WALKER: Forward positions key to success

Many times I am asked why Kentucky seems to have struggled to consistently land a premier power forward in its recruiting class.

Many times I am asked why Kentucky seems to have struggled to consistently land a premier power forward in its recruiting class.

I played forward and one thing appealed to me about coming here was the job a lot of the forwards did before I got here. Guys like Kevin Grevey, Dan Issel, Jack Givens, James Lee. It helped me make that decision to come here that if I came here and did well, I could be mentioned with some of the great players of all time.

Obviously, Kentucky was a school at that time that was viewed as a premier program. I still think we are a premier program, but there were only a handful of premier programs back then. That parity is a little more spread out now. Even the premier programs are not getting all the top kids. Many are going to where they can just play a year or two and then head to the NBA. That is the biggest thing that has probably working against us right now.

I am not saying Tubby won't take those types of kids, but I think he is more comfortable with building teams for three or four years as opposed to taking a player that will only be around a year or two.

You always need a forward that can provide toughness or go inside and give you a physical presence like a Winston Bennett, Jamaal Magloire or Chuck Hayes. You need that to give your team that enforcer. If you don't have that type guy, then you need a guy kind of like me. You need an athletic guy that can do a lot of different things and be a matchup problem. Guys like Tayshaun Prince, Antoine Walker, and Walter McCarty; guys that had ability to be problems.

When I look at our forwards, we don't have that. We don't have that physical player or that multitalented player.

Chuck Hayes had unique qualities for forward position. He was undersized kind of like Charles Barkley was at Auburn. But he was smart, tough and great leader. He was all the things you want in a player that we haven't had since. Chuck really overachieved at the position and was special. Tayshaun was a great player, but there has not been that type of athlete since then.

That is kind of mind boggling and troubling at the same time because with no disrespect to guards or centers, but the forward position is the guy that is counted on to do a lot of different things. When you don't have the guy to be that player, other guys are going to labor to get their games going. Hopefully, we can get one of those guys pretty soon because to be a great team, I think you need a great forward.

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