Attended the Kentucky Derby Classic last night, where we saw three future Kentucky recruits help win the game for the White team over the Black team 118-106. The Black team was led by future Louisville and Tennessee players, which can only make the victory that much sweeter. My complete game review is here and showcases the recap of the event. While that story details the performance of the UK players, there are other notes as well from the night:
(1) The introductions produced some of the more entertaining moments of the evening. Future Louisville player Edgar Sosa went to the Cardinal logo and bowed in front of it, as the crowd exploded. Derrick Caracter, another future Card, actually brought out Windex and a rag and cleaned off the logo, much to the crowd’s delight. Future Gator, Marreese Speights gave the crowd the “Gator Chomp” to a loud chorus of boos. However neither of those received nearly the reaction given as what was given to future Duke player Gerald Henderson or future Memphis player Pierre Miles, both of whom STOMPED on the Louisville logo, raising the crowd into a frenzy.
As for the Kentucky guys, Jasper and Meeks were met with half-cheers and half-boos, and simply waved to the crowd. Perry Stevenson came out, walked to the Ville logo, looked at it and simply snarled and walked away. A funny moment in my view.
(2)The Louisville guys were a bit of a mixed bag. Both are obviously EXTREMELY talented. Edgar Sosa was a shooting machine, jacking up almost 20 shots, hitting some and missing others. He showed a definite attitude, dancing after a couple of made baskets and playing to the crowd. His talent level is unmistakeable, but my guess is that some of the swagger we saw last night will be brought under control by Ricky P.
Derrick Caracter is another mixed bag. He showcased a deft outside touch, making four three pointers and pulling the defense out. But it is frustrating to see a man of his size and girth (Big Baby like) simply stand outside the three point line and not get in the paint. However when challenged physically by the Lopez twins, he did step up. Watching his development at UL will be interesting and likely will be very up and down.
(3)Speaking of the Lopez twins, the Stanford Cardinal have themselves two dandy players. Brook Lopez was the more impressive of the two, looking like a more physical Joakim Noah, blocking shots, rebounding with aggression and winning the MVP of the white team. His brother Robin was also impressive, showcasing the same qualities, but a poorer shooting touch. The guys will be special in Palo Alto and for me, this was their coming out party.
(4)Tennessee had three recruits in the game, whose performance ranged from excellent to non-existent. Forward Duke Crews was the best of the bunch, scoring a number of points and showcasing a quick first step. Wayne Chism also had a strong performance, rebounding effectively and getting some baskets under the goal. Less was seen of Marques Johnson who was the only player in the game not to score and was easy to miss throughout the game. Hard to make much of a judgment about him, as he looked like a player trying hard not to be noticed.
(5)Spoke to the coach of the UK players’ “White” team who told me that he was thrilled with all three guys. He said that Meeks was one of the best scoring guards that he has seen and that Stevenson’s athleticism will translate well on the college level. The coach however predicted that another freshman, Derrick Jasper would play immediately. He said that Jasper is one of the smartest high school players you will see and his size will make him a tough matchup on the college level. Very high on all three guys.
Finally, the game itself was one of the better ones in recent years. Over 14,000 people, with about 65-35 in favor of Louisville. The game was well-played and very intense, something rare in a high school all-star game. IT was likely the best roster ever at the Classic, and no one truly disappointed. All of which makes me even more impressed by Jodie Meeks. In a game filled with great players, he looked aggressive and scored often. I think he will be a great Tubby find.
Great game all around and one the organizers had to be happy with.