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By LARRY VAUGHT

Could Kentucky hit a gigantic Big Blue double and land Andrew Wiggins, the nation’s top basketball recruit, and Drew Barker, a four-star quarterback, in the next week or so?

Barker will choose either UK, South Carolina or Tennessee during a ceremony at Conner High School in northern Kentucky Friday at 3:30 p.m. Wiggins has not set a timetable for his announcement but most are expecting the Huntington (W.Va.) Prep standout to do so in the next week to 10 days.

One can debate which player is most likely to pick Kentucky. John Calipari has already signed six McDonald’s All-Americans and has what is considered the all-time best recruiting class. Wiggins picking UK instead of Kansas, North Carolina or Florida State would only add to that legacy — and make UK the odds-on favorite to win the 2014 national title. Most have considered UK the leader for him at some point, but he’s never really indicated where he might go.

Barker was not recruited by former coach Joker Phillips at Kentucky. New coach Mark Stoops and offensive coordinator Neal Brown quickly changed that when they arrived and made him a priority and UK’s top quarterback prospect in the 2014 recruiting class. He can stay “home and be a hero” as Brown challenges in-state recruits to do and maybe become a star in Brown’s high-octane offense.  Or he could go to South Carolina — a team that wins annually and could compete for a national title sooner — and play for Steve Spurrier.

Which player does Kentucky need the most? That’s another good question.

My instinct says Barker because landing him would continue the momentum Stoops has built since he arrived. He had a stellar recruiting class and enticed four-star in-state players Ryan Timmons of Franklin County and Jason Hatcher of Trinity to join the Wildcats at the last minute. He had a successful spring practice capped by over 50,000 fans — an all-time record — watching the spring game. He’s already got five 2014 commitments from Ohio and could be on the verge of more. Adding Barker just keeps the Big Blue ball rolling at a record pace for Stoops as the countdown continues to his first game on Aug. 31 against Western Kentucky.

Wiggins is a once-in-a-generation player and would have everyone talking about UK going 40-0 next season. CBS Sports’ Gary Parrish has already said Wiggins should be the preseason national player of the year no matter which school he attends. Wiggins is that special that no one laughed about Parish’s suggestion.

Wiggins is a sure one-and-done player. But even without him, UK likely will go into next season ranked No. 1. That’s why it seems that Stoops’ program needs Barker much more than Calipari’s program needs Wiggins.

However, with no real sources and going strictly on instincts, I truly like UK’s chances to land both players. Wiggins spent a lot of time with other UK signees in April during the postseason all-star games. Huntington has a lot of UK fans. Calipari has shown he can take big-time talent and guide players to where they hit the NBA jackpot after one year. And if Wiggins is going to college for only one year, why not go where he has the best chance to win a national title.

Some say he doesn’t like the spotlight. True, but the spotlight has been on him so long now that he copes and does fun. It’s not like there won’t be media at North Carolina, Kansas or Florida State. I just don’t buy the theory that the spotlight will scare Wiggins away from UK.

Barker? He likes Brown. He’s bonded with Ohio recruits who have committed to UK. It would be easy for family and friends to watch him play at Kentucky. And he grew up a UK fan.

That’s why when all the drama ends, my vote goes for Kentucky hitting the Big Blue double and getting both Wiggins and Barker.

32 Responses to Could UK hit Big Blue double with Wiggins and Barker? My instinct says yes

  • ukscat says:

    Hope you are right – - big time !
    I always tell myself “they” are going elsewhere so I won’t be disappointed.

  • Toicat says:

    Hey Larry,

    Well if you’re going to dream, make it a good one! Personally, I just can’t get into football mode yet, even though I should. Mark Stoops was a fine selection to bring on board, and in the next two to three years, I expect UK football will be much brighter. It just takes time to recruit quality athletes at every position and actually have some depth. Time baby…less pain each year.

