In a move that was expected, John Calipari reportedly called freshly-crowned Kentucky Mr. Basketball Elisha Justice yesterday to talk about walking on at Kentucky or possibly accepting a one-year scholarship. This would be a minor news item if Justce hadn't committed to walk-on at U of L way back in October.
To me, it appears the rationale behind Calipari contacting Justice is three-fold:
1. He needs the bodies.
Fifty-seven players from this year's UK are either graduating, transferring or leaving school early for the NBA. Calipari needs players for next year and the pickins are slim at this point in the game.
2. The fan base will love it.
Kentucky fans thoroughly enjoyed the ride this past year, but the one-and-done freshmen, the up-and-down attitudes and the dancing in the tunnel wasn't exactly shades of The Unforgettables. Justice is a good-looking, undersized kid from Pikeville who just won Mr. Basketball and a state championship. Him wearing blue and white falls in line with "the dream" that so many people from out in the state talk about.
3. To prove he can.
Let's be honest: Justice isn't going to be a star at Louisville or Kentucky, and his odds of playing sizable minutes for either program are only slightly better. Calipari getting a relatively insignificant player from the state of Kentucky to back out of a commitment to Rick Pitino and come to Lexington would be the recruiting equivalent of a DeMarcus Cousins elbow to Jared Swopshire's face.
Justice said he plans to talk the decision over with his parents, but also told Jody Demling last night that: "I really like Louisville. I feel like that is the better fit for me, right now."
It's an interesting situation, and one that will be worth keeping an eye on in the coming weeks.