Recruiting never ends for the University of Kentucky basketball program, and when you face the prospect of starting a season with only 11 players on scholarship (including a walk-on with a likely one-year pledge in Jarrod Polson), you know that Coach Cal would love nothing better than to have a quality player suddenly become available.
As almost everyone in the Big Blue Nation now knows, that scenario has come to pass with the decommitment of 6' 9'' 180-pound DeAndre Daniels, a Rivals.com 5-star prospect ranked #3 in his position (projected as a small forward) and #10 overall, from the Texas Longhorns. Originally a 2010 player, Daniels was reclassified to 2011 after having to spend a lot of time away from high school helping with a family problem.
Daniels is from California, and said at the time of his commitment to the 'Horns that he had committed to his "dream school." That certainly appeared to be the case, since Daniels committed almost instantly to Texas when he received an offer right after the Longhorns' elite camp, according to this article by Rivals.com (subscription required). Daniels cited Kevin Durrant and the style of play as reasons for pledging to Texas.
But something happened on the way to hoops happiness for Daniels, and rumors have been rampant over the last six months or so that Daniels was going to withdraw his pledge to Texas and reopen his recruitment, despite repeated denials by Daniels. Monday, Daniels did in fact decommit, and as a bonus, has reportedly been cleared to play in 2010.
Please note that nobody has explicitly said he has been cleared by the NCAA Clearinghouse, although that would seem to be what they are implying. A small detail, but I think it needs to be mentioned just in case, and Coast 2 Coast recruiting has this blog post suggesting that despite all the hullabaloo, Daniels is still not completely academically qualified, still has to take the entrance exams, and is unlikely to be ready this year. Given the lateness of the hour, I have to tell you that this could be correct, but it is by no means a sure thing.
Caveats aside, however, Daniels is said to be interested in Kentucky, Southern Cal, UCLA, Kansas, Memphis and possibly others. The latest word on the street is that Kentucky is indeed interested (surprising nobody) and is reviewing his high-school transcripts and other information. Adam Zagoria has Daniels visiting USC and UCLA this weekend, as well.
So that should bring us up to date on who he is, what happened to make him available, and what he is doing now. As to where he is going, well, let me change into my gypsy outfit, pull out the Tarot cards, and see what they tell us. We'll be using the Celtic Cross spread for this article. (Author's note: I don't read tarot, and this is all 100% for fun, so please don't think I'm some kind of supernatural weirdo. It's just an idea for an entertaining article.)
- First card center: The Fool, upright -- a journey, a new beginning.
- Second card athwart: The Tower -- This card suggests a bad situation holds against the new enterprise, possibly a reference to family matters.
- Third card above: Four of Cups, reversed -- New relationships possible, new goals, new ambitions, action.
- Fourth card below: The Empress, reversed -- Indecision, anxiety.
- Fifth card left side: The Star, reversed -- Unfulfilled hopes, disappointment, imbalance, bad luck.
- Sixth card right side: Three of Wands, upright -- Help coming from a successful person, business success.
- Seventh card beside: Eight of Swords, upright -- Illness, indecision, restricted action.
- Eighth card beside: The Emperor, upright -- Wealth, leadership, a capable person.
- Ninth card beside: Six of swords, upright -- Journey away from sorrow.
- Tenth card Beside: The Hanged Man upright -- Suspension, rebirth, change, reversal.
The Fool indicates the journey that Daniels is about to begin, but opposing him is The Tower, which indicates his grandfather's battle with cancer, where Daniels missed most of his sophomore year in high school to help care for him. Ahead of him lies the Four of Cups, a new situation, and represents his decommitment from Texas.
Below him lies The Empress reversed, a major arcana card that indicates his youth and indecisive nature, and is a powerful influence on his decision. When combined with The Tower opposing, it would tend to indicate a short journey.
The left side card reveals his past influences, the reversed Star. This looks like some kind of misfortune or bad luck, imbalance, or other negative influence holding him back. The sixth card is a minor arcana card, the Three of Wands, and reveals future influence, help coming from a successful person, most likely a coach.
Beside him in the present situation position lies Eight of Swords upright, indicating indecision and restricted action, likely from family influences. The Emperor, upright, indicates the influence of a capable or wealthy person. Daniels' inner emotions are reflected in the ninth card, which is the Six of Swords, probably indicating his desire to move away from sorrow. The final card is the final outcome, and is the Hanged Man, a major arcana card. This looks to me like a reversal or change, and could have something to do with his academic standing.
My read on DeAndre Daniels is that family influences will overcome his desire to get far away from a bad situation, owing to the powerful influence of The Empress and the Star, both major arcana cards. I think The Emperor represents Calipari, and he will wield a powerful influence on Daniels' decision and may overcome the influence of the Empress due to the presence of The Hanged Man in the ultimate outcome spot.
Overall, the reading suggests that UCLA and Kentucky will fight this one out, and it is a close call who will be the victor, although with Calipari represented as The Emperor and Howland by the minor arcana Three of Wands, Calipari seems to be in the strongest position. But another attribute of the Hanged Man is reversal, and due to the powerful influence of The Star reversed, the high probability is that Daniels will have to reclassify back to 2011 due to the time crunch he is currently in for 2010.
As to where Daniels will ultimately matriculate if he does wind up in 2011 as I think likely, well, that is a subject for another reading.