July Means Prep Recruiting Starting To Heat Up
The weekend of July 15 will once again provide Kentucky hoop fans with some of the best high school baskeiball as Eddie Ford stages his second Kentucky Prep All-Star Festival in Lexington.
Ford's project was a big hit last summer when he showcased the likes of Chris Jent, Don MacLean, Shawn Kemp, Sean Woods, Pat Graham, Chris Mills, Richie Farmer and Damon Bailey, among others during the three-day festival.
This year should be no different as Ford has entries from Georgia, South Carolina, Ohio, Arkansas, Tennessee, two from California and Indiana, among others.
As you can see from the list above, Kentucky coach Eddie Sutton and his staff recruited very nicely from the festival last season.
More on this event is listed inside this issue of TCP.
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Just as we were going to press on July 8, attorney Joe Bill Campbell filed a
multi-million dollar libel suit on behalf of UK assistant coach Dwane Casey against the Emery Worldwide freight company.
The suit came at a time when rumors were engulfing Lexington that both the NCAA and the University of Kentucky-were on the verge of nearing their conclusions of separate investigations into the alleged incident of a package containing $1,000 was shipped by Casey to Claud Mills, father of UK signee Chris Mills.
There has been much speculation that the NCAA would wind up its investigation and make its decision known to UK sometime this month because of the impending eligibility of Mills.
At the same time, there have been widespread rumors that UK officials, namely president David Roselle. are prepared to make sweeping changes within the UK athletics program if Roselle's independent counsel should find any wrongdoing by any members of the basketball staff and/or athletics department.
Fueling that theory on was the speculation that Sutton might leave UK and take the head job at Kansas where Larry Brown won the national championship last spring.
When Brown announced his resignation, reporters quickly listed Sutton as a possible successor, but the UK coach answered '"not really," when asked if he would be interested in the job.
Since then. Kansas has hired North Carolina assistant Roy Williams as the head coach. There are some who claim Sutton would have accepted the job had it been offered, considering the uncertainity of the UK program and his status here, but the UK boss has always insisted he is happy with the UK job.
Whether or not the Casey lawsuit will have any affect on the timetable of NCAA or UK action is unknown, but there are some close to Roselle who insist the UK president will take immediate and firm action if UK is hit with probation by the
This is the biggest month of the year as far as college basketball recruiting is concerned, more so this summer than in the past because of a new NCAA recruiting period which limits college recruiters to just three weeks for evaluating prepsters in person.
The week of July 10-15 has coaches flocking to Princeton, N.J., where some 200 of the nation's finest will be competing at the Nike Ail-American Camp.
Sandwiched in and around the Nike event are camps put on by the super czars of the business, the B/C All-Star camps in Georgia and Indiana and Howard Gar-finkel's Five-Star camps in Pennsylvania and Virginia.
Kentucky's recruiting list is being secretly guarded this summer according to UK assistants, insinuating more or less, that a war between the coaching staff and media outlets has already been launched.
It apparently comes from what the coaches feel has been unfair reporting over UK's problems of the past three or four months.
Said one assistant, "We're not going to comment on anyone," referring to UK's recruiting this season.
Asked if two particular high school players would be playing in the Nike camp, Casey answered, "I really don't know. We don't even know who we're going to be recruiting. We haven't even sat down and made up our list yet."
Those comments were made on June 30. If the UK staff hadn't discussed recruiting by this time, they're in a whole lot of trouble for the future. I've got to believe the coaches had a very good idea of the people they'll be looking at this summer, but perhaps Casey's reaction was just a warning to the media: No more favors here! To a point, it's understandable Casey has been on an emotional rollercoaster, but...
I hesitate to admit it, but the conversation was with this reporter. Yes, it appears like it's going to be a long hot summer.
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Back to the above. It's obvious some people around the Kentucky program are irritated that local media types have not come swarming to their defense.
We said in our last issue it would be impossible, not to speak of being completely wrong, for us to accuse anyone of a wrongdoing we have no direct knowledge of. At the same time, 1 cannot in good faith and fairness to all, insist a person did not do something if I wasn't with him at the time.
