A wonderful day in the world of UK basketball news, where all of a sudden news breaks faster than a fat girl’s will power at the hands of Hubby. The big story of the day of course is the news that Randolph Morris has left the University of Kentucky to sign a 2 year deal with the New York Knicks. Morris will leave now, head to New York and begin working out with the team, thanks to his unique situation after not being picked in the draft two years ago. The University of Kentucky released a statement today saying that Mitch Barnhart had met with Morris last night, asking him to wait until a new coach was named before leaving, and Morris agreed…..only to make the deal today.
Lots of folks are upset about this move by Morris and say he is being disloyal to the University or Barnhart. I think that opinion is simply silly. By releasing the statement today, Barnhart sent the message to the fanbase that Randolph was disloyal and apparently misled the Athletic Director. However Randolph Morris owed no duty to Barnhart or the University beyond that which he has already done. The University and Tubby Smith did Randolph a favor by allowing him back on the team…..and that decision has helped his future pro career. But lets not act like UK did that only out of the kindness of its heart. UK got two years of Randolph on the court, providing an anchor that kept the team from drifting into the sea of awfulness that was possible. After that two year commitment, Randolph had to do for Randolph…..especially with the coaching uncertainty. I appreciate Morris’ time at UK, but a two-year guaranteed offer is what Randolph needs…..and waiting for a new coach would not change that fact. I wish the big guy luck, as he provided a lot for the team during his time here…..even when he did drive me crazy.
To some special Friday news…..
(1) The Billy Donovan rumors are going to keep churning over the next week and it looks like Donovan will do nothing to dispel them. In his postgame press conference tonight, he was asked about whether he would consider UK and he said something to the effect that this wasnt his job to hire a coach and right now he was worried about enjoying this group of Florida players. That is not a no folks……and not saying no (which I respect if that is what he believes) is a lot closer to a yes when your team is still playing for a title. In addition, Bret Bearup (who is very close to Billy and a former UK player) did an interview today in which he said that Billy would consider UK and it is the coaching job he might leave for. I also spoke with a national media member close to Billy who told me that without question “he will look at it. He has been disappointed with the crowd support in Gainesville and this is a possibility.” Thus IF (and unfortunately this may be a big IF) Mitch pursues him, Billy will listen. As for talk that this is a done deal…..simply put, I dont believe it. It may end up happening but it hasnt yet.
(2) Part of the reason I make the above conclusion is I know that at least one other coach has been contacted. From what it seems, Mitch Barnhart is at least covering all his bases, including talking to folks who may be lower on his list. Everyone I speak to continues to tell me that the names Billy Gillespie and Mark Few are high on Barnhart’s list. Fewer folks are talking Tom Crean today, but that may simply be that the thirst for new news outweighs the old news. I do however believe Larry Vaught, who told us today on the show, “if people tell you that they know what Mitch is thinking, they are speculating.” Solid info is only going to come from sources outside UK…..and ultimately this is how the story will break.
(3) When a coach leaves, transfer rumors abound. There is no truth to the rumor that WLAP, in my view unprofessionally due to the academics part of the conversation, allowed to be on its air and debated today that Joe Crawford had flunked out of school and was going to Europe. Joe is still here, in class and plans to be back next year. I have also been told that all Freshmen are committed to waiting and seeing about a new coach before making any decisions. I have been told that the player most in flux is Derrick Jasper, who came to Kentucky in large part due to his coach’s relationship with Tubby and who has the most distance from the Bluegrass State. No decisions will be made until a coach’s decision is made, but he would be my biggest transfer worry.
(4) Speculation will be on hold for all incoming recruits, at least temporarily. AJ Stewart will be a Cat next year…..his coach has confirmed that. Mike Williams “Big Black Member” is on hold until a new coach is picked. Speed is of the essence for Jai Lucas as he had planned to make his decision next week…..UK needs to try and get him to hold off on his decision……and I am sure they will do that. Patrick Patterson was committed to waiting until mid-April to decide…..however he wants to narrow his choices by the end of next week. Florida could do us all a favor and lose on Sunday, but absent that, I will be interested in seeing if Patrick follows through with that decision.
(5) Finally, Woo is the gift that keeps on giving. For those of you that havent seen the television news report where Woo is interviewed….do it. He is stopped on his way to Wildcat Lodge and asked about Tubby leaving and he goes into intricate detail on when he found out, what Tubby said to the team, etc. After talking for 2-3 minutes, he then is asked if anyone cried…..Woo tenses up and says, “you will have to talk to Scott Stricklin to set up an interview about that.” I love Woo…..believe this, he will be on Kentucky Sports Radio the MOMENT this search is over and he is eligible to do so. Woo!!!!
And with the big games, tonight my bracket is Eight for Eight in the Elite Eight. The little things in life make me happy.
Could be a big weekend of news…..for the first weekend in recent memory, I am at the KSR Compound all weekend with no radio or media commitments and a chance to rest….that means blogging will be hot and heavy……so ladies be sure and check in.