Skip to content

Kentucky Sports Radio

University of Kentucky Basketball, Football, and Recruiting news brought to you in the most ridiculous manner possible.

BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: Let’s Work On Some Perspective…

I will admit I was not, and am not, thrilled with another group of UK players headed out the door for the NBA Draft this year.  I just don’t think anybody can reasonably say that the games of Keldon Johnson or Tyler Herro are “ready” for the NBA.  We certainly can be proven wrong in the next year but having watched them for 37 games, they looked more like freshman than NBA prospects most of the year.  Nonetheless, their dreams, the money, and the overall atmosphere surrounding the program consistently is pushing these type of guys out after 1 year.  Same happened with Marquis Teague, James Young, Devin Booker, Shai-Gilgeous Alexander, etc.  Some of these guys have flourished in the NBA but it didn’t seem like they were slam dunks when they left UK after 1 year.

But it is also important to take a step back and have some perspective about many of the names they have rolled through UK for just 1 season.  We have become blinded to just how unbelievable it is that we get the kind of production we have seen out of 18 and 19 year olds over Calipari’s 10 seasons.  I fall into the trap too.  Keldon Johnson will go down as one of the most frustrating players of this era for me.  And yet, he scored 498 points this year, a 13.5 points per game average.  Rex Chapman scored 464 points in his freshman season, a 16.0 points per game average.  Rex is thought of as an all-time legend and having one of the greatest freshman seasons in school history.  Keldon nearly matched that season and many call him a disappointment.  In fact, consider this

1. Rex Chapman: 464 points
2. Chris Mills: 459 points
3. Sam Bowie: 440 points

Tyler Herro and Keldon Johnson both scored more points than those guys this season.  Along with another 17 freshman in the Calipari era.  A total of 19 players have beaten the previous freshman scoring record since Cal’s arrival.  And many of them were considered disappointments as freshman: Kevin Knox, Aaron Harrison, Archie Goodwin, Keldon.

Similar numbers can be produced for rebounds, steals, assists, blocks, whatever you want to come up with.

We have actually become a little distorted in what we expect of these players.  It’s hard, no doubt.  High preseason rankings doom these guys much of the time.  The Bahamas trip actually became a burden for this team because it only increased expectations unnecessarily.  But the reality is that Keldon Johnson and Tyler Herro just completed two of the best freshman seasons in UK history.  Better than Sam Bowie.  Better than just about anybody before 2009.

But the catch is those players pre-Calipari came back and expanded their legacy within the program.  Can you imagine a Tyler Herro for 3 seasons, like Patrick Patterson.  Or a Keldon Johnson for even 2 seasons, like a Ron Mercer.  Unfortunately that is not the world we live in.  And I think it has created a mentality within this program and fanbase that has caused us to completely lose perspective on just how special the players we have seen over the last 10 years have actually been.


Article written by Bryan the Intern

31 Comments for BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: Let’s Work On Some Perspective…

  1. Ridge Runner
    10:09 am April 18, 2019 Permalink

    No one likes it (UK LOYALTY) and no one blames them ($$ Offered).

    • trumpetguy
      3:49 pm April 18, 2019 Permalink

      That pic of KJ and Herro embracing is one of the best all time re UK hoopsters. Up and down pace of the NBA will suit Herro well IMO, and he won’t have to worry about driving the ball nearly as much. NBA is a players league, not like college where the TV camera focuses as much on the sideline as it does the play on the court. Herro could be a decent 2nd unit option on a decent team drafting late teens, early 20s. Best of luck to all of the guys going forward!

  2. ukbradstith
    10:21 am April 18, 2019 Permalink

    Great piece!

    • mashburnfan1
      7:13 pm April 18, 2019 Permalink

      Except they do not add that both Herro and Johnson played 8 more games as a FR than Rex did. In fact Rex averaged more points per game as a FR than anyone on this years team including PJ. You can make things sound how you want them to but I give you the facts. Not surprising if someone had played 8 more games they may beat the point total but they did not have a better season. Rex also had a better 2 and 3 point shooting % than both.

