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Confident or Cocky? You Decide

(photo credit UK Athletics)

con·​fi·​dence | \ ˈkän-fə-dən(t)s : a feeling or consciousness of one’s powers or of reliance on one’s circumstances

cocky ˈkä-kē : boldly or brashly self-confident

This year’s University of Kentucky Wildcats Basketball team is shaping up to be a confident group of guys. Given that they’re mostly young, inexperienced, and not even remotely battle tested, it’s surprising how self-assured they appear to be.

Remember, Keion Brooks is the only Wildcat “veteran” returning with any significant time on the court. Transfers Davion Mintz and Oliver Sarr will provide some much-needed maturity, but their time in a Kentucky uniform has been thus far confined entirely to the practice court. How far can confidence really take you in your quest for a championship? Is there a point where confidence spills over to cockiness?

Previous UK Championships Teams were Supremely Confident

Certainly the 2012 championship team was confident. Anthony Davis was arguably the best player to ever wear the Blue and White. It’s hard not to be confident when you’ve got a player of his caliber scoring, rebounding, blocking shots, and leading the team like he did.

The 1996 championship team was also supremely confident. You can’t help it if you’re the best team ever assembled in the history of the glorious Kentucky Basketball program. Five future first-round NBA draft picks battling each other every day will do that to you. They could probably put on sweats now and still beat your brains out.

The 1978 championship team was as confident as ever. Remember, that year was aptly nicknamed the “season without celebration.” Those guys went into the campaign expecting to win the championship. They had confidence oozing out of their pores from day one.

This Year’s Team Fits the Bill

I’m not sure whether it’s a sign of the times, but it seems like every member of this year’s team is as confident as confident gets.

Brandon Boston Jr. is supposedly the highest-touted recruit of the bunch. The consensus five-star prospect—who played high school basketball in both Georgia and California—is already garnering accolades on the national stage. Boston was recently named to the 2021 Julius Erving Award Preseason Watch list. Even though he hasn’t played a lick of college basketball, he’s confident he can excel at the elite level.

“That’s the fun thing about this team,” Boston explained on the Zoom session just completed. “Everybody’s confident. They compete. We just get after it every time we’re on the court. You know, nobody takes nothing. So, we go and play our hearts out. That’s just the way we play. I think we’re going to have a good year with these guys.”

When you’re 6’7, can handle the ball, can run, jump, and dunk with impunity, it’s easy to exude confidence—or even cockiness for that matter. Is there a difference between the two?

“Yeah, major difference,” Boston admitted. “I feel like the game is 70 percent confidence and 30 percent mental. So, I feel like if you go out there with the right mindset, the right swagger, the right confidence, can’t nobody stop you.”

We Shall See

I like hearing this confident talk—even if it’s from the mouth of babes. Whether it morphs into actual performance on the court this year remains to be seen. Does it border on cockiness? Probably a bit. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing, because when you’re playing against the best—and with the best—every single day, you can’t let the other guy think he’s better than you.

Ten confident guys on the court—with a touch of cockiness thrown in for good measure—is a perfect start to another championship season.

Dr. John Huang
Dr. John Huang is a retired orthodontist and military veteran. As a lifelong Wildcat fan, a fledgling author, and an occasional guest host of Just the Cats Radio, he's now living out his dream as a UK Sports columnist. Dr. Huang also covers professional sports on a regional level. You can follow him on Twitter @KYHuangs or contact him If you enjoy his writing, you can also read more at

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