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:
*I’m Comin’ Home: Last Saturday, 2014 PG Emmanuel Mudiay shocked the college basketball world by deciding to remain in Texas, as he picked SMU over Kentucky. Upon closer inspection, however, was it really all that surprising? Mudiay joins a long line of prep stars who have spurned John Calipari and Kentucky: Xavier Henry, Trevor Lacey, C.J. Leslie, Shabazz Muhammad, Andrew Wiggins, etc. The list literally goes on forever. In fact, over 99% of the players in the country chose to play their college basketball somewhere besides Kentucky. Luckily, Calipari was able to snag several top 10 recruits this year, or the season would have been a complete disaster.
*Whenever Kindness Fails: Earlier this week, it was announced that former UK star Wayne Turner is joining Rick Pitino’s staff at Louisville. Turner is the latest in a long line of former Kentucky players who have opted to don the red and black at UofL. (The other is Walter McCarty.) This leads one to wonder: What happened to the Kentucky brand? When did it get overtaken by the Louisville brand? Licensing figures released earlier in the summer bear this out: UK’s sales dropped (from 3rd in the country to 5th), while UofL’s sales rose (from 32nd to 25th). Why is a job at Louisville more appealing than a job at Kentucky? Is it the opportunity to coach in the AAC? Is it the proximity to Indiana? Is it the chance to coach players for all 4 years (unless they get recruited over and forced to transfer) instead of one year before they head off to the NBA? UK assistant coach Kenny Payne was unavailable for comment.
*Feeling Good Again: UK’s roster this year will look nothing like the team that took the floor last year. This does not bode well for Kentucky. A few days ago, Detroit Pistons PG Peyton Siva announced that Louisville will be better this season than they were last season. This is a scary prospect for anyone on the Cards’ schedule. UofL, of course, won the school’s 3rd national championship last year. To think they’ll be even better this year? Staggering. The other top teams in the country, such as Indiana, lost most of their big names and will take a step back. Meanwhile, the Cards (per Siva) will take a step forward. And while some may accuse Siva of bias, remember this: He doesn’t even play for Louisville, so what does he stand to gain by overstating how good they’ll be, while understating how much better college basketball as a whole will be this year? Some have argued that UK will be a more formidable team this year than they were last year, but it is hard to find any evidence to support this prediction. The Cats lost 5 of their top 6 leading scorers. And now they’re going to try and replace them with a bunch of freshmen? Good luck.
* On this date: On this date in 1993, SMU was celebrating a season that ended in the NCAA Tournament, and they were eagerly anticipating a return trip to the Big Dance. They are still waiting.