Latest top commitment proves pep back in UK's recruiting, analysts say

With another top prospect committing to Kentucky on Wednesday, recruiting analysts spoke in outsized terms of new UK Coach Billy Gillispie making a statement heard across the college basketball community.

DeAndre Liggins, a 6-foot-6 swingman from Chicago, became the fifth highly regarded prospect to commit to Kentucky since Gillispie became coach in April. He’s considered the third -- along with incoming freshmen Patrick Patterson and Alex Legion -- to be well qualified for some high school All-American team.

“Three very, very high commitments,” said Dave Telep, an analyst for the recruiting service. “They’re kind of like shots across the bow. . . . He’s starting to rack up the scalps.”

Liggins, who will be a senior at Washington High this coming school year, is a top 30 player. The analysts see him capable of making an impact at multiple positions.

“He’s a tremendous piece of any puzzle because he’s a chameleon. He can fit in at small forward, point guard. He’s just a really, really useful player and a very high-level player.”

Another analyst, Brick Oettinger of the Prep Stars service, saw Liggins as another reason to believe Gillispie has returned Kentucky to prominence in the recruiting arena.

“That’s what Kentucky’s always used to do,” he said. “We haven’t seen that in recent years. . . . Obviously, he (Gillispie) is recruiting better than Kentucky’s got from Tubby (Smith, the former UK coach), especially in the latter years. I don’t think there’s much question of that.”

In its spring, 2007 rating, Prep Stars listed Liggins at No. 25. Other commitments gained by Gillispie include high school junior-to-be G.J. Vilarino of McKinney, Texas, and high school sophomore-to-be Dakotah Euton.

“You can play him out there with Legion,” Oettinger said. “Play Liggins at (small forward) and he’ll be fine. You’ll match up with anybody on the wing with them.”