Every year, there are a few high school players that you look at who for whetever reasons strike you. Sometimes, as with a Patrick Patterson or Rajon Rondo, it's obvious (talent, talent, talent).
Other times, the reasons any recruitnik falls in love with a high school player's game are less tangible -- something more akin to a high school crush than an adult relationship, to continue the creepy metaphor.
This past recruiting season, many fans had this response to Marshall Moses, the enigma forward Matt Jones' crew really brought into the Big Blue zeitgeist. Moses was a youtube/myspace phenomenon, and it remains to be seen if he'll ever be as "essential" as he was built up to be by the legions of UK recruiting fanatics.
I have spoken of before of the "recruiting crush," which for me before last year was current UK sophomore-to-be Perry Stevenson. While everyone was ga-ga over Brandan Wright (with good reason, talent-talent, etc.), I loved the idea of the lanky Stevenson manning the weakside block for the next four years.
In that case, through a series of random occurences, my "recruiting crush" ended up in Blue & White. That doesn't always happen, of course. UK missed out on Tyler Hansbrough, Jared Jeffries and other guys I had prayed to the recruiting Gods for.
This year, the guy who stands out the most to me -- and to a growing number of summer-bored UK fans -- is Oklahoma sharp-shooter Rotnei Clarke.
Listed at a generous 6'0", Clarke is one of those gym rats -- the Patrick Sparks from Western Kentucky clone -- that UK fans love, and his shooting displays in Oklahoma prep hoops are legendary. In his high school career he's had games of 55 points as a sophomore, 57 as a junior and 60 in a state tournament game again Vian of OK.
As if the word of mouth wasn't enough, this profile from last week cemented his place in the sights of UK recruiting junkies.
He also just happens to be best buds with another UK target, top-40 stud Willie Warren. that the two have talked about being a package deal only further drives up the stakes.
With so much time, and so many twists and turns, before we get there, who knows where Clarke will end up. But one this is for sure, in the pantheon of recruiting crushes, this gym rat from tiny Verdegris, Oklahoma, is a name on the rise.
This youtube video gives you a glimpse of why fans are so excited: CLICK HERE
Update [2007-6-18 14:5:9 by Truzenzuzex]: 2010 recruit Dakotah Euton of Rose Hill Academy has verbally committed to the University of Kentucky according to KSR's story here. Thanks to commenter davw83 for the heads-up.
Rivals also has the story ($).
Update [2007-6-18 16:57:54 by Truzenzuzex]: After good news, some bad. UK 2008 target Romero Osby is going to matriculate to Mississippi State, according to Jody Demling of the Courier-Journal. Rivals also has the story ($).