You didn’t think we’d let Tuesday end without saying “Happy Birthday” to one of our favorite Wildcats, did you? Brian Long turned 21 on Tuesday, which means right now he’s probably enjoying the awesome rite of passage that comes with it, or the awful after effects. Either way, happiest of birthdays to you, Brian. My favorite Brian Long memory, aside from his hilarious photobomb in the National Championship celebration picture last year? The bravery he showed in letting Anthony Davis dunk over him in this video:
While Brian has seen limited game action in his two years as a Wildcat, he’s already made the KSR Inside Joke Hall of Fame. During UK’s magical National Championship run last season, a fan called into the radio show to gush about the Cats, and gave us a line we’ve been repeated ad nasuem ever since: “Do you think Brian Long appreciates this??”
While the caller may have been serious, we certainly are not whenever we joke about Brian Long’s appreciation for the Big Blue Nation. Today, let us all put on Bruce Springsteen and toss one back for Brian, a New Jersey native. Wait…more current…let us all put on Bon Jovi? No, still too dated. Fine. Let us all put on some synthy club music and fist pump. I’ll put on some black eyeliner and maybe we can even convince Drew Franklin to style his hair like Pauly D.
Brian, these news and views are for you. That’s how much we appreciate you.
Alex will return
The biggest news of the day broke Tuesday evening, when UK announced that Alex Poythress will return for his sophomore season. When Willie and Archie announced their intentions on Monday, Alex was said to still be gathering information and opinions on what he should do. Whereas many mock drafts still projected him to go in the first round, analysts were emphatic that Alex was not ready to go to the league. Had Alex gone, he would have benefited from an inflated draft pick, but would likely be forced to work through the problems in his game in the D-League, and judging by his poor work ethic, that would be an uphill battle at best. Now, Alex can return to school and have the time and tools he needs to improve his game and his mental issues on the court without the deadline of the draft looming over him. Alex weighing his options is understandable; if you think about the draft in the next few years, this could be the highest he would go, even with another year of hard work. In his statement through UK, Alex cited the need to improve his game and the desire to win a national championship as his main reasons for returning. I can’t wait to see the player he becomes with hard work and a little bit of patience.
What about Nerlens?
That cryptic line from Archie, Willie and Kyle’s statements was there again at the bottom of Alex’s: “Additional announcements regarding remaining players will be made at a later date.” Naturally, that makes your heart race a little bit when you think about Nerlens. But, before you start reshaping your hair into a flat top for next season, Jeff Goodman says not so fast. Goodman posted this little piece of logic on Twitter Tuesday night:
“Nerlens Noel still likely headed to NBA. Rehab going well from what I have been told. Well ahead of schedule. I would not be surprised if Nerlens doesn’t make an announcement before college deadline. No need to. Can wait for NBA deadline.”
I love Nerlens and I would love even more for him to return to school, but you can’t pass up on being the number one pick.
This is pretty much a daily segment now, isn’t it? Tuesday was media day at McDonald’s All-American Week, which meant reporters once again swarmed Andrew Wiggins searching for scraps of information about his upcoming decision. Wiggins didn’t bite, reiterating that he has “no clue” when he’ll announce. He did describe each of the schools he’s considering–Kentucky, North Carolina, Kansas and Florida State–in equally glowing terms, so no tell there.
Video courtesy of cn|2
In fact, the only tell Wiggins has given reporters in Chicago was his comment about UK–using the word “we”–being the best team in college basketball next season if he committed. On Tuesday, Wiggins backtracked on that comment slightly, telling reporters “I say a lot of things, I don’t really remember saying that, but it slipped out.” That’s why they call them Freudian slips.
When asked about the possibility of playing with the six McDonald’s All-Americans who have committed to UK, Wiggins praised the future Cats:
“It would be good. They’ll all probably be superstars when they go to the next level. It’s always good to surround yourselves with guys who you know are going to make it too. …They’re all unselfish. They want to win.”
