Most Recent Posts
- Calipari says Cats will press more, foul more, bump and grind, hip-check next season
- Caldwell County sophomore Elijah Sindelar special QB but also has big-time baseball options
- Stoops believes he has special understanding of high school coaches
- Video: UK offensive coordinator Neal Brown talks about working with head coach Mark Stoops
- Dallas Prime Prep will bring marquee players Mudiay, Thomas, Ferguson to Marshall County Hoop Fest
- Father had biggest impact on Mark Stoops’ coaching career and life
- UK coach John Calipari has no regrets about giving certain players more than one chance last year even when it hurt the team
- Florida forward Will Yeguete likes Cauley-Stein’s athleticism and way he plays the game
LOS ANGELES (AP) — No. 13 UCLA took a big loss before its season even began on Friday night. The NCAA ruled freshman Shabazz Muhammad is ineligible to play basketball after violating amateurism rules, leaving the Bruins without their highly touted recruit to start the season.
The school announced the NCAA’s ruling in a statement from athletic director Dan Guerrero about 80 minutes before the Bruins’ season opener against Indiana State on Friday night, which was expected to be a celebration of the reopening of newly renovated Pauley Pavilion. UCLA won 86-59 with Muhammad watching from the bench dressed in a blue UCLA sweat suit.
“The NCAA has finally determined that a violation of the NCAA amateurism rules has occurred involving UCLA freshman guard Shabazz Muhammad and his family,” Guerrero said. “As a result, he is ineligible for competition at this time. We are extremely disappointed that the NCAA has made this determination.”
Guerrero said UCLA believes “the decision is incorrect and unjust to Shabazz.” He said the school will pursue its options to challenge the NCAA ruling.
“Very disappointing,” coach Ben Howland said after the game. “I feel terrible for Shabazz because he is a great kid. We were very optimistic he was going to be cleared today. We’re hopeful it’s going to be something that is worked out in the near future.”
Howland said he found out the decision three hours before the game. He also said Muhammad practiced Thursday for the first time in two weeks after straining his right shoulder on Oct. 25.
The NCAA didn’t give a timetable for Muhammad’s ineligibility in its statement. It said he “is not eligible to compete in tonight’s game due to violations of NCAA amateurism rules. In addition to other pending issues, Muhammad accepted travel and lodging during three unofficial visits to two NCAA member schools.”
The NCAA had been investigating Muhammad for months involving alleged improper benefits he received in his recruitment from boosters of his Las Vegas AAU program and the alleged improper acceptance of airline flights for some of his recruiting visits. He chose UCLA over Kentucky and Duke.
The NCAA said its staff requested specific documents on July 31 to help evaluate Muhammad’s eligibility. However, the NCAA said its enforcement staff didn’t receive the majority of the requested documents for review until Sept. 25, followed by more information on Oct. 10, and what it called “additional critical information” on Nov. 1.
Muhammad’s parents were interviewed last week, according to the NCAA. It said NCAA staff and UCLA submitted the agreed-upon facts on Nov. 9 and a decision was rendered within hours.
By LARRY VAUGHT
Ed Isaacson of NBAdraftblog.com predicted that Kentucky’s players may not all go as high as some expected in the draft, but he admits he was a bit surprised some didn’t fare a bit better because of UK’s championship. He also knows it would not be a shock to see Kentucky have the No. 1 pick for the third time in four seasons next year.
Question: What was the biggest surprise about the UK players to you from the draft?
Isaacson: “The biggest surprise to me is, outside of Davis and Kidd-Gilchrist (going one-two), how little teams valued them. There was certainly a legitimate scenario where, if it wasn’t for Houston, Jones could have dropped to the mid-20′s. Teague also could have easily slid to the beginning of the second round. I would have expected at least a little bump up for these guys based on the championship, but I think (I may be wrong though), if we look back, this is pretty much the range I expected these players to go before the NCAA Tournament.”
Question: Could you see a scenario where incoming freshman Nerlens Noel could be challenging for that No. 1 draft spot next year?
