Every now and then, someone comes along in this life who finds a way to leave a deep impact on the world, even for people who have never met him or her. Lane Goodwin was one of those people. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that people all across the world were deeply saddened tonight to hear about the passing of a young 13-year old boy named Lane Goodwin. Goodwin, who had been fighting cancer, passed away tonight– but not before leaving a print much larger than life on this world. Lane was able to do one of the hardest things in this life: bring people together. With so many differing opinions, views, values, etc. in so many different walks of life, Lane found a way to simply bring people together on the same page, even if for only one thing and in one moment. #ThumbsUpForLane became the symbol for not only Lane’s will to live and stay positive in his battle with cancer, but also a symbol of unity. The generosity displayed by people of all ages, from all different places in the world, to give Lane some encouragement by throwing their thumb in the air and sending a positive thought his way, was incredible to watch unfold over the past few weeks.
Big Blue Nation became especially tied to Lane Goodwin. Lane was a big-time Kentucky basketball fan. Not only did many members of the Kentucky basketball program, most notably of which was Nerlens Noel (read one of the neatest stories you’ll see here) reach out to Lane in support, but the entire fan base rallied around the young man in his final weeks. Not everyone can say that they left the world a better place, but Lane Goodwin can without a doubt. All of the kind words in the world wouldn’t be enough to comfort a family in a time of loss such as this, but the best thing that I can think to say in this moment is simply a “thank you.” I think we will all probably throw a thumb in the air for Lane and his family tonight.
In addition, some Kentucky fans have already begun thinking of different ways to honor Lane Goodwin during the course of this year’s basketball season, considering his close connection with the team and his love of UK. I’ve heard some great ideas already, such as the crowd putting their thumb up right before the players are announced each game, or right before the tip. I’m sure we will all come up with a way to honor and remember him. If nothing else (not to sound cheesy), maybe we can all just attempt to be a little bit more like him.
And now with a heavy heart, let’s carry on to the news from a very busy day…
—Today has been one of those many “memorable” days for Kentucky basketball since John Calipari’s arrival. Nearly every day is eventful in some way, with at least a trickle of news or excitement (not a Pitino joke, seriously)… but today falls into the category of one of the days when it feels like every 30 minutes something is happening. We knew from the get-go that today was going to be great, with a Marcus Lee announcement on the horizon and the All-Access Kentucky series starting tonight. With a docket already filled, the day just grew with more and more news. Let’s take a look at the big 3 from today:
1. Marcus Lee picked Kentucky.
Anytime someone commits to Kentucky, that news tends to steal the spotlight. Marcus Lee had been sending tweets and posting Instagram pictures all week that led many to believe he was on the brink of a commitment following his trip to Lexington for Big Blue Madness. Lee didn’t disappoint the fans when he announced late this afternoon that he would be spending the next 4 years (hey, it sounds good) at the University of Kentucky. Marcus Lee becomes the 5th player in the already loaded 2013 recruiting class, joining Aaron and Andrew Harrison, James Young and Derek Willis. Depending on which site you trust the most besides KSR, Lee is ranked anywhere from the #15 overall player in the class to the #38 overall player. Lee is a 6’9 center and a 5-star player. Calipari wanted him at Kentucky. What more do you need to know?
This picture of the 2013 recruiting class at Kentucky just never gets old…
2. The NCAA told USA Today that Nerlens Noel is cleared to compete.
John Calipari mentioned Nerlens Noel being able to practice and compete in games while on his ESPN tour this morning and from that moment on, the news was on and then off, on and then off. A number of reports and interpretations began to surface following the first breaking of the news, but USA Today looked to clear things up this afternoon. USA Today quoted NCAA spokesman Bob Williams saying that, “Nerlens Noel is cleared to practice and compete.” For now, all is good.
3. Kentucky went “All-Access” with ESPN. And it was nothing short of brilliant.
Much like this year’s NBA draft night was essentially an infomercial for all things Kentucky basketball, the ESPN Kentucky All-Access series (part I) was perhaps an even better one. The 30-minute episode, the first in the series, was packed with everything you could hope for when showcasing the Kentucky basketball program. Not only was it something interesting and cool for Kentucky fans to watch, but it was yet another recruiting tool for Calipari and an avenue for non-Kentucky fans to catch a glimpse into what makes Kentucky and Calipari at Kentucky so special.
If you missed the show, we recapped some of the highlights for you here on KSR.
