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Goodbye Nicola Kecman--Hello Bobby Maze

Thanks to Aaron's UK Basketball Blog for bringing our attention to some new recruiting nuggets.  Some of the nuggets aren't very tasty, but others are.

Let us begin with the bad: Nicola Kecman has verballed to Ohio State.  The 6'9" Serbian not selecting UK as his college of choice is not all that shocking to most.  Kecman was considered a long-shot to attend UK my most observers.  But his decision does take another big man off of the board.

The more positive news concerns a JUCO All-America out of Hutchinson Community College in Kansas.  Bobby Maze a 6'2" ( some say 6'3" ) point guard has evidently drawn the discerning eye of Billy Gillispie.  

Maze has taken an unusual path to where he is today; he attended Suitland HS in Forestville, Maryland until his senior year.  He then transferred to The Patterson School in North Carolina for a year of prep school. This move was supposedly made to shore up his academic standing in the hopes that he would qualify to play as a freshman.

The tactic worked as Maze signed with Oklahoma out of high school ( '06 ).  After missing the first seven games of his freshman season while recovering from a broken foot, Maze put together a solid first year.  He averaged 5.6 points per game, 2.1 assists per game, while shooting 45% from the field, and 70% from the foul line.  He played an average of 18.6 minutes per game.

After the season Maze was either dismissed from the team by head coach Jeff Capel, or Capel and Maze "came to an understanding" which resulted in him transferring.  The Tulsa World newspaper reported that Capel asked Maze to leave because of his "practice habits and overall attitude".  Maze claims the move was a mutual agreement.

Maze then transferred to Hutchinson CC.  Maze had a tremendous year at Hutchinson.  He earned All-America honors, and garnered much interest from high-major Division I coaches.  His Hutchinson numbers are as follows; 20.7 points per game, 6.8 assists per game, he shot 50.5% from the field and 72.9% from the free throw line.  

In December of '07 Maze orally committed to Maryland.  Maryland head coach Gary Williams "backed off of the committment" recently, which has re-opened the recruiting battle for the point guard.  According to Ryan Swanson (formerly head coach at St. Catharine's College), Hutchinson CC head coach, Maze has drawn interest from Cincinnati, Kentucky and St. Johns. Wichita St. and Southern Cal have also reportedly been asking about Maze.  Swanson said visits have already been scheduled for Cincinnati and Kentucky, and he may visit St. Johns.

For those who care: Out of high school Maze selected Oklahoma over Wake Forest, Cincinnati, Kansas State, and Seton Hall.  Reportedly Tulane, Tennessee, and Auburn were also suitors for his services.

In Maze's senior year he was ranked #135 by Rivals.

There is a pretty impressive accumulation of recruiting service comments about Maze from '05 and '06.  AUTHOR'S NOTE: Remain calm while reading.  Most of the comments are glowing in nature.

There is this article which can best be described as a human-interest story on Maze.  

The young man certainly seems talented.  I am a bit leery of the alleged "attitude" problem though, especially with a kid who is considering playing for Billy Gillispie.  But, Gillispie has encountered a variety of attitudes in his many years in coaching, and I will trust his decison-making when it comes to who he thinks he can successfully coach (in my book he gets a mulligan for Legion).

Lastly, I would like to know why Gary Williams pulled the offer to Maze.  The timeline of events suggests that Williams knew the particulars of why Maze was bounced from Oklahoma.  Surely before he offered the scholarship, Williams spoke with Jeff Capel about Maze.  One would think something else may have spooked the Terrapins coach away from the seemingly very talented player (could it be academics?).  Afterall, Maryland is in more desperate need of a talent inlux than even UK.

If Jasper leaves as expected, and Liggins doesn't qualify, then UK will be in dire need of point guard help.  Paul MCoy is out there and available, but Bobby Maze may prove to have a more immediate impact on the team than a true freshman.  Kevin Galloway is certainly an option at the "lead" guard, but having another player legitimately competing for the position makes me feel much more comfortable as a fan.

And so goes the Texas Tornado ripping down the road.