There are probably millions of pieces of Michael Jordan memorabilia littering this planet right now. Everything from shoes to posters to baseball cards to animated movies featuring the goofy premise that Shawn Bradley had skills to steal. Now you can add something new to that. A love letter. According to Michael Jordan’s high school girlfriend, a love letter Jordan wrote has been stolen from her home. And while I’m awfully suspicious of someone who shows up on national television talking about something fairly irrelevant from 30 years ago, I think this is big score for the good old days. It’s not a sex tape. It’s not a polaroid of his dong. It’s just a love letter. A sweet innocent recording of his affection. So while he might be a gambler or a fornicator or just egregiously guilty of wearing a tiny mustache on his face, Michael Jordan remains an innocent piece of our childhood and a reminder that simpin’ ain’t easy. And during a week where Casey Anthony has already been offered an adult video contract, I’ll take it.
Now onto a few UK notes…
– The first July evaluation period got underway Wednesday and Calipari took Orlando Antigua to the adidas Invitational in Indianapolis to make his first round appearances. For most coaches, these sessions are a critical time to look for guys that can fit your system and try to find your targeted prospects for the coming months. For John Calipari, who has the luxury of going after the elite of the elite, most of whom he’s been well aware of for quite some time, it’s more about making his presence known. He said when he arrived at UK that he wanted a scholarship offer to be seen as a reward that I player has to work to earn and that luxury allows these evaluation periods to be more about sending a message simply by being there. Here are the guys he sent a message to with his attendance Wednesday:
Perry Ellis – The first name to fall turned out to be the one that might have gotten the most attention at the end of the day as the big man from Wichita hosted John Calipari’s attention for two games Wednesday. Ellis put up good numbers, which isn’t all that important to us at this point, which sounds strange in an “evaluation period”. What is important is that Calipari made it known through his presence that the Cats were very much still after a player they once were thought to be sitting nicely with several months ago. Ellis took notice and told The Good Doctor that he likes the way Calipari lets his guys play freely and he’s intrigued with Calipari’s one-and-done reputation. Ellis’ skill level and the possibility of plucking a Kansas kid out from under Bill Self makes this recruitment one that I’m very much looking forward to.
Shabazz Muhammad – Muhammad is now the unanimous top overall player in the class and that was evident by the big names that turned out to watch him Wednesday in Indianapolis. He performed well, scoring 39 and 18 in his two games, but made the biggest splash around here by saying he’d take his first official visit to Kentucky. Muhammad told Brett Dawson that he’s also intrigued by the one-and-done track record of Calipari (funny how that works, huh?) and that he likes Calipari’s supportive “players first” mentality. He shot down any notion that he had a leader, though he has been notoriously coy about his recruitment to this point, but Kentucky seems to be in a good spot. We just have to hope that he comes for his visit and decides he never wants to leave. I’ll get the duct tape. You get the rope.
The Harrison Twins – Point guard Andrew Harrison tops Rivals 2013 150 list and his brother Aaron, a shooting guard, comes it at #9 overall. Not surprisingly, Coach Cal and Coach O stopped to take in their game, along with Bill Self, Jay Wright, Ben Howland and assistants from Louisville and Missouri. The Texas duo took an unofficial trip to Lexington in September when their team played in a tournament in Louisville. We forgot the duct tape and the rope.
Chris Thomas – Until there’s a top-10 player named Bryan the Intern, Chris Thomas will have to hold the intrigue for the KSR staff and the five-star shooting guard from Arizona certainly added to that mystique Wednesday when he was tossed after a pair of technicals while Calipari was in the stands. Thomas responded by dropping 30 in his second game and sticking around for the whole thing, so that’s a plus. He said back in April that Arizona holds a pretty large lead for his services, but that he wants to play a fast pace and if he goes there, he hopes they speed it up.
Chris Walker – According to Brian Snow of Scout.com, no team was watched more closely and by a larger group than the Florida Rams squad featuring 2013’s #3 overall player Chris Walker. John Calipari was on hand to watch the forward who has been very open about his interest in the Cats. He’s still waiting on an offer (according to Rivals), but that probably won’t be an issue for too long. The most amusing note of the day came via Brett Dawson’s Twitter account. When asked why he didn’t play much in his team’s second game, Walker said, “I was hungry.” Amen.
Brannen Greene – In a little bit of a surprising note, Jody Demling said the most-watched player of the first half of the day was 2013 small forward Brannen Greene. The 6’7″ Georgia native had three Duke coaches at both games and two each from UK, U of L, Indiana and Kansas at his second showing. He’s ranked by Rivals as the 37th-best overall prospect in the class of 2013 and plans to visit Louisville in August. I guess we can expect UK to take him soon after.
Shaq Goodwin – Many have talked about it. No one recently has pulled it off. But there’s talk that Shaq Goodwin could pull the basketball/football double duty at UK if he ends up here. Calipari watched the 6’8″, 230 pound, PF/DE battle Shabazz Muhammad’s team and he held his own in his first game going head to head with Andre Drummond. He told Jody Demling two weeks ago that he hasn’t heard from Kentucky in awhile and he knows they’ve offered some other guys at his position, so he’s trying to sort that out. Joker Phillips is now camping outside John Calipari’s office.
Kaleb Tarczewski – Heading into this event, Tarczewski was a player I thought would be interesting because he’s announced that he’ll decide in August and Kansas, North Carolina and Arizona were believed to be the final teams. Does that mean UK had backed off? Perhaps not. Coach Cal and Coach O watched Tarczewski’s final game and his AAU coach said he spoke with Calipari about him, so there might still be a push being made there. Cal ventured to Massachusetts to watch him play in January, but not a lot has been said since. The 7-footer is ranked by Rivals as the 12th overall player in 2012.
Bronson Koenig – The point guard from Wisconsin popped up as a new name Wednesday when a Wisconsin basketball writer said Calipari was in attendance to watch his team play a team from New York. Koenig ranks as the 66th-best player in the class of 2013.
– After a long day in Indianapolis, Coach Cal will most likely hit the road and head for the LeBron James Skills Camp in Akron. Thursday is the first day that coaches will be allowed to attend and there are a number of top Kentucky targets in attendance, as well as Anthony Davis and Michael Gilchrist. Cal will probably watch DaJuan Coleman, Brandon Ashley, Anthony Bennett, Ricky Ledo, Mitch McGary, Nerlens Noel, Alex Poythress, Julius Randle, LJ Rose and, well, you get the point. Lots of talent there and it all ranges from the 2012 to the 2014 classes.
– With the football team making a big splash in terms of commitments over the next few days (and possibly more to come in the near future), things seem to be moving in the right direction for the future. For the present, however, the chances to earn another bowl berth and finally break past the six win plateau rests on Morgan Newton’s shoulders. Over at the UK Athletics site, there’s a profile of Newton and he strives to lead the team to the next level. Newton addresses the Tweet of frustration that caused some to wonder if he had the right makeup to be a team leader and seems to have his teammates on his side heading into the season. That’s probably good to have. Especially the ones that have to block the really fast fat guys.
That’s it for now. Make sure you stick around all day for more recruiting updates and all the other UK wonderment that we can pack into that beautiful little heart of yours. As usual, Matt Jones will be by at 10am with Kentucky Sports Radio on Talk Radio 1080. In the meantime, enjoy a little Enes…
See you in a few…