Top takeaways from Big Blue Madness

By Josh Ellis and Jordan Ondrof

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Rupp Arena hosted Big Blue Madness for the 11th time Friday night, providing UK fans plenty of preseason hype. Women’s head coach Matthew Mitchell continued to show off his wild dance moves, some Cats in the NBA joined the fun and hip-hop artist Drake had a convincing video message for head coach John Calipari and Big Blue Nation. Here are some takeaways from Friday’s extravaganza.

Heaps of Top Talent

Big Blue Madness welcomed a total of nine top prospects in the 2016 and 2017 classes, including the No. 1 forward, the No. 3 and No. 4 guards in the 2016 class and the No. 3 guard in the 2017 class.

Class of 2016: Harry Giles (No. 1 Forward), De’Aaron Fox (No. 3 Guard), Malik Monk (No. 4 Guard), Wenyen Gabriel (Committed, No. 7 Forward) and Sacha Killeya-Jones (Committed, No. 11 Forward)

Class of 2017: Gary Tent Jr. (No. 3 Guard), John Petty (No. 5 Guard), Trae Young (No. 9 Guard),  and Kris Wilkes (No. 6 Forward)

*All recruiting rankings are according to

Impressive guard play

Some of the most impressive play came from two guards, sophomore Tyler Ulis and freshman Jamal Murray. Both Ulis and Murray were making NBA level 3’s look easy and making virtually every mid-range jumper they attempted. They were able to show off their skills during both the 3 on 3 scrimmage playing on opposing sides, and during 5 v 5, playing on the same team. Having Ulis and Murray on the court together will make the Cats very difficult to defend.

Cal is excited about the future

Coach Cal was introduced by Drake… by video. Drake, sitting around a bunch of candles and drinking red wine, apologized for not being able to be there in person and introduced the “silver fox,” head coach John Calipari. He addressed the crowd before the team began warm ups. Notable things he said:

“We are the winningest program in the history of college basketball. We’ve won more NCAA tournament games than any school in the country. We have been and will continue to be the gold standard in college basketball.”

“And what does the future hold? You’re looking at them right here with this team. This season will be a process. Nothing happens overnight. I want these kids to worry about pleasing each other, not worry about pleasing me.”

“Referring to the recruits in the front row: “Who wants to be next? This team wants to be next. And hopefully, some other people in this building. Thank you.”

UK Hoops working towards another strong year

Matthew Mitchell had a failed attempt to trick Big Blue Nation that he was going to retire his lauded dance moves Friday night, and couldn’t resist but entertain the crowd with the whip and nae nae. Mitchell’s moves weren’t the only flashes of greatness (if you want to call them that) that caught the attention of fans, however.

The women’s team had flashes of explosive play during Friday’s scrimmage, getting into transition and sharing the ball well. Mitchell said this year’s team has great depth and has began to bond as one.

UK Hoops will host two home games in Rupp Arena this year, the first coming against in-state rival Louisville on Dec. 10 and then ten days later against Duke. The team finished the 2014-15 season 24-10 overall.