There has been a lot of negativity surrounding the Kentucky basketball program this offseason. Whether it was losing the Dan Werner recruitment race, the Professor Cheeks movement to buy an advertisement trying to fire our coach or the ambivalence that many have held towards Rondo when he was drafted, UK basketball has needed some good news. Well I am here to give some today.
Over the past couple of weeks, I have spoken with a number of people who have spent the summer watching the team in their workouts. The reports I have been given as to who is playing well have varied a bit. Some say Jared Carter is becoming great, some say he is just better. Some say Ramel Bradley is developing into the leader of the team and some wonder if he talks too much. But literally EVERY PERSON has told me that the “freshmen are going to be special.”
It was clear to me early on that both Jodie Meeks and Derrick Jasper were special players. Tubby caught Meeks at the perfect time and I think he can be the best physical guard scorer that the Cats have had since Keith Bogans. According to my sources, Meeks is absolutely dominating various pickup games and is showcasing a work ethic that is unbelievable. He literally is the first one in and last one out every day and the players love him. Similarly, Derrick Jasper is finding his role with the Cats and is playing a lot of small forward during the various workouts. He and Crawford are having battles on both ends of the floor and everyone believes he will be an immediate contributor.
Equally as impressive is what is being said about Perry Stevenson. While his potential for immediate playing time may be slightly less, he is reported to have put on 15 pounds since he arrived in Lexington and he is living in the weight room. His work with new trainer Scott Holsopple, could earn the new employee his paycheck and it seems the work has already paid off. Stevenson is said to be “already more physical than Sheray Thomas” which may or may not be a compliment, but is certainly encouraging.
The most pleasant surprise of the reports is that supposed throw-in to the class, Michael Porter is becoming a true player. He matches up every day with Ramel Bradley and their battles are supposedly great to watch. This source, who last year told me that Adam Williams was totally overmatched, said that he believes Porter will see some playing time this year and that he will be a “quality contributor to the program for four years.”
All of this news, while not surprising to me considering their high school careers, suggests that the 06 class that Tubby has brought in could end up being one of his best during his tenure. Four Tubby SMith type guys….workhorses who are intelligent players and check their ego at the door. This would be a pleasant change indeed.