Kentucky Sports Radio

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April 24th, 2014

“Two And Toodaloo” and other Colbert-isms from last night

calipari-colbert

The plan for this morning was to recap whatever John Calipari said on The Colbert Report last night, but that plan was tossed out the window after Colbert owned the interview, as he always does. Cal, rarely interrupted when he speaks, took a backseat to Colbert on the Comedy Central set when he stopped by to plug his new book. Colbert was hilarious in his questioning of the “Players First” system and Cal, though trying to be serious, couldn’t help but laugh throughout the interview.

So this morning, instead of summarizing Calipari, let’s laugh at Stephen Colbert’s funniest comments from the short segment on his show last night.

*****

“Players first? Don’t we have to start with the coach. You’re being too humble, sir, you put the team together. Without you, it is just five tall guys staring at their shoes.”

The introduction set Calipari up for his “Players First” rant (the one we all know by heart) but Colbert quickly cut him off at “servant leadership” to ask how one can serve and lead.

“What the hell is that? You’re either a servant or a leader, sir. The leader leads the servants.”

“You’re criticized sometimes for having a lot of one-and-done guys; what does that mean, one and done, and can that be cured with viagra?”

Cal said he doesn’t like the term ‘one and done’ and that he prefers ‘succeed and proceed’ instead, to which Colbert told him, “It also rhymes so it must be true.”

“What is it about your leadership that makes people want to flee from you?”

Colbert was shocked when Cal said he has guys returning this year “for the first time,” making Colbert wonder why everyone is in such a hurry to escape.

“If you could get them to stay for two years, this might help you. Here’s another rhyme: ‘Two and Toodaloo.’”

Cal, laughing hysterically, said he will trademark that and let Colbert know how it does.

“I’ll see you in court,” Colbert quipped back.

We hope to have a full video up on the website later today.


BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: Can Multiple QB’s Work?

Kentucky is going to have 2 or 3 capable options at quarterback this season, which is often considered a good thing.  The problem is if the coaching staff can’t separate those guys and stick with a starter for the duration of the season, it can often lead to uninspiring results.  Certainly the last couple years of UK football have proved that.  So I did a little digging and found all of the instances where an SEC team has played/started multiple quarterbacks during a season.  To be included on this list, a team had to have 2 or more guys start at least 3 games during the year, whether it be because of injury or performance.  It is a very long list, so if you don’t want to read through them, here are the stats NOT INCLUDING KENTUCKY:

39 INSTANCES (not including Kentucky)
Total Record: 266-203
SEC Record: 123-149
Winning SEC Records: 9 out of 39

Now, here are the instances for your pleasure:

Alabama
2004: Brodie Croyle began season as starter, suffered season ending injury in 3rd game.  Marc Guillon started next 2 games and then Spencer Pennington started final 7 games.  TIDE FINISHED 6-6, 3-5 IN SEC.
———————————————————————
Arkansas
2006: Robert Johnson started first 2 games, was benched for Mitch Mustain, who would start the next 8 games.  He was then benched for Casey Dick, who started the final 4 while splitting time with Mustain.  In the games where Dick and Mustain split time, the Hogs went 1-3.  ARKANSAS FINISHED 10-4, 7-1 IN SEC.

2005: Robert Johnson began season as starter and held that spot for first 7 game.  Casey Dick replaced him for final 4 games.  ARKANSAS FINISHED 4-7, 2-6 IN SEC.
———————————————————————
Auburn
2012: Kiehl Frazier started first 5 games and then was benched for Jonathan Wallace.  Wallace, Frazier, and Clint Moseley split time for the rest of the season, with Moseley being injured late.  AUBURN FINISHED 3-9, 0-8 IN SEC.

2011: Barrett Trotter began season and started 7 games before being replaced by Moseley.  Moseley was then injured at the end of the season and Trotter finished.  AUBURN FINISHED 8-5, 4-4 IN SEC.

