By LARRY VAUGHT
ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s no surprise that Chicago high school coach Cortez Hale has had nothing but good things to say about his star player, 6-10 center Anthony Davis. However, Hale seems just as excited about the other members of Kentucky coach John CalipariÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s incoming recruiting class Ã¢â‚¬â€ Michael Gilchrist, Marquis Teague and Kyle Wiltjer Ã¢â‚¬â€ as he does his own player.
Hale got to spend time with DavisÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ future teammates Ã¢â‚¬â€ as well as their parents Ã¢â‚¬â€ at the Jordan Brand Classic when Davis impressed everyone with his play.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“After the game we were able to go back to the hotel and just get comfortable with the families,Ã¢â‚¬Â Hale said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I had met Gilchrist before, but it was nice to watch all the guys hang out. They all talk about each other all the time. They all really like each other a lot. They already have that special bond and the same goal to win a national championship. They truly donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t care about individual success as much as they care about team success. ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s very obvious when you watch them together.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Anthony was closer to Michael before they all played together in the all-star games, but now heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s close with Marquis and Kyle as well. And all their parents got along so well. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s almost one of the situations that seems too good to be true unless you have seen it and know it is true.Ã¢â‚¬Â
So what impressed him about Teague, Gilchrist and Wiltjer?
Wiltjer: Ã¢â‚¬Å“What really impressed me is he has a truly amazing hook shot. He is 6-10 and that will be dominant. That will be very potent at Kentucky. Not many kids use that and that hook shot will be dangerous. He does a lot of other really good stuff, too, but that hook shot is something very, very unique.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Teague: Ã¢â‚¬Å“I love Teague at point guard. His decision is always to pass first and get everybody else the ball. He was even that way in the all-star games and very few kids are that way in those games. But when he needs to score, he can score and knows it.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Gilchrist: Ã¢â‚¬Å“I wish I could coach Gilchrist. His passion for the game is contagious. He plays so hard. He wants to win every single game no matter what it is. He plays that hard in pickup games. He fills the stat line by doing a little bit of everything.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Hale isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t sure how Calipari will define individual roles next season, but he says Kentucky will be Ã¢â‚¬Å“a lovely team to coachÃ¢â‚¬Â because of the talent.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I wish I had CalÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s job next year. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a lucky man to have the team heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s going to have,Ã¢â‚¬Â Hale said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“He has a great group of kids coming in. They are all four very, very good.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Playing time is not going to be a concern. Cal could go 10-deep and these guys will be happy. This year he only went six deep and it had to be nerve-racking. Next year with (Terrence) Jones staying and other players improving, it will make things easier and Cal will trust his bench more to make the team even better.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Davis certainly plans to be ready to do that. He has taken no time off because Hale says heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s focused Ã¢â‚¬Å“on the national championshipÃ¢â‚¬Â and wants to be at his best when he gets to UKÃ¢â‚¬Ë†in June.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“There is no time to waste.Ã¢â‚¬Ë†He has that plan to win the 2012 national championship and he knows he has the teammates to do it,Ã¢â‚¬Â Hale said.