Every year I select a team that is not Kentucky to be my “second favorite team” of the season. Recent winners of this prestigious award were NC State (who held for my years at Duke during the Julius Hodge era), Wichita St and Bucknell. Well at the beginning of this season I selected my team and went with Nevada and their star Nick Fazekas. I spent tonight doing what any non-normal college basketball fan would do….watching a half empty arena in San Jose where Nevada and Fazekas played against California in a game for friends and family. Nevada won, and continued their winning streak that I believe could end up the longest in the country. At this point there is a very real possibility that Nevada will lose few, if any, games. Learn Nick Fazekas…..he will be an All American and Nevada (who was a 4 seed last year dont forget) is making noise all year.
Now onto the news. Tons of info came out at the Hoopfest and there is a lot to get to…..
(1) Because all of the major recruiting gurus from all over the country were at the game, I spent some time catching up on what is going on with our guys. Some of the info conformed with what I have heard and some differed. The major topic however was our man Jai Lucas. I spoke with one of the major Recruiting analysts who told me that Lucas was genuinely split between Kentucky and Maryland and that his decision to wait was in part because of that split. He said that Lucas and family decided they wanted to wait and sign no Letter of Intent (so as to not be locked in if a coaching change occurred) and that by waiting, options could be kept open. According to him, Lucas had Kentucky as his leader for most of the procss, but had a period after the Maryland visit where he seriously considered a commitment there. But after returning home and the visit was out of memory, UK re-emerged. In addition, Herb Pope, Lucas’s good friend who was expected to go to UM, committed elsewhere and the Terps then fell back a bit. This source believes the four finalists are still the four finalists and that UK is still in a very good position…..assuming Tubby Smith is still UK’s coach.
(2) What about our man Patrick Patterson? A different guru….and we all love gurus right…..said that Patterson and his family genuinely have not made up their mind. UK is however one of the “co-favorites” and the source said he thinks it is UK and UF in first with Duke and UVA slightly behind. UVA has moved up, in part because of the visit there, and the source believes Patterson will see every school but UF (due to distance) again. I was told that ANY of the four schools could win and that all of them have selling points.
(3) So lets combine these two stories. What are the chances of a Patterson-Lucas combo? Everyone I spoke with agreed that if Patterson comes, Lucas comes too. All think it is a distinct possiblity, none think it is assured. THis conforms with my general belief on the area. Only one difference. EVERYONE I spoke with said the decision to postpone was less one about the leaders (presumably UK for Lucas and UF for Patterson) but more about these families being savvy. Both families see NO value to the player to sign a letter of intent (they are correct….letters of intent help no one but the school) and both know they hold the cards and will wait for the perfect situation, when they know the coach, style and players of the program for sure. Thus it is seen as a smart decision, rather than a reflection on the schools.
(4) What about our man Marshall Moses? Everyone I spoke with believes Marshall is a heavy UK lean and that the Cats hold the strongest position in the race. What is much less clear is whether Marshall will be ready for 07. One source told me that Marshall is much farther from being eligible than is being reported and that this may explain UK’s lack of speed on getting this done. “Marshall wants to be 07 and maybe at UK…..but it is by no means assured thats even possible.” So there you go.
(5) As talked about below, I saw AJ Stewart and he gave THIS INTERVIEW. The report is below, but the main part of the interview worth noting is that Stewart suggests UK has been in contact with teammate Gabriel Charley, who set the Hoopfest record, making nine three pointers. AJ said UK has called Charley a number of times in recent weeks and Tubby was there taking notes on his performance. Kids say this stuff a lot, so who knows, but Charley did shoot well in the game. AS for Teeng Akol…..not a terrible player, but UK needs to do better with this class as AKol is a couple of years from contributing on the college level.
(6) One more interesting overarching point. During my interview with Stewart, he asked me if I knew who won the UNC game. I asked him if he was watching UK this year and he said“lI dont think recruits watch games all that much….we got others things to do, like play in our own games.” I found that an interesting quote. We often wonder if such and such game will help or hurt recruiting and AJ made the good point that most of these kids dont pay attention to the nuances like we do. It reminds me of when Patterson told me last year that he had only “watched one college game all year.” We often forget that these kids are simply kids and at noon on Saturday, many of them have other stuff to do than sit and watch basketball on television. Dont know what if anything this signifies, but I do think it is interesting.
That is the recruiting talk. We hope to have the show recorded live at the game up sometime on Monday (likely night) which includes interviews with Dave Telep, Nolan Smith and others. There is more to come from the Hoopfest, but we will spread it out through the week. Have a good start to the week……