VAUGHT: What is Gillispie's secret?

Why has Billy Gillispie been able to do in three months what Tubby Smith had not been able to do? If you know why Gillispie has been able to get five commitments, including signing prime-time players Alex Legion and Patrick Patterson not long after getting the job, as well as getting verbal pledges from three underclassmen, let me know. Smith always seemed to be behind in recruiting.

Kentucky seldom got early verbal commitments like the one it got from senior-to-be DeAndre Liggins of Chicago earlier this week. An early commitment for Smith was October, or November. More often than not, Kentucky was still chasing players when the spring signing period started. Gillispie also has a commitment from junior-to-be G.J. Vilarino and sophomore-to-be Dakotah Euton.

What's his secret? Has Kentucky's tradition, facilities and image got that much better in the last three months?

Rival coaches say it's not hard to see why Gillispie has been so successful. They merely point to his work ethic. They say he's everywhere on the recruiting scene and never misses a chance to see a recruit or contact a recruit. He's not afraid to make early decisions on players -- something Smith didn't like to do -- and he will not back off talented players who are being touted as potential early defectors to the NBA.

Those same coaches, as well as recruiting analysts, are careful not to criticize Smith's work ethic. However, one has to wonder if Smith was as relentless on the recruiting trail as what Gillispie has been.

Whatever the reason for his recruiting success, I know I have not seen UK basketball fans as excited as they are now for several years. I can be at a restaurant, bank, church, retail store or ballgame and fans will want to talk UK basketball. In my social circle, that is a huge change from the past few years.

Gillispie's passion seems to have put the passion back into the UK fan base as well. That won't win games, but it certainly has all the Big Blue fans united in their belief that really good times are coming back to Kentucky.

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