First round of Sweet 16 featured UK targets

Three players who are on the Kentucky recruiting radar played in the first round of this year's Sweet Sixteen at Rupp Arena. Darius Miller, who has signed with Kentucky, is the only one of the trip to advance in tournament play. Hoops target Scotty Hopson and football target Ridge Wilson saw their seasons end, then spoke to KSR's Lonnie Demaree about their recruitment.

The Boy's Sweet Sixteen State Basketball Tournament held in Rupp Arena every year is one of the largest sports extravaganzas throughout the year. Just like the SEC basketball tournament, fans and families schedule part of their vacation time to attend and soak up some hoops action.

Unlike other Sweet Sixteens, this tournament is star studded but if a fan missed the first round, UK signee Darius Miller of Mason County is the only one still left in the tourney.

Miller's team had a first round struggle with a feisty Elliot County team but survived 66-62. Miller, who has excellent support, lets the game come to him most of the time. However, he had to claim two offensive rebounds off of missed Mason County free throws and sink two free throws of his own to assure his team advancing on in the tournament.

"I couldn't let my team lose," Miller said, playing in his future home.

Scotty Hopson, who plays for University Heights in Hopkinsville, Kentucky lost his first game in the tournament to a powerful Lexington Catholic team. The 6-foot-6 Hopson originally committed to Mississippi State University to play his college basketball but has re-opened the recruiting process.

Why did he re-open the process?

"I just want to be sure of going to the right school and that's the right fit for me as for as the things I need," Hopson said.

The University of Kentucky is hot on his trail at the moment but after the loss Hopson was very tight lipped about his leanings and seemed to defer every decision to his mother. He said she has been taking all the calls from colleges and that process will still probably continue. She and my coach keep the pressure off me and make sure I stay focused on school and playing my best basketball.

"I wanted to get the win but it's just great playing here in Rupp Arena in front of the fans," said the McDonald's All-American.

The other UK prospect in tournament was Louisville Central's Ridge Wilson, 6-foot-5, 210-pounds. Though he was performing in Rupp arena in hopes of a basketball state championship, he already possesses a state championship in the 2007 state football playoffs at Papa John Stadium. His Central High School team was defeated by Owensboro and he was real disappointed with the loss but he knows which side his bread is buttered on and that's football. This was a unique experience for Wilson and his family because rarely does a player play in the widely known Sweet Sixteen after having won a football champion in the same school year. Wilson is a linebacker/defensive end on the football team with another year to play.

Wilson's mother, Anita Wilson, expressed joy and pride in the fact he is first a good student and possesses a 4.0. Wilson has received academic offers from Yale, Harvard and Princeton.

Wilson's first football offer has come from Joker Phillips of UK.

"He has a lot of schools looking at him but I told him he is the one who has to spend the four years there and it's not up to me," Wilson's mother said.

"It's exciting but coach told us even though we lost we would stay the rest of the week to take in the whole experience," Ridge Wilson said. He said UK offered him in the middle of the basketball season. Wilson said he took a visit to Tennessee a couple of weeks ago. During spring break he's going to take other unofficial visits to Alabama and Auburn. Wilson plans to take his time and is not going to commit until next year.

Where will he camp this summer?

"I going to the Alabama camp, the Tennessee camp, the Kentucky camp for sure and Nike camp," he said.

Billy Gillispie and Rich Brooks have strong vested interests in this years Sweet Sixteen. Brooks needs to continue adding to his football coffers and Gillispie needs all the 6-foot-6's and seven bodies he can get that have lots of potential wrapped up in them.


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