It's Billy Clyde's coming out party tonight in Lexington as the NCAA allows basketball practice to officially begin. Coach Gillispie will make his on court debut before close to 24,000 Wildcat fanatics in Rupp Arena as he begins a new era at the all-time winningest college basketball program.
Gillispie has already won over a lot of fans with his enthusiasm, communications, and most importantly - recruiting.
Freshman guard Alex Legion was a Parade All-American that decided to come to UK after Michigan fired Tommy Amaker. He will join a backcourt that is talented and manned by seniors Joe Crawford and Ramel Bradley - the team's leading two returning scorers and sophomore Jodie Meeks - the team's third leading returning scorer. Sophomore Derrick Jasper is a question mark. He underwent microfracture surgery last spring - everyone on the face of the earth misses a year with that procedure, but all reports are that he'll be practicing tonight and ready to show off an improved jumper. Seldom used sophomore Michael Porter is anxious for a fresh start in Gillispie's system.
Another freshman is the jewel and hope of the frontcourt. Power forward and McDonald's AA Patrick Patterson was recruited to UK by both Tubby Smith and Billy Gillispie, signing his LOI on the last day of the spring period. He is joined by fellow frosh (and Smith recruits) AJ Stewart (6'8" SF/PF) and Morikanyo (Mike) Williams - a 7 footer originally from Great Britain. Big improvements are hoped for from 6'7" sophomore Ramon Harris and 6'9" sophomore Perry Stevenson. 6'8" sophomore Mark Coury is currently on scholarship - but came in as a walk-on. He plays hard and is a "good kid". 7'2" junior Jared Carter played in 3 games last year before a shoulder injury ended his season - the UK staff will wait until after his senior year to apply for a medical redshirt.
Coach Gillisie has 2 seniors, 1 junior with the experience of a sophomore, 5 sophomores, and 4 freshmen on scholarship. He's on a honeymoon that will last until either his first loss or first win that isn't by enough points. But at least he isn't following Rick Pitino. He has verbal commitments from HS seniors DeAndre Liggins and Darius Miller (both top 50 players), HS junior GJ Villarino, and HS sophomores KC Ross-Miller and Dakotah Euton. Fans are literally giddy right now.
So - does your school do a "madness"? What are your prospects for this season? Who else is ready for some college hoops to start?
The starting five.... Len Bias, F, Maryland, '82-86 Christian Laettner, F, Duke, '89-92 Ralph Sampson, C, Virginia, '79-83 Mark Price, G, Georgia Tech, '82-86 Michael Jordan, G, North Carolina, '81-83 Hmmm...no love for Juan Dixon?