CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — A combination of size and skill makes Chane Behanan a favorite to be named Kentucky's Mr. Basketball in 2011. Yet the University of Kentucky's recruiting interest has waned as the Bowling Green High School player scaled new heights with an invitation to play in this week's Top 100 Camp.
As much as Behanan and his supporters might like to criticize UK, John Calipari's recruiting history makes that impossible.
"I respect whatever they're doing," Behanan said during a break in the Top 100 Camp.
Bowling Green Coach D.J. Sherrill, who calls Behanan the best player he's had in 18 years of coaching, agreed. After all, UK has recruited the nation's No. 1-rated class two straight years and took a big leap toward making it three in a row with commitments from Michael Gilchrist and Marquis Teague, both among the nation's top five players in the class of 2011.
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"I absolutely can't fault John Calipari's recruiting," Sherrill said. "He's good at it. You can't question what they're doing. They're pulling off pretty much miracles.
"Chane's really good. But look at what Kentucky's doing. I don't think they think he's a bad player."
Without knowing why Kentucky hasn't been in contact lately, Sherrill suggested UK might simply think Gilchrist is better. Since Gilchrist is the No. 1 player in the class, that's a sound assumption.
Still, Behanan can't bring himself to shut the door on a belated recruiting pitch from Kentucky.
"I'll hold off and see if they come for my last year," he said.
When asked if he wanted UK to come, Behanan said, "Oh, yeah. I'd like to add them to the list. Just to make the list look better."
Behanan, listed at 6-foot-8 and 230 pounds at the Top 100 Camp, would also like to test himself against Gilchrist.
"I'd love to," he said. "I thought he'd be here."
Gilchrist, who was named the Most Outstanding Player at the Top 100 Camp last year, decided to try out for the U.S. U-17 team this weekend.
Behanan likened his eagerness to play Gilchrist to the NBA's most-talked about individual duel these days.
"Kind of a Kobe-and-LeBron thing," he said. "That's kind of the itch I got. Two good players going head to head."
Since Kobe Bryant is his hero and Bryant supposedly bristles at suggestions that LeBron James is the NBA's best player, Behanan casts himself in the role of player with unrecognized superiority.
"You could say that," he said before suggesting that Gilchrist benefited from greater visibility. "He's probably been at more stuff than me."
Behanan grew up in Cincinnati and only moved to Bowling Green last summer. An uncle, a retiree of the Corvette plant, thought a small-town setting would do his nephew good.
"I really didn't like the move," Behanan said. "I wanted to stay where I was. ... It was kind of hard, but I adjusted. (Yet) I think about it every day. Why?"
Behanan acknowledged that his academic performance improved at Bowling Green High. The player had a 3.4 grade-point average last year, Sherrill said.
Of course, Bowling Green High benefited, too. Behanan averaged a double-double and posted triple-doubles in eight games.
"He's 6-8 and 230," Sherrill said, "and he moves like he's 6-2 and 180."
Some of that wide-bodied versatility has been on display at the Top 100 Camp. Through two sessions, Behanan had the camp's second-highest scoring average (16.5 ppg) and its highest-scoring individual game with 19 points. He dribbled behind his back and through his legs on one sequence to elude defenders. He also rebounded in traffic.
Sherrill said he'd like to put a life-sized cardboard figure of Behanan in his office to use to bring dreamers down to earth.
"I've had a lot of people think they're D-I players," the Bowling Green coach said. "I could stay, 'Stand by that (cardboard cutout) first before we talk about what level player you are."
The move to Bowling Green broadened Behanan's basketball horizons. He de-committed from an earlier commitment to the University of Cincinnati. "I was young," he said.
Now he fields recruiting interest from such schools as Louisville, West Virginia, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Purdue, Kansas, Seton Hall, Temple, Mississippi State, Oklahoma State, Arkansas, Stanford ...
"He's got a laundry list," Sherrill said. "He's beginning to settle in and see how difficult this is going to be."