Junior Derek Willis will miss the next two weeks due to a finger injury suffered →
By Drew Franklin on ©October 13th, 2015 @ 5:12pm
On this date in 2007, your University of Kentucky Wildcats upset the No. 1 LSU Tigers in Commonwealth Stadium.
The eventual national champion had a chance to win it in the third overtime period, but Braxton Kelley stopped Charles Scott on fourth-and-two to seal the 43-37 victory for Kentucky. It was the Cats’ first win over a top-ranked team since 1964.
Who’s up for another big win, say, oh, maybe Thursday night?
By Drew Franklin on ©October 13th, 2015 @ 4:34pm
The Skal Labissiere eligibility concerns are becoming a little more concerning as more and more reports come out. While UK is still confident Labissiere will be cleared in time for the season, we can’t overlook what is currently being reported on the internet.
The latest comes from Gary Parrish at CBSSports.com, who has learned the NCAA interviewed Labissiere’s AAU coach just this week. The interview was conducted to look into allegations of possible misconduct by Gerald Hamilton, Labissiere’s guardian here in the States.
Jack Britton, the NCAA’s Assistant Director of Amateurism, Complex Case Review, called former Memphis AAU coach Keith Easterwood on Monday and asked a variety of questions about Labissiere’s guardian, Gerald Hamilton, whom Easterwood has known for years. Britton subsequently followed up with an email that Easterwood provided to CBS Sports.
Two of the questions Britton asked Easterwood via email are:
— “Has Mr. Hamilton ever texted you asking for your help in finding someone that could advance Mr. Hamilton a sum of mony related to Skal Labissiere?”
— “Did Mr. Hamilton ever inquire to you about how he could procure a ‘shoe’ deal for Skal Labissiere?”
Easterwood told CBS Sports last November that Hamilton, after realizing the potential of Labissiere, once called and asked, “How can I make money off of a basketball player?” [CBSSports.com]
Parrish wrote about Hamilton and potential trouble with Labissiere’s eligibility around this time last year, before Labissiere committed to Kentucky. Even then it was clear an NCAA investigation would come, and here it is.
For now, we can only trust UK’s confidence in its own investigation into Labissiere and Hamilton. It’s been two months since Calipari addressed the issue, but that will change tomorrow morning when he speaks at UK Basketball Media Day.
By Drew Franklin on ©October 13th, 2015 @ 3:30pm
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It’s Tuesday, and that means basketball and football recruiting updates, brought to you by the good people at Sleep Outfitters…
Marques Bolden is reconsidering his visit to Big Blue Madness.
The nation’s top ranked center was scheduled to visit Big Blue Madness this weekend, but that’s no longer a sure thing, thanks to his visit to Kansas. He told JayhawkSlant.com, “I’m not sure if I’m going to visit Duke and Kentucky this weekend or not.”
It sounds like Bolden was blown away by his trip to Kansas — he said the new dorms are the nicest he’s seen — and his time in Lawrence may have the Jayhawks ahead of the pack. There is still a chance he follows through with his unofficial visit to Lexington on Friday, but he’s probably leaning toward relaxing and weighing his options.
“I’ve got some important decisions to make, so I need to sit back and think about what I’m going to do next,” he said.
Bolden has already taken on official visit to Kentucky.
With Bolden slipping, Bam becomes even more important.
If John Calipari can’t land Bolden or Harry Giles, Edrice “Bam’ Adebayo is the top pick to complete Kentucky’s 2016-17 frontcourt. He’s no second tier option, either. Adebayo would thrive in Cal’s offense. Take one look at his mixtape and you’ll see why:
Dunks on dunks on dunks on dunks.
Malik Monk is still coming to Madness.
Kentucky visit this weekend😁
— Solo (@AhmadMonk) October 13, 2015
We really need him to become best friends with De’Aaron Fox. Land those two and look out, college basketball.
Bad football recruiting news: Russ Yeast is done for year.
The UK commit, a three-star athlete ranked 19th overall in the state of Ohio, will sit out the remainder of his junior season with a high ankle sprain and ligament issues. He was having a big year playing for his dad, former UK great Craig Yeast, at Fremont Ross High School in Northern Ohio.
We wish him the best as he recovers.
Kash Daniel can’t wait to visit Thursday.
