From the opening tip of the season point guard Eric Bledsoe made sure that everyone knew the Kentucky Wildcats had more future NBA 1st round draft picks in their freshman class than just John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins. In the Wildcats' opening game of the season Bledsoe led all scorers with 24 points in an easy victory over Morehead State.
When SEC conference play began Bledsoe again served notice that he did not intend to take a back seat to anyone. The Birmingham, AL product ripped off four consecutive double-digit scoring efforts to begin SEC play, grabbing his fair share of rebounds and dishing out assists along the way.
Bledsoe has continued to show flashes of brilliance since then. He scored 16 points in a nice home win over Tennessee on February 13. However, beginning with the Wildcats' only loss, on the road against South Carolina, the 6-foot-1 guard has seemed a bit off much of the time. Bledsoe scored only four points in 31 minutes in that loss and committed five turnovers. In the last two games in particular, he has shot just 5-16 from the field (1-7 from three point range), collected just two total rebounds, and dished just 3 total assists. In his last outing with just :11 remaining and the Cats holding on to a single point lead, Bledsoe missed two free throws, giving Vanderbilt one last opportunity to win the game.
It may be coincidence; it may just be the tough run of the schedule against solid opposition, but from my comfortable easy chair position it seems that the team plays much better when Bledsoe plays a more prominent role in the game. We saw that against Tennessee; we saw it on the road against Florida and Auburn and we saw it against Arkansas.
Bledsoe will seek to reenergize himself tonight against South Carolina. The Cats have three sensations in Cousins, Wall and Patrick Patterson but three players do not make a team. This team needs regular, consistent contributions from Eric Bledsoe if they plan to go deep in the SEC and NCAA Tournaments. Coach John Calipari knows this and my guess is we will see some new life from Eric Bledsoe tonight.