With all the hoopla surrounding the John Wall recruitment Kentucky coach John Calipari and his staff may not have received the credit that is due them in inking Scout's #6 PG prospect, and second best PG recruit of the spring signing period, Eric Bledsoe.
While Bledsoe's decision came down to two schools in the final leg of this race there were a number of prime time players in his recruitment that did not make the cut to the final two. The list of who Calipari beat head-to-head for Bledsoe is fairly impressive.
At the Derby Festival Classic Bledsoe annointed Florida as his leader. At the same event when asked about Kentucky, he indicated that more attention from UK could vault the Cats to the head of the pack.
Duke made it's pitch to Bledsoe to come in and be the point guard on its roster. Bledsoe told Scout's National Recruiting Director Dave Telep, "(Duke) said I can come in and help really good. Greg Paulus is graduating and they don't have a true point guard because everybody is a scorer."
Bledsoe was interviewed by John Watson, of The Devil's Den, a part of the Scout network. Bledsoe at that time told Watson, "I actually grew up a Duke fan and I still am one. I remember watching Nate James playing on some of their great teams, so when I saw him in the stands at my game I was really excited. It's a great feeling to know that they are interested in me."
Bledsoe was especially impressed by a call from Duke's Mike Krzyzewski, prior to the James being sent to watch him play. "When you are a fan of a program and then you are getting a chance to have a guy like Coach K call - it's big. Right now I know that Duke wants me to come in and visit and learn more about the program. I want to do that after my season is over. Get up there and really learn about the program and see what it's all about as a player and not just a fan."
Watson, who has excellent sources at Duke, tabbed Bledsoe as their top spring prospect; which is a good indicator where Duke placed him on their pecking order.
The hometown favorite, UAB, was on Blesoe long and hard. UAB's Mike Davis, who has a very good eye for talent and is an excellent recruiter, was all over Bledsoe early. In regards to Davis and UAB Bledsoe said, "It's a good thing. They've just been there. Every time I look when we're playing I see them."
Alabama made more than one run at Bledsoe. Prior to the Mike Gottfried leaving the Alabama program Dave Telep wrote about the Alabama-Bledsoe recruitment.
Telep wrote: The Crimson Tide, the in-state heavyweight, have kept up with him since the summer. "They're telling me that I can come in and get a spot," Bledsoe said.
When Anthony Grant took the Alabama job one of his first orders of business was to visit with Bledsoe, in an attempt to lure the homestate prospect to the state's flagship school.
When Bledsoe committed to Kentucky many reports listed only Memphis as a recruiting foe for Bledsoe. The reality is that Calipari also outrecruited Duke, Florida, Alabama, hometown UAB (which was a long time favorite to land Bledsoe), and others to get the young man's signature on an National Letter of Intent.
In his senior season Bledsoe displayed versatility as he averaged 20.3 points, 9.4 rebounds and 11.5 assists per game.
Kevin Scarbinski, who covers SEC basketball for the Birmingham News, and has seen Bledsoe play numerous games gave KSR's Larry Vaught his evaluation of
Scarbinski said, "True point. Great off the dribble. Seems able to get in the lane at will. Perfect for John Calipari's dribble-drive motion offense. Very unselfish. Best high school point in this state since Ronald Steele. Much quicker than Steele, but needs much work on his jumper. Definite SEC player but not a one-and-done guy like a Derrick Rose."
Scarbinsky was asked by Vaught what UK fans will like best about Bledsoe.
Scarbinski replied, "The thing UK fans will like best about Eric Bledsoe? Two things. His motor and his smile. Seems like, on the court, he never turns either of them off."
After exploding onto the scene in the Real Deal on the Hill in the spring of 2008, Telep's evaluation of Bledsoe was as follows: A true quarterback, Bledsoe's best gift may well be the ease in which he makes the game for his teammates. He opened with an alley-oop and used his strong body to make plays in between. His AAU coach described the game as "average" but we loved his presence..
Bledsoe signing overshadowed
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