2008: Kodi Burns started first 7 games for Tigers, splitting time the last 2 with Chris Todd.  Todd then started the final 5 games.  AUBURN FINISHED 5-7, 2-6 IN SEC.
———————————————————————-
Florida
2013: Jeff Driskell began season as starter and broke his leg the 3rd game of the season.  Tyler Murphy started the next 6 games, then Skyler Mornhinweg started the final 3.  FLORIDA FINISHED 4-8, 3-5 IN SEC.

2011: John Brantley started first 4 games, was injured and missed next 2.  He regained starting position but Jacobey Brissett would play in 3 more games.  FLORIDA FINISHED 7-6, 3-5 IN SEC. 

2006: Chris Leak started all 14 games but Tim Tebow also played at QB in all 14 in special packages.  Leak would throw 365 passes compared to Tebow’s 33.  FLORIDA FINISHED 13-1, 7-1 SEC and would win the national title.
———————————————————————-
(more…)


KSR’s Top 10 Tweets of the Day

(Darrell Bird | Catpause)

(Darrell Bird | Catpause)

It’s time again for KSR’s Top Tweets of the day. You can participate by using hashtags such as #BBN #KSR #KSRTop10 or just by simply tweeting @KYsportsradio. We will focus most of our attention on Kentucky sports-centric tweets but, as usual, there are no limits to our madness.

 

#10 Jay Williams

Just a little inspiration to help you start your day.

 

 

#9 Jon Rothstein

You just wait, Jon.

 

 

#8 Jeff Goodman

Someone? You mean everyone but BBN.

 

 

#7 Tanner Aaron Drain

Now that is dedication.

 

 

#6 Matt Jones

I know this was on KSR all day yesterday, but I just love seeing it so much.

 

 

#5 Brandy Osborne

Dang. Keep an eye out Brandy. The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife will be happy with your new education though.

 

 

#4 Logan E

Well. That’s depressing.

 

 

#3 Devin Booker

At least he knows what he is getting into.

 

 

#2 Brock Childers

He has a point there, Matt.

 

 

#1 Reese Kemp

Reese with the trash talk! Look out Poythress.

@Sealey_KSR


John Calipari with Stephen Colbert wants the Thursday News and Views and #HeraldLeaderFail

Calipari’s guest spot on The Colbert Report is coming up in about 30 minutes on Comedy Central so get ready to tune in or set your DVR if it’s bedtime. We’ll have a recap of the bizarre appearance for anyone who misses it on the site Thursday morning, but for now, enjoy the News and Views from the day…

*****

Alex Poythress and Dakari Johnson will return.

Kentucky’s 2014-15 frontcourt, WOW. Both guys announced their return to Kentucky on Wednesday, Poythress going first around 11:30 a.m. with a statement through the university:

“Playing in the NBA has always been a dream of mine, but I want to make sure that I’m NBA-ready before I make that jump. By coming back, I’ll be so much closer to earning my degree in business and it will give me another year to prepare my game and my body for the next level.”

Dakari followed later in the afternoon with a release of his own:

“This year has been for me a year of transition, growth and so much fun! I’ve learned a lot about myself personally through adversity and triumph which I know made me a stronger individual. I would like to thank my brothers (teammates) for pulling together and stepping up and taking the road that many don’t travel. What memories! I would like to thank Coach Cal and the staff for trusting and providing me the opportunity to grow and build on my skills. I’d like to wish Julius Randle and James Young all the best and personally let them know that they have a group of brothers who will always support them.

With that being said, I’m excited about having the option to either enter the 2014 NBA Draft or return to the University of Kentucky. After looking at the information provided to me by Coach Cal and the NBA committee, my family and I made the decision for me to return to UK for my sophomore year.  Returning to school allows me to build on my leadership skills, improve my individual basketball  strength and conditioning skills, and have another opportunity to accomplish one of my individual goals: winning an NCAA national championship in college. In addition, it will give me the opportunity to continue my studies because the ball will stop bouncing one day (shout out to Mike Stone). Big Blue Nation, I can’t thank you enough for your support, and I look forward to representing UK next year.” #StriveforNine

I can’t even begin to think of a way to get everyone significant opportunities on the court, but it’s a good problem to have and college basketball should be terrified. Meanwhile, the national media says UK will be “too loaded” with Poythress and Johnson’s returns, the same national media that constantly criticize UK for the one-and-done system. Sooo which is it???

