Teague and Behanan flip-flop



Saturday’s battle of the Bluegrass in the Final Four features two opposing freshmen that at one time were thought to favor their I-64 rival.

UK’s Marquis Teague is from the Hoosier state, but no allegiance was to be had from this fab frosh despite the state he hailed from. Teague, in fact, was coming to the land of horses, Bluegrass and basketball, one way or another.

The question was: Would he bleed red or blue?

Rivals.com’s No. 1 overall point guard and No. 5 player in the 2011 class had his story take a dramatic swing in September 2009.

On a September Monday, the Louisville Cardinals hired Shabaka Lands as a special assistant to head coach Rick Pitino. At the time of the hiring, Lands was better known as an assistant coach at Pike High School in Indianapolis — Teague’s team.

Not that the hiring of Teague’s high school assistant coach didn’t help, but from the onset many believed he would go to Louisville because of his father.

Shawn Teague, Marquis’ father, played for Pitino at Boston University in the early to mid-1980s. Teague still ranks in the top five of many statistical categories there.

But, it was when John Calipari accepted the head coaching position with UK that the tide turned.

Calipari was becoming synonymous with developing NBA-caliber point guards. He had already helped develop the games of Derrick Rose and Tyreke Evans. At the time of Teague’s recruitment, former Wildcat John Wall was taking his place as the next great creation of Calipari’s system.

During the week of Teague’s April 22, 2010, announcement, he and his family sat down to discuss his decision, and the blue won out.

Teague recently told CBSSports.com’s Jeff Goodman that he credits his brother — Atlanta Hawks point guard Jeff Teague — with helping him decide.

“When I told him that I thought he should go to Kentucky, he committed to them right after that,” Jeff Teague told Goodman. “I felt it was the perfect spot for point guards. Nothing against Louisville, but I’ve never seen a point guard come out of Louisville. I really think he took it to heart.”

Months after Teague’s announcement for the Cats, it was reported by the Lexington Herald-Leader’s John Clay that Shabaka Lands was no longer a part of the staff, therefore bringing his recruitment full circle.

Standing in the red corner at 6-foot-6, weighing 245 pounds is Louisville’s Chane Behanan.

The freshman forward, originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, transferred to Kentucky’s Bowling Green High School for the beginning of the 2009 school year.

He, like Teague, was a five-star recruit who was ranked 21st overall by Rivals.com.

Unlike Teague, Behanan’s recruitment wasn’t surrounded by much controversy.

Being a highly-touted recruit in the Bluegrass means you’re going one way or the other.

The buildup in Behanan’s recruitment was beginning to reach a fever pitch by late summer of 2010.

Many believed the Cats to be the front-runner, but an unexpected surprise fell into the lap of the UK coaching staff.

On Aug. 28, 2010, another freshman forward, Kyle Wiltjer, committed to the Cats at the Elite 24 All-Star game.

His arrival left Behanan no other choice than to join Rick Pitino’s Cards a little more than a week later if he wanted to get playing time.

“You know, we recruit a kid, I think we can get this kid. But you know, at the end of the day, you don’t know. Kids have to make that decision, and he made one. It’s worked out well for him,” Calipari said.

While his recruitment wasn’t surrounded by controversy, Behanan has had a knack for being outspoken.

“We’re going undefeated. Point blank, period,” he said after defeating Calipari’s former team, the Memphis Tigers, on the heels of the Cardinals’ New Year’s Eve game with the Cats at Rupp Arena.

The problem for Behanan is that he and his team didn’t even make it to the game against the Cats undefeated. Three nights before that matchup, Georgetown knocked off the 12-0 Cardinals on their own court.

In a sit-down video interview with UK’s and Louisville’s recruits before last year’s McDonald’s All-American Game, Behanan said the Cardinals would beat the Cats and agreed with teammate Wayne Blackshear’s notion that Behanan would dunk all over UK’s Anthony Davis.

Now that the game has unfolded, it’s clear that Behanan’s comment didn’t hold true. He finished the game with four points and five rebounds after fouling out in the Cards’ 69-62 loss.

Never at a loss for words, the Cardinals’ freshman continued his attempt at giving teams bulletin-board material.

“We get to the Final Four, it’s a piece of cake from there,” Behanan said after defeating New Mexico to advance to the Elite Eight.

Although his promise of an undefeated season may not have come to fruition, Behanan still has the opportunity to make good his other two promises come Saturday evening when his Cards match up with Teague and the Cats one more time.