Isaacson: “Without a doubt. I really can’t say exactly how he will look his freshman season, but we know Calipari will use him in a way that highlights his strengths while hiding his flaws. I assume he will be in the conversation along with Shabazz Muhammad and one or two others.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
Not long after Shabazz Muhammad set a Nike Hoop Summit scoring record with 35 points in Saturdayâ€™s loss to the international team, he got a visit from Kentucky coach John Calipari and assistants Kenny Payne and Orlando Antigua.
Itâ€™s all part of the hectic lifestyle that the 6-8 Muhammad, one of the nationâ€™s top two senior high school players, and his father, Ron â€ˆHolmes, have grown accustomed to as he has played in first the McDonaldâ€™s All-American Game in Chicago and then the Hoop Summit in Portland. This weekend heâ€™ll play in the Jordan Brand Classic in Charlotte.
Heâ€™s being pursued by Kentucky, Duke and UCLA, the three schools he narrowed his college list to a few weeks ago. Heâ€™s scheduled to make his college choice during a live announcement on ESPNU Wednesday night, the first day of the spring national signing period.
â€œIt has been enjoyable, but we definitely are at our witsâ€™ ends,â€ said Holmes. â€œItâ€™s a very tough decision. We saw coach Cal (Saturday night) after the game was over. He is good at what he does. I didnâ€™t really try to talk to Shabazz after his discussion with Cal, Kenny and Orlando. But itâ€™s tough for him to decide.
â€œKentucky has a lot to sell. Great coach, great situation. It would be a good situation for Shabazz. But heâ€™s just trying to figure it all out right now still. This has been basically a three- to four-year process with these schools.â€
Holmes says his son will be making his own decision about where to play.
â€œIf he needs help from me,â€ˆI will answer him. But it is totally his decision,â€ Holmes said. â€œHe truly doesnâ€™t really know where he wants to go right now. Even if he asks me,â€ˆI donâ€™t know if I can help him figure it out. All the coaches are compelling. I donâ€™t think any decision will be the wrong decision. It has to come down to what he feels. When these coaches come in, he is pulled to that school. Itâ€™s just tough for him.â€
Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski and his staff visited Sunday night.
â€œI think he is handling it all well, but itâ€™s hard,â€ Holmes said. â€œAt the games, he can focus on basketball. He loves to play basketball, so that has not been a problem for him. Heâ€™s definitely enjoying the all-star games and the guys playing with him and guys trying to get him to go to their school. That is cool and fun.
â€œHeâ€™s a good young man. Every once in a while he will deviate and you have to put your foot in his butt, but heâ€™s doing good with all this. Everybody is all over the place with this kid. For him to stay humble has to be difficult. I am starting to realize how big this kid is getting. I am starting to see what is really going on and for him to stay so grounded is pretty remarkable. But he has good core values and that helps. Still, itâ€™s not easy to stay on track with the all the mayhem around him.â€
Holmes says his wife does not deal with coaches and recruiting any more than she has to daily.
â€œAt the end of the day, sheâ€™ll have her opinions. She really does not care where he goes and does not want to deal with all the coaches. A lot of coaches want to develop relationships with her, but she does not want that,â€ Holmes said.
Social media has not been a problem, either, apparently even though Kentucky, Duke and UCLA fans all bombard Muhammad with Twitter and other network messages. Heâ€™s the subject of national internet message board chatter daily.
â€œI donâ€™t talk to him much about that, but he does not complain about it,â€â€ˆHolmes said. â€œI try not to get too involved with any of that unless he wants me to. He does a good job dealing with coaches and fans.â€
Holmes knows making a college decision Wednesday â€œwill be toughâ€ for Muhammad, but it is something that he has to use his heart and head both to do.
â€œHeâ€™s at his witâ€™s end right now. He just has to make a decision and stick with it. I tell him it will be hard, but he has to do and heâ€™s the only one that can do it,â€ Holmes said. â€œWhat will it be? I donâ€™t know because he doesnâ€™t know and may not right up until time to make his announcement.â€
PORTLAND, Ore. (April 7, 2012)Â Â –Â Despite a record-setting 35 points from the USA’s Shabazz Muhammad (Bishop Gorman H.S. / Las Vegas, Nev.), the World Select Team captured an 84-75 win over the USA Junior National Select Team in the Nike Hoop Summit on Saturday night at the Rose Garden in Portland, Ore.
