Kentucky Basketball: We ARE a Big Blue Family


To outsiders, the one thing that has become obvious to them is that, sure, University of Kentucky head men’s basketball coach John Calipari’s method works, but what about the fans? To them, fans of the tradition rich Kentucky Basketball program simply couldn’t become attached to players that only play at UK for a year or two and then move on. Outsiders will sing the praises of their own four year players, insinuating that with Calipari, those days are long gone for the Big Blue Nation. Perhaps they’re right. Maybe Darius Miller will be the last four year player to be a regular in the playing rotation for the Wildcats. Maybe not. Either way, believe this: The Big Blue Nation cares about former Wildcats, be they one or two year players or guys that play sparingly but still graduate.

Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

As I’ve already opined, John Calipari has made the NBA Draft Must See TV for all Wildcat fans. And, at last week’s draft, Julius Randle and James Young (two one-year players) were selected by the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics, respectively. Without getting into heavy draft analysis, I think both guys have landed in spots where they are set up for near and long term success.  And going from the best program in college basketball to two of the most storied NBA franchises isn’t a bad deal either. As Randle explained to the LA media at his Monday press conference, he’s played at Kentucky and the rabid Big Blue Nation, so he’s sure he can handle the demands of Laker Nation.

The belief is that once players leave Lexington and move on, they become out of sight and out of mind with Kentucky fans.  And that simply isn’t true.  Sure, Randle and Young,  just like Anthony Davis and John Wall only played one season in Blue, but they gave the BBN lasting memories, that even some four year players haven’t been able to do. We will always remember Wall, Eric Bledsoe and DeMarcus Cousins, making Kentucky cool and relevant again after nearly a decade on the outskirts. We will remember Brandon Knight’s gusty shot against Ohio State. We will always  remember Doron Lamb and Terence Jones returning to team up with Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Marquis Teague to deliver national title number eight. And we will always remember the 2014 NCAA Tournament when Randle and Young lead the way to an unexpected runner-up finish.  One of the best qualities of the Big Blue Nation is that you don’t have to play a full season to be a fan favorite (Nerlens Noel) or play at all (Enes Kanter).

Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

I’ve heard plenty of Kentucky fans say something to the effect of “I’m not an NBA fan, but I’m going to have to watch now to keep up with all our guys.”  Kentucky Basketball is a family. Not just amongst the fans, but with the players as well. We want to see them succeed and proceed. We want them to do well. Once a Wildcat, you’re always a Wildcat. And if you don’t understand that, don’t worry: It’s a Kentucky Basketball thing, you wouldn’t understand.