It's no secret we have a warm spot for UK athletics or we wouldn't be publishing a sports weekly on the Wildcats, and we have no ties or loyalties to any other big-time university or coaches at other schools. But we'll not polish anyone's apple just to become an insider with them.
That's just not our style.
Having said that, let it be said that no one has been more supportive of UK athletic programs and officials than we have. But any decent news publiciation must be unbiased and fair, especially with you, the readers. That's the way it has been since we began publishing in September of 1976, and the way it will always be.
TCP has never been a puff sheet for UK as some of our critics would have you believe. When we have evidence someone has been wronged, we'll be the first to defend them. I would love to believe Kentucky is completely innocent of all charges, and they are innocent until proven guilty, but I'm not about to shoot off my mouth to say "such-and-such" is a lie when I have no evidence.
If this doesn't sit well with people I consider to be my friends, then so be it.
Thankfully, the court will now get to settle this once and for all. If there wasn't a $1,000 in that package when it left the UK basketball office, Casey is going to be a mightly wealthy man and he certainly should be. He's entitled to every penny of the millions he'll get.
On the other hand, if there was a SI ,000 in that package when it left the UK basketball office, Roselle has no alternative but to take drastic action with the basketball program.
Such a stupid situation would demand
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HITS AND MISSES ... Bad news on last year's recruiting front. Sean Woods missed the magic 700 score on his final SAT test and will not play in a Kentucky uniform this winter. His mother, Vicki Williams, told the Louisville Courier-Journal that Woods might now go the junior college route. . . No one is saying, but we have good sources which indicate that Shawn Kemp may have to follow the same direction. There had been no official announcement as of July 8, but sources close to the situation claim Kemp, too, failed his last test. Rumors persist that Sutton has been unable to persuade UK to admit Kemp without passing the test, a la the Johnny Pittman story of a year ago. Pittman, if you recall, was denied admission when he failed to qualify under the core curriculum section. Pittman ended up going to Oklahoma State, where he compiled a nifty 2.85 GPA his first year. If Kemp and Woods go the junior college route and if Mills is not permitted to enroll by the NCAA, then Kentucky's recruiting class (once hailed as one of the nation's top five) will be reduced to just Richie Farmer, the kid UK really didn't want in the first place . . . Former UK guard Rex Chapman's dream of competing in the Olympic Games is over, at least for now. Chapman was not among the finalists still competing for a spot on the 12-man roster that will compete in the '88 Summer Games in Seoul. South Korea. Chapman was deeply disappointed, but says he still
has hopes of playing in the 1992 Olympics, should the United States Olympic Committee allow professionals to compete . . . Our prayers go out to UK football player David Scott who was critically injured in an automobile wreck in Lexington a couple of weeks ago. Scott is in serious condition at UK's Chandler Medical Center. He underwent surgery for a lacerated liver, and also has serious head injuries and a broken left clavicle . . . Former UK coach Joe B. Hall is recuperating nicely at his home in Lexington after undergoing surgery in May.
Joe B. Hall
Joe B.'s hospital stay was about two weeks longer than anticipated when he developed an infection after surgery, but he's back at home now. You can write him at Beechwood Drive, Lexington. Ky. 40502 . . . Reports out of the South have it that several SEC signees, including Chris Jackson won't be eligible. Jackson signed a grant with LSU, but his mother wouldn't co-sign it so Jackson reportedly is waiting till school starts and will then enroll without his mother's blessing . . . The recent decision by the SEC to ban any athlete who does not meet Proposition 48 by 1991 will have a tremendous impact on the qualifty of play in the SEC unless other conferences follow up. It'll be interesting to see if the league presidents reverse this decision before it becomes effective . . . Lexington is one of the four finalists for the SEC tournaments being planned for 1990, 1991 and 1992. The other finalists are Nashville, Birmingham and Orlando. The tourney next March will be staged in Knoxville . . . If Kentucky should be banned from post season play as part of any NCAA probation (if it should happen), we wonder if the SEC will force Jefferson-Pilot to live up to its original television pact or allow the network to renegotiate the deal, considering that its biggest television draw—Kentucky—won't be involved.