October 16, 2007

2008 falling into place

As the 2006-07 season came to an end with the Kansas Jayhawks falling to UCLA, the focus for coaches and fans shifted to recruiting. With KU's '07 class completed with commitments from Tyrel Reed, Cole Aldrich and walk-on's Conner Teahan and Chase Buford, head coach Bill Self and his assistants hit the trail in search of prospects to fill out an unusually large 2008 class. With five seniors departing after this season, and potentially two to four others turning pro, Self had his hands full. Although they started off slow, the Kansas staff is now in position to turn out a very solid class.

With so much in-depth coverage of recruiting these days, it's no surprise Jayhawk fans began to place their hands on the panic button after KU quickly approached the end of the summer with one commitment, Bishop Miege star Travis Releford, in a class that needed at least five.

Those who follow recruiting, and even those who really don't, began claiming Self and his staff had lost their touch in recruiting.

At first glance, it certainly looked as though Kansas was struggling to keep players interested; in fact, many of KU's top targets either committed elsewhere, or scratched the Jayhawks off their list top schools.

DeAndre Liggins was the first big blow, and not just because he didn't choose Self and Kansas, but because he had chosen Kentucky's new head man, Billy Gillispie, a man KU fans know all too well. After Liggins, Romero Osby committed to Mississippi State. After Osby, KU fans witnessed a quick decline in interest from point guard Rotnei Clarke (may have been a mutual lack of interest between Clarke and KU). Then Tyler Zeller dropped Kansas, followed by Terrance Henry's commitment to Ole' Miss, followed by No. 1-ranked Greg Monroe's surprising decision to leave Kansas out of his top five.

Sure, it's easy to see why one might consider slamming down the panic button, but for those who live in the recruiting world, guys like Self, and assistant Joe Dooley, the list of reasons behind the decisions recruits make is too long to even think about, and sometimes, the players themselves may not even be the ones making them.

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