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Kentucky Basketball Recruiting: Could Willie Cauley Be UK's First Commit?

Could our long, national nightmare be over?

Kentucky fans have been fretting (well, relatively) about the lack of any committed prospects in the class of 2012. That was a meme that did not seem to be ending anytime soon. Most of Kentucky's remaining targets aren't likely to commit and ink until the late signing period in April 2012.

However, Chandler Vessels of recently caught up with 2012 big man Willie Cauley (Rivals 39th / Scout 28th). In an interview, Cauley provided his final four, a list comprised of Alabama, Florida, Kansas State, and Kentucky. Earlier this summer, it appeared that Kentucky was not showing much interest in Cauley, preferring to focus on DaJuan Coleman instead. Now it seems that the Wildcats are very much in the running.

Cauley is interested in Kentucky for the usual reasons:

"Kentucky’s just Kentucky, they produce pros. [John] Calipari’s a really good coach and their fan base is crazy, you’ve gotta love that."

In another quote that got my spidey-sense up, Cauley has expressed an interest in committing soon. He will attend Big Blue Madness (along with Coleman). And once he sets foot in Lexington, things could get really interesting.

"I just wanted to take a visit there, that place is crazy. I just wanted to see first-person what it’s going to be like if I go there." Cauley said. "I’m trying to commit early, so I wanted to go before the signing period."

Though right now Cauley tells me the teams are all on an equal court, his interest in Kentucky seems high, which has lead to some rumors about the 7-foot senior possibly being the first Wildcat commitment.

A commitment from Cauley would be a huge first step in Calipari's 2012 recruiting class. With the expected departure of seven of their nine rotation players, Kentucky will need to stock up on quality talent as well as depth. Cauley could provide both for Kentucky. He is very much in the mold of a Kyle Wiltjer or Doron Lamb: a highly regarded talent that will play his freshman year but continue on as a multi-year contributor and starter.

Also, with Eloy Vargas set to graduate and Anthony Davis likely to declare for the NBA Draft, Kentucky will go into the 2012-13 season with nobody available to play at the 5. Even with Cauley committed, Calipari could still opt to continue pursuing Coleman or a PF/C hybrid like Mitch McGary. That would bring back shades of Calipari's 2009 recruiting class and the twin tower combination of DeMarcus Cousins and Daniel Orton.

Before we count hatched chickens, though, let's just impress Cauley at Big Blue Madness first. It should truly be an incredible event.