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UK’s poor season won’t affect recruiting, assistant coach says

Vaught’s Views

 

 

What kind of impact is Kentucky’s losing season going to have on future recruiting?

If Kentucky assistant coach Bruiser Flint is right, he thinks recruits will be unaffected by the losses this season.

“Why wouldn’t they (be unaffected)? That’s my thing. Why wouldn’t they feel good? They see the results that they’ve had with the players. I mean, teams go through stuff like this sometimes,” said Flint about UK’s 9-15 record.

“This is my first year at Kentucky. Believe me I didn’t think it was going to be like this. But people understand what Coach Cal has done, what type of coach he is, what type of program this is. This is as storied of a program as there is in college basketball. So you have a little bit of a hiccup, and you’re having a hiccup for a whole year.”

Flint said recruits still understand how Calipari has developed NBA talent.

“I know we’re having a tough season, but anybody that looks at that and thinks this is going to continue they’re out of their minds. I think the kids understand that and they love Kentucky basketball. I think that’s why we’re still pretty good with the recruits,” Flint said.

Rivals.com recruiting writer/ analyst Krysten Peek thinks the pandemic has impacted Kentucky’s season just like it has every program.

“I am not blaming the pandemic for Kentucky’s season,” Peek said. “I am sure the Kentucky staff is showing recruits that this player or that player will come back and will show growth. That’s why fivestar players are still committing to Kentucky.”

Peek said the pandemic has made recruiting as different for coaches as it has players.

“These coaches have not been on the road recruiting for a year. It just as hard on them as it is on their team. It’s hard to identify players coming up and what they can and cannot do when you cannot go out and watch them play,” Peek said.

“Coaches want to be out there in the spring and summer getting eyeballs on these guys. You still hear whispers even now about the blue bloods when they got involved with players or are showing interest. It’s just that keeping tabs on a player watching TV or a live stream is not the same as being there. But bottom line everybody is in the same boat and I think a school like Kentucky’s recruiting is going to be just fine.”

Two UK signees – Nolan Hickman Jr. and Daimion Collins – have both recently been named McDonald’s All-Americans. s

Olivier Sarr’s season at Kentucky may not have gone the way he envisioned it when he transferred from Kentucky but he still appreciates the opportunity he’s had to receive an American education after growing up in France.

“I think for me it’s all about how I was raised. My dad comes from Africa. He comes from Senegal. Basically I’m trying to do what he did. He left for a better life,” Sarr said. “I’m not saying that I had bad conditions back home, but he left for a better life and went to France and studied, earned his degree and he is now living a comfortable life.

“He built his own legacy, and I think that’s the path I want to choose. Being able to be in this position today, it’s a blessing for me. It’s a way of remembering what my dad taught me and he’s still teaching me to this day. It’s just an honor to be able to do that.”

Sarr, a communications major, knows those in France will be impressed with his degree.

“Earning a degree, especially in college in the U.S., is something that not a lot of people are doing back home,” Sarr said. “I know it will be recognized over there, so it’s an honor.” s

First-year Kentucky coach Kyra Elzy started her head coaching career by having to suspend All-American Rhyne Howard, a potential national player of the year, for two games for a violation of team rules. However, that did not taint the relationship between the two.

Elzy said coaching Howard is “pretty special” because of her rare talent.

“What I love about Rhyne is she wants to be coached, she wants to be pushed, she wants to learn, and the staff does an amazing job with helping her improve,” Elzy said. “She has goals, obviously beyond Kentucky, that we have to help her get ready for. We can’t just let her rest on her talent and she knows that we are not.

“But also, just having great relationships, and really just trying to enjoy her and this team, even though it’s March Madness for a reason.”

Kentucky lost in the SEC Tournament quarterfinals last week just a few days after Howard was again named Southeastern Conference Player of the Year by league coaches and is only the third player to be SEC Player of the Year twice prior to her senior season. She’s also a semifinalist for the Naismith Trophy Women’s National Player of the Year and one of five finalists for the Cheryl Miller Award and Dawn Staley Award given to the nation’s best player along with one of the final 15 on the Wooden Award ballot.

Howard is the only Power-5 conference player averaging over 19 points and 7.5 rebounds per game with at least 40 steals and 70 assists. She’s the only player in the SEC leading her team in scoring, rebounding and assists. s

What kind of player is Kentucky getting in Michigan State transfer linebacker Luke Fulton? He was a highly-touted four-star recruit out of Youngstown, Ohio, who expected to be a marquee player at Michigan State. He redshirted in 2019 and was expected to compete for a starting spot in 2020 before an off field issue made him miss preseason workouts. He never returned to the team and now is headed to Kentucky.

Receiver Tre’Von Morgan is also transferring to UK from Michigan State. Like Fulton, he was a four-star recruit out of Ohio.

“We were in the same recruiting class. I already knew of him when we got to Michigan State and then we obviously talked more,” Morgan said. “We got close at school. Once I decided to transfer and UK was one of my schools, I told him to put in a good word for me because he was already committed. It never hurts to have somebody put in a good word, so he talked to them.”

Morgan is glad he’s going to have Fulton as a teammate again.

“He is a baller. He is strong as an ox,” Morgan said. “He can run and cover a lot of ground. I am pretty sure Luke was four-star and had a lot of places he could have gone.

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