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Mitch Albom’s Wednesday News and Views

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Today’s meager list of birthdays forces me to pontificate on the bizarre career of sportswriter turned self-help guru Mitch Albom. For the vast majority of Albom’s career he was known as “that Michigan sportswriter”, who covered the Bad Boys Pistons and the Fab Five, the latter of which was the subject of his wonderful book on a season in the life of the team. Albom was a frequent guest on the Sunday morning show that I loved (minus Mike Lupica), “The Sports Reporters” and he was the shining example as the type of guy that I looked up to as a kid…..dorky and wanting to cover sports…..just like me. But then out of nowhere, Albom went from Mr. Sports to Oprah Book of the Month, when he wrote “Tuesdays with Morrie,” his book chronicling the final days of his mentor’s life that Albom spent by his side. The Oprah crowd embraced Albom as a sensitive chronicler of life’s difficult struggles and the perspective of an individaul in the waning years of his life and all of a sudden Albom became a different person…..the type of person who wrote books that started with “Mitch Albom’s…..” and the creator of made for television Hallmark movies. The change was mind-blowing and one I am still coming to grips with now. Albom still writes about sports (and even had a minor plagarism scandal last year), but will forever be known as the Morrie guy……which I am sure he likes everyday that he goes to bed on his piles of inspirational cash.

To the news…….

(1) The topic still on everyone’s minds today is the neverending saga over the UMASS game. I must admit to being absolutely baffled as to how this story has taken on a life of its own, with national networks discussing it on multiple shows and virtually every college basketball writer taking a swipe at the decision. My opinion hasnt changed from yesterday, but I do think it is very funny to continue to see sportswriters feign indignation at UK for either “being scared” of UMASS or acting “without class.” Folks, this was not a decision that Mitch, Billy Clyde and Travis made on a playground as to who got to host the other’s birthday party. This is a basketball business decision, involving multiple hundreds of thousands of dollars. Everyone involved is a big boy, and they all will be able to move on and make due with the situation. Travis Ford for one has handled it in a classy matter, saying he wished the game would have happened, but he understands business. In my view, that is the same attitude the columnists, desperate for something to write about in May, should take as well. In about a week, when there is something else to talk about, no one will care about this story. So we should all just move on.

(2) Speaking of moving on, Brandon Jennings moved on today to Arizona after taking an unofficial visit to the school. Just two days ago, Jennings said that he was down to three schools and just yesterday he commented that he would not decide until July. This followed last week, when he said that UCONN was his likely leader. Now, a few days later, he commits to Lute and his classy old-man, cuff-link wearin ways. Jennings is an amazing talent and in my view, will be the best point guard in the class of 2008…..by far. We are going to see Jennings this weekend at the TOC in Chapel Hill and I was looking forward to talking with him about his interest in the Cats. But the decision to go to Arizona makes sense, and the loss is much stronger for UCONN, who has now struck out on him twice when they though they had him. I never thought Jennings would have been at UK…..but man it would have been nice if he had.

(3)The Purdue site on the Rivals.com network is reporting a visit this weekend to Kentucky by Serbia power forward Nemanja Calasan, a power forward from Midland Junior College who is a decommitment from the Utah Utes. Calasan would give UK another big man and one that would have only two years of eligibility….spreading out the class distribution that is a bit of a concern. For the record, former Billy Clyde assistant Alvin Brooks’s son is on the staff at Calasan’s Junior College….there is your in. We will be following this more tomorrow.

(4) Here is a question to debate amongst yourselves. Which UK player on next season’s team will be the highest NBA draft pick before their career is over? There are a lot of factors to take into consideration, possibly most importantly, whose game best translates to the next level. If I were making this choice right now, I might surprise some people by going Alex Legion, Jodie Meeks and then Patrick Patterson. I think those three guys have games that can translate and can work in the NBA game. Legion has the best NBA body and is the most likely to be a high pick….Meeks has Bogans-like scoring ability and should see an NBA future and Patterson will find that his work ethic (assuming it continues) will push him to the next level. What say you?

(5) Scout.com reports tonight that Kentucky football got a commitment from Offensive Lineman Trevino Woods out of Georgia. I will admit to knowing nothing about him (football recruiting is for my man Rob) and I am sure Gidel will have more later, but early indications suggest that he is a rapidly rising lineman who Kentucky procured after hopping on him early. We will have more on him tomorrow and should have him on the show on Thursday.

(6) Greg Oden is now likely to be a Jailblazer…..let me be the first (or likely due to time of night, the tenth) to make the analogy to Sam Bowie that you will hear something like 3 MILLION times between now and the draft…..get ready.

Need-to-Know Wednesday coming along with updates on Calasan…..keep it locked for info.

Article written by Matt Jones