Well we are coming off one of the most exciting recruiting weekends in UK basketball recent history, and there is much to discuss. Before we get to it, a couple of tidbits. Our latest radio show, where we discuss in detail, the events of a crazy recruiting weekend will be available tomorrow around 1 pm. It is an exciting show as we literally find out details about players as we are recording. It is great fun and the hosts get giddy during the recording. Here is the link to the AUDIO when we found out about AJ’s commit.. In addition, we expect more news as the week progresses. Keep it here for the news. We broke the AJ to UK story and we expect to break some more as well. 😉 Now onto the news….
(1) If you havent heard yet, the young man above, AJ Stewart committed to UK this evening. He called me directly after calling Tubby Smith and his excitement was one of the neatest things I have ever seen. He said, “man this is a dream…..to play at a school that wants me as much as Kentucky does…..I am so happy.” He mentioned that he couldnt wait to play for a “legend” like Tubby Smith and he made clear that the fans were a key part of his decision. “When you hear people chanting your name, coming up to you and telling you how much they want you and just how important basketball is, I knew this was the place for me.” Finally AJ talked about his fellow visitors saying, “I hope Jai and Pat come too. If they do we will make it to a lot of Final Fours.” You gotta love it….
In the rush for news about other prospects, lets not overlook what happened here. This is a kid who basically wanted Florida forever…..they ignored him. UK swooped in and got him, over other powers such as Illinois. And at the end, Florida wanted back in and AJ said no dice. I have said many times that I saw AJ play last year when I had NO IDEA UK was interested in him…..and I was VERY impressed. This is a very good get for UK and one that will be a fan favorite for years to come. If you havent heard him singing American Idol on our shows in the past, listen up. AJ is a great kid and a great get. And oh yeah, he told me that he would be spending the next few weeks, “trying my hardest to get Jai and Pat to come with me.”
(2) I spoke tonight again with Jai Lucas and I can say with no reservation that the UK visit had a huge impact on him. I mentioned to him his quote on our show long ago about wanting to play at a basketball school and he said, “this weekend just emphasized that more. You see all those people coming out to watch a practice. That just doesnt go on down here. There is nothing like that anywhere.” He told me that he was still planning on visiting OSU, then Maryland and then Oklahoma. However, “if I feel ready to decide before the end of that I will. My family and I have to talk about it and we are going to this week.” Finally he made clear that the fans had quite an impact on him. “Everywhere we went people knew us. It was amazing. The players told me that it was like being famous, and they were right. Plus I got to meet Joe Torre, which blew my mind. It couldnt have been better.”
I will tell you this. Jai Lucas sounded as impressed with this visit as any kid I have heard talk about a school. As many of you know, my thoughts about the potential for Jai here had slipped a bit in recent weeks. Not anymore. I think he will likely take the OSU visit next week and I expect a decision to follow soon after, probably before the other two visits. If Patrick Patterson comes to UK, Jai is here. But I now think there is a very good chance he comes anyway, something that I wasnt sure about before. He told me, “I would love to have Pat there too, but what I saw this weekend will be there either way.” Wise words indeed. UK did as well as they could this weekend for Jai, and it may very well pay dividends.
(3) The toughest read is of course Patrick Patterson. He is a man of few words and is very thorough on his process. I have talked to a number of sources with Pat today and ALL have said he was “blown away by the weekend.” One person said to me, “Patrick knew UK fans are into the game, but even he couldnt believe how it was. He never imagined a scene like the one in Rupp Arena on Friday night.” I was also told that Patrick is still planning on taking visits, but that he MAY only take one more…..and surprisingly that one may be to Virginia, not Wake Forest. I havent gotten a confirmation on that, but this was the story.
Jai Lucas and AJ Stewart both talked about Patrick’s time as being great. AJ said, “Pat and Jai and I got real close. Pat is real hard to read, but he told us what an amazing time he was having.” Jai said that “with Pat it is tough to know usually, but on Saturday at Keeneland, he just talked about what a great place this was. I know he liked it a lot.” Now a lot of folks are asking me about what schools Patrick is or is not choosing. I will say that two sources, both of whom I trust more than anyone on this, said to me that for all intents and purposes it is down to Kentucky and Florida. Duke, for whatever reason….and I think i know, was in neither source’s equation. We shall see, but this conforms with the general feeling I have been getting recently as well.
(4) Often overlooked is Chris Barnes, who took his last visit to Oklahoma this weekend. According to one source, Barnes said that his goal now is to pick a school where he “can win a national championship.” Look at those schools again on his list…..Georgia, Wichita St, Oklahoma and Kentucky……one sticks out. Oklahoma with a rookie coach isnt it. His decision will be on Thursday, October 19. He is the story to watch in the next few days and I plan on speaking with him in the next two days.
(5) So what about Marshall Moses? Well time may be a wastin…..all of a sudden, the “Moses spot” may be filling and it may be time for him to move if he wants to get on board. He is scheduled to come this weekend (along with the Morris twins) and it will be interesting to see what happens in that regard. If Moses comes, he may be given a “commit now or forever hold your peace” talk by the staff. I wonder to some extent if Moses or Barnes are going for the last spot (with Lucas and Patterson at the top of the UK list). This musical chair game should be very interesting.
I close with this. Going into this weekend, I was not that confident. I had reason to think that things had slipped a bit with Lucas and Patterson’s consistent leader since his visit had beeen Florida. Now I think things have changed for the better. Kentucky deserves ALL THE CREDIT IN THE WORLD. These guys were blown away by their visits. They had starry eyes at Midnight Madness and the entire event was with them in mind…..from using an NBA Announcer, to Tubby taking their pictures during the event, to walking them through the crowd to a standing ovation, to using a Huntington High Freshman cheerleader in a big moment of the festivities, to Tubby’s “wink and a nod” about needing “more talent to come.” This was a world class official visit weekend. Whereas a week ago, I thought Lucas was a tossup and we were behind with Patterson, now I think we lead with Lucas and Patterson is a tossup. That is a huge turnaround folks and UK deserves a whole lot of credit.
Keep it tuned here for news as we get it…..and look for the show this afternoon. It is a fun time….