Can't wait to be back in CWS on Thursday! #BBN🔵⚪️
— Kash Daniel (@KashDaniel15) October 13, 2015
Speaking of Kash Daniel, did you see him suplex that poor ballcarrier over the weekend?
Suplex City 😈 pic.twitter.com/AA6ptMinjN
— Kash Daniel (@KashDaniel15) October 10, 2015
I think we’ll end it on that one.
By Drew Franklin on ©October 13th, 2015 @ 2:45pm
Luke Winn over at SportsIllustrated.com has a lengthy piece on Kentucky’s Skal Labissiere and the long journey that brought him to Lexington.
It begins with the story of Labissiere surviving the devastating earthquake in 2010, a story most of us know by now, although Winn takes us even further into Labissiere’s childhood. Then we’re introduced to Gerald Hamilton, his American guardian who is part of the reason Labissiere’s eligibility is currently in question.
In the article, Hamilton said Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy offered him one of his three full-time assistant coaching positions, hoping to also land Labissiere. That, of course, did not work out for Kennedy and Labissiere is at Kentucky, insisting he will be eligible for the upcoming season.
“I’m going to be eligible,” he told SI. “We didn’t do anything under the table.”
There is plenty more on Labissiere and how he became the projected No. 1 overall NBA draft pick, as well as more on his relationship with Hamilton and arrival from Haiti. I highly encourage you to check it out.
By Drew Franklin on ©October 13th, 2015 @ 2:00pm
Alex Poythress and Tyler Ulis received good news today when they learned they were named to the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame’s watch lists for awards at their respective positions.
Poythress is one of 20 candidates on the preseason list for the Julius Erving Award, given to the nation’s best small forward; Ulis is one of 20 on the Bob Cousy Award list, given to the best-performing point guard.
Both lists will be cut to 10 in mid-February, then five finalists will be named before the winners are announced at the second annual ESPN College Basketball Awards Show in Los Angeles on April 8.
By Drew Franklin on ©October 13th, 2015 @ 1:17pm
Tickets for the 2016 Division I Men’s Basketball Championship go on sale this Saturday, but you can jump ahead of the line and get yours today with the super secret presale code.
Luckily for you, I have the presale code and I am willing to give it to you under one condition: you can’t tell anyone where you got it. You know the deal around here. You take it to your grave. KSR is a trust tree and this tree has no room for snitches. If we’re going to continue giving you classified information, you’re going to have to keep quiet about it.
So we good? Good.
The presale code is FASTBREAK. Tickets can be purchased here.
Now get out of here. You never saw me. We’ve never met. I don’t exist. Ghost.
By Drew Franklin on ©October 13th, 2015 @ 12:30pm
Steve Spurrier called a noon press conference at South Carolina today to announce his resignation from the Gamecocks football program. Do not call it his retirement.
“First of all I’m resigning, not retiring,” he told a packed house full of college football reporters. “Let’s get that straight.”
Though he’s likely done head coaching at the collegiate level, Spurrier hasn’t ruled out “some sort of coaching” again. He mentioned the possibility of helping out with a high school on down the road.
As for why he called it quits in the middle of the season, Spurrier doesn’t believe in waiting around. When an inevitable change is coming, make that change, not wait a week or two.
“We’ve slid, and it’s my fault, it’s my responsibility, so it’s time to get out of the way.”
Shawn Elliot, the co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach, will step in to take over Spurrier for the remainder of the season.
“I’m still going to be around town. I’ll just be the Former Head Ball Coach now.”
And in a very fitting end to his career, Steve Spurrier’s last words were about Kentucky:
Of course Steve Spurrier's last words were about Kentucky. pic.twitter.com/taAa8a7bfb
— Drew Franklin (@DrewFranklinKSR) October 13, 2015
Love him or hate him, Kentucky football has been on a long ride with Spurrier over the years. It’s only appropriate that ride ends like this.
By Freddie Maggard on ©October 13th, 2015 @ 12:00pm
Birmingham’s SEC Media Days consists of lots of free food, coaching clichés, bow ties, and preseason predictions. At the conclusion of the Dr. Pepper buffet, the media voted Auburn as its favorite to win the SEC Championship, but to finish second in the SEC West. That impossibility should have been our first hint of pending inaccuracy. Kentucky was picked sixth in the East. That’s below Missouri (third) and South Carolina (fourth); both of whom the Wildcats have since beaten.
