UK Men's Basketball

Calipari brings in first '10 recruit

Stacey Poole Jr., a top-60 prospect and the son of a former Florida star by the same name, officially became Kentucky's first recruit in the high school class of 2010 on Thursday.

In announcing his commitment to UK over South Carolina, Poole noted UK Coach John Calipari's record of developing players.

"I love Coach Cal," Poole said. "I think he'll put me in the right situation where I want to be in a couple years."

When asked where he wanted to be, Poole paused as if taken aback by the question and then said, "In the league. I'm not playing this game for nothing."

Poole draws comparisons to his father, who came to Florida in 1989 as a McDonald's All-American. Overcoming two torn Achilles tendons and a torn ACL, the elder Poole scored 1,678 points for the Gators, which ranked third on the school's career list at the time.

"He's like his father," recruiting analyst Brick Oettinger of the Prep Stars service said of the younger Poole. "He's a terrific run-jump athlete."

The younger Poole chuckled when asked if his game resembled his father's.

"A lot, a lot," he said. "People tell me that all the time."

The similarity is particularly strong in terms of work ethic and determination, the son said.

Oettinger, whose service ranks Poole at No. 56, saw the future UK player as a driver well-suited for Calipari's beat-your-man one-on-one offense.

"He's got a great ability to get a lot of old-fashioned three-point plays," Oettinger said.

Like his father, Poole is a 6-foot-5 guard/forward with long arms and a quick first step to the basket.

The knock on Poole — as it was with his father 20 years ago — concerns perimeter shooting.

But Poole did not sound concerned.

"My perimeter skills are way better than his were," he said of his father.

Oettinger noted that Poole's shooting has improved. During the NBA development camp in Charlottesville, Va., earlier this year, Poole hit shots out to three-point range.

"There's nothing unsound in his shooting (mechanics)," Oettinger said. "He's just always been able to score the easier way: taking it to the hoop. My guess is he'll end up a pretty good shooter."

Poole acknowledged that driving to the basket is the strength of his offensive game.

"I can go by anybody," he said before adding, "I play smart. I think the game."

Although Kentucky represents college basketball's winningest program and an avenue to the NBA, Poole struggled with saying no to South Carolina.

"It was tough," he said. "It was real tough. Just because I love Coach (Darrin) Horn and his staff. They showed me a lot of love. They've been there since Day One. They know me."

Poole Jr. was born during his father's junior year at Florida. His mother also contributes to his athletic genes. Shelley Poole was a standout athlete who ran track and played basketball in high school in Jacksonville.

The player's parents were high school sweethearts and are now married. They own a private school in Jacksonville, the North Florida Educational Institute.

The younger Poole said he was "a little disappointed" that Florida would not be his college home.

"I guess I wasn't the type of player they wanted," he said. "You have to make transitions."