    I’m still stuck on last year’s hoops disaster, but am very pleased that the Cat’s have attracted some terrific players. BTW, in my “dream” WCS and Nerlins Noel were the only players returning. Sorry, just being honest. In 40+ years of following the Cat’s 2012-13 was a tough one to sit through. Now, this business of Andrew Wiggins. I’m good either way he chooses. The Cat’s have a great looking incoming point guard, strong front court, and a couple of centers. Wiggins would add a great dimension to be sure, but even without him, “the Goose” has laid a golden egg on UK basketball recruiting this year. (No disrespectful reference to Jack Givens intended.) As I said yesterday, KY has successfully reloaded it’s lineup, and Wiggins would only add to that. However, I still have a suspicion that he is going to North Carolina.

    Go Cat’s Go !

  • Bill Rice says:

    Larry, I look at it this way, Kansas may very well be in trouble and why would you want to get in that mess. At North Carolina you would have to listen to Roy whine all the time. At Florida State I have all the respect in the world for Leonard Hamilton but Wiggans alone cannot make them a championship contender. I have felt all along that the reason for the decision to take this long is he really wants to go to Kentucky but his parents want Florida State. I honestly believe he needs UK more than UK needs him! Without him UK will be great, with him UK will be unbelieveable!

  • bthax says:

    There is no question that Wiggins is a truly gifted athlete, perhaps the best in his class. That said, talent alone in not enough as we saw last year. It has been reported that he is very shy, does not want to disappoint and we know that he is indecisive as he has been unable to choose a college team to play for. It seems unlikely that wherever he goes he will transform himself into the franchise image, mouthpiece and clubhouse leader in a few short months. I believe that he could step in and be a phenomenal 3 at UK and not being THE MAN would allow him to develop at his own pace. Don’t be surprised if he has a season like Alex did last year. It might even take him more than one year with Coach Cal and his staff to help him realize his full potential.

  • TrueBlueJohn says:

    Larry, my dad always taught me to trust my instincts. I am hoping you are right.

  • Larry Pup says:

    Larry V unlike one of the posters here, I’m always into football and now more than ever with the Stoops train rolling along. As for these two recruits for our two programs, Wiggins and Barker, I just choose to believe you are right. Go Cats!!

  • David says:

    Masrshon Lattimore commitment would cap off my day, my week, my month, my year, the 5 star DE picking the blue would be the epitome of 2014 recruiting. I am so pumped about what Stoops and his assistants coaches are doing. Keep up the good work guys!!!

    If we do not get Baker there is the #1 dual threat QB in the nation out of Florida (D.J. Gillins) that has an offer and hopefully would jump on board. Still have my fingers crossed we get Baker though.

  • David says:

    oops Barker not Baker, my bad!

  • Hoffmeyer says:

    Hey Bill Rice I share your feelings about Kansas and Florida State. But I thought I read that a new female Academic Adviser that UNC hired, blew the whistle on the UNC for allowing their football and basketball players to enroll in classes like African American Studies but they didn’t actually attend those classes but got credit for them. I suspect the NCAA might punish UNC for that and again Wiggins shouldn’t subject himself to that.
    But I remember that Tennessee football players during my era didn’t go to classes and when they transferred to schools that required their athletes to attend classes the athletes had a very hard time with their academics. The NCAA never found about Tennessee at that time.

  • UKFMLY says:

    Dave you are obviously up on the recruits. Is the Lattimore kid related to the kid from south carolina?

  • Bill Rice says:

    Hoffmeyer I hate to have to tell you this but the NCAA has already let unc off the hook for that one.

  • paul says:

    They haven’t let unc completely off then hook. The SACS committee is down there reviewing things and they have even said UNC should let all the students come back and take classes for free who majored in the afam program. In my opinion I don’t think that issue is as done as some people say.

  • Anonymous says:

    I would love to see Wiggins at UK but mostly because I don’t want him at Carolina. I’m not sure he would even be the best player on the team. I believe Julius Randle is the TRUE best player in this class!

  • UKFAN197TONE says:

    If Barker and Wiggins both commit to UK, I will buy and wear a dook shirt for a day.

    Just kidding. I’ll be happy they both agreed to join the Big Blue!

  • UKFAN197TONE says:

    KU is in no way, in trouble, although we all know their track record.

