Headline hyperbole? Yeah, but I always say; what's wrong with a little shock-jock embellishment?
Finally returning from a vacation in which the closest to sports I ventured was watching a portion of the NBA Draft; trying to keep up with the wins and losses of the Cincinnati Reds; and being pummeled by the waves of oil-free Sea Grove, Florida, I find myself adrift in Kentucky sport's news of various flavors: Kentucky basketball & football, John Calipari, and newly minted rich dudes; John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Patrick Patterson, Eric Bledsoe, and the just now exhaling Daniel Orton, all dot the UK news landscape of the week past. Add in a dash of Dick Vitale and Eamonn Brennan, and presto, an initial post-vacation post is born.
Kentucky coach John Calipari's "Greatest day in the history of the program" remark in reference to the 2010 NBA Draft left me shaking my head (in approval) at the lengths Calipari will go to promote his program. With an NCAA-record five players taken in the first round, Calipari must have been giddy at the thought of nearly every high school round-ball stud eyeing his television as 'Cat after 'Cat heard their name called on Draft night. Calipari re-emphasizing the magnitude of the singular achievement with his own brand of salesmanship doesn't insult my sense of UK history in the least.
Afterall, the evening's events couldn't have unfolded any more 'Cat friendly if Cal himself had written the script. So pardon me if I laugh-off Cal's hyperbolic statement ... something UK icon Dan Issel was apparently unable to do. Issel, talking to the Lexington Herald-Leader said Calipari's statement was the "Dumbest thing I've ever heard." Well Big Dan, I'll have to respectfully disagree with your assertion; The dumbest thing I've ever heard is NBA Commissioner David Stern proclaim, "With the first pick in the 2001 NBA Draft, the Washington Wizards select Kwame Brown."
Game, set, and match to the short guy.
My most sincere congratulations to the UK five selected in this year's NBA Draft. John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Patrick Patterson, Eric Bledsoe, and Daniel Orton are all to be commended on fulfilling (so far) their individual dreams of making it to the Association. To a man they practiced hard, played hard, and gave UK fans around the world a reason to once again cheer the 'Cats. They collectively are responsible for the re-emergence of Kentucky as a basketball powerhouse, and for that all UK fans should wish them only the best.
But, I especially am happy for Eric Bledsoe. For now he can hire his own investigators to thoroughly scour the closet of New York Times scribe Pete Thamel, who, in a serious lapse of investigative scruples, unnecessarily revealed unflattering "things" about Bledsoe's mother's employment history.
Bledsoe will make around 2.6 million over the next two years. What you holdin' Pete?
But, a quick glance at a mock 2011 NBA Draft reveals a more palatable number of SEC performers being picked: #2 Enes Kanter (UK), #5 Brandon Knight (UK), #7 Trey Thompkins (Georgia), #15 Terrence Jones (UK), #19 Travis Leslie (Georgia), #23 Jeffery Taylor (Vanderbilt), #29 Renardo Sydney (Mississippi State), #47 Vernon Macklin (Florida), and #49 Chandler Parsons (Florida).
After experiencing a two-to-three year downturn, SEC basketball is slowly climbing the mountain back to national respectability.
Per a recent John Clay Random Notes column, Dick Vitale recently stated on ESPN that he felt former Syracuse star Wesley Johnson would win the NBA Rookie of the Year, not John Wall or Evan Turner, or even DeMarcus Cousins.
Not sure what Vitale is inhaling down in Tampa, but he may need to adjust his intake.
With speculation reaching preposterous proportions that former Minnesota Gopher Royce White (6-8, 250 lbs) will soon be the newest basketball 'Cat, I feel I must chime in.
Simply put, I believe in giving players, coaches, etc., second chances, but by my count White is on his fourth opportunity. And with Calipari perpetually breaking-in new players, I don't see how a potentially major distraction would benefit this youthful UK team. So please pardon me if I would like to see him receive yet another chance, at another school ... hey, I hear Rick Pitino is looking for players.
Kentucky football coach Joker Phillips hauled in four more "commitments" last week, adding depth and skill to his already impressive initial recruiting class: Defensive back Riyahd Jones, linebacker Blake Terry, three-star defensive linemen Christian Coleman, and Louisville St. Xavier cornerback Daylen Hall all verballed to the 'Cats, but that's not what caught my eye.
Rather, three-star UK "commitment," defensive tackle Clint Tucker had this to say to the Herald-Leader about his "commitment" to UK:
"Right now, I'd say that my commitment is soft. The door is open right now. Kentucky is a nice school to be at, but I do have other schools in mind that I'd like to check out. I'd like to hear from Nebraska, Alabama, Florida State, and Florida. I'm keeping the door open."
Adding to the confusion, the aforementioned Daylen Hall also stated that his UK commitment was "soft," and that he will continue to entertain other options.
My Websters says a commitment is: to deliver for safekeeping; entrust; consign. Which is NOT the sense I get from the lukewarm words of promise I read from Hall and Tucker.
Now, I realize college football recruiting is the polar opposite of college basketball recruiting; Football players change their minds (most often at the urging of rival schools) at a rate which dwarfs basketball players' backpedaling. So in the interest of clarification and honesty, I am proposing a new designation for high school pigskin athletes to choose from if their interest in a school is purely skin deep. Because Tucker and Hall are no more committed to UK and Joker Phillips than is U of L quarterback Justin Burke.
So, without further adieu, my classification for those who are interested in a school until a perceptively better school comes along is: The Non-Committed Verbal Display of Affection, or NVDA.
This way, everyone is clear on exactly how a player feels about a school. Coaches, fans, recruiting services, we all know when a kid announces his NVDA that he's sticking with the school, only until, and if, a bigger, better offer lands at his doorstep.
See, that was easy.
And finally, there is ESPN college hoops blogger Eamonn Brennan. Brennan, back in mid-May, took issue with my post, John Calipari: Eyes Wide Open, and responded by calling me and UK fans like me "naive" for believing Calipari would stay at Kentucky rather than take an NBA head coaching gig with the Bulls, Nets, or Cavaliers. In fairness, Brennan isn't alone at the crow-heavy dinner table, no, there were an gaggle of "enlightened" opinion-givers spewing, "Why would Calipari stay in Lexington, when he could be coaching in the big-time," but, he's the only one to call me/us naive.
So, now that July is at its dawn, I feel quite safe in wagging my figurative finger at Brennan and saying that it is you that is naive and uninformed. As a Big Blue Nation outsider, Bremmon et al have no concept or clue about the multitude of advantages coaching the University of Kentucky has over coaching an NBA team. I won't recount the advantages here, for that I have already done, but I will counsel Mr. Brennan on educating himself on that which he writes, before he once again proves himself to be uninformed, and yes, just a bit naive.
But, I would like to thank ESPN for having A Sea of Blue as the only UK blog listed on their Blog Roll.
At least one person at the World Wide Leader is thinking with a clear head.
Congratulations to the South Carolina Gamecocks for winning their first College Baseball World Series. Well done, gents, well done.
Thanks for reading, and Go 'Cats.