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The Parting Five’s Wednesday News and Views

They come.

They go.

It’s the culture John Calipari brought to Lexington three years ago when Mitch Barnhart formally introduced him as the new head coach at the University of Kentucky. Cal recruits only the best of the best, the top talent in the country, and like young basketball nomads, they set up camp in Wildcat Lodge and are gone before you can say, “Hey, can I have your autograph?” It’s something Kentucky fans have gotten used to in the John Calipari era and Big Blue Nation has grown to be more than content with its short-lived, but passionate admiration of these idol-like student-athletes. Anyone outside of the Bluegrass just can’t comprehend. Outsiders wonder how a fanbase can connect with its stars when they’re only in town for a couple of seasons. They ask how UK fans can become so emotionally attached to a group of guys who, as soon as they step on campus, are expected to pack up and leave just nine months later. They question Cal’s “player first” ways and criticize, no, condemn the way he runs his program. Again, the outsiders don’t get it.

Tuesday night was just another stop on the carousel of talent that passes through Lexington, only this one hit a little harder than in year’s past. Kentucky fans said goodbye to the school’s largest group of early draft entrants, the guys who delivered Lexington its first banner since ’98, and the ones Big Blue Nation undoubtedly love the most. With all due respect to the two memorable UK teams before them, the 2011-2012 Kentucky Wildcats are number one in our hearts, thanks to an unforgettable ride with countless highs, very few lows, and “One Shining Moment” in the end.

I don’t know if it’s just me or if it’s a common feeling across the Bluegrass, but it’ll be a long time before all of this sinks in. I was in New Orleans and watched them cut down the nets, but I still don’t think it has hit me. I watched all five starters announce their departures, but it still hasn’t sunk in that I’ll never see that team again. It could be next week, it could be next year, it could be ten years from now, but one day we’re going to look back in amazement at how unbelievable and incredible these past fews months were as Kentucky basketball fans. College basketball hasn’t seen many seasons like the one we just experienced and it’ll probably be a long, long time before it sees one again. And on Tuesday night, at a cheap table on the practice court of the Joe Craft Center, the starting five that made it all happen announced that it was all they needed and it’s time to move on. What a ride.

Anthony Davis, thank you.

Terrence Jones, thank you.

Doron Lamb, thank you.

Marquis Teague, thank you.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, thank you.

Darius Miller, thank you too.

Now, go out and make us all proud in the NBA.

 

*** Starts crying, grabs a box of Kleenexes and opens a tub of Ben & Jerry’s ***

 

News and views…

 Coach Cal had the honorable duty of announcing the decisions of his five star underclassmen, and he did so by tugging on our heart strings when breaking the news. As he sat at the table with Davis, Jones, and Lamb to his right, and MKG and Teague to his left, Cal turned to the pack of three and announced that they have decided to enter their names into the draft. Kentucky fans everywhere immediately let out a sigh of “COULD IT BE???”, assuming he would then turn to his left and announce the return of Kidd-Gilchrist and Teague. But seconds later, with a smirk on his face, Cal announced that the two players to his left will also be entering the draft. It was a cold-blooded move by Cal. You can’t play with our emotions like that.

 There is a minimum of $3.4 million waiting for him in his first year at the next level, but leaving Kentucky was still a difficult decision for Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. MKG said he was the last of the five players to decide on leaving, and it wasn’t until last Thursday when he had a long talk with his family that he knew he’d be leaving. He said his mother was pushing hard for him to return for a sophomore season and he was a lot closer to going that route than anyone expected. But in the end, he had to go against his mother and make his own decision. “I had to live my dream,” he said.

 While Kidd-Gilchrist took his time to mull it over, the other four guys pretty much knew it was time to leave as soon as the final buzzer sounded to end the season. With ‘No. 1 Greater’ hats on their heads and nothing left to accomplish, they all knew it was time to move on to the next phase of their basketball lives. You can’t blame them for that; they delivered what was expected of them. But had Kentucky not brought home the hardware, it would’ve been a different story. Kidd-Gilchrist even said he probably would’ve come back if they had gone home from the Final Four empty-handed. As much as I’d love to see him in Kentucky blue for another 30+ games, I’ll take the banner that he and his teammates hung in Rupp Arena over a sophomore season.

 Did anyone believe Anthony Davis when he said he didn’t make his decision until Monday night? I would never call him a liar, but I have my doubts about that being the timeframe around his decision to leave. With the white-on-white Bentley talk on Jimmy Kimmel and telling reporters his mother has been pointing out houses she likes, I think his mind was made up before the first snow fell in Lexington last winter.

Davis did, however, say it wasn’t as easy to leave as everyone assumed. He said he loved being a college kid and he’s really going to miss everything about UK. He followed that up later by saying, “I am going to be rich.”

