JOHN: Tyrone Nash still mulling it over

It has been nearly a month since, out of the blue, the Kentucky Wildcats made what amounted to a "hail Mary'' offer to the 6-foot-7 forward from Rosedale, N.Y. in an effort to bolster a front line depleted by early departures from Shagari Alleyne and Rekalin Sims.

The Tyrone Nash saga probably needs to end so that the Cats can go about filling their roster. Mr. Nash needs to get on the bus or off the bus – and soon. At least that's my opinion. It has been nearly a month since, out of the blue, the Kentucky Wildcats made what amounted to a "hail Mary'' offer to the 6-foot-7 forward from Rosedale, N.Y. in an effort to bolster a front line depleted by early departures from Shagari Alleyne and Rekalin Sims. The offer was most unusual in that it came as sight-unseen, or at the very least without the usual evaluation process more typical of the Wildcats. So what kind of player were the Cats trying to get?

I had a blinding flash of the obvious as I was sitting in the Auxiliary Gym at Silverado High School Monday night watching Nash's New Heights team do battle with the Worldwide Renegades 16's. I had just left Foothill High School having watched a couple of games featuring names like Kevin Love, O.J. Mayo, Brandon Jennings, and Eric Gordon. Those names were drawing staffs from schools like Duke, North Carolina, Kansas, UCLA, UConn and Arizona.

At the game I was now watching there were staffs from the states Florida, Utah, Connecticut, and North Carolina, too. But in this case the schools represented were Florida Atlantic, Utah State, Central Connecticut and Western Carolina. There were also folks from Rider, Niagara, Vermont, LaSalle, Drexel, Wagner and Quinnipiac. Not exactly a group of final four contenders. I don't even know where Quinnipiac is. The schools represented in the gym where I could actually name the coach were from Notre Dame and Vanderbilt, both there to see Nash's teammate, Josh Owens.

I am shocked that Nash, rushed into Lexington, wined and dined by the UK staff and team, didn't just accept the offer on the spot. You'd have to think that arguably the most tradition-rich program in the nation rolling out the carpet with a fast offer would have to sweep most youngsters off their feet.

But in this case, it didn't. Nash is still out there facing the same choices. Does he come to UK and join the team? Redshirt? Or does he play a year of prep and reopen his recruitment to all comers?

And here we are almost a month later and the UK staff is out on the recruiting trail working hard to evaluate players and fill their five scholarships for the '07 class. And the final chapter on this short story may not be written for yet a few more weeks. This could end up being quite a distraction for a staff feeling the pressure to fill its scholarships.

"I believe that I will be able to reach a decision sometime in August," Nash said after his New Heights team lost to the Worldwide Renegades. "As of now I am still considering other schools as well like Georgetown, St. Johns, Indiana, Marquette and Pittsburgh."

Yet, those guys weren't in the house. And UK has been in the house plenty.

Dick Weiss, syndicated sports columnist for The New York Daily News, follows Nash's New Heights team regularly and has been covering sports in the area closely for years, perhaps shed some light.

"Kentucky has some spots to fill and Nash had a great tournament where he played Michael Beasley well head to head," Weiss said, "but that was one tournament. I don't think Nash is really quite ready for prime time play at Kentucky and I think he may believe that as well."

And that certainly appeared to be the case to me. On the plus side, Nash is built well, runs the floor well and has some pretty good hops. He has quick feet and on more than one occasion, nabbed a rebound and drove the length of the floor. But Nash needs quite a bit of development. He missed all of his short range shots, mishandled the ball several times and went 1-7 from the free throw line. His outside shot was very suspect and needs lots of work. He scored seven points, five of which came in the waning moments of the game after the outcome had been decided. Right now I believe that his teammates Josh Owens and Jerrell Williams are better prospects.

So what is left to think about?

"I don't know really. It's a big decision. It all came fast," said Nash, "I just don't want to rush it." Weiss said, "Nash has the chance to be a good player but I don't think he's going to come in next year and make an impact."

At a minimum the Cats are involved with a really solid core of outstanding big men such as Josh Southern, Patrick Patterson, Marcus and Markieff Morris, Anthony Randolph, J.J. Hickson, Julian Gamble and Julian Vaughn. Nash, along with two of the above mentioned players, would constitute a successful class.

But for every game that one of the staff spends attending a Tyrone Nash game, that is one less Josh Southern or Patrick Patterson game they can see. And as of this moment, the Cats have zero commitments from any of the big. It seems to me that the Wildcats need as few distractions as possible. Let's hope that Tyrone Nash reaches a decision and soon.


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