By Ryan Lemond


So here we are. Big Blue Nation is once again gearing up for March Madness. It’s one of our favorite times of the year. From the moment John Calipari walked onto the UK campus, March has been a special time for the BBN. Lots of great memories. Lots of great wins.

This UK basketball team is the youngest team Cal has ever had at UK. You’ve probably heard him say a time or two (or a thousand) that this group of the Cats is also one of the youngest in the country. We should be a little patient. We should enjoy watching them grow.

We should be getting excited about another big run in March.

I’ll admit that I was a little slow in getting excited about this basketball team, but now I can feel it building inside of me. I can see this team getting better and better, and that alone excites me.

Enter Jarred Vanderbilt.

Right when I felt like this team needed a boost, BBN finally got to see the long awaited debut of Vanderbilt, a 5 star McDonald’s All-American who had been relegated to the sideline by an injury.

We all were hoping that when Vanderbilt was finally able to play, that he could be a difference-maker. We prayed he would be the answer to some of UK’s problems.

Without playing one second during the first 17 games of the season, many felt like the 6’9” Vanderbilt was already the team’s Most Valuable Player.

Once he finally got to play, it became very evident that he was one of best passers on the team. He clearly brings a lot of energy, passion and hustle to the team, which was needed. He’s also extremely versatile: he can play any position on the floor. During his first game of the season against South Carolina, Vanderbilt had to play point guard for several minutes during the 2nd half when the other guards were battling foul trouble.

Have you looked around the SEC this year? It’s wide open: there are several really good teams. There may be as many as 8 SEC teams that will get into the NCAA tournament.

That’s precisely why the addition of Vanderbilt is perfect timing. Many thought he should have started playing sooner, but he came along at the right moment, just when the Cats needed him the most.

Now I know, I know–there are some really tough games coming up in February. But with the addition of Vanderbilt, I like my team’s chances. And if UK ends up a 5 or a 6 seed in the NCAA tournament, don’t forget that as a 7 seed last year, South Carolina advanced all the way to the Final Four.

Madness? Bring it on!