Content provided by John Clay’s Sidelines.
Big Blue Links for Friday:
Teague’s announcement gives Kentucky commitments from the players rated by Rivals.com as the top two in the class of 2011. Teague, who is No. 2, joins New Jersey forward Michael Gilchrist, the No. 1 prospect, who committed to Calipari last week. When asked how he thought he and Gilchrist would fare together, Teague said, “I think we can do some great things at Kentucky, have a nice dynasty.”
Westlake’s Marcus Thornton, who is one of college basketball top free agents, has finished the in-home visits with all seven of his finalists – Kentucky, Texas, Alabama, UGA, Georgia Tech, Clemson and Michigan. On Thursday, Thornton left for Florida for a mini-spring break. He will return late Sunday night and begin narrowing down his schools on Monday, his father confirmed to the AJC on Thursday night.
“I sat back for about a week and a half and just realized, if we came back, we could win it,” Wall said of the five Kentucky underclassmen who have put their names in the draft. “But there’s no guarantee, you never know what could happen for next year. So I just felt like this was my opportunity to go (pro). After I talked to my family and my coaching staff, they said it was time to go.”
Marquis Teague said he was ready to commit to the University of Louisville at least twice during a two-year recruitment by the Cardinals. But when Teague, a standout junior basketball prospect from Indianapolis Pike High School, made his announcement on Thursday afternoon, the 6-foot-2 point guard put on a University of Kentucky hat.
Through it all, N.C. State could have the inside track because of Leslie’s relationship with head coach Sidney Lowe. “He’s looking at N.C. State because he’s known Sidney Lowe for four or five years,” Lisa said. “He has a good relationship with him. I would say they are pretty high on the list.”
Calipari is using Kentucky’s resources and the NBA one-and-done rule to both of their penultimate extents to build reload the most talented team he can. UK fans didn’t hire Calipari. Most of them probably thought he was bad for college basketball when he was at UMass and Memphis. But as long as he’s winning games–and recruiting battles against Louisville–I can’t blame their fans for enjoying such an exuberant windfall (but will poke fun at the irrational ones that just can’t help themselves from trying to bait us into arguments here).
After an intense battle that raged between Louisville and Kentucky in the weeks leading up to his decision, Teague ended the suspense by pulling a Kentucky hat snugly over his head in front of Pike administrators, teammates, family, two dozen media members and a handful of Wildcats fans at the Pike freshman center.
Pulley, who attended her son’s news conference at Memorial Coliseum, worked two or three jobs at a time, Wall said. They saw less of each other than either would have liked. “I’m just worried about getting my mom a house and car and just to let her relax and show her that I care and I love her so much for all the stuff she did for me,” Wall said.
The thing John Wall will miss the most about Kentucky is not the ovations at Rupp Arena, game-winning shots or anything game related.Instead, it’s probably something no one would expect. “I will miss waking up and going to practice and being around practice. Walking outside the lodge and having 10 to 15 cars to sign autographs,” said Wall Thursday after officially announcing he was leaving UK after his freshman season to play in the NBA. “The fans are always going to be there to support you. I will always remember just being here and putting on that Kentucky Wildcat jersey.”
That’s really all you can ask for from a guy like John Wall — enthusiasm. Even if he was dead set on coming back, his team of advisers and ear-benders would have never allowed it. In 2010, No. 1 overall picks simply don’t come back for their sophomore years. In a way, it’s silly Wall had to play a minute of college basketball in the first place. But he certainly made the best of the situation.
If you thought Mine That Bird was a big upset in last year’s Kentucky Derby, that would have been nothing compared to the odds of John Wall announcing today that he was returning to UK. As expected, Wall announced that he was leaving for the NBA but says he will be a Wildcat “for the rest of my life.” And there’s no reason to doubt that. Wall seemed to genuinely enjoy his time here and plans to continue work on his degree in the NBA offseason.
Wall arrived in Lexington as the premier player in a recruiting class many experts perceived as one of the best of all time. His ball handling, vision and speed were attributes that had the Big Blue Nation dropping their collective jaws, and after one dance at Big Blue Madness in mid-October, the legend was born. As the season progressed, the John Wall Dance swept the globe. Drinks at local bars were even named after the freshman phenom.
There’s some pretty outlandish facts buried in that game. WKU scored 16 runs on 13 hits in the second inning alone, with the first 16 hitters in the inning reaching base safely before UK recorded an out. The Hilltoppers batted around three times in that frame. “To be honest, I’ve never in my entire life seen anything like that,” sophomore third baseman Andy Burns said. “I was in shock at what was going on. It was a long night and a long drive home.”
Ross, a 6-5 guard and The Oregonian’s Class 5A Player of the Year in 2008, will make an official visit to the school Monday, according to his mother, Marcine Ross. “I think he likes the fact that most of their players are returning, as well as their history for producing professional guards,” Marcine Ross said. “He really has a nice bond with coach Lorenzo Romar. We’ll have to see how it goes, but so far, Terrence feels strong about the University of Washington.”
“It was a tough process,” Wall said. “The last year or two, people have said I could be the number one pick but when I came to college it was not my expectation to go one-and-done. I came here to work hard, mature as a player, become a better player and learn a lot and be a student-athlete. The coaching staff … helped me out a lot. The managers, they helped me become a better player this year and people … all helped me as a student-athlete. I worked hard all year to be a student-athlete and after all this hard work I put in, I felt like it was my time to go.”