Maybe their methods weren't the best for building a skilled team, but Tubby Smith's and Billy Gillispie's staff sure did find us some characters. Before we get into the top ten, let's discuss a few rules. In order to make the list, the recruit must have picked another school. Secondly, we're talking about memorable recruits so things that they did outside of their recruitment are fair game. Finally, this was extremely hard to narrow down because (a) there's a bunch that deserve to be on the list and (b) Gillispie deserves his own list but I had to try to fit in some Tubby guys too. Here's what I came up with:
(1) Chris Lofton
I realize that some of you probably expected to see another name in this spot but the fact of the matter is that even if you didn't get online at all in the past decade, you know who Chris Lofton is. Whether or not Tubby actually had a spot on the roster for him, Lofton has been deemed the biggest recruiting miss of Smith's career. He even took Mason County and Maysville, KY (both traditionally pro-UK) and turned many of the people into UT fans during his time in Knoxville. Tennessee even went as far as to name a room in Pratt Pavilion
used for hosting recruits after him.
(2) Jai Lucas
Matt still gets the "Where is Jai Lucas going?" I've even been asked "Where is Jai Lucas going?" The recruitment of Patrick Patterson and Jai Lucas, and the rise of internet recruiting sites, is probably responsible for the huge in-depth following that UK basketball recruiting has seen lately. As if his initial recruitment wasn't enough, after picking Florida Jai popped back into our lives when he decommited from Florida and was briefly thought to be an option for UK again. I doubt that the day will come when UK fans talk about past recruits and don't mention Jai.
(3) Bud Mackey
Mackey will go down in Kentucky lore as much for his basketball skills and recruitment as he does for his off the court issues. Probably one of the most talented kids to come out of the state in recent years, he initially chose Indiana over Kentucky. Then came the crack on campus charges, getting kicked off of IU's team, enrolling in school in Cincinnati, leaving for Scott County and getting another charge and finally getting charged with being a felon in possession of a handgun. In the middle of all of that was another flirt with UK and possible chances of him walking on or even getting a scholarship offer. Mackey's story is both tragic and memorable.
(4) Chris Singleton
Singleton was thought to be the exact piece that Billy needed in order to complete his class of Darius Miller and Deandre Liggins. The day that Singleton spurned the Cats lived in this site's top 5 traffic days all the way up until the Calipari hiring. Pulling off a feat like that will certainly make you memorable.
(5) Scotty Hopson
Hopson makes the list as much for his own credentials as he does for representing a certain group of individuals. Hopson sits atop the list of recruits that UK fans coveted not only because of their skill on the basketball court but also for fear that they were the next Chris Lofton. You'll find many of these names in the "also ran" list below. Ultimately, he chose the Vols and whether we ever really had a chance is up for debate. He hasn't completely lived up to his billing yet but there's still a few UK fans that fear the day that he might and force us to relive the Chris Lofton days all over again.
(6) Brandan Wright
Another name that stings, sort of. The debate on whether Brandan Wright actually seriously considered UK was a fierce one but either way he ultimately chose to join the NBA roster at UNC. Probably what makes Wright a real stinger is the fact that he grew up a UK fan and somehow UK still missed out on him. Wright was definitely a recruit that added to the dog pile on Tubby Smith's lack of ability to land the big one.
(7) Tyrone Nash
Nash represents himself as much as he represents a turning point in UK's history and Tubby Smith's tenure as coach. He was offered a scholarship from Tubby but waited around to decide between Stanford, prep school, or visiting other universities in hopes that they would offer him a scholarship. In the end, he chose to go to prep school, causing one prominent writer on this site to say it was "the low point of the 'UK cant recruit' part of the Tubby era."
(8) Marshall Moses
Moses was one of the first UK internet recruiting legends and, I'm going to go out on a limb here, probably one of Matt Jones' favorites. Therefore, we'll let Matt describe this young man for you from his July 4th post: "You remember Marshall dont you? Easily the best recruit guest we ever had on the radio show, Marshall would wax poetic on college basketball, the Presidential race or do a Dick Vitale impersonation on demand. He was by far the most entertaining kid we have ever interviewed and to add to it, he can jump out of the gym."
(9) The South American Point Guard
Try this out: Go up to any young, internet savvy, UK fan and talk with them about UK recruiting. Ask them about some of the funnier moments in UK recruiting. Wait 5 minutes or less and the South American Point Guard will be mentioned. He remains unknown but also remains legendary.
(10) Leonard Washington
This one may cause some disagreement but I'm making the list and I love me some Leonard Washington. Washington was going to be the answer to all of UK's problems and add a bit of a "bad boy" "enforcer" flavor that UK lacked. However, he was probably a bit too much of a bad boy, evidenced by his desire to throw low blows at AAU foes and Blake Griffin and not make the grades in order to hit the court. Here's my thought though: Punch not only one but two different people in their tea bags during a basketball game and you become legendary.
Now to the fun part. Most of you will have much more fun reading through this list of names and debating which ones should have made the list and how crappy my list is. Here's the "also rans": Stephon Pettigrew, Maurice Sutton, Ater Majok, Beas Hamga, Hunter McClintock, Ryan Kelly, Garret Stutz, Thaddeus Young, Xavier Henry, Jacob Jenkins, Tyrone Nash, Paul McCoy, Teeng Akol, Kyryl Natuazhko, Mfon Udofia, Willie Warren, Ayodele Coker, Eshaunte Jones, Kevin Jones, Nasir Robinson, Shelvin Mack, Shawn Kemp Jr., Deniz Kilicli, Brad Reese, Verdell Jones, J'mison Morgan Ralph Sampson III, Dan Werner, Tyler Zeller, Matt Walls, Romero Osby, OJ Mayo, James Anderson, JJ Hickson, Jamychal Green, Kenny Frease, Brad Tinsley, Tyrone Appleton, Hank Thorns, THE Morris Twins, Rotnei Clarke, Michael Sanchez, Courtney Fortson, Uche Echefu, Isaiah Thomas, Leonard "Smack My Balls" Washington, Roburt Sallie, Darius Smith, Terrence Boyd, Josh Southern, Chris Barnes, Kenny Frease, Bobby Maze, Roderick Flemings.