At 9:30 EST tonight on ESPN, the
Kentucky All-Star Game McDonald’s High School All-American Game tips off at the United Center in Chicago. There’s bound to be a lot going on, but here’s what Kentucky fans should focus on to better know their future national champions:
Julius Randle’s Intensity
Throughout the interview session yesterday, the Kentucky commits all agreed on two things: national championship or bust, and Julius Randle has the most competitive mindset out of everyone playing this week- not a statement made lightly, considering the players all spoke at length about how practice next year is going to be a battle every single day, with fights expected to break out (I fear for the team trainer after the squad’s first dodgeball match of the season). The Harrison twins and Randle have grown up playing together, and seeing them face off against each other should be a treat for viewers. After telling reporters today that anything less than a national championship will be a disappointment next year, look for that focus and competitive spirit in Randle’s play on the court. Gotta say, that was something the team missed sorely this year.
Also, according to Dakari Johnson, “he [Randle] talks a lot of smack on the court.” Parents, might want to shield your kids from reading Randle’s lips. Uncle Julius, he is not.
With two players on the East team (Dakari Johnson and Randle, plus the possible Wiggins) and four players on the West team (Harrison twins, Marcus Lee, and James Young), both sides of the ball will offer Kentucky fans glimpses of what’s to come in 200 or so days. From all accounts, the future teammates have spent the week hanging out and enjoying each other’s company, and have been showing up to practices early to shoot around together before everyone else arrives. Tonight, we’ll get a chance to see how all that team bonding has paid off. While it’s obvious that the Harrison twins know how to play together, it’ll be exciting for Kentucky fans to watch how they distribute the ball to Lee and Young. An early preview of the Blue-White game next year is just what Kentucky fans need to firmly bury this season.
Marcus Lee’s Combo Skills
At 6-9, Lee is considered a power forward, yet possesses many guard skills that make him a matchup threat to other teams. An avid volleyball player, Lee is one summer of weight-lifting away from being a force to be reckoned with down low. At yesterday’s practice, Lee’s mere presence was enough to alter shots in the paint, yet he also showed off his passing skills and is mobile enough to go up against guards. As Andrew Harrison said, “He contests every shot, and if he doesn’t block it he definitely scares off the little guards.” At any other school, Lee would be the star of the show, yet Kentucky fans have yet to truly experience his game. Don’t write him off, folks- he could end up being a diamond in the rough for the Cats.
Andrew Wiggins’ Athleticism
We saw it in the dunk contest on Monday night (#2 on Sportscenter, anyone?), but now we get a full court and a green light for The Andrew Wiggins Experience. Although Wiggins remained completely mum yesterday regarding his impending college decision and timetable, any casual basketball fan will be able to see tonight that Wiggins is compared to Michael Jordan and LeBron James for good reason. He is a Monstar, and one who amazingly has his whole career of ahead of him. Here’s hoping Kentucky is a pit stop on the Wiggins Tour de Force.
And finally… Fear and Despair in Other Players’ Eyes
Because really, it’s not even fair. The Cats should be added to the NBA East next year. And if Wiggins commits? Well, as James Young said, “I feel like we would be the Miami Heat or something like that.”
Yeah. Something like that.