  3. macattack
    10:28 am April 18, 2019 Permalink

    Good piece and something great to think about. The one thing I quibble with is the idea that they shouldn’t go because they aren’t “ready”. Matt made this point on the radio yesterday and I thought it was a really good one. You are really only going to see a few players in each draft who are actually ready for the NBA. Most will need time to develop. It is all about where you are going to get drafted. Keldon, had he come back and had a monster year, he could have shot to a top 5 pick, so I think there was a case (albeit a small one) for him to come back. Tyler, however, said that he was told he go 10-25. Even if he tore it up I don’t think he could get much higher than late lottery. Just didn’t make sense for him. Develop in the league while you are making money.

    • ClutchCargo
      11:15 am April 18, 2019 Permalink

      Being “ready” for the NBA is way overrated, imho. How many incoming freshmen are actually ready for NCAA D-1 basketball? Like you said, it is just a matter of developing, which they can do full-time as a pro.

    • Trinity45
      11:48 am April 18, 2019 Permalink

      The part about CAl freshmen scoring more than any other freshmen before Cal is misleading. Before Cal freshmen had very good experienced players ahead of them, so they did not get the minutes they get under Cal.

    • Breezearis
      12:52 pm April 18, 2019 Permalink

      This article is also misleading in its comparison in that there are more games in a season now; therefore a freshman has more regular season games to tally up a higher point total.

    • syrin23
      12:53 pm April 18, 2019 Permalink

      Players who left to “develop” in the NBA include James Young, the Harrison twins, Archie Goodwin, Daniel Orton, Doron Lamb, Marquis Teague, Diallo, Knox, etc. That ignores all the transfers. Pretty much the only players who actually made LONG term money in the NBA which is really what matters, were all NBA ready with the exception of crazy athletic big guys that the NBA will be patient with like Cauley Stein. They can draft another Keldon clone next year with ANY pick of the draft from pretty much any team in basketball. That’s why Nick Richards has a much better NBA prospect than Keldon who now has to hope to get the skills to do his job while on the job with his replacement ready to go one year from now.

    • Skooms
      1:08 pm April 18, 2019 Permalink

      Devin Booker says Hello, Syrin.

    • mashburnfan1
      7:18 pm April 18, 2019 Permalink

      agree with a lot of what syrin said except where he says long term money is what really matters. NO, if these guys can make 2 or 4 million now they should be set. If they got a job making $100,000 a year look how many years it would take them to make 2 million. If they can get that in a couple years now you get it.

  4. Heavy C
    10:36 am April 18, 2019 Permalink

    It is what it is and I said this a couple of weeks back. This draft season would go a long way in looking into our future…and its more of the same. I’m not saying it should be different than its played out..just saying. You either have to have multiple GREAT players coming in or have a core if really, really good players coming back combined with a really solid recruiting class in order to win it all. If I had a little more confidence in Nick and EJs development…I’d feel much better.

  5. Big Sexy
    10:36 am April 18, 2019 Permalink

    I can’t help but see Herro and Johnson becoming yet more of the average or below average players Kentucky keeps sending to the NBA.

    34 or so players have left early for the NBA. 6 or 7 are better than an average NBA player? Maybe more than that are not even in the league anymore. These are supposed to be the top athletes in college basketball. It should tell us at the very least that most of these guys weren’t quite ready for the NBA. How many would’ve made more money on a higher contract? Or even gotten a second contract if they had returned and developed their game? I think players now view themselves as failures if they stay at Kentucky more than 1-2 years. It’s the culture now.

    • StillBP
      10:46 am April 18, 2019 Permalink

      If they are average after a few years in the NBA what makes you think another year of college would have helped? You think college coaches are better at developing players than NBA coaches? Most people aren’t saying they are ready to become a superstar in the NBA immediately, but they are ready to get their foot in the door and make money while developing. If they can’t develop with NBA coaches I doubt college coaches would’ve done much more with them.