Montrezl Harrell, meet your new recurring nightmare…

montrezl

Harrisons are still undecided.

Everyone and their mother has an opinion on what the twins will do when they finally announce a decision. Many will claim to have inside information, others will see a Kyle Tucker tweet and accept it as fact. Truth is, no one knows and any rumor is purely a guess and any guess is an uneducated one. Read into the Malone’s Wine Room meeting however you’d like; be optimistic for a return because “Cal isn’t recruiting guards” if that’ll make you feel better. We’re all going to find out together some time before Sunday. Enjoy your speculating until then.

Will Barry Rohrssen officially be introduced by UK on Thursday?

It has to be coming soon. “Slice” was spotted around the town Tuesday night so there’s no doubt it’s happening. I suppose they’re finishing up the contract details and will announce the deal soon, possibly Thursday.

I’m really looking forward to having a guy named Slice on staff.

John Calipari chatted with the Stoops brothers at football practice today.

Bob and Mike Stoops were special guests at Kentucky football practice this morning, later joined by John Calipari before practice concluded. Bob Stoops was the first person I saw when I entered the building and I was a little thrown off because he was wearing a UK pullover. He introduced himself with a handshake — he’s one of those guys that’ll act like he’s known you his whole life — and I proceeded to mumble some incoherent words and noises because I’m not good with morning interactions.

Once outside at the field, Bob and Mike took in the action like it was their own squad before Coach Cal showed up in a suit, because of course he was in a suit. Bob Stoops and Cal chatted for about 10-15 minutes while Nick Roush and I did every thing we could to eavesdrop. The only dialogue I really caught was Cal telling him, “I really want your brother to have success here and I believe he will; but people need to understand it’s a process. Rebuilding takes time and several recruiting classes.”

Yes, Cal, it is a process.

Cpl. Matthew Bradford also attended practice.

Coach Mainord was mic’d up.

You can see T.V. Williams’ speed toward the end.

A.J. Legree to transfer; Jeff Badet has a broken leg.

Two big pieces of news from practice today regarding the depleted receiving corps: First, would-be junior A.J. Legree is transferring out of Lexington to finish his college football career elsewhere. Legree caught seven passes for 97 yards last season but struggled to fight off the younger talent for a spot as a regular contributor. Coach Stoops said, “He’s gonna quit and go play somewhere else and we wish him the best of luck.”

And in injury news, Jeff Badet, the team’s third-leading receiver as a true freshman in 2013, has a broken fibula. Stoops said it happened on a “freak accident” with Badet coming back to catch an under-thrown pass in Monday’s practice.”He was alone. It was a good play-action pass; he was wide-open,” said Stoops.

The Cats are down to just a handful of pass catchers in spring ball due to so many injuries. Javess Blue is out after shoulder surgery; Alexander Montgomery is still recovering from a torn knee ligament; and Ryan Timmons is limited after suffering a shoulder injury last week.

Mark Stoops and Neal Brown joined us on KSR.

Stoops described how much more efficient the team is as a whole this season, politely admitting they were pretty terrible at this point one year ago. (My words, not his — but he hinted at it.) He also commented on the energy and intensity they bring every single day in practice and how he teaches his guys to turn it on as soon as they walk through the door.

Neal Brown and his fancy UK shirt stepped in next to break down his three quarterbacks:

Patrick Towles
“Towles is much improved. Fundamentally, before, he really had a hitch in his delivery, he was slow getting the ball out of his hands, he made big negative plays that would get you beat. He has taken those away. He’s not making those big negative plays. His ball is getting out of his hand faster. He’s got big time arm talent. He’s got as big an arm talent as you’re going to see. He’s a big kid, he can run too. People underestimate his athleticism. He’s a good natural runner.”

