In the off-season there isn’t too much going around in the KSR World outside of basketball and football recruiting. Three days after the biggest football decision and on the eve of the biggest basketball decision of the year, Cat fans need to take the time to understand what these decisions will mean for the futures of these teenagers. KSR makes a living discussing the potential of landing a recruit with small tidbits of information driving trolls to ‘comment like it’s hot’. I will admit that some recruits have driven me to this point of insanity (Patrick Patterson/Jai Lucas), but after having the opportunity to see Drew Barker’s decision in person Friday afternoon, my eyes have been opened.
While Drew and I sat in the Conner High School parking lot during dismissal, I became a bit nostalgic thinking of when I made my decision to attend UK. It was only three years ago, so the emotions are much more fresh in my brain than most. I had essentially two options: play Division II football at an expensive out of state school, or enjoy my college life by following in my father’s footsteps to the University of Kentucky. Despite my decision to be very clear-cut (especially after a year with injuries), it was an emotional burden to choose my destiny. With an unknown future ahead of me, the only certainty was a change in the personal relationships I had developed at home. My “decision” was really nothing like Barker’s, but I came to the realization that, “If my decision was that difficult, how does this 17 year old handle the exponentially increased pressure from friends, family, and fans?”
With no internet access I was left to simply soak in the atmosphere. It became much more difficult when handed the task of being responsible of Matt Jones’ Twitter account (my hands were shaking profusely), but it was ‘something’ to witness the emotion from Drew and his family in the front row of the auditorium. When most people tune out the Father who is thanking coaches, I thought of how proud he must be of his son. For 17 years, he saw him rise from a little-leaguer, to a level of stardom where some of the best football programs in the country want him to play for their team. His facial expressions could not hide his sense of relief and excitement for his son.
Even though it was ‘something’ to listen to Drew’s Father, my decision-time anxiety was almost entirely set aside when Drew took the mic. The pure joy and excitement of choosing UK in front of his family and fans was refreshing. After hearing months of speculation from characters like “The Ryan Lemond of Conner”, it was great to see him as a person rather than a player. Seeing his excitement was almost overcast by the pain of turning down his friend from South Carolina, assistant Coach G.A. Mangus. When discussing the phone call he made to Coach Mangus just minutes before the announcement, he struggled to find words to describe how difficult that call was, “I just got off the phone with Coach Mangus, and that was definitely one of the most difficult conversations I’ve probably had in my life. It was really tough; I was THAT close to going to South Carolina…We had a great relationship.”
After seeing Barker’s strife firsthand, I COMPLETELY understand the longevity of Wiggins’ recruitment. Barker knew Coach Mangus for only about a year, but it was still one of the most difficult things he has had to do. If Wiggins chooses anywhere other than Florida State, he has to have that same conversation with not only one of his Huntington Prep teammates, but with his parents. For this reason I implore you to understand the gravity of his announcement; not as ‘the best high-school player since LeBron’, but the impact it will have on Wiggy’s personal life. Wherever he chooses there will be many unintended consequences (I had no idea that my decision would eventually lead to thousands of people reading my work), but in the long run he will make the best decision for him.
Whether it is a win or a loss for #BBN, tomorrow afternoon please let him enjoy his day. It’s difficult enough for someone to chose a side; do not make it worse by being “THAT troll”. Oscar Combs said it best today, “He must please only himself.”