Now, the offseason. And while there may not be any more games to played, there is always excitement surrounding the Kentucky basketball program, whether it’s which freshmen (or juniors) will declare for the NBA before they’re ready, which player will be implicated in a New York Times story, or which NBA job John Calipari will actively seek this summer. To stay apprised and educated, follow me on Twitter @NotJerryTipton. Here’s the weekly notebook:
*Reason To Worry: It seems the Kentucky basketball program’s approach toward academics is under fire yet again. CBS commentator Len Elmore recently stated that the fact that Enes Kanter actually cares about is schoolwork is “unique to that particular program.” Predictably, UK fans were indignant. However, it is telling to note that while the fans may have gotten their feelings hurt, John Calipari has yet to deny Elmore’s allegations. Specifically, he has not produced signed affidavits from all of his players affirming that they do, in fact, care about schoolwork. Likewise, Bobby Knight pointed out that no UK starters on the 2010 squad attended a single class, and though Kentucky claimed this was untrue by vaguely referring to a collection of grades without specifying how said grades were “earned,” the university has yet to produce notarized attendance sheets for each player on that roster. Until the program and the school take these kinds of measures, the statements of Elmore and Knight will remain unchallenged.
*Don’t Pick On Me: When Alabama sharpshooter Trevor Lacey committed to Alabama, UK fans were upset and confused. Why would any player, much less one who has aspirations and the talent to play in the NBA, choose to play at Alabama instead of Kentucky? The answer, it seems, is simple: He was scared off by Kentucky fans. When Lacey played in the Derby Classic in Louisville, he was famously told to “pick Kansas” by a UK fan after he missed a shot. The controversy made the front page of at least one newspaper in Kentucky. In light of the fact that Lacey reportedly had Kentucky as his leader before the game, the only logical conclusion is that he would have chosen UK if not for one overzealous fan. And while that fan’s jeers were front-page news, one has to wonder what other things were said to Lacey that the media opted not to publicize.
*The Greatest Man That Ever Lived: A few days ago, Rick Pitino said that he refuses to recruit one-and-done players. Rather, his preference is to recruit hard-working student-athletes who want to go to college to get an education and better themselves physically, mentally and ethically under his tutelage. In other words, talent isn’t everything, and to borrow the slogan of an old bumper sticker, “Character Matters.” This philosophy would likely explain why Pitino opted not to sign elite players like John Wall, Marquis Teague and Ryan Harrow. And while some saw Pitino’s comment as a direct shot at John Calipari, even UK fans would have to concede that Pitino has a point. After all, unlike Coach Cal, he does have a ring. As such, he’s within his rights to remind people that it’s entirely possible win an NCAA championship without having 9 NBA future players on your roster.
* On This Date: On this date in 1992, Kentucky fans were still heartbroken over losing to Duke in the Elite 8.