Lance Stephenson and Billy Gillispie
6-5 New York City shooting guard extraordinaire Lance Stephenson has reportedly added UK to his list of schools he will visit. This according to a close family friend. Previously it was thought the the '09 Rivals #2 SG was considering UCLA, Kansas, and USC. But with the Mayo factor clouding SC's future NCAA Tournament prospects, Stephenson dropped the Trojans from his list ( was it worth it, Tim Floyd?).
Along with UCLA and Kansas, UK will now battle for the player considered to be the best college prospect in New York City. For me, this development carries quite a bit of significance: Billy Gillispie roaming around NYC has to be a frightening thought for Carolina, Duke, and UConn, much less Gillispie's good friend Norm Roberts who coaches St. Johns. Our friend down Interstate 64 might be relegated to playing second fiddle to Billy, not only in Kentucky, but also New York. Ouch, that stings!
Couple the fact that Gillispie could become a presence in the Big Apple with a commitment from Stephenson, with what Stephenson the player would mean to The Program, and 'Cat fans have a vitally important, difference-making decision to sweat out. It's seems as if recruiting isn't going to be absent drama over the next few years, which was thought to be a possibility considering all of the commitments UK has received over the last couple of months.
But Gillispie is a hustler, pure and simple. His work-ethic is unquestionably admirable, and the leadership he is displaying with his actions surely isn't lost on his players. Enough is never enough in Gillispie's world. He is going to go after the absolute best players he can find, regardless of has already committed. Kentucky fans should be thankful that our coach is working so hard to bring a Championship to UK. I know he makes $2mil per year, as do a lot of coaches, but I've never seen ANYONE work so relentlessly. Just another reason why he was born to coach UK.
Marreese Speights, Jordan Crawford and Indiana
Former Florida Gator Marreese Speights will not be returning to Gainesville. He has informed Billy Donovan that he is going to keep his name in the draft, which is evidently a no-turning-back decision. I don't think Donovan will have any trouble replacing Speights' 14.5 points and 8 rebounds per game, though. He has three big men coming in, one of which is Kenny Kadji , a very highly rated prospect. Speights perfomed well in SEC play last year, but I don't foresee Florida missing a beat.
Jordan Crawford , who recently announced he was transferring from Indiana (last person out of Bloomington turn off the lights), has evidently been playing in pick-up games with players from Detroit Mercy. I don't necessarily think that means Crawford will be attending Mercy, but it is an interesting development.
What I fail to comprehend is why so many players are leaving IU. I would have thought that the Indiana players would welcome with open arms an excellent coach with a proven track record, and by all acounts, a popular coach among his players. I realize there will be some less accepting of a coaching change, but nearly every player on IU's roster, as well as most of the commitments, have decided to hoop it up elsewhere.
I have no love for Indiana, but I'm still perplexed. Perhaps the previously skewered Kelvin Sampson ran a program akin to the Bobby Petrino style; very little player accountability, with the occassional slap on the wrist. Perhaps the players were told that Tom Crean actually demanded that they go to class and behave themselves, both on and off the court. Or is it possible that the players have fled because they expect IU to be severely punished by the NCAA, and don't want to stick around to find out? I suppose both theories are plausible, but we'll probably never know.
Thanks for reading, and Go 'Cats!