Thursday is a huge sports day in the Bluegrass. The NFL Draft kicks off and it is likely 3-5 UK players will hear their name called between now and the end of the Draft on Saturday. NBA and NHL Playoffs will continue, but here locally two events matter: John Wall says Goodbye and Marquis Teague potentially says hello. The latter has been discussed here a lot tonight, but lets remember the first as well, as both are extremely important to the program.
JOHN WALL DEPARTS:
At 10 am, John Wall will have a press conference to announce his departure from UK and to say thanks to the fans in the Bluegrass. It is hard to overestimate just what an impact Wall has had during his time in Lexington. I will write more about this tomorrow, but I remember having a conversation with Steve Romines, a lawyer here in Louisville, after Midnight Madness when he said (in his thick drawl), “Matt, we have never had the coolest player in America…we do now and that is a damn cool thing to see.” He was exactly right. For the first time maybe ever, Kentucky basketball not only had the best fans, but had the player that everyone wanted to see play, emulate and just experience during the season. Wall was on the cover of every magazine, talked about on every show and became the face of college basketball. By just being John Wall, he made Kentucky basketball exciting and relevant again….and that is something that will long outlive his one year in Lexington.
I said when Wall first started, his impact will continue long after he leaves Kentucky. If he has the pro career that we expect, Wall will have a program-building impact that is very rarely seen in college basketball. He has partnered with Lebron James and if Wall hits the potential he has, his connection to Kentucky will mean recruits and a hip factor around Kentucky that could literally pay dividends for 25 years. North Carolina still benefits from the fact that Michael Jordan went there. Georgetown lived off Allen Iverson for at least a decade. Kentucky basketball will feel the 1 year John Wall had in Lexington for a long time to come. He is a great person and he leaves a great legacy…what more can you ask from a Kentucky player? Get excited about the future, but take a minute to remember the past and do one last John Wall Dance (or shot) for old times sake.
MARQUIS TEAGUE ANNOUNCES
At 1:30, the Point Guard in America that is most considered to have John Wall-like potential makes his decision. It is expected that 2011 PG Marquis Teague will select Kentucky today and continue the Calipari tradition of bringing in the best of the best at the PG position. Teague is a supreme talent and one that seems to only be getting better. Today, fellow 2011 PG Tony Wroten Jr, tweeted out that Teague told him he was coming to Kentucky and that has been the general consensus from most that follow this stuff on a regular basis. If he ends up going elsewhere, it will have been quite a surprise put on UK fans, but if as expected, he comes to Kentucky, the train keeps on going. Calipari may make Teague his 5th straight “one and done” NBA PG (assuming Knight were to follow that path) and continue his position as THE coach of Point Guards in America. The 2011 class would set up to potentially be the best of all time and a national championship run in two years would be expected. The Teague decision is like that of Gilchrist…a special player who is once again looking to join the Kentucky program and bring other worldly talent to Lexington.
It also will be a crushing blow to Louisville if he picks Kentucky. Rick Pitino has been after Teague for two years…has a close relationship with his father and hired an associate of Teague’s last year. He went “all-in” with Teague early on and to lose him, on the heels of the Chandler decommitment, would signal a huge worry to Card fans. It may be the case that if Teague decommits, 5 star Wayne Blackshear is not far behind and a class that at one time looked like it could be the best in program history, falls apart before his eyes. It would be a crushing blow to Rick Pitino and one that will stick with Card fans for some time.
So there you go…that is what is at stake today. The departure of a Cat legend and the potential making of a new one. Days like this are what make UK basketball great and we will be here to bring you all of it….Teague is at 1:30…we will have it here or, if the site gives hiccups, you can get the answer by following us at Twitter on this link. Wear blue…its another great day.