Future Cats talk about the future
If that quote from Wiggins about next year’s team doesn’t get you excited, these soundbites from the UK commits themselves will. To the quotes!
On the Harrison Twins: “They hate to lose. I think their will to win is what makes them so good. They do anything on the court to win.”
On the Big Blue Nation: “To me, they [UK] have the best fans in America. The fan base is crazy. I can’t say enough about them, it’s going to be an amazing feeling to know that they have our back every day.”
On next season: “Anything other than winning a championship is a disappointment,” he said. “I don’t care how anybody views it. That’s how I view it.”
40-0?: “Why not? I don’t go into a game thinking I’m going to lose. Every game I go into, I want to win.”
If Wiggins goes to UK: “They would just kick us out of the NCAA and put us in the NBA games. Just kidding, but it’d be unfair.”
On hostile crowds: “As long as it’s loud, I’m totally fine with it. They can boo me all they want. I’m totally fine with it. In my high school, we weren’t as spirited. We had a big gym and we had a lot of people during the playoffs, but not as many during the regular season.”
“I’ve never really been super hated like that. Being super hated is pretty exciting for me.”
On UK’s goals: “Our main goal is just to mesh as quickly as possible as a team and hopefully not lose a game.”
On hostile crowds: “In Houston, they hate on us no matter who we play or where we are. We take that and we turn it around as motivation. It helps us play harder, actually.”
Next year’s goal: “To win a national championship of course. 40-0 is not a goal- just to win our last game. It’d be nice to do it, but it’s not our goal.”
If Wiggins comes?: “We’d be an amazing team. He’s one of the best athletes I’ve seen in my life.”
On hostile crowds: “We all know that there’s going to be a lot of hate, and a lot of lies told about us. It’s motivation.”
On hostile crowds: “I’m looking forward to it. I want to embrace it. I know a lot of people hate Marshall Henderson, but he just embraces it. He lives in the moment and he just does what he does. And we’re going to do what we do.”
On Andrew Wiggins’ decision: “He won’t tell anybody anything, but I predict he’s coming to the Big Blue Nation.”
Oddly, no quotes from James Young. He had a minor injury earlier in the week, so maybe he left early to spend time with a trainer or stake a claim on some of the free McDonald’s before Kennedy Meeks got to the hospitality room.
Aaron Gordon will be a “West Coast Wildcat”
On Tuesday, Aaron Gordon announced that he would play his college ball at Arizona this coming year, picking the Wildcats over Oregon, Kentucky and Washington. Gordon not choosing Kentucky comes as no surprise, as he’s been leaning towards staying out West for most of his recruitment. Gordon has been one of the standouts at the McDonald’s All-American festivities this week, and while having him in Lexington would be great, Andrew Wiggins is still the better prize.
— UK Hoops’ season may have ended on Monday night, but they’re still pulling in the accolades. A’dia Matheis was named Second Team All-American by the Associated Press on Tuesday and was also invited to participate in the State Farm College Slam Dunk & 3-Point Championships on April 4th in Atlanta. The senior led UK in scoring (16.1 points per game), 3-point field goals made (73) and 3-point field goal percentage (.425). She also ranked second on the team in steals (69) and assists (80) and third in rebounds (4.5 rebounds per game). You go, girl.
— After receiving 115 handwritten letters from UK recently, top 2014 QB Drew Barker may be nearing a decision date. Barker tweeted the following Tuesday night: “Just had a long conversation with my parents and coach and I believe we have pinpointed the day I’m going to make my college decision!!” Come be a hero, Drew.
— Finally, congrats to the UK baseball team for their 5-4 victory over #9 Louisville. The Bat Cats, currently ranked seventh in the nation, beat the Cards in 10 innings in Louisville. KSR College’s David Mulloy has a full recap. Right now (or hell, any other day), I’ll take any win I can get over the dirty birds.