One of the biggest questions of the spring was whether Colombian prospect Tony Trocha was a member of the class of 2012 or the class of 2013. Turns out, the answer might be neither.
Trocha’s mentor, Jamie Ibanez, told ZagsBlog on Monday that the 6-foot-10 forward planned to enroll in college in December and begin playing during the spring semester.
Ibanez told the blog that Trocha has already finished his high school coursework, but still needs to pass the SAT. He also said the recruit is working on his English, which ZagsBlog described last month as “very limited.”
Assuming Trocha gets that taken care of, the question is: Will UK be an option?
One plus is that the Cats should have an available scholarship, which wasn’t the case when five-star recruit Jarnell Stokes announced his intentions to enroll early last year and ultimately picked Tennessee. Even if John Calipari gives scholarships to 2011-12 walk-ons Twany Beckham, Jarrod Polson, Brian Long and Sam Malone, UK will have only given out 12 of its allotted 13.
So there will likely be a spot for Trocha, but will the Cats need him?
Kyle Wiltjer, Nerlens Noel, Alex Poythress and Willie Cauley-Stein are the only players listed at forward or center currently on the roster. And it’s looking more likely that UCF forward Keith Clanton will stay put. The most probable scenario has Wiltjer, Noel and Poythress in the starting lineup, with Cauley-Stein as the only frontcourt option off the bench. That’s not much depth, and not much experience.
It looks like UK could use the help, but can Trocha provide it?
Trocha came to the United States earlier in the year and played part of last season with a high school in Houston. Calipari was one of several coaches to attend an open gym after the high school season, and UK and Texas A&M immediately jumped to the top of Trocha’s list. Then came the confusion over when Trocha would attend college, and he flew back to Colombia in an attempt to qualify. It didn’t work out, but the buzz continued.
When Trocha (unexpectedly) showed up for the Reebok Breakout Challenge in Philadelphia last month, he immediately became the biggest attraction. But the hype was too much. And the initial reviews were mixed.
“The buzz around Trocha … has been big. So when he stepped on the floor on Wednesday a lot was expected,” wrote Scout.com’s Evan Daniels. Trocha certainly passed the look test, as he’s long, athletic and can move up and down the floor. However, in Trocha’s opening game he wasn’t real aggressive. … He shied away from contact in the paint.”
24/7 Sports analyst Jerry Meyer called him “a mobile big man with athleticism although quite thin.” When Meyer updated his 2013 rankings last week, Trocha came in at No. 83. By contrast, Stokes was Rivals.com’s No. 11 overall recruit for 2012 when he committed to Tennessee last year.
Trocha claimed offers last month from Texas A&M, Texas, Baylor, Florida and Ohio State, but Meyer said UK was showing only “minimal interest” at that time. Ibanez claimed a UK offer at the same event, which adds to the confusion.
So is Trocha an option to join the Cats in December? Sure. But even if he’s eligible, and even if Calipari offers, Trocha can’t be expected to do much during that first half season. Stokes was an accomplished five-star recruit joining a team with a losing record. Trocha would be a post project joining (presumably) one of the best teams in the country.
If he ends up playing for a contender at midseason, it’ll be a story. But expectations should be tempered.