Two sport stars on the horizon?

The Kentucky football team needs talented athletes. The Kentucky basketball team needs players that are capable of bringing physical play to the floor. Will these two needs be married, and result in more dual sport basketball-football players at Kentucky in the future? Earlier this month LaShun Watson verbally committed to Kentucky. Watson told, "I'll play basketball and football for one full year. After that I'll decide which sport I'll devote all of my time to."

With the Josh Minton announcement upon us, the bus that is the UK football recruiting class for 2006 is quickly reaching maximum capacity. Soon, there will be no room left at the inn. I started looking over the names and two of them stood out to me because of what the basketball team is going through now. Lamarcus Boswell, the wide receiver out of South Carolina, and Lashun Watson, the wide receiver out of Georgia are two guys who will try to do something that has been attempted before, but never quite pulled off since Tubby Smith came to the Wildcats. And that is playing football on scholarship at Kentucky, and walking on the basketball team to play two sports.

Oh, there have been those who were close. Shane Boyd talked about three sports, but wound up playing only football and baseball, which some fans are still convinced ruined his throwing motion. Derek Smith wanted to play both sports, but we all remember the old Hal Mumme switcharoo. And don't forget the Lonnell DeWalt experiment. We'll see if the two new guys will ever make over to Rupp Arena.

But a new era of cooperation is emerging under Brooks and Smith. "Yeah, we'll always work together," said Tubby. "In any form or fashion, we would be willing to help him (Brooks) out in any way we can. We have done it in the past, and we will in the future." Ravi Moss has proven to Smith that a walk-on can be a regular contributor to a team. And Brooks realizes that he can steal the occasional two-sport star, by dangling that juicy apple that is Wildcat basketball under their nose. Brooks has done the two-sport thing previously in his career. "When I was at Oregon," said Brooks, "we had several athletes who competed in more than one sport, including two who played football and basketball." He doesn't talk like a football coach that doesn't want his guys to dabble in basketball. "Anytime you get a player with the ability to do both (playing football and basketball), I'm not going to stand in his way. I'll encourage it. Usually, football and basketball players are the so-called skill guys, who play positions such as wide receiver. Playing basketball continues their improvement in hand-eye coordination, and the development of their overall athletic ability."

Tubby doesn't seem too opposed to it, either. "If that is something where the university can benefit," explained Smith, "and both the football and basketball program can benefit, then I think that's part of our responsibility and part of the coaching profession." What type of athlete does it take for Smith to consider the notion? What are the criteria? "If he is a capable athlete, can help, and can handle all the other things that go along with being a division one player here at Kentucky…and I'm talking about academically and socially…if he is a well-rounded and disciplined kid that can handle all those things." That sounds pretty tough to do. Smith agreed. "I'm not going to say it's impossible, but it is a tough thing to do."

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