Down by as many as 18 points in the first half, the USA fought back to take a 75-74 lead with 3:20 remaining in the game before the International squad closed on a 10-0 run to capture its fourth win and largest margin of victory in the 15-game history of the event.
“Obviously, we were down 52-34 at halftime. We had forced nine turnovers, but we dug a hole of 10-0,” said USA head coach Kevin Boyle (Montverde Academy, Fla.). “We got it to 32-26, and I think they out-scored us 20 or 22-2 to end the half to go up 18. We weren’t rotating good on defense. We were kind of standing and watching a little bit on offense. I don’t know if we started the game a little tight from the atmosphere, a lot of guys playing international basketball for the first time, or if they just came out more aggressive. In the second half we forced 14 turnovers, were able to turn them over a lot, able to get back into the game. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get the job done with the hole being so large.”
Muhammad, in addition to setting the event scoring mark, also tied the U.S. record for field goals made (12) and set a new high for field goals attempted (19), while Kyle Anderson (St. Anthony H.S. / North Bergen, N.J.) grabbed a U.S. record-tying 10 rebounds to go with 12 points and four assists.
“I wasn’t really aware of (the scoring record),” Muhammad said. “I just thought my shot was going in tonight. I thought we really played well in the second half with the rotations on defense. If we would have done that in the first half, we would have come closer to winning the game.”
A trio of double-digit scorers led the World Team. Canada’s Andrew Wiggins tallied 20 points, including six attempted 3-pointers, tying the International record. China center Wang Zhelin added 19 points, and Croatia’s Dario Saric scored 13 points to go with 14 rebounds, which tied the previous World Team high.
The USA was plagued by ice-cold 35.9 percent (28-78 FGs) shooting from the field and was out done of the glass by a 57-34 margin. In fact, the World Team’s 57 rebounds established a new game high for the international squad.
By LARRY VAUGHT
ESPN recruiting director Paul Biancardi says heâ€™ll know where top recruits Nerlens Noel and Shabazz Muhammad are going to play college basketball at the same time everyone else does â€” when they announce their choice on ESPNUâ€ˆWednesday night.
Obviously, Kentucky fans are going to be watching because both players have Kentucky in their top three and could be exactly what coach John Calipari needs to restock his national championship roster if, as expected, he loses Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Terrence Jones, Doron Lamb and even Marquis Teague to the NBA draft.
â€œI think the schools recruiting these guys all have a great need for them,â€ said Biancardi. â€œShabazz has UCLA, Kentucky and Duke with UCLA and Kentucky looking like the top two. Noel could be between Kentucky and Georgetown or some still say Syracuse.â€
Kentucky obviously is the only team coming off a national championship, but Biancardi says this yearâ€™s title might impact juniors and sophomores more than top seniors like Noel and Muhammad who have developed relationships with coaches for the last 12 to 24 months.
â€œSophomores and juniors can now see that Kentucky not only recruits a certain style of player, but can be successful at a high level and win it all. (John) Calipari has now been to an Elite Eight, Final Four and won a national title in three years at Kentucky. Winning a national title put a prospect in position to think if he goes there, he can do that, too.â€
Is that a bigger draw than what Calipari has done putting players into the NBA, including likely top five picks Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist this year?
â€œTo be honest, I think the ability to develop guys in a short amount of time that have NBA talent and squeeze the most out of it is very appealing to kids that are talented,â€ Biancardi said. â€œHe is just not after talented kids, but kids that really want it. There are a lot of talented kids out there that donâ€™t want to work hard and be challenged in practice. If thatâ€™s the case, John and Kentucky are not the place for you because he wonâ€™t play favorites.
