Good morning, ladies and gents and welcome to your Friday News and Views. Since a lot of you are coming down from the high that was a fantastic night in Newport with the Barnstorming Tour (more on that Friday) and since I’m way behind on getting this post going thanks to a Rays’ hit parade and baby feedings, we’re going to make quick work of this. After all, it’s Friday and, by this time tomorrow, the Cats’ basketball roster might be one body heavier. Let’s do this…
– Friday is going to be a day of great significance for the Kentucky basketaball team: Version 20.10 as Oregon forward Terrence Jones will announce his decision at 6:30 pm Eastern time. The destination for Rivals’ #13 player in the class of 2010 seems to still be the subject of much speculation as any announcement in recent memory (or at least since CJ Leslie’s) and his high school coach even told ESPN that “I don’t even think Terrence knows where he’s going yet”. This, of course, means that either news of where he is committing will break before you read this post or that the drama will be high when he announces. Should he commit to the Cats, he immediately fills a need position and slides into the starting lineup in a frontcourt that basically consists of Enes Kanter and Josh Harrellson right now. If he picks someone else, there will be a lot of eggs in Marcus Thornton’s basket. This is a huge announcement. However, should he commit to another school, a part of me hopes that he tells the media that it’s because Kentucky fans kept writing that “Jones is a douche and has a bad haircut” on various message boards.
– In a less essential story, Coach Cal finally decoded his cryptic Larry Brown Tweet on Thursday and opened the possiblity of a UK junior varsity team. While it might not have been the biggest Twitte letdown from Coach Cal (see: Papa John’s announcement last summer), it wasn’t quite the exciting news that everyone expected. The word is that Cal wants to give more in-state kids a chance to wear the blue and white, which is not only a tremendously cool opportunity, but it’s also a change from the previous regime when mediocre in-state kids were given things called “scholarships”. If you’re a high school kid in Kentucky or a fan of gym shorts that are too small and have “HUSTLE” written on the butt, this is great news for you. If you’re anyone else, it’s just a distraction from the impending Terrence Jones announcement.
– For the 2,928th day, the internet found itself being filled with speculation regarding Eric Bledose’s likelihood of remaining in the draft. Bledsoe still does not have an agent, but is still grading out nearly across the board as a first round pick and Coach Cal said Thursday that he knows of three teams that he “trusts” that were giving Bledsoe workouts. Given the small window of withdrawal prior to the draft, it’s safe to say that Bledsoe’s stock will not fall into the second round before the deadline for withdrawal (or at all). But, should he keep his name in the draft (as he will most certainly do), a potential slide into the early second round on draft night might make him the go-to example of why this new deadline does more harm than hurt. However, at this point, it’s difficult to see him sliding into that range and, if he does, it’s nearly impossible to see him earning a non-guaranteed contract, which is basically what it’s all about. The Eric Bledsoe train has left the station.
– Also on Thursday, Rivals.com released their final 2010 rankings and Kentucky-bound big man Enes Kanter made his debut as the #3 overall prospect. Throughout the spring, UK fans have speculated about where Kanter’s abilities would place him in terms of the overall class and, after an outstanding showing in the Nike Hoops Summit, the hopes were high. His new ranking certainly makes him appear to be worthy of they hype. The secondary news was that Brandon Knight fell from the top overall prospect to #6, which means pretty much nothing. Knight’s game doesn’t necessarily lend itself to flashy all-star game stats and this change in ranking shouldn’t be a sign of deteriorating skills. He’s going to come to UK and take over the Calipari point guard throne and be very successful. For Knight, it’s all about the fit and he is tailor-made for UK’s offense. He’ll be just fine. After all, Cal did pretty ok with another #6 overall prospect. What Knight should be worried about is the heavy John Wall burden that so many fans will likely place on him unfairly.
– If you’re in Louisville, make sure you hit Big Blue Country to see St. Louis Rams receiver Keenan Burton, who will be on hand to announce the founding of his scholarship fund, the Burton-Taylor College and Academic Scholarship. The scholarship will go to help students who “have overcome socio-economic and family obstacles to pursue educational attainment and academic achievement”. Those who show up will have a chance for pictures with Burton and autographs and, at the very least, to show a little love to a guy who is doing his best to show a little love to the UK community. Make sure you check it out beginning at 7 pm.
That’s it for now. Sorry for making it so weak. We’ll make sure we get you back on track during the day as we build up to the most important recruiting announcement of the latter half of this week. See you in a few…