On Thursday, Kentucky and Auburn will face off in front of a national viewing audience and over 60,000 screaming, card-carrying members of the BBN. Montgomery Gentry will be in concert. Marlana VanHoose is singing our National Anthem. A mid-October game has turned into the initial act of Lexington’s premier Wildcat extravaganza.
But after the football is kicked off, it’s all about the Xs and Os and Jimmies and Joes.
Let’s take a look:
For the season, Patrick Towles is 96-156 for 1,153 yards. He’s thrown eight touchdowns, six interceptions and rushed for three additional scores. A 61 percent completion percentage is deceiving due to the Florida experiment. That same Gator defense has given several SEC quarterbacks fits. Towles leads the SEC’s top red-zone offense as the Cats have gone 16-for-16 with 12 trips resulting in touchdowns. Also, of UK’s 16 touchdowns, Patrick has directly participated in 11.
Auburn’s quarterback situation is, well, fluid. Jeremy Johnson started the Tigers’ first three games and Sean White has been Auburn’s signal caller for the past two. Combined, the two are 69-of-110 for 769 yards, five touchdowns and seven interceptions.
A starter has not been named, though we should know who that will be later today. Rumblings from the plains is that Jeremy Johnson may get the start. Sean White is capable, but only attempted 10 passes in Auburn’s last outing; two in the second half. Trust seems to be the pressing issue. Here are Malzahn’s options: turning the offense back over to Jeremy Johnson’s and 6 turnovers in 10 quarters maintain status quo with the steadier but less dynamic White.
Inside opponent’s 40 yard line, Sean White is 2-of-7 for 32 yards and no scores. A third option has surfaced. Former JUCO QB Jason Smith, listed as a WR on current roster, has been mentioned as a situational quarterback based upon his experience as a spread option quarterback. We’ll see come Thursday, but expect the unpredicted.
RUNNING BACK | TIGHT END | FULLBACK
Auburn’s running back trio of Peyton Barber, Roc Thomas, and Kerryon Johnson are fast, shifty, and productive. Barber’s 567 yards leads as he’s averaging 111.6 yards per game. The Tigers are the SEC’s fourth-best rushing team and average 190 yards per game.
H-back Kamryn Pettway and tight end Jalen Harris have yet to catch a pass. One note of interest in 2015: Auburn has 13 plays that resulted in 20 or more yards. That’s last in the conference. The 13th ranked team has 22.
The Boom-less Cats struggled against EKU. JoJo Kemp and Mikel Horton were all too often stuffed at the line of scrimmage and forced to bounce outside. UK is currently ranked 13th in the league by averaging 135 yards per contest.
Tight end CJ Conrad has caught three passes for 55 yards. Taco Meat Collins has proven to be quite the find. After missing the past six quarters, Boom will be hungry. With Auburn surrendering over 200 rush yards per game, expect the Cats to test that theory early and often. Establishing and maintaining the run are mandatory.
The SEC’s 12th ranked offense has struggled in the pass game but mostly due to QB ineptitude. However, on the ground, the Tiger offensive linemen are physical and talented. On the season, AU has given up nine sacks. The offensive line is led by its two tackles: Shon Coleman and Avery Young.
Kentucky has given up 16 quarterback sacks. The ground game has also faltered at times. It has also has provided explosion plays and game sealing drives. This group is young, battling injuries, and settling in on a rotation. One constant, center Jon Toth has remained solid. Expect a better group performance on Thursday.
Dorian Baker is a matchup nightmare. Blake Bone’s clutch catches extended UK’s drives in its late win over the Colonels. Jeff Badet and Garrett Johnson have both thrilled. The before mentioned WR’s all have double digit catches for the season. Alexander Montgomery will play more snaps and we can’t forget the veteran Ryan Timmons. UK WR corps has totaled seven TD catches.
Two of Auburns top five pass catchers are receivers. That is, without All SEC performer and recently dismissed Duke Williams. Ricardo Louis leads with 19 grabs, Melvin Ray has only nine. The duo has three touchdown catches, collectively. That number ranks low nationally as well in the SEC. Remember that stat on Thursday.
