Tuesday, November 15, 2011

SPORTS >> Goodwin signs with Kentucky

Leader sports editor

Wherever there was space behind a crowded press table in an overcrowded gymnasium, Sylvan Hills senior Archie Goodwin meandered about, thanking everyone he could think of after signing his national letter of intent to play basketball for the University of Kentucky on Tuesday morning. Goodwin made official a verbal commitment he recently made to become a Wildcat, and join the most storied college basketball program in the country.

He saved the most overt praise for his mom, bending his 6-foot-5 frame a considerable ways down to kiss his seated mother on the cheek after thanking her for her guidance and support.

He failed to move the microphone from his mouth, and the smack of the kiss reverberated through the gym, drawing aws and applause from the crowd. It was the event’s most indicative moment of Goodwin’s attitude throughout the circus-like process that is big-time NCAA Division I recruiting.

Goodwin has remained at ground level. He gave the large number of family members in attendance credit for that as he walked about directly addressing each one in the process of his speech.

After the folks at the main table were recognized and thanked, Goodwin went from one end of the baseline to the other thanking and praising other family members and friends who have helped and influenced him along the way. He finally thanked all of them for being a part of “one of the greatest days of my life.”

Goodwin had hundreds of scholarship offers from all over the country. Before the signing, Goodwin told The Leader why he ultimately chose Kentucky.

“I felt like coach Cal (John Calipari) was a great guy,” Goodwin said. “I felt comfortable with the coaching staff there. I’ve built strong relationships with the players that are there. And I just felt like the love from the city and everyone there. It’s just a great place for me to play basketball.”

Goodwin said the fan base at Kentucky had an impact on his decision.

“The fan base was great,” Goodwin said. “Anytime you have guys camping out in front of the building for a blue-white game, or just for the first practice, you don’t get that anywhere else.”

Sylvan Hills coach Kevin Davis spoke with The Leader before the signing, and also recognized Goodwin’s family as being a hugely positive influence. He also acknowledged that there seemed to be a connection for Goodwin with Kentucky that other places didn’t quite have.

“I think it was about relationships,” Davis said. “They were here from the get go. I remember the first call I got at 6 a.m. over a year ago. They were at so many games and built a strong personal relationship with Archie.”

While the coach bears the burden for keeping a team focused through the distractions that come with having a Top 10 recruit, Davis believes his job may have been less difficult than some other high-school coaches in similar situations.

“I do have to shoulder it because I am the boys basketball coach,” Davis said. “But Archie’s family has been phenomenal and Archie himself has shown so much maturity throughout this whole thing. It’s made my job easy. He is a crown jewel no doubt.”