2021 point guard Khristian Lander will not be visiting for Big Blue Madness.
2020 forward Jalen Johnson is visiting through the weekend.
2020 forward Lance Ware will attend Big Blue Madness.
2019 forward and Kentucky commit Kahlil Whitney will be visiting tonight.
It is understandable that a good portion of the fanbase is so dialed into the success of the football program that the approaching basketball season may have slipped their minds.
I will readily admit that I am more engaged around football than ever before, but when reminded that Big Blue Madness is here, I began to get that preseason excitement back.
No one celebrates ‘Midnight Madness’ events like the Kentucky Wildcats and their fans do every year with Big Blue Madness, the first open practice opportunity for the 2018-19 UK men’s and women’s basketball teams.
The men are projected to have the No. 1 team entering the 2018-19 season in many preseason polls.
The women return much of last season’s roster and are primed to get back to the postseason. They also have head coach Matthew Mitchell, who always has some kind of crazy dance routine for Big Blue Madness, one of the more entertaining parts of the night.
Here’s everything you need to know about Big Blue Madness 2018:
When: October 12th
Location: Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ky
Start time: 7 p.m. EST
TV: SEC Network; That’s DirecTV channel 611, AT&T U Verse channel 607 and Dish Network channel 408.
Online Stream: You can watch the practice online via WatchESPN and on mobile devices via the WatchESPN app.
Replay: You can watch a replay of the event online via WatchESPN or the SEC Network (check local listings for replay time).
Per normal, fans camped out for long periods of time in order to secure tickets to, in my opinion, one of the best traditions in all of college athletics. Of course, the event is for the fans and marks the start of another college basketball season. But Kentucky has the luxury to use Big Blue Madness as a very powerful recruiting tool, not just a fan appreciation event.
Each year John Calipari and the coaching staff will ensure that several top recruits from various classes are present for Big Blue Madness. This allows the high school players to see first hand just how passionate and engaged the Big Blue Nation is. Many schools attempt to mimic Big Blue Madness and throw a similar type of event, but none measure up to what Kentucky does each year.
2018 will be no different as there is scheduled to be multiple top recruits in attendance.
Recruits expected to attend:
Tyrese Maxey and Dontaie Allen - Both Kentucky commits will be present for Big Blue Madness. It will be great to get them in front of a Rupp Arena crowd for the first time. Not only will it be good for Maxey and Allen to enjoy themselves at the event but it will also open the door for some peer to peer recruiting.
Maxey has been vocal about his efforts to attract more players to join him and Allen at UK. I expect they will both get standing ovations from the crowd when they walk to their seats. I am really excited to see both of these guys in a Kentucky jersey next year.
Vernon Carey Jr - By this point, pretty much everyone knows who Vernon Carey Jr. is and that Kentucky really wants to land him. The 6’10 Center is a unanimous top 3 player in the class of 2019. Adding Carey Jr to any college roster will provide an immediate impact down low. Back in May, Vernon Carey Jr cut his list of school down to five. The programs that made the cut were Kentucky, Duke, Michigan State, Miami, and North Carolina.
Most experts seem to think that UK is in a great position to land Carey Jr. Carey has recently stated that he is likely to commit this fall, so events like Big Blue Madness are important to leave an impression on him.
R.J. Hampton - Hampton is widely regarded as the top combo guards in the class of 2020. There have been rumors circling for months of the possibility that Hampton would reclassify into the class of 2019 and potentially join a college team next season. He shot those rumors down but there is still buzz that reclassification is an option.
Hopefully, players like Tyrese Maxey can get in his ear and encourage Hampton to commit to Kentucky, even if it is not for 2 more years. Hampton is a smooth scoring machine that will have all of the blue bloods knocking on his door.
Jaemyn Brakefield - This will be Brakefield’s second time to Big Blue Madness in as many years. The 2020 power forward also came to madness last year. Brakefield is a Huntington, West Virginia native and is widely believed to be a Kentucky lean. He has three predictions in 247 Sport’s Crystal Ball with all of them going to Kentucky. His recruitment is a ways from being over but choosing to come back to Big Blue Madness has to be a great sign for the Cats.
Update: Brakefield will be accompanied by several teammates, the most notable of which being JT Thor.
Khristian Lander - Lander is a really young prospect who is in the class of 2021. I watched some highlights of his and he can really fill it up. Lander is from Evansville, Indiana and currently holds offers from Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, and Purdue. Last year, he averaged 13 points a game on 48% shooting while playing for the Francis Joseph Reitz School. Players his age will not be formally ranked by position until next season.
If you are going to Big Blue Madness this year, make a point to keep your eyes open for the recruits. Usually, the University will strategically walk the players to their seats in an effort for the crowd to notice and cheer. It is a good opportunity to show the young guys some love and cement why they should come to Lexington for college.