    • BigJohnC
      12:06 pm April 18, 2019 Permalink


    • Ubtrapper
      10:46 am April 18, 2019 Permalink

      Our only hope nowadays is that the players that do come back for a 2nd year, blow up into something unexpected. That,and if the Fr coming in perform to their ranking, we “might” have a chance at winning another title.

      Unfortunately this upcoming season we’re not going to have enough players left to field a decent team unless Cal manages to cobble a few more bodies together. Who knows. He’s really crapped the bed on getting a team together for next season so far.

    • BigJohnC
      12:07 pm April 18, 2019 Permalink

      Them don’t watch.

    • Big Sexy
      11:52 am April 18, 2019 Permalink

      StillBP let me give you two examples we know too well; Grant Williams and Admiral Schofield. A lot of players in the NBA have needed 3-4 years in college to get better. By your rationale the top 15 or so out of high school should go to the NBA because college won’t help.

    • BigJohnC
      12:05 pm April 18, 2019 Permalink

      Thing about it is, UK isn’t sending them to the NBA, they’re Choosing to go on their own. I just don’t believe anyone told them to go pro or get tf out?

    • syrin23
      1:06 pm April 18, 2019 Permalink

      No, it’s even more irrational Big Sexy. These isiots arguing about this ignore the fact that they DON’T HAVE THE TOOLS for the job, and these guys don’t have unique physical attributes that make them more valuable than their current skill set. nick Richards has those. keldon does not. But here’s what makes no sense. They all talk about positioning themselve in the draft. That is COMPLETELY IRRELEVANT. What is FAR FAR FAR more important is having the SKILLS to do your job for at least five years. Job security at the next level should be ALL that matters. How does it help these kids to get drafted, get a low level three year deal then bounced from the league by another player with their same size but better skills? Draft position is irrelevant. Ask Kevin Knox how playing on the worst team in the league, and being forced to learn on the job helped him with his historic record bad shooting percentage. You think he would have been better served returning and actually getting basketball skills, or getting drafted 32nd by Golden State where he didn’t have to play game after game and show the entire league he wasn’t ready for the league and doesn’t have basketball skills? His only hope right now is his size, but I promise you the Knicks right now are already considering him a bust. Yeah him? But he “got his”, right? No. These kids should go when they are actually NBA READY, not NBA POTENTIAL. Your second contract is where you make your money, what lets you relax and stay in the league, and we have a slew of average height guys who never made it in the league.

    • Skooms
      1:16 pm April 18, 2019 Permalink

      No that’s you being a selfish fan Syrin, and that goes for ALL OF YOU that think these kids should stay. Many of these kids come from lower- low middle class homes, and you want to knock on them for wanting cash? Every single one of them could come back and risk a career ending injury. Then where’s the money? Where’s the payout for how much money UK has made from those players? Don’t give me the bachelor degree BS. The school is making WAYYY more of their likeness than that free scholarship is worth.

    • syrin23
      1:26 pm April 18, 2019 Permalink

      And there we have the irrational shotgun response that addresses no issues. Let’s start with your mythical injury argument. injuries in general are RARE. Season ending injuries extremely rare. career ending injuries DON’T EXIST any more. Gordon Hayward exploded his entire knee and was back in a year. Look at this year. PJ had an injury late in the year. Won’t affect his NBA stock at all. Look at Zion. Same thing. If Zion blew out a knee, he would STILL be the first pick of the draft. so that is the straw man argument you intellectually immature Marxists keep falling back on. Know what, your argument about coming from low income homes could be said about a LARGE number of students in general at any campus. Those kids have to wait four years to get a degree then a job that pays FRACTIONS of what the NBA does, but those students have the JOB SKILLS to work in their profession LONG TERM which is how you change your life for the better. Let’s say Keldon gets a three year dear for $2.5 million, then flames out of the league. You think that will sustain him for the next 60 years of his life? Stupid. The REAL money is from getting a second deal and having longevity in the league even as a journeyman bench player like Darius Miller. Yeah, rant away about the NCAA, it’s completely irrelevant to the topic.

