UK B-Ball Looking Up!
by Brian Gray
The University of Kentucky has made great strides this past off season to better their slightly underachieving men’s basketball program. Billy Gillispie had a rough two year tenure which he saw end after the Wildcats failed to make the NCAA Tournament for the second straight year. With the departure of Gillispie, it did not take long for the Blue Grass state to find a new coach to orchestrate their program.
John Callipari was hired, as most of you know and had a big press conference showing his emotions on being excited to be the new coach, but did state to some degree he is no miracle worker. Well, miracles do happen and according to scout.com, Kentucky has landed five recruits in this year’s top fifty players and two of those players are ranked number two and three in their class.
Point guard John Wall out of Raleigh, North Carolina is the second ranked player and number three is DeMarcus Cousins, a 6-foot-9 center out of Mobile, Alabama. Along side these two Prep studs, is the number 17th ranked recruit who is also a 6-foot-9 center out of Oklahoma City, Daniel Orton. Eric Bledsoe is ranked number 37 in the class and is a 6-foot-0 point guard that should add a spark to the backcourt presence alongside Wall. Finally, the fifth in the top fifty for this year’s Wildcats is a 6-foot-6 small forward, Jon Hood out of Madisonville, Kentucky.
Five players in the top fifty is a pretty strong feat for any college program to achieve, especially one like the Wildcats who are striving towards their days of national prominence. These new recruits and new head coach shall provide enough incentive for the Wildcats to orchestrate a run back to the NCAA Tournament.
Recruiting has proved to bode well for the Wildcats; however there have been some recent moves that will be evident this up coming season. Jodi Meeks, the star sharp shooter for the Wildcats will forgoe his senior year and keep his name in this month’s NBA Draft picture. Meeks scorched rival Tennessee last season on his way to a school record 54 points on ten made three pointers. Meeks also showed his last second ability against Florida when he hit the game winning three at the buzzer to cap his night with 23 points.
Along with Meeks, three other players have decided to call it quits with the new coaching changes and recruiting. As of May 26, 2009, Jared Carter, A,J, Stewart and Donald Williams will not be members of the basketball program this year. Carter does not want to seek a fifth year after being hurt in 2006-2007. Stewart and Williams are both seeking to transfer in order to further their quest for playing time on the court and academically as well. This according to ukathletics.com.