  • UKFAN197TONE says:

    Got a link foe this DE? All I see is a WR/CB out of Ohio and he verbally committed to OHST.

  • Karen Sprinkle says:

    I like your instincts and your track record on predicting where these guys eventually go. I agree that the Barker commitment is probably more meaningful in terms of impact due to the plethora of talented players Cal has already signed. If Wiggins is truly publicity shy, what better place than UK where there are loads of talented players to share the spotlight? Go Big Blue!

    • larryvaught says:

      Thanks for the confidence Karen. Let’s hope I am right — or at least half right

  • David says:

    Have not read anything that says their related, I am thinking they just share same last name. Here is a link on the young Mr. Lattimore

    http://rivals.yahoo.com/ncaa/football/recruiting/player-Marshon-Lattimore-143521;_ylt=AptJZFRAXnVRkB8CU4osVb1IPZB4

    Go Cats!

  • David says:

    Actually they have him listed as Athlete, probably will play defensive back. He is not that big in size to play DE. I am thinking I got him mixed up with Lorenzo Carter. I am reading so many names I get their positions mixed up. Looks like Lattimore will probably go to Ohio State.

    I hope that clears up my mistake on Lattimore and Carter

    Go Cats!

  • LindaS says:

    Larry Pup were you referring to me with that football comment?

  • UKFAN197TONE says:

    Thanks David, no worries, I like to keep up with the football commits and those offered. I’m, believe it or not, a UK football fan first.

  • Larry Pup says:

    No Linda. Do you have a guilty conscience? I was commenting on Toicat’s post who said “I just can’t get into football mode yet.” Go Cats!!!! Football rules. At least for some of us Cat fans. You gotta be tough to be a faithful UK football fan. Things are looking better for sure.

  • PHILLIP BARKER says:

    I didn’t freeze my tuccus off watching the “Babe” throw perfect spirals into the end zone against Florida in the 1940s thinking that any outstanding quarterback named Barker who was a Kentucky bred wouldn’t cast his lot with the Big Blue. Drew, you just have to come or the massive energy of the whole living and dead clan of Barkers will rumble throughout the entire Blue Grass state. We need you in our climb back to the top of the mountain! Now Wiggins, no way in hell you don’t like “notoriety” and if there is one place that can give it to you, it’s Kentucky. No state loves round ball more than Kentucky and no university loves its players like Big Blue Nation…we’ve already built it-so come!

  • David says:

    I too am a big football fan 1st. Heck I pull for any UK activity or sport out there but football is my love. I so much want to see coach Stoops do the impossible and have us competing for an SEC title. I do see more energy and effort with this coaching staff, than what I have seen in the past 4 head coaches.

  • King Ghidora says:

    I love football and basketball. Football was my big love when I was playing but then basketball got in my blood too. I used to crave playing either one. I still love to watch both and I’ll still shoot the odd free throw here and there. My form has turned to crud though. Getting old ain’t for sissies. :)

  • UKFMLY says:

    thanks

  • Michael says:

    Fair-weather fans are everywhere! If you can’t get into football now, then UK football won’t be needing you when you finally decide you can get into it. . .like when they’re winning?

    • UKFAN197TONE says:

      You know, he doesn’t look very shy when those microphones are shoved in his face.

  • AndyP says:

    Good post Toicat.

    Larry, one point to think about Wiggins and the spotlight issue. We all know there is a fringe element of the BBN that is nuts. If you’re low-key Wiggins and you want some space and your choice is UK where 40 year old men are waiting outside the basketball dorm at 6 am in hopes of getting autographs or football crazy Florida State where basketball players can move around the campus pretty much alone you might pick FSU.

  • LindaS says:

    Whew, I dodged the bullet on that one! I am happy for the football fans, I truly am. I’m gonna try, really try to become a football fan again. Let us pray! I do seem to get some flack for not being a football fan.

  • Larry Pup says:

    Good girl Linda. We need you, and football is on the rise in the “Bluegrass!!!!!” Nobody on this blog doubts your loyalty Linda. If they did they might get a dose of you evil twin sister. None of us need her on our case.

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