I didn’t want to do this. I’ve spent the past two days away without a television or a computer and I really wanted to get this thing started on a positive note and with something fun. Instead, Ryan Lemond wouldn’t stop calling my cell phone until he got what he wanted. And what he wanted was a 41st birthday tribute for Rascal Flatts singer Gary LeVox. You probably know LeVox as the man with a woman’s voice, who blends all the creepiness of Jessica Simpson’s dad with the trying-to-hard-to-be-a-teenager wardrobe of far too many youth pastors. What you might not know is that LeVox is an Ohio State grad and is great friends with Jaime Foxx. And now you know five things about Gary LeVox you wish you didn’t. So, no matter how much this pains me, happy birthday Gary LeVox. You’d be a lot cooler if you were robbing pharmacies for Oxyontin.
Now onto a few UK notes…
– There were a handful of things we found out over the first few days of the first July evaluation period, but none more recognizable than Shabazz Muhammad as the ultimate 2012 prize. John Calipari was in Georgia Sunday to watch Muhammad again, after watching him in Indinapolis at the adidas Invitational earlier in the week. Matt talked quite a bit at the end of last week about Muhammad and his adidas ties, but Kentucky continues to push on quite successfully nonetheless. Jeff Goodman Tweeted Sunday that many believe that UCLA is still the leader, but the “smart money” is on Kentucky. The 2012 class is heavy in talent at the shooting guard position and Kentucky is sitting nicely with two other five-star prospects, Archie Goodwin and Ricky Ledo. But Muhammad appears to be from a different planet and Calipari’s prominent presence in both Indianapolis and Georgia is a pretty good indicator fo that. Man crush? Maybe.
– If Shabazz Muhammad’s frim grasp as the star of 2012 was the most notable story, Kentucky’s strong pursuit of Perry Ellis was right there with it. The Kentucky coaches watched Ellis play six games in the past several days, which not only sends a message of strong interest to Ellis, but also serves as somewhat of a cannonball into the shallow end that the other coaches are wading in. We talked late last week about how these days were called an evaluation period, but for John Calipari, it was more about sending messages through his presence. There might not have been a stronger one than what was sent on the Perry Ellis front. The battle to land him appears to be set for a Calipari-Bill Self-Coach K showdown and that should be more than enough to get you excited.
– The Cats also thrust themselves into the mix for the breakout star of the adidas Invitational, point guard Kasey Hill, with a scholarship offer. The 2013 point guard won MVP honors at the Indianapolis tournament and was clearly the star of the title game televised on CBS College Sports, dropping 26 points and 7 assists. Hill got to the basket with ease and finished at the rim just as easily as he dropped off to his open teammates, one of whom was UK target Chris Walker. He’s not currently ranked in the Rivals 150, which will most certainly change, but is rated by Scout.com as the #28 overall prospect. Kentucky is already hot after point guard Andrew Harrison, the nation’s top player in 2013, and showed some interest in Bronson Koenig this week, but Hill’s breakout weekend has put him on the wish list of a number of schools, Kentucky included. Video:
– Hill wasn’t the only 2013 player to reportedly receive an offer as four-star power forward Malik Price-Martin also received a scholarship offer. Price-Martin is also a Florida native and an AAU teammate of Hill and Walker and already held offers from Ohio State, Miami (Fl.), NC State and South Carolina before the weekend. He’s a long player (seven-foot wingspan), who has a strong presence on the defensive end and prides himself on an inside-outside game offensively. At least that’s what ESPN says. I say he’s a player from Florida and I like stealing those. In fact, I love it. If there was such a thing as pressure as coach of the Florida Gators, it would be on Billy Donovan to lock down the Florida Rams trio or at least keep them away from Kentucky after the Cats stole Brandon Knight last year. Instead, he can probably just make a decent effort and then not worry about it anymore. Video:
– Maybe the biggest and certainly the most discussed topic of the weekend was the report that UK would be wearing LeBron James gear this season. What seemed like a great move by the school to set itself apart again on the recruiting trail by uniting with a player who, though he’s slipped considerably in the court of public perception, is still the most recognizable and enviable player with prospects was met with some unhappiness from fans. I assume most of it has to do with “The Decision”, which is just as overblown now as it was a year ago, but it really can’t be seen as anything more than a huge positive for what it will do for the program. Kentucky gets to be one of the pilot schools, which gives them a leg up on brand recognition from the start, and now will be tied to uniforms that will most likely be the best of the best in terms of Nike’s much talked about “technology”, as well as fashion. When I was in high school and we walked uphill barefoot in the snow, a handful of schools signed on to the Jordan Brand, the most prominent of which was the University of Cincinnati. Though they looked like nothing more than cutoff t-shirts, every kid I knew wanted to wear those jerseys and wanted their school to have that affiliation. So don’t let your frustration with LeBron going to the heat make you lose sight of what is important in UK agreeing to be a part of the LeBron brand. It’s big – huge in fact – for keeping the program at the forefront as a school that players don’t just consider, they wait for an offer to play for. Besides, if you’ve ever worn a pair of those LeBron shorts, you know how wonderfully freeing they make you feel. They’re like Breathe Right strips for your privates. That can only help performance.
– Along that same line, UK’s strong affiliation with King James was evident Sunday night when he sent out the following Tweet supporting Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and the UK team.
Can Phil Knight do that? No. Michael Jordan? Probably not (because he owns an NBA team). But LeBron can. It’s innocent, but effective on levels that only recruits might appreciate. I’ll take it.
That’s it for now. Make sure you stick around all day as we get you back into the swing of things and promise to talk only a tiny little bit about women’s soccer. As usual, Matt Jones will be by in the morning to get things going on Kentucky Sports Radio at 10am on Talk Radio 1080. In the meantime, while you’re still waiting in traffic outside of Kentucky Speedway, just know that Richie Farmer is out there waiting somewhere too. Find him.
See you in a few…