We got a lot to get to today, so I wont waste time with a lot of drivel….thats what the rest of the blog is for. But I do want to point you to a post I put up earlier, which has a link to every episode of Season 2 of Kentucky Sports Radio. This is a good way for those of you who have found us to get caught up on the old episodes of the show, etc. Now lets get onto the news, cause there is lots…..
(1) Big news of the day is that James Anderson is likely coming for a visit to the University of Kentucky….possibly on the last weekend of October. You may remember that the first inclination that UK was still in it with Anderson came on our show from Jai Lucas, who mentioned that the Cats were still pulling for the Arkansas target. I spoke Monday night with Anderson’s family member who told me whe believed that James would be coming in two weeks, and Rivals.com confirmed that information on Tuesday. Now for the scoop. I am hearing that Anderson’s interest in UK has partially increased because of the comments made by Jai Lucas after his visit. According to my source, Lucas talked to Anderson on Sunday and “convinced him he should make the trip.” This is very good news indeed. In addition, it confirms what has become the unanimous story about Jai’s trip…..mainly that he was blown away. Jai of course told me this on Sunday, but he knows that I am a UK guy, so I have now heard that he has said this to multiple folks with no UK connection. UK still has to deal with the Oklahoma St factor…..but I suspect that UK has set a very high bar to overcome, one that will be hard for a known football school to reach. If Tubby pulls Anderson and Lucas (not to mention Patterson)….watch out.
(2) I spoke again with Chris Barnes to clarify some of the dispute about when the last time he heard from UK has been. He said it was “right before the Oklahoma visit”, which of course was the visit he just took last weekend. He said that he hasnt heard from UK since but he “still is very interested” and he confirmed again that his final two choices were UK and Georgia. Now that is the good news. The bad news is that my UK source is telling me that the Cats have all but pulled out of the race and are no longer expecting a commitment. I must admit that I find this news surprising and it was accompanied with a rationale. Out of respect for the situation and the fact that I cant confirm the stated basis, I will not let it out here, but this bit of news changes the entire UK situation. Barnes was always a Patterson backup for UK and while they would have loved to have him here with Pat, Patterson was and is the focus. However there was going to be someone lost in the shuffle……I didnt see how UK could get Barnes and Moses, and still save a definite ride for Patterson (especially with the likelihood that Brooks or Pettigrew hears from UK in the spring)…..thus someone had to go. The UK staff has ALWAYS preferred Moses to Barnes and they must feel good enough about what happened this weekend to let Barnes go.
That is all confusing, but it boils down to this. I dont expect Barnes to pull the trigger for UK on Thursday. Absent a grand reversal from the UK camp, this one is likely headed in a different direction, and that result is one that UK and maybe Barnes as well, prefers. We shall see….
(3) The Morris Twins are definitely going to prep next year and will be part of the 08 class. Their mother told me this afternoon that this was what her son’s both wanted and that she was not going to “stand in the way.” She said their list of schools is still the same and that they plan on visiting UK very soon. I think the Morris Twins were always the backup plan if UK did not get Patterson/Stewart. Now they are part of the 08 mix. But that does raise a question. Who is UK’s backup now for Patterson? The answer may be (back again) Darnell Gant or Lavoy Allen, both names that seemed dead to UK just a week ago. Hopefully we wont have to know as a Patterson, Lucas, Moses commitment rules this all moot and paves the way for the addition of Brooks or Pettigrew should Morris leave in the Spring. But no Patterson and (god forbid) no Lucas….and all of a sudden this class becomes much more sparcely attended.
(4) A name continually forgotten by everyone not on the UK staff is Ramon Harris. He is still waiting on word from the NCAA clearinghouse which he expects toward the end of the month. According to Harris, he still has an invitation to join the team in January and he hopes to join the team regardless in 07. I spoke with someone this weekend who raved about Harris in words that truly surprised me. The source watched Harris play pickup with the team and said, “Matt I am not kidding…..he was probably the second or third best player our there. I know that sounds like an exaggeration, but he is maybe the best penetrator on the team and has tons of athleticism. He needs to work on his shot, but the kid would play right away.” This is the second such story I had heard, but the first that was from someone who saw the game. While we are watching every move of these high school kids, dont forget Ramon.
(5) Finally, dont forget the juniors, who Tubby has gotten an earlier start on than in any year during his tenure. William Buford of Ohio is a top player looking at the Cats and Tubby is in very strong with the Morris Twins who now fit into this equation as well. And then there are of course the three Kentucky kids that may or may not end up in Lexington. It is WAYYYY to early to predict 08, but the chance is finally there for UK to get something rare during the Tubby Smith era……an EARLY commitment from a TOP player. Would be nice.
Finally, since I did rag on rankings in the last blog, someone asked me how I would rank the UK targets and commitments. This is my list, based on what I think the potential is for each kid’s COLLEGE STARDOM. This is for guys in the 07 class, and for comparison I am including the Morris twins…..
That is my list, based upon my viewings of the players. As you can see, I am very high on Jeff Brooks and a little lower than most on Barnes. Williams is included where he is because of his tremendous upside and because I have been literally told by a dozen people in recent weeks that UK got a steal. If I were to include past UK targets like Hickson (he would be just behind Patterson) and Randolph (likely in between Lucas and Stewart), the list would look different, but that is how I see the guys for this year. Very soon I will be coming out (along with Rob) with our rankings of the best players in the state of Kentucky, but when comparing who we want from one player over another, that is how my list would play out.
Until next time…..