Recruiting star wise, Kentucky shouldn’t be in the same conversation with Auburn. However, on the field production favors UK. Corey Johnson has dominated in his last two performances. Farrington Huguennin’s been steady along with Melvin Lewis. Regie Meant returns after missing time due to injury. Auburn’s tempo could test this group’s resolve and stamina. Defensive line coach Jimmy Brumbaugh will be facing his alma mater. I’d say his meeting room has been heated while awaiting Thursday’s game.
Auburn is dead last in rushing defense giving up 209.6 yards per game. I will give it a half mulligan since it faced Leonard Fournette. As for total defense, the Tigers are 12th overall. Inconsistency at defensive tackle and the unfortunate loss of Carl Lawson are common reasons provided. Cassanova McKinzey, a former linebacker, has been moved to defensive end, in hopes of improving sacks and pressures. In addition to its run defense woes, Auburn has only produced seven QB sacks. Pattern. The line is led by Montravious Adams, Devonte Lambert, and Dontavious Russell. Auburn did sign 2015’s No. 1 ranked prospect, defensive end Byron Cowart.
Josh Forrest is one of the league’s best. Ryan Flannigan has returned from injury and provided physicality and speed. Outside linebackers Jason Hatcher and Denzil Ware appear more confident, active, and disruptive. The old man of the group, Jabari Johnson is steady. For Kentucky to win, this group of five will have to play its best game of the season. Period.
Two of Auburn’s top five tacklers are linebackers: Kris Frost and Cassanova McKinzey, who is now playing rush end. Three of the top five are defensive backs. AU is the conference’s worst team on third down. Opponents are successfully converting 47.1 percent on third down. Kris Frost is a cerebral leader of the defense and is joined by Justin Garrett.
Prior to National Signing Day, UK and AU swapped defensive backs. Chris Westry was originally committed to Auburn, but signed with Kentucky. Jeremiah Dinson was a Wildcat commit, but inked with the Tigers. I’d expect Chris Westry to play with an extra bounce in his step. Safeties AJ Stamps and Marcus McWilson will play key roles, mainly during run support.
Auburn lost five defensive backs in the offseason. Troubling. It did replace with youth and other means, but was an expected weakness going into 2015. AU has played better than expectation, but could be due to opponent’s rushing success. Jonathon Ford, Trey Matthews and Jonathon Jones are top five team tacklers. Former Wildcat commit Jeremiah Dinson is listed as the starting Nickel back. Given AU’s defensive backs are amongst the top team tacklers, play action passing will be critical. However, if the run is not established, PAP is useless.
AU is second in the SEC is kick returns averaging 31.1 yard per. Jonathon Ford averages 33.5 yards alone. Punter Kevin Phillips is averaging 44.3 yards per punt.
Given AU’s kickoff return numbers, Austin MacGinnis health is a major concern. Landon Foster’s consistency has varied. Sihiem King and Ryan Timmons have yet to return a kick/punt for a score but both have contributed with key plays at critical moments.
WHAT DOES ALL THIS MEAN?
Through five games, Auburn’s collection of recruiting stars and preseason accolades have not matched production. Underachieving for the better part of 2015, I expect to see a motivated team playing with its season on the line. AU’s next four opponents are: @Arkansas, Ole Miss, @Texas A&M, and Georgia. Quite the stretch. Unless somehow the Tigers found their groove in the bye week, a loss in Lexington could mean a losing season. A win, and 4-2 going into that stretch becomes manageable. In regards to Gus Malzahn, expect the unexpected. He will throw the playbook at DJ Eliot. Defensive coordinator Will Muschamp will do the same. To say that this game is a MUST WIN would be a tremendous understatement.
For Kentucky, a 5-1 start would match last year’s result. However, if it does win on Thursday, UK would have three SEC wins: South Carolina, Missouri, and Auburn with winnable games in the back end of the schedule. So, 2015’s version of 5-1 would feel much different than its predecessor. Wildcat effort or lack thereof against EKU is too fresh for a portion of the BBN to get overly excited. However, I feel the prior game’s result will give the Cats an edge. As usual, as Patrick Towles goes, so will the Cats. However, against Auburn’s propensity in the run game and it read option offense, the more accurate assessment would be, “as the defensive front seven goes, so will the Wildcats.” A quick Kentucky start would force AU into certain passing situations. That would be advantage Kentucky.
Expect a wild one on Thursday. One way or the other, the five-game streak of winning/losing by eight or less points will be broken on Thursday.
