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Some Nike Peach Jam Notes and Reflections


As we get ready to leave the Nike Peach Jam for another year, it is time once again to reflect. This year’s event had virtually every top coach in America in attendance and was a great event to get a snapshot of the nation’s recruiting scene. I saw every UK target in attendance at least once and talked to a number of coaches, media members and recruiting gurus to get a sense of exactly where UK stood in the 2012 and 2013 class. A few reflections:

1. Most are unsure as to UK’s overall focus in 2012:

The continuing theme in my conversations throughout the week was uncertainty as to John Calipari’s plan with the 2012 class. While I got some insight from a number of sources, many were asking me for information as they were unsure exactly where UK was headed. Nearly everyone was certain that UK would end up with another great class, but who will make up that class was up for debate. Watching UK and Calipari’s priorities over the last two weeks, it does seem that these players are of a top focus:

Shabazz Muhammad
Dajuan Coleman
Archie Goodwin
Perry Ellis
Brandon Ashley
Kaleb Tarczweski
Anthony Bennett
Mitch McGary
TJ Warren
Darnell Stokes
Tony Parker

There are clearly other players on UK’s radar, but in terms of Calipari focus, these 11 seem to be the primary targets. Calipari spent the last two weeks flying around the country to see these 11 and it is likely that UK’s final class will be 3 or 4 of these young men.

2. Ricardo Ledo is the Wildcard…In More Ways Than One

I always hesitate to comment on the attitude of young players. Sometimes players that we end up liking when we learn more about them (a la Demarcus Cousins) can give off bad first impressions. With that said, having watched him play three times in the last three days, it is awful hard to like Ricardo Ledo. I sat one row behind his bench for a game and heard him curse at his coach, berate his teammates and throw more pouty fits than I have ever seen in an AAU game…which is saying something. His attitude was universally poor in all three games and seemed like a bad teammate in every encounter.

But with that said, Ledo has become a great player. He has improved exponentially in the past year and he may be the best pure perimeter scorer in the class. All of that leaves Kentucky with a bit of a quandary. It is unclear what level of interest Kentucky has in Ledo, and whether a firm offer is on the table for him. His AAU coach said that he wasn’t sure what UK’s interest was, but that Ledo was a big fan of Calipari/UK. Calipari needs a perimeter scorer and if he goes full bore after Ledo, he may very well get him. But Ledo has a lot of maturing to do and that may go into whatever final decision on him the UK staff makes. It is yet another wildcard in a 2012 class that will be full of them.

3. Kentucky is going to LOAD UP in 2013

The 2013 class is loaded. I saw three players in the 2013 class at the Peach Jam that I would take over almost anyone in the 2012 class. Julius Randle, Jabari Parker and Nerlens Noel are special talents that will blow up over the course of the next year. And Kentucky is in contention for all three and will almost certainly get at least one of the group. Add in Chris Thomas, Chris Walker and others, and it becomes clear that Kentucky is going to create a MONSTER class in 2013. Whatever happens in 2012, just know that a boatload of talent is coming that next season and Kentucky is at the head of the pack for just about everyone that matters in that group.

4. The hierarchy of coaches is most apparent at AAU events

When you walk into an AAU event, the most striking sight is the immediacy of all the famous names next to you. In a gym smaller than that of almost any middle school, the biggest names in college basketball are sitting along a wall, watching high school kids play glorified pickup games. It it is bizarrely odd. But even with that group, there is a certain cache that comes with the appearance of particular coaches. It basically comes down to this:

Stop the presses appearances:

Coach K
Roy Williams
John Calipari

If they are in the building, everyone knows and everyone takes notice. These three coaches are the only three that don’t consistently wear the logo of their program and when they arrive a buzz of “K, Roy, Cal is here” goes through the room.

Wow, did you see ____? appearances

Tom Izzo
Jim Calhoun
Jim Boeheim
Bill Self
Rick Pitino
Billy Donovan

This group is small but strong. When these five men arrive in a gym, everyone takes note. They are famous enough to be recognized by all the players and families, and most want to shake their hand.

