Kentucky freshman Alex Poythress celebrated his birthday today. Alex Poythress has the potential to be one of the most exciting players on Kentucky's roster heading into next season. He has all the tools to be successful, especially in the Calipari system. In fact, during his recruitment, some even called his style of play perfectly suited for Calipari's offense. Although Poythress sports 5 stars next to his name, the talk and hype surrounding him heading into the season hasn't been comparable to some of the star freshmen of Kentucky's recent past. John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Brandon Knight, Enes Kanter, Terrence Jones, Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist all garnered much more attention than Poythress has so far. We know he's going to be good. Calipari has told us. The national media have touched upon it in waves at various times. He's made a few pre-season lists. Perhaps everyone is a little quiet because we are still basking in the glow of a national championship. Perhaps everyone is still holding their breath until we actually see Nerlens Noel swatting a shot away on the Rupp Arena floor. Or maybe, much like a picture Poythress himself has tweeted out on multiple occasions ("Courage doesn't always roar"), Poythress is a sleeping giant.
Whether or not the hype and attention arrive before the season or not, I think Alex Poythress is going to quickly become a Big Blue Nation favorite. His personality, though not over the top, comes off as likeable. Calipari has applauded his work ethic so far, even drawning comparisons to Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. And we all know how the world felt about Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Don't be surprised if Alex Poythress is your leading scorer next season. Don't be surprised if your awkward co-worker, a grown man in fact, starts wearing a #22 jersey a few weeks into the season. Don't be surprised if Alex Poythress becomes one of your favorite players in the Calipari era to sport the blue and white.
And now on to the news of the day...
Kentucky football is only a few days away from a chance to at least momentarily right the ship following a disappointing loss to the Louisville Cardinals last weekend. Kentucky will enter Saturday's home game with Kent State as the favorites, but they will have to take care of business without one of the few bright spots in last week's loss: CoShik Williams. Williams has been relegated to the injured list heading into Saturday's game following what Joker Phillips is describing as a back injury
. Williams was the leading rusher for the Wildcats in last week's game. Phillips has said all week that he is going to give opportunities to some of the freshmen and other younger players. Raymond Sanders will move into the starting role, while freshman Dyshawn Mobley will fill in at the #2 spot.
- A few other quotes from Joker Phillips following a 2-hour practice today (h/t UKAthletics.com):
On Kent State
, "They are physical and won four out of their last five last year and beat a team handily (last week). They have a lot of confidence. They will be excited."
On Co'Shik Williams,
"This guy is a tough guy. The thing that we have to have him for is the long haul too. He is not really a big guy and he needs to be at full speed. The guy busts his gut on every play, whether it be practice or pre-game."
- Other than the injury tidbits, the Kentucky football team had a rather quiet news day. A future opponent, Western Kentucky, was picked as an upset alert against Alabama this weekend. You know, the Alabama team that every media member felt up all weekend while giggling and tweeting expressive song lyrics. Sorry, but I just don't see that one happening. Western Kentucky's T.J. Smith feels more confident than I do. "We're gonna freaking win the game. Truly, we got a great defense, great linebackers--so watch this game. We're gonna win."
- Nick Saban now has some material to hang in the locker room before the game. "Coach Saban, who is Western Kentucky?" I'm all for a major upset, especially of an Alabama team. But if you are Western Kentucky, a 40-point underdog, playing the #1 team in the country, should you really be fueling that fire? Good luck, boys.
- The following picture is a week old and has nothing to do with Western Kentucky and Alabama. That doesn't make the picture of Mississippi State's players tripping during their intro
any less hilarious.
- John Calipari has a lot of Twitter followers.
- Tom Crean also apparently has a lot of Twitter followers, most of which are sitting around waiting for his next awkward Twitter moment. Perhaps fueled by the confidence of being the 2nd most followed coach on Twitter, Crean once again revisited the IU/UK series during a speaking engagement tonight.
Crean on the UK series: "We're just going to sit here and wait for them to come to their senses."
- While Tom Crean is busy sitting and waiting for UK to come to their senses, John Calipari will be watching the next big thing in college basketball on Sunday. According to Adam Zagoria
, Calipari and Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton will both be in attendance to watch Andrew Wiggins and his Huntington Prep team.
North Carolina will also be in attendance according to Wiggins' high school coach.
Wiggins' high school coach on the recruiting situation:
"He's open," Fulford said. "Those are the only three (UK, FSU, UNC) I hear from." Fulford told Rivals.com that "I'll say this as my statement on his recruitment, these colleges need to stop assuming and take a chance and recruit him. These other coaches aren't even trying."
Personally, I'm okay with these other coaches continuing not to try.
- Speaking of recruiting, JaQuan Lyle announced today that he will be attending Big Blue Madness
instead of the UK Alumni game. Lyle is the No.3 guard in the 2014 class. His name is also fun to chant. Do your thing, student section.
- John Calipari was asked about the uncertainty surrounding Nerlens Noel by USA Today. Calipari seemed to brush off the notion that Kentucky has anything to worry about, "We feel comfortable."
- Raise your hand if at some point in time, even if only for a split second, you blamed the Final 4 loss against UCONN on the fact that the game was played in a dome? After a better performance in 2012, the disdain for the potential effect on shooting seemed to simmer down a bit. Andy Katz says the NCAA is in the early stages of discussions that might move the Final Four back to arenas in the near future.
The arena would have to be in a major metropolitan city, but would move the games away form the dome atmosphere which has essentially been the scene since 1996. The move still remains a long shot though, as the financial benefits to having the game in the largest possible venues outweigh the opposing view. The next four Final 4's are already locked in (Atlanta, Arlington, Indianapolis and Houston). The other possible destinations if the games stay in domes would be New Orleans, St. Louis, Detroit, Phoenix and Minneapolis. The move to arenas would allow the Final Four to be held in other popular locations such as New York City, Boston, Los Angeles or Chicago. NCAA executive VP for championships, Mark Lewis, had the following to say about the issue:
"It's something we would want to explore," Lewis said. "What's the best place to play a basketball game? Is it harder to play in a dome? We've got to do what's right for the game of basketball."
- Another major congratulations to Darius Miller for officially inking a deal with the New Orleans Hornets today
. Darius Miller will wear the #2 on his uniform. Still have not heard if Miller and Anthony Davis will be going with bunk beds or not. I vote yes.
- Billy Gillispie has been released from the hospital. At the moment, he is still the head coach at Texas Tech. Perry Stevenson was not the only person to lash out in light of the events that have transpired over the past few days. Former Houston coach Tom Penders spoke out as well
. I think he spelled his name wrong just out of spite.
- Don't forget to get your tickets if you haven't purchased them yet for the UK Alumni game next weekend. Tickets are still available and can be found here
-Rapper Drake and his national championship ring will be coming to Lexington to be a guest coach in the event
. If you are groaning and feeling irritable about that fact right now, I promise you that Andrew Wiggins, Julius Randle (who will be in attendance, mind you), JaQuan Lyle and the Harrison twins all think Drake is cool. That's reason enough for me. Any bets on who the 2nd guest coach will be? I'm voting for the Heavy Hitter. Didn't see that one coming, did you?
(Only a cool 8.84 million of his closest friends received this tweet...)
- For the early risers, check out our very own Matt Jones on 98.1 the Bull at 7:45 a.m. tomorrow morning.
Officer Don will be there with him. What more do you need? Ennis tweet about where NFL starting QBs are from
- P.S. One Direction sucks. "You don't know you're