By Drew Franklin on ©October 13th, 2015 @ 10:54am
DeMarcus Cousins will return to Lexington later this week for his NBA exhibition game against Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Pelicans.
But first, he wants you to call him.
Boogie set up a phone line for Big Blue Nation to call and he is sharing the number on billboards around Lexington. They can be found on Versailles and Nicholasville Road.
He is also hiding prizes around Lexington to celebrate his return. Be sure to follow him on Facebook to figure out where you can find gift cards, t-shirts, autographed jerseys, autographed sneakers and tickets to Saturday’s game.
By Bobby Reagan on ©October 13th, 2015 @ 10:00am
With Midnight Madness less than a week away everyone is starting to take a look around the country and vote who are the best players. Well, as it’s becoming tradition Kentucky is littered with talent and hogging those lists. This year it’s plenty of love for Tyler Ulis and Jamal Murray, who are named two of the best 20 guards in the country by SI.com.
The list is done alphabetically so there’s no arguing between the two best friends listed above, but here’s what they have to say about Ulis and Murray: “While he could also play the point as a pro, expect him to settle in as the two-guard with Tyler Ulis beside him in Kentucky’s backcourt. With Kentucky having lost seven players to the NBA draft, Murray should step in and assume a big offensive role from Day 1.”
I think as we saw last night Ulis is ready to have a breakout year while Murray has been hot the last couple of months at various events. Regardless, it’s going to be another fun year in Lexington.
By Drew Franklin on ©October 13th, 2015 @ 9:45am
Today’s edition of Kentucky Sports Radio radio is coming to you from the Kentucky Broadcasters Association’s annual conference in Lexington. Matt and Ryan are surrounded by several of the biggest names in Kentucky broadcasting while looking ahead to the Auburn game and Big Blue Madness.
Join in on the fun by calling (502) 571-1080.
KSR Affiliate List
WCBL (1290am): Benton
WBGN (1340am): Bowling Green
WTCO (1450am): Campbellsville
WAIN (1270am): Columbia
WCYN (102.3fm) Cynthiana
WHIR (1230am): Danville
WTHX (101.5fm) Elizabethtown
WCLU (1490am): Glasgow
WGOH (1370am): Grayson
WTUK (105.1fm): Harlan
WHOP (95.3fm): Hopkinsville
WJKY (1060am): Jamestown
WLAP (630am): Lexington
WFTG (1400am): London
WKJK (1080am): Louisville
WFMW (730am): Madisonville
WWXL (1450am): Manchester
WFTM (1240am): Maysville
WKYM (101.7fm): Monticello
WMSK (1550am): Morganfield
WPAD (1560am): Paducah
WKYH (600am): Paintsville
WLSI (900am) Pikeville
WPRT (960am): Prestonsburg
WSFC (1240am): Somerset
WTCW (920am): Whitesburg
WHAY (98.3fm): Whitley City
WBTH (1400am): Williamson
PRTC TV Channels 209 & 409: Jackson & Owlsey Counties (Replayed at 1 and 6)
On Delay (ALL TIMES LISTED EASTERN)…
WVHI (1330am): Evansville, IN, 5-7pm
WMTL (870am): Leitchfield, 11am-1pm
WLBQ (1570am): Morgantown, 3-5pm
WRIL (106.3fm): Middlesboro, Thur 8-10pm
WWTF (1580am): Lexington, 4-6pm
By Drew Franklin on ©October 13th, 2015 @ 9:00am
Yesterday was one of the most bizarre days in sports in quite some time, highlighted by the surprising news out of Columbia: Steve Spurrier is done.
The Head ‘Ball Coach is hanging it up at South Carolina, leaving the Gamecocks six games into the 2015 season. He told his players and staff he will retire, effective immediately. An interim head coach is expected to be named today, rumored to be G.A. Mangus, Spurrier’s quarterbacks coach since 2009.
Spurrier leaves college football as the SEC’s second most winningest coach, with 228 wins over the course of his 25-year career. A nine-time SEC Coach of the Year, he made Florida the program it is today and took South Carolina to a level it had never seen, leading the team to 86 wins, the most in school history. He never had a losing season at any of his stops on the college level, including his brief stint at Duke to begin his career.
