My senior year of high school at Middlesboro High was relatively boring. I had taken most of the classes that could be offered, was finishing up my athletic career with mediocre seasons in golf and tennis (I had already given up basketball due to general awfulness) and I was ready to go off to college in a city where all the restaurants did not close by 10 pm. But during this time one of my teachers (Mrs. Wilson) put me on an independent study where I would spend a hour in the library lying on the beanbags and reading various novels that she picked out. At first I thought the class would be the best thing ever because of how restful it would be, but in the end it became one of my favorites because of the world it introduced me to. As part of this class, I read the works of the great novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who passed away on Thursday at the age of 87. Marquez is considered one of top handful of novelists of the 20th century, but at the time for me, he was just a name I had recited so I could win academic team competitions (I told you I was a really cool high schooler). However during that year, I read “100 Years of Solitude” and “Love in the Time of Cholera” and immediately loved both books. The stories were unlike anything I had ever before encountered and the language, even having been altered through translation, was vivid and beautiful. I looked forward to the hour every day when I could open the book and get taken away to Marquez’s created worlds and those reading experiences helped introduce me to a canon of literature that I would have never otherwise taken the time to encounter. Marquez died of cancer complications today, having lived a full life mixed in the worlds of literature and politics. If you get a chance some time, check out the two novels I first encountered on a Middlesboro High School library bean bag a number of years ago, and who knows, maybe you will find them just as enjoyable (or maybe not and you can still watch a marathon of “Party Down South” instead).
Three stories as we close out the week of my return to the night post:
JAMES YOUNG SAYS GOODBYE
I expected us to get one decision from a player this week and it came today as James Young announced he would be entering the NBA Draft. This is probably the least surprising decision of anyone making the call this year, in large part because of James himself. While Young is a great kid and has the potential to be a very good NBA player, school just wasn’t something he particularly loved. Those around the program knew that Young was unlikely to stay more than one year, not because he didn’t love Kentucky or being a Cat, but because he wasn’t interested in being in school for any longer than necessary. While that makes some people frustrated, I have no problem with kids pursuing whatever the dream is, even if it doesn’t involve Sociology 101.
Kentucky will miss Young, but I actually think he will showcase more of his skills in the NBA than in college IF he is willing to work (and this is a big if). Young may have the best offensive game of anyone on the team. He can shoot relatively well but is explosive off the dribble and can finish well at the rim. I don’t think we saw nearly as much of his ability in this area as he has, in large part because it just wasn’t what this team needed and they already had two other players in the Twins who were driving more often. Young is not a great defender (although he could be if he works) and is a terrible passer (and I dont know if that will get much better). But he does have the potential to get buckets in the league in bulk IF he puts in the work. All I worry about for James is that he showcases he loves basketball and that he is willing to be like Brandon Knight, MKG and others and put in the hours to get better. If he does, I think he will be a starter/6th man in the league. If he doesn’t then he could bounce around and not be effective. It is up to him. Either way however, I think this is the right decision for James and the NBA game will suit his set of skills well.
WAITING ON THE HARRISONS
While Julius Randle, Dakari Johnson and Alex Poythress are still left to make a decision, nearly all the focus from fans has been on the Harrison Twins. Part of that is because they seem like the biggest unknown, but part is because of the realization that their decision is the most important. Because Kentucky’s roster makeup is now so big-heavy (especially with the Willie Cauley-Stein decision), the Twins could hold the keys to the potential for a very big season. A UK backcourt without them only has three guards on the entire roster (Ulis, Booker and Hawkins). With them however, you go five deep and potentially have a 12 player bench that is quite formidable. I would argue getting the two of them back would be even bigger than the pipe dream of getting Randle back. They can improve by leaps and bounds and if they do, the team has amazing potential. Chad Ford of ESPN today said that the Twins are now leaning towards returning (he said they were leaving 36 hours ago) and that they would make a decision Tuesday or Wednesday. As I have said all along, I believe no one when it comes to Twins “scoop” because I think those that are talking about what they are going to do, aren’t part of the decision making process. If you made me guess, I would guess they return, but that (along with all the other opinions you see out there) is just a guess. But man…if they come back…whoa…
UK’S SUMMER PLANS
This will actually be an action-packed summer around UK’s basketball world. Calipari has another couple of weeks of promoting his book and then he is having hip replacement surgery on May 2. That will probably keep him out of activities for about a month and thus this could be one of the quieter Mays that we have ever had. But then recruiting will be huge this summer with the possibility of the 2015 class being the first that could end up with a two year rule by the NBA. If that happens, 2015 guys are even more valuable and the recruiting done this summer by Calipari, Kenny Payne and the new assistant (presumably Slice Rohrssen) is of tremendous importance. Kentucky will also get a summer trip and regardless of where it is, it will likely be timed somewhere in mid August. That will give the Cats a few weeks or practice before the trip and then 3-4 games on the trip. This new team gets all of that time to work out together and it will be a huge step towards creating team chemistry early on. We saw how important that was this year when the Twins and James Young were not able to get here early, and thus this is a very positive step. We have been used to summer offseasons with little news in the last couple of years…you may get a slight break in May, but after that, this summer will be action packed.
That is all for now…we hit the radio thing again in the morning and then head for a weekend of rest before the decisions of next week. Cross your fingers as I do feel good about where we are headed…