Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Kentucky is on top. Again.

The news of John Wall committing to play for Kentucky has shaken up the internet by storm. UCLA fans were so upset that all their jumping up and down in protest led to another earthquake in California.

Eric Bledsoe's coach commented on the Wall signing.
"That's my biggest question," Ford said. "How much will he play? I tried to get Eric to understand that."
North Carolina's triangle of schools could feel this for a while...
John Wall's recruiting saga has ended in Kentucky's favor, but the impact of his departure from North Carolina's Triangle area of Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill can't yet be fully calculated.

Odds are the immediate damage will be extensive simply because Wall hardly will be a gang of one in John Calipari's first talent harvest at Lexington.

With highly rated prospects Eric Bledsoe, DeMarcus Cousins and Daniel Orton already in tow, Calipari was off to a smashing start with or without another recruiting strike. But the addition of Wall, who long ago was anointed by some recruiting analysts as the best point guard in years, should provide Calipari with enough talent to make an immediate national splash.

The irony is that Wall departs at a time when North Carolina, Duke and N.C. State each are in dire need of point-guard help. Duke and State have been in that predicament for some time, although the Blue Devils have had enough lineup versatility to patch their void reasonably well.
Jeff Goodman has Kentucky as his #1 in the Early Preseason Top 25.
We're still about a month away from the deadline for underclassmen to withdraw from the NBA Draft, but felt the need to update the Early Preseason Top 25 after Kentucky got a commitment Tuesday morning from John Wall and also received the news that Patrick Patterson is returning to school.

We had Kentucky at No. 3 the last time we did this a few weeks ago and Wall is a Derrick Rose-esque player.[...]

Record: 22-14 (NIT)
Losses: Jared Carter
Potential Early-Entry Departures: Jodie Meeks
Key Returnees: Patrick Patterson, Darius Miller, DeAndre Liggins, Ramon Harris, Perry Stevenson, Kevin Galloway, Josh Harrellson, Matt Pilgrim
Newcomers: John Wall, Eric Bledsoe, DeMarcus Cousins, Daniel Orton, Jon Hood
With the addition of my No. 1 freshman in the country, John Wall, and also Patrick Patterson's decision to withdraw from the NBA Draft, the Wildcats — as long as Jodie Meeks follows Patterson and opts to return (which he should) — are's choice as the top team in the country, barely edging out Kansas. Just think about this: Two fringe McDonald's All-Americans — Daniel Orton and Eric Bledsoe — will be role players who probably won't see the floor with the game on the line. Wall and Meeks in the backcourt with a big man trio of Patterson and heralded freshmen bigs DeMarcus Cousins and Orton make this group the deepest and most talented in the nation.
Larry Orton talks about the signing of John Wall.
Larry Orton, the father of UK signee Daniel Orton of Oklahoma, thinks having Wall and Bledsoe creates a perfect scenario for UK and coach John Calipari.

"John is probably only going to be at UK a year (before going to the NBA)," Larry Orton said "That's why it is good to have Bledsoe. He is not a one-and-done, or two-and-done, kind of player. He could very well end up in the NBA in four years, and probably will.

"But now he can play behind John for a year, or if John gets hurt or in foul trouble, he will give Kentucky a great point guard, too."[...]

"If Meeks is back, and I hear he will be back after he gets through testing the NBA waters, then Kentucky has to be a top five team going into next year," Orton said. "How are you going to guard them all?"

He noted how Bledsoe and Darius Miller could back up Wall and Meeks. Then there will be Patrick Patterson, Matt Pilgrim, Perry Stevenson, DeMarcus Cousins and his son inside. Plus, junior college transfer Darnell Dodson could play multiple spots and UK also has other returning experienced players like Ramon Harris.

"Kentucky will have all the backup firepower it needs," Orton said. "The second team could handle a lot of teams because it will be full of stars, too. It's just a great situation for everybody, including John Wall."
John Clay writes that the expectations for Kentucky are realistically high.
The coveted point guard from Raleigh, N.C., is going to play basketball at the University of Kentucky, joining a Big Blue galaxy of four-stars and five-stars in what might be the best collection of first-year talent college basketball has ever seen.

So let the high expectations begin.


This is normally the point where the voice-of-reason columnist jumps in and preaches patience and realism, and points out that great recruits don't always equate to great teams.

This is where the wet blankets feel compelled to issue admonitions to the overzealous about keeping expectations, and emotions, at a reasonable level.

Forget that.

This Kentucky basketball team should win every game. By double digits. It should win many more by much more than that. It should win division championships and conference championships and NCAA regional championships and, yes, NCAA championships.

All of that is not going to happen, of course. Kentucky will suffer losses next season, maybe one or two, and even experience a few closer-than-they-should-have-been wins. There will be missteps, and the 2009-10 Cats probably won't meet each and every one of their heady ambitions.[...]

But Coach Cal didn't go out and secure the gaudy likes of John Wall (ranked as the nation's No. 1 prospect by, DeMarcus Cousins (No. 2) and Eric Bledsoe (No. 23), along with coveted junior-college transfer Darnell Dodson, while talking holdover signees Daniel Orton (No. 22) and Jon Hood (No. 40) into staying on, just so the Kentucky coach could win guarantee games.

Calipari didn't convince Patrick Patterson to postpone his NBA leap of faith or speak of Jodie Meeks as if the senior-to-be sharpshooter was already preparing to stack 54 more points on Bruce Pearl's head, just because he wants to crack the top three in the SEC East.

Coach Cal is thinking big.

And Twittering big.

And recruiting big.

So let's join him.

On paper, anyway, this recruiting red-carpet list is the best Kentucky recruiting class of all time — better than the 1974 class (Jack Givens, Rick Robey, Mike Phillips, James Lee and Danny Hall), better than the 1971 "Super Kittens" class (Kevin Grevey, Jimmy Dan Conner, Mike Flynn, Bob Guyette, Steve Lochmueller, Jerry Hale and G.J. Smith), better than the 1979 class (Sam Bowie, Dirk Minniefield, Derrick Hord, Charles Hurt and Tom Heitz).
Kentucky is the concensus pick to win the 2010 NCAA Championship title.
It's not even 12 hours since the original John Wall-to-Kentucky story broke, and already we have a new consensus favorite to win the 2009-10 national title: the Kentucky Wildcats.

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