The University of Kentucky's new basketball coach got an enthusiastic endorsement from one of its former coaches Friday afternoon, with University of Louisville coach Rick Pitino praising the hiring of Texas A&M coach Billy Gillispie.Unsigned recruit Jai Lucas, who is looking at Kentucky, commented on the hiring of Billy Gillispie.
"On a 10-star scale, I give it an 11, that's how good a hire that was," Pitino said. "He is a great coach, a great recruiter, a great worker and he's dying to be there. It's a great hire. If I was an athletic director, he'd be one of my top three choices."
The paths of Pitino and Gillispie crossed for the first time — ironically now — in Rupp Arena last month when A&M edged UofL 72-69 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. They'll cross again next season when the Cards visit Rupp to play the Wildcats.
Two other unsigned prospects are Houston (Bellaire) Texas point guard Jai Lucas, who has narrowed his list to four schools, and Elizabethtown forward Steffphon Pettigrew, who led Kentucky in scoring and wants to be a Wildcat.Oh, and there's this comment, too:
Lucas didn't return calls to The C-J but told The Cats Pause, "Kentucky got a real steal with Billy Gillispie." The 5-foot-10 Lucas is also considering Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Maryland and could make a trip to Florida before making a decision.
Pettigrew, who is playing in the Kentucky-Ohio All-Star game tonight at Northern Kentucky University, said he has had no contact with anyone from UK since he made a visit to the UK-Tennessee game Jan. 28.
"I'm still leaving my options open, but if he calls me I will consider it," said Pettigrew, who averaged 33.6 points. "I've always been a Kentucky fan, but when Tubby Smith was there I never got any love from him. I hope (Gillispie) will give me a look."
During his first news conference at UK, Gillispie sent a message to Kentucky high school coaches, saying he wanted to "meet every single one of them."Coach Gillispie has said he will not try to lure any of his A&M recruits to UK but as a UK fan, I certainly hope that five-star recruit DeAndre Jordan opts out of his letter of intent. He told Draft Express that he would follow Gillispie to Kentucky.
"I not only want to meet those coaches -- they produce great players here," he said. "I want to get as many homegrown players as we can that can compete for national championships and cut down some nets."
And that news was sweet music to the ears of high school coaches.
"I think if a guy does that with the high school coaches then it stops these mistakes," said veteran South Laurel coach Steve Wright, referring to Mason County star Chris Lofton and Ryle's Justin Dolleman, who went out of state.
Gillispie said that he would not try to lure talented 6-10 DeAndre Jordan, who signed a National Letter of Intent to attend Texas A&M, or any of his other four signees to UK.Here's the Jordan interview excerpt:
"No, that's not the honorable way to do it," Gillispie said. "Those guys have been notified (of my decision to leave).
"They signed with Texas A&M and I'm sure they'll all honor their National Letter of Intent."
As for the current Aggies he left behind, Gillispie doesn't expect any of his former players to join him at UK.
DraftExpress: If Coach Gillespie would have taken the job at Kentucky, or somewhere else, what would you have done?UK fans have a reason for hope. A.J. Stewart, who will be at Kentucky this fall, made the following comment on Patrick Patterson's MySpace page according to Kentucky Sports Radio:
Jordan: I can’t really tell you right now. That didn’t happen, so there’s nothing to talk about. If he did leave, I probably would have left and went with him. I would have just looked at all my options.
so me and jai r goin to uk so all we need is our big fella to ride with us so we can go ahead and win this ncaa championshipStewart also posted this myspace bulletin.
i swear man this whole thing with the coach has been crazy, and i wasn’t really sure if i wanted to stay at UK or not but I love the fans and all this love that I’m getting from everybody and now i can’t wait till i come to lexington….. Thanks for all the love for real and if u leave a message and i don’t get u back please don’t be mad i really do get alot of messages and i can’t get them all.A little tidbit for you after doing some research:
Kentucky's newest coach, Billy Gillispie, was an assistant under former Tulsa/Illinois and current Kansas coach Bill Self, who was an assistant at Oklahoma State under former Kentucky/Oklahoma State coach Eddie Sutton and former assistant coach Leonard Hamilton.
Hamilton was an long time assistant (later associate head coach) under Joe B. Hall, who was a player and an assistant under the legendary Kentucky coach Adolph Rupp, Baron of the Bluegrass. Funny how that works out, eh?
Technically speaking, Gillispie is a part of the Adolph Rupp coaching tree.