â€œSome talented guys want to play a lot and score, but they do not want to challenged in practice and play against great players daily because they donâ€™t have the confidence to do it. Super confident and super talented players are guys he targets. He wants guys that embrace talent around them, but do not run away from competing with that talent daily.â€
Noel would seem to be a likely replacement for Davis, the nationâ€™s top shot blocker. Some even suggest heâ€™s a better high school shot blocker than Davis was â€” something Iâ€™ll still have to see to believe. Muhammad could be next yearâ€™s Kidd-Gilchrist with a tad more emphasis on offense and not quite the overall motor â€” but then again no player in the country this year had Kidd-Gilchristâ€™s overall intensity.
Biancardi says if UKâ€ˆcould only get one of the two,â€ˆNoel would be the bigger catch.
â€œNoel is important because he brings what nobody else can do. Heâ€™s a freshman that can protect the basket, block shots, alter shots, get you out running on the break and can score inside a little bit,â€ Biancardi said. â€œHe is unique in that respect. He is the guy that not a lot of programs ever have.
â€œThatâ€™s not to say Muhammad or (Anthony) Bennett (another top prospect committing Wednesday) cannot do it. They are both really good and very big piece. Kind of like Kidd-Gilchrist with Davis. Kentucky could not have done it without Davis, but they needed Kidd-Gilchrist.â€
A year ago Biancardi accurately predicted that Calipariâ€™s incoming recruiting class was not only talented, but special because of its emphasis on winning and unselfish play. He was among the first to predict that a national championship run would not surprise him because of the freshmenâ€™s willingness to sacrifice â€” and he was right.
â€œThat 2011 class had winning resumes. I said I normally donâ€™t make predictions, but I went out on a limb and said that was Calipariâ€™s best class in terms of winning a championship,â€ Biancardi said.
He did, and was right.
â€œWith that said, this year they also had a very good senior in Darius Miller and two really special sophomores in Terrence Jones and Doron Lamb,â€ Biancardi said. â€œNext year they really wonâ€™t have anybody for the freshmen to look to. Theyâ€™ll have Kyle Wiltjer, who played sparingly, and Ryan Harrow, who has never played at UK after transferring from North Carolina State.
â€œI donâ€™t want to dampen expectation, but itâ€™s hard to expect that same kind of greatness out of what likely will be Calâ€™s youngest roster. That first year he had Patrick Patterson with experience. The second year he had Miller and Deandre Liggins, a good role player. This year he had Miller, and even (Eloy) Vargas), along with two very talented sophomores. Thereâ€™s not anything like that next year if everybody saying they could go to the NBA actually goes.â€
Biancardi says signee Willie Cauley â€œneeds time to develop and could be specialâ€ in the middle, but since he has also played football heâ€™ll need time for Calipari to develop and likely will make his biggest jump from his freshmen to sophomore season. He says UKâ€™s other two signees, Alex Poythress and Archie Goodwin, are â€œbig-time payers who can both step in and play immediatelyâ€ for Calipari.
But will Calipari add Muhammad or Noel? Or at least Bennett? Or could he get two, or even all three?
â€œYou have got to believe based on his track record, heâ€™s in position to get someone at least. Which one or ones,â€ˆI have no idea. But I just have a hard time believing heâ€™ll come up empty based on what heâ€™s done the last three years in terms of winning and get guys ready for the â€ˆNBA,â€ Biancardi said.
By COLIN FLY
AP Sports Writer
LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) â€” It took 14 years for Kentucky to reach title No. 8. To repeat, the Wildcatsâ€™ magic number may be seven.
Thatâ€™s how many players coach John Calipari could lose from his roster that helped him win his first national championship. Only freshman forward Kyle Wiltjer is certain to return from the regular rotation.
Now that the confetti has been collected and the banner unfurled at Rupp Arena, itâ€™s time for the talent exodus to the NBA while fans debate where this team ranks among Lexingtonâ€™s other title teams.
Kentucky loses seniors Darius Miller and seldom-used Eloy Vargas. The rest â€” freshmen Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Marquis Teague and sophomores Doron Lamb and Terrence Jones â€” are weighing their options on turning pro.
Wiltjer said he doesnâ€™t â€œwant to worry about next year right now. We want to enjoy this.â€
As hard as might want to, the Wildcats canâ€™t just bask in their championship glow.
There are already reports Calipari might join his players on the NBA level.
