CINCINNATI — Like Samson and Lady Godiva, former Kentucky recruit Dakotah Euton's hair reveals a lot about his life.
Euton sported a goatee while playing in the adidas-sponsored It Takes 5ive basketball camp in Cincinnati. Its return to his chin marked a positive step in his basketball development.
"I had it," he said. "Then my dad made me shave it off."
When asked why his father wanted the goatee gone, Euton said, "After a bad game. That's all I'll say."
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So presumably, Euton had been playing well going into the camp, which marks a fresh start in his recruitment.
Euton committed to UK and former coach Billy Gillispie as a ninth grader at Rose Hill Christian. In the ensuing two years, the second after a transfer to Scott County, he watched UK "recruit over him," to borrow basketball parlance, by getting a commitment from Dominique Ferguson. Then UK fired Gillispie.
"Looking back on it, if I had a chance, I probably would have done it," he said of committing to UK as a freshman. "Because that was the coach I wanted to play for and the college I wanted to play for."
Gillispie was that rare coach who favored his style of play.
"He told me he loves players that just play hard," Euton said. "That's rare these days. A lot of coaches want athleticism and the flashy and the dunking. He likes players that get after it and play as hard as they can. He said that's who I am. So I really liked that about it."
Before Euton got within a season of playing for Gillispie, UK hired one of those coaches who favors athleticism and the flashy and the dunking.
"I was pretty hurt because I really wanted to go there, and I really wanted to play for him," Euton said. "At the same time, I was OK with it. I knew things would open back up, and I'd be all right."
The UK coaches told Euton's father they'd honor the commitment if the player wanted to play — or sit — for Kentucky. But Euton declined.
"He likes athletic players," Euton said of Calipari. "And that's not me at all. I knew I didn't fit their style of ball at all. So I just went ahead and decommitted."
The hurting subsided. Now Euton looks forward.
"I just want to go somewhere, and the main thing is get an education out of it," he said. "That's what I want to do."
He said Akron, Oregon State, Eastern Kentucky and Wofford have offered scholarships. He's also heard from Notre Dame, Nevada and Davidson.
His commitment to Kentucky made him a target for those who questioned whether he was good enough. For instance, the Prep Stars recruiting service does not rate Euton among the top 100 prospects in the high school class of 2010.
When asked whether he felt as if fans were judgmental last season, he said, "A lot of nights, especially when fans started chanting my name, saying bad things about me."
Now Euton hopes he's beyond such problems as he embarks on the post-UK portion of his basketball career.
"Going into my senior year, I'm used to it," he said, "because I've been doing it my whole life."
Golden loses luster
Two years ago on the same court, Trae Golden made a name for himself at the It Takes 5ive camp.
Golden turned Court 2 at Cincinnati's Fifth Third Arena into a one-man show. When asked Tuesday about that game, Golden's eyes widened and a smile crossed his face.
"Against the Michigan Mustangs, actually," he said. "I was making everything I was putting up there. It was one of the greatest games a basketball player lives for."
Golden shared his memories a few minutes after playing on the same court. His team won. But the magic was gone.
The two games illustrated Golden's basketball journey from star in the making to, well, has-been is too strong for player who turns 18 on Oct. 5.
But now he's just another prospect. The Prep Stars and HoopMasters.com recruiting services rate him in the 60-to-100 range. It's a long way from his status as a top-25 national prospect two years ago.
"A classic example of a kid who receives too much hype — a lot through the Internet guys — at too young an age," said long-time recruiting analyst Bob Gibbons of the All-Star Sports service.
An unofficial visit to UK caused a storm of Internet speculation.
"I felt on top of the world," Golden said. "I still feel good. There are just as many schools recruiting me. Nothing much has changed except the ranking."
Kentucky's interest has changed. He hasn't heard from the school since John Calipari became coach.
"Maybe I'm not the player Calipari wants in his system," Golden said.
Analyst Van Coleman of HoopMasters.com said Golden might have let the initial hype go to his head. He gained weight. He tried too hard to impress. Wherever he lands, Golden hopes to return to where he stood two years ago: a basketball player coveted by Kentucky.
"It was a great place to be," he said of that visit to UK two years ago. "Everybody loves basketball there. That appeals to me a lot. That's where I want to go."