As the last few weeks have been floating along, a common concern among many in the fanbase is “when are we ever going to get a big guy?” And the concern is well-founded. At this point, most of the top big men in the class of 2008 have either committed elsewhere or have narrowed their list and left UK off….a surprising result considering how fast and furious recruiting started in the Billy Clyde era. Now the Cats are left hoping to rise on the Chris Singleton list, become a major player for John Reik or see Ralph Sampson III develop into a reincarnation of his father, in order to make a big man splash in 2008.
Parallel to these big man concerns are the issues with trying to find perimeter wing players on the team. After the commitment of DeAndre Liggins, Kentucky has seen a host of its other wing targets look elsewhere. Willie Warren has had UK dropping on his ever-changing list, Scotty Hopson’s mother told the media that she believed UK was too “stacked” at her son’s position and even Darius Miller seems to be considering alternatives to his home state offers. What was once seen as a given, a 2008 class that would be among the nation’s best, now seems like a longshot as the Cats fill niches in the lineup, but dont load up on stars.
What is odd about these two parallel recruiting difficulties is that they reflect a lineup that looks to be, not only this year but also in the future, extremely unbalanced. On the perimeter, Kentucky will be as good as anyone, beginning this season and for the foreseeable future. However down low, the Cats are thin and scary. The future of the program seems to rest on a certain Huntington, West Virginia product and a skinny shot blocker with occasionally wavering confidence. Kentucky’s roster is decidedly unbalanced and it will be interesting to see how Billy Clyde will be able to deal with this fact. On the one hand, it is hard to recruit perimeter players because he already has a ton with talent. But on the other hand, it may be hard to win the players he has in the post because they lack the size and depth to be able to contend for national championships.
Part of this problem is bad luck and part is due to bad decisions. Unless Mike Williams surprises us all, an argument can certainly be made that 4 of the last 5 big men recruited to UK were not UK caliber. Some still see the answer in Jared Carter, but regardless of what one thinks about his game, his ability to help at all this season is speculative at best. I have read many columnists write about what they are most interested in watching develop during the Billy Clyde era. Some suggest it is style of play, fan expectations or early recruiting targets. But for me, the first question may be even more basic. How does Billy Clyde take a lineup that is as unbalanced as any I can remember and make a winner? If he is able to make such a lineup work, not only this season but until the players can be redistributed again, imagine what may be possible in the future…..