Prior to the glorified practice, Coach Tubby Smith told a group of reporters that he was "excited to get going with this group" and that excitement could be seen throughout the team. The Wildcats debuted five new players, all of whom showed positive signs of things to come. The first to shine was Derrick Jasper, who won the annual slam dunk contest, hitting on a reverse double-pump jam that showed that the team may have some athleticism left over even after Rajon Rondo's departure to the NBA.
Also eye-catching was Perry Stevenson, not only for his deft inside touch, but for the obvious effects of new Strength and Conditioning Coach Scott Holsopple whose training regime has put on 30 pounds to the Texas forward's thin frame.
Equally as impressive was the shooting touch of Jodie Meeks and Michael Porter, both of whom hit multiple three pointers, while also distributing the ball for their teammates. For those who haven't followed his recruitment, the Michael Porter revelation may have been the most surprising, as Porter showcased muscle, quickness and hints of the defensive ability that has Coach Tubby Smith insisting that he will see action this season.
The game also brought about the debut of walk-on Mark Coury who showcased the most college-worthy muscular build in the Freshman class and provided some beef down low throughout the contest.
Finally there was a positive murmur in the crowd with the performance of Jared Carter, who Tubby Smith calls "the most improved player on the team." Carter finished on two back-to-the basketball post-up moves and showed that the off-season rumors of his meteoric improvement were not completely exaggerated.
But ultimately the legacy of this event will be determined by the three young men sitting behind the UK bench. Patrick Patterson, Jai Lucas and AJ Stewart represent the future of Kentucky basketball…..at least that is what the folks at Kentucky are hoping. For the biggest recruiting event of the year, the Wildcat staff brought in what many believe to be their three primary targets.
The three young men sat behind the bench throughout the proceedings, receiving the adulation of the crowd, including multiple chants of their names by the student section. While the event marked only the beginning of their official visit, it was ultimately the centerpiece of the trip, all parties realized this, including Coach Smith who made a sly mention of the hope of getting "new players" into the program.
It is folly to attempt to determine the likelihood of success of a team based upon one glorified practice in front of a riled up fan base. However the optimist could see a lot to be excited about in the coming season, from the added energy of freshman, the newly chisled frames of the players and the overall increased talent level of the team as a whole.
Nevertheless, this night will not be remembered for these traits and come March, the on-court action will be forgotten. However the true legacy of this night may have been in the three young men sitting behind the bench. For if they soon make a decision to commit to Kentucky, this Midnight Madness could have a legacy that goes far beyond the exciting night in Rupp Arena.