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Kentucky Basketball Recruiting: Assessing the Results of Black Monday

This morning there is good news.  Black Monday is over, and as far as I know, nobody in the Big Blue Nation has jumped off of any tall bridges or buildings from the psychic malaise caused by overwhelming disappointment, and that is a very good thing.  But there is no doubt that many Wildcat fans are disappointed and somewhat frustrated by yesterday's events, and trust me, I am among them.

Intellectually, we all know that disappointment is a major part of being a fan of any sports program, although Florida Gator fans may have forgotten how disappointment feels lately.  Be that as it may, it is time to take stock of the situation as it presents itself.

Kentucky is/was recruiting four remaining quality players for its 2007 class - Beas Hamga, Michael Sanchez, Jai Lucas and of course, Patrick Patterson.  Of those four, three are now said to be committed or committing to other schools, and only Patrick Patterson remains available.  Patterson is scheduled to have a news conference on Wednesday to announce his decision between Duke, Kentucky and Florida.

The reality is that we as Wildcat fans have to face the likelihood that we will go 0-4 on these recruits, and pretty much have to live with the team we have now in 2007.  I don't say that because I think Patterson is a Florida lean -- unlike some, I don't ascribe any mystical or extraordinary skill to Donovan's recent recruiting success.  

I say it because my feeling is that each of the three schools has an approximately equal chance to obtain Patterson's services, and while Lucas' matriculation to Florida may slightly enhance the Gator's chances, I don't believe it is in any way dispositive.  But even if we assume that Jai's decision has exactly 0% impact on the situation, that leaves our chances of landing Patterson at approximately 33% by my estimation.

Now, I don't know about you, but 33% is not the kind of odds I would bet the farm on, or play Russian roulette with.  We are facing 2-1 against, or a 1 in 3 chance.  While that is not abysmal, it also qualifies as the odds begin against us.

So why did all this happen?  Well, we all like to speculate, but a good deal of the speculation is really unnecessary.  Lucas saw the point guard spot open up at Florida when Green hired an agent, and even if this isn't quite as cut and dried as it may appear to him, Green's official leaving removed enough doubt to sway him.  Presented with the same circumstances and absent the cognitive dissonance of being a UK fan, I expect most of us would have made the same decision.

Sanchez is an Arkansas boy who lives five minutes from Arkansas' campus.  Arkansas has a new coach, unproven at the helm of their present school, and so does UK.  Ultimately, we lost Sanchez to home court advantage.  Another one that is easy to understand.

Beas Hamga, however, is a different and likely more sinister story.  Some have suggested that maybe his visit to UK wasn't that good, but I have serious doubts about this.  Others think that the number of centers currently at UK was a factor, and I simply can't argue against that possibility.

But from there, it gets a little more ominous.  The recent comments in the media, right in the middle of Hamga's visit to UK, by his AAU coach and "guardian" Mark Adams seem very questionable, especially in light of this comment by Marc Maggard on KSR back in April.  Maggard knew of the connection of Adams with UNLV, and warned us that this had to be "overcome".  Given the events of two days ago, it is perfectly clear to me that Adams was not only the deciding factor in Hamga's recruitment, but that he deliberately tried to create a scandal to ensure Hamga did not sign with us.

This activity was blatantly unethical and absolutely a conflict of interest.  Adams can legitimately lay claim to Hamga's best interests as his guardian, but apparently he used his position as AAU coach to influence Hamga's decision not based on merit, but his own personal desires.  You may suggest I don't have enough facts to draw this conclusion, but you are wrong.  The facts are there, and people are convicted of serious crimes on less circumstantial evidence than this.  I won't waste any more words on this guy, but what he did was rotten to the core.

Which brings us back to Patrick Patterson.  He is, after all, the big prize of the four.  But I caution my UK brothers and sisters against hanging much hope on getting him.  As I said above, the odds are very much against us, even if they are as good as anyone else's.  Many of you are discounting Duke in this equation and see only Florida, but this is the irrational Phlorida Phear I spoke about earlier talking -- ignore Duke at your peril.

So what should we do?  We should do what all good Americans and UK fans do when the chips are down -- hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.

Rick Bozich has some unusually good advice for the Big Blue Nation.  I think I will take it.

The UK Bias Blog has a post up entitled "Hope" with a different take on events, recent and not so recent.

Dovetailing nicely with the above link, Tubby Smith has picked up a 2008 commitment.