Hmmm, this is quite a predicament.
I’ll make this NBA take brief because it could border on a BTI-like rant, but I want to get something out of the way. I love the NBA. I’m not one of those haters. But, I firmly believe that David Stern would rig every playoff series if he could and he does his absolute best behind the scenes to make sure he gets the matchups he wants. So, yes, I’m an NBA conspiracy theorist. So, as a Dallas Mavericks fan, I am rooting for one thing: David Stern’s misery, which makes me a very happy man tonight. After an absolutely great game between the Magic and the Cavs (which the officials nearly stole by sending LeBron to the foul line on a phantom foul with .4 seconds left and a subsequent no-call on the lob to Dwight Howard), the Magic sit with a 3-1 lead over the Cavs. This, of course, means we’re just one Magic win away from a rock solid punch in the gut to Stern by sending the LeBron-less Magic to The Finals. Sure, I hate it for LeBron, but this might be the only way he can shake that awful coach and that Stern can be privately crushed. This makes me a little happy.
Ok, now on to the UK news…
– The biggest news of the day was the announcement from UK that AJ Stewart, Donald Williams and Jared Carter would not be returning next year. This really comes as a surprise to no one as Williams and Stewart have been expected to leave since the season ended and Jared Carter was honored as a graduating senior prior to the last home game, but it does serve as the first step in getting the roster straightened out for next year. Should Jodie Meeks remain in the NBA Draft, Kentucky will only have to find one more roster spot, but if Meeks returns, Calipari will have to clear two positions. The main candidates for the last spot(s) remain in no particular order: Josh Harrellson, DeAndre Liggins, Matt Pilgrim and Kevin Galloway. With Harrellson’s Facebook declaration that he would be back and if you assume Galloway is grandfathered in as a senior, then Liggins and Pilgrim would be the two most likely to be on the block. Based on that, what can we expect? I have no idea. Those are all just assumptions and guesses and anything could happen at this point. What we do know is that the next announcement will be a lot more interesting than this one.
– Also, what started out as just a small note and then got spun into a big story, Landon Slone announced he would not return to UK after getting some action as a walk-on last year. Of course, the biggest part of the story wasn’t that he plans to visit Morehead on Friday or that he could transfer to Arkansas. It was that he never actually got the chance to meet with Calipari despite asking to do so, which sparked the first internet firestorm critical of Calipari since his hiring and got a Twitter response from Coach. But, we won’t debate that here. It’s pointless. The part of the story that I think is interesting is that Slone could have possibly been given a scholarship by Gillispie had he been retained as coach. I think this is noteworthy for two reasons. First, it shows how far things have come in less than two months if UK has gone from giving a walk-on guard a scholarship to getting two of the top 3 point guards in a class and, secondly, because it makes you feel for Slone even more knowing that he’s gone from having a scholarship to his dream school in his grasp to hitting the road. It’s a tough thing for him, I’m sure, but this is what we all signed up for with Calipari. I think everything will be more than ok for both parties.
– However, what I do think is relevant from the whole Landon Slone meeting fiasco is the way Calipari nipped the situation in the bud with a quick Twitter message, which proves once again what a master of public relations Kentucky’s new coach is. You can give the credit to the people in the sports information department (who do a phenomenal job), but Calipari deserves the bulk of the credit for smoothin over the situation – which likely isn’t that big of an issue in the long run anyway. Do you think this would happen under the old regime? Ummm….I don’t think so. Once again, Calipari gets it and these are the things that are the icing on a very moist and delicious cake.
– As we get all crazy over the incoming recruits and all the nationwide talent targeted by Calipari and his new staff, we might have forgotten a bit about a guy who is still sticking around and doing his thing fairly well. Vinny Zollo was named to the Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions All-Tournament team after leading his Indiana Elite team to the championship game. Zollo remains as the only Gillispie commitment still a part of Kentucky’s plans at this point and has seemed to fallen majorly to the background of the minds of UK fans over the past two months or so. I’m not sure if he’s yet grown to the mythical height we heard so much about when he gave his verbal to UK, but people who have seen Zollo play talk about how strong he is in the lane and how fundamentally sound he is. Will that be enough to keep his spot as a member of the 2011 class? We shall see. But, strong performances like this certainly can’t hurt, right? Also, former UK commitments KC Ross-Miller and Dominique Ferguson were named to the All-Tournament Team in the U17 group.
That’s all for now. Stick around for what is sure to be a very big day around these parts. Later this afternoon, we make a site announcement that we’re all excited about and Matt gets ready for a big rest of the week on The Freak Show. Tonight, Rod Strickland will be a guest on the show, followed by John Robic on Thursday and Orlando Antigua on Friday. Stay tuned, folks. We’ll see you in a few…