Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
PHILLY — At one point last week, Kentucky coach John Calipari walked in the main door of the gym at the Reebok All-American Camp just past where Villanova coach Jay Wright was holding a conversation.
“Hey, it’s the two coaches who might land Michael Gilchrist standing right next to each other,” a bystander observed.
Then a coach joked that maybe Calipari and Wright could share the 6-foot-7, 219-pound Gilchrist, with one coach taking him for the first half of the season and the other for the second.
That’s how talented 15-year-old Michael Gilchrist is.
The consensus top player in the nation in the Class of 2011 and the Gatorade New Jersey Player of the Year, many people consider him to be the best player in high school basketball right now. Period.
Cindy Richardson, Gilchrist’s mother, told a reporter that her son talks about Kentucky and Villanova all the time.
“Michael loves Villanova,” she told the Philly Inquirer. “It’s Kentucky, Villanova. Villanova, Kentucky.”
Gilchrist told a newspaper two years ago that he would go to Memphis when Calipari was the coach.
The other key factor is William Wesley, aka “Worldwide Wes,” who grew up across the street from Richardson in Camden, N.J., remains a close family friend and is also close to Calipari. Wesley is widely credited with helping Calipari land another former Camden native, guard Dajuan Wagner.
But Richardson says her son won’t automatically land at Kentucky.
“There are no dots,” she told SI.com in a great story by Seth Davis. “Wes’ relationship with John Calipari, that’s their relationship. Our relationship with coach Calipari is going to be the same relationship we want to extend to every other college coach. The difference is, coach Cal does his job. Coach Cal is actively recruiting Michael, but we want Michael to experience the same thing every other high school athlete has experienced. He has not decided on where he’s going to go.”
A slew of college coaches have reached out to Gilchrist since June when it was permitted by the NCAA, but at least some think it’s not even worthwhile.
“I should be fired if I waste one cent recruiting that kid,” one high-major coach told Gary Parrish of CBS Sports. “[Gilchrist] is going to play for [John Calipari]. It’s done. Trust me. He’s playing for Cal. If you recruit him, you’re wasting your time.”
Jay Wright, for one, doesn’t agree.
Too bad he can’t share the young man with Calipari.
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(Photo courtesy SI.com)
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.