When John Calipari is the person in charge of pulling the strings that determine your happiness as a Kentucky basketball fan, there just aren’t that many “bad days.” The worst day since Calipari’s hire that I can remember was the night we lost to West Virginia in the Elite 8. Considering where Kentucky basketball had been just 12 months prior, even the empty feeling of sadness and “what could have been” on that evening weren’t as bad as some of the lows from the previous decade. On the contrary, most days as a Kentucky basketball fan in the last 3 years have been good, if not great. Every fan enjoys winning. There has been absolutely no shortage of production in that area under Calipari. Every fan enjoys watching the best and most athletic players in college basketball playing on Rupp Arena’s floor, in blue and white. Check. Every fan enjoys national championships. Banner? Check. And perhaps most importantly, most fans enjoy having a constant stream of “Kentucky basketball news” of some sort flooding into their lives on a daily basis. There have been probably a total of 20 days (maybe, and I mean maybe…) since Calipari’s hire in which absolutely nothing of note has happened in the world of Kentucky basketball. If Calipari were one of your high school friends’ parents, he would be the parent who always had food in the cabinet every time you came over. And I’m not just talking about vanilla wafers and pretzels. I’m talking about the parent who always had the good stuff, no matter what day of the week. You know what I’m talking about. And if you don’t, you hung out with the wrong friends.
Calipari has provided us with a lot of good days as Kentucky basketball fans since his arrival in Lexington. Today was not a good day. Today was a golden day. Today was one of the handful of days since he’s been here that falls into the “golden day” category, especially when narrowed down even more specifically to recruiting news. Every recruit who has committed during the Calipari era has been exciting. He simply doesn’t go after many who are anything but the best. During his Kentucky career thus far though, Calipari has had 3 days that I would consider “golden.” The commitments on these 3 days did not simply mark the possibility of a #1 recruiting class, or the commitment of another McDonald’s All-American/5-star recruit. The commitments on these 3 days signaled a distinct possibility, a feeling that simply can’t be denied, that Kentucky will soon be making another run at a national title. Every year since Calipari’s arrival has provided Kentucky with a shot at a national championship, without question. But the verbal today from the Harrison Twins has set the ball in motion for what is shaping up to be a very, very special season in 2014. First it was John Wall (golden day #1). Then it was Anthony Davis (golden day #2) and today it was Andrew and Aaron Harrison (golden day #3). Enjoy it, folks.
If you don’t think today was a big day, just allow a few numbers to tell the story. Consider all that has happened in the world of Kentucky basketball in the past 3-4 years, including winning a national championship. Today was KSR’s largest day of hits ever, passing the day after the national title. 480,000 page views and 250,000 unique visitors. Golden day.
And now on to the news of the day…
— We can pretend that a host of other important things happened today, but let’s all be honest… the day belonged to Aaron and Andrew Harrison. The Harrison Twins, two of the top 5 prospects in the 2013 class made their verbal commitment to the University of Kentucky early this evening on an ESPNU signing special. All day the rumors circulated, some pointing to Kentucky, others pointing to Maryland– and most admitting that the race was simply too close to call. Calipari had some legitimate cards stacked against him in this one, but still managed to nudge out the Terps in the end.
— Andrew and Aaron Harrison said that they felt like rock stars when they took their visit to Kentucky last year at Midnight Madness (well done, crowd).
Here are a few quotes from the announcement today:
“Even though I’m highly rated or whatever, I still feel like I’m just as important as the last player on the bench. I try to get everyone involved.”
”The most important thing to me is winning. I know Aaron scores more points than me, but it doesn’t matter to me. I just really like to win.”
”When we went to Kentucky, it was like the week before Midnight Madness. There were tents and people were sleeping outside and camping out for Midnight Madness.”
(On Andrew) “He’s probably the biggest, most dominant player in the country, really. He does whatever he wants on the floor.”
”We always knew we were going to the same school.”
(what he liked about Kentucky) “Just all the attention you get. Everyone knows who you are when you walk in the gym. It’s a great feeling.”
— Even Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith, a former Maryland Terp himself, couldn’t hate on the decision…
— Somewhere there is a man wearing a little too much Under Armour in a little too warm of weather saying, “yeah, we’ll never be Nike.” Somewhere a manager from Burger King understands a little too well exactly what he means.
— Many former Kentucky players were all over the news of the big commitment today, including Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
— I’m not sure exactly how he does it, but I think Cal’s work rate on the job certainly helps. John Calipari hit a home run today, but he didn’t let that slow his momentum. With two commitments in his back pocket, he made the trip to Huntington, West Virginia to watch Andrew Wiggins practice. Wiggins is still currently a member of the 2014 class (the #1 player in fact), but has not yet ruled out the possibility of re-classifying to the 2013 class. Either way, Wiggins will be the best player in whichever class he chooses.
