Matt's Random Friday Thoughts

by:Matt Jones04/07/17


Been awhile since I have written here on the Blog, so I thought I would take a chance to round-up a few thoughts/tidbits going into the weekend. If you get an opportunity this weekend start on the terrific S-Town Podcast that is making waves across the country. It is from the folks that do “This American Life” and while I have yet to finish it, I must say it is one of the more intriguing Podcasts I have ever heard. It starts as a fairly regular “Who Dun It” type story, but quickly moves to something else, an engaging character portrait of an individual (and town) that is enthralling. It is worth your time if you are driving or lounging and need some entertainment.

A few notes:

— The big stories right now are recruiting-based, specifically whether Kentucky will get Mohammed Bamba or Kevin Knox. I am unsure about whether either player will be a Cat, but as I have stated on the radio, my opinion slightly diverges from the consensus on both guys. For Bamba, I have assumed Kentucky was the leader for at least two months, and while I am still in that camp, my confidence isn’t quite on the level of most in the UK Fanbase. Up until three days ago, everyone I had spoken with said Kentucky leads and all of the circumstantial evidence, including his friendship with UK recruits and public statements, have made UK seem the obvious choice. But then I spoke with a source that is very good who said to me for the first time that UK was not getting him. While this person is against the grain and the only individual I know who believes the choice won’t be UK, it is someone with a great deal of knowledge and close to the situation. So I am left unsure of UK’s position. If I were forced to pick, I would still say Bamba to UK, but my confidence is much lower than it was last week (and I get a good test going forward for this particular type of source). As for Knox, I think UK is in a better position than most do…I still would not pick UK for Knox (I am not sure of any of the Big Three get him), but the folks around Lexington feel better about their position with him than the general consensus seems to suggest. Either way his decision comes soon and if they don’t get him, expect UK to go all-in after Pitt transfer Cameron Johnson.

— The main question to be resolved for UK’s roster next year in terms of returning players is Isaac Humphries. The big man is considering going back to Australia and playing pro basketball there. I don’t think that is his preference and Calipari wants him to stay, but he is considering whether coming back to UK will help further his career. I would say his future is a coin toss right now and it is my hope the singing Australian decides to stick it out, as I think they will need his physical presence next season.

— As for 2018, I really like Kentucky’s position with Zion Williamson. The kid is an absolute star and while there is still a ton of time for things to change, I would pick Kentucky for him right now. He would be an absolute explosive talent and is the type of player that you build a class around.

— Kentucky’s schedule for next season is up in the air, as the program tries to figure out what kind of roster they will have. At this current time, the Cats are scheduled to play UCLA, Kansas, Louisville and a Big 12 road game (possibly West Virginia?), but only have one other game locked in (Harvard). I am not sure if the Cats will get another marquee non-conference home game, besides Louisville. There is likely a possibility of getting a mid-level Power 6 team (like a Marquette, Seton Hall or Providence), but I think you will likely see a home schedule that includes no other huge names at this time.

— If you didn’t get a chance last night, watch the video below of Derek Willis and Dominique Hawkins hosting “Hey Kentucky” with me (there are more at The guys were great and a lot of fun…going to really miss those kids at UK.

— Hearing some really good things about the Quarterback play at UK during Spring Practice. A lot has been written about how well Stephen Johnson has been playing but some KSR moles tell me that Gunnar Hoak has also taken major steps forward. He is by far the least known of the current crop of QBs but the staff likes him a lot and while there is certainly not a QB competition for the starting job, there might be more of one for the Backup than people realize.

— Finally, if you have been listening to the radio you know how frustrated I have become from the whole “Roofing referee” story and the idiotic behavior by some of our fans that occurred after the game. My position on this has been clear on the radio and it remains the same. Higgins called a poor game, especially in the first half. That to me is indisputable. However the terrible calls don’t mean that people should invade his personal (or business) life, especially in the form of threatening messages or calls. That is stupid behavior and there is no excuse for it.

With that said, the amount of people who engaged in such behavior is small. Those that attempt to paint those actions upon the entire UK Fanbase are doing it solely for their anti-UK and Calipari agenda and they deserve to be called out for what they are…reporters with an agenda. They have passed on a narrative that this what the UK Fanbase is like as a whole, knowing full well there are insane people in every fan base and terrible actions are ubiquitous. Similarly, I am tired of the narrative that has emerged that KSR had some measure of responsibility for this simply because we talked about the story. Even though virtually every national outlet weighed in, stories about Higgins have continued to include references to a “Kentucky Sports Radio” show that talked about the issue and the impact that may have had. All we ever said on the show was not to call or write and I resent the idea that we are responsible for behavior we had nothing to do with. The people who threatened Higgins engaged in stupid and irrational acts and deserve criticism. But that doesn’t mean every UK fan, media member or the Administration do as well.

You can choose to say the Big Blue Nation is represented by its worst actions carried about a selected few. I choose to think it is represented by people like a man who came to my radio show today. Before our drawing at the end of the show to win a signed John Calipari basketball, an older woman in a bundled up in a large coat walked in carrying a basketball (a rubber one with dimples) of her own in a plastic Kroger bag. She had heard me talk about Calipari and mistakenly believed that he would be there to sign autographs at the show. She was saddened when I told her that Calipari wouldn’t be in attendance and while she sat and listened to the show, it was evident on her face how disappointed she truly was. At the end of the show, I drew a man’s name out of the box and he took the ball, went over to the woman and offered it to her while giving her a hug. She was a complete stranger who he likely will never see again, but he knew having the basketball would mean more to her than him. That kindness and compassion is what the BBN is about to me…not the select actions of a few in anger, but the shared passion of a state that loves its team. That story won’t be written by most in the national media, but is the more representative one worth telling.

Have a great weekend and start watching “The Americans” if you have never seen it…

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