The HBC’s retirement was predicted by many, but no one expected an abrupt ending at the halfway point in his season. The Week 2 loss to Kentucky, the first of four consecutive SEC losses, is likely a major factor in that decision. The loss, his second to UK in two years, marked the end of Spurrier’s dominance over the Wildcats and a downward spiral in 2015.
Let’s say goodbye and celebrate his career this morning with our Great Moments In Steve Spurrier History.
And then on to the other stuff…
UK is shutting down the media availability until the Auburn game.
Everyone’s schedules are all out of whack this week with Kentucky’s Thursday night football game throwing everything off. We heard from Mark Stoops at his Monday press conference and then from the entire staff after yesterday’s practice, but that’s it for the week. There will be no practice reports today or tomorrow, only brief comments from Stoops on tomorrow’s mandatory SEC Coaches Teleconference.
Auburn to name its starting quarterback today.
We should learn who Gus Malzahn will send out to QB his football team Thursday night after today’s practice at Auburn.
“We’re going to make a decision after practice, more than likely, just to let our guys know,” said Malzahn on his radio show last night.
Freddie Maggard wonders if Auburn’s quarterback controversy is reality or gamesmanship.
It’s not crazy to think Kentucky can contend in the SEC East.
I am in no way, shape or form predicting a trip to Atlanta, but it’s not crazy to think Kentucky has a shot at the SEC East, after what happened Saturday and yesterday’s news out of Gainesville. Unbeaten Florida is still the favorite, although it will play LSU and Georgia in its first two games without Will Grier. Then there’s Tennessee and Georgia with two losses apiece, leaving Kentucky in control of its own destiny against those two teams.
Again, I am not making the absurd prediction UK will win out and take the SEC East, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility after what we’ve seen from around the league these past couple of days. That’s all I’m saying, and none of it matters without a win over Auburn.
So, let’s beat Auburn.
Bud Dupree danced in the end zone on Monday Night Football and it was awesome.
Dupree showed off his moves following a Steelers interception return for a score.
— Steven Borden (@StevenBorden85) October 13, 2015
I don’t know what that is, but I’m for it.
John Calipari will visit a 2017 big man today.
Cal is expected to be in New Jersey to watch Nick Richards at St. Patrick, the former home of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Dakari Johnson. Richards is 6-foot-10 center, ranked fifteenth overall and second at his position. UK assistant Tony Barbee was in to see him just last week, according to Adam Zagoria.
Playboy is ditching nudity.
Beginning next March, Playboy will no longer show full nudity in its magazines. In related news, Roush will no longer have to hide the magazines under his bed, so that’s good. This may also save him from going blind.
UK Sports Network will air a pre-Big Blue Madness special.
Dave Baker and Christi Thomas will host a 90-minute special for UK Athletics leading up to Friday night’s Big Blue Madness. The show will begin at 5:30 pm and it will feature exclusive interviews and behind-the-scenes content from the men’s and women’s basketball teams.
Baseball season is almost over!
With each new win in the MLB Playoffs, we are one step closer to the end of baseball season. Go Cubs and Mets!
That’ll do it for now. Listen to KSR in an hour and I’ll be back around 10 am or so with a photo of KSR’s new billboard in Lexington.
By Richmond Bramblet on ©October 13th, 2015 @ 8:30am
Today on Listicuffs, we have a KSR Football Podcast edition of the show, as UK Hall of Famer Jared Lorenzen takes on Nick Roush. This was a ridiculously competitive episode of the show, and I would imagine the trash-talk will carry over to the Football Podcast on Wednesday. The winner of today’s episode will advance to take on Drew Franklin in the Semi-Finals of the Listicuffs Tournament. Who will take it today – Jared or Nick?
Note: Unsurprisingly, Roush had some technical difficulties in the beginning of the episode, which spread to all three video feeds. It does get cleared up after the first couple of minutes.
By Bryan the Intern on ©October 13th, 2015 @ 8:00am
3 Final Fours
1 National Championship
Those are the major lasting points of the Rick Pitino era at the University of Kentucky. Many or most UK fans couldn’t care less about those stats after Pitino took the UL job. But there has always been a silent majority (minority?) of UK fans that would still appreciate what Pitino did here at UK, especially after saving UK from the depths of probation as quickly as he did. Unfortunately, those people are often shouted down by those who will never forgive Pitino for taking the job of the rival. Both sides have strong arguments on how to feel about Pitino. That’s not the argument here.
