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Could Texas A&M to the SEC HELP the Kentucky Wildcat's basketball recruiting?


It’s going to happen.  Eventually.  Cooler heads are going to prevail and Texas A&M will join the Southeastern Conference.  I know there has been tons of speculation about how this can affect the whole football landscape of the SEC, but how about basketball?   And more specifically, how can this affect our Wildcats?

It’s no secret that Kenucky is involved with several recruits that are also considering Big 12 schools.  If Texas A&M does come to the SEC, you have to wonder will happen to the Big 12 Conference.  The theories are rampant:  some predict the end of the conference and other people predict a eight or ten conference surviving.  A lot of this has to do with what Texas and Oklahoma do, and that should be clearer in the next couple of weeks.  Regardless, you would have to wonder how all of this conference talk plays in the minds of the recruits.

When you mention basketball recruits that may be affected by the drama in the Big 12, Kansas’s Perry Ellis comes to mind.  Ellis recently named a Final Four of Kentucky, Kansas, Kansas State, and Wichita State.  Of course, two of those teams currently reside in the Big 12 and could be looking for a new conference home if the Big 12 dissolves.  And since Texas A&M will join the SEC next year, this could bode big on the decision making process for Ellis.  I had the opportunity to ask Ellis’s mother, Fonda a few questions about her son and how closely all this conference drama may be affecting their son:

Wildcat Blue Nation:    I know that Perry is  looking at both Kansas and Kansas State as two of his final four teams.  How closely are you watching the news about the future of the Big 12 conference?  

Fonda Ellis:  My husband and I are  watching it closely.  It will be interesting to see how this all turns out with the Big 12.  We have followed the Big 12 for years since it is mainly in our midwest area.  I hope for the conference sake they can keep it intact.

WBN:    In the end, how important is conference to your decision?

FE:  We will be discussing the conference issue with Coach Bill Self and Coach Frank Martin at our in-home visits and see what they have to say about this before we make any decisions. At this point Perry isn’t concerned so much about what conference he will be playing in he is more concerned he is chosing the right school for him.

WBN:   I know that you are considering Wichita State as well, and they are in the Missouri Valley Conference.  What is it about them that attracts them to Perry even wih the lack of a big name conference?

PE:  Gregg Marshall has really made a name for Wichita State.  Winning the NIT, sold out crowds every game, 5 minutes from our home, The home town support is awesome.

Even though it does not appear that the conference is a big determining factor for Ellis (as of now), you have to think that it will affect Kansas with other recruits that are considering the Jayhawks.  At this moment, Kentucky and Kansas are battling for 2012 recruits Shabazz Muhammad, Archie Goodwin, Kaleb Tarcewski, and Mitch McGary, just to name a handful, along with Ellis.  If the worst happens and Kansas is not able to join the PAC 12 or Big 10 and is forced to play as an independent for a couple of years, that would mean a lack of high marquee matchups on their schedule.  You can assume they will continue to play teams like Kansas State and even Texas regularly, but not knowing what the conference landscape may be, you just never know.  Kansas is also in the running for 2013’s top PG, Isaiah Lewis.  While Lewis does not have Kentucky on his list now, you can never underestimate the draw of Kentucky and a beefed up SEC, especially given Calipari’s history with point guards.

And finally we come to fact that Texas A&M to the SEC is going to open up the state of Texas for basketball recruiting and much like John Calipari blazed through the Northwest, landing Terrence Jones and Kyle Wiltjer, expect Kentucky to make new impact in the recruit’s minds.  Looking at the 2012 rankings from Rivals, there is a whole slew of players in the Top 50 that we never really heard Kentucky associated with.  Check out these players from the state of Texas:

  • #5 Isaiah Austin – committed to Baylor
  • #14 Marcus Smart
  • #15 Danuel House
  • #21 Cameron Ridley – committed to Texas
  • #32  Rasheed Sulaimon – committed to Duke
  • #44 Shaquille Cleare – committed to Maryland
  • #47  Chicken Knowles

That is seven top 50 players that to be honest, I really had not even heard of Kentucky having any interest in, except for maybe Austin.  I’m not saying that Kentucky is going to zoom to the top of these kids list now, but a pipeline takes time to build.  And for the record, I really want Chicken Knowles.  And I checked.  Louisville has not recruited him for their chicken coop.  Yet….

But if we take a look at the 20013 class, we find some players that Kentucky is already havily involved with, including the number one player in the 2013 class Andrew Harrison and his brother Aaron, the number seven ranked player.  # 4 Julius Randle is also from Texas, as well as #13 Keith Frazier.  Are we starting to get excited yet, Wildcat fans?

This whole legal mumbo jumbo is going to run it’s course and we may actually see other schools like West Virginia join the SEC as well.  WVU will add another border rivalry to the basketball schedule as well as potentially open up another state for Calipari to conquer.  Same goes for Virginia, if Virginia Tech lands in our conference.  It’s a very good time to be Kentucky and have John Calipari running the show.

Welcome to the SEC, Texas A&M.

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