I am telling you…..at this point, Coach Clyde seems virtually unstoppable. Look, I expected when Coach Clyde took over that there would be an uptick in recruiting. In some ways, considering what things have been like in these parts for sometime, it was almost impossible for there not to be some quick changes to the recruiting landscape and for improvement to immediately manifest itself. But this my friends is ridiculous. At the rate we are going, the 2009 class could be done before the next few weeks are out and recruiting websites like ours may need to start scouting 7th graders to stay ahead of the Coach Clyde curve.
In case you lived under a rock today, you would have heard that Coach Clyde got the commitment of 2009 point guard GJ Valarino (who I promise to stop calling BJ). Valarino is one of the top 5 point guards in his class in the country and is a presumed top 30 player for the class of 2009. I spoke to some Texas scouts today who told me that he is a “lefthanded Acie Law type player, with a true point guard mentality.” I have heard nothing but raves about the kid from those who have seen him, although there is a debate as to his actual size and weight. I have heard he is 5’11” or so, but is “projected to grow” (whatever that means). However everyone agrees he is quite the pickup.
We had Valarino on the show today and he had some interesting things to say. First, he said that as soon as Gillispie got the job at UK, he knew he wanted to follow him. “Combining the tradition of Kentucky with Coach Gillispie…..there is just nowhere else I would want to be.” He also said that Coach Clyde will show his massive Texas connections over the years and that he thinks there will be “lots of us” on the Kentucky roster before it is all said and done. We will have this interview up mid-morning on Wednesday, so check back in to listen to his comments.
But that is just the beginning ladies and gents…..we are in the Bluegrass state, but as the news below shows, we all need to be learning a little Texas two-step…..
(1) Lets begin with our favorite son, Jai Lucas. I spoke with Lucas tonight and he told me that he is taking a visit to Florida this weekend. HE then plans to “talk with Pat” on their way to the Jordan Classic in New York and make his decision soon after. I asked him about some reports that said he and Patterson may be closer to playing together and he said, “well you know, now I think that is more of a possibility. I never really knew before but we played at the McDonalds game and we can work really well together. I dont know if it will happen or not, but it certainly could.” When I asked if that would be at Florida or Kentucky he said, “I dont really know. You know I think we can fit in at both schools. At Florida right now, you know Nick (Calathes) and Pat and I can be a good foundation, but at Kentucky, they will put the ball in our hands right away to make things happen.” He said that the decision of Taurean Green could “have an impact on whether I consider Florida” but that for now he just wanted to visit the Gators “because Coach Donovan has asked me to.”
From the conversation, I got the feeling that Kentucky was still in very good shape. I think it is likely down to Kentucky and Florida to be honest and at this point I think Lucas is stronger to Kentucky than Patterson is to Florida. If Coach Clyde pulls this off, considering both young men’s affinity to Tubby, it will be a MAJOR COUP. And Coach Clyde’s decision to spend two days in Houston on Sunday and Monday will have a lot to do with it.
(2) So Lucas is 07, Vilarino 09, but what about 08. Well I spoke tonight with the number 13 ranked player in the class of 2008, Willie Warren, and it is clear that Coach Clyde has made UK a major player in his recruitment. Here is our conversation:
Tell us a little about your interest in Kentucky and Coach Gillispie.
Well I have known Coach Gillispie for a while and I like him a lot. When he took the job at Kentucky, he called me that night and told me he still wanted me a lot. So now I am really considering Kentucky because I really like Coach.
Did you have any idea that Coach Gillispie may be coming to UK?
Well I kind of did because he came to my school the day before it happened and told me that he would be going somewhere and “I want you to come with me.” I didnt know for sure what he was talking about, but I had an idea.
What do you know about Kentucky and are you going to take a visit?
I know they have a great atmosphere and fans. Coach Tubby told me about that when he called me last year and Coach Gillispie tells me its the best place in college basketball. I want to take a visit and see it for myself.
What is your time frame for a decision?
Well I want to make a decision this summer. But you know some of the people recruiting me have moved…..the assistant at Kansas, Bob Huggins, the coach at Michigan. So we will have to see. But Kentucky is one of my top choices right now. And I saw that GJ committed there, and I know him too. But I am not sure when I will decide.
Willie is a combo two guard who is a great shooter and one of the best athletes at his position. Folks are very high on him and his tremendous upside, but it is his shooting and passing abilities that have the 6’4″ guard listed among the nation’s best. Another Texas guy to watch out for and he will be on The Sports Mob on Thursday.
(3) So what else can we learn? Well we can learn that Shawn Williams, stud 2009 player and AAU teammate of GJ Vilarino is seriously considering Kentucky and could be a contender for an early commitment. He loves Coach Clyde and is said to be very interested in the Cats at this point. He was one of Coach Clyde’s early phone calls and along with GJ and Willie, would be part of an AMAZING Texas triangle. Williams movement could happen soon, so stay tuned.
(4) Now what about DeAndre Jordan you may ask? I talked to his grandmother this evening, who said he will be heading this way Thursday for the Derby Classic. She said she wasnt sure what the status of his college choice is now as “DeAndre is still thinking” about that decision. We are scheduled to have DeAndre on the show on Friday. I am hearing that he really wants to be let out of his letter of intent and that his desire is to follow Coach Clyde. However he has to meet the new Aggie coach and appeal a potential decision to not let him go. We should learn more on Friday.
(5) Finally, I spoke with Stephon Pettigrew, the newly crowned Mr. Basketball of Kentucky. HE said that he spoke with Coach Cox (an assistant in the new regime) last night and expected to speak to him today. He told me that he “hoped UK would offer him” but that he still didnt know what their decision would be. He said the new staff has “kept in communication with him” and he hoped to know more this week. He says that Duquesne, St Louis, Xavier and Western are the top contenders at this point if UK does not offer.
So there you go…..a lot of news considering that Coach Clyde hasnt even been on the job five full days yet. I am utterly astounded at how fast Coach Clyde is moving and what he has been able to do. It is clear that if he chooses, he can make an entire roster out of his Texas connections and it is not an exaggeration to say that if he gets a Williams commitment, pulls in Willie Warren and one or two others this summer, his work in these first few weeks may end recruiting for TWO YEARS in the program.
Let me also say this. If Coach Clyde is able to pull Patrick Patterson and Jai Lucas to Kentucky, he should be awarded a medal. I thought the prospects for Lucas were middle of the road and for Patterson were non-existent if Tubby left. But in five days, he has completely turned that around. Many said that if you kept Tubby instead of a guy like Gillispie, you might not get a new coach, but you would get these two important players. Now it is looking like you could get both. And if he does that…..well folks, things look awful bright around here for a long, long time.
I actually have a lot more, but we must spread the wealth for tomorrow and beyond. Watch for the big announcement from the women’s team Wed morning (Demoss leaving?) and look for more news through the day. Vilarino interview will be up mid-morning as we get ready for maybe the guest I am most looking forward to ever this week……and if you have been a fan of this blog, you already know who that is (rhymes with Boo)
If you havent yet, sign up for the Sports Mob MySpace Site…..Things are looking up….