 These guys speak a lot about their close relationships and it really showed the most when Michael Kidd-Gilchrist went out of his way to bring up Darius Miller, who was out on his autograph tour when the five underclassmen announced Tuesday night. Miller could’ve easily been forgotten in all the hoopla surrounding the younger guys, but MKG couldn’t let their big night end without talking about how much they appreciate Darius as a friend, teammate, and leader. Marquis Teague described this group the best: “Brotherhood.”

 

*** Blows nose and then shovels another bite of ice cream. ***

 

 If you didn’t think was possible to be any more excited about Nerlens Noel, wait until you hear what Anthony Davis told reporters on Tuesday night. When talking about his successor in the paint, Davis said he believes Nerlens Noel will be a better shot blocker than he was at Kentucky. He said Noel will have to work on keeping balls in play, rather than swatting them into the crowd, but he is much better at deflecting shots with his off-hand. Hearing Davis say Noel will be better is a scary thought for anyone on Kentucky’s schedule next season. It is hard to imagine a better shot blocker than Anthony Davis. I’ve created video game characters with less of an impact on games.

 During ESPN’s coverage of Kentucky’s big night, analysts Dino Gaudio and Paul Biancardi predicted a down year for Kentucky basketball next season. That didn’t sit well with Archie Goodwin and Alex Poythress:

The two new Wildcats have said since day one that they’re out to win a title at Kentucky and anything else will be a disappointment.

 Speaking of ESPN’s coverage, let’s talk about how absurd it is that the “Worldwide Leader In Sports” dedicated three of its outlets — ESPNNews, ESPNU, and ESPN3 — to covering a Tuesday night press conference at the Joe Craft Center in Lexington, KY. I don’t think you’d see that anywhere else in college basketball (except MAYBE one of those Carolina schools) and it just shows how big Kentucky basketball really is. I’m sure it didn’t go unnoticed to young high school basketball stars all over the country, either. Not only did Calipari send his starting five off to become millionaires but he got a free primetime infomercial out of the deal too. “Hey, kids. Watch this. We’re sending five underclassmen to the NBA and ESPN dedicated a show to it.”

 Still no basketball updates from Anthony Bennett Watch. Although he did tweet that he feels like he is “about to throw up, for real.” That might have something to do with a tweet from Monday saying he didn’t get his Chipotle. We’ll continue to keep eyes on his every move.

 On the same day we said goodbye to the starting five from the 2011-2012 season, Kentucky basketball also parted ways with Rod Strickland, when he took a job as an assistant under Larry Brown in the new regime at SMU. Strickland came to Kentucky with Calipari as an assistant in 2009 but was demoted to an administrative position with the team after being popped for a DUI shortly after the end of his first season. Regardless of his job title, the former NBA star point guard played a vital role in the progression of Kentucky’s line of star guards from the John Calipari Era. His contribution to the program will be missed.

That’ll do it for now.

Wednesday, we move on.

 

*** Places spoon into the empty tub of ice cream, wipes eyes, and crawls into the fetal position. ***

Article written by Drew Franklin

I can recite every line from Forrest Gump, blindfolded. Follow me on Twitter: @DrewFranklinKSR

41 Comments for The Parting Five’s Wednesday News and Views



  1. catfan4444
    11:33 pm April 17, 2012 Permalink

    Good luck men and thanks!!!



  2. jumpman78
    11:39 pm April 17, 2012 Permalink

    Move on, cheer for next years team but no emotional attachment or sniffling here. College basketball is a business and business is good at UK.



  3. Dan
    11:42 pm April 17, 2012 Permalink

    Winter didn’t exist this year



  4. WhatSheOrder?FishFilet?
    11:43 pm April 17, 2012 Permalink

    So happy for those kids. UK fans experienced a great season. Looks like the new guys are ready to go. Gotta love Archie’s fire.



  5. Ridge Runner
    11:43 pm April 17, 2012 Permalink

    Nice write up that covered this emotional evening, Drew.

    My parting thought is this…

    Coach Cal = Young men, go on to the NBA for your families and yourself.

    Coach K, Williams, others = Come back guys and do this for ME.



  6. markuk
    11:44 pm April 17, 2012 Permalink

    Everyone it is kinda scary right now at the guard position, I mean wow Hood, Twany and Polson are your backup guards right now if injury or foul trouble hits us in a game next year. I hope Coach has some plans to at least bring in one more quality guard at least.



  7. David Ball
    11:45 pm April 17, 2012 Permalink

    Bennett is coming…Dino and Biancardi can eat crow in about 10 months and 2 weeks…Cal will have his new squad ready to go…and don’t forget…the 2013 class is going to be a monster haul…MONSTER…UK will be there again…and again…



  8. Blue Mist
    11:45 pm April 17, 2012 Permalink

    5) Nice Ridge Runner, Nice. Yes, happy for the kids moving on and can’t wait till Midnight Madness.



