Two classes after delivering 2007 McDonald's All-American Patrick Patterson, Billy Gillispie has yet again delivered another top 25 player. In the past three classes he has inked six top 50 players for the Wildcats. The class of 2009 consists of Daniel Orton, Jon Hood, and GJ Vilarino.
Orton, a 6'10" center from Oklahoma, has signed on the dotted line to play for the Kentucky Wildcats in 2009-10. Orton is projected to be a High School All-American, and is currently ranked No. 22 in the nation according to Rivals.com. Orton chose the Wildcats over defending National Champion Kansas Jayhawks.
Hood, a 6'6" wing from Kentucky, has also signed to play for the Wildcats in 2009-10. Hood is the front-runner for the 2009 Kentucky Mr. Basketball award. Hood is currently ranked No. 32 in the nation according to Rivals.com. Hood chose the Wildcats over Duke and Tennessee.
Vilarino, a 6'0" guard from Texas, has also signed on to play for Gillispie in 2009-10. Vilarino was Gillispie's first commitment back in April 2007, just days after he was named head coach. Vilarino is not ranked in the top 150 by Rivals.com, but was on the Adidas National Team in 2008. He chose Kentucky over Baylor.
Currently, this class is rated as one of the top 10 classes in the early signing periods according to Rivals.com.
What impact can these players have for Gillispie as freshmen?
If Patterson decides to stay at the end of the season and play his junior season for Kentucky, then Kentucky's front court will be very imposing in the SEC. At 6'10", 260 lbs., he is physically imposing on the glass, and would fit into a strong tandem with Patterson. Orton is likely to stay two seasons, then bolt for the NBA.
Hood adds a lot of athleticism on the wing. He is already drawing comparisons amongst Kentucky fans to "King" Rex Chapman, who played in the late 1980s. Hood is homegrown talent that will immediately become a fan favorite at Kentucky. He will be a four-year contributor
Vilarino is not mentioned as much. Very little is known about him as compared to Hood and Orton. His game is very similar to that of Acie Law IV. Vilarino is a left-handed point guard who pushes the ball and does not make many mistakes. He is a true point guard, something that will help Kentucky in their half court sets. He will be a four-year contributor.
Gillispie is not done with this class, though. Reports have recently surfaced that he is still recruiting two JUCO players. One, Jeremy Jacob, originally signed with the University of Georgia back in 2007. He played six games last season, but a knee injury ended his season. He was a top 100 player back in high school. Scholarships are limited, but Gillispie is still adding players.
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