As we move into the dearth of the offseason, recruiting is hitting his high point. With little else for coaches to do besides hit up the local country club, most of the recruiting that occurs year-round takes place in these 2 or 3 months of nothingness. Having already received a commitment from local boy Travis Releford (and discussing his future value here), we have now moved on to bigger and better things, notably the suddenly unified recruitment of both Rotnei Clarke and Willie Warren. Let's see where we stand on their recruitment, along with everyone else we have more than a passing interest in, as we gauge how far Self and Co. really have to go before we put together one of the top recruiting classes in the country. Cause it's coming folks, so you better be ready.
PG Rotnei Clarke and SG Willie Warren
Having already announced their joint recruitment I am treating them as one recruitment. Since their announcement to take their respective talents to the same school, they have essentially narrowed down the finalists to three schools: Kentucky, Kansas and Boomer Sooner. Rotnei's birth and rearing in Oklahoma is a likely reason for Boomer Sooner's appearance on the list, although his allegiances to the state are severely questioned considering his AAU team is called "Team Texas". Confusing. However, that is also the place where he first graced the amazing talents of one Willie Warren, the true prize of the package. Undoubtedly forging an immediate friendship at first sight, they have remained close ever since using their respective talents to form a dynamic duo on the court. Evidenced by this game report, where they faced fellow Jayhawk recruit Xavier Henry who we will get to a little bit later, Warren's superb drive-and-kick skills work well with the sharpshooting Clarke. While Warren stole the show, Rotnei was the one who took the opposing group of youngsters out of their preferred method of zone with his treys. Depending on who else is signed by the 'Hawks and assuming both commit and come to Lawrence, Warren figures to be an immediate impact player (possibly even starting as a freshman following BRush and Super's departure and quite possibly SC's) whereas Clarke figures to be a bench player. He could start later on in his career, but he likely will be used solely as a 3 point specialist early on in his career, the Michael Lee to Warren's Aaron Miles if you will. Don't get me wrong, Clarke is a much better prospect than Lee ever was but it is clear who the desired target is. While Clarke ranks as the 11th best point guard and 79th overall, Warren takes the cake as the best shooting guard available and the 8th best overall prospect.
We are likely ahead of Boomer Sooner in recruiting talks for the mere fact we are a better team both now and throughout these recruits' careers. Granted they would likely receive more PT down in Norman, if their goal is to win then Kansas is the obvious choice. Kentucky, who just today received the commitment of DeAndre Liggins, a previous Self target, may be running out of scholarships to hand out. Billy G is a very good recruiter and can never be discounted in a race, but I have a good feeling about these two. I think that we are the frontrunners in a 3 horse race, a race that could be the difference in seperating a great recruiting class and a phenomenal one.
PF Greg Monroe
The top kid in this year's recruiting class, Greg Monroe has received plenty of interest from Self and Co. and according to Scout has "high interest" in Kansas as well as receiving an offer from Self. They have basically limited the race to the 3 frontrunners in Duke, LSU and Kansas, although it remains too early to rule out anyone just yet. I feel semi-confident about Monroe, although I get the feeling he would choose Duke over us. He is from Louisiana so staying close to home and playing for a team that just went to the Final Four two years ago must be incredibly tempting, so I am far from expecting a commitment from him. I know much less about his game than both Warren and Clarke, although according to Scout his strengths include his rebounding and length, whereas he needs to improve as a low post scorer. He seems to me like a one-and-done guy who would potentially (a word used plenty with him) replace DA assuming Arthur makes the jump to the pros. Otherwise, he would team up with our District Attorney (DA, get it? never mind...) to form one of the better frontcourts in the country. I should have a player-specific profile up on either him or Xavier Henry in the next week or so, I know little about both and need to learn more and how they will effect future Jayhawk squads.
Like I said, I am extremely cautiously optimistic about this kid. I get the feeling he likes Self and Kansas, but just not as much as LSU or Duke. I'm not holding my breath and waiting for a commit from this kid, he is likely headed somewhere else for a one-and-done. And frankly, if he is in college solely to improve his NBA stock and to abide the rules I'm not sure I want him. Just from reading brief summaries of his game I get the feeling that while having plenty of potential, he is rather unpolished and wouldn't neccessarily be a big hit in college from day one.
PF Terrance Henry
No, not Xavier Henry, the uber-talented recruit in the Class of 2009. I will focus on him one-on-one later, but not right now as we are strictly concerned with 2008 recruits. No, instead we are focusing on Terrance Henry, a 6'8" small foward from Louisiana just like Greggy. He is likely being used as an insurance policy incase the likely happens and Monroe chooses Duke or LSU or even another school over Kansas. He isn't too shabby himself, however, ranked as the 7th best small foward in the Class and the 47th overall. He also has expressed "high interest" in Kansas, again according to Scout along with Baylor and Mississippi. With those two schools the competition, it is likely now just a conundrum involving weighing playing time and winning time. Would he rather come off the bench, work his butt off and then maybe play quality minutes his junior and senior seasons and have a legitimate title chance? Or would he instead choose to play 25-30 minutes a game immediately and while possibly sacrifice winning, make an impact from day one. He is similar to Releford in the fact that he won't make-or-break the class, but guys like him are important to sign as 'Plan Bs' incase our high aspirations of kids like Greg Monroe turn out not to work out. I feel he will choose winning in the end, with a solid chance to play significant minutes with the possibility of three of our four big men leaving campus following the season.
I will get into Xavier Henry and Monroe more on a later date(s), but for now that is all we are going to cover recruiting wise. We are recruiting plenty more prospects, I will try to get to those over the weekend. Sorry guys, my SE Louisiana preview is going to have to wait until the beginning of next week. Don't worry though, I should get them AND Toledo out of the way next week and we will be right back on track. Tomorrow Julian's future is put on the line during the spectacle that is the NBA Draft, I should be posting my final prediction as well as other "experts" and what they have to say regarding Julian.