Its been a fun and exciting weekend here in Louisville, as Derby hit down and excitement continued to reign. What began on Thursday night with the Demarcus Cousins-Pete Thamel conversation, continued through Friday as we taped KSTV at the Kentucky Oaks and then Friday night, where Barnstable Brown gave us the tremendous sight of assistant coach Orlando Antigua belting out “End of the Road” with a passion heretofore not seen in the crowd as Boyz II Men rocked it on stage. It was a great time and one that I enjoyed thoroughly. There was also a great deal of news, some of which led me to a few thoughts:
— Kentucky ends up with Terrence Jones returning and Brandon Knight/Deandre Liggins in the draft. First, the return of Terrence Jones means Kentucky has as solid a seven man rotation as we have seen coming onto the court next season. Jones, Miller, Lamb, Gilchrist, Teague, Davis and Wiltjer will be virtually unmatched in college basketball and only North Carolina can truly hang from a talent perspective. Add the possibility of Trevor Lacey and potentially an improved Jon Hood or Stacey Poole, and Kentucky has all that it will need to hang banner #8. Knight’s decision to leave makes perfect sense considering his projection and I am immediately going to begin pulling for him to be the next great Kentucky NBA player. We can’t really judge Liggins’ decision until Draft day and maybe not even then, as his personal circumstances make the necessity to become a professional a bit more real. If a team takes Deandre at the end of the first round, then the decision was a great one. If not, then we all need to pull for Liggins to make a successful career.
This much is certain about Liggins however. He went into the draft workouts in New Jersey leaning towards returning to Kentucky. During those workouts, things went well for him and he decided to pull the trigger on the Draft. Liggins has gone back and forth for weeks on this decision and even his teammates and coaches had no idea what he would do. My hope is that the Big Blue Nation will rally around him and pull for his success. I know many would like him back, but now that the decision has been made, I hope all will rally around the Deandre train.
— Calipari has absolutely shown himself to be in another league than in his peers with the brilliant decision to make Lexington the NBA training facility for his former players. If you missed it, Calipari announced that all of the UK players in the league and many of his former players (like Derrick Rose) will be invited to Lexington to enroll in school if there is a NBA lockout. They will then be able to be student assistants with the team AND practice with the UK guys. John Wall told me this weekend that he will likely try to do that and I have heard that Keith Bogans, Nazr Mohammed and others do as well. It is an absolutely brilliant maneuver and one that will be good for the players as well, since it will give them a chance to finish their educations and work out for free. Great move.
— My continued frustration with the national media took on another level this weekend with the comments made when Terrence Jones decided to return to school. Many of you know that I like Jeff Goodman, but when he tweeted that Calipari was a great “salesman” to get Jones to return, I rolled my eyes. When Jared Sullinger and Harrison Barnes returned, two kids projected EVEN HIGHER IN THE DRAFT THAN JONES, it was because they loved school. For Jones, the reason is Calipari is a “salesman”, a word that clearly has negative undertones. North Carolina had three guys return, but Roy Williams never gets such a title. In my view, ALL of these kids return for a variety of reasons, some of which are business. But even with Knight and Liggins leaving, Calipari is the “salesman.” Haters be hating.
— If you didnt hear the story of the confrontation between Demarcus Cousins and Pete Thamel at the Ferdinands Ball on Thursday night in Louisville, you need to take a listen to the podcast below (Hour 1 from Friday). Drew Franklin and I talked to Thamel and then Cousins came up later and said, “Hey Pete, I am Demarcus Cousins. I appreciate the story you wrote about me and Eric and when you went to our hometowns trying to dig up stuff.” Pete (who looked as if he had seen a host), then said, “it wasnt me” and began stammering around. Demarcus just looked at him and then walked away. It was tremendous to see and we recount the whole story in more detail below. A top 10 moment for me to watch since we started this whole KSR gig.
— Also a word about the Kentucky presence in Louisville during the Derby. I attended the Barnstable Brown party in Louisville and it had a HEAVY UK contingent. While no former Louisville players or stars (are there stars?) were introduced, Kentucky had John Wall, Demarcus Cousins, Patrick Patterson, Randall Cobb, John Calipari and Joker Phillips. All of them took the time to sign autographs for LONG periods of time with the crowds and be around the MANY UK fans there watching the celebrities enter. It was great to see and it showcased what good people all of them really are. The party always knocks it out of the park every year, as you never would know just how much fun it is to see Salt and Pepa perform live than at such an event (Answer: a lot of fun). It is just once again proof that when it comes to star power, even in their home city, Kentucky simply knocks it out of the park over the Cardinal rivals.
Finally, be watching on Monday for the announcement of the KSTV CASTING CALL coming to Lexington on May 21 and Louisville on June 4. We are picking at least one person to join KSTV as a co-host/sideline reporter for the show via an American Idol-like contest over the summer. IF you have ever had any interest in being involved in sports, wanted to be on television, thought you could be the next Chris Berman or Erin Andrews, or simply have wanted to have a career in sports journalism, this is your chance. The winner will immediately be able to cover Kentucky, including on what could be a magical season next year. I hope you will come to one of the casting calls and give it a shot.
I am off on vacation this week and my goal is to not get on Twitter or turn on my phone more than once a day…it is going to be hard, but I will make myself stay off the grid. Beisner and the crew here will hold down KSR, Tom Leach and Ryan Lemond are doing radio and Tony Vanetti and Mark Krebs are on tv. See you next Monday.
[powered by WordPress.]
Bill Keightley Report : Never to be forgotten.
9 queries. 0.550 seconds