By LARRY VAUGHT
Chip Stroud, the 27-year-old assistant coach at Providence High School in Jacksonville, Fla., describes himself as a Ã¢â‚¬Å“basketball nut.Ã¢â‚¬Â Since he had friends who also went to the University of Kentucky, he knew the passion UK fans have for basketball and wanted to make sure one of his players Ã¢â‚¬â€ Stacey Poole Ã¢â‚¬â€ would not be overwhelmed by the Big Blue hysteria.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I told him, Ã¢â‚¬ËœThese guys bleed blue and it is their lifeblood. Are you sure that is what you want?Ã¢â‚¬â„¢Ã¢â‚¬Â Stroud said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“But he loved Kentucky and is really excited about it. He liked everything about it and I think it will be a great place for him.Ã¢â‚¬Â
The 6-5, 180-pound Poole announced last week he would sign with the Wildcats in November. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s another four-star recruit for coach John Calipari.
Some might wonder why Poole has changed schools for his senior season. Stroud says thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s an easy explanation.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s been here since about July, but we played against him every summer at his previous school,Ã¢â‚¬Â Stroud said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“WeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re familiar with his game, and we know heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a great kid as well. Overall, this is a good situation for him and us.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“There was a coaching change at his previous school. His previous school also got rated as a Ã¢â‚¬ËœFÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ school. Our coach is very well known and guys who want to get better athletically and academically come to play for him. Patrick Young, a 6-9 kid who is going to Florida, did the same thing for his senior year to get the coaching and overall atmosphere here,Ã¢â‚¬Â Stroud said.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“There was nothing negative about the transfer here. Academics at his previous school were down and his coach left. We have kids graduate here and then college is easy academically. I am not saying heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢sÃ‚Â a 4.0 (grade-pointa average) student, but heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s working hard toward that.Ã¢â‚¬Â
He apparently worked hard to make a name for himself during the summer, too. He played well at the NBA Camp and the Reebok All-America Camp. He averaged 15.8 points per game at the NBA camp. The only player who scored more was point guard Josh Selby, another Calipari recruiting target.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“He is just super athletic. He does things that only guys that play at Kentucky, North Carolin and Duke can do. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s very athletic in the open court. He plays hard. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a great defender. He gets his offense by getting to the hole,Ã¢â‚¬Â Stroud said.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“He can score outside, too, if needed. That is his biggest weakness, if he has one. His 3-point shot needs work, but heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the total package in every other spot. He has spent time on his shooting and has improved. He can do just about everything and even his 3-point shooting is not what I would call a major weakness. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s just not the best part of his game.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Program he came from they just preached be more athletic and not have teo play as hard, providence is school where never blessed super athletic kid. we streess defense. he leraning to play hard every possession.
today is he our hardest working player, no. but see steps he not same player was three weeks ago. He wants to be good.Ã¢â‚¬Â
And what kind of person is he off the court?
Ã¢â‚¬Å“He is a yes sir, no sir type of kid. Kids at providence love him. I teach at the middle school. He comes by and is really good with kids. When they found out he was going to Kentucky, they all wanted to talk to him,Ã¢â‚¬Â Stroud said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s very polite. I have not seen him be rude to any teachers or disrespectful to anyone, and I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t think I ever will. I have seen nothing but good things with his attitude and behavior. ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s why I say he really is a great kid.Ã¢â‚¬Â