Sometimes the best gifts come from the most unlikely sources.
When North Carolina decided not to admit blue-chip big man Jason
Parker after his latest--and lone qualifying--SAT score was
invalidated by the testing service, he fell into the lap of
another big blue power. In August, Kentucky examined Parker's
high school transcript and found that he hadn't gotten credit
for advanced placement classes. After his GPA was recalculated,
it turned out to be high enough for him to qualify with a
previous SAT score. It's tough to tell who ended up feeling more
embarrassed: Parker, whose integrity was called into question by
the suspicious 45% rise in his SATs, or Carolina, which now has
to watch him play for another school. Regardless, Parker is a
Wildcat, and his saga isn't over yet: Kentucky and Carolina meet
on Dec. 2 in Chapel Hill.
Parker's presence inside will allow sophomore Marvin Stone to
play facing the basket. Stone, in the words of Smith, is "one of
the best-passing big men around." Last year, though, having the
ability to find an open guard for a J wasn't necessarily an
asset. The Wildcats will need better years out of sophomore Keith
Bogans (29.3% from three-point range) and junior Tayshaun Prince
(30.7%). The 6'5" Bogans, who put on the freshman 15 and then
some, trimmed down by about 20 pounds over the summer, to 205.
A better perimeter attack will ease the load on Parker, who did
not enroll at Kentucky until after the first week of classes.
But he's settling in nicely. When asked the easiest thing about
the first two months of college, Parker said, "Classes." If he's
that quick a study on the floor, the Wildcats will be dangerous.
COLOR PHOTO: BOB ROSATO LEAN AND MEAN A trimmer Bogans needs to improve his outside shooting to give the Wildcats' inside game some teeth.
POS. PLAYER HT. CL. KEY STAT
SF [**]Tayshaun Prince 6'9" Jr. 13.3 ppg
PF Marvin Stone 6'10" So. 49.2 FG%
C Jason Parker 6'8" Fr. 20.1 ppg*
SG [**]Keith Bogans 6'5" So. 12.5 ppg
PG [**]Saul Smith 6'2" Sr. 3.5 apg
1999-2000 record: 23-10 Final rank (coaches' poll): No. 22
[**]Returning starter *As a high school senior