On the recruiting front with TheThrill

Omar Wilkes is one of the most intelligent, polite, well-mannered and flat-out nicest student athletes in the class of 2003. He is the son of former UCLA and NBA great Jamaal Wilkes and takes after his father both on the court and in life in general. You won't find two better guys than the Jamaal and Omar Wilkes. And now, it appears that Wilkes and his buddy David Padgett may have found a coach to match their personalties.

Omar Wilkes, a 6-3 SG from Loyola (Calif.) High, took his first official visit last weekend to Kansas along with good friend and fellow elite 2003 prospect David Padgett (6-11 C, Reno). Both came away "very impressed" by the atmosphere, the campus, the players and especially coach Roy Williams.

Wilkes, who lists Florida, Cal, Stanford and UCLA along with Kansas as his top five schools right now, said that both he and Padgett hit it off not with Jayhawk youngsters Keith Langford and Aaron Miles, but with grizzled veteran forward Nick Collison.

"We got along great with everyone," Wilkes said. "I love Aaron, obviously, but the strange thing was that the guy we really clicked with was Nick Collison. He's from Iowa Falls and I'm from LA so it's kind of like we're from two different worlds but maybe that was why we got along so well. The funny thing is that he won't even be there when we get there."

Maybe that last statement was just a Freudian slip but it sure sounded like he said "when" we get there instead of "if" we went there.

Omar said that he and David are still very much "considering playing together" in college and if one reads between the lines, it's easy to see that only Kansas and Stanford are possibilities. That's because those are the only two schools both he and Padgett have in common on their favorite lists.

Padgett recently took an official visit to Arizona and left very impressed with his experience. He got the royal treatment from head coach Lute Olson, who personally drove David to the airport when he left—something Olson is definitely not known to do with most recruits. However, Wilkes (David's best friend) had this to say about the current situation.

"I didn't really talk to him that much about his trip to Arizona, even though I heard that he liked it. All I can say is that his time at Kansas was at least as good. We both loved coach Williams. He's so straightforward. He's honest almost to a fault. It was good for us because he didn't tell us what we wanted to hear, he told us what we needed to hear."

Omar said that even after his outstanding trip to Lawrence, he is still planning on making another official visit this spring, most likely to Florida.

"I need to call them back and schedule a good time," he said. "Other than that, I'll probably save two or three for the fall. I don't know when I'll commit, but it depends on whether or not I have a clear favorite before the start of the school season. I want to (have a favorite) before then."

Until then, Wilkes will play in at least three summer all-star tournaments, starting this Memorial Day weekend at the Bob Gibbons tournament in North Carolina where he'll again be joined by Padgett (not to mention Martin Iti and Devon Evertsen) on the Pump ‘n Run team. After that tournament, Wilkes will participate in the ABCD camp and the NBA Players' Association tournament.

The feeling here is that Kansas is almost a lock to be the favorite of both Wilkes and Padgett at this time. Think about the advantage the Jayhawks had in having the two good friends come out together for their visits. Maybe it's just me but isn't everything more fun and memorable when you have a friend or friends to share it with? Of course it is.

"Kansas definitely impressed me and Dave." Wilkes said. "It was a great, great time."


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