As the UK basketball season draws closer, I can’t help but wonder just how great this incoming freshmen class will stack up against the 2 classes before them. I attended Big Blue Madness and watched the Blue/White game on TV, and this group already looks like they have way more chemistry than the previous 2 classes. They may be the most athletic college team I’ve ever seen, its scary. Every guy in this class can do pretty much anything on the court, they can shoot, pass, dribble, rebound, they are all great defenders,not many flaws in this group. Their only weakness may be strength-wise. They don’t have anybody that physically overwhelms you,But their shot blocking ability makes up for that. All that being said, where do you think this group stacks up? Lets compare them with the previous 2 classes.
The 2010-2011 Cats featured freshmen Brandon Knight, Terrence Jones, Doron Lamb, Enes Kanter, Stacey Poole, Eloy Vargas, and walk-on Jared Polson. Kanter unfortunately never got to play, thanks to Mark Emmert and his wishy-washy, overpowering, corrupt NCAA. Knight was ranked as the top recruit in the nation by most recruiting sites, and he was as good as advertised. He averaged 17.3 points and 4.1 assists per game while shooting 37 percent from 3 point range. He made one big shot after another in the 2011 NCAA tournament, including a 20-foot fade away jumper to beat top-seeded Ohio State. Terrence Jones came in as a heralded recruit out of Portland, he was highly touted for his athleticism and quickness at the 4 position. He averaged 15.7 points and 8.8 rebounds per game, but spent most of the season struggling to find consistency on both ends of the floor. Doron Lamb came to UK as a 3-point artist, and that he was. He averaged 49.7 percent from deep while averaging 12.3 points per game. Vargas and Poole were both disappointing last season, neither player made much contribution at all.
When John Calipari inked the 2009-2010 class, he created a media firestorm. The class was heralded as the best in school history and best class since the Fab Five at Michigan. The class consisted of John Wall, Demarcus Cousins, Eric Bledsoe, Daniel Orton and Jon Hood. Wall came in as the most highly sought-after recruit of the decade, and he lived up to the overwhelming hype. A human highlight reel, he averaged 16.6 ppg, not to mention breaking the school record for assists in a season with 241. He brought a swagger that few players have, he knew he was a superstar, and you could sense it when you watched him play. Cousins came in as a high risk/high reward type of player, he was labeled as a guy who had amazing talent, but was a loose cannon. Calipari took the risk, and it paid off greatly. Cousins quickly took the nation by storm as he was being compared to all-time great college centers like Shaquille O’neal. He averaged 15.1 ppg and 9.9 rebounds, basically a double-double a game. He was a force of nature in the paint, and he brought a “not in my house” attitude that was contagious, the team fed off his competitive fire. Eric Bledsoe spent the season in John Wall’s shadow, but it didn’t stop him from getting national attention and eventually becoming an NBA first pick just like Wall. Bledsoe had blazing speed, great play making ability, was a more consistent jump shooter than Wall, and was a great defender. He averaged 11.3 points and 2.9 assists per game. He was the streakiest shooter I have ever seen, he could light it up one night, and the next night, I could out-shoot him. Daniel Orton came in as a shot-blocking machine who had good size and strength in the post. He never really lived up to the expectations, and clashes with Calipari over playing time caused him to make the wrong decision and go pro after just averaging 3.4 points and 3.3 rebounds per game. Basically a wasted talent. Darnell Dodson came to UK regarded as a 3-point shooter, but he struggled with consistency, averaging 34 percent from deep. He also stayed in John Calipari’s doghouse, eventually being dismissed from the team after the 2010 season stemming from issues with the law. I never thought he was good enough to play at UK anyway. Jon Hood never made much contribution to UK during his freshman season, and as much as I hate to say it, he may never will.
So, I’m challenging everybody who reads this post to comment and tell me which of Calipari’s first 3 classes is the best. I wanna hear some good arguments. Go Cats.
Gary Parrish of CBS Sports has made his SEC Predictions. Along with everyone else picked Kentucky to win the league, and placed Teague, Jones, and Davis on the all SEC first team. Doron Lamb made the second team. Parrish seemed UK friendly giving Anthony Davis the new comer of the year nod, and the new and improved Terrence Jones SEC player of the year honors.
