LIVINGSTON, N.J. -- Less than 24 hours after leading his team to a grueling victory over Tennessee on Tuesday night, Kentucky Head Coach Tubby Smith was sitting up high in a set of wooden bleachers at Newark Academy.
Smith was in the Garden State on Wednesday afternoon to get a look at a pair of juniors who rank among the best in the Class of 2003 -- 6-7 swingman Luol Deng and 6-10 forward Charlie Villanueva of Blair Academy in Blairstown, N.J.
Smith watched as Villanueva racked up 22 points and Deng added 17 in the Bucs' 82-65 semifinal round victory over the Lawrenceville School.
After the game, Smith was engaged in a lengthy conversation with Mike Dunleavy Sr., whose son, Baker, plays for Lawrenceville. He then headed to the hallway to speak with Blair Head Coach Joe Mantegna.
Mantegna told the Insiders Report/Rivalshoops.com that Smith expressed an interest in recruiting both Deng and Villanueva throughout the next year.
In fact, IR spotted a Kentucky assistant coach at Blair's game against Plainfield H.S. on Thursday, Feb. 7 at the Prime Time Shootout in Elizabeth, so this was not the Wildcats' first gander at the Bucs' dynamic duo.
"He said that he is very interested in both Charlie and Luol," Mantegna said. "I guess he also wanted to make sure that he showed his face."
Smith is the latest in a long line of big-time head coaches who have popped their heads into Blair games this winter. Duke Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski paid a visit to Blair back on Feb. 10. Syracuse's Jim Boeheim, Villanova's Jay Wright and Seton Hall's Louis Orr have also been in to see the Bucs play in 2001-2002.
In fact, Wright and Nova Asst. Coach Fred Hill were in Livingston on Wednesday to catch Blair.
With the end of the season looming on Saturday, the procession will come to a halt for a little while, that is until D-I coaches are permitted to again visit with Mantegna, Villanueva and Deng under NCAA guidelines (which have changed quite a bit in the past year).
Rivalshoops.com will keep you informed, so stay tuned.