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:
*Changes: The big story this past week was John Calipari’s announcement that a team comprised of former UK stars currently playing in the NBA would be taking on his Domincan national team at Rupp Arena on August 15. The roster of former Kentucky players (which Calipari tried to illegally dub “UK Legends,” an idea that was nixed by the NCAA) is as follows: Nazr Mohammed, Tayshaun Prince, Keith Bogans, Rajon Rondo, Jodie Meeks, John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins and Eric Bledsoe. In assembling this roster, Calipari may have unwittingly let the “Cat” out of the bag, by revealing the utter lack of success his former UK players have had in the NBA, as compared to those who played at UK under Rick Pitino (Mohammed), Tubby Smith (Prince, Bogans, Rondo) and Billy Gillispie (Meeks). A closer examination of these players, and their NBA statistics, demonstrates the enormous disparity between the two groups. Consider: During the course of their NBA careers, Calipari’s players have been outscored by Pitino’s/Smith’s/Gillispie’s players by the staggering margin of 22,911 to 2,817, they’ve been outrebounded 10,862 to 1,239 and they’ve been out-assisted 5,888 to 1,067. The fact that the NCAA won’t allow Coach Cal to promote this as a UK event may actually be a good thing, as the game simply brings attention to the fact that, while Calipari may get players to the NBA, they don’t have nearly as much success once they get there as those who played for other coaches at UK. Calipari has actually said as much previously, by citing a phenomenon he calls the “Kentucky Effect,” which is simply a polite way of admitting that his players are overrated. Though not everybody believed him at the time, the numbers don’t lie.
*Ambitionz as a Ridah: As additional support for the argument that Cal’s Cats don’t make good NBA players, it is interesting to note that not a single member of UK’s 2011 draft class has opted to play in the game. Surprisingly, neither Enes Kanter, Brandon Knight, Josh Harrellson, nor DeAndre Liggins will be taking part in the contest. At first blush, this seems to be a curious decision, as one would think that these younger players would be the more athletic, better conditioned, and more familiar with Rupp Arena than those who played there in years past. So what gives? Why aren’t any members of UK’s 2011 Final Four squad going to play in the game? The answer is obvious, albeit unpleasant: They haven’t signed NBA contracts yet. In other words, these players probably have taken note of the statistics cited above, and feel that they would be “exposed” in such a game, thus hurting their value and marketability. Kentucky fans may not like it, but it’s a smart move if you ask me.
*Keep Ya Head Up: On Thursday, it was reported that Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski may have committed an NCAA violation by talking to 2012 star forward Alex Poythress, who claimed to have received a phone call from the Hall of Famer. College basketball fans around the country were shocked by the revelation, given the sparkling reputations of Coach K and Duke. However, it turns out that there may be a simple explanation for this: Poythress was mistaken. When Poythress thought he heard the caller identify himself as “Coach K,” what the caller may have actually said was “Coach Cal.” Betty Sue McGinty, a licensed Speech Language Pathologist in Spokane, Washington has confirmed as much. When reached by phone and asked whether it was possible — given the common reception problems experienced with cell phones — that someone saying “Coach Cal” over the phone can be misunderstood to have said “Coach K,” McGinty was unequivocal in her response: “Sure, I guess. I don’t know. Who’d you say this was?” Her uncertainty as to the identity of the person to whom she was talking only underscores the difficulty commonly experienced with modern communication, and thus strengthened the argument that the call in question originated right here in Lexington. Historians may recall that this isn’t the first time that Duke and Coach K were falsely accused of violating NCAA rules, as a few years back, allegations were made that former Blue Devil Corey Maggette received improper benefits while in high school. This turned out not to be the case, however, as evidenced by the fact that Duke wasn’t punished.
* On this date: On this date in 2007, Morakinyo Williams was on scholarship at the University of Kentucky. To play basketball.