UK Basketball seems to be coming into its own at the right time. They have fought through youth and inexperience and come out winning. They have battled bad losses and tough injuries and come out victorious. With all the various lineups they have been forced to entertain for whatever reasons, these guys can play together interchangeably with a sweetness that is rarely seen.
Did I just say sweet? Oh, yes I did.
In the spirit of sweetness, I decided to have a little fun and pair up our basketball squad with the candy bar that describes them best. So, without further ado…
Your Starting Lineup:
Tyler Ulis: Take 5
Everything you could want in a point guard, he has it. Just like how Take 5 has pretzel, caramel, peanut butter, peanuts, and milk chocolate, Ulis has leadership ability, court awareness, an insane assist-to-turnover ratio, a shot-creating brilliance, and a motor that will not quit. Although one may argue that Take 5 puts too much in one candy bar, no one can say that Tyler brings too much good stuff to the court. He is arguably the greatest point guard to ever wear Kentucky across his chest. Enjoy him while he is here, friends!
Jamal Murray: York Peppermint Patty
There are only four words you can use to undeniably describe a York Peppermint Patty- crisp, smooth, clean, and refreshing. It is no coincidence that those four words also epitomize our elite shooting guard to perfection. His movements are crisp, his shooting motion is smooth, his buckets are clean, and the confidence he gives the Big Blue Nation is refreshing. However, as great as York Peppermint Patty is, it is what it is… and well, Jamal Murray just keeps getting better and better. His statistics for the month of February were mind-blowing. If that trend continues in March, hello banner number nine!
Isaiah Briscoe: Heath Bar
Although Briscoe has garnered sighs of disappointment from around the BBN for his serious shooting slump, he owns nearly every other basketball skill to the point of mastery. Like the chocolate that blankets the Heath Bar, his defense is sweet and his lay-ups are smooth. But make no mistake, Isaiah on the inside is as tough as toffee. He absolutely will not bend. If you’re gonna take him, you’re gonna have to break him first. Good luck with that.
Alex Poythress: A Box of Russell Stover Chocolates
Everyone loves a box of Russell Stover chocolates. There is something for everyone in that box of scrumptious goodness. But, unless you get the big box that has its own map, you (in the words of Forrest Gump) never know what you’re going to get. That, friends, is Alex Poythress. Like the box of chocolates, most of what you get is fantastic, some are alright, but there are handful you would rather just throw in the trash. The trash chocolates do not make the whole box worthless, though. Despite the tough games Alex has had, his good outweighs his bad. Looking forward to seeing more “fantastic” come out of Poythress throughout the remainder of his final season as a Wildcat. It’s in there somewhere; let’s hope he finds it.
Marcus Lee: Crunch Bar
Marcus Lee is a force to be reckoned with. He’s full of energy and 90% of his dunks are SportsCenter Top 10 worthy. Although he’s a little rough and unpolished, he’s in the greatest line-up of players in the country. Just as the Crunch Bar doesn’t necessarily rank up there with your Snickers and Three Musketeers, make no mistake, it has its place to shine. Marcus Lee and Crunch Bar both make a serious impact and are essential to their teams.
Derek Willis: Carmello
No one could have imagined at the season’s start that Derek Willis would be this good. We watched him ride the bench for two season at Kentucky, hearing the stories of how he was a knock-down shooter, and wondering why-oh-why does he never see playing time. This past off-season, he recommitted himself to basketball, and WOW! To be honest, I’m kind of mad he made us wait this long to see how good he is. Actually, its like how mad I was at myself for not trying a Carmello until I was 22 years old. What had I been missing all my life? Carmello is easily ignored with its simplicity of ingredients and often trumped by Twix and Milky Way, but once you enjoy it for the first time, you can never go back. Derek has proved to be like Carmello, who was overlooked until experienced, rich (in offense), smooth (with his shot), and amazing (that three-ball is money).
Skal Labissiere: Mounds and Almond Joy
There’s no way around saying this: Skal just isn’t what we believed and hoped he would be. Although he has all the makings of a superstar, little of them have materialized this season. For my candy comparison, I’ll use an analogy: Almond Joy is to early-season Skal, Mounds is to late-season Skal. In case you don’t know, Almond Joy is way better than Mounds. Sometimes he shows some really good stuff; flashes of greatness even. However, mostly I just find myself frustrated that this kid isn’t being all I know he can be. This sometimes makes me feel like a nut, and then sometimes I don’t. Here’s hoping Cal’s “tweak” that made Skal play great on Tuesday night keeps us enjoying Skal’s alter ego, Almond Joy, the rest of the season.
