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Catching up on recruiting

Recruiting is one of those things we cover sporadically at A Sea of Blue, because other sites do a much better job and are better attuned to that subject.  But with that said, I think it is fairly important every now and then to take a look at what is happening, and what it might mean for Kentucky's future players.  So what I will do now is run down the current list of basketball recruits for Kentucky and discuss each one in a bit more detail, including my impression of where we stand with them.  Keep in mind, I am not a recruiting guru and don't play one on the Internet.  Therefore, if someone who is a recruiting guru (or does play one on the Internet) disagrees with  my take, I won't be offended if you believe them and not me.

So here is the main list am aware of, and their current status.  I have left off a few people I consider to be unlikely except as backup plans:

  • Josh Harrellson, 6'9" 250# F/C from Southwestern Illinois Community College - Harrellson was the guy who was originally committed by NLOI to Western Illinois University.  After it became known that Harrellson was seeking his release from WIU, the athletic department there decided to play hardball and would not release him from his NLOI, basically making it impossible for him to be directly recruited by any D-1 school.

    After much wringing of hands and some scathing articles in the press, WIU relented and has now released Harrellson.  Harrellson has since been released and is working on scheduling a visit with Kentucky.  Other potential suitors include Missouri, Iowa, Iowa State, Illinois and Indiana.  I have also seen Minnesota out there somewhere as being interested.

    Opinion is mixed on Harrellson's skill, but the majority seem to be leaning to the idea that he is a skilled player.   He had a great year at SWIC, and seems to be one of those big guys with a face-up game.  His size would certainly be a welcome addition to our front court.  At this moment, Kentucky appears to be the leader for his services, although he is said to be taking several visits.  Tom Crean's recent interest is likely to create a recruiting battle between the new Indiana coach and Coach Gillispie.

  • Ater Majok, 6'10", 220# F/C from Sudan via American International School in Australia.  Majok is said to be looking at a long list of schools including UConn, Baylor, Kansas, Memphis, and UCLA.  Right now, UConn appears to be the leader for his services.  Majok is slated to play in the Derby Festival Classic where his skills will be on display.

    Majok is a long, athletic big man who is said to be very active on the floor, challenging shots and able to play a face-up game.  He runs the floor well, but is still somewhat raw in his skill set for a big man.  Most analysts think he will wind up playing for Jim Calhoun, however.  UK could definitely use the services of this talented international player.

  • Paul McCoy, 5'11", 175# PG from Portland, Oregon.  McCoy is a speedy, athletic two-sport (basketball, football) star in Oregon.  McCoy originally signed with Pepperdine, but got out of his LOI and reopened his recruitment.  Other parties interested in McCoy's services include Virgina, Washington State, Tennessee, SMU, and Cincinnati, among others.

    McCoy wants to be a pass-first point guard who happens to have explosive scoring ability.  He is said to be able to create his own shot and get to the rim.  McCoy will also be displaying his skills in the Derby Festival Classic, and after that, he will be making an official visit to the UK campus.  It is not impossible that McCoy could commit right after his visit, as he is very high on Kentucky and has yet to meet Coach Gillispie.  Glynn Cyprien has taken the point on McCoy's recruitment.

    In my opinion, Kentucky needs a speedy point like McCoy.  After having lost Bradley and Crawford, we need a guard who is going to take the ball to the basket, and my take on McCoy is that he fits that bill perfectly.  His size will be a slight defensive liability, but his quickness and overall athleticism should more than make up for it.

  • Verdell Jones, 6'4", 160# PG from Champaign, Illinois.  Jones is a long, lean combo guard who can handle the ball and is a very good passer.  He is also said to possess a nice perimeter shot, but others say that his shooting is not that good.  Other suitors include Minnesota, Indiana, Oklahoma, West Virgina and Virginia.

    Jones has been on UK's radar a long, long time.  He is one of the better guards left on the board, and could help the Cats replace some of what has been lost to graduation this year, particularly defensively.  He is said to be coachable and unselfish.  It looks to me like the first player to commit between Jones and McCoy could be the winner of the PG scholarship for this year, but who really knows?  Jones is said to have an offer by Rivals, but some say otherwise.

  • Roderick Flemmings, 6'7#, 210# SF from Weatherford Community College in Texas.  Flemings is said to be a sensational scorer, and many Kentucky fans think that he would make us forget all about the matriculation of Scotty Hopson to Tennessee.  Other suitors include UConn and West Virginia.

    Flemings is the kind of player every school needs -- a scoring wing.  He has decent size at 6'7", is long-armed and athletic.  He would seem to fit the bill for Gillispie's desire to bring on a player who can put the ball into the basket.  Flemings was the POY in the North Texas Junior College Athletic Association.  He has recently said that he would consider committing immediately to Kentucky during his visit, which is scheduled for this weekend.  There have been some who are concerned about his eligibility gradewise, but most now believe he is or will soon be fully qualified.

    Flemings has also entertained the possibility of entering the NBA draft, and will be working out for a couple of NBA teams, according to him.  However, his lack of D-1 experience make a direct entry into the NBA from junior college an unlikely scenario.

  • Maurice Sutton, 6'10", 210# from Upper Marlboro, Maryland.  Sutton is a long, lean big man similar in body type to Perry Stevenson.  Like Stevenson, Sutton is considered to be an excellent shot-blocker and a good rebounder.  He is said to have good hands and run the floor very well, and averaged near triple-double numbers in high school.  Offensively, though, he is considered to be very raw.  At this moment, Rivals has Kentucky listed as the only school for Sutton, although other services include such suitors as LaSalle, Seton Hall, South Florida and Marquette.

    Most scouts see Sutton as a late bloomer, and my take is that he is that he could help us inside, but probably not as much as Harrellson or Majok.  Defensively, he would give us some very interesting possible lineups and make it extremely difficult for an offense to score inside.  He looks to be the best defensive big man of the lot, and with the possible exception of Majok, have the most upside potential. 

    Most observers believe that Sutton will commit to Kentucky as soon as he has an offer, if he ever gets one.  He is also slated to play in the Derby Festival Classic, and my feeling is that the DFC could be his "try out" for UK.  If Gillispie likes what he sees, he may well go ahead and take the bird that looks to be in hand.  But Harrellson, and possibly Majok, may complicate the possibility of Sutton being offered a scholarship at UK unless he tears it up in Freedom Hall.

So that's how recruiting looks to me at the moment.  There are other possibilities and other players for 2008 with UK on their list, but I think most of them are backup plans to what I have just laid out.  We have only 2one remaining scholarship available for 2008 barring a transfer or other shuffling around.  By my count, we have 6 players that we could use, although some of them may be mutually exclusive.  My guess is that we will see some commitments happen shortly after the Derby Festival Classic, and possibly before.  The shape of the 2009 Wildcats won't be known for a while yet, but I think some of these six guys are likely to make up the remainder of our class.

Update [2008-4-12 13:27:41 by Truzenzuzex]:  Interesting comments here on Indiana's involvement with Harrellson.