Well for those of you who didnt know, I spent the past weekend in Raleigh, NC (my old hood) for the Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions AAU Tournament. I will have more on this throughout the week, including my take on how corrupt the whole AAU system is, but what is likely of most interest to you is a report on UK may or may not get.
There were essentially three guys at the tournament that I spoke with who are three of the seven or so big Kentucky targets (another DeAndre Jordan, I didnt speak to, but mentioned that UK was pursuing him). The most important is Anthony Randolph a 6’10 kid (who is actually 6’8″) who looks like Rajon Rondo in the face and Tayshuan Prince in the body. (My buddy Matt Rich and I spent the whole weekend deciding who people looked like….it was especially fun with the fat spectators). Randolph is saddled with what may be the biggest entourage I have ever seen a kid not named OJ Mayo have. He has two AAU coaches whose full time job seems to be to follow Anthony around and pat his shoulder and tell him he is great. Then there are another three kids his age who dont play on his team, but seem to exist to call him “dawg” and make sure he knows that “no one can stop him”, whether it be at basketball or video games.
I spoke with Randolph a couple of times and he was hesitant to say much of anything. He mentioned that he wasnt doing interviews at this time but that there were 10 schools that he was considering. He told me that Kentucky was one of them, but so were 9 others, the names of which he couldnt mention. This is one of the top 5 players in the class and literally everyone wants him. He is Tayshaun prince like in the fact that he is long, athletic and a good defender. He cant shoot like Tayshaun, although he does have good form and may be able to develop his shot more. Bottom line….this is the Brandon Wright of this class…..Kentucky will have to fight every school in teh country to get him…..that means it will be tough.
JJ Hickson is another power forward recruit for the Cats and one that seems imminently more getable. A big physical specimen, Hickson is a rebounder who gets after the glass and has a deft touch from inside ten feet. He does not have the athleticism of Randolph, but is a workhorse and has Tubby type player written all over him. Hickson does have a bit of a showman’s aspect to him, telling me that he was going to “make an announcement to announce what teams he was interested in” two weeks from now. But after talking to his AAU coach, it is clear that Kentucky is at the top of that announced list, and the main competition at this point is with our good friends, the Florida Gators.
Finally, there is one of the best shooters of the tournament, Ashaunte Jones, a three point sharp shooter out of Indiana who combines elite athleticism with a three point shot that is sweet as any in his class. Kentucky looked like not only a player in his recruitment, but maybe the favorite until recently. However Jones told me that he loves the new Indiana staff and that it will be hard to get him out of state. Kentucky however joins IU and Purdue as the main contender.
I will have more on the tourney in the coming days….but for those of you that dont follow recruiting a lot, remember those three names and the names Gary Johnson, Patrick Patterson and Jai Lucas…..those are the big targets this year and three of those seven guys must come to UK for me to believe the class is truly successful.