Drew Barker
“With Drew, I’ve always gotta remind myself, he’s 13 practices in. He should in high school. He does some things good. He does not carry himself like a high school senior. He came in and attacked, he’s really handled himself well, he’s studied well, he’s put himself in a position to win the job. He’s making too many mistakes right now, but young people do.”

Reese Phillips
“Reese is just steady. You go around, you don’t really notice him, he’s not the biggest guy, but he gets the ball out of his hand fast, he’s the most accurate of the three, and he probably does more things right. Top end talent? Maybe not, but he does a lot of things that your lay fan probably doesn’t notice.”

The fourth option, Max Smith, dressed out for practice but is still injured. Brown said he isn’t sure what Smith will be able to give them just yet, so it sounds like the starter will come down to Towles, Barker or Phillips and they’ll be given the reins “with a longer rope” much earlier in the fall than a year ago.

Listen to Stoops and Brown in the second hour below:

Julius Randle was on the show, too.

And he was great…

“Yeah, I don’t like Louisville.”

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist shined in Game 2 loss in Miami.

The Bobcats came up one three-pointer short of forcing overtime in Miami, but Michael Kidd-Gilchrist can hold his head high for his play against the Heat Wednesday night. MKG recorded a double-double with 22 points and 10 rebounds while drawing the fun task of defending LeBron James. The 22 from the former Cats was a team-high in the loss.

(Reminder) $25 off Ferdinand’s Ball tickets for KSR readers and listeners.

Our good friends at Ferdinand’s Ball are offering up a deal for KSR readers and listeners interested in joining us at this year’s party. Now through Thursday night at 11:55 pm, you will receive $25 off your cocktail ticket, good for the premium open bar, appetizers, access to the photo booth, silent auction and dance floor, and much more. Just head over to the ball’s ticket website to purchase your tickets and enter promo code “drewloveskate” to get the deal.

This year, the 2014 version of Ferdinand’s Ball will feature celebrity hosts Jon Hood, Jarrod Polson, Darius Miller, Nerlens Noel, Doron Lamb and Jodie Meeks, plus Russ Smith, Peyton Siva and Luke Hancock. The event will be held Thursday, May 1 at the Muhammad Ali Center in downtown Louisville. See you there.

Nerlens Noel will be signing things in Kentucky this weekend. 

You can catch him at any of the stops below:

Friday, April 25 – Hillbilly Days – Pikeville – 10:00 – 1:00 and 6:00 – 8:00
Saturday, April 26 – Hillbilly Days – Pikeville – 10:00 – noon
Saturday, April 26 – Buffalo Wings & Rings – Bardstown – 8:00 – 9:30
Sunday, April 27 – Wildcat Wearhouse – Lexington – 2:00 – 3:00

That’s a whole lot of Hillbilly Days.

Don’t forget about Randle and Young, too:

Julius Randle
Thursday, April 24 – Wildcat Wearhouse – Ashland 6:30 – 8:00 p.m.
Friday, April 25 – Hillbilly Days – Pikeville – 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, April 26 – Hillbilly Days – Pikeville – 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Saturday, April 26 – Lexington Sports Card – 5:30 – 7:00 p.m.
Sunday, April 27 – Elizabethtown Mall – 12:30 – 2:30 p.m.
Tuesday, April 29 – Tin Roof – Louisville – 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.

James Young
Sunday, April 27 – Wildcats and More Store – Dry Ridge – 1:00 -2:30 p.m.
Sunday, April 27 – Lexington Sports Cards – 4:00 – 6:00 p.m.

James Young will be a guest on Kentucky Sports Radio radio Thursday morning.

Young will join Matt Jones and Ryan Lemond in studio Thursday morning to discuss his time at UK and his future in the NBA. If it’s anything like Julius’ interview Wednesday, you won’t want to miss it.

Speaking of miss, way to go, Herald-Leader. Way to go.

