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JUCO's at Kentucky: A recipe for success?

As we are all aware, Kentucky has recently signed Kevin Galloway from the junior college ranks, and is actively recruiting his teammate, Juan Pattillo.  Apparently, Galloway was with Pattillo on a visit to campus last weekend, along with several other Kentucky recruits.  Pattillo is an über-athletic, 6'7"/205# wing, reportedly with a 40" vertical, good rebounding and scoring skills.  Not so much a pure wing as a 3/4 hybrid, Pattillo reportedly has a decent face-up game and shot around 35% from 3-point land in the JUCO ranks.

Kentucky has historically had little use for JUCO's, but both of Kentucky's last two coaches had a couple of junior college players during their tenure.  Here is a run down of them, including my assessment of their level of success at Kentucky (hat tip:  Jon Scott's UK statistics website):

Coach Name Height Pos. School Notes Success level at Kentucky
Pitino Rodney Dent 6'11" C Odessa (TX) Junior College Avg. 6pts/5reb first year, and 10pts/5 2nd year until going down with severe knee injury. Drafted 31st by Orlando Magic in 2nd round, 1994. High until injury
Pitino Dale Brown 6'3" G Gulf Coast Community College Avg. 7pts/2reb first year, and 9pts/3reb 2nd year. Played in 1992 Duke game and 1993 final four vs. Michigan. High
Smith Antwain Barbour 6'5" G-F Wabash Valley Community College Avg. 3pts/2reb first year, and 5pts, 2.5reb 2nd year. Smith's best JUCO Medium - somewhat disappointing
Smith Rekalin Sims 6'8"' F Salt Lake Community College Avg. 4pts/3reb first year. Injured most of first year, left after that. Low - very disapppointing

Rodney Dent's story was a very sad one, as he was headed toward a very impressive season and quite possibly a first-round draft pick when he suffered a catastrophic injury to his knee against Vanderbilt.  Despite this, he was eventually drafted into the NBA in the second round, the only Kentucky JUCO in recent years to actually get drafted in either round.  We all remember Dale Brown as a very important role player in some of Kentucky's most legendary seasons of the Rick Pitino era, and the heart he showed against Michigan in the Final Four.

Smith had some success with Barbour, who came with much fanfare as the JUCO player of the year.  However, Barbour adapted very slowly to the D-1 level, and despite his excellent athleticism, contributed relatively little until the second half of his senior season.  Starting from the Ole Miss game, he averaged almost 7 points and almost 3 rebounds, finally realizing some of the potential that Smith saw in him.  Smith's second JUCO was a failure, though.  Despite a hot start from the perimeter early, Rekalin Sims simply did not develop into a solid D-1 player.  He developed a nagging back injury, and was too slow and hampered by the injury to ever reach his potential.  In addition, Smith and Sims were constantly at odds, and Sims transfered the next year.

So what conclusions can we draw from all this about our nascent crop of junior college players?  None, really, except that JUCO's are pretty much like other new players -- success is had at varying levels.  We normally would not expect a JUCO to come in and lead the team in scoring or rebounding, but they have often become very valuable role players and add to the team's depth.  After they become used to the much higher speed and strength of the Division I game, I would expect valuable contributions from our JUCO's, be it only Galloway, both Galloway and Pattillo, or some other combination.