Yesterday most likely ended what has been one of the most interesting recruiting classes of UK's modern internet era. Half Tubbster and half Gillispie, this class seems to be some of what the doctor ordered and some of what we've seen before. The difference, in my humble opinion, is the energy surrounding the program Billy Gillispie's history of doing incredible with "someone else's players". Let's take a quick look...
Mike Williams is probably one of the least hyped 7 footers to hit UK's campus of all time. I'd suggest that the past 10 year history of 7 footers has more to do with that than actual talent level. Mike is a player with not a ton of experience. He has only been playing the game for about 5 years and has developed some decent skills in that timeframe. While he is not quite a deer running up and down the court, he's not Shagari either. His weakness at this point is lateral quickness and getting the "speed" of the game. I've seen some one on one workouts where you can see the potential, but he's going to have to adjust to the quick double teams and learn to pass out of the post as soon as he feels the pressure. I don't expect Williams to be an all american, but I do expect that Billy G will get him into playing form quickly. He is strong and developed for his age and Holsopple should work wonders on this kids nice frame. If he continues to develop his jump hook, he will have an offensive weapon that is hard to stop. AJ Stewart is probably more of an athlete at this point than a ball player. Don't get me wrong, he isn't by any means a bad player, but his athletic potential is obviously why he was rated in the top 100 prospects in the nation by most. He'll have to work on his "off the ball" play as well as his overall basketball skills. AJ will fit into what Billy will likely be forced to do a bit this season.....transition play and pushing the ball. Patterson is going to alleviate some of that pressure, but he's just a freshman and will need some time to adjust to the SEC. Stewart will be a good addition to the team, help with rebounding, and has the potential to be a good defender if he puts his mind to it.
Alex Legion will hopefully become the shooter UK fans wanted Carruth to be. Luckily for UK fans, he is not JUST a shooter. Legion is a fairly good athlete who has a nice all around game. He is almost the same kind of player as crawford with the opposite tendencies and a little less springs in the legs. He won't be a liability in any phase of the game and should fit perfectly into the frontcourt for the Cats. I can see Legion being a huge help in the halfcourt set by running the high post curls that Sheppard and Mercer used to run to perfection. His 3 point shot has been historically consistant with good release and nice elevation. This should allow him to continue to use it effectively in the SEC with large but quick defenders at the 2/3 spots.
Patrick Patterson started out as Tubby's must get recruit, but ended up as Billy G's signature success. Billy had a huge hole to climb out of when Tubby left for Minnesota, but he managed to land the big fish. Patterson will almost certainly NOT be the impact player that his hype would suggest. He is a very good player but it's rare to see Durant and Oden types as freshmen, and Patterson is more highly publicized than either of those players were at this stage in his recruitment. That's what comes with being the last unsigned player. Still, Patterson is the big strong power forward that UK has been looking for since before Hayes left. Patterson is a monster in the paint when it comes to rebounding and defense. He does have some offensive skills and will score some points for UK, but his motor and defense is where UK will see the most immediate impact. I don't know that Patrick is going to get 16 to 20 shots per game as was suggested, but I'm sure he will touch the ball quite a bit. UK will be talented on the wings next year with scorers and I think you'll see a lot of designed dribble penetration to try to draw fouls on opposition big men. Patterson may end up being a very important part of UK's offense next year, but I'm not sure that it will be as a focal point of the point production.
UK has put a stamp on the end of the 2007 recruiting season. They have filled the glaring holes quite nicely and served notice to the rest of the nation that UK is going to be a major force on the court and in the living rooms....
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