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In sports there are certain athletes who have the ability to standout without breaking a sweat. We have witnessed it with Yusiel Puig in the MLB; Calvin Johnson Megatron in the NFL; and Johnny Football Manziel in college football. Last night in their national debut Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, and Julius Randle joined this elite company.
Although we have witnessed phenoms before, we have never be fortunate to see three of them on the same night on the same court. Their teams clearly have room to grow, but what is really scary is that with these stars the best is still yet to come.
Despite being a freshman Julius Bulldog Randle is clearly the leader of the Kentucky Wildcats squad. The Michigan State Spartans may have beat the Wildcats last night, if they meet again in March the outcome will likely be completely different. The Wildcats teased everyone with their talent while also reminding us of their youth. However, as is the case with all John Calipari coached teams, their team will only go as far as the point guard takes them. Will Aaron Harrison conquer his turnover demons and run what Calipari calls? Time will tell.
Jabari Parker aka Lil Melo endless scoring arsenal will be relied upon heavily for the Duke Blue Devils. Although Coach K has a collection of former McDonald All Americans the NCAA tournament fate will be determined largely by Parker, whose team cannot afford for him to foul out. Sophomore guard Rasheed Sulaimon was able to carry the Devils for stretches but Parker is the only one who can get his on shot.
Andrew Wiggins silenced doubters in his debut showcasing his jaw dropping athleticism and versatility. Despite appearing bored at times, but when the game comes so easy to do you blame him. Although Wiggins has garnered most of the attention and hype, Wayne Shelden is a best in his own right that is destined to sit in the green room with Wiggins and shake the hand of the NBA Commissioner.
Last night was truly exceptional, its not often that a 33 point scoring night by Lebron James gets buried in the back pages but the national debut of Parker, Wiggins, and Randle was certainly an exception. One game down, the nation is watching to see what they will do for an encore? Let the tanking begin! Stay tuned… I know I will.
In the state of Kentucky college basketball beats deeply through the veins of every citizen in the blue grass state. Fans of the Kentucky Wildcats and the Louisville Cardinals have been fortunate to witness their perspective programs return among the nations elite due Rick Pitino and John Calipari restoring the luster to two tradition rich programs. However, each coach took different routes to becoming title contenders.
Always known as a elite recruiter Calipari assembled some of top recruiting classes of all time which rivals and surpassed the infamous Fab Five from the University of Michigan. Unable to lure similar talent Pitino assembled his team by unearthing diamonds in the rough and developmental projects from other countries like Senegalese-born center Gorgui Dieng. Calipari’s Wildcats garnered more national headlines due to his rosters being loaded with charismatic players who were destined to be early NBA Draft lottery selections like John Wall, Demarcus Cousins, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
Despite being second fiddle in their own state the Cardinals had the luxury of returning experience and leadership each year since no players left early for the NBA Draft. Last year both programs made it to the Final Four and the Wildcats led by freshman phenom Anthony Davis won the title.
Since Calipari took the reins the program’s success has been dictated by unproven freshmen either fulfilling their high school press clippings and failing miserably. So far the Calipari gamble has paid off but this season provided a harsh reality check as the Wildcats missed the NCAA Tournament and was eliminated in the first round of the NIT Tournament by Robert Morris.
As the Wildcats return to the drawing board the Cardinals find themselves back in the tournament as the number one overall seed and favorite to cut down the nets in Atlanta. Both of these prominent programs have found their own formula for success but Pitino has reminded us all, that quick fixes are great for highlights but do not assure long term success.
The Wildcats will welcome another star studded freshman class and the Cardinals will yet again not be as fortunate. The Cardinals clearly got the last laugh this year, what will happen next year. Stay tuned I know I will – A. Denmark