The sign above was found recently in the bowels inside Memorial Coliseum, where it was once displayed for UK athletes far and wide. This was the workout facility sign for UK Basketball back in the day and a reader sent it in to me recently after coming across it during a late night Memorial roam. The seven rules for weight training were simple, but also a sign of the times. One was required to wear a “t” shirt and shoes whenever in the building, but there were specifically no hats in the room, a requirement that might not fly these days. Enjoyment was not to be tolerated around the workout rooms as showcased by the “no socializing” rule, which in my view takes away the one thing I actually enjoyed about weight lifting in my (poor) high school sports days. And maybe most importantly, there were no cups or drinks permitted, a requirement that now seems almost cruel and potentially illegal. To not allow water in a workout facility would be extremely dangerous, but in the past the idea of cleanliness trumped the quenching of thirst/need for hydration. If you have any other great signs/mementos from UK’s past, please send them on…I always find them entertaining.
I spent this weekend generally avoiding as much contact with the outside world as possible. But a few thoughts are still on my mind:
— There is a chance, however small, that the end of the 2015 recruiting class might not be as great as we have been used to. The Cats are still involved with a number of top targets and have a chance with all of them…but it isn’t certain they will get any of them. Cheick Diallo has UK in his top 3, but the loss of Slice (who was his primary recruiter) might send him to St Johns (or elsewhere). Stephen Zimmerman has been hot on UK for 18 months and at one time I thought he was almost certain to become a Cat (you may remember me getting news about a recruit during my show one day that I got excited about…he was the recruit). He still has a very good chance of ending up here…but he also likes Kansas and UNLV a great deal and the confidence one of my sources had in him (a very good one) has waned in the last few weeks. Jaylen Brown loves UK and thinks it is the best program in America…but Adidas has been huge with him from the get go and could be the determining factor in him ending up elsewhere. Malik Newman has been considered a UK lean for two years, but the situation around him is a bit strange and I could see anything happening with him (including playing overseas). Brandon Ingram may be the best of the bunch and UK is coming on strong (I am told to keep an eye on him by someone that would know)…however getting him out of North Carolina, over the three Triangle schools that have been recruiting him for two years, will be tough. UK could end up with 2-3 of these guys or none of them…the situation is that fluid. The fact that you have seen UK inquire about a potential 5th year Senior from Charlotte and a former Alabama commit in 2015 showcases that UK is having to consider the possibility of missing out here late. After a great class in 2013 and 2014 (Randle, Young, Twins, Dakari, Towns, Lyles, Booker, Ulis, etc), the 2015 class has never been one that UK has felt totally solid in (as opposed to 2016 where I think they LOAD up). The three commitments so far are all great players (and in Skal’s case potentially the best in America), but also guys that were not necessarily given commitments. Normally UK locks in a couple of guys and stays solid with them from start to finish. This class hasn’t seen that and the one that has been the close (Malik Newman) is totally up in the air. The next few weeks will be the most fluid of the Calipari era…truly anything can happen.
— I will miss the loss of Slice as an Assistant Coach at Kentucky. I understand why he left…he is returning to his home town and will coach with a lifelong friend in Chris Mullin. Add in the fact that Mullin is a new head coach and will likely give Slice a lot of responsibility in making it work and the move makes sense. But Slice is my guy and an awesome person. He was wonderful to me during his time here and he genuinely loved Kentucky. His presence was a big part in getting Isaiah Briscoe and he has been one of the primary links on Stephen Zimmerman. Losing him will hurt in finishing up this class, but more importantly to me, I will miss one of the best characters I have met during my time following college basketball. On his first appearance on KSR he said he “wanted to be the Big Blue Nation’s Betsy Ross, helping sew banner #9″…we didn’t quite get there, but we got awful close.
— I didn’t see any of the Spring Practice scrimmage, but all indications are that the UK football team showcased much improvement on Saturday. This is especially true on offense, where Patrick Towles threw a number of gorgeous passes and showcased a deep ball that fans will love. People tend to focus way too much on individual plays in such a game but I go with energy and vibe around the program. It felt very good in Stoops’ first year to see the upward momentum of all things UK football. Last year was a slight improvement but I am hearing that this year has folks believing that major improvement is ahead this season. I hope so. This is a massive year for Stoops and a bowl is required in order to build on the momentum of this new era of UK Football.
With that, it is time to go to bed. I have watched a lot of baseball this week, which suggests that I am either (a) getting old (b) sad about the Cats and looking for a diversion or (c) open-minded and expanding my horizons. It is likely a bit of all three. My Braves are 5-1 and the new team I am following (the Reds because they are local) is 4-2 and I can already tell that being a fan of theirs involves heartbreak (how did they lose today…I hate Kevin Gregg). Tomorrow, I am back in UK land and KARL TOWNS WILL BE LIVE IN STUDIO at 10 am on KSR RADIO. Don’t miss it.