I put this picture up, not because it is appropriate to the topic, but because I still cant get over that finish on Sunday from Talledega. Crazy come from the back move by Edwards, race won by a guy that no one has heard of in a junk car and Edwards flies up in the air and VERY nearly into the stands. Nascar missed a tragedy unlike anything we may have ever seen in modern American sports. It would have been the equivalent of the Hillsborough tragedy in English soccer if that car had went in the stands. Really and truly unbelievable.
It was another rather slow news day in the world of Kentucky sports, with most of the fanbase’s focus on Calipari’s twitters, John Wall’s interviews and Derby lead-ins. However we did see the end of potentially the most random career in UK basketball history, Donald Williams. Seriously, has there ever been a player whose time at UK was more unexplainable. After Kentucky refused to offer Mr. Shevin Mack (Mack, Mack, all dressed in black, black, black with silver buttons, buttons, buttons, all down his back, back, back), they offered Williams, a player that no one had ever heard of and who came to Kentucky with less hype than any player not named Adam Williams in the modern era. He arrived at UK on scholarship, but reports persisted that the scholarship was for only one year and then he would walk-on after that point. That actually has never been confirmed by UK, but is the accepted story of “The Donald” and his UK future. Then, for reasons that are unclear, he redshirted….a move that has no logical explanation, but was heralded by Billy Clyde supporters at the time as “forward-thinking.” Now Clyde is at Two Keys, Williams is leaving and Jason Lathrem and Nate Knight have company in the “oh he played for UK?” category for all time.
So the question now remains….what is the status of the UK roster? At this point, there are 14 spots for 13 scholarships:
The Cats are still actively recruiting John Wall and Eric Bledsoe, and if you assume (as I do) that one of them will end up wearing the Blue and White, then that means that two spots must open up before the Spring ends. There are two possibilities that would make everything work out:
1. AJ Stewart transfers at the end of the year. The most accepted likelihood is that Stewart leaves at the end of the semester. AJ has struggled a bit to find his role at UK and with Cousins and Orton coming in and Pilgrim being eligible, finding time for AJ on the court looks to be difficult. In addition, there is speculation of some academic difficulty that could lead him away from UK and thus seeing him on the roster next year seems unlikely. This is a bit of a shame as I think he might have some success in the Calipari system and AJ is one of the more engaging kids you will meet. But it is hard to see him here next year.
2. Someone goes to the NBA: Depending on who you talk to, Patterson and Meeks are either ready to withdraw from the Draft this week or are certainly headed to the NBA when the semester ends. At this point, I think both guys are very much up in the air, with the likelihood still pointing to Meeks returning and Patterson legitimately open-minded. IF one of these guys does end up leaving however, the scholarship situation would work out. Calipari has said in the past that he assumes the Draft will take some of his players, so he always keeps recruiting. That seems to be the likely case here as well, and explains why some say he is looking at both Wall AND Bledsoe.
Those are the two most likely scenarios. Another potential scenario that may have been averted today is the Jorts situation. Harrellson had been assumed to be a poor fit for Calipari, but today he said on FB (the new 60 Minutes) that he would be returning, “no question.” If that is true (and at least one friend of his says he just did it to get a rise out of everyone), that would mean that he would take a spot that might not have been assumed to be his. Thus someone else would have to fill the void. Could it be academic issues for Liggins? A potential walk-on role for someone currently under scholarship? Or even a departure that as of now we dont know about? That remains to be seen, but Jorts’ decision to return does take away one possibility that seemed likely before the start of individual workouts.
While it will be interesting to follow what will happen with the roster, fans really should not worry. This type of roster flux will be the norm every year from now on. As players in Cal’s system leave early for the NBA (which they SURELY will), there will be movement every Spring. Calipari’s recruiting vision (as one person close to him told me) is to land three stars early every year and get one late guy who has either slipped or been a late riser after he sees who goes to the NBA. It has worked for him in the past and he expects it to work here. And guess what….so do I.
More all day, as we report live from Bell County….