Two years ago I walked into the Craft center on a day not dissimilar today to see the unveiling of a new basketball coach. That day, like today, there was a sense of excitement in the room and the place was filled with all of the local media, some national folks, nearly every member of the Board of Trustees and most of the top boosters in the program. Both times a new coach was announced and a sense of optimism was in the air. However there was something unique to this situation today that made it even more special. Whereas last time many wondered who the coach they were meeting truly was, this time there was a ubiquitous sense of glee from the get-go. When word of a “signed contract” hit, the room erupted in applause with the sense that a new era in Kentucky basketball was beginning….but not one with question marks, but rather one with almost a certain inevitability of success. It was a great day.
Some notes from the affair….
— There were a a number of former players who made an appearance at the announcement. Scott Padgett, Kenny WAlker, Richie Farmer, Jay Shidler and Bobby Perry were all on hand and were universal in their praise of the new hire.
— Lots of praise for Mike Pratt who played the role of “caretaker of UK basketball” on the search committee. He deserves a great deal of praise.
— It was very interesting to me to hear Mitch Barnhart and John Calipari focus on the experience of the player in their handling of the program. While no references were made to the past regime, it is almost certainly hte case that this was intentional.
— Calipari also played up the recruitment of former playes back to the family, words that were music to the collective ears of the crowd. When you drop the names Dan Issel, Tayshaun Prince and Kyle Macy, you signal that you want to become part of the tradition and embrace it past and present. That is what UK hasnt had and needs.
— Not many players were in attendance due to class and the only current guys were Jared Carter Matt Schnerbenske and Landon Slone. Last time the full team was present and I would have liked to see that tonight.
Some news from the post-press conference:
(1): We now know for certain that Josh Pastner will be one of Cal’s assistants. Pastner played for the Arizona team that beat UK in the title game and is widely considered one of the best recruiters in the land. He will make an immediate impact.
(2): Scholarship issues are still a question….and we will see how they play out in coming days. As I wrote earlier, the only players that I hear are completely safe are Patterson, Meeks, Miller, Harris and Stevenson. Everything else is up in the air….including for the walk-ons.
(3): KC Ross-Miller reopened his recruitment after a conversation with the new Coach. I expect to hear this story repeated over the next few days, potentially with the Kentucky kids, the 8th grader and maybe even, GJ Vilarino.
(4): At the McDonalds game, legendary recruiting follower Bob Gibbons reported that John Wall is leaning UK and will make a decision next week. Of all the guys left, the most immediate importance for next year’s success is Wall, due to his PG position. That is the story to follow going forward.
(5): There are some reports that Xavier Henry may make a decision on Thursday. If that is true, one would likely assume that Kansas would be the frontrunner since he has not visited UK…..but with this, you never really know.
We will have more all day, but I hope everyone enjoyed what a great day today actually was. There is an excitment around these parts the likes of which we havent seen in some time. I personally cant wait to follow it. Tomorrow, we will have more reactions and some insight into how Calipari was actually selected and what the conversations between the two sides actually were.
Should be exciting, stay tuned……….
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Bill Keightley Report : Never to be forgotten.
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