Fans in Lexington can breathe a bit easier today, as the three missing McDonald’s All-Americans — James Young and the Harrison twins, Andrew and Aaron — have officially enrolled in classes at Kentucky.
This season, John Calipari brings in one of the best recruiting classes of all-time, but with half of that class attending summer school and half of that class, well, not, Big Blue Nation spent the summer nervously awaiting the other shoe to drop.
Kentucky didn’t comment on it, sticking to their policy of waiting until the first day of enrollment to discuss enrollment. That’s today. They won’t comment on the eligibility of those players until the day of their first game, but at this point, there’s really no reason to assume that the eligibility of any of the three — or of the three collectively — is in jeopardy.
If you’re looking for a chance to read between the lines, look at Kentucky’s updated 2013-2014 roster: all six freshmen are on there.
What that means is that it looks likely that the legendary recruiting class that Coach Cal put together will actually play together this season, and that’s a scary thought.
There are as many as eight NBA players on this roster. Their second five could end up being a top 25 team. There’s a chance that we can witness history this season. At the very least, non-conference battles with Michigan State, Louisville and North Carolina will be must-see TV.
And unless you reside in Louisville or Gainesville — and maybe Chapel Hill or Durham — that’s good news.
At the very least, the ticket scalpers in Dallas can start licking their chops about the 2014 Final Four.
An already tough road trip almost got worse for No. 9 North Carolina as they rallied late to beat Kansas State, 80-70, on Tuesday night in the championship game of the CBE Classic.
Plagued by the perimeter shooting issues that hurt them last season, the Tar Heels shot only 28 percent (6-for-21) from 3-point range and also had difficulty defending the 3-point line as Kansas State shot 50 percent (8-for-16) from distance.
But the Tar Heels went on a 21-3 run over the final 4:24 to close out the game as Joel Berry II, Justin Jackson, Kennedy Meeks and Theo Pinson scored on four consecutive possessions to deliver the final blow for North Carolina.
Much like the loss to Northern Iowa over the weekend, North Carolina had a difficult time trailing talented perimeter shooters as Kansas State guard Kamau Stokes went 6-for-8 from 3-point range to finish with 24 points.
This time, however, the Tar Heels took the best shot that the Wildcats could deliver and stayed tough as Berry’s 3-pointer out of a baseline out-of-bounds play seemed to ignite the North Carolina offense with 3:03 left.
From there, Jackson delivered a clutch runner for the tie and Meeks’ steal and score on the ensuing Kansas State possession proved to be the go-ahead bucket. With Marcus Paige still out with injury, Jackson stepped up as the go-to guy for North Carolina once again as he finished with 22 points on 8-for-13 shooting. Meeks added 15 points while Pinson finished with 11 and Brice Johnson added 10 points.
Kansas State has to feel like they let this one slip away, especially with a strong contingent of fans in Kansas City for the game. Turnovers in key situations really hurt the Wildcats in the final minutes as they couldn’t free up shooters like Stokes after he was red-hot for most of the game.
Perimeter shooting will continue to be a major question for North Carolina as the season moves along, but that should hopefully improve for them once Paige returns to the lineup and gives them another floor spacer. North Carolina’s late burst on offense — fueled in-part by some turnovers created by the defense — was certainly impressive, but they can’t expect that kind of late and furious rally to happen against elite teams.
PUERTO AVENTURAS, Mexico (AP) Rasheed Sulaimon scored 16 points and Melo Trimble added 15 to help No. 2 Maryland beat Illinois State 77-66 on Tuesday night in the Cancun Challenge.
With the game tied at 62, back-to-back 3-pointers by Jared Nickens and Sulaimon gave the Terrapins (4-0) a six-point cushion 3:45 left.
The Redbirds (2-3) tried to rally, but too many turnovers (17) stifled them.
MiKyle McIntosh scored 17 points and Paris Lee added 15 for Illinois State.
Maryland will face Rhode Island for the Riviera Division title on Wednesday. Illinois State plays TCU in the consolation game.