The coach spent Wednesday quelling fansâ€™ anxiety that he might be interested in another position â€” even posting a statement on his website that said, â€œRelax. Calm down. Enjoy the championshipâ€ and affirming that he isnâ€™t planning to leave Kentucky.
â€œI give Cal the room to do what he needs to do and I enjoy working with the guy,â€ athletic director Mitch Barnhart said. â€œItâ€™s a good relationship. Itâ€™s a fun relationship. Itâ€™s an easy relationship, and he makes it easy. He cares about the university and he cares about our state.â€
The five players who all have decisions to make said after Kentuckyâ€™s 67-59 victory over Kansas on Monday night that theyâ€™d all take time decide their futures.
Both Davis and Kidd-Gilchrist are projected as NBA lottery picks with Jones, Lamb and Teague not far behind. The sixth man, Miller, is also projected to be drafted the late in the first or early in the second.
The NCAA says its deadline for players to determine their draft status is April 10, but the NBAâ€™s early withdrawal date is 19 days later. Calipari has encouraged his players to take the time they need before they decide.
â€œFor us to do this when we were No. 1 in the country, took everyoneâ€™s best shots and to come back and win … with four freshmen, two sophomores and a senior? This team accomplished that,â€ Calipari said.
While the team certainly will be remembered as the year Calipariâ€™s methods worked, itâ€™s hard to compare this squad with whatâ€™s widely considered the best in school history â€” the 1996 group known as â€œThe Untouchables.â€
Those Wildcats finished 34-2 and set the record for margin of victory â€” 21.5 points â€” in the NCAA tournament since the field was expanded in 1985.
The current championship squad finished with a margin of victory of 11.8 points per game, but even adding up the biggest lead Kentucky had in all six of its tournament games, the average still wouldnâ€™t equal the group 16 years ago that included nine NBA players, including six first-round picks.
â€œItâ€™s two different teams. We beat teams every night by 30 points,â€ said Derek Anderson, who averaged 17.7 points before tearing a left knee ligament midseason on the â€˜96 squad. â€œGranted if they played together another two or three years and had two other guys that they could put in, theyâ€™d be better than us.
â€œThose teams just donâ€™t stick together long enough to become what we had. We had Tony Delk and Walter McCarty as seniors. Imagine if they had Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist as seniors â€” theyâ€™d be the best team youâ€™d ever see in your life.â€
While itâ€™s a near certainty Davis and Kidd-Gilchrist will not return, Kentuckyâ€™s roster next year could be equally loaded when it comes together later this month during the NCAAâ€™s signing period.
In November, they inked three of the nationâ€™s top prospects â€” guard Archie Goodwin, forward Alex Poythress and center Willie Cauley. But the two players widely considered the best in the nation are still undecided with Kentucky among their list of finalists in 6-foot-6 guard Shabazz Muhammad and 6-10 center Nerlens Noel.
Both plan to pick a school next Wednesday.
Kentucky also remains in the hunt for 6-8 forward Anthony Bennett, another player ranked among the nationâ€™s top 10 prospects by various recruiting services, giving Calipari a chance to reload as quickly as heâ€™s expected to lose players.
If he lands another huge class as expected, the Wildcats will be back in the mix for the title hunt next year at the Final Four in Atlanta.
â€œWeâ€™ve got to go out and recruit a group of young people and try to get them all together,â€ Calipari said. â€œWeâ€™re going to have some guys come back that will be good enough to help us win and some young guys, and weâ€™ll go again.â€
CHICAGO (AP) – Shabazz Muhammad scored 21 points, Rasheed Sulaimon added 18 and the West beat the East 106-102 in the McDonald’s All-American game on Wednesday night.
Muhammad and the West squad finished a number of breaks with fantastic dunks, and Duke recruit Sulaimon was 4 for 8 from 3-point range.
Muhammad is still weighing his college choices. He is considering Kentucky, Duke, Kansas, UNLV and UCLA.
Alex Poythress, who signed with Kentucky, finished with 19 points for the East.
The East trailed by as many as 24 with 12:03 left, but they mounted an impressive comeback. Amile Jefferson had a dunk to make it 93-88 with 3:42 left, but Sulaimon answered with a 3. Rodney Purvis’ three-point play got the East within four with 1:19 left, but Sulaimon answered with a three-point play of his own.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.
