Blogs > Elm City to Eagleville

A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Kentucky strikes recruiting paydirt in UConn territory

As the Kentucky players made their way onto the dais for the off day press conference, I couldn't help but be struck that one of the Wildcats' five starters is Bronx native Jennifer O'Neill and a couple seats away sat fellow guard Kastine Evans, the pride and joy of Salem, Connecticut.

I asked Mitchell whether recruiting in the Northeast is a priority of whether lightning merely struck twice. His answer was just spectacular and a blog writer's dream.

"People were mesmerized by my accent and really want to come down and listen to this all day," Mitchell deadpanned. "I know you guys are really enjoying this right now. That is a big advantage right now.

"What we were looking for when we got those two kids, Kastine and Jennifer, we just wanted people who wanted to come to Kentucky and I had a real tradition view of recruiting coming from the Coach (Pat) Summitt school. When I was at Tennessee we had real big 5's (centers) and real athletic power forwards and you just go down the line. When I got to Kentucky, we just weren't having any luck recruiting that way. I finally said the heck with it and the first No. 1 requirement for us is somebody who actually believes in what we are doing here and believes that Kentucky can be special. I don't care what position they play, just get me those kids.

"Kastine, I just tell you that it was God working there. I don't know how in the world we ended up with a kid from Salem, Connecticut at Kentucky but we did. It was a really unusual recruiting process and it worked out for us so I think there was a little bit of Providence there that led her to Kentucky and she has been exactly what we have wanted a Kentucky basketball player to be.

"With Jennifer, Jennifer was sort of different. She kind of came on the scene as far as being a top player, if there are 22 or 24 McDonald's All-Americans maybe she was No. 24.She wasn't this dynamite player that everybody was knocking the door down so I think we got fortunate there to and we had some good relationships up in this area and people believed in what we are trying to do. Right now I am real grateful to those kids because it proves that we are not out in the middle of the sticks and we are not just some school that only Southern players can comer to, it is really a place where you are from, it matters who you are and who you want to become and that is what we want to be about at Kentucky is helping people get on the pathway to being their best. That is what we do and I am real fortunate for those kids. If we find some more in this area, if that is the right kind of kid in Kentucky that is what we will do."


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