August 22, 2011

Cauley has Tide in top five

The schedule is out. The players begin working out this week. There's a buzz around Alabama basketball that hasn't been there in years, and that has had a direct effect on the recruiting trail.

UA has a number of high-level prospects interested in the program, including 7-foot big man Willie Cauley who has the Crimson Tide in his top five along with Florida, Kansas State, Kentucky and Oklahoma State.

"The numbers don't lie," Cauley said. "You can look at all the numbers, and you can tell it's going up. It's going to be a good program. In two or three years, they could be national championship contenders.

"I like the coaching staff a lot. I'm planning on taking a visit there. I don't really know much about them, but I get a good vibe from them and everything."

Alabama has made the Kansas native a priority for its 2012 recruiting class, and it showed over the summer when the UA coaching staff attended every single one of Cauley's AAU games.

"They went to every game," Cauley said. "It means a lot. From looking at that, it shows that they're real. A lot of coaches will come and watch every once in a while, but when you get the ones that are there every game, you know it's not a fluke.

"You can play outstanding one game, but they're not there the next so you don't play as hard. With them, you're playing hard all the time. It's a good feeling."

Cauley, who's main recruiter has been Crimson Tide assistant coach John Brannen, enjoys talking with the Alabama staff because it's about more than just recruiting and basketball.

"When we talk, it's not even about basketball," Cauley said. "A lot of it is like hobbies, what I like to do outside of basketball and my family situation. I like that. They do a good job of recruiting. A lot of kids don't really like getting bombarded by coaches, so it's nice to have coaches who don't even talk about basketball."

The Rivals.com four-star has already visited Kansas State and Oklahoma State but wants to make trips to Alabama, Florida and Kentucky before making a decision. He plans to sign during the early signing period in November, so a decision will most likely come before then.

The main factors for Cauley when choosing a school include fan base, weather, coaching staff, style of play and how he fits into the program.

As the excitement continues to grow around the Alabama basketball program, so too could the Crimson Tide's chances of landing Cauley.

Reach Greg Ostendorf at greg@tidesports.com.

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