It wasn’t a fairy tale ending, but it was still a historic night for KSR at the Kentucky Speedway as Derrike Cope represented this site with pride and was only narrowly beaten by 24 other drivers in the Feed the Children 300. Cope drove like the savvy veteran and potential Hall of Famer that he is, but got outsmarted by a guy named Brad Keselowski, who decide to overthink things and have a strategy more complicated than “drive faster than everyone else”. So while Keselowski got the girls and the victory lap, Derrike Cope got to take a picture with Drew Franklin. And that should be good enough. I mean, he didn’t really think he was going to get a prize when he’s hanging with Matt Jones, right?
A few notes…
– It was another day of back-and-forth on the recruiting trail for John Calipari and Orlando Antigua and the big news was a pair of offers handed out to Mitch McGary and TJ Warren. McGary has been on Kentucky’s radar for at least the past few weeks, though they’re still uncertain with where they stand with him, and some reported yesterday that Warren had dropped Kentucky from consideration. Either way, both players, who will play together at Brewster Prep this fall, earned the high honor of a Kentucky scholarship offer. That fact was not lost on ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla, who called the offer to be a Cat a “papal decree”. And that’s the reputation Coach Cal has in the recruiting world.
– Maybe the most intriguing and telling development of the past three days was the time Calipari spent watching Perry Ellis. Cal was back in Indianapolis Friday from Akron to watch the Wichita big man again, making that five times in three days that he’s saddled up to watch him in person. Duke was again front and center and seems to have emerged as the team making the hardest push for him over the past few weeks, but Cal appears ready to get right in the middle of the fight. Cal could have simply sent Orlando Antigua to catch Ellis’ games Friday, but chose to fly back and make the appearance himself. That’s a pretty significant showing of interest and commitment and considering the way Calipari selectively recruits, a major sign of respect for Ellis. This could be a fun one.
– As he sometimes does, The Good Doctor Jerry Tipton dropped a little nugget of interest to UK fans when he wrote Friday that it was UK that actually pulled away from Rodney Purvis, not the other way around. Purvis told Tipton that the Cats notified him that they wouldn’t be recruiting him after they received a verbal from Ryan Harrow, but that if anything changes, they’d let him know. That twist is interesting for a couple of reasons. First, I think it shows the tremendous respect that Kentucky has for Harrow’s game and what they’re expecting from him as a third-year sophomore next season. You don’t just pull away from a top-10 player – especially one that can play shooting guard – unless you feel really good. Also, I think it shows that the Cats feel good about the guys they’re targeting at the shooting guard spot. Those players are Archie Goodwin, Shabazz Muhammad and Ricky Ledo. If Kentucky gets one, they’re in good shape. If they get two, they’re in great shape. And you have to think they feel pretty good about the former to distance themselves from Purvis.
– Not to be forgotten in the rush of recruiting notes in the second half of this past week was the release of the artist’s rendering of the new scoreboard at Commonwealth Stadium. Along with the scoreboard comes a custom surround system and together, they can significantly change the environment for the better for both players and fans. The video board should help encourage fan involvement and the sound system should do the same, while also creating a more raucous environment. When you’re a team like Kentucky, who needs every advantage they can get, these upgrades shouldn’t just be shrugged off. They could make a significant difference in helping to give the Cats a home field advantage.
– There was some more good news for the football team Friday as Aaron reported that Nermin Delic will return to UK in January and re-join the football team. He will spend this fall rehabbing and getting ready to get back on the field for next season. It was announced about a month ago that Delic, along with Brice Laughlin, were leaving the team.
Finally, if you’re bored and you still can’t get over the Cope disappointment, help yourself to good old caption contest in the comments section. The winner will get to sponsor Derrike Cope’s car next week. We’re pulling out. No Pitino.