Just a little background first:
For months, David Padgett, 6-10 SR C, Reno (Nev.) High, had a pretty solid list of schools he was considering – Arizona, Stanford, North Carolina, and Kansas, while Cal was hanging on. He and his friend and AAU teammate, Omar Wilkes, 6-2 SR SG, Los Angeles (Calif.) Loyola, had said early on that the two wanted to go to the same school. Wilkes' list for months had Kansas, Cal, Stanford, and then UCLA started getting involved lately.
If the two were going to be a package deal, most believed that Stanford would be the recipient of the gift. It was a good fit for both; Padgett's family was thought to prefer that he stay close to home, and it wasn't too far away for Wilkes. They had taken an official visit to Kansas together in the spring and both said they were knocked out by the visit. While Kansas was always considered a big contender, many believed that Stanford might be the package-deal maker.
But this week it's been learned that both Padgett and Wilkes have gone separate ways with Stanford. The two never formally applied for admittance, and this week indicated that they wouldn't, essentially ending the chance of Stanford getting either.
In the meantime, UCLA had been coming on strong with Wilkes. He took an official visit to UCLA last weekend, and there was plenty of rumor circulating that UCLA was the new leader for Wilkes. The word was that there has been a push by the UCLA community, ex-players and alumni close to the Wilkes family, for Omar to go to UCLA.
But then, in the most recent interesting development, Wesley Washington, 6-2 SR SG, Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei, went separate ways with California, the school he had been verbally committed to since spring (the reports having him tripping to Minnesota this weekend were first true, but we've heard that he has now cancelled that visit).
Yesterday, then, Cal coaches were in Los Angeles visiting Wilkes.
At the same time, we've heard a whisper that you shouldn't count out Cal for Wilkes. And just speculating -- could Cal now have a chance for Padgett?
Cal had five scholarships filled and seemingly couldn't give out anymore. They had verbal commitments from Leon Powe, 6-7 SR PF, Oakland (Calif.) Tech; Ayinde Ubaka, 6-2 SR PG, Oakland (Calif.) High; Dominic McGuire, 6-6 SR SF, San Diego (Calif.) Lincoln; Marquis Kately, 6-6 SR SF, San Francisco (Calif.) Riordan, and Washington. They seemingly couldn't give out another scholarship, since the NCAA limit in any one year is five. So, how could they possibly get both Wilkes and Padgett?
First, Washington fell out with Cal, opening up one. Secondly, Kately is a post-grad prospect who was a senior at Riordan last year. The intention for Kately was to attend a prep school back east this year and then go to Cal next year. But the word is that Kately might need two years of a prep school to be qualified to play college ball, and might never unless he goes to a JC.
So there suddenly are two scholarships open for Cal. Padgett's grandfather is the former head coach at Cal and the family has close ties to the school. Pete Padgett, David's father, is a basketball coach himself, and most believe he wants to be close to where David plays his college ball, and David going to Cal would keep the family from having to move to North Carolina or Kansas. The Padgetts also have a daughter who plays volleyball at the University of San Diego, which is another tie to keep him on the west coast. This was primarily the reason that Kansas and North Carolina were possibly losing ground. Since Stanford fell out, there have been rumors that Arizona, being close, had possibly become the leader.
But it makes sense for Cal to possibly be the new recipient of a Wilkes-Padgett package. It's close to home for both, the Padgetts have ties to Cal, and now Wilkes could possibly see an open door of playing time without the presence of Wesley Washington.
We're not saying that Cal is going to pull off this coup, but it seems within the realm of possibility. Kansas, though, don't forget, is the other school that could potentially get the Wilkes-Padgett package, and that's still a strong possibility. And Arizona is said to be strong for Padgett.
Wilkes has said that he'll probably announce his decision this Wednesday. Padgett has also said that he'd probably announce his decision soon. It could make for some potentially great drama next week in west coast basketball recruiting...