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Can UK scrape together another No. 1 class?

10/11/2011

Shooting 3s ...

Different strategy for Calipari

Last year, John Calipari’s Kentucky Wildcats held a celebration at Big Blue Madness. UK hosted all four of its committed players -- Kyle Wiltjer, Michael Gilchrist, Marquis Teague and Anthony Davis -- which comprised the nation’s top-ranked recruiting class and the evening’s recruiting festivities were geared toward the quartet of stars. Kentucky didn’t have another prospect on campus as all eyes were on the seniors.

This year, it’s a different story. After three straight No. 1 recruiting classes, Calipari is having to work into the start of the college season for his current group. If he’s to replicate the feat and nab his fourth straight No. 1 class, this weekend will go a long ways toward accomplishing the near impossible.

Archie Goodwin (Little Rock, Ark./Sylvan Hills) is the lone commitment and he's making his way to campus. He’ll be an ambassador for at least four of the nation’s finest senior prospects plus a pair of top-10 juniors.

The nation’s top senior, small forward Shabazz Muhammad (Las Vegas, Nev./Gorman) will be in the building. He’ll be flanked by DaJuan Coleman (Dewitt, N.Y./Jamesville-Dewitt), Alex Poythress (Clarksville, Tenn./Northeast) and Willie Cauley (Spearville, Kan./Olathe NW). To retain the title of recruiting czar and keep it away from his good buddy Arizona's Sean Miller, Calipari will need at least two of these guys and have Kaleb Tarczewski (Claremont, N.H./St. Mark’s) pick anywhere but Arizona.

Joining the seniors are a pair of prime junior targets, the twins, Aaron Harrison (Houston, Texas/Travis) and Andrew Harrison (Houston, Texas/Travis). These guys play shooting guard and point, respectively, and UK has them as priority recruits.

Jefferson isn’t ready to decide

There are times of the year when big performances are required to reach bigger goals. At this point, when you’re trying to become a McDonald’s All-American, every chance matters. At last weekend’s Eddie Griffin Challenge, Amile Jefferson (Philadelphia, Pa./Friends Central) capitalized on his chance.

In three Eddie Griffin Challenges pitting the best from Philadelphia against the best from New Jersey, Jefferson has gone 3-0, getting better each year. “If you remember, my first year playing in this, it wasn’t very good,” Jefferson said. “After that it got better and better.” On Sunday, Jefferson was scintillating with 30 points in a thrashing of the New Jersey seniors. The kid deserves to be a McDonald’s All-American and this effort should be the cherry on top of his résumé.

Jefferson’s recruitment is taking a long time. He visited Ohio State officially and relayed a list of Connecticut, Pittsburgh, NC State, Stanford and Villanova. Jefferson himself said he’s been linked to Syracuse but he doesn’t even know if the Orange have a scholarship for him. Some of the schools recruiting him are paying close attention to Kentucky because that name has come up as a dark horse. For the time being, Jefferson didn’t mention the Wildcats, nor did he mention Maryland, a program he one-time visited unofficially.

The slender baseline wizard said he’s nowhere close to deciding. He’s got a lot on his mind regarding his recruitment and could take two or three more officials.

“I’m going to be honest, I couldn’t decide. I’m just taking my time. The goal is to sign in November, maybe take officials in the next three weeks. I’m worried about everything to be honest.”

Jefferson, also a talented student, is waiting for that voice to stamp one of his suitors as the right school. “I think I know a lot about most schools, it’s just finding the right one,” Jefferson said. “Every school has something great to offer. I’m waiting for my heart to tell me where. I’ve talked to some of the guys about what they’re thinking about but really what’s right for me isn’t what’s right for someone else.”

Slimmer D.S.R. continues evolution

The first thing you notice about D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera (Indianapolis, Ind./Oak Hill) is his trimmed up physique. The Indiana native is down 10 pounds since the summer. Not only has he shed weight, he’s shed schools from his list and is now down to Georgetown, Memphis, Louisville, NC State and UCLA.

D.S.R. has his eyes on a fall decision, meaning he’d like to sign in the early period. The one-time Xavier commitment needs to be sure this time around and says even if he had to, he couldn’t decide right now.

“It’s one of the toughest decisions,” Smith-Rivera said. “This is the difference between me playing four years down the line or 1-2 years down the line. It’s about what really fits me the best and where I can come in and be effective.”

Some of the schools on his list have been mentioned in realignment talk. To D.S.R., the league isn’t a concern. “I don’t think it matters. The system that they run, they’ll play that way regardless of what conference they’re in.”

And One ...

Jaren Sina (Lake Hopatcong, N.J./Gill St. Bernard's) was overwhelmed last week once he decommitted from Alabama. As you might expect, interest in him is quite high. In an effort to stay on top of things and not forget anything, Sina has been relegated to referring to his Blackberry when referencing his list; he keeps the schools in a text. The new list reads: Alabama, Virginia, Penn State, Georgetown, Miami, Seton Hall, Rutgers, St. John's, Florida State, Michigan, Cincinnati, Clemson, Syracuse and West Virginia.