It seems to be a decent time for this.
Here we go, ladies and gents. The much anticipated sports weekend is upon us and the updated and rescheduled version of
10:30 pm Midnight Big Blue Madness will kick off the festivities for a big 48 hours in the Bluegrass. Much has been made of Coach Gillispie’s decision to move the event up two weeks in hopes of gaining a competitive edge on those lazy bums masquerading as big-time Division 1 coaches and we’ll soon know if the move pays off. According to our buddy, Jody Demling, there are a number of high schoolers lined up to be in Rupp tonight, some to see what they’re already set to be a part of and some to see if this is where they want to be. Since Matt is checking himself into rehab or something, I figured I’d cop out with a couple of sentences about each of the attendees. Here are the youngsters who have RSVP’d to Coach Clyde’s party:
Dominique Ferguson (2010) – We’ve gotten pretty familiar with Ferguson, who is probably the crowned jewel of an already strong 2010 class. He’s listed as 6’9″ and 210 pounds and Rivals has him listed as a five-star prospect and the #2 small forward in his class. He’s the sixth best player overall. He averaged 12 points and 6 boards as a sophomore.
Dakota Euton (2010) – Euton, who transferred to Scott County from Rose Hill this summer, has caught his fair share of criticism in the world of message boards since his commitment to UK, but he remains firm in his commitment. He’s listed at 6’7″, 215 pounds and is not ranked in his class by Rivals. The two-star player is listed as a power forward but has looked to be comfortable on the perimeter and three-point range on his jump shot.
Jon Hood (2009) – Jon Hood, Kentucky hero. Ok, that might be a bit of a stretch, but the Madisonville North Hopkins senior, who may or may not be going by “mop” at this point, is the favorite for Mr. Basketball this year and seems to be a bit of a fan favorite already. The four-star player ranks as the #7 shooting guard in the country and the 32nd-best player overall.
Vinny Zollo (2011) – Zollo committed to the Cats in May after his freshman year and, along with Michael Avery’s commitment, drew a lot of attention to UK for dishing out scholarships too early. Zollo is already 6’8″, 215 and, according to various internet reports following his commitment, could grow to be 7’9″ and weigh over 700 pounds. In all seriousness, Zollo has a man’s body already and his transfer to George Rogers Clark from Ohio should allow Kentucky fans to get a good dose of him the next three years. The sophomore power forward is a three-star prospect on Scouts, but the consensus seems to be that he’ll be much higher in the future.
G.J. Vilarino (2009) – Hey, heard of this guy? I mentioned before that Euton has caught some flack on message boards, but Vilarino seems to be right there with him. The 6-foot point guard from McKinney, Tex. was Gillispie’s first recruit and that seems to be where the fascination ended for a lot of fans. Vilarino is a three-star prospect on Rivals and is known as a phenomenal athlete with a 42-inch vertical and a time of 4.4 seconds in the 40-yard dash.
Daniel Orton (2009) – If you don’t know who this is, I’d like to welcome you back from your six-month coma and recommend that you not check out the financial market. Orton is the #1 target for both the fans and the coaching staff – and not without good reason. The 6’10” 260 pound man-child is currently ranked as the 22nd player in the country and the #3 center after being the 8th-best player overall in the previous rankings. He’s incredibly agile and athletic for his size and coming off of a visit to Kansas that was said to go very, very well, he should earn himself a few fan chants tonight.
Russell Byrd (2010) – The 6’7″ shooting guard from Indiana ranks as the 23rd-best player at his position and the 89th-best player overall. He is visiting the Cats fresh off of a trip to Michigan, where they probably told him about how awesome their hockey team is these days (football and basketball are sore subjects). Byrd, a four-star player, is known as a shooter and was famously told by a coach during a game “Your name is Russell Byrd, not Larry Bird!”, showing that he has the confidence needed to be a big-time player. It’s being reported that Byrd is close to making his decision and he’s planning to attend Michigan State’s madness next weekend.
Ian Miller (2010) – Although he sounds like he’s a European golfer, Ian Miller is actually a four-star point guard from Charlotte. Miller checks in at 6’1″, 160 and is the 20th best point guard in the class of 2010 and the 79th player overall. He has offers from a large number of schools, but Rivals puts his interest highest in Clemson and Florida State. Miller will attend Clemson’s Madness next weekend.
Brandon Mobley (2010) – Mobley, a 6’8″ 210 pound forward from Savannah, averaged 16 points and 12 boards as a sophomore. Mobley, who plays on the Atlanta Celtics squad that once boasted Randolph Morris, ranks as the 42nd-best power forward and the 141st player overall. According to Rivals, he has no offer from the Cats.
Ricardo Johnson (2010) – Johnson, a 6’3″ guard, is a junior at Covington Holmes and will attend Indiana’s Madness festivities next weekend. He also has said that he’d like to take unofficial visits to Tennessee, Butler and Cincinnati.
George Fant (2011) and Jordan Shanklin (2011) – Fant and Shanklin both attend Warren Central and, according to Demling, were late additions to the Madness roster. Shanklin averaged 11 points last year as a freshman and the 6’6″ Fant averaged 7 points and 8 rebounds in his freshman campaign.
Michael Chandler (2011) and Ryan Taylor (2011) – Chandler and Taylor are a couple of sophomore teammates of Dominique Ferguson and will be tagging along with him to Big Blue Madness. Taylor is a 6’6″ wing player who has garnered some interest from IU and Chandler is a 6’10” center who, despite being very raw at this point, has drawn interest lately from Purdue, Indiana and Ohio State. Rivals also has Duke, Illinois and Florida listed as interested.
So, for everyone attending tonight, just know that I have a mix of jealous and hateful feelings for you and that the Rupp Arena doors open at 9 pm. If you’re in the Bluegrass and looking to catch it on TV, the following stations will be carrying it live beginning at 10 pm:
WYMT-TV in Hazard
WKAG-TV in Hopkinsville
WKYT-TV in Lexington
WMYO-TV in Louisville
In addition, Matt will be LIVE BLOGGING THE EVENT here at 10:30, so be sure and check that out as well. Also, if you don’t have tickets to the Madness, make sure you stop by the open gym Saturday at 10:30 am to catch everyone in action.
Well, that’s it for now. Check back for more throughout the day as we continue to get you prepped for the Big Blue Madness and the official debut of the new jerseys, as well as what might be the most important football game so far this season for Rich Brooks and Co. Until then….
***Don’t forget to get your picks made for our College Pick ‘Em game***