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Time to turn our attention to recruiting

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Now that basketball has finally ended for Kentucky and we have officially entered that long interregnum between seasons, there is precious little going on in the world of UK basketball.  Of course, now is the time when recruiting rumors and talk begin to quickly ramp up, so I thought I would go over what UK's current scholarship situation is.

Right now, we have a total of eleven scholarship players, two of whom will be graduating -- Joe Crawford and Ramel Bradley -- which will leave us with nine scholarship players for next year.  Adding to that total are the recruits we have signed to letters of intent, which are DeAndre Liggins and Darius Miller.  Add to that Kevin Galloway, a JUCO transfer who has verbally committed to the Cats.  Therefore, assuming nothing changes, we currently have committed 12 scholarships, which leaves room for one more player.

So where does that leave us?  Well, here are the players that we are known to have offered a scholarship to who have yet to commit to a school for 2008:

Name
Stars Ht/Wt Hometown
Brad Tinsley 4
6'3"/180# Oregon City, OR
Verdell Jones 3
6'4"/160# Champaign, IL
Scotty Hopson 5
6'5"/185# Hopkinsville, KY
Roderick Flemings 6'7"/210# Weatherford, TX
Ater Majok 3
6'10"/220# Martinsville, VA

Now there is a rumor thatKentucky is also after a big man who wants to play here by the name of Josh Harrelson who is awaiting release from Western Illinois, with whom he signed an NLOI.  That release may never come, because apparently some in the athletics department of WIU think that Harrellson's recruitment was "tampered with," whatever that means, and Harrellson allegedly wanted out because of a family situation.  It's all very murky at the moment.

Harrellson would add the coveted "big man" to Kentucky's commitment list.  As you can see above, none of those to whom we have offered scholarships are "big men" by any reasonable definition of the term.  Harrellson is  6'9", 265#, so he definitely qualifies.  He is apparently a late bloomer, but Rivals has him currently as a 3-star.

Of course, then there is Scotty Hopson.  The recruitment/non-recruitment of Hopson has been extremely weird, and nobody has any idea what to make of it.  I refuse to speculate, because quite frankly, I have no idea what to make of it, either.  Perhaps it is similar to Patrick Patterson's situation, but I have no real feel for it.  And of course there continue to be rumors that Bud Mackey will walk on at Kentucky if he doesn't wind up in a bright orange uniform with a prisoner number on the back.  All of this is totally rampant speculation with very little in the way of real facts to support it, but as we slide into the darkness that is the off-season, I suppose we have to have something to talk about.

As is typical with any school, we have more needs than scholarships available.  If, for instance, Harrellson were to suddenly become available and matriculate to Kentucky, we would theoretically no longer have room for Hopson.  Of course, this is not a new situation and Tubby Smith always managed to pull something out of his bag of tricks when he was here, and I have no doubt that Gillispie is just as capable in that regard.  So for those of you who may worry about a scholarship crunch, I think I would just leave it to the experts.  It is also not impossible that one of our current scholarship players may be considering transferring to another school, although I have not heard anything about that.  There are also other forms of financial assistance available and so forth.  You know the drill.

By looking at who we have, who we have coming in, and who we know are being recruited, it looks to me like we will lack a true point guard.  I suppose that Liggins and Jasper can serve, although Jasper has had difficulty in the past dealing with small, quick point guards who play tough defense.  Jasper tends to dribble the ball high, and that can be murder against the tiny blurs we have in the SEC.  Still, he should be much better as a junior than as a freshman, and seemed to do better this year as a semi-point forward.  Perhaps Liggins is even better, who knows, but freshman point guards always cause me sleepless nights.  We also could use some help inside, as Perry Stevenson and Patrick Patterson represent our only true inside threats barring some miraculous transformation from Carter and Williams.  We'll have to wait and see how all that shakes out.

Still, we have a lot to look forward to in the coming days.  Two situations that should resolve themselves before too long are the Hopson and Harrellson situations.  Depending on how those go, there are still some interesting possibilities out there, including Brad Tinsley, who is said to be an excellent point guard prospect.  Plus, as happens every year, there may be some high-profile transfers from schools after the season is over, or coaching changes that produce releases from LOI's, much as happened last year with Alex Legion.  These and other "players to be named later" always seem to find their way onto Kentucky's radar every year, so it should be another fun spring recruiting season.