The “we recognize” that guy group:

A larger group of coaches that includes names like

Tubby Smith (probably at the top of this group but not quite in group 2 anymore)
Ben Howland
Tom Crean
Steve Lavin
Rick Barnes
Jamie Dixon
Brad Stevens
Sean Miller
Lorenzo Romar

There are more in this group, but it is basically every known head coach in America at a relatively popular school. It is the classic, “hey what is that guy’s name?” group and will contain Rick Barnes and Jamie Dixon until the end of time.

Every other head coach

That is the group. You judge a game and its importance by scanning the wall to see what members of each group are there. If any of the top group are there, you watch. If 2 or more of the second group are there, you take notice. If its all third group guys, then stay only if you care about the particular coach in attendance. That is the way the AAU game is played now and Kentucky’s coach is, for the first time since the late Pitino years, squarely in group number one.

Hope everyone is well…we begin our baseball trip tonight. See you along the way….

Article written by Matt Jones

31 Comments for Some Nike Peach Jam Notes and Reflections

  1. RidgeRunner
    10:41 am July 15, 2011 Permalink

    Was there Weds (off work) and sorry I missed ya Matt but was able for my son and I to shake Cal’s hand. Hey maybe next year, my wife and I can cook ya some good ole southern food and have ya over (across the river into Augusta).

    Appreciate the time and work put in down here, bud…

  2. RidgeRunner
    10:52 am July 15, 2011 Permalink

    Not sure if ya got a chance to drive over into Augusta, Matt.. but in the future recommend “Rhineharts” as it’s a great local place for seafood, burgers, you name and has a bar…its all cooked to good quality and an awesome laid back atmosphere. Just..while I think of it.

    Lived here for 22 years and gotta recommend something! LOL

  3. Scottie Smalls
    10:58 am July 15, 2011 Permalink

    Did you happen to see Jai Lucas and feel out his recruitment? Any chance he’s a Wildcat next year?

  4. Ron
    11:06 am July 15, 2011 Permalink

    So tired of hearing about basketball on your site all the time, it’s closer to football season for crying out loud. Time to uninstall KSR and go to some more seasonal sites that support all sports. Thank GOD for BBK!

  5. Richochet Rabbit
    11:11 am July 15, 2011 Permalink

    Billy Gillispie falls into the “Didn’t that guy used to be famous” group?” People don’t ask for an autograph or handshake out of fear that it may just be an event worker.

  6. Darryl Isaac
    11:11 am July 15, 2011 Permalink

    #4 all I care about is basketball and I think I speak for the majority of Kentucky fans when I say that. Football season is fun, but honestly it’s just a prelude to the main event, basketball season. I would much rather talk about recruiting the upcoming season and the future of the Kentucky basketball program then read one post about football. That’s me.

  7. Tuesday Night at the Louisville Gardens
    11:22 am July 15, 2011 Permalink

    none of those players are as good as Troy McKinley in his prime..

  8. geez
    11:27 am July 15, 2011 Permalink

    I am a uk football fan and watch the games when I can, but when there is a football post on here I generally skip it.

  9. winning
    11:28 am July 15, 2011 Permalink

    Matt, can you count?

    Tom Izzo
    Jim Calhoun
    Jim Boeheim
    Bill Self
    Rick Pitino
    Billy Donovan

    This group is small but strong. When these FIVE (fail) men arrive in a gym, everyone takes note. They are famous enough to be recognized by all the players and families, and most want to shake their hand.

  10. snarkster
    11:29 am July 15, 2011 Permalink

    Thanks Matt. Great job this week! Didn’t realize we were after Parker. I’d definitely add Denonta Pollard & Robert Carter to that list. Its going to be a very interesting next few months.

  11. Thad Matta
    11:30 am July 15, 2011 Permalink

    What about me? I coach overhyped teams every year!! My face also looks like a foot and is easily recognizable.

  12. blink 82
    11:36 am July 15, 2011 Permalink

    We were invited to perform but when we found out it was for a football game and not basketball, we declined.

  13. Megan
    11:36 am July 15, 2011 Permalink

    Why isn’t Calipari focusing on Andre Drummond?

