With the 2017 recruiting class now coming into focus, we're beginning to see who the top players on UK's wish list are.
Somewhere near the top, you'll probably find the name John Petty listed in bold letters. A 6-7, 180-pound wing from Huntsville, Petty is the top prospect from the state of Alabama and ranked by ESPN as the 10th-overall prospect in 2017. He's also a big UK fan, which is pretty common knowledge at this point.
But Petty told the Courier-Journal that his high school coach, Jack Doss, is also a fan of Kentucky basketball. That dates back to camps that Joe B. Hall ran and listening to radio calls by Cawood Ledford.
Coming of age in Anniston, Ala., in the 1960s, Doss loved the Crimson Tide but fell for the Wildcats because his radio picked up Cawood Ledford’s calls all those miles away.
"And I like winners," said Doss, who went on to work at UK’s basketball camps as a young coach and still runs some things Joe B. Hall taught him decades ago. "I’ve known Coach Cal, too, since his Memphis days. We went up there and watched them practice one time and my wife was sitting on the sideline; next thing you know, Coach Cal’s got her out there on the court setting picks. My wife loves him.
"He’s a great man, great coach, and he motivates young men. That is God’s gift to be able to do that."
It certainly helps UK's case that Petty's coach likes UK, but it also helps that the state of Alabama has produced some star Wildcats in Eric Bledsoe and DeMarcus Cousins. Petty got to watch them dominating college basketball back in 2009-10 when he was just a child, and those memories have helped keep him rooting for the good guys.
"That was my favorite school ever since I was like nine," Petty said Friday night after UK’s staff and coaches from around the country watched him play a game at Nike’s Elite Youth Basketball League event in Indianapolis. "I’ve been a Kentucky fan for a while I used to love Anthony Davis, John Wall, and me and Eric Bledsoe are real close."
Petty talks often to Bledsoe and DeMarcus Cousins, two former Wildcats from Alabama, who sing Kentucky coach John Calipari and the program’s praises. That and the fact Calipari prioritized Petty early have the Cats perhaps positioned better with him than any of the other 11 rising seniors to whom they’ve offered scholarships.