The Courier-Journal has this outstanding article today on G.J. Vilarino, Billy Gillispie's oft-maligned first recruit as coach of the University of Kentucky. Van Coleman, who I respect (so much so that I pay for his information) says that Vilarino is improving, but he still has some work to do:
"There are areas where he can still get better, but I think he has improved," said Coleman, who evaluated Vilarino at the recent LeBron James U.S. Skills Academy in Akron, Ohio.
"He utilizes his quickness much more efficiently. He's not dribbling the ball the length of the court; he's getting out and getting clear and making a pass. The other thing he has to do is show the jump shot to keep the defense honest, and we haven't consistently seen that."
To be honest, I don't worry near as much about his jump shot now as I do his handle and his passing. Kentucky will have plenty of players who can score from the perimeter and inside the paint. Many point guards do fine in college without a reliable jump shot (Derrick Rose, Wayne Turner, Jason Kidd -- this list is long and distinguished), but as long as V.J. can get to the rim and attack the basket, he will be a fit at UK. As to that, we have this:
He has a 42-inch vertical leap and has been timed at 4.4 seconds in the 40-yard dash.
As to his ballhandling and passing, we have this from an article late last year:
Vilarino gets two more seasons to add to his awards collection and make a legitimate run at a state championship. He will also use that time to polish an already impressive game that includes stellar ball-handling, quickness on offense and defense and a nice perimeter jumper.
I don't care who you are, a 4.4 40-yard dash is blazing, Jodie Meeks speed. If he can really run like that, not to mention jump 42 inches in the air, he is more than athletic enough to play the point at UK. If he can handle, pass, and get up and down the floor and blow by defenders on the dribble (and it looks like he can do all four), he has all the skills he needs. The consistent jumper can come later.
But my favorite quote is from from G.J. himself:
"Once I committed, I have always been firm with it," said Vilarino, who probably will be watched by Gillispie this afternoon. "I'll never go back on my commitment. I made a commitment, and that's how it's going to be. Kentucky is my place, and I can't wait to get there. (The staff) told me I am more than good enough."
Gillispie has famously assured everyone that his word is his bond when it comes to scholarship offers. G.J. isn't looking around, so you'd best believe that barring a sudden change of heart, G.J. will be suiting up in UK blue despite the prognostications of some in the UK online community.
UPDATE 01:15 PM: Jody Demling also has this blog post containing more about G.J. Vilarino's performance in Vegas, as well as some other UK recruits.