If there ever was time in Kentucky history that I was more confident about an upcoming basketball season, it is this year.
In 1974 when Joe Hall introduced at the time one of the best, no one knew what was happening.
Lee, Givens, Robey, and Phillips helped the 1974-1975 Cats to the championship game only to lose to Wooden in his last game. In 1979, Hall also gave us the Hord, Lee, Bowie, Heitz class. That group didn't give us as much until a man name Turpin came the next season. That group bowed out to Pat Ewing and Georgetown in 1984, (Bowie and Turpin that is).
Why am I bringing this up? Good question.
Many people that I talk with, converse on the IK message board, and those that email me are showing some concern that Tubby is losing out in this 2004-2005 recruiting class.
I want to reassure the Kentucky fans that we are in great shape for at least 3 years.
Look at the seniors this season. Hayes and Carrier.
Granted; Chuck Hayes will be mentioned one day in the names of the great Kentucky players. But it wont be because he scored so many points, or won this title or this award. Chuck Hayes gives 115% each time out for UK and is proud to be a UK player. His attitude alone for the freshmen and sophomores will give an intangible boost for this season and the next two seasons.
Players like Randolph Morris and Lukasz Obrzut will benefit from watching Chuck work. As for losing him, yes it will hurt, but UK wont be hurting for talent in that spot. Another player that will probably benefit the most is Sheray Thomas. Sheray will match up against Chuck in practice. That will only make Sheray that much better.
Now lets look at the juniors (the new team leaders). Kelenna Azubuike. One of the most physically gifted players I have ever seen. Now with confidence that he gained last season as one of the main scoring threats, Kelenna needs to(and I feel he will) take his game to the next level. Patrick Sparks. Since he hasn't played yet for UK it is hard to say this, but he will be the leader this year. Yes, I said leader. Patrick will be the point guard. AND in Tubby's system this guard needs to be a slasher, a set-up man, and confident. (Turner for example). Patrick is all that and more. Interviews with last years team showed me how much the other players and the coaches felt about Patrick. They almost all said he was the best player on last years team. That is saying something for a team that ended the season as the #1 #1 seed in the NCAA.
Why am I saying we are OK. Kelenna and Patrick make up the nucleus of a team that now has added to it, the most gifted freshman class in UK history. OK, I said it. Shoot me. Folks, there is not a class that is more talented in 3 positions than who we are getting. The fourth player who didn't get as much press may be the most physically gifted and talented of the four new recruits.
Joe Crawford will amaze you. I have been saying to the message board that Joe Crawford will be the most talented player on the team this season. As good as Kelenna is Joe is better. I know you want to see it to believe it. I already have. You will be amazed and SO SO HAPPY. He is the #1 SG going to college.
Randolph Morris is the #1 center attending college. We at UK haven't had that since Sam Bowie. Jamaal and Nazr were good players but needed a season or two to get ready. Randolph is already ready already. (I like that phrase, already ready already). But he really is. The all star games are not good barometers. The games against Dwight Howard should be enough to show you that he is just as good as Howard at rebounding and defense. RM is just a notch below Dwight in offense but that is not saying anything bad. Randolph is very gifted offensively.
Rajon Rondo is such a gift. He is a great point guard. He gave such performances with his assists and passing last season, that most of us could not believe what we read. 20 and 30 assists in a game. Some people don't get that in a week. Or a month. Rajon really turned his performance and attitude around and is now the #1 PG going to college. He is going to be a great one.
The best defending guard (that is defensive guard) going to college is Ramel Bradley. Again, you heard me. The best defensive guard without much reservation. He certainly proved it to me each game I saw. If you like defensive guards, Ramel will be your favorite.
Yes it is football season, so enjoy it, there are very few worries to think about when midnight madness comes. So enjoy the football season. Lets get out and support Coach Brooks and the football team. We don't need to worry about the hoops team.
The Geek's Top 100 Juniors (Rising Seniors for 2005)
The Geek's Top 100 Seniors (Final Rankings for 2004)
Geek's take on the Kentucky signees
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Database of Stories written by Greg Hoover