In what was the most expensive Big Blue Madness ever held at Rupp Arena, the theater and pageantry did not disappoint. From Matthew Mitchell’s “James Brown” persona and “school teacher in a Britney Spears” video, he got Rupp rocking early. Now clearly that’s not likely anything near like what Joe B. Hall had in mind when he started “Midnight Madness” some 30+ years ago but it is what it is and it works. The recruiting pitch is built in when 22k+ pack Rupp Arena to watch a practice while a host of former Kentucky Wildcats and current millionaires Anthony Davis, John Wall and Darius Miller set court side. You can’t be that kids. Coach Cal is the best coach and pitch man in any sport so to have the backing of the athletic department almost isn’t fair to the rest of the country. Deal with it. Oh and check out these few videos of some epic, hair raising stuff. But first, a little history of Big Blue Madness from the original innovator, Joe B. Hall.
Now on to the good stuff…
UK Hoops Head Coach Matthew Mitchell is the “Godfather of Soul”
UK Men’s Basketball Intro
UK Men’s Head Coach John Calipari Addresses the Nation
And just to give you an idea of exactly the type of impact an event like Big Blue Madness can have on recruiting, Evan Daniels of Fox Sports has a little breakdown of all the recruits there last night. Hint…they’re good.
Stanley Johnson | No. 6 overall in 2014
Daniels on Johnson: “He’s improved a great deal. And that’s a testament to how hard Stanley works. His ball handling and all-around ball skills have improved a great deal. His jump shot has improved a great deal. He’s always had elite intangibles. And Stanley’s always been a winner. He’s a very good rebounder. He takes pride in his defense. He does a lot of the little things, but then he went out and improved his ball skills, he improved his jump shot, he’s turned into a much better scorer. He made drastic improvements to his game and that’s a testament to how hard he works and how much time he spends in the gym.
Trey Lyles | No. 7 overall in 2014
Daniels on Lyles: “What makes Trey so special is his offensive skill. He can really score the basketball. He can do it on the block, he can do it from shooting mid-range jump shots, he can even step out for threes. He has a great set of hands, great touch. He has counter moves, he has hook shots. He’s a guy that can really put the ball in the basket. He has a knack for putting up points — both with his back to the basket and facing the rim.”
James Blackmon Jr. | No. 56 overall in 2014
Daniels on Blackmon: “He’s a guy that can really make shots from three-point range. I think it’s safe to say he’s the best shooter in that 2014 class. He has deep range, he has a quick trigger, he’s able to go off the bounce and hit mid-range jump shots. He’s a little more skilled than he gets credit for. He was a major standout to me at the USA developmental training camp a week and a half ago. I think he’s really ramped up his game. His shooting is really what’s going to catch your eye, but I think he’s really much more than that.”
Eric Davis | No. 22 overall in 2015
Daniels on Davis: “He’s a scorer, man. He can really score. He’s a true combination guard. He’s 6-3, he can play on the ball and he handles it well. He can create opportunities for others. But he is a high-level scorer. He shoots it well from three. … He’s capable of getting all the way to the rim and scoring. He’s wired up to put points on the board.”
Harry Giles | No. 1 overall in 2016
Daniels on Giles: “He’s an elite level player. In fact, you could make a case for him as the best prospect in high school basketball. He’s a special talent. At 6-10, he’s a very good athlete with a unique skill set that allows him to face the rim and score.”
Jayson Tatum | No. 4 overall in 2016
Daniels on Tatum: “He’s an elite-level wing. He’s grown to 6-7, he shoots the ball pretty well off the catch from three. He’s really developed a mid-range game. He has all the intangibles you look for in a wing prospect. He can defend the position well, he rebounds well out of that spot. He was arguably the top underclassman performer at USA basketball a week and a half ago. I’m a big, big fan.”
Joshua Langford | No. 14 overall in 2016
Daniels on Langford: “I think Josh is one of the better wings in that 2016 class. He can score. He’s tough. He rebounds. Most of the points I saw him score were from mid-range and in. But obviously he’s a talented scorer.”
Kobi Simmons | No. 16 overall in 2016
Daniels on Simmons: “I love Kobi Simmons as a long-term prospect. He’s 6-4. He has this long, lanky basketball frame. He’s a good athlete, very good speed. He’s skilled enough to play on the ball, but he’s also a capable scorer so he’s a threat off of it. He has a really impressive mid-range game and a nice floater. I’m not quite sure which position he’ll end up playing, whether it be point or ’2′. But I think he can be effective playing either spot.”
Note: 2016 point guard Quentin Goodin was a late addition to the Madness guest list. 2017 forward Brian Bowen will also visit this weekend.