(@KingTylerD)

(@KingTylerD)


James Young will be a guest on KSR tomorrow

young-hair

 

Today it was Julius Randle; tomorrow it will be James Young. Kentucky’s other future NBA pick will sit in with Matt Jones and Ryan Lemond in studio Thursday morning to discuss all things UK, why he decided to enter the draft, and whatever else comes up. Who knows, maybe he’ll join Randle in admitting to not liking Louisville.

Be sure to give it a listen as KSR tries to put together half the show we had today. Adding James Young is a good start.

Go Cats.


After an all freshmen starting line-up, Kentucky could start zero next year

(FaithOnCampus.com)

Devin Booker tweeted it earlier… The Kentucky haters will criticize John Calipari/Kentucky for having “too many one-and-done” players, but will turn around and then criticize the same coach and program for returning too many players and having too “crowded” of a roster. If you haven’t checked Twitter today, a few national media members reacted to the return of Alex Poythress and Dakari Johnson by going negative– asking how can Cal keep that many players happy?

If we’ve learned anything from Calipari over the last 5 years at Kentucky, he will continue to quiet the naysayers. Just when you think you’ve got him pegged, you don’t. First, the argument was that he couldn’t possibly win a national championship with a team reliant on freshmen. Then  2012 happened. Next, the argument was that Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Anthony Davis were outliers, the exception to the rule. “Kentucky was spoiled by how good/mature those guys were as freshmen.” The narrative then became that Calipari could win with some freshmen–the exceptional ones like Davis and MKG– but certainly couldn’t win with a line-up of all freshmen. Then 2014 happened. Sure, Kentucky didn’t win it all– but they came within a single game.

Just one season removed from an all freshmen starting line-up of Dakari Johnson, Julius Randle, James Young, Aaron Harrison and Andrew Harrison… Kentucky could conceivably have a starting line-up next year with ZERO freshmen. Of course, this all depends on the upcoming decision being made by the Harrison twins. But it’s in the realm of possibilities.

A year after all freshmen starting, Kentucky’s starting line-up next year could potentially look like this:

PG- Andrew Harrison, Sophomore

SG- Aaron Harrison, Sophomore

SF- Alex Poythress, Junior

PF- Willie Cauley-Stein, Junior

C- Dakari Johnson, Sophomore

 

Of course there are other potential variations, which could include freshmen like Karl Towns or Trey Lyles– or even sophomore Marcus Lee. But there’s a good chance if the Harrison twins return that at least in some games next season, Kentucky could start all veteran players for the first time in John Calipari’s career at Kentucky. Just when you think you’ve got the guy figured out…

 

… But hey, John Calipari just shoos all of his guys out the door, right?


Don’t forget: Calipari is on “The Colbert Report” tonight

We now interrupt your celebrations for a brief programming reminder. John Calipari will be a guest on “The Colbert Report” tonight at 11:30 p.m. ET on Comedy Central.

For those of you aren’t familiar, “The Colbert Report” is a satirical news show hosted by Stephen Colbert, who plays a conservative political pundit similar to Bill O’Reilly. Colbert was just tapped as David Letterman’s successor at “The Late Show” on CBS.

This has potential to be Calipari’s most bizarre appearance yet, so set those DVRs.


After two injuries, Josh Clemons says he’s better than ever

Photo by Darrell Bird | CatsPause.com

Photo by Darrell Bird | CatsPause.com

It’s been a rough few years for Josh Clemons. The junior running back came to Lexington in 2011 as one of Joker Phillips’ most highly-touted recruits, and immediately lived up to the hype, running for 279 years on 65 carries and two touchdowns through six games. Clemons really looked like a star in the making during the Eastern Michigan game, in which he had 14 carries for 126 yards, including an 87-yard touchdown run that, at the time, was the longest in Commonwealth Stadium history.

