ARLINGTON, Va. -- Nick King is an elite athlete in great condition, and he's only 17 years old. So it was a bit of a surprise when I spotted him Friday just a few minutes removed from a win here at the Nike Global Challenge walking around with ice packs attached to both knees.
Two ice packs?
"Been playing all summer; knees are just aching," said King, who is ranked 14th nationally in the Class of 2013 by CBSSports.com. "Been playing back-to-back, back-to-back. Coming in and out of town. It's crazy."
Yes, it is a little crazy.
And though it's worth noting that nobody forces any of these prospects to play back-to-back or come in and out of town, it's fair to wonder whether somebody ought to stop them every once in a while. I mean, if the Nationals can put Stephen Strasburg on an innings count, why can't somebody put basketball prospects on event counts?
A lot of the kids I'm watching this week on the outskirts of our nation's capital spent last week competing in Las Vegas and will spend next week at the Nike Peach Jam in South Carolina. Then they'll be in Las Vegas again (or Orlando) the following week. The travel alone is exhausting. The nonstop running and jumping and stopping and cutting can take a toll.
Which brings me back to Nick King and his ice packs.
I asked if he was hurt.
He told me was just aching.
Then I asked if he ever thought about taking this week off.
And you'll be at Peach Jam next week?
----- Calipari's cross-country flight -----
Last you saw John Calipari he was coaching the Dominican Republic late Thursday, getting his brains beat in by Team USA during a nationally televised exhibition that highlighted how "Refuse To Lose" is a less-effective strategy when you're not the guy with the better players. But the Kentucky coach didn't spend a minute longer in Las Vegas than was required. Calipari boarded a plane after the defeat and was here on the East Coast this morning watching (among others) Class of 2013 star James Young, who acknowledged he was surprised to see Calipari in Virginia early Friday morning considering he was in Las Vegas late Thursday night.
"I kinda was," Young said. "I appreciate the love. It shows he cares about players. I like it."
CBSSports.com ranks Young fourth in the Class of 2013.
Most think he'll eventually be a Wildcat.
----- Izzo happy with Dawson's progress post surgery -----
Tom Izzo was among the first high-major head coaches to arrive at Episcopal High on Friday and one of the few who actually watched the Global Challenge opener between Lithuania and Puerto Rico. In a chat between games, the Michigan State coach assured me he's excited about the 2012-13 version of his Spartans that's ranked seventh in our preseason Top 25 (and one), and Izzo seemed optimistic that Branden Dawson will play a key role for them.
Dawson, of course, tore his ACL in early March.
But rehab has gone well.
"He's only about a month away [from playing again]," Izzo said.
----- What day is it? -----
Proof that it's simple for coaches to lose track of the long days and nights of this July Evaluation Period came Friday when an otherwise organized man asked me for the date.
"It's July 13th," I said. "Friday the 13th."
His response: "Today is Friday?"