Do you ever have moments when you reflect on your life and get completely creeped out by yourself (looking at you, SexnNursinHomes)? I had that moment the other night, when I realized that I spend way too much time to worrying about what teenage boys are going to do with their lives.
One of the many eccentricities that come with being a Kentucky fan is an almost unhealthy obsession with “what’s next,” whether it be recruiting, draft decisions, or championships. It’s a common habit of any sports junkie, but Kentucky are infamous for their fixation on the next crop of superstars, particularly since Cal came on board. It’s why we’ve spent most of our post-championship week trying to read the minds of two high school seniors, who will finally put us out of our misery Wednesday night at 7:30 p.m.
— We’ve known about Shabazz Muhammad for a while now. Shabazz made his first KSR appearance in Aaron’s UK Basketball Blog’s Article Links back on July 23, 2010 as a mere blip on the Class of 2012 radar. Months later, he emerged as one of the top 2012 recruits, whom Cal had been after from the start. Since then, he’s been at the top of everyone’s 2012 wish list, and it’s not hard to see why. Shabazz is an offensive machine, a lefty who is as comfortable attacking the rim as he is pulling up and draining a jumper. His talent is undeniable, which explains his long list of suitors. Early on, Shabazz seemed to be leaning towards staying in Las Vegas to attend UNLV, but eventually struck them from the list for bigger offers.
The last few months of his recruitment have been hard to read, with Kentucky falling in and out of the top spot, Coach K. lingering in the shadows, and UCLA remaining near the top despite an incriminating Sports Illustrated article about the program and current coach Ben Howland. In fact, many in the media think that the only reason Howland wasn’t fired was because he was so tight with Shabazz and his family, and that the superstar could be the savior the program needs to get out of the gutter. Shabazz’s father told SNYtv that his son would sit down with his parents and make a final decision Tuesday night, which is contrary to Shabazz’s tweet Monday night indicating he had already decided. Most assume he’s a lock for UCLA, but could this be a sign Shabazz is reconsidering? ESPN’s Dave Telep said that although the Bruins were the leaders, Kentucky “has the current momentum.” Only time will tell.
— Nerlens Noel first turned heads on the recruiting scene back a year ago for his unbelievable shot blocking ability and even more unbelievable hair. Originally a 2013 recruit, Noel reclassified in February of this year after a showstopping performance in the Hoophall Classic. Since then, he’s taken over Shabazz’s number one spot in the 2012 rankings and vaulted to the top of every elite teams’ wish list. He’s similar to Davis in his ability to dominate a game defensively and force teams to plan around him, and his offensive skills continue to develop. Noel would help Kentucky maintain its defensive integrity for which it became so infamous this season, and based on his numerous recruiting diaries, Twitter followers, and general “swag,” he doesn’t shy from the spotlight, an essential quality for any Kentucky player. Noel’s down to Kentucky, Georgetown, and Syracuse, with most analysts predicting he’ll pick the Cats. But, in his latest ESPN diary, Nerlens was adamant that he hadn’t made up his mind yet, and sat down to make the decision with his family on Tuesday night.
— If both Shabazz and Nerlens decide to come to Lexington, they will have an immediate impact on the team next season. They have different strengths (Shabazz on offense, Nerlens on defense) that together would complete Kentucky’s roster and infinitely increase the Cats’ chances at defending the title. The class we have coming in so far (Poythress, Goodwin, Cauley, Harrow) is good, but landing Shabazz and Noel would make it great. If we only get one, I would argue that Noel would be more valuable due to his defensive presence, which we saw in Davis this past season proved so invaluable; however, Shabazz would give the Cats the firepower they’ll probably lose in the draft in Lamb and Miller. If both decide to go elsewhere, it will be unfortunate, but not the end of the world. This is Kentucky, after all, and Anthony Bennett’s still on the board.
— Of course, all of this speculation leads up to the ESPNU Signing Day Special, which will air Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. ET. Nerlens and Shabazz will finally announce their decisions during the special live from the ESPN studio in Charlotte, North Carolina, where both recruits are in town to play in the Jordan Brand Classic. Our very own John Calipari will make an appearance during the program, and that’s gotta be a good thing, right?
Don’t worry, you won’t have to watch it alone–we’ll be live blogging it, because face it: we’re already going through withdrawal.
— Feeling antsy about tonight’s events? You’ll be glad to hear that Alex Oriakhi dropped Duke from his list Tuesday, leaving North Carolina, Missouri, Xavier to compete with Kentucky for the talented transfer.
— Moving on…as Matt reported below, Calipari and the National Championship Trophy will take a bus/train tour across the state on Thursday and Friday, stopping in the following cities: Ashland, Pikeville, Hazard, Frankfort, Elizabethtown, Owensboro, and Paducah. Scroll down to Matt’s post for more details, including times and locations. You’ll never need a new Christmas card picture ever again.
— The tour doesn’t stop there! On Saturday, the trophy will be on display at two Verizon stores in Lexington and Louisville, thanks to UK IMG and Verizon. The general public is invited to come take a picture with the trophy at the following locations:
Saturday, April 14th from 10am – 2pm
Verizon Wireless in Lexington, KY (near Hamburg)
1895 Vendor Way
Lexington, KY 40509
Saturday, April 14th from 4pm – 7pm
Verizon Wireless in Louisville, KY (near The Summit)
4830 Norton Healthcare Blvd.
Louisville, KY 40241
— It was a rough night for the baseball team, who lost to #19 Louisville, 12-0. It was the team’s first shutout of the season and their first non-conference loss. It was by far the worst loss of the season for the 30-4 squad, but they can get back on the horse this weekend when they head to Arkansas for a three-game series.
— News broke Tuesday night that Arkansas fired Bobby Petrino following his affair with Jessica Dorrell, a 25-year-old female football employee, that came to light after the two were in a motorcycle crash last week. During a press conference to announce the firing, Arkansas officials revealed that Petrino knowingly deceived and acted inappropriately in Dorrell’s hiring process, including giving her $20,000 before she was hired. And you might as well quit those daydreams I see stirring in your head: Mitch Barnhart won’t hire Petrino.
Speaking of Barnhart, Wednesday is a big day around these parts: he will be on the radio show around 11 a.m. to discuss the state of Kentucky athletics, which is pretty good these days if you haven’t been paying attention.
The rest of the day, we’ll be getting you ready for the big decision at 7:30 p.m. Odds are that since both Shabazz and Nerlens made their decisions on Tuesday night, news will trickle out before the ESPNU special, so keep that finger on refresh.