LOUISVILLE — A science teacher at S.R. Butler High School in Huntsville, Ala., is a University of Kentucky graduate. This is noteworthy because the star basketball player for S.R. Butler High School considers Kentucky among his top three college choices.
"She told me to try Derby pie or something like that," that player, guard Trevor Lacey, said Wednesday before he and other high school stars practiced for Friday's Derby Festival Basketball Classic.
Not so conveniently for UK, Lacey is rooming with Alabama signee Levi Randolph. Alabama, along with Kansas, joins UK in Lacey's list of three finalists.
"I'm hearing it from Levi a little bit," Lacey said with a smile. "He's 'Bama."
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Among Randolph's lobbying tactics has been a not-so-subtle comment about the weather here as the players arrived earlier Wednesday. "It's a little cold," Lacey said Randolph noted.
Official recruiting visits will play a key role in Lacey's decision, the player said. He visited Alabama last weekend.
"Great coach, great team, great run in the NIT," Lacey said. "They were missing a shooter. That's what they're selling me on. 'Come right in and shoot those shots.' "
After playing in the Derby Festival game, Lacey plans to visit Kansas the weekend of April 30-May 1. In an interesting variation on typical recruiting form, Kansas impressed Lacey early in the process by telling him he would not get abundant playing time on a team stacked with talent for 2011-12.
Then freshman Josh Selby and twins Marcus and Markieff Morris declared for the 2011 NBA Draft. Kansas renewed its recruitment of Lacey and found a receptive player.
"I respected them for being honest," Lacey said. "... If they were honest with me that way, I felt that was a guy (Coach Bill Self) I could trust."
Two Alabama natives who played for Kentucky last season helped start the recruitment of Lacey. Eric Bledsoe (Birmingham) and DeMarcus Cousins (Mobile, by way of Birmingham) were involved.
"We talk here and there," Lacey said. "They were the ones to tell Coach Cal (John Calipari) about me."
Lacey also relied on Bledsoe and Cousins to tell him about what life is like as a UK basketball player.
"Everything positive," Lacey said. "Great fan base, and everybody is basketball crazy. Kind of like Alabama football."
Lacey, who said he is academically qualified, acknowledged that players entering the NBA Draft create opportunity for playing time. Earlier Wednesday, UK announced that Brandon Knight, Terrence Jones and DeAndre Liggins would put their names in this year's draft.
"What I kind of expected," he said before adding, "I didn't think Liggins was going to enter (the draft).
"If they all stayed, I'd still feel the same way about Kentucky. It'd just be a deeper roster and (represent) a better chance at a championship."
Lacey described playing time as important, but not all-important in his decision-making. Yet, underclassmen departing for the draft translate into playing time.
"I'm not going to say come-right-in playing time," Lacey said, "but a great opportunity for me to get playing time."
If playing time were the sole factor, Lacey might have already signed with Auburn. In explaining why Kentucky, Kansas and Alabama were in prime position, he said, "I wouldn't be the only guy out there."
Alabama has been recruiting Lacey since he was a seventh-grader. Then-Alabama coach Mark Gottfried tried in vain this spring to woo Lacey for North Carolina State.
Lacey received his first scholarship offer as a ninth-grader. Then-Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl made the offer.
"I was ready to commit on the spot," Lacey said. "My dad told me to wait it out. I had a great future and would have more offers to consider."
Daniels a no-show
A death in the family caused DeAndre Daniels to drop out of the Derby Festival Basketball Classic.
Daniels had been linked to Kentucky. Now, he's said to be considering Duke, Texas and Kansas. He played for IMG Academy this past season.
The death of a grandfather caused Daniels to drop out of the Derby Festival, game officials said.