In June, most of the AAU kids return to the their high school programs to play a little summer ball. What you may have to sacrifice on quality competition is made up by the opportunity to see the kids play in a more structured system, as opposed to the “run and gun” AAU style. Over the next month,you’ll see me get more in depth with some of the local kids. Therefore, to kick this month of Bluegrass basketball off right, we’ll take a question based on UK and local recruiting, followed by a list of some of the kids that I’m going to try to get a look at.
“Without a doubt Cal is going to target, and bring in, the best talent throughout the country (and world if he has his way with recruiting international players). However, any chance he gets in on some of the in-state talent in the near future?” (Jon)
You seem to have realized a point early on that many UK fans are going to have to come to grips with later. Receiving commitments from the best talent nationally means that there will be less available spots for in-state players than before. The Kentucky situation is going to pose a problem that Calipari has never had to deal with, at least as a head coach (Kansas may have given him some insight). UMASS and Memphis both recruited in-state talent of course, but neither schools were powerhouse state schools with a history of winning big with in-state kids. There is a portion of the fan base that will constantly call for in state kids to be offered regardless of how that offer fits into the overall recruiting scheme for that year. The question becomes how Calipari will balance putting a winning team on the floor with putting in-state kids on the floor. Sometimes it will work out easily with a kid like Darius Miller or Scotty Hopson. Other times it will be a little more difficult because a kid with mid-range talent will be offered a walk-on opportunity at UK while holding scholarship offers from smaller schools. It will be interesting to see how Calipari strikes that balance and whether or not he makes a concerted effort to try to appease the “Kentucky kids belong at Kentucky” crowd.
In the end, I believe that Calipari appeases the “Kentucky kid” crowd by actively recruiting the in-state talent but ultimately filling the positions with more talented national recruits. If Calapari continues to recruit at the level he has in recent years, Kentucky kids finding their way on to UK’s roster via scholarship will have to be either highly talented or able to fill a void in UK’s roster that can’t be filled by a more talented player on the national level (aka lucky).
Most Kentucky kids don’t garner a lot of national publicity, so the day-to-day changes in their recruitment aren’t brought to light as quickly as other national level prospects. Couple that with a new coaching staff and you see the trouble in finding out who is currently on UK’s radar. That’s a problem that I’ll attempt to remedy in the coming weeks. So far, I’ve heard of the new coaching staff expressing interest in Tamron Manning (2012), George Fant (2011) and Jaylen Beckham (2012) for sure. The old staff had expressed interest in Elijah Pittman, Ricardo Johnson, Chad Jackson, Donovan Johnson and Robbie Stenzel, among others. Throughout most of June, I’ll be trying to get a better grasp on who UK might have an interest in.
This weekend I’ll be at my alma mater, Pleasure Ridge Park High School, to watch some of the talent Louisville has to offer. Below, I’ll list the main games that I’ll definitely be attending but I may also see a few others. Feel free to come out and get a look at some of the in-state talent and give me a yell if you see me out there. Continue to send your recruiting questions to [email protected] and follow me on twitter this weekend for some of my instant observations and UK related news from the games. After June, I’ll be able to revisit this question again, this time with a better understanding of which Kentucky kids might eventually see themselves in blue-n-white.
11 am Trinity vs. Fairdale
5 pm Lexington Catholic vs. J-town
6 pm Shelby County vs. Saint Francis
5 pm Lexington Catholic vs. Fairdale
7 pm Lexington Catholic vs. Warren Central
One last little quote to get your Bluegrass weekend started off right, from Rivals.com’s Jerry Meyer: “And if Kentucky strikes out on [#1 point guard, Brandon] Knight, then coach John Calipari will have a great shot at [#4 point guard, Joe] Jackson.” Isn’t it great being a Cats fan right now?!