So here we are, apparently at the end of the short tenure of Alex Legion at the University of Kentucky. While not "official" official, there seems to be little doubt left that Legion will be moving on.
Many in the Big Blue Nation are saying "good riddance" today, primarily because the initial shock has worn off and cooler heads have prevailed. But let's not get into the "don't let the door hit you in the ..." mode, because there is no doubt this departure hurts Kentucky. It not only hurts the roster, where due to injury the Cats are now woefully shallow in swing players, it also is one more thing that other teams can use as a weapon against our program in the recruiting wars. Yes, we all suspect that Kentucky itself had little to do with the divorce, but that will be lost in the mists of time very quickly.
With all that said, Legion's departure does open up another scholarship for next year, leaving two available assuming no further defections. There will be good players coming loose from their current commitments after the season, just like Legion did last year, and we may pick up one of those. There are many other intriguing possibilities to fill out our roster a little better for next year, but we'll just have to wait and see about that.
More important to us for the nonce is what will happen this year, and to that end, our minds turn to the possible return of Derrick Jasper. Gillispie was effusive in his praise of Jasper's passing ability on his show this week, but we do have five relatively easy games in the sense that they are all unranked and un-storied opponents, kid of like -gulp- a certain hyphenated school I could mention. But they are all the kind of games that even a bad Kentucky team should win, and it could give Jasper a chance to slowly work his way back into the lineup if the doctors determine he is ready to go.
Make no mistake, Jasper will not help us with our outside shot, or make layups any easier. But what Derrick does bring to the floor is the kind of pass-first ball handling guard that can free up Bradley from the needs of managing the team on the floor, and that will enhance his effectiveness, as he is struggling in the floor leader role. It will also get Patterson more touches in the paint, and that is good for a whole host of reasons. Jasper is also one of our best defenders and a solid rebounder, so he brings all the little things that will make it easier for the shooters and scorers we have to put the ball in the basket, instead of in the hands of the opposition.
We still know nothing of Meeks return, except that he is healing slowly. It may be another month before we see him working his way back, but that would be better than never. He could be the difference in UK making or missing the NCAA's this year. Without Jasper and Meeks both back on the floor, our odds of getting into the field of 64 don't look very promising at this precise moment in time.
So we have a little good and a little bad. We are losing Legion, but we may be getting Jasper back. There is no doubt Jasper will have a greater impact on this team than Legion would this year, although losing him hurts a lot.