WALKER: Meeks could be key to UK's NCAA hopes

Former UK All American Kenny "Sky" Walker discusses the upcoming NCAA tourney in today's column. Kenny states that freshman Jodie Meeks could be the X-factor for the Cats in this year's tourney.

The X-factor for Kentucky in the NCAA Tournament probably will be freshman Jodie Meeks with the energy and scoring he brings coming off the bench. He provides so much and has been such a big spark.

If he was a typical freshman, I would be maybe a little bit worried about him going into the tournament that he would have that deer in the headlight look. But I don't get that with this kid. He has been fearless from day one and he has a great nose for the ball as he proved with six steals against Mississippi State.

He is also a very coachable young man, which is why he has had so many opportunities to play. I think Tubby Smith has used all year to develop that trust in him, but he's no longer a freshman. He's playing more like a sophomore or junior right now.

He plays fearless. He doesn't know any better. Sometimes players who have been through this and played in the NCAA pressure, they don't handle things as well. He just goes out and won't know a lot about what to expect. The thing I like s that he has not really changed his attitude about the way he plays and is continuing to play great just like he did in the regular season.

He just has to keep playing with that attitude in the NCAA. I think the way he is playing right now; he is in a nice flow offensively. He is playing better defensively. He knows what his teammates are doing.

Outside or Randolph Morris -- and no disrespect to Ramel, Joe or anyone else -- but I think he could be the most important guy on Kentucky's team in the tournament. He is consistent, and that's the thing I really like about him. The other guys might play well for a game or two, and then they might disappear. But his consistency if what Tubby really likes and he really trusts him and now he is being rewarded.

He has shown the coaches he can play, and he's going to get his minutes in the tournament because he's earned that right. And I still think for Kentucky to do well in the tournament, he could turn out to be a huge key.


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