Issac Humphries: Reese’s Cups
Although this kid may be rough around the edges, do not be misled. If you can get beyond the freshmen inexperience, he has some super sweet stuff just under the surface. Sure, he’s still adjusting to the American college game, so he’s not super-smooth just yet; but just you wait. He has skills that will make him an instant, unforgettable classic. Complete with a strong defensive presence, shot blocking ability, and some mid-range offense, we are all going to wish, like his candy-comparison, he had a twin.
Dominique Hawkins: Payday
Dominique plays more simplistic basketball than any Cat I can remember. He makes basketball look effortless and easy to play. He doesn’t do a whole lot of trickery on the court, so you can boil down his entire game to two things: tons of tough defense and with a touch of smooth offense. Payday is much of the same with tons of peanuts and just the right amount of caramel to hold it all together. That is Dominique in a nutshell. Some may not consider Dominique or Payday essential to their respective lineups, but I do. Dominique is a beast on defense and brings a threat of offense that the opposition simply cannot ignore. And, well, as for Payday; if you can ignore peanuts and caramel, you are not American.
Charles Matthews: Hershey Bar
Hershey is not the best candy bar in the bunch and Matthews is not the best player on the team, but both are classic. Matthews has struggled to find minutes on this squad, but don’t let that fool you into thinking that the kid cannot ball. He can, but to play Kentucky Basketball, he just needs development. Hershey bars are also best when they are developed. Hershey’s with almonds may be the greatest candy bar ever. Hershey’s Special Dark is just the right amount of bittersweet. Can you imagine a s’more without a Hershey Bar? I didn’t think so. Like a Hershey Bar, Matthews has a ways to go to be all he can be… but once he’s got it, you are going to be amazed.
Mychal Mulder: Rolo
Rolo is small caramel drops coated in chocolate. That is also Mychal Mulder. Mulder has a sweet game and I see so much of freshmen/sophomore Derek Willis in him. He was recruited to Kentucky as a knock-down shooter, so we know he has a sweet shot. We’ve actually witnessed it a time or two. However, until Coach Cal decides otherwise, Mychal will just have to be our Rolo; the sweetness we get in small doses.
They Don’t Play, But We Love Them Anyway:
Tai Wynyard: Nestlé Wonder Ball
Even with all the hype that has seemingly forever surrounded the New Zealand wood chopper, we are still waiting to see what he’s got. He’s at Kentucky, so we know whatever is inside that kid, it’s got to be good. In comparison to the Wonder Ball, we can see the chocolate shell just as we see Tai is on Kentucky’s bench, so that’s good. However until you break open the chocolate shell, the surprise inside remains a mystery. So, until Cal cracks open Tai, we will left to wonder what he contains.
EJ Floreal: M&M’s
There is no more perfect Cats-to-Candy comparison that EJ to M&M’s. Both are colorful, fun, the center of every party, and universally loved. Kenny Payne in a recent interview eluded to the idea that EJ is the glue guy of this team and was the glue guy to last year’s historic squad, as well. Its not simply enough he mingles with everyone, but he brings everyone together, making the team a band of brothers. UK’s best balling teams have been close like family. For the past two seasons, we can thank EJ for that.
Dillon Pulliam and Johnny David- M&M Mini’s
To be honest, I do not know enough about these two players to make a real comparison, but what I do know is they watch EJ. They both know that the likelihood of them playing meaningful minutes during their tenure is slim, but they know they can do what EJ does. They can bust their butts working on the scout team and pushing/encouraging our impact guys. They are learning the importance of pulling a team together, breaking down the cliques, and creating a brotherhood. EJ knows there is a major job to do outside of Rupp Arena and inside of the Wildcat Lodge, and he takes pride in doing it. He’s teaching Dillon and Jonny to do the same. There’s more to playing basketball than counting meaningful minutes. Pulliam and David are learning how to build a brotherhood.
That’s a wrap(per) on the Cats-to-Candy comparison. What are your thoughts? Do you have any different comparisons? Let’s hear them! Tweet them to me on Twitter: @xKSYorkx