— Speaking of future commitments, now that the Harrison twins have jumped on board for the 2013 class, along with Derek Willis– the big question becomes who will be next? James Young just wrapped up a visit to Lexington last weekend, and now might make an appearance at Big Blue Madness. Two visits to Lexington within a short amount of time has to be a good sign when it comes to James Young. Smart money was previously on Young to be Kentucky’s next 2013 commitment following Willis. Perhaps the attention turns to him once again to be the next to pull the trigger. Evan Daniels of Scout.com told Rivals that he believes “Kentucky is probably the leader” for Young.
— 2013 has long been talked about as potentially being Calipari’s best recruiting class ever. Following today’s announcement, if Kentucky can land Julius Randle, Andrew Wiggins and James Young (or any of the other top 20 recruits they are courting), the 2013 class just might be the best recruiting class ever… for any coach, at any school. Either way, Calipari has the early lead on the #1 class in 2013, which would make an astounding five #1 classes in a row for Calipari. Last name
ever Calipari, first name greatest John. In all honesty though, when it comes to recruiting, can it not be argued that Calipari is one of the best–if not the best, ever in the game?
— With the possibilities in the 2014 season on the mind all day, don’t forget about the season that is just around the corner. Click here to purchase tickets for Kentucky’s Blue/White Scrimmage. Also, John Calipari spoke about his 2013 team on ESPNU’s podcast earlier today. We knew this team was inexperienced, but every now and then a staggering fact comes out about them that reminds us of just how inexperienced they truly are. Kentucky will be the only BCS school (out of 72) that doesn’t have a returning player who started in a game for Kentucky last season. Julius Mays started for Wright State on a regular basis over the past few years, but did not start a game for a BCS school last season.
— Calipari also compared Archie Goodwin’s motor to Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Yes, please.
— The SEC as a whole should be exciting in the next few years. The Harrison twins commitment gives the SEC 6 of Rivals’ Top 15 prospects and 10 of the top 60 in the 2013 class. Consider the fact that Kentucky will likely add a few more…
— Allow me to break up your nightly news with the “huh?” picture of the day. What’s wrong with this t-shirt?
— Hey, Kentucky football has a big game against Mississippi State on Saturday. The game took the backseat to the Harrison twins’ announcement today, but a few important notes came out of practice. Joker Phillips labeled the Kentucky quarterback situation as a “slash quarterback system,” alluding to the fact that although Jalen Whitlow is the named starter, Patrick Towles will be splitting snaps with Whitlow for the rest of the game. The exact division of snaps and series is yet to be seen, but for those who have been clamoring to see the Patrick Towles era at the University of Kentucky begin, Saturday will be the day. For a Saturday afternoon game that is competing with Keeneland, apathy and afternoon naps, I think almost every Kentucky football fan will be tuned in to see what Patrick Towles can bring to the table.
— Joker Phillips said that Towles told him today that he wished UK’s game was in two hours. Joker responded, “I don’t.”
— According to Jennifer Palumbo, UK has called a news conference for 10 a.m. tomorrow at the UKPD to discuss tailgating for Saturday’s game at Commonwealth. What does that mean for the tailgating scene moving forward? After last week’s ghost town of a student tailgate, I think many at least hope that the student tailgate scene can make some kind of a comeback.
— Two former Kentucky Wildcats might be competing for a roster spot in Oklahoma City. NewOk.com recently interviewed DeAndre Liggins about trying out for a final roster spot with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Liggins said he thinks the Thunder like (surprise, surprise) his defense the most.
“My defense mostly. That’s why I’m in the league, because of my defense. I’m trying to become an improved jump-shooter and a better ball-handler.”
Liggins knows he is competing with former teammate Daniel Orton. Liggins was not only teammates with Orton at Kentucky, but in his first NBA stop in Orlando as well.
“Daniel Orton is right there with me. In the NBA, you never know what happens. It’s just fallen that way. I’m happy for Daniel. I’m happy to be here with Daniel. End of the day, we’re trying to compete for a job.”
— Fun twin fact of the night: Three generations of twins have now been associated with Kentucky basketball in the last 2 years. Anthony Davis and his sister Antionette were both students at Kentucky last year. Alex Poythress and his twin sister are current Kentucky students. Andrew and Aaron Harrison…well, you know.
— And last but not least, the UK men’s basketball team is not the only team to be excited about this winter. The UK Hoops team is coming off of its third consecutive NCAA tournament appearance, 2 of which have resulted in a trip to the Elite 8. UK Hoops has been picked as a pre-season Top 10 team by Lindy’s Sports Magazine and Athlon Sports Magazine.