Unfortunately, all that progress came to an abrupt halt when Clemons injured his knee against South Carolina and had to sit out the rest of his freshman season. Clemons redshirted his sophomore season to rehab, returning to the field in the spring of 2013 with a new head coach and a healthy leg. He had a huge spring, with 10 carries for 56 yards and two catches for 17 yards in the Spring Game, and was poised for a major comeback, until he injured his Achilles’ tendon during offseason workouts. I spoke to Clemons last week, and he said the setback was “devastating,” but the rehab process gave him hope:

“It was very frustrating at first. I was so close to going into fall camp with the guys, so it was devastating at first, but after I sat down and got off the crutches and was able to work again, my confidence level rose up and I had fun watching the guys play.

Clemons spent all of last season rehabbing his ankle, and now he’s back at spring practice again. How’s the ankle? “It’s doing fine,” Clemons said. “It feels normal. It feels like I’m going at 100%.”

6_895296

Mark Stoops agrees, telling reporters a few weeks ago that Clemons may be even more comfortable on the field this year than last. “He really looks good, he does. He almost looks more comfortable right now before his last injury,” Stoops said, adding that the staff is being cautious not to overwork him. “It is good to see him out there and we are trying to be very smart with him and get him through this spring. We have good backs so we are rotating all those guys and just trying to be smart with him as far as reps are concerned.”

Fear of reinjury can haunt some players for the rest of their lives, and after he injured his knee his freshman year, even Josh admitted that he babied it a bit last spring. I asked Josh if that’s been a concern for him this season, and he said that there are so many distractions, it’s easy not to focus on his ankle and knee.

“It’s kind of easy because we have so many different things we could be looking at, like looking at the defense, knowing my assignment and playing fast, so you don’t really have time to think about stuff like that.”

Running back is one of Kentucky’s strongest positions so far, with Clemons, sophomore JoJo Kemp, transfer Braylon Heard, and freshman Mikel Horton battling it out in spring practice. Freshman superstar Boom Williams will be added to the mix in the fall, making the running back position the deepest it’s been in years. Clemons had earned plenty of kudos from his coaches so far. Right now, he says he’s only focusing on himself, and doing what the coaches ask of him.

“I’m just trying to be able to do everything the coaches ask me to do, whether it’s picking up the blitz or running the ball, reading the right keys, catching the ball in the backfield. I’m just trying to execute all the plays to the best of my ability.”

Even though he had a good spring last year, Clemons said this year, he’s taken his game to a new level. “I feel like I’m playing a little faster than I was last spring, understanding my assignments a little better,” Clemons said, a progression he’s seeing in the team as a whole. “As a team, I think we’re a lot farther ahead than we were at the end of last season, so everyone is making strides in the right direction.”

In fact, Clemons says fans that come out to Saturday’s Spring Game will see a “whole different team”: “I hope fans all come out because we’re a whole different team than last year, everybody’s mindset this year is on winning games, and we’re going to win games.”

For a program in the midst of the rebuilding process, there may be no better representative than Clemons, ready for his third shot at stardom after a long, hard road.


Julius Randle and James Young signing tours

Andy Lyons | Getty Images

Now that they’ve left the Kentucky basketball program, Julius Randle and James Young are free to move about the state to sign photos, kiss babies and meet all the fans that adore them. And you’re invited.

Check out their upcoming stops below and we’ll let you know if and when they add more:

Julius Randle

Thursday, April 24 – Wildcat Wearhouse – Ashland 6:30 – 8:00 p.m.
Friday, April 25 – Hillbilly Days – Pikeville – 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, April 26 – Hillbilly Days – Pikeville – 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Saturday, April 26 – Lexington Sports Card – 5:30 – 7:00 p.m.
Sunday, April 27 – Elizabethtown Mall – 12:30 – 2:30 p.m.
Tuesday, April 29 – Tin Roof – Louisville – 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.

James Young

Sunday, April 27 – Wildcats and More Store – Dry Ridge – 1:00 -2:30 p.m.
Sunday, April 27 – Lexington Sports Cards – 4:00 – 6:00 p.m.

Cats.


Join Draft Street’s $100,000 MLB Pick ‘Em League

ksr-fantasy-baseball2

Our good friends at DraftStreet.com are back with another potentially profitable contest, this one coming from the world of Major League Baseball.