And then Pitino’s sex scandal occurred with Karen Sypher and many UK fans took joy and humor in that. Some Cats fans argued that was a personal problem for Rick and it was none of their business. Others took delight in their hated rival’s coach embarrassing himself at a public establishment and a public trial. But UK fans were certainly not in any kind of agreement of where to stand with Pitino. Especially with Calipari taking off at UK and the Cats finally back to national prominence, I think the opportunity was there for UK fans to lighten up on Pitino. Some will never, but many had moved on.
But this latest scandal to strike Pitino, whether directly involved or not, has to make any UK fan strongly question whether they can have positive feelings about Pitino ever again. I personally don’t think Pitino knew what was going on with these prostitutes and what they were being hired to do, but at the same time, this is his program and culture around it is created by Pitino. He does have to take some of the blame, if not much of the blame. The scandal is so disgusting, even if only part of it is true, that any goodwill that had not already been built up with UK fans is basically gone. Hell, you are hearing a TON of Louisville fans who are expressing fatigue in dealing with these issues every few years and are calling for a resignation.
The reason I bring this up is because there has always been this assumption that whenever Pitino retired from UL that UK fans would begin to lighten up on their hatred. There was even talk about him being welcomed back into Rupp Arena someday, maybe with reunions of the 1992, 93, or 96 teams. Who knows? Only time would have told. But I think the gigantic majority of hatred towards Pitino was simply about his UL connections, and if those were no longer there, UK could accept him once again. For some, that was never going to happen. But a more reasonable fan was willing to respect what Pitino did and accept him back into the group.
Now he has 2 sex-related scandals tagged to him, one that directly involved him. Luckily for us, none of those occurred when he was at Kentucky. But Pitino will always be linked to Kentucky. In much the same way that problems at UMASS and Memphis for Calipari have stuck to Kentucky even though Cal has had no issues while here. So the question is this: ARE WE AS A FANBASE COMPLETELY DONE FOREVER WITH RICK PITINO? Even after Pitino leaves UL, will he ever be welcomed back into the UK family? And if you were a supporter of Pitino before this latest scandal broke, was this the final straw in continuing that support?
By Drew Franklin on ©October 12th, 2015 @ 11:00pm
Kentucky basketball’s biggest recruiting event is only days away and some of the nation’s top high school talent will be in attendance to take it all in Friday night. This year’s confirmed guest list features the top rated point guard, shooting guard, power forward and center, as well as others, including one of John Calipari’s two commitments from the class.
Get to know them below as we await their highly-anticipated arrivals later this week…
Sacha Killeya-Jones (COMMITTED)
6’10”, 207 lbs.
Lynchburg, Virginia (Virginia Episcopal School)
Top247: No. 16 | 4 PF
247 Composite: No. 26 | 8 PF
Rivals: No. 26 | 8 PF
ESPN: No. 31 | 7 PF
Scout: No. 29 | 7 PF
Kentucky’s first commitment in the 2016 class, Sacha Killeya-Jones will take his official visit to his future school for Big Blue Madness. A five-star power forward, Killey-Jones committed to the Cats back in August. He received his scholarship offer while on an unofficial visit in Lexington in June.
Killeya-Jones named Calipari as one of the key factors in luring him to UK. He said at the time of his commitment, “I look at what Coach Calipari has done with players like myself, and I see the way he prepares them for the next level and it’s impressive. “He is a really genuine person who is a demanding coach. I felt very comfortable with him and trust him.”
6’10”, 254 lbs.
DeSoto, Texas (DeSoto)
Top247: No. 34 | 3 C
247 Composite: No. 20 | 1 C
Rivals: No. 16 | 1 C
ESPN: No. 2 | 2 C
Scout: No. 12 | 1 C
The No. 1 center in the 2016 class, Marques Bolden will attend Madness, his second trip to Lexington in a little over a month. Bolden took his official visit back in early September, but he will take another look at the program on Friday.
Bolden is very high on the Cats at the moment and he could very well become the final piece to Calipari’s frontcourt in 2016-17. With Killeya-Jones and Wenyen Gabriel committed, plus Tai Wynyard, Isaac Humphries and Marcus Lee’s potential return, Cal is looking to add one last body to his group of skilled big men. Bolden, as well as “Bam” Adebayo, Jarrett Allen and Harry Giles, is on the short list of players to join that bunch. Duke is Kentucky’s toughest competition in his recruitment.
