Big Blue Madness is always a huge event to kick off the Kentucky basketball season, especially for the fans. The evening and the camp out that leads up to it often give the new Kentucky players a real taste for what it will feel like to play in front of one of the most rabid and passionate fan bases in the country. The scrimmage itself is the kind of thing to make a coach nervous. Coaches like John Calipari probably breathe a sigh of relief when they get through the night without any injuries or anything silly happening. As unimportant as the actual playing on the court may be for Calipari, the display of everything that is Kentucky basketball and the concert like environment that it has turned into have become a huge recruiting tool for Kentucky basketball. The players are treated like rock stars, Rupp Arena is packed to the brim and Cal usually has a few tricks up his sleeve as well to add to the pandemonium.
This year’s Big Blue Madness is shaping up to be a very important one now, with two of the most important 2014 Kentucky targets pledging their attendance. Calipari’s top point guard target, Emmanuel Mudiay, revealed yesterday that he will be in Lexington for the event this fall. Another top 10 prospect, small forward Stanley Johnson, announced via Twitter today that he will also be coming to the event. When reading the tea leaves, the timing of the two announcements tells me that Calipari has put the full court press on both of those guys in the past few days to make sure they make it to Lexington for one of the biggest recruiting events of the year.
At this point, Karl Towns is the lone 2014 commitment. Whereas in year’s past, Cal’s recruiting classes have been on a fairly clear cut track to the #1 spot early, 2014 doesn’t feel like as sure of a thing. Some other schools are heavily in play with Kentucky’s top targets, and we already know that Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones are talking about a package deal–which doesn’t necessarily work in Kentucky’s favor.
Emmanuel Mudiay and Stanley Johnson are arguably the two most important Kentucky targets in the 2014 class, and both are very high on Kentucky at this stage in the process. Having both of them on board for Big Blue Madness is huge and could be the momentum pusher that Calipari needs to close the deal with the two star players. Those 2 players, along with Karl Towns, could be the nucleus of a very strong 2014 class.