Tuesday, Drew Franklin and I are embarking on one of the more bizarre decisions of our lives. We are both going skydiving with the US Army Parachute Team at Fort Knox. For reasons that I am still trying to fully figure out, we both eagerly accepted the Army’s invitation to jump out of planes on Tuesday. We will be joined by a group of other locals, including Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer. The jump occurs early in the morning and will likely conclude (hopefully with both of my feet hitting the ground safely), just as the radio show is beginning at 10 am. When I was invited to do this back in April, it seemed like the best idea imaginable. Any time someone from the Army asks you to do something interesting, you have to jump on it and if I were ever going to skydive, this seemed like the time. In theory, there cannot be a safer group than the US Army Parachute Team and thus if I am going to be even slightly reckless, this is the safe way to do it. But now the time is here, and I getting slightly nervous. I don’t particularly like heights and I know that it will be difficult to handle when we jump. But it is supposed to be exhilarating, and George HW Bush did it when he was 85. So we will go for it on Tuesday, with KSR’s own version of “Point Break.” Pray for us…
To the news, on a terribly slow weekend:
— Most of the news (such as it was) coming out of Lexington over the weekend concerned the NBA Draft. The consensus is building that Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is likely projected toward the Wizards with the #3 overall draft pick. With Davis going first and Bradley Beal/Thomas Robinson catching Charlotte’s eye at #2, MKG to the Wizards gains more likelihood every day. The combination of Wall and MKG will immediately make the Wizards THE team of the Commonwealth of Kentucky and the first (potentially of many to come) to have two Calipari players at the same time. MKG seems to be a good fit with Wall, as both run the floor well and both play hard on a nightly basis. The Wizards will still have scoring woes, but if you are a franchise in turmoil (which the Wizards surely have been), these cornerstones, plus the power of the Big Blue Nation, couldn’t hurt. I hope this scenario plays itself out as I think it would be the best for MKG and it keeps him out of what would be his worst scenario in my view, Charlotte.
— The 2013 recruiting frenzy is likely just a couple of weeks from really kicking in and it is already clear that John Calipari will have an abundance of riches to choose from in 2013. Even if we assume that Calipari is behind on Jabari Parker and Julius Randle (at this point it would probably be a mistake to project either to UK), Kentucky has five top 10 players that they likely would be considered the favorite to land. The Harrison Twins, James Young, Chris Walker and Wayne Selden are all players that Vegas would put Kentucky as the morning line favorite to land, with the Harrison Twins nearly off the board for taking bets on other teams. Calipari should be able to ensure his fifth straight #1 recruiting class by fall, if he so chooses. UK already has Derek Willis, who has seen his stock drop significantly over the past year, but the summer will shake up the rankings quite a bit as the players get their best chance to make an impression. Kentucky has only offered six players in the class by my current count. The Cats could probably get four of them by September. Whether they offer others and when the stars pull the trigger, will be the biggest mysteries of the summer to come.
— If you didn’t hear Mike Pratt’s conversation on Billy Gillispie on Friday, it is well worth a listen. We had a post up here on Friday detailing the specifics and you can get the podcast on iTunes or on TalkRadio1080.com. While we have focused on the more salacious details over the weekend, one comment that keeps getting asked to me is, “how did Billy Clyde slip through the cracks?” Or to put it a different way, how did Mitch Barnhart and UK not realize earlier that he was a train wreck. Two answers to this question seem most likely to me. One, and most importantly, they were on what they felt like was a time crunch and they were worried that if they didn’t get Clyde, an obvious other replacement didn’t exist. Billy Donovan had struck down UK’s offer, they weren’t willing to chase Calipari and other second tier candidates (Barnes, Jay Wright, etc) weren’t obviously interested. Without Gillispie, it might have been headed toward true unknown areas, or worse, Travis Ford. The excitement of getting it done, probably trumped true due diligence. Second, it is also important to remember that nearly EVERYONE (outside of Mike Pratt) was hoodwinked. Gillispie was very popular early on and ANYONE who questioned him was shunned. This even extended into his second year, when legends like Kenny Walker were absolutely obliterated for daring to suggest he was the wrong guy. ON a personal level, I went from skeptical in between the first two years to a critic after the VMI loss and ensuing player treatment. The vitriol with which I received then was only really matched by my daily treatment from line-bearded UL hooligans. Simply put, until the very end, Billy was pretty popular.
What we did learn however is that in the future when there is a coaching search, and one day there will be one, all of us should be a little less quick to name a hire Amazing or terrible on day one. The mob mentality can cause warning signs to be ignored, checkups to be overlooked and funerals to be attended as Phil Shipley. Billy Clyde is a warning case for the next big coaching search, and as Mike Pratt made clear on the show on Friday, remembering where we screwed up then will prevent a repeat in the future.
This is a week of movement around these parts as our UK recruiting coverage for basketball truly kicks in. Stay tuned all week and get ready as we jump out of planes and parachute UK knowledge in throughout the days ahead. And until then, just be happy that Katy Perry hangs with UK fans:
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Bill Keightley Report : Never to be forgotten.
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