When I spoke to Kyrie Irving immediately following his visit to Kentucky, I came away with two feelings, which I passed along to you guys previously but I feel bears repeating: (1) Kyrie was wowed by the atmosphere at Kentucky, the love from the fans, the future potential that this team has and probably felt Kentucky surpassed Duke in those categories; but (2) He still held high regards for Duke and just got that “home away from home” feeling from their University that Kentucky, no matter how hard they tried, just couldn’t match. That gave Duke the slight edge and will probably be what allows Duke to add Kyrie’s signature this fall.
From UK’s point of view, there’s a couple orders of business that we need to get out of the way:
First, let’s be respectful to Irving and represent the University in the way that Kentucky’s tradition demands and deserves. Irving will be more than fine at Duke, pursuing HIS dreams, and Kentucky will be fine pursuing other options. Don’t be mistaken about the fact that kids and their parents read the message boards constantly and those that don’t are definitely talking. The only thing that you achieve by disrespecting these kids is (a) making yourself look really ignorant and (b) ultimately hurting UK’s recruiting efforts. So think before you type about what you are REALLY doing.
Second, where does Kentucky go from here? Over the past few weeks, Kentucky stepped up their recruiting efforts of Kyrie significantly, most likely because a decision was coming soon, but they weren’t out of options. Here’s the top 3, in no order:
(1) Doron Lamb – Lamb will be in town on Friday for Kentucky’s Student-Only Practice, offering a great opportunity to show the prospect exactly what kind of atmosphere he can expect if he chooses the Cats. With Eric Bledsoe most likely returning, I personally LOVE the possibility of playing Bledsoe alongside one of, if not the, nation’s best combo guards. As the kids say these days, “That’s a really good look.”
(2) Brandon Knight – Knight has already seen Kentucky and he likes what they have to offer. He will look around and he will weigh his options. Knight plays his cards close to the vest, not giving away any leanings, and also understands the impact he can have on wherever he decides to go. That’s what makes his recruitment so interesting. While Kentucky offers others a place to shine amongst other stars, Knight seems to have the confidence and understanding that he’s going to shine no matter where he goes.
(3) Josh Selby – Selby, just like Knight and Lamb, offer a bit of the combo guard/scoring guard mentality that would compliment Bledsoe’s style well and also be a step towards replacing John Wall’s production level. Selby will still be available in the Spring, so Kentucky has time to explore other options before turning the heat up on Selby. Kansas is in full pursuit right now and I’ve heard a lot recently about them competing for the #1 spot on his list, if they haven’t already took it. I still believe that if Kentucky turns on the pressure, they could retake that spot very quickly.
When you look at the options, you’ll quickly notice one similarity: all three have a combo=guard style and scorer’s mentality. While Kyrie can definitely score to the level of all three of these guys, he wants to play more of the natural point guard’s role. Maybe that is another reason he felt he would fit Duke’s wants and needs more so than Kentucky’s. Also, you’ll notice that Kentucky has plenty of other high-quality options and, while they would have loved to have had the option of adding Irving, I don’t think they’re too worried right now and you shouldn’t be either.