The Pace Quickens

We are now well into the spring signing period, and things are starting to pop.  For the latest recruiting news, try Bill Hodge at CSTV and Recruiting Wars.

First big news - DeAndre Jordan is staying at Texas A&M University and "honor his commitment".  Well done.

Second, E-town's Steffphon Pettigrew worked out in front of Billy Gillispie and some of his assistant coaches.  Pettigrew gave Gillispie some DVD's of his games, and Gillispie told him he expects to "get back with [Pettigrew] in a couple of days."

I am on record as supporting a scholarship to Pettigrew, I think he can offer us more than many people think.  I particularly liked this:

"Since I've always been a Kentucky fan, it feels good to finally get a coach to look at you hard," Pettigrew said. "(Gillispie) is a good coach, and he sounds like a good man."

Meanwhile, Xavier has seen enough and has offered Pettigrew a scholarship.  Strangely enough, this is one of the most difficult decisions that Gillispie has had to face so far, and it is critical that he gets it right.  I don't mean to suggest he must offer a scholly, but if he doesn't and Pettigrew goes on to star at Xavier, Gillispie is in for a Lofton-like second-guessing by the Big Blue Nation.

The Bradenton Herald examines Gillispie's historical team academic performance, and finds that on the surface, it isn't too good:

Using the Academic Performance Rate, a measure the NCAA adopted two years ago, both schools rank lower academically than UK and rank low enough that if their APRs don't improve, they could be at risk for NCAA penalties.

The red-line, or cut-off score, for academic acceptability is 925. Texas A&M's men's basketball team is currently at 856. This puts the Aggies in the bottom 10 percent of all Division I men's basketball programs.

UTEP, at 877, ranks in the lowest 10-20 percent in Division I.


But the article goes on to describe that there are numerous mitigating circumstances, such as a mass exodus at Texas A&M when Gillispie came on board:
Gillispie said he discussed A&M's APR in his interviews because he shared Barnhart's and Todd's seriousness about academics -- and so he could explain what happened at A&M.

The departure of the six players put A&M "in a deep hole as far as APR," he said. "Our number has been very, very close to perfect since that time."

UTEP's media relations office provided figures that indicated Gillispie had a strong graduation rate in his two years there, 2002-04.


This is obviously important to Barnhart and Todd, and it should be important to every UK fan.  Tubby Smith did an average job at reaching player graduation goals, and I hope Billy G. does better.

Patrick Patterson, the biggest remaining fish in the recruiting ocean, will receive an in-home visit from Gillispie this week, according to Rivals.com.

In more recruiting news, Victoria Sun of the Cincinnati Post reports Gillispie was recruiting 5-star guard prospect Willie Warren at 2:00AM in the morning via text message.  Quoting Warren:

"That just shows me he's dedicated and when he sees something he wants, he goes after it," Warren said Sunday. "I thought, what is he doing up right now?

"It was 2 a.m. Kentucky time. Once he started texting me, I figured out he wanted me pretty badly."


Maybe this Gillispie guy really doesn't sleep.

Mike Fields has a look at this year's Derby Classic on his blog.

Finally, in news that Rick Bozich reported on his blog the other day, the Cincinnati Post also reports that Gillispie has named Arkansas assistant coach Gynn Cyprien to his staff.  Cyprien is known as an outstanding recruiter and assistant as well as what the Post calls "a sterling reputation".

Sounds like Billy G. is off to a great start.  What we need now are players.


PM UPDATES

Update [2007-4-16 17:19:58 by Truzenzuzex]: Daniel at The Kentucky Democrat has more on Gillispie's assistants, and one I had not heard - Alvin Brooks, also apparently from Gillispie's former staff at TAMU, is said to be joining the staff.

Kirk Bohl of the Austin American-Statesman says Gillispie was the 6th choice of the UKAA. This guy needs to keep his nose in Texas, instead of trying to demonstrate his flexibility with an anal-cranial inversion.

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