  6. LongTimeReader
    10:48 am April 18, 2019 Permalink

    The issue is that Cal isn’t getting the elite players in the class anymore. So when they leave it’s hard to understand from a fan perspective. If Cal would like players to stay 2 years like PJ he will need to change his pitch to recruits. Like most professional contracts, it’s the second contract that needs to be focus, because that’s where they make the money. If you’re Tyler and Keldon, and you’re projected end of lottery to the mid 20s you better make sure you’re doing what you need to do to get that second contract because while first round money is guaranteed it won’t last forever.

    • Glock
      12:58 pm April 18, 2019 Permalink

      Yes, the second contract is the biggie.

  7. SoCalCat
    11:40 am April 18, 2019 Permalink

    Can you reassess point totals factoring in 3 point baskets? While the comparisons are enlightening, overall totals of ‘yesterday’ and ‘today’ are apples and oranges.

    • J-Dub421
      1:14 pm April 18, 2019 Permalink

      Rex Chapman and Chris Mills both had the three point line. Sam Bowie didn’t have 3 point range regardless. This is a moot point.

  8. Glock
    12:57 pm April 18, 2019 Permalink

    I think once Herro puts on about 15 lbs of muscle that he will be just fine. KJ im not so sure about, NBA is loaded with athletes his size, he has to be far more consistent to stay in the league. My guess is Herrro has a good career and KJ bounces around in G League for at least a couple yrs before we know for sure. Hope they both do well.

  9. VirginiaCat
    12:59 pm April 18, 2019 Permalink

    The problem is that Kentucky loses its best players just as they are beginning to live-up to their potential. They are not around long enough to demonstrate the best versions of themselves. So we get a player like Herro who may be only 50% of the player than he will eventually become in couple of years. There are exceptions like AD and ZION, but they are a rarity. I have long held that a solid 3/4 star with three or four years of experience is more valuable than the average freshman 5 star. I would like to see Cal change his formula to put emphasis on players who will become excellent college players, not necessarily NBA prospects. I think we have seen that having a roster full of McDonald AAs doesn’t guarantee success. As it stands now, we hemorrhage talent every year and then have to scramble to put a team together.

  10. OldSchoolCat
    1:17 pm April 18, 2019 Permalink

    There are a lot of arguments to both sides of this discussion. I for one am just tired of the revolving door and that is not a criticism of Cal just a disagreement on philosophy. Cal has made us relevant every year that we were not with Tubby or Gillespie and I appreciate that but as a season ticket holder I am really tired of every year watching an AAU team hoping they jell by mid February. Yes the first few years under Cal spoiled us with multiple final fours but since we don’t get the cream of the crop recruits anymore we need to adjust to getting players that stay longer and have some consistency year to year.

  11. VirginiaCat
    1:28 pm April 18, 2019 Permalink

    Well said, OldSchoolCat. I think that Cal’s philosophy of “talent over experience” only works when you are getting the best of the best. AD and Zion were 5-stars out of high school and 5-stars as freshmen. Most 5-star freshmen are more like 3-4 stars their initial year of college. It takes them a while to adjust to the college game, mature physically, and develop their skill sets. Was Johnson or Herro 5-star college players last year. No. My point is that the scale shifts from talent to experience when your incoming players are not truly special. Cal would do well to adjust his approach to the new reality. Getting grad transfers is a step in that direction.

  12. Big Meech
    6:15 pm April 18, 2019 Permalink

    Fact is none of us know who is going to “fail” in the league and who will blow up. There is no set formula or every pick would be a slam dunk. Let’s say ur an accountant and make a decent salary and someone offers u 3 million for a couple years. Ur not going to take it… seriously. U can always go back to your old job if u get fired just like these guys can go make good money overseas if it doesn’t work out. Another year in college isn’t going to get them more money up front… someone already said it’s the next contract that makes the real money. These guys are living all of our dreams… let them live