clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The Hyping of Leonard Washington and Other Basketball Trivialities

This whole Leonard Washington thing is getting way out of control.

I have been carefully watching some of the larger UK sites and I am a bit baffled.  By the conversation that is taking place, you would think this Washington guy is Patrick Patterson on steroids.  Now, nobody understands how the Big Blue Nation can get wound up about recruits like I can -- I have been living in this world for quite a while, and I truly understand how people can get carried away.

But there are a couple of things we should be aware of here.  Leonard Washington has a checkered past of starting fights and general troublemaking.  His academics, as of now, are not in order.  He is only ranked a 3-star on recruiting services, which we all know doesn't mean that much, but reality must intrude -- he is unlikely to be a program changer.  Many people are hyping him as a low-post beast, but the truth of the matter is, he is only 6'6"/225, and although those are Chuck Hayes-like vital statistics, he is still very raw by all accounts.  He may be slightly more able to make an impact than AJ Stewart, but only slightly.

Would Washington help us?  Maybe, maybe not.  His attitude doesn't appear to be what UK would want, but that could be turned around by determined coaching.  The thing is, he just isn't really good enough to get all this hype.  He may develop into a UK player one day, but as of right now, he wouldn't really improve our recruiting class at all, and in my opinion would make a limited impact on the team.  Keep in mind, this is coming from a guy who scouts player via news and Internet reports -- I have never seen him play in person and don't know what kind of player he would be.

Still, for a team that is as short on players as Kentucky is at the moment, it's easy to understand why so many UK fans want Washington to come.  Personally, I would rather save the scholarship for a better player.  Your mileage may vary.

As we cruise along toward our next game with Liberty after a 14 day lay-off, some news is beginning to trickle out.  Last night on his call-in show, Gillispie said the following:

  • Players:
    • Jasper is running some, and improving.  Running yesterday for the first time in a while.
    • Harris is doing better, Meeks is out and will be out for a while;
    • Some bumps and bruises, but players are handling it well;
    • Carter is doing better, but has a long way to go and is nowhere near where he needs to be.  Not about condition, it's all about toughness and competitiveness;
    • Meeks -- 4-6 weeks.  Won't play him injured.  Not going to push him and risk losing him.
    • Seniors -- "selfish" criticism is unjust.  Thinks they are trying too hard, and try to do too much.  Doesn't look like selfishness to the coach;
      • Joe is coming along, missed a lot of conditioning, behind.  Trying to figure each other out.  Still haven't seen results he wants yet.
    • Patterson -- going to be great.  Very smart & tough, pays attention to coaches and very smart.  Great leader, but has been deferring to seniors.
    • Alex Legion -- Going to be a good player, knows how to score and has improved tremendously.  Has a long way to go, but is getting better.
    • AJ Stewart -- needs to pay more attention to detail.  Very athletic, competitive.
  • Liberty:
    • Likes to control tempo;
    • Likes to back door;
    • A lot like G-W [Nooo! - ed.]
  • Team:
    • The team is improving in all aspects of the game;
    • Noted we are shooting free throws, and said they don't practice them much.  Said it was mostly mental.
    • Player rotation -- wants to get into a fixed rotation, but now isn't the time -- don't know enough.
    • Practice, practice, practice over the Holidays.  Never reach the 20 hours allowed, mainly because of class schedules.
    • There is no one particular thing the team is working on, there are "about a million".
    • Working on overall improvement.  Doesn't think that players are reverting to previous system.  Thinks they go back to competitive roots, and we just aren't competitive enough.
    • Preventing G-W type breakdown requires ball pressure, and forcing the ball into particular lanes.  Practices for particular teams as well as just running UK's defense.
  • General:
    • Gillispie generally in favor of early season tournaments like Maui Invitational.  Thinks they have allowed too many exemptions, and are allowing too many events to start too soon.  Doesn't think it's good for college basketball.  Would prefer to start after 5 weeks of practice.  Thinks he might be in minority, but believes that the season is just too long in the first place.
    • Pressure of coaching at Kentucky -- Thinks people "overplay" how much pressure there is.  Thinks coaches are tougher than many people give them credit for.  Understands fan interest, passion and responsibility, but feels no pressure.
    • His contract -- Personal matter, keeping it that way.  No comment.
    • Rupp Arena crowd being too sedate -- should be sedate when we lose like we did.  Confident they will be loud when time comes.
  • Recruiting:
    • Will be signing other players this year, but they will not be playing this year.  [re: Washington? -ed.]
    • Excited about DeAndre Liggins and Darius Miller.  Targeted both guys.  Says Millier is maybe 6'8" now and very strong.  Darius does a lot of extra practice, Gillispie loves that.
    • DeAndre Liggins -- can play a bunch of positions, not a good shooter yet.  Very competitive, loves UK tradition.

So just in case you haven't had a chance to listen to the show, there you go.  You can listen to the program here if you have the time.