At every live blog and chat session we have, I am usually asked whether Kentucky is done with their 2009 class. The answer is always the same, mainly that it “depends” on what the roster will look like at the end of the year. With Jared Carter the only real Senior and three scholarship players already committed, the futures of Patrick Patterson and Jodie Meek with the NBA and what happens with other members of the roster in terms of their futures in Lexington will determine whether Kentucky makes another move. In addition, who is available also enters into the equation…..the Cats would make a spot for a guy like John Wall….but other players may or may not be added to the roster list, depending on who is wearing a Kentucky uniform next season.
All of which brings me to a 6’2″ guard from Chicago named Darius Smith. In many ways, Smith is the great unknown for many college scouts…..ranked by Scout.com as the 21st best shooting guard in the land, Smith is a borderline Top 100 player who has benefited from waiting until very late to make his college decision. In the same way that guys in previous years found themselves hot commodities by simply being the only options on the table, Smith has become a top target for a host of schools around the land, simply by being one of the few talented guards not yet committed. Smith was originally going to be a commitment to Tubby Smith at Minnesota. But then Tubby loaded up on a higher ranked guard and Smith reopened his mind and decided to play out the season on his state champion team.
However Tubby’s decision to go another way could pay a huge dividend for another program, and Kentucky looks to be pursuing him at this time. Smith mentions the Cats along with schools like Indiana, Arizona State, Wisconsin, Arizona and Texas Tech as his suitors. But according to most recruiting folks, Smith’s list only continues to grow as coaches faced with roster changes look for any guard available. I still havent seen Smith play, but in conversations with those who have, they call Smith a “high risk, high reward” type play. I kid who could end up being great if he does a couple of things (get a more consistent jumper, commit on defense) and thus is perfect for a team who can get him and let him develop for a year or so.
Is Kentucky that team? If Jodie Meeks were to leave (and that is most certainly not assured), the Cats could need a guard who can play right away. Smith may not be perfect for that option, but he is a very talented player, known as a solid penetrator with the basketball and maybe one of the top 10 players left in America. With that pedigree, the Cats could be right there chasing him in Chicago (which is right in UK assistant coach Tracy Webster’s wheelhouse) over the next two months.