Things are certainly slowing down around these parts as players take their finals this week and the coaching staff tries to wrap up the final weeks of the signing period before a little vacation time.
I’m also doing my part to tie up a few loose ends before a little vacation time myself, so I’ve been away from the computer most of the day. Here are a few notes from around the Big Blue Nation to get you caught up on today:
Noticed a new addition in the Joe Craft Center practice gym while I was in Coach Cal’s office Wednesday morning. I’m sure you can figure out what I’m talking about from the pictures below.
The new banner was put up Tuesday.
Now the question becomes, where does UK put a ninth if Calipari and the gang can do it again? The far wall in the practice gym is now filled up with eight championship banners. Only championship banners are hung in the practice gym.
Speaking of the graduation ceremonies that were mentioned above, both of this year’s seniors, Darius Miller and Eloy Vargas, are on track to graduate Sunday at UK’s 145th Commencement. Assuming everything goes as plan and both graduate Sunday, all six of the seniors under Coach Cal at Kentucky will have graduated.
Sam Amick of SI.com is reporting Anthony Davis has been selected as a finalist for the U.S. Olympic roster for this summer’s games in London. If Davis were to make the team, he would be the first Olympian from Kentucky since Tayshaun Prince. DeMarcus Cousins was also reportedly in the running for a spot on the team.
In the wake of serious injuries that have decimated Team USA’s roster of Olympic finalists, sources said Kentucky big man and projected No. 1 pick Anthony Davis has been selected as a replacement candidate to compete in the London Games this summer.
USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo and the coaching staff headed by Mike Krzyzewski will be adding one other player, with both picks expected to be announced later Wednesday. According to sources, players under consideration were Pistons center Greg Monroe, Jazz center Al Jefferson and Kings center DeMarcus Cousins. But Cousins, sources said, has been invited to the Select team — which will train with Team USA before the Olympics — and is not the other finalist addition.
Whether it’s been throwing out first pitches at local ballparks, showing up to high school proms or autograph signings, Coach Cal’s national championship players have been busy during their few weeks of the semester. There have been numerous stories around the state about the random appearances by the players — which have been on their own time; not UK related or mandated — but the most special ones have been the hospital visits by the players.
One minute he was blowing bubbles with Zanyia Markham in her hospital bed laughing and joking, then a few minutes later, he was emotional as he held cancer patient Susan Smith’s hand.
Kentucky Wildcat freshman Anthony Davis wasn’t worried about how many points he scored or how many shots he blocked Saturday, he was just trying to bring smiles to a few patients at the Pikeville Medical Center and he did just that.
“I could be working out and getting ready for the Draft, but getting out and meeting fans and giving back is what it is all about,” Davis said. “My life is set. These kids and patients don’t have a chance to go out and play all day and enjoy being a kid and play basketball or go out and pursue their careers and I think visiting them and showing them that people care means a lot. By taking a few moments I got to see some really big smiles and that means a lot.”
Davis, along with some members of the Wildcat Warhouse and Pikeville Medical Center staff, visited a number of children and some adult patients at Pikeville Medical Center. The National Player of the Year greeted the patients with gift baskets filled with T-shirts, basketballs and bubbles. He even gave smiley face balloons which sported his trademark unibrow look.
“Most definitely giving back is important to me,” Davis said. “I just visited some kids and it is important for me to give back because some of these kids and patients that I visited really have it rough. I gave out some balloons and gift baskets and blew some bubbles and it meant a lot for me. They seemed to like it, but I got a lot from it. We visited some kids and a couple of adults.
Kentucky signee Archie Goodwin hasn’t even landed on campus yet, but Sporting News is already calling him one of the best shooting guards of the 2012-13 season. As a matter of fact, the publication is tabbing him as the No. 5 overall shooting guard for next year in its countdown of the best players at each position for next year. Don’t be surprised to see a few more Wildcats show up on the remaining lists despite the mass exodus of players.
5. Archie Goodwin, Kentucky
Goodwin is pretty clearly the most athletic shooting guard entering college basketball as a freshman next season. And no one has more success converting freshman potential into college success than John Calipari.
It’s a bit tricky placing Goodwin this high because he hasn’t yet proven to be a consistent long-range shooter; Scout.com evaluated that as a weakness in its evaluation of him, and he was only 1-of-5 combined in three postseason high school all-star games. If he starts making shots regularly, he could end up traveling the road blazed by Anthony Davis and his classmates: over the Final Four podium and into the NBA.
Reminder, Calipari and his coaching staff will serve as honorary grand marshals of the 57th annual Republic Bank Derby Festival Pegasus Parade on Thursday in Louisville. The coaches are expected to have the national championship trophy with them at the parade.
Louisville Slugger has made an all-blue, limited edition bat to honor UK’s 2012 national championship, which you can order online here for $100. For what it’s worth, it’s reportedly the first time Louisville Slugger has ever made a bat for an NCAA college basketball champion.
ESPNU will cover live UK’s visit to the White House on Friday at 5 p.m. Later Friday, ESPNU will air behind-the-scenes moments in a half-hour special on May 11 at 11:30 p.m.
Of course, CoachCal.com will be along for the trip, so we’ll have plenty of behind-the-scenes coverage on here.