  9. Tig
    11:46 pm April 17, 2012 Permalink

    Where is Matt’s first entry about the Trophy Tour?



  10. tim4crds
    11:48 pm April 17, 2012 Permalink

    and i thank God i got to see this team play 3 times, and as coach cal said they were really a special group, heres to looking forward to next year and hope we see the same chemistry develop



  11. BigBlueSkyDog
    11:49 pm April 17, 2012 Permalink

    Larry Vaught said on Tom Leach’s show today that he believes that this incoming class of freshmen will be just as dedicated as the last one. Whether they’ll be as talented remains to be seen but by all accounts we’ll be having a bunch of kids coming in that we’ll be proud to call Wildcats.



  12. E Cat
    11:49 pm April 17, 2012 Permalink

    Dino Guadio is one of the worst coaches I’d seen in the past 10 years, but these guys find TV gigs as “experts.” Look, about any team would have a “down” year after going 38-2 and winning the title. We will be good next year and can possibly challenge for a Final Four (there will be no UK or UNC team next year with that kind of talent, so the field is more open). And I think we are incredibly well positioned for another monster year in 2013-14.

    What a great ride we had this past season. Great to have UK back at the top!



  13. Well done drew
    11:53 pm April 17, 2012 Permalink

    Nice post. Literally laughed out loud at the *** parts.



  14. Syrin
    11:55 pm April 17, 2012 Permalink

    To the men who brought UK a national championship!

    *SALUTE*

    *STANDING OVATION*

    I would never wish for anyone to be forced to play for the Charlotte Bobcats, but chase your dreams, and make us proud.

    (As an aside. UCLA ?!?!?!?! BWHAHAHAHAHAHA !!)



  15. Big O
    12:02 am April 18, 2012 Permalink

    one year, two years – the only number UK Fans worry about hangs in the rafters at Rupp. NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS!



  16. Sliders
    12:04 am April 18, 2012 Permalink

    In honor of a great season…. I’m gonna finish off this Suitcase of White Castle Sliders since I’ve already had a case on Nattys tonight. Can’t wait til next year. We gonna shock the world next year again then celebrate with a sack of sliders!!!



  17. kentuckyrules
    12:21 am April 18, 2012 Permalink

    Ryan Harrow plays like Napier for UConn…very similar IMO.



  18. memphis wildcat
    12:59 am April 18, 2012 Permalink

    Watching the replay on espnu tonight of the UK-ku game from Nov – which I saw in person at MSG – made me realize how fast the season went and how much I will miss this team.



  19. kingrex
    1:19 am April 18, 2012 Permalink

    Here is what I say to MKG and really all of them; the NBA is a cesspool. Playing and winning will never really mean anything in the NBA to the city, fans, community the way it does in Lexington. The millions are literally always going to be there. I of course understand they are in a special situation from the rest of us, do not misunderstand me, but I believe playing in college and at UK in particular is special and I am surprised MKG did not stay. Playing 82 games for the Bucks is just not a meaningful experience, period. Unless you play for 1 of 4 teams you are not even a blip on the radar.



  20. UKBlue
    2:03 am April 18, 2012 Permalink

    Not even counting UK history, tradition, and facilities; if the prior 2 years & those NBA draft classes along with this year National Championship aren’t enough to get a recruit & high school players attention, then yesterday on ESPN should have done it. No other school has had a news conference on a major sports network to announce that school is sending at least 5 starting players to the NBA.

    If you’re a present recruit or current high school player & Cal wants you, what is there to possibly think about? Commit to UK, join the UK family, and be the next person to sit in the Joe Craft Center to announce you’re heading to the NBA to become a millionaire.



  21. manbearpig
    2:18 am April 18, 2012 Permalink


  22. soggyUKgrad
    2:18 am April 18, 2012 Permalink

    thanks for hanging #8 guys!!! best of luck in the NBA!!!! Being part of Big Blue Nation is for LIFE!!!!!



  23. CatsForever
    2:26 am April 18, 2012 Permalink

    Great post!
    5) said it all



  24. Carolina Blue is past tense for CAROLINA BLOWS
    3:12 am April 18, 2012 Permalink

    Drew. Not to be too critical after a great write up but it is not ‘No. 1 Greater”. It was a dual message on the hat paying tribute to New Orleans with the “NO” as well as stating No One Greater. At least that is the way I took it after purchasing mine outside of the team hotel.



  25. phk
    3:44 am April 18, 2012 Permalink

    24) i can see where you’re getting that, but uconn had the same slogan on their chamiponship swag last year in houston.