By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky signee Alex Poythress says he’s not sure what impact Kentucky’s success this year has had on other recruits such as Nerlens Noel and Shabazz Muhammad, the top two ranked players in the 2012 recruiting class.
â€œI talk to a few of the recruitsÂ from time to time on Twitter or I text them. I pay attention a little bit to what they are doing, but Iâ€ˆam not really focused on them. I am focused on my high school team. If they come, good. If not, we will worry about ourselves. Coach Cal will have good players. I know that,â€ he said.
Poythress says he knows current Wildcats Kyle Wiltjer and Anthony Davis. Both have told him the same thing about playing at Kentucky.
â€œThey say it is hard and you have to work hard every day because they will not give it to you. But with hard work comes a lot of success and lot of reward,â€ Poythress said. â€œIt is fun. They are playing basketball 24/7 and doing what they love. Thatâ€™s always fun. How could it not be, especially at Kentucky?â€
Poythress says Calipari â€œreminds me a lot of my high school coachâ€ on and off the court.
â€œHe is just comfortable with you and just speaks the real truth to you. He tells you what you need to hear even if that is not always what you want to hear,â€ Poythress said.
Poythress admits the way Calipari has put players from all positions into the NBA early caught his attention.
â€œI like the player development, I really do. Iâ€ˆknow Iâ€ˆam not there yet (ready for the NBA)Â and have a long way to go. Hopefully I will get there one day,â€ he said. â€œI understand Iâ€ˆhave to get a lot better and tighten up a lot of areas of my game. I wil just try to do it and get there with coach Calâ€™s help. But you canâ€™t focus on that. You focus on wining and getting better and then coach Cal says everything takes care of itself.â€
By LARRY VAUGHT
The nationâ€™s two highest rated players in the 2012 recruiting class â€” Nerlens Noel and Shabazz Muhammad â€” both have Kentucky among their final choices and ESPNU recruiting director Paul Biancardi recently indicated he felt UK was a â€œheavy favoriteâ€ for both players.
If Kentucky coach John Calipari did add both players to signees Alex Poythress, Archie Goodwin and Willie Cauley, he would have his fourth straight No. 1 recruiting class.
â€œThatâ€™s always a possibility, too,â€ said Biancardi. â€œWhen you are losing Anthony Davis (to the NBA), I think Nerlens would be an ideal replacement because they have a lot of similarities as shot blockers. They are both long, athletic guys that change games by blocking shots. Anthony leaves and Nerlens could come right in and replace his shot blocking ability. But heâ€™s not as good an offensive player as Anthony right now.
â€œShabazz is really good. He could easily fit into what Kentucky will have coming back and what they are bringing in. I have said Kentucky is a heavy favorite for both because they both really liked Kentucky a lot when they were on campus and when kids like places even more after a visit, that puts you in a very favorable position. But Syracuse and North Carolina, a place he says he has liked since he was a ki, are right there for Nerlens and he has visited Florida and Georgetown. Shabazz has Kansas and Duke on his mind as well. Thereâ€™s still some stiff competition for Kentucky, but there should be for those elite players. Still, I think there is a good chance they get both.â€
Biancardi says Noel and Muhammad could fit well into any program, but would both blend in well with Calipariâ€™s three signees since Goodwin can play either guard position and Poythress either forward spot.
â€œCauley and Nerlens could play together, too,â€ Biancardi said. â€œShabazz would be the guy that would blend really well because he is a scorer. He can score as well as any kid in the country. They are going to be losing a of scoring and players and they could really use a guy like Shabazz and his ability to score. Kentucky will have a big need for a lot of firepower.â€
Biancardi says itâ€™s impossible to tell whether it helps or hurts Kentucky the longer the recruiting process goes on for each player. The national signing period opens again in April.
â€œShabazz is very smart and is looking at the style of play and how the coach interacts with players at each of his schools,â€ Biancardi said. â€œI really donâ€™t see an advantage the longer it goes for anybody. I donâ€™t see that as a clear-cut advantage or disadvantage for any school the longer it goes on.
