Finishing up a great weekend here in North Carolina, where I spent three days in beautiful weather, watching basketball and visiting my former stomping grounds. Very good times. Today of course was the day of auto racing in America and Ashley Judd’s husband Dario Franchitti tossed aside his struggles from last season and was able to win the Indy 500. That led to a great scene, with a barefoot Ashley Judd running across the pit lane in a soaked dress (from the rain), to go and hug her winning man. There was something so wonderfully Kentucky about it that I could do nothing but cheer my secret crush on. I still remember when Dario went to the UK-UL game dressed in Kentucky gear, looking like an awkward foreigner at his first UK game, but keeping a big smile on his face and shouting “Go Cats” for good measure. Congrats Dario…..and a shout out to my man Kyle Petty as well. My favorite NASCAR driver had his first Top 5 finish since 1997…..you go Kyle!
To the news….
(1) For UK’s immediate purposes, the big news of the weekend is that Nemajara Calasan had his visit to Kentucky and from all indications (and reports from Rob), it looks like it went well. Calasan is down to UK-Purdue and told Rob that at this point he is “50-50” in his decision-making. It will be an interesting decision for Nemajara, who must decide if the playing time at Kentucky will be there for him with Patrick Patterson in the fold for the Wildcats. Marc has some thoughts on Calasan below (and its not great for UK). We expect a decision this week and an answer to the question of whether we all need to get to know Montenegro. As for Hank Thorns, he visited Virginia Tech, things went great….he has a press conference on Wednesday and has yet to see UK…..you make the call.
(2) The other big news from the weekend (at least on my end) is that I have officially fallen for Tyler Zeller’s game. I went into this weekend with the view that Zeller was likely overrated and an odd recruit for a coach like Billy Clyde who seems to want to get athletic, above the rim type players. But then I watched Zeller….and for the first two minutes, I wasnt impressed. Then, slowly but surely, he wins you over. A good pass here, a nice jumper there, a great job running the court here, a big rebound there…..and all of a sudden you find yourself saying, “this kid is really good.” UNC thought so (as did the tournament committee naming him MVP of the whole affair)….they offered him this week and whispers about that Duke may come soon after. However everyone I have spoken with says UK and Purdue join the Heels at the top and that the Cats have a very good chance. Zeller told me he thought UK had the best facilities in the country and the “wildest fans.” Coming from an Indiana kid, that says something. It should be interesting to watch his recruitment, which he says will go until at least November. But this weekend cemented Zeller as my pick for favorite player of the 08 class.
(3) It was also good to watch the two other major UK big guy targets this year, Romero Osby and Chris Singleton. Osby had a good first game, but then really struggled for the rest of the weekend. I like his game, but at times he seems to simply blend in and you forget he is on the court. His athleticism is great (although I believe his height is exaggerated) and you can see the potential. But for his high ranking, I would expect more development….and I dont see it. As for Singleton, I think he is exactly what UK needs…..a good scorer, rebounder and banger inside. He would be a perfect fit for a class alongside a more traditional big man like Zeller, and I love the way he runs the floor. Singleton is Perry Stevenson with more development and I think UK would do very well to pick him up.
(4) At Nashville, reports suggested that UK is still after Draymond Green to some degree, but his interest is unclear. Willie Warren is still a star in the making and a huge target for UK. And Tony Woods is interested in UK….but also lots of other schools as well. DeAndre Liggins continues to be a UK target, but he did get a severe stress fracture on his foot and will be out eight weeks. That isnt good.
More to come as Memorial Day and the week continue. Plus, we are looking for young writers/interns who might be interested in contributing to the blog. We are looking for people with an interest in getting started in sports and who are willing to do some early work for the blog and show. If interested, email me at [email protected]
Big week ahead……