JOHN: Kentucky targets show it off in Houston

Some potential Kentucky targets showcased their skills on Friday night at the Kingwood Classic in Houston. Read what Patrick Patterson and Gary Johnson said about Kentucky.

Some potential Kentucky targets showcased their skills on Friday night at the Kingwood Classic in Houston.

Gary Johnson, a 6-foot-7 power forward from Aldine, TX, ranked #2 nationally by Scout, was impressive. Johnson scored 13 points, most of which came on power moves to the basket. His inside presence is dominating. Johnson is incredibly strong and has major hops to go with it. He is also Charlie Hustle out there on the floor and when there are bodies colliding on the floor, you can bet Johnson will be in the middle of it. Kentucky fans will think, "a little bit Kenny Walker, a little bit Chuck Hayes" when they see Johnson play. Johnson is also a surprisingly good shot blocker (he had three Friday night). For those of you who put stock in the psychology of where a school is named, Kentucky came in second in that race tonight, "Right now I am still interested in the same schools. UConn and Kentucky, Texas and Duke."

Johnson said he was not sure if he would visit all those schools, but said he would plan a visit to Kentucky, "Coach Tubby Smith is one of the best coaches in the nation," Johnson said, "they pretty much win the SEC just about every year and I know that they are looking for players at my position. Coach (Reggie) Hanson has stayed in touch quite a bit. I can't say enough about their tradition."

Johnson spread the accolades pretty evenly among the other schools as well, particularly UConn.

Jai Lucas also played very well Friday, scoring 16 points from finishing breaks to three point shots. He conjured up some memories of Gerald Fitch for me, particularly when Jai would drive the ball into traffic and pull up for a 5-foot floater. Lucas is the floor general for the Houston Hoops and he directs the team well. He is a think-pass-first player who can score when needed. He is fast and plays with his head up, always scanning the floor. He can play out of control at times and on Friday he took a page from the Rajon Rondo school of free throw shooting, bricking four straight free throws, including two with under a minute to play with the game on the line. At 5-foot-10 (and that may be a little generous) Lucas may have trouble defending larger Division I guards. All in all, though, Lucas is one solid player.

Isaiah Rusher is a 6-foot-9 big man from Bellaire, Tx. He plays for the Houston Hoops, which also sports Gary Johnson and 6-foot-10 Anthony Jones. He did not play a whole lot on Friday, and did not play particularly well when he was in. He is a big fella with an NBA physique, but did not play particularly aggressive. In fact, he played a little soft. At a couple of points in the game he became frustrated and the coach removed him from the game. I'll watch for more of his game in the next two days.

There is nothing soft about Patrick Patterson's game. The big 6-foot-8 power forward has an NBA-ready body that reminds one of Marvin Williams and he knows how to use it. His Boo Williams team took on DeAndre Jordan's Houston Swoosh team and pretty much took them to the woodshed on Friday night. Jordan and Patterson went head to head most of the night. Patterson did not score much but kept Jordan in check and did the yeoman's duty on the glass and on the defensive end. Jordan had a tough time with Patterson's strength, even though he has the wingspan of your basic 747.

Patterson, from Huntington WV, loves coach David Hobbs and Kentucky, "Kentucky is one of the schools I am interested in," Patterson said, "but it is early. I am also interested in Florida, West Virginia, Virginia, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest."

"Kentucky is a school that I am very flattered is showing interest in me. Coach David Hobbs has been really helpful. I'd like to visit Lexington. I have not arranged anything yet but I hope to. I am not sure who all I will visit. Florida, maybe. Wake maybe. The other schools are closer to me and are easier to get to but I am going to take my time."

O.J. Mayo told KSR Friday night that he had only committed to playing for the Miami Tropics for the Kingwood Classic and was unsure whether he'd continue to play for them beyond this tournament. "I saw this as an opportunity. I wanted to come in here tonight and blend in, not take over. I basically wanted to get my teammates involved." Mayo scored 14 points. When asked whether he intended to leave North College Hill High School for Oak Hill Academy, he said, "As of right now, I am still with North College Hill. I have talked to (the staff at) Oak Hill but have not made any decision. Right now I'd have to say I'll probably stay where I am at, but have not ruled out a change completely."

John Lucas was on hand taking in all the activities. He "oohed and ahhed" at the matchup between big men Patrick Patterson and DeAndre Jordan, who went head to head to close the evening out.

Former Ole Miss coach Rod Barnes was also on hand, looking relaxed and enjoying himself.

Scout National Recruiting Analyst Dave Telep was strutting his stuff. Dave, a new dad, lost some major pounds and was looking quite fit and dapper.

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