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Recruiting News: Contrasts in Style

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First the bad news.  Samardo Samuels, the #6 ranked player in the 2008 class, has committed to Traitor Rick and the Cardinals.

UK was trying hard to get Samuels to at least give our program a good look, but Pitino apparently pushed all the right buttons with him.

Now, for the good news - 2010 stud recruit Dakotah Euton is very close to committing to the Wildcats.  This was the direct result of the elite camp held by Billy Gillispie last weekend.

Also, UK has apparently offered a ride to uber-quick 2008 point guard Cortney Fortson.  Apparently, Fortson so impressed the Wildcat staff at the elite camp that he drew an offer.  Fortson is ranked the 6th best PG in the nation for the '08 class, but some say he will rise higher.

Also worthy of note is this post by John Clay at his blog Sidelines, detailing the number of top players that UK is currently in on.  According to Clay, we are in on 6 of the top 50 2008 players, and his list doesn't include Samuels, whom UK was said to be wooing, Willie Warren, and some others.

Now obviously, we don't have room for all these guys, but I find it a study in contrasts to look at how Tubby Smith recruited versus how Billy Gillispie does.  Smith liked to pick a few guys out of every class and try to develop a strong personal relationship with them, while Gillispie prefers to get involved with as many top prospects as possible  

Smith's approach can obviously work, as evidenced by the recruitment of Patrick Patterson -- in my opinion, given what we now know, Patterson would have come to UK if Smith had stayed.  This by no means minimizes the amazing accomplishment of Billy G. in picking up the wreckage of Patterson's recruitment after Tubby's sudden departure and reassembling it into a winning presentation, but it just illustrates how differently the two coaches approach recruiting.

The biggest problem from a fan standpoint of Smith's recruiting style is that it was so under-the-radar and virtually opaque to everyone but him.  We never knew who or what he was doing recruiting-wise, and that understandably led a lot of fans into varying levels of frustration.  The fact that he had some very high-profile misses later in his career only added to the perception that he either didn't try very hard, or was just plain lousy at, recruiting.

As all of you know, I was a die-hard Tubby Smith apologist and thought the world of the guy (still do, by the way).  But with all that said, I like Gillispie's recruiting style much better.  It is much more visible to the fans, much easier to follow and as transparent as any recruiting process I have ever seen, including that of Rick Pitino.  It is such a refreshing change to see UK with so many options, it just gives you the impression that we can now pick and choose who comes here.  

That impression is probably wrong, as impressions often are, but it is no less welcome for that.  And I believe that it pays dividends in recruiting -- when recruits see all these other guys with UK on their list, it makes them wonder why, and gives the impression UK is HOT.  

We haven't had that perception around here in some time, and I for one am glad to see it back.

Update [2007-6-13 15:36:4 by JL Blue]:

Scout reporting a visit from Andre Clark, a late blooming stringbean from Arkansas. Why is this particularly interesting? He's considering reclassifying for 2007, which would add him to this year's class. He's set to visit on June 28.