6’3″, 185 lbs.
Katy, Texas (Cypress Lakes)
Top247: No. 2 | 1 PG
247 Composite: No. 3 | 1 PG
Rivals: No. 5| 2 PG
ESPN: No. 7 | 2 PG
Scout: No. 4 | 1 PG
If things go as expected, De’Aaron Fox will be the next great point guard to play for Calipari at the University of Kentucky. Fox is Cal’s favorite point guard in the class and the feeling is mutual. The Cats currently lead by a wide margin, and we may see a commitment shortly after his official visit to Lexington this weekend. It helps that Fox recently canceled his official visit to Arizona, which was set for November. All signs point to him joining Kentucky’s 2016 recruiting class, sooner than later.
6’10”, 210 lbs.
High Point, North Carolina (Oak Hill Academy)
Top247: No. 2| 1 PF
247 Composite: No. 3 | 1 PF
Rivals: No. 2| 1 PF
ESPN: No. 1 | 1 PF
Scout: No. 1| 1 PF
Harry Giles, arguably the best overall player in the class, will take his official visit to Big Blue Madness. Giles is somewhat of a pipe dream for Kentucky fans, but as we’ve seen in years past, anything can happen once John Calipari gets someone on campus, especially during the greatest spectacle in this history of college basketball practice.
Duke is the presumed favorite for the five-star power forward, considering his close relationship with Blue Devil commit Jayson Tatum and he is from nearby High Point, NC. He is also considering UNC and Wake Forrest, as well as UK, but Duke is the likely pick.
Giles is the No. 1 overall pick in DraftExpress.com’s 2017 NBA Mock Draft.
6’4″, 187 lbs.
Lepanto, Arkansas (Bentonville)
Top247: No. 5 | 1 CG
247 Composite: No. 5 | 1 CG
Rivals: No. 6 | 2 SG
ESPN: No. 5 | 1 SG
Scout: No. 6 | 1 SG
Malik Monk is a name we’ve followed closely ever since he blew up in last year’s Nike Peach Jam. It has long been believed Kentucky is the only program that can pull him out of Arkansas, and that mindset is still the same, although Kansas is attempting to make a run. Monk visited Kansas over the weekend for Late Night In The Phog, along with the aforementioned Bolden, Fox and Giles.
For Kentucky, assuming Fox joins the class, the key will be convincing Monk to play off the ball with Fox. Monk is a combo guard and can play the two as well as anyone, but he wants to go somewhere that will give him the ball. His relationship with Fox could be the ultimate deciding factor in whether he stays home at Arkansas or makes it to Lexington.
This weekend will be Monk’s official visit to UK. He will follow it with his official visit to Arkansas next week.
Kris Wilkes (2017)
6’7″, 190 lbs.
Indianapolis, Indiana (North Central)
Top247: No. 21 | 4 SF
247 Composite: No. 17 | 5 SF
Rivals: No. 10 | 2 SF
ESPN: No. 26 | 5 SF
Scout: No. 12 | 3 SF
One of the two high school juniors attending this year’s Madness, Kris Wilkes is a product of Indianapolis and one of the Hoosiers’ top priorities in 2017. He does not hold a scholarship offer from the Cats but he has already visited Lexington once before and hopes to one day obtain that coveted offer. He does have offers from Kansas, UCLA, Vanderbilt, Maryland, Illinois, Purdue and IU, among a few others.
Trae Young (2017)
6’1″, 170 lbs.
Norman, Oklahoma (Norman North)
Top247: No. 31 | 5 PG
247 Composite: No. 28 | 4 PG
Rivals: No. 26| 5 PG
ESPN: No. 25 | 4 PG
Scout: No. 32 | 6 PG
Unlike Wilkes, Trae Young, the other confirmed guest from the 2017 class, does have a scholarship offer from the Cats. Young is a high school teammate of Michael Porter Jr., the top rated small forward in the class, and the two would make a very nice package deal in college. While Young is good in his own right, his friendship with Porter Jr. makes him an even more attractive candidate at point guard. But that’s not to take away from his own game.
Toronto, Canada (OVO)
Will he be back?