For the low cost of $22, you can participate in a Friday night fantasy baseball competition with a prize pool of $100,000. First place will win $20,000 of that pot while 749 other participants will walk away with some form of a payout.

The Pick ‘Em style draft is now open to anyone interested in playing, so head over the league page to sign up and get started. Just click the link below, pick your team from the eight tiers of available players, and buy me dinner when you win. It’s that simple.

DraftStreet.com’s $100,000 MLB Pick ‘Em League (For games on April 25)


“Players First” debuts at #3 on the New York Times’ Best Seller List

calipari-bacon

Congratulations to John Calipari, whose new book, “Players First” debuted at number three on the New York Times’ Best Seller list in the print hardcover nonfiction category.

You can purchase the book here, or visit Cal on one of his stops on his book tour:

Screen Shot 2014-04-23 at 4.37.04 PM


What they’re saying about Alex Poythress and Dakari Johnson coming back

Photo © Dale Zanine

Photo © Dale Zanine

Alex Poythress and Dakari Johnson made the Big Blue Nation giggle like schoolgirls when they announced they are returning for their junior and sophomore years, respectively. Here’s a sampling of their reactions, starting with Alex Poythress’ decision:

ALEX POYTHRESS 

CBS Sports’ Gary Parrish:

The 6-foot-7 forward was considered a likely second-round pick had he entered this draft. Either way, there are now three legitimate NBA prospects at UK — Willie Cauley-Stein, Marcus Lee and Poythress — who have announced they’re returning to school. Meantime, freshmen Julius Randle and James Young have announced they’re leaving for the NBA Draft, which means Kentucky is still waiting on formal decisions from freshmen Andrew Harrison, Aaron Harrison and Dakari Johnson. If the Harrisons return, Kentucky will likely again be ranked No. 1 in all preseason polls.

NBC Sports’ Rob Dauster:

Poythress averaged 5.9 points and 4.5 rebounds as a sophomore, and while he showed flashes of being the kind of electrifying talent that he was expected to be entering the program — particularly during Kentucky’s run to the national title game — Poythress was known more for his inconsistency than anything else this season.

That’s why it was a smart decision for Poythress to return to school. He has all the athleticism that he needs, but he’s still a tweener with a reputation that’s less than flattering.

ESPN’s Jeff Goodman:

Adam Zagoria:

Kentucky sophomore forward Alex Poythress made the wise decision to return to Kentucky for next season, adding to what will surely be a loaded frontcourt and a very deep team.

The 6-foot-7 forward is projected as the No. 42 pick in the 2015 NBA Draft by DraftExpress.com, and can help his stock with a strong season next year.

The Sporting News’ Mike DeCourcy:

Poythress showed 3-point shooting ability as a freshman but declined a bit at that distance in his second season. He’ll need to improve that to attract NBA interest, but also to hold down a small forward position if that is to become his place with next season’s Wildcats.

…and then there was this tweet, from Tim Sullivan:

Sigh. Was that really necessary, Tim?

DAKARI JOHNSON

Adam Zagoria:

Rob Dauster

Jeff Goodman

Yeah, all of college basketball.

Eamonn Brennan:

A 7-foot center whose combination of size and athletic gifts made him a low-post force in the tournament (especially alongside Julius Randle), Johnson is one of those big men who is both preternaturally athletic and still growing into his body. He has the proverbial “baby fat” scouts love to minimize in their imaginations. Either the NBA now or a year in school (and then the NBA) would have probably worked out equally well for him. A decision to return creates a crowded frontcourt situation for Kentucky, one that should terrify anyone outside Big Blue Nation’s border territories.

Screen Shot 2014-04-23 at 3.10.16 PM


Dakari is hungry

Let’s eat.


Devin Booker gets it

ulis-booker

For the second time today, incoming freshman Devin Booker sent out a tweet that has the BBN smiling and nodding its head:

Oh, Devin. You’ll learn soon enough that it’s because the national media is lazy, and it’s easier to hate than admit you’re wrong.

