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Former Wildcats are thriving in the NBA Playoffs

While some of the players in the NBA bubble may be at their wit’s end as they miss their freedom and their families, the former Kentucky Wildcats have been thriving in Orlando.

On Tuesday night we saw an epic game defining block from Bam Adebayo as the Heat took Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals from the Celtics.

The fact that this block was made against former Duke Blue Devil Jayson Tatum made it even sweeter.

Bam’s teammate, and fellow Wildcat, Tyler Herro contributed 12 points in the win and received a glowing tweet from former Louisville Cardinals star Donovan Mitchell.

While Bam and Herro were the stars for the Heat, they could not eclipse the biggest star of the night: Jamal Murray. Murray has his team in the Western Conference Finals after coming back from two 3-1 deficits in the previous two series.

Last night’s performance was extra special, as he dropped 40 points to send home, in the minds of some, the NBA Champion-favorite Los Angeles Clippers. Kawhi Leonard and Paul George are going home instead of preparing for a showdown with fellow Staples Center residents Los Angeles Lakers.

And for the second game in a row, Murray rocked his Kentucky Blue in the press conference.

Speaking of the Lakers, let’s not forget Anthony Davis who is, arguably, the best player in the league right now. Rajon Rondo has resurrected his career in the Bubble and is now known as Playoff Rondo.

These players aren’t the only stars that have played in the NBA Bubble to call Lexington their former home. Devin Booker lit it up for the Phoenix Suns. Shai Gilgeous Alexander played well for the Oklahoma City Thunder before being sent home courtesy of the Houston Rockets. PJ Washington was named Second Team All NBA Rookie for the Hornets.

We aren’t used to seeing John Calipari’s players deep in the postseason due to the fact that high draft picks usually go to traditionally bad franchises. Anthony Davis was stuck on the New Orleans Pelicans for years until he finally got out of town. Now, America is seeing just how good The Brow truly is for the NBA.

Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro went to a Heat franchise with multiple titles; yet that team has struggled to make the postseason in recent years, The addition of Bam, Herro, and Jimmy Butler has made them a team to be reckoned with.

As for Murray, he’s just a man on fire. He has the least help out of any of the Cats in the Playoffs yet here he is in the Conference Finals. While nobody is expecting the Denver Nuggets to advance past the Lakers, we are sure to see Murray shine in this series and for years to come.

All of this leads me back to Kentucky and John Calipari. Can the sudden success of the former Cats in the Bubble be utilized to reinvigorate Kentucky’s recruiting?

The departure of Kenny Payne was, like it or not, a blow to Kentucky’s recruiting. With the staff in flux as Bruiser Flint and Jai Lucas get their legs under them, John Calipari can now point to his players succeeding on the biggest stage of the NBA as a recruiting pitch. They’re getting the better of Duke players, Louisville players, straight-to-the-NBA-players, and multi-year veterans.

All of a sudden, the young crop of promising NBA players is dominated by Kentucky Wildcats. Duke had surpassed Kentucky as the “cool” program, but now John Calipari has the ammo to take back that mantel. There aren’t many players in the NBA that have a cool factor that surpasses Murray, Booker, or Herro. They’re all flashy scorers that have an off-court presence that matches their on-court presence.

For years John Calipari has helped flood the NBA with young talent and now that is finally paying off for them and the Kentucky Basketball Program.

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