The Wildcat Invasion!

The University of Kentucky NCAA Championship men's basketball team invaded 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue today, bringing along with them their own raucous caucus of supporters and friends.

President Obama honored the team for winning the NCAA title after they defeated the University of Kansas Jayhawks, 67-59, on April 1 of this year.  No fooling, here.

President Obama with the 2012 NCAA Champions, the Kentucky Wildcats.  Photo/CD Brown.
“Congratulations to the Kentucky Wildcats on your eighth national championship!” President Obama said, who picked the Wildcats to complete his NCAA March Madness bracket.

"I had them in the championship game. But in the end, I thought, they got all these freshmen. These guys are too young. And keep in mind, at this time last year, three of the Wildcats’ five starters were still in high school. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist couldn’t even vote yet."

Kidd-Gilchrist may not have been old enough to vote, but he was certainly old enough to ball, as were several of his teammates including Doron Lamb who led the Wildcats (38-2 on the season) with 22 points in the game, including back-to-back threes that gave the Wildcats a 16 point lead with ten minutes left.

UK fan proudly wears a blue, corduroy UK blazer.  Photo/CD Brown.
Relenting, the president said, "But let’s face it, sometimes talent trumps experience. And sometimes, a bunch of young players, even if they’re used to being big fishes in their ponds, even if they’ve never played together before, they can buy into a system, they understand the concept of team, and they do something special right away. And that’s exactly what happened in Kentucky."

The team's coach John Calipari said of his team, "When this team won that championship in New Orleans they were jumping up and down. "They weren't saying 'We did it!' We won!, they were saying, "We're going to the White House!"

A statement that had the audience as well as the president laughing and smiling. 

At least five of the Kentucky NCAA champs are planning to go pro in this year's NBA Draft: Terrence Jones, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Anthony Davis, Doron Lamb and Marquis Teague.  Each young man expected to be chosen in the first round.

"Maybe one of them will even end up here in Washington", 'predicted' the president.

The team really loves them some Barack Obama, forging over their beloved 2012 Championship ring to #44; a first in the team's history.

The team also gave '44' the traditional team jersey (he has many from sports teams he's hosted at the White House) to which he responded, "You know, this is some nice gear."

"I appreciate that."