KANSAS CITY, MO (WAVE) - After a Thursday full of formal locker room media availability and regimented practice windows, Kentucky’s loose, musical locker room was a stark contrast.
Despite the Sweet 16 matchup with Houston looming, the Wildcats’ locker room seemed more like a dorm in Lexington on any given evening.
Keldon Johnson served as the master of ceremonies and headlining act, when after being presented with a special microphone from Johnny David, he treated the entire locker room to performances of several hip hop tunes.
First up was his rendition of Waka Flocka Flame’s 2011 standard, Grove St. Party, and from the group huddled in the corner including Immanuel Quickley and Ashton Hagans, it was clear these three were having a good time.
David was also floating around conducting his interviews, which have become cult classics around the UK basketball twittersphere.
As the players sang, danced and joked their way through the locker room, it was clear they were feeling loose ahead of their practice pre-Houston.
What then to attribute this relaxed demeanor to, heading into a win-or-go-home game, with the fate of their best player in the air.
Is this a product of their confidence? Perhaps they’re looking past American Athletic Conference foe Houston, and ahead to a potential rematch with North Carolina in the Elite Eight.
Maybe most of them know they’re going to the league in a matter of months, and they’ve already reached the upper echelon of college basketball. Or maybe, just maybe, it’s just a group of young men having a good time.
It escapes the minds of many as we watch and wager on these games, lost in the yells at the television and our micro-anaylsis of each play, these are just kids. Most of the guys in this locker room are freshmen in college. During a time in their lives when many of us were having too much fun at parties and deciding what our major would actually be, these guys are carrying the hopes of thousands of fans onto the court every night.
They’re expected to perform at the highest level, say all the right things and carry with each day the knowledge that their behavior and performance will be the subject of hundreds of hours of talk radio and endless social media discussion.
While certainly a modicum of seriousness is warranted by this moment, there will be time for that on Friday. Certainly lots of time, since Kentucky and Houston play the late game and will likely tip after 10 p.m. EST.
And while undoubtedly, the Wildcats’ collective relaxed demeanor in the locker room ahead of Friday night’s game will be talked about and analyzed just like everything else, it’s as good a reminder as any that they’re just young adults having the time of their lives.
A quick look at Kentucky’s record and what they’ve been able to accomplish this year, might be a glimpse that whatever loose mojo they have going right now, is working.