So its time for Part 2 of my 2007 Power Forward review, but I admit to being a bit spooked. During the first part of my preview, I made a comment that I thought Kentucky’s best chance with the group I had listed was with Julian Vaughn. And he then proceeded the next day to commit to Florida St. It was a very surprising commitment to not just me, but the Kentucky staff who believed that he would be the first on-campus visit and were making preparations towards that end.
So what does this mean? Well it does change some things. As I have written here on a couple of occasions, the staff believes that it needs 2-3 to big men in the 2007 class in order to replace the outgoing players. Originally Kentucky targeted around 10 guys (which is about normal) and placed the players on a tier list. While I am of course not privy to the actual list of priorities, the recruiting practices of the coaches suggest that the list originally looked something like this:
As the process has moved, things have changed a bit. Gary Johnson obviously committed elsewhere, as did Julian Vaughn. However UK was very confident with Vaughn. In fact if you were a member of the UK staff looking at the list I just made, you likely would have thought “if we can get one from each of the three lists…..we will have a great class.” And they would have been correct. But Vaughn was the tier two guy to lock up and it hasnt happened.
So now what? Well Randolph is a long shot. Most close to him say that Memphis has the inside track and when people say that, it is usually hard to get the Tiger grip off of them. There are forces around Anthony who want him at UK, but it is a bit of a longshot.
The Kentucky focus is now squarely on the twosome of Patrick Patterson and JJ Hickson. These two players are two of the five best power forwards in the country. Kentucky, in my view, MUST get one of them. They simply must. What is interesting is that for both players, Kentucky and Florida are major contenders. A rumor began this week that basically said that both schools were going to get one of the kids and as soon as one committed to one, the other would go to the other. While I question the veracity of this rumor, it is certainly plausible. Patrick Patterson’s mother has made a couple of public comments that suggest that the family is skeptical of Duke and Carolina’s recent entry into the process. I think you should NEVER count out either of those schools and I know having spoken to the Pattersons that they are huge fans of Duke. But if this rumor is true (big IF) it could be an either/or situation with these two. IF that happens, Hickson (who is pictured above ) has expressed a desire to be a Gator, so it could lead to Patterson at Kentucky. Ultimately however for this class to be GREAT, one of these two needs to come.
Beyond these two, the story is more mixed. Kentucky would gladly take the Morris twins and then be done with it. But their stock is up and there is a sense that they may want to stay close to home. Kentucky is still a real legitimate option here, but at this point the relatively quiet Morris twins have not shown their hands. Josh Southern is the guy that Kentucky is lasered in on. He is looking at Boston College, Tennessee and Kentucky at the top and some close believe Kentucky is the leader. Southern would be the PERFECT second tier player for UK. Combine him with Patterson or Hickson and you have a SOLID twosome. Expect UK to really put the heat on and try to get Southern to do what they wanted Vaughn to do…..commit early.
The third tier guys are a bit of a mystery. All are still available and all have talent. Stewart and Ellis may be the best of the bunch and both have said that Kentucky is one of the leaders. Ellis recently said that Kentucky and Indiana are his two leaders and the North Hill player may be a visitor at March Madness. Coker and Scott are two guys who are the type of “underneath the radar” guys that Tubby is known for. The Cats had a presence in the last couple of weeks at Coker’s games. Some that I know who have seen this kid are less than impressed, but the UK staff seems to disagree. Pettigrew is likely Kentucky’s if they want him and he has had an impressive summer. But for whatever reason, Kentucky has not yet jumped in full force. The thing about all of these guys is that they can be PART of a successful class…..they simply cannot be the foundation of the class. If that happens, it will be a failed effort.
I am not in the business of making predictions. But this list that I just gave, with the tiered system, may be good to keep handy as the year goes on. The tiers roughly follow the relative talents of the players and the priority of the staff. The names will fluctuate during the year, but if Kentucky can get either Patterson or Hickson, along with the Morris twins or Southern, along with one of the tier 3 guys (which is definitely possible) it is a VERY good haul. Throw in Jai Lucas at the point and you may have a top 5 class.
UPDATE On a different note, the buzz around Mason County is that 2008 guard Darius Miller has an offer from UK. I LOVE this kid and think this is great news if true.