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Official tripping the light fantastic ...

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While the football Wildcats were hanging on for dear life, the basketball Cats were hanging out with some high school kids for the weekend.

Lanky California big man Darnell Gant and Georgia power forward Chris Barnes took official trips to campus over the weekend, and early reports are fairly tame as to their overall impressions. Gant's visit apparently started a little late, so he was scheduled to stick around until Monday, whiule Barnes returned home Sunday.

The 6'8", 210-pound Barnes was high on his visit (premium link), praising his host, Bobby Perry, and coach Smith -- who is primarily the reason the fast-rising prospect is interested in the Cats. Barnes has visited the first two schools on his list -- Kentucky and Wichita State (The Shockers were among the first and most diligent schools on Barnes before his stock rose, so he is staying loyal), and he said he plans to take all his five visits, the others are Tennessee, Oklahoma and Georgia.

Fans, generally in the dark on recruiting and grasping for anything they can, often talk about playing time and multiple recruits at the same position as being limiting factors. The commitment last week of Virginia center Mike Williams wouldn't seem to have an effect on either big man, as they are markedly different in style.

Gant is a lithe, athletic center in the Jules Camara vein, while Barnes is billed as a brute inside player. Williams is supposed to be more of a Marquis Estill/Marvin Stone-type recruit, with great hands and improving footwork. In the article, Barnes also mentions that he knows Patrick Patterson, UK's top target, and that any sort of commitment from Patrick would have no effect on Barnes' choice.

That may or may not be the case -- UK would love to find have such a problem -- but it is interesting how Tubby Smith and friends in the UK hoops office have done their homework. While they clearly have their A-listers (Patterson, James Anderson, Jai Lucas, the Morris twins and AJ Stewart), they also have lots of talented backup plans, and not just warm bodies.

Speaking of The Great Briton Williams, Matt Jones and KSR have a few recruiting tidbits as well this fine Monday, and one of them is Jones' continued digging in regards to what level prospect the newest Cat commit is. After talking to a few folks, Jones seems to think that the Cats may have gotten in early on a diamond in the rough. He notes that both UNC and UConn were apaprently trying to get involved before Williams pulled the trigger. Jones also states that recruiting guru Bob Gibbons ranked Williams the No. 62 prospect in the class, though I have not been able to find that ranking as of yet. Regardless, he and I are in agreement on taking the prospect, as it has tons of upside if Tubby can land some players who help now.

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