Faried, ‘The Bullet’ and UK grads make it a good news week
Kenneth Faried stepped back from the NBA black hole last week for precisely the right reason. Said he will return for a senior season at Morehead State because he wants “… to fulfill the promise to my Mom to graduate so she can see me walk across the stage and get my degree next May,” he said in a press release.
The move also – makes the Eagles a solid threat again to defending champion Murray State, heightens interest in the league race (ticket sales), and create RPI opportunities for Morehead schedule-makers. If Faried’s supporting cast steps up, Donnie Tyndall’s team could vie for one of the new at large spots.
By next spring Faried, a colorful and popular OVC player of the year, will, with degree in hand, be a legitimate first-round draft candidate.
• Shelby Valley High’s Elisha Justice will be a scholarship student-athlete at Louisville and with a brassy nickname too. Rick Pitino’s The Bullet
will keep intact a run of Kentucky Mr Basketball over 54 years to earn a college scholarship.
• University of Kentucky’s one and dones are history. The good news is Perry Stevenson, Ramon Harris, Mark Krebs and Patrick Patterson leave Kentucky with a college degree.
Wishful Thinking Dept.
Instead of this, wish he had said that …
• MITCH BARNHART said his $4 million-each for six years ball coach will be off ered a life-time extension. Curious, since track record tells us a ball coach contract is mostly as worthless as a Goldman Sachs derivative.
Wish UK’s director of athletics had said, “We’re happy our team won 35 of 38 games, finished first in the SEC, but we want to have a grade point average higher than last in the league.” (which UK’s is).
Instead, Barnhart was establishing a twitter site, issuing a statement: “… if fans want to know what Barnhart is doing while they are at home, at work or on the go, he will be right at their fingertips.”
• JOHN CALIPARI. When his name surfaced on the Chicago Bulls shopping list, Cal advised UK fans to ‘get used to’ seeing his name linked to NBA jobs.
Comment: Considering the job he did in New Jersey and his current pay grade, I doubt it.
Cal suggested a Lexington newspaper report on his team’s miserable academic record was an attempt to embarrass him.
Wish UK’s ball coach had said, “Ya know, folks, I’m making 4 million a year. I’m responsible, I’m embarrassed. So, I’m donating $200,000 to the Cawood Ledford Scholarship Fund and having my director of operations Martin Newton to tweet, text or contact every former UK player he can find and urge them to apply for Cawood scholarship money, come back to school and graduate.”
• RICK PITINO supports small forward projected Samardo Samuel who opts for the NBA Draft after two back-to-the-basket seasons at UofL.
Samuels family’s poverty is the reason. Wish Pitino had pulled out a cliche common to directors of athletics: “we will re-structure Samardo’s contract.”
Re: UofL will review NCAA compliance, then find ways to help Samuels’ family in Jamaica so he can stay in school and a future after basketball.”
Oops, too late.
At behest of acquaintance Larry Brown, Kentucky coach John Calipari has embraced the idea of a junior varsity. Calipari’s reasoning is spot on also. Opportunity for in-state walk-ons to “wear the uniform,” he said, and a chance for competitive minutes for scholarship players to sharpen skills before a live audience at Rupp Arena.
Opponents? Junior college and prep school teams a few of which, will no doubt feature a recruiting prospect or two.
Renaissance for days of the Kittens?
KHSAA Regime Change
KHSAA Commissioner-inwaiting Julian Tackett takes charge this summer and will put his ideas in motion. Three suggestions …
1. Choose a tough issue during honeymoon period. Say, the public-private high schools dilemma. Press for constructive dialogue, compromise with a ‘lets try this’ proviso. Put a plan in motion subject to evaluation at end of two years.
2. Attend district level meetings of high school coaches and principals meetings over 18 months. Theirs, not his.
3. More transparency for the Hall of Fame process. The public image of nomination and election to the KHSAA hall currently is one shrouded in politics and goodold boyism.
Players To Watch Dept.
College basketball fans across Kentucky will enjoy watching progress of Jarrod Polson at Kentucky and Elisha Justice at Louisville along with return of Kenneth Faried at Morehead, but a trio of freshmen to watch next season are: Storm Burchett at Centre College from Clinton County, Clint Stepp at Alice Lloyd from June Buchanan High, and Madison Johnson at Union College from Corbin.
In last week’s column West Jessamine senior Jarrod Polson was mistakenly identified as Jason Polson. My apology.
• Eric Bledsoe hired an agent last week. Through UK sports information, Bledsoe did the thank you routine and said, “I never thought I’d be ready for the NBA after one year.”
Comment : Ready to be just another journeyman, kid. But, the money will last forever, right?
• Daniel Orton’s statement was more snicker-worthy. He appreciated UK, coaches and fans, he said, adding, “I am truly blessed to be a part of the Kentucky family.”
Comment: UK’s family expect Orton to be home for Christmas, right?
And so it goes. You can reach Bob Watkins at