â€œCal always gets his fair share of guys. He does lose out on some, though.â€ˆHe doesnâ€™t get everybody he wants. There are no guarantees because heâ€™s been so successful and because it is Kentucky that he will land either one or even Anthony Bennett. But to be in theÂ hunt for elite players is where you want to be and it would be no surprise to me if he got them both because Kentucky has a huge need for both of them.â€
By LARRY VAUGHT
Scout.com national recruiting analyst Evan Daniels shared a variety of insights on Kentucky recruiting targets Shabazz Muhammad, Troy Williams, Anthony Bennett and the 2013 recruiting class.
Question: If a team signed both Noel and Shabazz Muhammad â€” the No. 2 player in the 2012 class â€” how potent would that pair be together?
Daniels: â€œIf a team could get those two guys then I think the expectations for that teamâ€™s season changes. Those are two guys that can help lead a college program to a lot of wins in college basketball. They are both game changers.â€
Question: What do you like best about Muhammadâ€™s game?
Daniels: â€œHe is such a competitor. He brings intensity every time he goes on the court. Not only on the offensive end, but the defensive end, too. Heâ€™s strong, athletic. The last time I saw him play he was 6-for-6 behind the 3-point line, and heâ€™s working on his middle game. Heâ€™s a guy that has really improved over the course of his high school career. I like his intensity and how much he wants to win. That will translate to college immediately.â€
Question: Is his intensity similar to what Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has this year?
Daniels: â€œI think maybe they are comparable that way, but they are very different players. He does play really hard, but itâ€™s tough to think anyone could play harder than Kidd-Gilchrist. That kidâ€™s motor is off the charts.â€
Question: What do you like best about Troy Willamsâ€™ game?
Daniels: â€œHis athleticism is what sticks out. He’s a tremendous leaper, has great body control and finishes well around the basket.â€
Question: Is he a potential one-and-done type player?
Daniels: â€œIt’s still too early to know. Williams needs to spruce up his ball skills and his jump shot, before he starts thinking about that.Â From a talent perspective, Williams is certainly up there in the 2013 class. He’s an elite wing prospect.â€
Question: What are Kentucky’s chances with him?
Daniels: â€œUK is certainly in the mix for Williams. He has his list narrowed to five schools. The three that I think have the best shot are UNC, Georgetown and Kentucky. The vibe I’m getting is those three are in good position. I think we’ll see a decision from him in the next six to eight weeks.â€
Question: Do you think Anthony Bennett is a major recruiting target for Kentucky and what impresses you most about him?
Daniels: â€œBennett is certainly a major target. Kentucky is among his final five schools and are strongly involved. While he also lists UNLV, Oregon and Washington, it’s my belief that Florida and Kentucky are the two schools with the best shot at gaining his services.â€
Question: How many more players do you project Calipari might sign in April?
Daniels: â€œBased on looking over the roster, I’d project that Kentucky loses six players this year. Two (Miller & Vargas) to graduation and four to the NBA Draft (Davis, Jones, Lamb & Gilchrist), so I’d expect UK tries to get at least two more prospects and likely three for their 2012 class.â€
Question: What makes Calipari such a successful recruiter based on what you hear from recruits?
Daniels: â€œWhen you talk to kids, they all want to get to the NBA as quickly as possible. Calipari has provided an opportunity to do that and proven he can get these kids into the league extremely quickly. He has done a great job selling that. He has had three straight No. 1 recruiting classes and I will be surprised if he doesnâ€™t end up No. 1 this year. I canâ€™t put my finger exactly on how he does it, but I think getting guys to the NBA and doing it quickly has a big impact on kids.â€
Question: If Kentucky does have a fourth straight No. 1 class, would it surprise you to see Calipari do it again in 2013?
Daniels: â€œNo. They are currently involved with nine of the top 10 plays, and the one they are not has committed to North Carolina already. The 2013 class is the best elite group Iâ€ˆhave seen in some time. With Noel in that class, it was ridiculous. But Kentucky is positioned very nicely for the 2013 class and could have a really big year.â€