- David Stern, NBA Commissioner, just announced that all NBA games have been canceled through November 30th. Both NBA players and the owners can’t seem to find any common ground to get the bargaining agreement done. There is , however, some glimmering hope at the end of the dark long tunnel. Reports are increasing that the sides are getting much closer on being able to reach a deal. The mood is really much lighter than a few weeks ago, when it looked as if there may be no NBA season at all. Granted, this is millionaires arguing with billionaires, in which I hold no sympathy for either side. I do ponder about how the results of these two groups will effect a group of basketball players that I have much more concern for. Let’s examine how the impending NBA collective bargaining agreement will impact the future of the Kentucky Wildcats basketball team.
Beyond money issues, the players and owners also must agree on an age limit for NBA rookies. Under the current system, players must be one year removed from high school before they can declare for the NBA Draft. Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, Kentucky has hosted many one and done players in the two years that Coach Cal has been at the helm of our Kentucky Wildcats ship. In his first year, Kentucky broke the NBA record with 5 players drafted in the first round, 4 of which were one and done freshman. Last season, Brandon Knight followed in the footsteps of John Wall being drafted in the first round after only 1 college season. Currently, the Wildcats have 3 or possibly 4 freshman that may hold the ability to enter the draft after their inaugural college year. Anthony Davis, in particular, could very well be the # 1 pick in next year’s draft. To say that the outcome of this lockout is important to Kentucky would be an understatement.
What would happen if the player union gets what they want in the agreement? The player age limit and 1 year college rule would be eliminated. The union would love to see players be able to enter the draft straight out of high school. This would affect not only Coach Cal’s recruiting, but the talent level in all of college basketball. We all know that Cal believes the only way to win championships is with the best players right out of the gate. Now, Coach John Calipari has to compete only with the top NCAA basketball powerhouses to lure those players to Kentucky. If the NBA Players Union have their way, Cal would also have to compete with the NBA. I would imagine that it is much easier to persuade a top talent to come to Kentucky over another college, rather than to dissuade him from making millions of dollars in the NBA. The latter is a much harder sell. I actually think if anybody can do it , Coach Cal would be the man. Still, his job will get so much tougher if the players get their way on this issue.
What about the owners? What do they want? The billionaire side of the table would like to mirror the NFL rule, in which players would have to go to school 3 years. The thought of John Wall staying with us for three seasons makes me drool in awe a little. No doubt, this would force the players that Cal recruits to hang around with us for a while longer, becoming much more familiar with each other and the dribble drive offense. It is hard to argue that this wouldn’t help the game of college basketball, making it so much more entertaining because of the increased number of developed talent on the floor. However, there would be some negative impact on recruiting. For instance, coming to Kentucky would be a much tougher decision for Anthony Davis if he knew he had to play behind DeMarcus Cousins for 2 more years. More than likely, he may have opted to go to another school were he had a more immediate impact. Last year, Brandon Knight most assuredly would not have committed to Kentucky if John Wall was still at point. Again, this option will make Coach Calipari’s job of recruiting very difficult.
There is a happy medium. I am going to predict that both sides will reach a compromise. In order to reach a deal , both the millionaire and billionaires are going to have to give in a little. I believe the new rule will raise the age limit to 20, resulting in a player be forced to stay in college for 2 seasons. I think that Kentucky will benefit greatly from this decision. Coach Cal wouldn’t have compete with the NBA when visiting a recruit. There still would be an issue with convincing top talent to come in and play behind super sophomores for one season. I’m sure that Cal wouldn’t have too much trouble spinning that situation to a recruit, in a way that the recruit feels benefited by getting to play under the more experienced talent.
No matter the outcome of the NBA lockout, there will be some impact on the future of Kentucky basketball. My hopes are that the players and owners find a way to come together really soon. I am very anxious to have my questions on the age limit answered. One thing is for sure, whatever the outcome I am glad that Coach Cal is in the drivers seat at the University of Kentucky.
Willie Cauley, a 7’0 foot, 225 pound center out of Olathe, Kansas looks to make his college choice next week. Cauley is down to four schools, Alabama, Florida, Kansas State, and Kentucky. Some think he’s going to Kansas State, being close to home. Signing period in November is going to be exciting to see. The 2012 class is very thin at the moment, and many are beginning to grow impatient with no recruits committing. Cauley would be a great pick up for next year. His length and height would be a great fill in if the cats were to lose Jones and Davis.
I normally love watching ESPN’s “Not Top Ten” plays on Sportscenter. My eyes lit up today, when Terrence Williams’ missed dunk, at the Pros vs. Villains Game, made the list. My smile turned quickly into a frown, after the host said ” Terrence Jones with the windmill dunk, not so much” Then, just seconds later, referred to him again as Terrence Jones . OOPS ! If I was Terrence “Sweet T” Jones, I would be insulted !