Never in all my born days have I seen such hand-wringing, vexation and woe over recruits as I am still seeing around the UK online community, except during the height of frustration over our former coach (who is no longer here, by the way). It really is quite unbecoming.
- Item: Tyler Zeller, as expected, cut UK from his list, citing uncertainty about Gillispie's style. Negative reactions all around the 'sphere, but the angst at TCP is particularly worrisome.
- Item: Darius Miller gave this interview over on KSR the other day. In reaction, we have lamentations from normally sober places. I listened to the interview and saw no real cause for concern, he was about as close-mouthed as Patrick Patterson was about what his plans are, and we all know how that worked out.
- Item: Rumors are that Jamychal Green has cut UK from his list. The fact is, he has been widely expected to stay close to home (i.e. Alabama). But despite Green's naming of UK to recruiting analyst Marc Maggard as recently as yesterday, many fans are accusing Maggard of being duped by Green. Evidence -- none.
I am even hearing some blaming of Tubby Smith for the perception that recruits like Miller are now willing to go elsewhere rather than play at UK.
Folks, this is the height of futility and is quite counterproductive. The problem is that Gillispie has been coach at Kentucky for only a few months, and the 2008 recruits have been hearing from coaches for years. The fact of the matter is, many of these players (like Zeller, for instance, and quite possibly Miller) may not interested in waiting to develop a relationship with Gillispie. They already have a relationship with several coaches of colleges that they feel comfortable with, and unless Gillispie can catch up a long way in a short time, he is likely to lose in the end on most of them.
By now, Wildcat fans should have a grasp on how this works. There is an unfortunate side-effect to negativism like this, in that other programs can use it against us. They did so very effectively against Tubby Smith, and if we aren't careful, we are going to place Gillispie at a disadvantage he doesn't deserve.
So I say to the Big Blue Nation with all the love and respect I can muster -- PLEASE STOP! Please ... it is unseemly to continually agonize over every perceived slight, "loss", or recruiting outcome. For some reason, certain Kentucky fans are living in the day when recruits would be knocking down our door to come here. Blame Al Gore's Internet or Sonny Vicarro if you want, but those days, in the words of The Righteous Brothers are "Gone, gone, gone, wooooooaaah."
You don't see Duke or North Carolina freaking out every time a coveted recruit goes elsewhere. We have been willing to place our program in the hands of a man we barely know, and claim that "In Billy We Trust." Let's at least give the guy a chance to do his job before we descend into recriminations over recruiting.
As fans, we must be better than this. It is simply ... well, BAD, to constantly substitute our judgment regarding recruits for that of a man who has forgotten more about recruiting in the last five minutes than most of the hand wringers will ever know, even if they were granted the grace to live as long as Tolkein's Eldar.
So please ... relax. It will be fine. Football is coming with lots of potential, and we have reason to be optimistic both about our basketball recruiting and this year's team. Let's not give our opponents more ammunition to use against us. In a few months, recruits will not be wondering about Billy G.'s style -- they will know what it is, and won't listen to the whispers of rival teams fueled by nervous UK fans. Let us exude the fearless confidence that we have rightfully earned as fans of one of the Great Basketball Schools.
Defeat your held-over fears, and smite their ruin on the mountainside of Kentucky's great tradition. Fear not for recruiting, for it is in the hands of a relentless, tireless, sleepless advocate of that birthright, and for that we must be grateful, and should be confident. We can't do anything about a hangover from the previous administration, even in the unlikely event it actually does exist. Let the past be the past. Let us live in what Traitor Rick used to call "The precious present" and let history be history.