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Recruit Update: Preps and Jocks

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In what will be a running update this season, we introduce the 2007-2008 Wildcats-to-be and track their progress throughout the season as best we can.

In the November early signing period, Kentucky was quiet, inking just three players, and only two for next season (Ramon Harris, Alaska, has joined this year's team).

UK Signees for 07-08

Mike Williams, 7'0", C, Bishop Ireton, Virginia
The Great Briton was the first to commit to Kentucky, and had his official signing party on Nov. 14.

UK Coach Tubby Smith said of his first commit: "He is the low post presence that we've been looking for ... He has great hands and a tremendous upside. We feel that Mike can develop into a very good player. He is the right fit as both a player and student-athlete for the University of Kentucky."

Bishop Ireton has struggled to a 3-15 record this season, but not because of Williams. The big man often is frustrated by the inability of his teammates to get him the ball down low.

Some of Williams' games include 15 points and 13 rebounds in the season opener, 15 and 13 in BI's first win, 59-51 over Flint Hill, 17 (with 5-for-5 free throws) and 13 boards in a first round win of the Bishop Ireton Invitational.

In both tournaments he played in this winter, Williams made the All-Tournament team.

Williams' squad struggled mightily in the tough prep league under a new coach. On Dec. 28, Williams posted 20 points, 14 rebounds and 4 blocks but his team lost, 45-42. Hard to ask the kid to do much more.

Mike's development attracted the eye of a Charlotte columnist, who profiled the 7-footer for the local paper. Williams made the All-Tournament team.

Track Williams' high school team: (1) SCHEDULE/RESULTS and (2) MAXPREPS

AJ Stewart, 6'8", F, Arlington Country Day, Florida
The most enthusiastic UK signee in some time, Stewart picked UK after visiting for Big Blue Madness weekend with Patrick Patterson and Jai Lucas.

Country Day -- No. 11 in the USA Today preseason top 25 -- is after a rare feat in three straight Florida state titles. Stewart was among those listed as as a goal this year.

In selections of his game action, Stewart tallied 12 points in a blowout win by his ACD squad over New American (NY) at the Marshall County Hoopfest event in Kentucky. He followed that with 19 in a win in Jacksonville.

ACD then got picked off in an upset at a December tournament, as Stewart got in foul trouble. ACD then dropped the third-place game as well.

Back in action in the Beach Ball Classic, Stewart was explosive in the opening game, totalling 22 points and 18 rebounds in a blowout win. In the quarterfinals, AJ started slowly, but kicked it into gear in the second half, posting 15 points and 13 boards in limited minutes as Country Day spanked one of Kentucky's best prep teams, Scott County. ACD finished third in the event. Stewart made the All-Tourney team. ACD plays Lexington Catholic in January.

Track Stewart's high school team: Schedule/Results

Top targets for spring

Patrick Patterson, 6'9", F, Huntington High, West Virginia
Things have heated up in the race for the top unsigned player in the country. After a stomping of Lexington Catholic at Memorial Coliseum in early January, Patterson attended the UK vs. Miss. St. game.

Naturally, in town for an unofficial visit, some new answers to old questions:

"Some schools jump out at me. When I took my first visit, Florida jumped out at me the most. But when I compared everything to Florida, I started thinking I liked certain things more about each different school, so I really wasn't 100 percent sure about which school I wanted to go to."

The Herald-Leader also updated the Patterson recruitment in December.

Patterson says he still plans to announce his college decision in March and sign a national letter of intent in April.

His senior season has been a dream thus far. After OJ Mayo decided to return to his hometown for his senior year of high school, the stakes were raised, as now ESPN and USA Today started calling. Now Patterson, who Tubby Smith was on a year before several of the forward's other suitors, will be in the limelight on a nationally ranked (No. 5 preseason) team.

With Tubby Smith in attendance (among other NCAA hoops luminaries), Patterson and his teammates opened the season with a bang, routing Nitro (WV) 94-46. Patrick had 22 points, 10 boards and six blocks. he followed that up with 16 in a 105-62 wipeout of Ripley.

Other games this season have been similarly one-sided, as the Highlanders are averaging over 100 points a game and a nearly 50-point margin of victory. Gaudy scores abound, such as a 112-40 rout of Riverside, where Patterson collected 23 points in three quarters.

The national spotlight hasn't affected Patterson's play, evidenced by his had 14 points, 16 rebounds and four blocks against DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) High School.

With his teammate Mayo, Patterson will also be a part of the Team USA Nike Hoops Summit.

Track Patterson's high school team: Schedule/Results

Marshall Moses, 6'6", F, Patterson School, North Carolina
There are a lot of outstanding questions about Moses' recruitment. Scheduled to visit initially in November, then again in December, then once more in early January, the talented lefty has each time been asked to push the date back by the UK coaching staff. Speculation is rampant, but it looks like a grades issue of some sort, as there is little doubt that Moses is high on the Cats.

According to this latest TCP Premium story, Moses has seen an uptick in interest, with Sidney Lowe and NC State recently making a strong push. While UK fans begin the weekly task of blaming the UK staff for "losing" Moses before he's gone, it is expected that Moses will see other schools in on him, and frankly, Moses will see much more attention as a spring signee than he would have as a UK commit/signee his senior year.

Moses began the season with a bang, scoring 50 in his opener, a win. Since, he's slowed a bit, scoring 10 points in a win a few weeks later, then tallying 22 in a loss to NC power Bradley Central in the quarterfinals of an early season tournament.

For now, Kentucky fans clamoring for the unseen Moses will have to trust that his interest in UK is still what his coach says it is:

"No question," the coach, Terry Truax, said. "It's not even close. ... I don't know if there is a second."

Track Moses' high school team: Schedule/Results

Jai Lucas, 5'11", PG, Bellaire High, Texas
Few thought that Lucas, a floor general from Houston and the son of NBA personality John Lucas, would still be unsigned come December. But after proving unable to make a decision by the end of the signing period, Lucas decided to wait and see.

Each of Lucas' four final schools -- Maryland, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma and Kentucky felt good about its chances, showing just how good inside sources really are(n't) in the recruiting game.

Lucas' team, which originally featured big man Isaiah Rusher transferred, has struggled this season. Lucas topped 20 points in back-to-back early losses, and has continued to do his best to stem the tide.

The senior point guard nearly pulled out a game against Cyprus Falls that Bellaire lost. But the heady senior has stuck to what he does best, and he poured in 25 to lead Bellaire to a win over Westbury Christian. Lucas' 21 points weren't enough against Klein at the Academy National Invitational, as Bellaire dropped to 10-7, but his 13 on Saturday were.

While the TCP and other Kentucky media outlets report that Lucas is still firm on his top four schools (OU, UK, Maryland, OSU), a few schools are making a push just in case, including N.C. State, Iowa and Indiana.

Lucas again tallied 25 in a losing cause (premium) at the Hoophall Classic in Springfield, Mass.

Track Lucas' high school team: SCHEDULE/RESULTS