The 2012-13 season is mercifully over, and despite having the #1 ranked recruiting class in the country, Kentucky failed to make the NCAA Tournament, and were unceremoniously dispatched in the First Round of the NIT by Robert Morris. Hard to see things being any different in 2013-14. To stay apprised and educated, follow me on Twitter @NotJerryTipton. Here’s the weekly notebook:
*Something Changed: 2014 standout Trey Lyles made waves recently when he said that Louisville develops players better than Kentucky. Though UK fans predictably took umbrage to his statement, it’s hard to argue with him. Consider: Gorgui Dieng was not a highly touted player when he committed to Louisville a few years ago, yet he was developed so well by Rick Pitino that he was able to go in the first round of the NBA Draft even though he had another year of eligibility remaining. Compare this to someone like Sam Bowie, who was the #2 player in America his senior year of high school, yet he was so poorly developed at UK that he was forced to remain in college for five whole years. Conversely, Samardo Samuels was also the #2 player in the country, but he only had to stay in college for two years before ultimately finding his way to the NBA. And there’s more. Rex Chapman was the #3 player in the country when he was in high school, but after electing to attend Kentucky, he dropped all the way to the #8 player in the draft. Why is that? (Hint: Rhymes with “schmevelopment.”) On the other hand, Peyton Siva was the #38 player in the country in high school, but UofL and Rick Pitino developed him into the #2 pick of the Detroit Pistons. With all that evidence to support his argument, one must wonder why Lyles backed off his comments a day after he made them.
*Go On Home: Weeks after announcing his intention to leave Kentucky, Kyle Wiltjer has yet to announce where exactly he’s going. The inference here, of course, is that Wiltjer was so poorly developed at UK (h/t: Trey Lyles) that he cannot find a team to take him. On the other hand, some have speculated that he may actually stay at UK. The inference here, of course, is that he is being unfairly pressured by John Calipari to remain in Lexington. Tellingly, neither Kyle Wiltjer nor his father has issued a public statement expressly denying either scenario to be the case. As such, we can only presume both to be true.
*It Ain’t Easy Being Me: The USA Under 19 team recently won the gold medal at the FIBA World Championships. This does not bode well for Kentucky. The U19 squad was best known for not having any Kentucky players on its roster. Incoming freshmen Julius Randle and the Harrison twins famously turned down the opportunity to play on the squad, presumably because they hate America. The coach of that US squad, Billy Donovan, is no doubt glad that the UK players said no, however, because there’s a good chance that the Americans would have lost with Randle and the Harrisons in the lineup. None of those three players have ever won a U19 championship before, and as evidenced by the fact that they each lost at least one postseason all-star game, they clearly wilt under pressure and/or against other good players. Whatever the case may be, this is definitely not a good look for Kentucky, and is a scandal that is certain to plague the team all next season.
* On this date: On this date in 2018, Roy Williams will still be deciding whether to punish P.J. Hairston.