Class Of Drama

Dramatic is the best word to describe the 2009 recruiting class. The elite prospects in the group made sure to make their recruitments interesting and full of intrigue.

The 2009 recruiting class just won't go away.

Here we are approaching the ever-important July recruiting period, when most of the incoming freshman should be on campus and enrolled in classes, and yet the antics continue.

On Wednesday it was Xavier Henry that was at the forefront of the college basketball world, as his father, Carl, spouted off to more than one media source about the possibility of his son switching his allegiance from Kansas to Kentucky.

"If it wasn't for his mom saying, 'I would not go to Kentucky, I would not move down to Kentucky,' Xavier would have been at Kentucky,'" Henry said on 610 Sports Radio in Kansas City. "He would have been at Kentucky. So Xavier says, 'I'm going to go to Kansas,' even though ... what he wanted to do is go to Kentucky, play under Coach Cal. That's what he wanted to do. I expressed this to Coach Self. I told him."

After the elder Henry's radio interview, Kansas coach Bill Self and a member of his staff made special a trip to Oklahoma City to speak with the Henry family. The meeting must have appeased the Henry's, as Xavier informed 610 Sports Radio in Kansas City late Wednesday that he was back on track and headed to Kansas.

Lance Stephenson was also in the news this week. On Monday, his sexual assault case was adjourned until July 15th. Stephenson and one of his Lincoln High (N.Y.) teammates are accused of groping a 17-year-old girl. Two days following the court news, Stephenson's recruitment finally – mercifully - came to a halt.


Stephenson Picks Cincinnati
Originally the plan was for him to announce his college decision at the McDonald's All-American game, but that never happened. Instead, he declared that he wasn't ready to make a commitment. Rumors circulated that he was headed to a number of schools - Kansas, Maryland, St. John's, Memphis and others. Many even believed Europe was a viable option.

Before the top 10 prospect could decide, most of the programs involved backed off and his options to play college basketball seemed to be dwindling because of off-court issues -- chiefly worries about his NCAA Eligibility and having to deal with the elder Stephenson.

"He is who he is," Lincoln head coach Tiny Morton told the NY Daily News referring to Lance Sr. "Sometimes I had to say some words to him behind closed doors ... definitely. Have I had to tell him to shut up? Definitely."

On Wednesday the Stephenson saga ended, and in unlikely fashion. Mick Cronin and Cincinnati quickly popped into the picture, scored a visit and secured a commitment in a matter of a week.

While it's clear that Stephenson, Scout.com's top rated small forward, has some issues, there's no denying his talent. The 6-foot-5, 205-pounder averaged nearly 29 points a game during his senior season, and passed former Lincoln star Sebastian Telfair to become the all-time leading scorer in New York.

"With four city championships, the all-time New York State scoring championship and going for his third Federation championship, you can't say the other guys were better," Konchalski said to the NY Daily News. "I've never seen a better player from Coney Island than him."

What happened to easy recruitments, where prospects signed Letter-of-Intents during the early signing period? Heck, it hasn't just been Henry and Stephenson this year. The 2009 recruiting class is full of characters that had long, drawn-out, dramatic recruitments.

John Wall, the nation's top ranked point guard, had plenty of mystery and intrigue involved in his situation. Kentucky may have won out, but Miami, Duke and Baylor sure added some excitement to the situation - which dragged out well into May.

"It was the first time in my career where the recruiting situation changed on a daily basis," an assistant coach involved said. "It really changed from day-to-day, between who was leading and who was being favored. It was a daily turn every day."

Many believe that, just a few days prior to Wall committing to Kentucky, the 6-foot-3 speedy floor general was headed to South Beach. Throw in his former AAU coach being hired at Baylor a year ago and the interest in playing near his Raleigh, N.C., home at Duke, and there were plenty of scenarios and factors that led to such a dramatic process.

Compared to Renardo Sidney's recruitment, Wall's appeared normal. UCLA and USC pulled scholarships from the 6-foot-10 versatile big man, before he finally opted for Mississippi State.

"It's highly unusual for both of those schools to abandon their recruitment of a player of that caliber and potential," George Raveling, a former coach at USC, told the LA Times in early May. "They must know something the rest of us don't know."

First it was UCLA, who had the Los Angeles (Calif.) Fairfax High standout ready to commit. Before he could, Ben Howland and his staff pulled out. Shortly after, Sidney held a press conference and announced for USC. But he never signed.

"The whole thing was centered around his eligibility," one college coach told Scout.com. "I'd be surprised if he was ever cleared to play."


Sidney Finally Settled On MSU
USC and Sidney then parted ways in early April, and Rick Stansbury swiftly entered the Sidney sweepstakes. After a visit, the deal was done and Sidney was set on being a Bulldog. Just a month after the final commitment the NCAA began seeking documents from the family of Sidney – who have already hired a lawyer.

DeMarcus Cousin's recruitment fell in line with many his peers at the top of the Class of 2009. Once a UAB commit, Cousins, a top five prospect, de-committed from the C-USA school because the administration refused to allow an out clause in his Letter of Intent.

John Calipari then reaped the benefits and received a verbal commitment from the talented big man at Memphis. When Calipari sprung for Kentucky, Cousins quickly followed him to Lexington to become a piece of the nation's top recruiting class.

Even Scout.com's top prospect, Derrick Favors' recruitment was a bit of a headscratcher. The 6-foot-9 power forward basically narrowed his list down to Georgia Tech, Georgia and N, C. State, all of which had staffs on the hot seat, according to Fox Sports' college basketball analyst Jeff Goodman.

"Obviously it surprised me that he wasn't looking at more stable coaching situations," Goodman said. "The No. 1 player could go anywhere he wants in the country and obviously Derrick wanted to stay close to home, but it still surprised me that he didn't have the Duke's and North Carolina's of the world among his final three."

If you're keeping track, six of the nation's top 10 prospects had interesting recruitments. And it could go further if we included Abdul Gaddy, who reneged on his commitment from Arizona on two separate occasions before ultimately settling on Washington.

So perhaps their recruitments weren't unusual after all.

But with Henry's re-commitment to Kansas, it appears the 2009 class is in the books.

It's been memorable, but it's also one we're happy to say goodbye too.

Finally.


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