10. A doctor in the house? Patrick Patterson and Jodie Meeks are the only two proven scorers on the Kentucky roster heading into Billy Gillispie's second year. They were also relegated to the UK bench by the end of this past season because of injuries. It may well be that UK's fate in March 2009 will be determined in the summer of '08 in how Patterson (surgery for a stress fracture in an ankle) and Meeks (a sports hernia) recover from their ailments.[...]Big Blue Madness cannot come sooner.
5. King Darius the First. Coming off the ultimate dream season (signing with UK; state championship; Mr. Basketball; meet and greet with George Clooney) for a Kentucky high school player, Mason County's Darius Miller could have more big things immediately ahead. With only two proven scorers (see No. 10) returning on the UK roster, Miller has a chance to emerge as UK's third scoring option as a true freshman.[...]
3. Jasper the friendly point. With Ramel Bradley gone and the eligibility status of prized point guard recruit DeAndre Liggins still to be determined, junior-to-be Derrick Jasper may (re)inherit the Kentucky point guard role. The 6-6 Jasper showed late this past season what a valuable all-around player (rebounding, defending multiple positions) he can be. He has not yet shown that he can run a team against elite-level quickness. If he can't make the point, the current Kentucky roster has no one who can.
2. Lofton redux? While at Tennessee, Maysville's Chris Lofton was a persistent tormentor of his home-state university. Lofton will finally be gone in '08-09. But another Kentucky high school product, McDonald's All-American Scotty Hopson of University Heights, has committed to UT. As a prospect, Hopson was far more hyped nationally than Lofton, but as a high school player he did not have nearly the in-state impact that the ex-Mason County star did. So even if Hopson tears it up in Knoxville, I don't think it will be quite the knife to the heart of Kentucky basketball fans that Lofton was.
1. Complicating life for Billy G.? When Rick Pitino took the Louisville job, it made coaching at Kentucky more vexing for Tubby Smith. Pitino at Louisville is old hat now, but Billy Gillispie's special challenge is shaping up inside the Southeastern Conference. If Travis Ford were to land the Louisiana State job, you would have two former UK players (Ford and John Pelphrey at Arkansas) and a former Lexington high school standout (Darrin Horn at South Carolina) all coaching in the same league as Kentucky. For a UK coach, matchups against guys with such strong Bluegrass State pedigrees become must-wins.
Only 190 days until Oct. 15.
The following players will return:
Mark Coury, Ramon Harris, Derrick Jasper, Mark Krebs, Jodie Meeks, Dwight Perry, Michael Porter, Matt Scherbenske
Patrick Patterson, A.J. Stewart, Mike Williams
DeAndre Liggins (5 star PG)
Darius Miller (4 star SF)
Joey Galloway (3 star SF, not yet signed)
Landon Slone (walk-on)
Adam Delph (walk-on)
A sign of things to come:
There is still hope that a real deep NCAA tournament run is in our future. Jasper, Meeks, and Stevenson were all four stars. Patterson is a five star. GJ Vilarino, who committed already, is a three star out of Texas and a guard. He's made a verbal for 2009.
As far as 2010 goes, these two players have committed but not signed: Dakotah Euton (PF), and K.C. Ross-Miller (PG)