The Kentucky Wildcats have historically used Big Blue Madness as a tool to propel their recruiting efforts, but under John Calipari, that idea has been taken to a completely new level. Coach Cal and his staff have hosted countless prospects in Lexington during Big Blue Madness weekend in his 10 years at Kentucky.
The mid-October event not only signifies the start of basketball season, but also grants an opportunity for UK to get elite prospects from different classes into Rupp Arena and face-to-face with the Big Blue Nation.
But it looks like moving forward, there are some important scheduling changes that could threaten this longtime recruiting strategy.
USA Basketball Camp in Colorado Springs, (Co) has now been pushed back a week and will land on the same weekend as Big Blue Madness. This year’s Madness is scheduled for Friday October 11th, which is also the first day of USA Camp.
How big of a deal is this?
Well, it’s fairly significant considering that numerous high school players will now be forced into a difficult decision on whether or not to attend UK’s annual event or travel to Colorado Springs for USA Camp instead. This is sure to put some players in a tough spot as they obviously can’t be in both places at once.
To shed some light on the impact, keep this in mind that last year, four players who attended Big Blue Madness also participated in USA Camp the weekend before. Tyrese Maxey, Kahlil Whitney, Vernon Carey Jr, and RJ Hampton all were present for both.
This year, UK already has confirmations that Joshua Christopher, Cade Cunningham and Paola Banchero will all be at Big Blue Madness. But each player is very likely to get a Camp USA invite, and thus will have a difficult decision to make. Jalen Green was also rumored to be eying this weekend for a visit, but he’s since scheduled his official visit for the weekend of Oct. 16.
The likely scenario going forward is that most players will elect to participate in USA Camp as opposed to attend Big Blue Madness. The camp offers great exposure and a chance to compete against the other elite players. There is also plenty of other options to visit Kentucky than just for Big Blue Madness.
That being said, this change in scheduling would really put a strain on the logistics for Coach Cal and his staff considering that they are currently able to execute a centralized plan for that specific weekend.
Adding numerous different visits at different times will create a lot of moving pieces and variability in each players experience. But if anyone can figure it out, it’s Calipari and his staff.
Another real bummer about this entire thing is that the scheduling changes likely will not impact Duke, North Carolina, or Kansas. All three of these other blue blood programs host their season kickoff festivities during a time that will not conflict with USA Camp.
It will be interesting to see what happens when USA Camp invitations go out later this month and players are forced to make a decision on where they will be.