UK Recruiting

Ex-Memphis signee Dennis likes UK but won't commit yet

LOUISVILLE — One-time Memphis signee Nolan Dennis sounded like a prospect about to follow John Calipari to Kentucky. But he saw no reason to rush into UK's arms.

"I'm going to open up my recruiting," Dennis said upon arriving here Thursday to play in the Derby Festival Basketball Classic. "Anybody who's interested, I mean, I'm just wide open."

Dennis, a 6-foot-5 wing from Fort Worth, Texas, expects plenty of suitors.

"My (high school) coach told me schools are calling him like crazy," Dennis said. "My mom does a good job not letting them call my cell phone. They're bothering (family and the high school coach), putting stress on them. He says the phone is ringing off the hook."

Dennis has not yet heard from Calipari, who left Memphis last week. In that time, one of his recruits, DeMarcus Cousins, switched from Memphis to UK.

Dennis spoke glowingly of UK's new coach.

"He was the main thing why I was going to Memphis," the player said. "... He got Derrick Rose and Tyreke Evans one year to the next level. He develops players really (well). I felt he could develop me to the NBA."

When asked about Calipari's dribble-drive offense, Dennis said, "That's exactly how I play and how I love to play. Just up and down."

So why doesn't Dennis go ahead and commit to Kentucky? Because he wants to explore his options.

"I don't want to rush," he said. "I want to take my time and find a school that really wants me."

Before he committed to Memphis, Dennis had heard from Texas, Florida, UCLA, Kansas. "The list goes on," he said. "The list was long, real long."

Although he won't visit UK while in the area, Dennis had a working knowledge of Kentucky basketball.

"Powerhouse," he said before adding, "You've got to win. Especially for the coach. You've got to win or you're gone. We've seen it with Coach (Billy) Gillispie. ... Powerhouse. Great players. Great fans. It's a place I'd like to play."

Hood lobbies

UK's homegrown signee, Jon Hood, has lobbied other prospects about joining him at UK. Meanwhile, he quietly harbors a tiny bit of doubt about whether he made the right choice in signing with the Cats.

"I'm about 95 percent sure about Kentucky," he said before beginning practice for the Derby Festival Basketball Classic. "I'd be surprised if I don't play for Kentucky."

Hood declined to elaborate on what constitutes the five percent doubt.

As a roommate of Daniel Orton, Hood has lobbied on behalf of UK. He also sings UK's praises to whomever will listen.

"I've been doing that for longer than most of you all know," he told reporters. "I talk to Eric (Bledsoe, a point-guard prospect), Daniel. I've talked to John Wall."

Their reaction?

"They kind of laugh at me," he said with a smile. "After a while, I think it works just a little bit."

Hood, a 6-6 wing from Madisonville, said he got an enthusiastic response from Calipari.

"He said I was the shooter/scorer/slasher that he never got to Memphis," Hood said.

If UK's pursuit of several more prospects made him uneasy, Hood did not betray the emotion. He spoke eagerly of the possibility of playing with Wall, who Rivals.com rates as the nation's best prospect. Hood said he played with Wall on the UK campus during a visit to Big Blue Madness.

"He gets anybody he wants open," Hood said before adding, "I haven't had an open shot for about three years. He just makes it so easy."

Bledsoe, Wall meet again

Point guard prospect Eric Bledsoe finds himself in a familiar position: Running into Wall. John Wall, that is, the mega point-guard prospect being wooed by Kentucky and many other programs.

After noting the schools he's considering (Florida, UK, Duke and Cincinnati), Bledsoe freely said that Florida ranks a solid first in his mind.

"Florida's been hard recruiting me," he said. "And I like the coaches."

Although Calipari recruited him for Memphis, Bledsoe said he felt he was not a priority prospect. Memphis wanted him "if they didn't get John Wall," Bledsoe said.

Now Bledsoe seems to be in the exact same position as Calipari recruits for Kentucky.

"Yeah, I know," Bledsoe said with a smile. "It's all right. I feel good."

Bledsoe, who is from Birmingham, Ala., said Kentucky could move into a prime position. "Just start recruiting me (harder)," he said.

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