—Between the 3 major events of the day, Kentucky spent the entire day in the lime light. For a while, I think it was safe to say that North Carolina and Duke had become the epicenter of college basketball. While both are still at the forefront, along with a few other programs, Kentucky is now (or once again, is probably more accurate) the epicenter of college basketball. Coming off of a national championship, with what looks to be potentially 5 straight #1 recruiting classes and a permanent spot in the spotlight from a marketing standpoint… who else could even try to claim the “epicenter” title right now?
—Speaking of top recruiting classes, here’s an alarming statistic for you: with the addition of Marcus Lee this afternoon, John Calipari has landed 19 5-star recruits of the 25 TOTAL signed/committed to play for UK. All of that has happened in just 3 years. Name me someone who is better in the game right now, and I’ll poop ice cream while calling you a liar.
—The 2013 class is already 5 players deep, 4 of which are 5-stars. It’s October. For those who remember how late some of the best players in the class tend to announce, Calipari’s haul this early in the year is impressive. He’s not finished yet. Who will be the next to join the 2013 class? Julius Randle? Aaron Gordon? Andrew Wiggins? Tyler Roberson? Add one from that list and we are a national title contender. Add two, and we are bringing Cliff Hagan and his incredible hair back to re-raise some more banners in 2014.
—Julius Randle told 24/7 Sports today that, “it switches back and forth all the time. One day it is Kentucky. Then it is Florida or Texas. For sure I want to play with great players. My goal is to win a national championship.” Can we now assume that Texas is out?
— Many started to wonder if the Marcus Lee commitment should signal any worry about some of the other potential recruits in the 2013 class. Matt reiterated on the radio show this morning that most in the recruiting circles do not think that Lee’s commitment will hinder Kentucky’s chances with the likes of other big men such as Julius Randle, Aaron Gordon or Andrew Wiggins. One thing that will be interesting will be to see if Calipari brings in a 6-7 man class (which it appears could be a good possibility at this point), who from the 2012-2013 will stay behind? With so many top level players leaving college basketball for last year’s NBA draft, the crop of available players is not as deep or talented as usual. Some of the guys who in other years might have stuck around for two years, might be tempted to go because of the weaker pool of players and the projected much stronger pool the next year. I know it’s way too early, but if you had to guess right now as to who on this year’s team will return next year to join the loaded 2013 class, who would you pick?
—Before we start looking too far into the future, we have one of the most intriguing college basketball seasons just around the corner. I say one of the most intriguing because of how concentrated the focus will be on the Kentucky/Indiana/Louisville triangle. In USA Today’s pre-season coach’s poll, the coaches put Indiana in the top spot, followed by Louisville and then Kentucky at the #3 spot. Tobacco Road might be sharing the attention this season and may not have the monopoly on the “basketball triangle” label. And I continue to hold this belief, with all due respect to both Louisville and Indiana…but if those are the 2 best teams in the country, even with the young and inexperienced team we have this season– we can be contenders.
The rest of the top 10: 4. Ohio State, 5. Michigan, 6. N.C. State, 7. Kansas, 8. Duke, 9. Syracuse, 10. Florida
—One member of Louisville’s team made a comment about one major difference between Kentucky and Louisville over the past few years. Peyton Siva said, “They never get hurt. Everybody on my team gets hurt, and no one on their team gets hurt.” (I hope all of you reading this just knocked on wood like I did).
— “Hey, over here! Don’t forget about us!” -Kentucky football. The major news coming out of the Kentucky football program today was rather quiet in comparison to the day Kentucky basketball had, but there was still a few noteworthy items.
-Rich Brooks attended UK practice today. Brooks was also in attendance for the Arkansas game last weekend. I hope he’s giving tips on a few more things besides tomato harvesting.
-Joker Phillips gave a vote of confidence in the continued appearance of Morgan Newton at various times at the quarterback spot during games. Phillips said that Newton will continue to give Jalen Whitlow “a chance to step back” and gather himself during games by taking a few snaps and series.
-Injury report: Unfortunately Mikie Benton, Patrick Towles and Martavius Nelons will all be out again for Saturday’s home game against Georgia. The student section and upper levels of the stadium are listed as “questionable.”
— And now I’ll leave you with some of the best Calipari quotes from the day, because there were literally hundreds from his ESPN tour:
The Harrison twins on Calipari: “We just know that Coach Calipari can make our dreams come true faster than a normal college coach can.”
“They’re a team of stars who share, which is unusual.”
“Before I retire, I’d like to have a team that goes 40-0, because they say it can’t be done.”
Cal on All-Access, “They’re not helping us recruit. What are we going to be? 1 and 1-A?”
Cal on wearing his ring on the recruiting trail: “My staff makes me wear it.”
“We don’t have a magic wand. Other programs can do what we do.”
And once again, thumbs up, Lane. Rest in peace.