Jay Bilas is one of the smartest men in basketball. He’s in the Bahamas providing color commentary for Kentucky’s televised scrimmages, and he’s done a fantastic job doing so.
Coach Cal brought Bilas in to speak with his team on Wednesday, their day off, and recorded what he had to say to them. The most interesting passage is as follows:
“You are going to be talked about as much, if not more than any team in the country,” Bilas said. “And arguably, any team over the last 20 years. As your season goes along, there are going to be people like me in my job, at the start of the year, we’re going to talk about how good you can be. Then, we’re going to talk about how good you are. Then, people are going to get bored with that. We’re going to start talking about what are their weaknesses. Instead of talking about what you’re really good at, they’re going to start hammering at little things, make you see a crack. It may exist, it may not. But they’ll talk about that.”
He’s exactly right. If all goes according to plan, this is how Kentucky’s season is going to play out:
The young Wildcats will get challenged and tested during November and December, losing a game or two to someone like Louisville or Texas or Kansas.
They’ll hit their stride during SEC play when, believe it or not, their schedule gets a bit easier and their play starts peaking as guys figure out their roles and Calipari figures out his rotation.
Like in 2012, they will head into March as the best team in the country and the favorite to win the national title.
At that point, what will happen is that the talking point will shift. Instead of talking about how good this team can be, everyone will eventually begin to talk about whether or not Kentucky can be beaten and how it can be done.
So if, heading into the NCAA tournament, Kentucky is 32-2, don’t be surprised to se multiple columns here discussing how Kentucky’s weaknesses, whatever they are, can be exploited.
Because that’s the way it works when you’re the favorite to win.
Like Alkins, Jones was a sought-after scorer. The 6-foot-4 two-guard was rated No. 69 overall in the Class of 2016 by Rivals. He picked Indiana over offers from Cal, Cincinnati, Georgetown and more than a dozen other high-major programs.
Jeter, the 6-foot-10, played in a reserve role as a freshman, averaging 1.9 points and 1.9 rebounds per game last season. He will be part of a loaded frontline that includes heralded freshmen Harry Giles and Marques Bolden, as well as redshirt senior Amile Jefferson, who returns to the lineup following a foot injury.
Florida freshman will miss the season with stress fracture
Bassett will require surgery in his right foot and his projected recovery time will be four-to-six months. The injury will force Bassett to redshirt the 2016-17 season.
A three-star recruit coming out of Oldsmar Christian in Florida, the 6-foot-9 forward wasn’t expected to be a big contributor during his first year with the Gators, but his loss does hurt some of the team’s frontcourt depth. With John Egbunu, Devin Robinson, Justin Leon and Kevarrius Hayes all returning, the Gators should have plenty of players to use in the frontcourt this season without Bassett.
Once Bassett is healthy and able to play next season he showed good athleticism and an ability to hit the glass hard while he was in high school. Bassett should be able to join Florida’s rotation as an energy defender and rebounder right away.
Iowa State lands four-star Class of 2017 guard Lindell Wigginton
Iowa State has its point guard of the future as four-star Class of 2017 prospect Lindell Wigginton pledged to the Cyclones on Friday.
The 6-foot-1 Wigginton is regarded as the No. 40 overall prospect on Rivals.com as the Canadian has spent the last few seasons at powerhouse Oak Hill Academy. With an ability to play both guard spots and defend a few spots, Wigginton is a valuable addition to head coach Steve Prohm’s ballclub as Wigginton could help replace Monte Morris after he exhausts his eligibility.
Wigginton is going to need to improve his consistency on his perimeter jumper, but he’s a good pull-up scorer who can make plays for himself or others off the bounce. Iowa State’s Class of 2017 recruiting haul now includes Wigginton, four-star wing Terrence Lewis and three-star guard Darius McNeill.
This commitment is huge for Prohm as Wigginton is the most highly-regarded recruit that he has landed with the Cyclones. With Prohm’s point guard history with guys like Isaiah Canaan at Murray State and Monte Morris now with Iowa State, Prohm did a nice job of finding his next young guard to mold for the future.