But, calling out the national media for their hypocrisy? You’re really a member of the family now.


Cal speaks about Dakari coming back

Photo © Mark Zerof

Photo © Mark Zerof

We’ve already seen Dakari and his mother’s statements, but UK just sent out a formal one from both Dakari and John Calipari. Read ‘em and weep for joy. Dakari first:

“After looking at the information provided to me by Coach Cal and the NBA committee, my family and I made the decision for me to return to UK for my sophomore year,” Johnson said. “Returning to school allows me to build on my leadership skills, improve my individual basketball strength and conditioning skills, and have another opportunity to accomplish one of my individual goals: winning an NCAA national championship in college.

Now, Cal:

I’m happy to have Dakari back with us for next season,” head coach John Calipari said. “Despite being the youngest player on the team this season, he continued to improve every day on the court and it showed. We look forward to seeing his improvement over the summer and throughout next year.”

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Dakari’s cryptic tweet

Getty Images

Getty Images

Minutes before Dakari Johnson’s statement went public, he tweeted this to his followers:

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What does it mean? Willie Cauley-Stein, Marcus Lee, Alex Poythress, AND Dakari Johnson coming back?? It means watch the eff out, college basketball.

UK’s front seven next season: 7’0″, 7’0″, 7’0″, 6’10″, 6’9″, 6’9″, 6’8″

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Dakari Johnson will return to UK for his sophomore season

Getty Images

Getty Images

Dakari Johnson will return for his sophomore season! The 7′ freshman released this statement through UK minutes ago:

“This year has been for me a year of transition, growth and so much fun! I’ve learned a lot about myself personally through adversity and triumph which I know made me a stronger individual. I would like to thank my brothers (teammates) for pulling together and stepping up and taking the road that many don’t travel. What memories! I would like to thank Coach Cal and the staff for trusting and providing me the opportunity to grow and build on my skills. I’d like to wish Julius Randle and James Young all the best and personally let them know that they have a group of brothers who will always support them.

With that being said, I’m excited about having the option to either enter the 2014 NBA Draft or return to the University of Kentucky. After looking at the information provided to me by Coach Cal and the NBA committee, my family and I made the decision for me to return to UK for my sophomore year.  Returning to school allows me to build on my leadership skills, improve my individual basketball  strength and conditioning skills, and have another opportunity to accomplish one of my individual goals: winning an NCAA national championship in college. In addition, it will give me the opportunity to continue my studies because the ball will stop bouncing one day (shout out to Mike Stone). Big Blue Nation, I can’t thank you enough for your support, and I look forward to representing UK next year.” #StriveforNine

Dakari’s mother, Makini Campbell, also released a statement thanking the Big Blue Nation for a great year and expressing her pride in son:

“I just wanted to take some time to reflect, share, and thank the Big Blue Nation and the coaching staff for a great year of basketball through the ups and downs. Hands down we had a blast! I am so proud of Dakari and the University of Kentucky basketball program on their achievements this year. I had the opportunity to see my son grow as an individual and become the leader that I knew him to be.  I appreciate the space, patience and respect shown to my family during this important time. What a blessing to have an opportunity to choose.

When making a decision (we have made many) we try to look at the whole picture (advantages and disadvantages). I must truly admit when going through the process we saw both sides of the coin as a win-win. I must say that in making his decision, Dakari wasn’t worried about any other player coming back/or in. I think what he learned this year — regardless of a loaded talented team – is that each player brings something unique to the group that attributed to the March run. I’ve always been aware of his goal to win a national championship in high school, college, and the NBA. For him to confidently state what he did after his national high school championship game and make it to the finals in his freshman year of college was prosperous within itself. All of this while successfully working on his degree and enjoying college life whenever he could. I respect each of the young men having to make this decision. Congrats to Julius Randle and James Young for making their dream reality; I wish them all the best. I’m excited about the upcoming season and what lies ahead for this group.” #StriveforNine

Makini Campbell
#44 Mommy

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