Ok, before we get started, I’m just going to put a disclaimer on this. The summary and writeup that you are about to read is not quite up to the lofty standards that you most likely have due to the tireless and stellar work of Sir Rumbaugh. I did, indeed, attend the Super Showcase today, but I didn’t talk to any players about UK’s interest or even try to. I just took it in as a fan (which meant I was distracted by this giant banner over the court). Basically, that’s code for “don’t tell me that my recap sucks”.
So here is your fan’s perspective:
– The court at The Milkhouse was set up with four courts making a square, each of them divided by a curtain. Coaches, of course, lined up on the baselines and sidelines to watch. However, one coaching genius (and his assistant) actually set up post where the courts met and the curtains were divided, in order to watch all four games going at once. By the end of the session, that’s where the majority of the big names were. I’ll let you guess which coach that was.
– I think the most impressive performance of the day belonged to UK recruit Kyrie Irving, who had 37 points in an overtime victory. Irving’s New Jersey Celtic team was down much of the game and only managed a tie with a half-court shot at the buzzer. But, Irving played well throughout the contest and did so without Michael Gilchrist, who was actually playing on the other team. Gilchrist finished with a double-double (12 and 10), but Irving stole the show in front of what turned out to be nearly the entire Wide World of Sports crowd at the end. All the big name coaches were watching (Roy Williams, Bill Self, Jeff Capel, Trent Johnson, Jay Wright), but the Celtics didn’t really start making their comeback until Coach Cal turned to watch. I don’t think that is a coincidence.
– There was a lot of buzz surrounding the All Ohio Red team heading into the event and they were being touted not only as the best AAU team in the country, but even as possibly the best ever. Unfortunately for them, the Beisner jinx came strolling in around 4:45 and the highly touted Ohio squad lost to the Illinois Rising Stars. UK recruit Adraeiou(y)ne Payne played fairly well, but did nothing supremely exciting. You can tell why coaches love him, though. He’s the definition of “long”, with what looked like Shagari arms in terms of length. He moves up and down the floor very well and, despite being extremely thin, didn’t appear to shy away from contact today. However, his teammate Jared Sullinger, an Ohio State commit and Rivals #3 player in 2010, did not impress me at all. Didn’t really seem to be into the game much.
– Most of the buzz around the complex, being that it is Florida and all, surrounded Doc Rivers’ son, Austin, who, despite being only entering his junior year, is set to be Billy Donovan’s highest-rated recruit ever. After watching him play, I can see why. Rivers is not only a perfect fit for what Donovan runs, he is just a flat-out star. While his defensive effort leaves a lot to be desired (see Tweets below), his jump shot is simply a thing of beauty and essentially flawless – and has NBA range to it. He sometimes seemed to just stand in the wing waiting for a pass, rather than attack, but I’m chalking that up to still not being used to playing without Brandon Knight, whose penetration probably left him wide open. When he attacks the basket, he’s tough to stop off the dribble too. There were rumors last week that he could back out of his commitment (which he denied), but right now Billy D. has to be pretty darn happy.
– On a personal note, I made a new friend, who said he was “like an uncle to Charlie Villanueva”. After I made him cough up $20 for betting that Rick Pitino never won a title at UK and he didn’t punch me in the face after finding out that I was really a fake journalist for a Kentucky site, we discussed a number of things related to the program. He was from New York and said that everyone seems to be talking about the Cats up that way, which I think further confirms what we’ve all been discussing around here about Calipari making the program relevant again. He told me about one specific shirt he’s been seeing around (the “Envy our past, Fear our future” one) and said that UK is a hot topic around his son’s U14 AAU team. Not sure why I shared that with you.
– On another “I’m sure you don’t care about this” note, can someone please explain this to me? I attended Bob Huggins Basketball Camp when I was 13 and remember him being physically intimidating. Today, as a 26 year-old, I saw him and was even more physically intimidated. Is that normal?
– One more short thing: I stopped in the gym when I first arrived and tried to get my bearings a bit and stopped to watch a game so I didn’t look out of place. I had no idea what I was watching, but all of a sudden I noticed the guy next to me was basically screaming and yelling at someone in the form of angry conversation. Let’s just say Jim Calhoun has a clean bill of health.
But, in all seriousness (kind of), I had the time of my life today. If you’re anywhere near the Orlando area, definitely check out tomorrow’s events, which start pretty early. It’s not only a great chance to watch basketball all day long, but it gives you a close-encounter situation with a lot of the big-name guys you see on TV.
And, just because I know this will really irritate a couple of my friends who screamed at me about my Twitter updates today, here are a few other things that went down, told in the form of Tweets….
thomasbeisner jeff capel held the door for me…..what a gentleman.
thomasbeisner early observations: pastner and andy kennedy both like to cross their legs like a lady.
thomasbeisner Cal spotted! like any genius, he and Coach O are standing where the four courts meet and watching all four games.
thomasbeisner Coach fom Houston BAptist just turned around and saw Cal standing behind him. Reached for his cell, looks quite flustered.
thomasbeisner a five-foot-nothing kid from Ill. Rising Stars just took it up on Sullinger and got an And 1. Hope his grandkids are ready for that story.
thomasbeisner NJ Celtics have 2 of the best players in the country and it looks like they stole green pennies from the Johnson Cntr
thomasbeisner NJ celtics tie game on half-court buzzer beater. Don’t question the green pennies
thomasbeisner Donovan wearing his “you’ll never out-shine me, Bruce” bright orange shirt
thomasbeisner Pastner watching Barton’s team, still crossing legs like woman. Nearly everyone else in the complex watching Kyrie Irving close out win.
thomasbeisner Strangest thing so far: all coaches at east wearing a polo….jay wright dressed like he has a coed rec soccer game. i swear i saw umbros.
thomasbeisner Cal and Donovan standing together now watching B-more Elite. Cal has a look of peace. Billy a look of “Damn, when does Austin Rivers play?”
thomasbeisner If you answered “in the stands with everyone else” to “where is jeff lebo?”, you win.
thomasbeisner just by chance, ended up seated next to bill self, he’s ranting about the event. said “ridiculous”….nothing like calhoun earlier though.
thomasbeisner The more the day goes on, the more I envy Josh Pastner. Although, he could take sitting lessons from Kevin Stallings.
thomasbeisner The whole gym has come over to watch Austin Rivers. Donovan has just out-Pastnered Pastner. Going to need jaws of life to untangle his legs
thomasbeisner Austin Rivers’ defensive stance reminds me of Michael Cera on the Juno movie poster….but his jumper is breath taking.
thomasbeisner Cal kicking it with Donovan, Wright and Lebo. I’ll take them as the early favorites in the “who I had dinner with” tweet.
thomasbeisner getting hungry, followed stale french fries smell. thought i’d find a checkers. found charlie coles.
thomasbeisner phone’s dying, heading home…..@UKCoachCalipari , I’ll be at The Sizzler if you want to grab some grub!
Dustin will be by in the morning with a complete Vegas wrap-up. See you in a few…