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Kentucky Basketball Wins Gold At GLOBL Jam

Photo: Chet White/UK Athletics
Antonio Reeves, Tre Mitchell, Walker Horn, Jordan Burks, Adou Thiero and Kareem Watkins. Kentucky beat Canada 89-72 in the Gold Medal Game of the Globl Jam.

Austin Cocanougher
Herald Contributor

The University of Kentucky Wildcats are yet again the “gold standard” of college basketball. Or at least they can now claim to be gold medal recipients. At the 2023 GLOBL Jam basketball tournament in Toronto, Canada last week, the Cats represented the USA in the 24-U Men’s division. Because John Calipari’s Wildcats earned the honor of representing the U.S. in global competition, the team was given the unique opportunity to play four summer exhibition games, unlike most years where they would have to wait until October. This opportunity served as an excellent chance for Cal to better learn his team, give players more opportunity to bond, and most importantly give the team 10 extra off-season practices that no other team gets. Going into the week, most Kentucky fans viewed the experience as just exhibition games that Kentucky would use to get better against legitimate competition. Most expected the Cats to fall well short against their older, foreign opponents especially while missing two key bigs from their roster. Few expected them to actually be competitive and/or win the entire event. But nobody expected the Cats to come out and dominate against some of the best players in the world. However, dominant is precisely what they did.

The Wildcats have not made a Sweet 16 since 2019. They have not made a final four since losing a heartbreaker against Wisconsin in 2015 to finish their nearly undefeated season. Overall, the last half of Coach Cal’s Kentucky tenure has been lackluster in the eyes of many fans. Some have even begun to call for his job in recent years. Despite this, Cal may have just assembled one his greatest rosters at the University of Kentucky, ready to suit up for the chase for number nine in 2024. With a star studded freshmen class, legitimate offensive weapons in the senior class, and a deep bench of role players the 23-24 version of the Kentucky Wildcat Basketball team might just be the best group we’ve seen on the court in years.

There is one massive caveat: This is summer basketball- it’s early. Last year’s team looked great in the Bahamas, then inevitably fell short in the NCAA tournament capping a mostly up-and-down year. So, is this another case of fool’s gold? Well, there are some good reasons to believe that is not true.

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