SEC Weekly Five: 04.27.12 EditionPosted by Brian Joyce on April 27th, 2012
- Surely you heard that number one recruit and flat top fashionista Nerlens Noel committed to the University of Kentucky, but what you may not know is that Noel and his fellow incoming freshmen are helping to recruit other top talent to Lexington. Noel has led the charge, via Twitter of all places, to recruit Anthony Bennett, another top player in the class of 2012, to join him in the front line in the 2012-13 version of the defending national champions. Bennett is deciding among Kentucky, UNLV and Florida, with many experts believing it is down to the Gators and the Wildcats. Kentucky saw a lot of scoring walk out the proverbial door to the NBA, and another stockpile of freshmen talent is a must for the Wildcats to consider defending its current title.
- Noel isn’t the only one recruiting for Kentucky. Wildcat coach John Calipari has hit the recruiting trail and he has been forced to be slightly more creative than he has been in the past. Cal is looking to add depth to the backcourt with 6’5″ shooting guard Mislav Brzoja. Never heard of Brzoja? I told you Calipari was getting creative. Brzoja is a shooting extraordinaire who helped Croatia defeat the USA in the U-19 FIBA World Championships.
- While Kentucky is completely overhauling its roster after losing seven players, Vanderbilt is undergoing a similar process with far from the same results. The Commodores lost their top six scorers, three of whom expect to be drafted, but they haven’t replaced their big three with top talent. The biggest disappointment for Vanderbilt and coach Kevin Stallings has to be when in-state talent Alex Poythress chose to play at Kentucky after Vanderbilt recruited him for almost four years. “The staff invested an enormous amount of time and effort into recruiting (Poythress)… that was the watershed event,” Nashville-based recruiting analyst Jerry Meyer said. “It’s safe to say it hasn’t been a good recruiting year for Vandy. Exactly why, I don’t know. Sometimes you get unlucky.” Like the Wildcats in Lexington, a lot of scoring leaves Vandy this spring, and it seems to be a much more difficult challenge to envision who will put the ball in the bucket in Nashville with John Jenkins, Jeffery Taylor and Festus Ezeli no longer on campus.
- New South Carolina coach Frank Martin insists he didn’t come to the Gamecocks simply to run away from his troubles at Kansas State, but rather because of his excitement to be part of the USC program. “I’m just telling you, (Gamecocks AD) Eric Hyman put his arms around me and it was hard for me not to feel the passion that he had for building the men’s basketball program,” Martin said. “I’ve never been through this before.” Martin inherits a team that finished last in the SEC, but he has taken little talent and done something with it before. Martin took over the Kansas State job on the heels of an NIT appearance and had the Wildcats in the Elite Eight within three years.
- Scheduling is always one of the joys of the college basketball offseason, and Indiana coach Tom Crean claims that Kentucky no longer wants to play the Hoosiers in a home-and-home series. Kentucky is pushing to move the series to neutral court sites again, possibly in Indianapolis and Louisville. After the heartbreaker suffered in Bloomington this past December, who can blame the Cats for wanting to change things? But one has to wonder how long top-tier programs can continue to avoid playing difficult games (or really any games) on the road? Kentucky is slowly limiting any true road games from its schedule, joining the likes of arch-nemesis Duke as teams that don’t typically play in hostile environments until conference play. That hasn’t exactly been a recipe for success for the Blue Devils. With Kentucky’s propensity for freshman-heavy rosters, doesn’t it make sense that Calipari would want to challenge his team on a rival’s home court to prepare for the rigors of March rather than take a guaranteed paycheck from an inferior opponent in a blowout win at Rupp?