  26. phk
    4:21 am April 18, 2012 Permalink

    *championship



  27. Archie Goodwin
    6:38 am April 18, 2012 Permalink

    I be majoring in da english at uk, yo.



  28. SEXtinoisSatan
    7:37 am April 18, 2012 Permalink

    How many uavel players drafted? LMAO, uavel is so irrelevant all they can say is cal is going to the knicks LMAO UK is 1000000000000 times better a job than the knicks. Yesterday SEXtino had a abbortion again to a voodoo woman he made a deal with in NO. uavel will never beat us in any sport. We will win in football again this year to make it 5 of 6, they shouldnt even count last year because they used inneligabel players because of Hurt paying them to come there, but that will all come out with time uavel is one of the bottom 5 in ncaa programs they are a complete joke



  29. Experienced
    8:15 am April 18, 2012 Permalink

    Darius Miller……….. What a player and what an even better human being. Just heart warming to read. http://johnclay.bloginky.com/2012/04/17/darius-miller-makes-a-new-friend-at-uk-hospital/



  30. Experienced
    8:19 am April 18, 2012 Permalink

    There is also a “#” sign at the end of that link my copy and paste highlight missed that -_-



  31. UL2UK8
    8:31 am April 18, 2012 Permalink

    Question? Do any, all, or none of the UK basketball players that have gone pro donate money back to UK? I have never seen it written about. If not maybe it would be a good public relations move if they started a scholarship fund.



  32. jwcatfan
    8:32 am April 18, 2012 Permalink

    19.) You obviously live in your own blue-shaded world. I live in Orlando. Sure the Magic are competing with the other draws of the city…but to say “no one cares about the NBA” is completely wrong. There are plenty of basketball fans all over the US that watch and follow their respective teams, no matter how good or bad. This continual thinking that the NBA is an inferior product to college basketball, and in particular UK basketball, is totally egocentric…and one of the reasons why so many fans outside the bluegrass think our fanbase is nothing but pompous azzzes.



  33. Ad Hell
    8:35 am April 18, 2012 Permalink

    Remember how happy Cal was with all the first round draft choices 2 years ago? That’s what lead to this team and this championship. That’s how we get the players and that’s how we win.



  34. AMIRITE
    8:43 am April 18, 2012 Permalink

    ELOY VARGAS – thank you.
    drew should be ashamed for leaving you out.



  35. KSR1080Fan
    9:02 am April 18, 2012 Permalink

    O’neil article not completley positive… calling CAL “Barnum” more than once and still no credit for coaching… more like its only about “getting the best”.



  36. gameday
    9:14 am April 18, 2012 Permalink

    The one and done media bashing just goes to show how the media can say something and then suddenly everyone is brainwashed into believing they are right. All these people who say they hate one and done and it is ruining college basketball better thank God the one and done rule exists because could you imagine this team next year? The one and done rule is the only thing that gives other teams a chance to compete. On the other hand UK fans hate the rule because we just lost a national championship team. Fans from these other teams don’t even realize, the media tells them who to hate and what to think and they do it.



  37. Michael E
    9:36 am April 18, 2012 Permalink

    “*** Places spoon into the empty tub of ice cream, wipes eyes, and crawls into the fetal position. ***”

    Nice writing. Love it.



  38. gr8ness
    9:41 am April 18, 2012 Permalink

    Well said 36. I give thanks to our players for their hard work and giving us #8. Good luck guys, your always a part of #BBN, unless you fail to complete this semester.



  39. Frank
    9:52 am April 18, 2012 Permalink

    Last night I was looking at Syracuse ’02 roster with Carmelo. They started 3 freshman, a sophomore and the lone senior. Did they receive as muc scrutiny as Cal and the Cats?



  40. greg
    10:22 am April 18, 2012 Permalink

    I will miss these guys greatly and never forget this season. I was in NOLA for the final four and it was the greatest weekend of my life (save the day my son was born). We will always follow and support our players through their NBA careers and I was happy to hear MKG and Marquis give thanks/shout outs to the fans/BBN. Speaking of NBA cats…how about Brandon Knight scoring a career high 28 points yesterday….28, 7 ast, 3 reb,in 30 mins. pretty good stat line for the young man



  41. kingrex
    4:17 pm April 18, 2012 Permalink

    32) Ease up there buddy. I live in Atlanta. I guarantee you the kids are not going to be thinking at the end of their NBA lives about how they could squeeze a couple of more NBA years in their career, but will be thinking about their decision to leave UK early. The fans may care in the NBA but it is a fraction of what you get in Lexington, unless you are talking about the Knicks, Boston, Lakers, Miami (only recently)and Oklahoma City. NBA miles on the body are much harder than while in college.