Eric Bledsoe, the immensely talented point guard who will probably be a 1st round draft choice next month, struggled academically in high school. According to the NY Times, Bledsoe had a 1.9 GPA after three years of high school in Alabama, and would have needed an “improbable academic makeover” to get qualified to play in college. (Late last night, ESPN added some details.) So how’d he do it?
The NCAA would probably like to know. This is pure speculation, but if a college wanted a kid bad enough, wouldn’t they pull every string possible to make sure his academics were in order? Perhaps more interesting than a sudden surge of A’s on his senior year transcript is this, from the Times:
A college coach who recruited Bledsoe said that Ford explicitly told his coaching staff that he needed a specific amount of money to let Bledsoe sign with that university. The coach … said Ford told him and his staff that he was asking for money because he was helping pay rent for Bledsoe and his mother.
This leads to an obvious question – did Kentucky pay for Eric Bledsoe? We may never get an answer. The good news for UK is that unlike UMass and Memphis, the Wildcats won’t have a Final Four to vacate.
The bad news for Calipari is that regardless of how this pans out, it just shines more negative light on the Kentucky program. As long as Calipari is there, every single one of his standout recruits is going to be scrutinized and perhaps investigated by the media. When the second semester grades of the basketball team are released, how will the school react if they’re below a C average? [UPDATE: Spring semester grades were released while we were on vacation. They were up considerably from the fall.]