[Moderated by Matt Jones]
Hello, Nerlens. Can I call you Nerlens? Or do you have a nickname I should employ? Nerly has a nice ring to it. That blue and white looks good on you– but I bet you’ve heard that a lot.
By now, you’ve arrived in Kentucky after flying in from Massachusetts. The weather’s pretty nice this time of year, and I hope you got a window seat and a nice view of our rolling green fields and horse farms (it’s raining and snowing in Syracuse right now… just FYI). It gets even more beautiful around April- especially after the basketball team triumphantly returns home from New Orleans. I’m just sayin’.
Anyway, as I’m sure you’ve heard, there is no beast quite like Kentucky basketball. Your official visit to campus is bound to be fun-filled and exciting. So you’re not caught off-guard, I’d like to offer you a few tips on what to expect from your visit to the Big Blue Nation.
Do expect to be mobbed everywhere you go. Kentucky fans are many things, but subtle and discreet are not two of them. And let’s face it- with your distinct hairstyle, you are highly recognizable. You will be asked for pictures (keep your comb on you at all times for quick touchups). You will be yelled at from across the street. A pregnant woman will offer to name her baby after you if you commit to Kentucky- boy or girl. Embrace it, and feel free to get used to it.
Do expect at least one poster directed toward you in Rupp Arena. Probably one with your Twitter background traced onto it.
Do expect the Ole Miss game to be a dunk fest. I’m sure you know this, but Ole Miss? Not really a basketball school. They’re sitting pretty in the lower half of the SEC standings, and with our home record clearer than Tim Tebow’s conscience, it’s an understatement to say you’ll really be visiting Lob City University. The bright side of an otherwise boring game? You should be able to see exactly where you fit in and how much FUN it is to play basketball at Kentucky. Anytime Anthony Davis blocks a Short, White, or Cox, with the crowd bowing to the brow after each one, just think to yourself, “That could be me next year.”
Do expect not to sleep very much. As Twitter will tell you, our basketball team’s alias is #TeamNoSleep. Some good ways to kill time in the wee hours of the night? Take a trip to Goodfella’s, home of pizza slices with more surface area than your flattop (and more grease too, I’m guessing). Walk down Limestone between Two Keys and Tin Roof to gawk at college students and be gawked in return (but no shenanigans, please- everyone knows you’re under 21). Record a YouTube music video with Kyle and Jarrod, or Twany if you’re more into slow jamz. Or just sit and giggle at this gif all night long (it’s what I did last night):
Do expect to be bombarded with Twitter followers and Facebook friend requests immediately after your trip. You’ve gone on the record as saying you prefer coaches to contact you via Facebook messages. Well, get excited to spend even more time on the site, because BBN is not shy about “friending” you despite never having officially met you. It’s not creepy, it’s dedication. What’s more, they feel no embarrassment at shamelessly tweeting “@” you or writing on your Wall asking (okay, begging) you to come to UK. Don’t get freaked out. Respond to a few with some kind words, and we’ll love you forever. Unless you don’t choose UK. But let’s not go there right now.
Do expect to have a really fun, unique experience. Lexington is one of the most beautiful cities in the US, and the people are amazing to boot. The red carpet treatment you’ll experience on your visit will not go away should you choose to attend Kentucky in the fall. College basketball is our religion, and players are our saints. We will love you, we will hound you (in the best way possible), we will challenge you to be better, we will write blogs about you that constantly reference your haircut, and we will embrace you as family. Seriously, my mom would love to have you over for dinner. Chicken or steak?
Nerly, I hope this has been helpful. Moreso, I hope you have a great time this weekend and decide that Kentucky is the place for you. As I’m sure any current or former Kentucky player will tell you, it will be the best decision of your life.
Follow me @KristenGeilKSR if you enjoy tales of a native Lexingtonian trying to make it in the big city of Chicago.
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