NCAA Basketball

2010 NCAA Basketball University of Kentucky Preview: Wing Players

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Well, we’ve had a bit of an unintended hiatus in our look at UK recruiting in the class of 2011. When TMZ’s story about an investigation into UK players broke last week, I got a bit derailed, but it’s time to get back on the tracks.

We started last week with the point guard position, which turned out to be a little brief since UK already has a commitment from its top target (Marquis Teague) and really is only pursuing one other prospect (Quinn Cook). Among shooting guards and small forwards, it’s a bit of a different story.

 

Like at point guard, UK has a commitment from the top dog already. Michael Gilchrist is a 6-6 small forward and is ranked as the top player in the nation. Gilchrist is well known for his versatility and work ethic and figures to step in and start from day one, regardless of who is on the roster. We’ve talked plenty about Gilchrist and will continue to do so, but let’s take a look at the other options on the wing.

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Austin Rivers – SG

Doc Rivers is an absolute knockout shooter. He’s ranked by Scout as the top shooting guard in the country and the third best player overall. He’s a former Florida commit who re-opened things earlier this year. He’s from Winter Park, Florida and is familiar with UK freshmen to be Brandon Knight and Stacey Poole.

However, I just don’t see him ending up at UK. Florida is still heavily involved, but since his decommitment, it has looked like Duke may be where he ends up, with UNC also involved. He has left the possibility open for schools like UCLA, Kansas, and UK to jump in, but John Calipari has yet to reach out It will be interesting to see if UK makes a push this summer.

LeBryan Nash – SF

Nash is a 6-6 small forward out of Dallas, Texas. He’s #12 in the class of 2011 and is the #4 small forward. Nash is a wing who has some post skills as well, but his future is at the three.

Nash is very conscious of that future as well. He’s quick to mention the NBA in interviews, so without a doubt, UK’s success in the NBA Draft this June will have a positive influence on his decision. It may be a challenge to get him out of Big 12 country, as Baylor and Oklahoma State look like the teams to beat (in that order). This summer, he will be spending a lot of time around kids talking about UK, so we’ll see what happens. UK will likely try to score an early fall visit with him and take it from there.

Kentavious Caldwell – SG

The Georgia native can fill it up from deep and is developing a little more of a slashing game. Caldwell is not the biggest talker around and is still early in his recruiting process. UK has not yet extended an offer to Caldwell, the 13th ranked player in the class, but we should begin to hear more from him throughout the summer.

Tony Wroten – SG

Wroten, on the other hand, is a guy we know plenty about. He’s been considered a point due to his passing skills most of his career, but recently has moved more to the wing. The Seattle native is the 16th ranked player in the class and has declared Kentucky and Washington as his favorites.

 

He’s been described as a shooting guard who can’t shoot, but he’s still a big time player. He’s talked a lot about how he wants his commitment to be a big show, but I don’t have much insight into when he wants it to happen. I would assume a trip to Lexington would be necessary before that happens, but we’ll see. He calls Marquis Teague (Indianapolis) and Michael Gilchrist (PA/NJ) his best friends, which is an indication of how much time these prospects spend on the road.

This is a list that figures to change and grow significantly in the coming months. Here are a few names to keep an eye on:

Nick Johnson – SG
Trevor Lacey – SG
Damien Leonard – SG
Brandon Dawson – SF
Deuce Bello – SF
Angel Nunez – SF

NOTES ON NEXT YEAR’S ROSTER

This weekend, there were a couple developments regarding next season’s roster. First of all, Royce White, a known UK target for next year, is visiting Iowa State this week and cites Baylor, UK, and Iowa State as possibilities. Some have speculated that the emergence of Iowa State and Baylor signals that White may not be Lexington-bound. I mostly agree with the logic, but I wouldn’t completely rule out the possibility.

Second, there have been some rumors this week regarding Darnell Dodson, rumors that say Dodson will remain with the program, but not be eligible to play next year. He has already used a redshirt, so this means he would would have one final year of eligibility in 2011-2012. At this point, nothing is even close to set it stone, so we’ll monitor this.