John Wall has captured the imagination of UK basketball fans. He has also captured the attention of most every other human with an interest in the game.
Earlier today, when Wall's AAU coach, Brian Clifton, spoke to ESPINRISE, he said, "He likes Cal's style of play and is excited about the opportunity to display his creativity. John has a chance to take college basketball by storm."
Clifton didn't say which John he was speaking of. And judging by some of his other comments yesterday, we can guess he wasn't speaking of the C variety.
But it's probably time to consider this: John Calipari is doing as much for college basketball as he is for Kentucky basketball.
Several analysts have already been more than happy to extoll the return of the Kentucky brand to the college landscape. And it's not just because the SEC recently signed a deal with ESPN. And it's not because Calipari is in discussions to take a prominent role in the NCAA 2010 video game. College basketball fans root for Kentucky basketball because they like a superstar. In a climate of 347 teams, one versus the field makes the skies clearer.
The Sporting News is ready for it.
ESPN is ready for it.
FoxSports is ready for it.
College basketball is ready for it.
Are we ready for it?
We are busy capturing bandwagon fans all over nation. Just ask LeBron James, Dirk Nowitzki and Ben Roethlisberger.
When it comes to college basketball, it's all good.
Fans like to know what's what. Even if they don't like the results, they'd rather have a poll to size everyone up. It's better to know who the big dogs are. It's better to know who to shoot for.
Today, everyone is shooting for No. 11, No. 23 and No. 54. For that slick guy in the expensive suit. For Blue.
"I think right now everybody is on notice," Dave Telep told The Courier-Journal. "This is old-school Kentucky. These guys are coming after players and are getting guys."
No matter how much they hate it, no matter how much they loathe our history and our boisterousness and our sense of entitlement, they love it. They want it. They need it.
Basketball fans need to know the score, need to know who's ahead, need to know who to watch for. They want to know who's now, who's on point, who's next.
Who to hate. And who to emulate.
Cal has given UK fans something to dream about tonight, something to fall back on this summer and something to look forward to in the fall.
But he has given college basketball something to shoot for next spring. We are not the only ones aware of what happened today. This is Kentucky basketball again. This is what we want. This is what we love.
This is what they hate. But they need it.
And they love it.