Courtesy: The Ashland Daily Independent
By MARK MAYNARD / The Independent
ASHLAND — The future is bright, as in bright blue, for Dakotah Euton.
The 6-foot-8 Euton, who will begin his sophomore season at Rose Hill Christian School this fall, already has his college plans decided.
Euton gave a verbal commitment to the University of Kentucky on Monday. He is the first area player to be actively recruited by UK since Paintsville Mr. Basketball John Pelphrey in 1988.
Euton, who turned 16 on March 10, had attended UK’s Elite Camp earlier this month and reportedly fell in love with the campus. New UK coach Billy Gillispie’s staff also seemed to return the love to Euton, who is considered one of the top players in the class of 2010.
Euton and Gillispie met on Monday morning in Lexington and finalized the deal, at least verbally.
“He told me ‘I wouldn’t be offering a sophomore-to-be a scholarship if I didn’t think you could come in and be a good player, not just a role player,’’’ Euton said. “He told me that no coach is going to outwork him. He’s a real hard worker and I’m a hard worker. It should be a good team.”
Euton said he also prayed about his decision to commit to Kentucky.
“I try to keep God first in everything,” he said. “Our family, we prayed about it and talked about it. This morning in the shower, I was praying about it. I was nervous when I woke up because I thought this might be the day I decided. I prayed ‘If this is the right place for me, calm my nerves and let me have joy.’ About 30 minutes later, I was as happy as could be.”
Euton joins G.J. Vilarino, a high school junior-to-be from McKinney, Texas, as underclassmen who have committed to Kentucky since Gillispie became coach in April.
Gillispie has also signed high school seniors, McDonald’s All-American Patrick Patterson of Huntington High and Parade All-American Alex Legion.
Euton also had Florida and Duke on his list. Florida offered him a scholarship last weekend at its elite camp. “It was tempting,” Euton said of the offer from coach Billy Donovan. “Those are my three top schools (Kentucky, Florida and Duke).”
Euton promised not to become complacent, even with the scholarship opportunity in hand.
“Coach Gillispie told me to most of all play hard, stay motivated and have fun,” he said. “This is a dream come true. My parents (Clay and Pam Euton) are extremely excited. They would have supported any decision I made.”
Euton said the coaching staff won him over with their easy-going attitudes.
“I really liked the coaching staff and the tradition at Kentucky, there’s none better,” he said.
The commitment to UK won’t be binding until Euton signs a national letter of intent. The earliest he could do that would be fall of his senior year in high school in 2009. Until then, Euton knows all eyes will be on him.
“That’s OK with me,” he said. “I thrive on that kind of stuff. I like having the pressure on me. I’m not going to stop working.”
Euton’s commitment will likely bring attention to Rose Hill and his teammates, like 6-4 sophomore-to-be Chad Jackson. He’s another player who ranks among the top 50 in the 2010 class, according to recruiting rankings.
Clark Francis and Hoop Scoop rank Euton No. 26 and Jackson No. 57 in the class of 2010.
Euton said that while three years is a long time before he can play for UK, he wasn’t backing out on the Cats and Gillispie told him that they wouldn’t back out on him.
“I can come down and watch them practice and try to do some of the things they’re doing,” he said.
Rose Hill is expected to be one of the 16th Region’s top teams next season behind Euton and Jackson. The Royals went 18-6 last season, falling to Boyd County in the opening round of the 64th District tournament. Euton averaged 21.8 points and 11.6 rebounds per game. He has already scored more than 1,000 points in a high school career that still has three more seasons.
The last 16th Region player to receive recruiting attention from UK was Greenup County’s Mike Scott in the mid-1980s. Scott signed with Wake Forest, played one season for the Demon Deacons and transferred to Kentucky.
Jeff Hall had a scholarship offer from UK in 1982 but turned down the Cats for Louisville, where he went on to play in two Final Fours (1983 and 1986, winning the national championship in the latter year).
Louisville had followed Hall in high school for a much longer period of time than Kentucky, which made the offer after the regional tournament in 1982.