will carry over sometime this summer."
Meanwhile, Davis made an impression on Monday.
"People tell me a lot I play like Deron Williams," Davis said. "... It's a great compliment.
"That's my favorite player. He's just smooth, calm and relaxed all the time."
That's how Davis played in helping the Indiana Elite team win its game.
Although he's in the high school class of 2011, Davis is an old hand when it comes to recruiting. He has received scholarship offers from Kentucky, Indiana, Tennessee, Purdue, Ball State, Cincinnati and Xavier. He's already visited all those schools except Cincinnati. He said he'd like to visit Kansas and UNLV.
The basketball gods continue to present challenges for one-time UK recruit K.C. Ross-Miller.
Miller, who committed to Kentucky as a high school sophomore, had to look for a new school after UK fired coach Billy Gillispie last spring. No doubt he hoped to further that process this week at the camp.
But when his summer team, Brandon Bass Elite, played Monday, Ross-Miller watched from the bench. After the game, he walked slowly out of Fifth Third Center holding his jersey in his left hand.
"I'm probably not going to play anymore," he said, meaning in this three-day event.
"I don't know if I dislocated my right shoulder last Monday," Ross-Miller said. "I tried to play (Monday). I just couldn't."
Ross-Miller, a point guard generously listed at 6-foot-2, acknowledged the frustration.
"It's kind of hard for me to sit and watch," he said. "We lost both of our games, too."
Ross-Miller's future seemed secure when he committed to Kentucky two years ago. Then UK pulled the plug on Gillispie.
"I kind of expected it a little bit," the recruit said.
Ross-Miller, who is from Grand Prairie, Texas, did not wait for new UK coach John Calipari to call. The player knows he's not at the top of various rankings for players in the high school class of 2010. He knew that's the type of player Calipari would want.
"They had to make an impact next year," Ross-Miller said.
"Basically, I'm just starting all over," he said of the recruiting process. "This time I'm going to enjoy the process."