When you sign on the dotted line to come play ball for Coach Cal and the Kentucky Wildcats, you are guaranteed two certainties: Winning and Haters. Those two are inextricably linked and if you’re not ready for the hate then perhaps you’re not ready for the Kentucky Wildcats. It’s a well-established fact that Cal and the Kentucky Wildcats, even on the eve of a down year, is the most hated program in college basketball. So coming in eyes wide open is what all recruits must do in order to not only succeed, but survive. I’m not sure this past group of Frosh was prepared for the hate and the winning suffered. Apparently they didn’t buy into Calipari’s oft preached sermon about us being “everybody’s Superbowl” because the effort wasn’t always present. Looking ahead to next season, hate doesn’t seem like it will be an issue to the, at this moment, 6 new commits we have coming in.
Ben Roberts of NEXTCATS has some interesting quotes from a few of those McDonald’s All Americans:
“As long as it’s loud, I’m totally fine with it,” said UK signee Marcus Lee, a California native. “They can boo me all they want. I’m totally fine with it. In my high school, we weren’t as spirited. We had a big gym and we had a lot of people during the playoffs, but not as many during the regular season.
“I’ve never really been super hated like that. Being super hated is pretty exciting for me.”
Lee says he’s already seeing the hate. The 6-foot-10 forward watched as many UK games as he could this past season, and he was active on Twitter during most of them. While he had several positive interactions with Kentucky fans, other teams’ supporters weren’t as amused.
Sometimes they’d send tweets or pictures his way, and the material usually wasn’t endearing.
Instead of engaging in a Twitter war with rival fans, Lee said he just laughed it off.
“I’ll take it and like it and retweet it, because it’ll probably be funny,” he said. “I’m able to laugh at myself.”
Andrew & Aaron Harrison
The Harrisons reputation as two of the best high school players in the country — and two of the fiercest competitors — precedes them.
And that reputation often breeds contempt.
“In Houston, they hate on us no matter who we play or where we are,” Andrew said. “We take that and we turn it around as motivation. It helps us play harder, actually.”
“We all know that there’s going to be a lot of hate, and a lot of lies told about us,” Aaron added. “It’s motivation.”
Soft-spoken 7-footer Dakari Johnson might look to another, more unorthodox source of inspiration when it comes to dealing with hateful fans.
“I’m looking forward to it. I want to embrace it,” he said. “I know a lot of people hate Marshall Henderson, but he just embraces it. He lives in the moment and he just does what he does. And we’re going to do what we do.”
Based on those comments, there is no doubt that these kids have no misguided notions that some hateful fans and bias media will pick through every aspect of their lives with a fine tooth comb, yet they don’t seem to care. And I doubt that Jakari Johnson will be the ass that Marshall Henderson seemed to be.
Talent aside, that’s their most redeeming quality. They’re mature beyond their years and don’t seem the least bit pretentious. Combine these guys with the guys we have returning (Poythress and Noel still undecided) and we could have to start spotting teams to start games. If we get Andrew Wiggins then it’s over.
So here’s to the #DriveFor9 and a group that will rival the ’96 Kentucky Wildcats for the best group ever to wear the Blue and White.
On, On, U of K
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