Today is day one of the month-long late signing period for 2010, when Kentucky will get at a good idea of the shape of next year's basketball team. Today, it is WWBD (What Will Brandon Do?). "Brandon," of course, is Brandon Knight, the Rivals #1 player in the country and #1 and 1a on Kentucky's need-to-sign list.
The word around Al Gore's Folly is that Knight is likely to commit to UK, but despite all the assurances from everywhere, there will still be a bit of drama today around 4:00 PM when Knight goes on ESPNU to sign his National Letter of Intent.
On the heels of all this comes word from various sources including Adam Zagoria that 2011 consensus #1 recruit Michael Gilchrist will also announce his intentions today. Obviously, that would be a big deal, and if Gilchrist eventually signs, it will be the third top-rated recruit in a row for Calipari at UK.
There is an interesting article today by Gary Parrish that claims this is all part of Calipari's master plan:
But there's not a doubt in my mind that one of the reasons Gilchrist is committing now is because Calipari needs him to commit now to help shift the conversation. In 24 hours, Kentucky fans aren't going to be worried anymore about losing to West Virginia or losing five underclassmen. Instead, they'll be nonstop talking about enrolling Knight this summer and Gilchrist next summer, then they'll start debating whether Calipari will ultimately win two or three national titles in the next five years.
Parish proves it's possible to be right and wrong at the same time. Of course this is part of Calipari's "master plan." When other recruits see all these dominoes fall UK's way (assuming they actually do), it will enhance the prospects that other highly-rated recruits will want to be part of a team that includes great players like this.
But to say Calipari needs this to deflect criticism from anywhere is absurd. Calipari has been criticized non-stop, 365 days a year for the last several years by somebody for everything under the sun, true or false. UK fans, at least since Calipari has been here, have not been among his critics.
Even the failure of the ridiculously talented 2009-10 UK team to get to the Final Four and beyond drew almost no serious criticism from around the Big Blue Nation, just a bit of understandable navel-gazing. Parrish got that part completely wrong. Criticism is the water in which Coach Cal swims. I think he's used to the cold temperature by now.
But Parrish is right about the master plan. Calipari is trying to build momentum, and if all these cards land face up, he will do so. It remains to be seen if other coveted recruits like Terrence Jones, C.J. Leslie, Doron Lamb and others jump onto the Big Blue Bandwagon, but a recruiting coup like this makes that more, not less, likely.
Of course, we can expect another raft of articles bashing Calipari for recruiting the best basketball players in the land, but that's just people being people. Rival fans will snipe and gripe, while secretly wondering why their coach can't recruit like that. Then, they will predictably lash out at Kentucky and Calipari, making every possible accusation of impropriety, ethics failures and lawlessness, and spend hours reminding anyone who will listen about Kentucky's scofflaw ways in the now-distant past.
Enjoy it, ladies and gentlemen of the Big Blue Nation. I know I will. Embracing the hate has only just begun.