Dick Vitale lists Kentucky Wildcats as his preseason number one basketball team

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Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

I have to admit that much like of the BBN, I have a love/hate relationship with ESPN’s Dick Vitale. He once scolded me on Twitter and he has the annoying habit of beating a dead horse much longer than anyone else. Remember the IU/UK scheduling thing?

But you will not find a bigger supporter of John Calipari. Perhaps he and Mike DeCourcy are the only two national pundits that will call Calipari’s detractors out on their misinformation over Cal’s history. Vitale just released his Top 25 for the upcoming basketball season and he may curry some more favor with the BBM with his latest prediction.

 

1. KENTUCKY

John Calipari has reloaded big time. He has the top recruiting class in America by far, and this group should be special. Think about it — the Harrison twins (Aaron and Andrew), Julius Randle, Dakari Johnson, James Young, Marcus Lee — WOW! Then add in veterans like Jarrod Polson, Alex Poythress and Willie Cauley-Stein to help the youngsters learn the ropes, and Big Blue Nation will be smiling.

 

 

Mandatory Credit: Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports

There has been some speculation that John Calipari may not end up with the top ranked recruiting class for 2014. You have to admit that it is a bit more of a race to get there this year and that path to the top class took a bit of a detour as Myles Turner will visit Ohio State on OIctober 18 rather than Kentucky’s BBM.

 

The 6-foot-11 Turner had said he was considering several options for that weekend, including Kentucky, Duke and Oklahoma State as well.

“Myles had been talking with Ohio State and they were the first to invite on that date,” David Turner said.

Beyond that weekend, Turner told SNY.tv he “definitely” plans to visit Kansas at some point after skipping “Late Night in the Phog” for the USA Basketball camp last weekend.

A projected top-2 pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, Turner has cut his list to eight schools – Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisville, Arizona, Ohio State, Texas and Oklahoma State.

 

It’s not a huge setback for Calipari as Turner should announce in the Spring, but it just seems rare for a recruit to eschew BBM.

 

Hawkins after winning region tourney

Being a Kentucky kid, Dominique Hawkins should have been ready for the celebrity like adoration he was going to get as a member of the Wildcats basketball team. But apparently nothing can prepare you for being a Wildcat.

 

Hawkins, a cousin of former UK big man Marquis Estill, is no stranger to public recognition. In leading Madison Central to the state championship last spring, he was named Most Valuable Player of the Sweet 16 and Kentucky’s Mr. Basketball.

But to play for UK brings a whole new level of fame.

“It’s so different,” Hawkins said. “And you’re meeting different people, and they see you as a celebrity. Kentucky basketball is pretty big.”

Kentucky basketball is so big that Hawkins put off recruiting interest by such Division I programs as South Carolina and Tennessee. “Then there was another big one I can’t remember,” he said. “… Waiting for Kentucky to give me an answer, yes or no.”

So big that some rival recruiters advised Hawkins to sign with UK.

“Like Morehead (State) and Western (Kentucky),” he said. “They were, like, ‘We know Kentucky is a great school, so go ahead and go there.’”

 

 

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