It's been some time since I waxed philosophic on the Cats. Partially it's the new boy at my house, that three-months-plus point guard to be who sleeps sporadically. Partially it's the dead period being actually dead.
And then there was this morning, when between work tasks I get a frantic message from my good friend and fellow UK obsessee that oh, by the way, Darius Miller committed.
Wait, excuse me?
Something schadenfreude in me says Tubby Smith wouldn't have had this kid. Or if he did, it would have dragged out for the whole season, another soap opera where all we hear are the platitudes about how great the program is, and how respected Tubby Smith is and etc etc etc. And then the kid dons some other shade of blue...or, God forbid it, Cardinal Red.
First it was Patrick Patterson who shocked even the die hard blue clad who had all but written us off as a national recruiting power.
But not that time. And not this time. And one wonders, then, why exactly the tide is turning. Some of it is easily explained by the fact that for the first time in what seems like a decade, these are home grown talents UK is recruiting. That sure helps, as Patterson all but admitted and Miller's camp hinted as well. It's easy to forget when you're watching a parade of Parade All-Americans turn you down that a vast majority of kids stay close to home.
But being the nearby safe choice didn't seem to help when Brandan Wright was picking schools. So what else is at play?
My best guess is that talent begets talent. Good players know that you shine with other good players. There are exceptions, and certainly some kids excel because they take on -- and are handed -- the lion's share of the limelight. But at most big-time schools, the Dukes, North Carolinas and shudder Floridas of the world, you know you are competing against and playing with other blue chippers.
And under Tubby Smith, for a variety of reasons, that sort of high-grade sheen had worn off. There was talent there, still is. But the impression had worn in that Smith's teams were good teams, but not packed with great players.
Legion was the first get. Patterson the splashier second. And then the honeymoon catches of KC Ross-Miller and DeAndre Liggins. But Miller means more.
He means more because he was not riding the rush of glowing attention and exuberant commitments that flowed from Billy Gillispie's hiring. He means more because he had weathered the summer circuit, because he had heard all the pitches and then signed up.
He means more because he is a hometown kid, and the Chris Lofton situation loomed, and because had his recruitment dragged on, it would have preoccupied fans and local media every time the kid dropped 25 in a game. He's just one player, but he means a little more.
Until the next one commits, of course.