Western Kentucky men’s basketball coach Ken McDonald met with the area media this afternoon to announce the signings of both point guard Kevin Kaspar (Findlay Prep, Nevada) and shooting guard T.J. Price (Salmen High School, Louisiana).
Kaspar and Price bring WKU’s total of high school seniors signed for next season to seven.
Some comments from McDonald on the duo:
“I’m just excited about the last couple weeks, we’re almost finishing out our recruiting class with two quality additions. We’re excited about our fall recruiting period, but have not rested. We’ve stayed with it and there are still some guys out there that we’re still excited about recruiting.
“Kevin is a kid from Istanbul who has a lot of international experience and a lot of toughness. I like his savvy and what he brings to the table as a point guard. He comes from one of the best high school programs in the nation and has gone against some of the best guards in the country and that’s going to help him experience-wise. A terrific kid, a good student and a very mature kid for his age – he brings a lot to the table there. We knew once we got to know him that he was a guy we really wanted in terms of character and toughness and bringing quality to a position where we need it desperately.
“T.J. is a guy that we have identified that can really, really shoot the ball and stretch the defense. He was the Louisiana Player of the Year with a lot of accolades and a lot of people coming at him. Once he got on campus he fell in love with everybody here and the whole situation. A great family and a good student – a good fit for our program. … He’s genetically very gifted and a very good athlete. He’s got a chance to do special things as his body changes. He’s a college-ready guy physically and now he has to continue to keep up with the pace. He can flat out shoot the ball – he can really shoot it and stretch the defense. He’s a confident kid, but his personality is very much like (Steffphon Pettigrew’s) on and off the court.”
McDonald also discussed the situation WKU now faces in terms of a numbers problem.
WKU has seven freshmen signed for 2011 and currently has seven players with remaining eligibility.
“A lot has to happen to finish this out. The signing period ends in about a week and a half or so. A lot of things can happen up to that point. They can sign up through the summer, so it’s not like it ever really ends. But there’s uncertainty every year at the end of the year. You have to make sure you’re finishing out academically and you have to make sure that your incoming class – and this is a large class – all come in academically qualified. So there are a lot of things that can happen. Teams over-sign. Every program I’ve been a part of has had those situations. One time at Texas we over-signed by three in the fall and had an extra scholarship come spring time. You have to cover yourself and do what’s best for your program. If you’re able to add quality players, my experience is that it always works its way out and it usually does. A lot can happen between now and the end of the signing period.
“You always recruit to have a chance at filling a void. If there is a void. And that’s the situation every program is in. You don’t shut it down because it’ll come back to haunt you if you get surprised or have some uncertainty leading to a wrong situation. Unfortunately, you’re not privy to everything we’re dealing with – it can’t be like that. The staff’s working hard to continue to recruit and give us the best situation to be successful in the future.”
On Brandon Peters:
“The best way to put it is that he’s worked extremely hard to put himself in position to do much better in school. We’re very, very proud of him for his effort. Our academic staff has done a terrific job, our basketball operations guy (Andrew Theokas) has worked really, really hard to get him back on track. He’s come from a pretty low point in the fall to have a chance to do pretty well right now. Finals are this week and we’re hoping he finishes up strong. We’re on him and talking to him and supporting him and it’s been that way all semester. He’s done a good job, but now we have to figure it out at the end of the semester.
“We’re definitely hopeful. But it’s one of those deals where you have to monitor it closely all the time. … His situation is two-fold. It’s a class per two semester deal. How many passed courses and then there is also a GPA issue that has to be met. You have to go back and re-evaluate once grades are in and understand that there still could be work left and he could be good. But the fact that he’s come from a deficit and done well to put himself in position says a lot about him.
“His options, there’s not as many if it’s a situation where he’s ineligible. But there are options and we’ve talked with him about them. We care about him and we’re looking after him. He understands that he has a good opportunity here. I think he likes it here. I think he likes the fanbase and the situation. He’s trying hard. But if things don’t work out, he’ll have options. We’ll have to figure that out and help him the best we can if that arises.”
On whether or not he expects all returners to be back in uniform next season:
“Everybody has had a good spring. I want the guys to finish up finals so that we have that focus of finishing the semester strong academically. On the court the guys’ attitudes and effort has been terrific. As much as we’ve talked about the young group bonding, our returning guys have also bonded and it’s a pretty fun group to be around right now.”
On what type of players the staff will focus on for any possible additions to the 2011 class:
“There’s such a premium on post players. Adding a point guard was obviously huge, and if you can add a post player it gives you a chance to increase your depth. There’s not a ton of guys left out there right now. I’m not saying it can’t be done and you never know. But that would probably be a priority.”
McDonald the overall challenge of coaching a basketball team that is now 100 percent filled with players he and his staff have recruited:
“It’s a great opportunity. First of all, there’s a lot of talk about the new guys but we also have returning guys that are going to make an impact because they have college experience. They have a better starting point than rookies. And I have a lot of confidence that there will be some guys in the returning class that will make a big jump. Then you put in the rookies and understand that if we bring them along and have some leadership – this could be a great group.
“We could play hard and be pretty good – but we could not play hard and be pretty bad. They have to understand that.”
This is a lot to digest – but I’ll have full coverage of it all in Wednesday’s Daily News