Two thoughts on what is an important weekend for UK:
(1) There has been a tremendous amount of uproar over the commitment of Mike Williams and I admit that I just dont understand it. First of all, it has been reported on here for quite some time that Williams had an offer, so getting on the staff at this point because the kid accepted seems to be a little odd. When I announced that he had an offer, barely a peep was heard. The kid accepts and all of a sudden the sky is falling.
But more importantly, I dont see what the long-term downside of our newest British Cat is. Tubby must sign 5 and possibly 6, players in this year’s class. Because there is a strong possibility that he could lose Morris this year, one of those guys HAD to be a center. So lets see, who is Kentucky currently recruiting that is a center? Well there is…..virtually no one. Dele Coker and Phil Jones are the only potential centers that have been mentioned with UK and a case can be made that Williams is better than both of them. Look, Williams has only been playing basketball seriously for three years. During that time, the kid has lost a ton of weight, picked up a set of offensive moves and developed some of the best hands of any big man in the country. As I have said a number of times, if you are going to take a chance on a player, take it on someone who is physically gifted and has the ability to improve…..Williams is that kid.
There is no chance that Kentucky was going to sign 5 or 6 top 4o players this year. That rarely, if ever, happens in recruiting and it wasnt realistic this season. Thus Williams is a likely finishing piece of what can be a very good class. I am certain that UK does not believe that Williams is the centerpiece to future recruiting efforts. But he is a big man, and if they wanted a big man, they had to get one locked up soon. Schools like Pitt, Virginia, UCONN and Georgetown were looking at Williams and as the year went on, you can be certain that others would have joined the fray. Ultimately, Williams commitment will have little effect on the success of this class. This class will be judged on what happens with Patterson, Lucas and Stewart. IF they decide to wear Kentucky blue, then this class is top 5-7. If they dont, then the success of the class is debateable, if not obviously disappointing. Signing Mike Williams changes that calculus not at all.
As I have said a number of times before….when UK signs a recruit that you have never seen or that you know little about, hold off before you cry to the moon. Most UK fans would not know Mike Williams from Dele Coker from Larry Coker, so being upset makes little sense. Hold off on judgment until the class is completed….then the 2007 class can be fully evaluated.
(2) Little is being said about this, but this is a HUGE weekend for UK as Patrick Patterson makes his scheduled visit to Duke. Visits by kids to Durham should worry everyone as Duke has an ability to pull of miracles when they get a kid on campus. The combination of the beautiful school, special student environment, crazy basketball offices (with Coach K thumbprints to get in) and manufactured tradition (emphasizing only the last 20 years….the history that kids can remember) make Duke the type of place that virtually always gets its commitments if they roll into Durham.
I would be shocked if when Pat got back from Duke, he wasnt privately telling people that Duke was his leader. Duke does visits better than any other school, a feature that may be best left for another blog. Duke has structural advantages that no other school has, and Patrick will see those this weekend. In a good tidbit, Pat will be saved from a game at Cameron (a great experience), while he will get a taste of UK’s best fandom in a few weeks. Ultimately however, this will likely be a great visit for Pat. What Kentucky fans have to hope is that he continues his rational behavior and doesnt commit on the spot or soon after. If Pat comes away from his Duke visit, not calling Duke the leader, or feeling that Durham is where he has to be, then I like UK’s chances. Getting Pat on campus for Midnight Madness is huge….this weekend is the last hurdle to that taking place.
Watch here this weekend for UK-Central Michigan coverage and other tidbits. I will be in Lexington at the game and around the town….email me at [email protected] and check in throughout the weekend….