  14. blueink
    11:43 am July 15, 2011 Permalink

    tough crowd

  15. JMFATZ47
    12:05 pm July 15, 2011 Permalink

    I would put Matts in the 2nd group as well

  16. Claud Bawls
    12:15 pm July 15, 2011 Permalink

    Ledo sounds like a Duke boy.

  17. seenvic
    12:43 pm July 15, 2011 Permalink

    (One of) Ledo’s coaches told me no way on Ledo to UK. Providence. I said huh? on that one.

    He did say a very strong maybe on Coleman to UK. I talked to him for about 30 minutes and had a pleasant conversation. But I did wonder….how do you go 0-5 at Peach Jam with Coleman and Ledo on your team? I dunno, but that is what they did.

    All that said, I am just a UK homer who lives down here. Take this with a grain of salt.

    Met KSR’s Matt Jones last night as well. He looked busy was very nice to break away for a few minutes. I also spoke briefly with Mark Pope. My wife got Cal to sign a book for our bro-in-law.

    I saw Jabari Parker’s team lose to GA Stars. I thought #32 (Tony Parker?) on GA Stars was quite good. I also thought Kyle Anderson from CA (I think) was damn good.

  18. Hokey
    12:45 pm July 15, 2011 Permalink

    Travis Ford there?

  19. seenvic
    1:02 pm July 15, 2011 Permalink

    Correction. Anderson from NJ. He was playing against a team from CA.

  20. inhup
    1:29 pm July 15, 2011 Permalink

    its true!

  21. Ledo Apologist
    1:37 pm July 15, 2011 Permalink

    lay off my boy, he accepts nothing less than the best from his coach and fellow teammates … [email protected] !

  22. Brian Storn
    1:38 pm July 15, 2011 Permalink

    i’m w/ Megan: Where is Andre Drummond on the list? On it but just not getting the focus this week? He is right there w/ Shabazz and Dujuan as far as my top three for 2012.

  23. KevinKat78
    2:37 pm July 15, 2011 Permalink

    As always we should remember 2012 comes before 2013. If UK has a great year and all possible outstanding players go Pro: withe loss of seniors UK could loose 7 players to replace in 2012. This makes 2012 a very important year for recruiting. Of course if things go well 2013 will to! 🙂 We UK fans really have it bad! 😉

  24. Marcus L. Owens
    2:44 pm July 15, 2011 Permalink


  25. Sheeeeiiit
    3:59 pm July 15, 2011 Permalink

    #6 I’m with ya on that!

    #9 wow your so smart, I’m impressed

    Matt. It’s very nice that your back on the site. I need a KSR fix about once a day. You are out chasing down the story and its great for us readers. I now know more about the latest UK recruiting news. That’s exactly what I came here for. So thanks.

    I am a bit concerned about 2012 though. I want UK to be #1 in every category every year. So it’s instinct to want the #1 recruiting class again. No need to worry though because Cal will bring a great class in, top 10 at least. I just want us to be #1, that’s all.

  26. #4 sits down when he pees
    4:02 pm July 15, 2011 Permalink

    #4 More people would be excited about football if our coaches didn’t blow opportunities every year to get just one more win, end the UT streak or get embarrassed by a coach-less Big Least team in a bowl game.

  27. Calipari'sInYourEar
    4:22 pm July 15, 2011 Permalink

    Ledo sounds like exactly the guy we don’t want on our team.

    Let Louisville have him, and Pitino will have kicked him off the team 20 times before the first game of the season.


    I’d be willing to bet Pitino won’t touch this kid even though Rivals lists UL medium interest. If anything Pitino gives him 15 seconds.

  28. Calipari'sInYourEar
    4:26 pm July 15, 2011 Permalink

    I bet Ledo sleeps through team meetings

  29. Brian
    5:21 pm July 15, 2011 Permalink

    Heard DaJuan Coleman gave a silent verbal to OSU. Either way, it ain’t a signature, and you know Cal won’t quit.

  30. Band Of BlueCats
    7:20 pm July 15, 2011 Permalink

    Can’t leave Robert Carter off that list. You put Tony Parker instead of Carter.

  31. Big Blue
    9:29 am July 16, 2011 Permalink

    Hey Matt, it’s Jarnell Stokes. If you’re going to post something, at least know the players your talking about