Next big buzz words for college basketball: Jabari Parker, a 6-8, 220-pound 17-year-old hoops prodigy at Chicago’s Simeon Career Academy. Across the board, Parker could be the next Anthony Davis.
According to an Associated Press story last week, Parker is a team man on court, solid kid off it, and part of a family that puts a premium on Bible study and “Put the Lord first” poster on his bedroom wall.
Here comes the best part about Parker: “He and his parents insist that being famous, even making a lot of money, isn’t the focus,” wrote Andrew Seligman. “They all vow that Jabari will earn a college degree, one way or another, in a world where the starting five for national champion Kentucky all left school just weeks after claiming the title.”
Sanity, stability, student-athlete ism. Wow. My new favorite ballplayer, Jabari Parker.
Best UK Tean Ever?
Is the University of Kentucky’s national 2011-12 championship team the best in school history? Considering the Anthony Daviscentered emphasis on “team” that produced a 38-2 record and NCAA crown No. 8, the easy answer would be yes.
But the right answer is no.
Based on same criteria, plus one, the best team in UK history remains the Fabulous Five, 1947- 48. One senior, three juniors and a sophomore ran the table in SEC regular season and tournament, won the NCAA crown, became part of the U.S. Olympics team in London and brought home gold medals.
UK’s record book lists the Fabulous Five as NCAA champions and World Champions.
Footnote: A Kentucky-linked return to an Olympics in London is possible. College player of the year Anthony Davis should be a prime candidate to replace Dwight Howard.
Maybe Anthony Davis fans should lobby coach Mike Krzyzewski to include him on U.S. Olympic team roster.
Another spring football game at Kentucky is in the rearview mirror.
Coach Joker Phillips’ sunny spin following the Blue-White game was counter-balanced by fans who have forgotten good vibe from the Tennessee finish last November. And, grumpy players have returned to “we’re gonna prove people wrong” and “we don’t get any respect.”
To accentuate positives, Phillips spoke glowingly about tight ends and receivers and used buzz words to try to sell season tickets – he expects UK’s offense to average 80 plays, with 45 of them pass attempts.
The good news: Sophomore Maxwell Smith tightened his grip on the quarterback job, completing 29 for 45 passes. Not-sogood news: The secondary Smith picked apart for 343 yards and two touchdown passes also belongs to Kentucky.
More good news: Phillips likes his all-new linebackers. Not-sogood news: Danny Trevathian isn’t one of them. And, none has an SEC-level résumé.
Leaves fans to wonder if Phillips is whistling past the graveyard.
These items aside, the real elephant in the room mystery to be addressed is: Can Kentucky find a replacement for Field Position Man? Punter Ryan Tydlacka averaged 43.2 yards on 80 kicks last year, flipping field position by half virtually every time. Stay tuned.
Phillips won’t say it, but frustrated by another basketball championship celebration, a women’s team that’s winning big and baseball club ranked No. 1 in America, football at Kentucky may have returned to siege mentality, grumblings about no respect and “we’re gonna prove everybody wrong.”
And, by late summer preseason football magazines will show up and the coach’s name at Kentucky will be found in the Hot Seat section.
April: Screw-Up Month?
Not the best of months, April. Income tax deadlines aside, some of us in sports are suffering redface embarrassment times … v In Sacramento, DeMarcus Cousins shot his mouth off about NBA officials. Cost him $25,000. v In Miami, Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen, native Venezeulan, told a magazine reporter Fidel Castro is a great guy. A brain hiccup that cost him a five game suspension without pay and a club-ordered apology to Miami’s Cuban population. v In Tuscaloosa, Alabama put its BCS National Championship Trophy crystal football on display after the spring game. A fan tripped on a rug, sent the football crashing to a gazillion pieces. Cost $30,000 to replace it and a crimson red face for the fan. v At Fenway Park, the Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine popped his jaws about the intensity of Kevin Youkilis and had to apologize. Next, the Sox took a 9-0 lead into the sixth inning and lost to the hated Yankees 15-9. Cost? After a closed door meeting with brass, Valentine got a vote of confidence. Uh-oh. v In Phoenix, NHL forward Raffi Torres suffered his own a brain hiccup. The Coyote forward put such a cheap shot hit on Marian Hossa, he was suspended for 25 games. Price to pay? Torres forfeits $21,341 per game missed in salary. v In Los Angeles, NBA thug Ron Artest, a/k/a Metta World Peace, stuck an elbow into an ear belonging to James Harden, was ejected and awaits what will be a sizable fine from David Stern.
And so it goes.