Gamecocks battling Kentucky for Poole

South Carolina is battling SEC perennial kingpin Kentucky for the nation's #11 small forward, Stacey Poole. Poole will be making an official visit to Kentucky this weekend, and then plans to make a decision after his visit. GamecockAnthem.com brings you the latest update on Poole's recruitment and the different factors that will weigh into which school he will play for.

Stacey Poole has publicly narrowed his list down to Clemson, South Carolina and Kentucky, but most sources have privately said that Clemson has been eliminated, making it a Gamecock – Wildcat battle for his services, pitting a school that has been on him "since day one" in South Carolina, and a perennial powerhouse getting that crucial last visit in Kentucky. Here's how the Gamecocks stand in the final hours.

GamecockAnthem.com has been told that Poole will receive a committable offer from the Wildcats while on the Lexington campus, and chances are good he will commit at that time.

Poole will be one of two basketball recruits on the UK campus this weekend, the other being Scout.com's #1 ranked point guard in the country, Brandon Knight. The Wildcats also landed point guard John Wall, the #1 point guard in the 2009 class, but he is expected to be a one-and-done player, who will head to the NBA after one season.

Scout.com basketball analyst Evan Daniels states, "If he leaves the Kentucky campus without committing, South Carolina is in a pretty strong position. South Carolina has done a really good job with him. It will be an interesting finish."

Speculation has questioned whether the recruitment of Doron Lamb, Scout.com's #3 shooting guard in the country, would affect whether Kentucky offers Poole, but that no longer is considered a factor, one well-placed source told GamecockAnthem Thursday, because they don't expect Lamb to go to Kentucky. The Wildcat coaches are visiting Oak Hill Academy in Virginia today to talk with Lamb. Kentucky Sports Report, the UK Scout site, reported today that it "could be them giving Lamb another opportunity to commit before Stacey Poole visits."

Scholarship numbers are not a factor, but how UK Coach John Calipari is recruiting Poole has led to the speculation of competition for a scholarship between Lamb and Poole. While KSR states that "there is no way Lamb will be anything other than a two (shooting guard)," Calipari has also been recruiting Poole as a two, rather than the three (small forward) position that everyone else has been recruiting him at. In Calipari's system, he doesn't view players so much as points guards, wing guards, small forward, power forwards and centers as he does guards and post players (which are primarily forwards.)

Even if Kentucky does swing Lamb their way, we are told that Poole is still a take for the Wildcats.

KSR states that "Calipari may choose to recruit Poole as a three if Lamb commits." Kentucky will go into the season with only one true shooting guard on the roster in Darnell Dodson. According to KSR, "Poole would be able to come in right away and provide competition at the shooting guard spot, as well as spot duty at the three behind Darius Miller and alongside Jon Hood."

Daniels said, "Kentucky has targeted Poole and are telling him that they want him. Should Lamb commit, it will not have a ton of effect on his recruitment." Scout.com has Poole ranked among the Top 50 players nationally.

During his junior year, Poole averaged 26 points, 10 rebounds and five assists a game for Andrew Jackson High in Jacksonville Florida, but it was during AAU play this summer that his stock skyrocketed. "I'm like a diamond in the rough. (Coaches and scouts) knew about me, but they didn't know I could play like that," he said. "I'm still the guy that goes out and competes and give it my all," said Poole. "I just go at people. I've been working on my shot. Everything is looking good. I'm just working on being consistent," he finished.

Poole had in-home visits this past week with Calipari, USC's Darrin Horn and Oliver Purnell, the Clemson head man.

He told KSR earlier this week, "I'm basing (my decision) on whether I enjoy the campus and how I get along with the players. I want to enjoy where I go. If you aren't enjoying yourself, you can't perform as well as you want."

So as the Gamecock coaching staff are locked in a death match with an 800 pound Big Blue gorilla, their biggest hope in landing the all-star forward is something that has played a factor in all the commitments from players that USC has already received in the 2010 class: they identified him early on as a player they wanted, long before the Kentuckys of the nation came calling. Poole told GamecockAnthem.com in an earlier interview that "It plays a big factor," Poole said of South Carolina's recruiting efforts. "It's a big plus that they've seen me since day one." We'll know soon if it was enough.

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