Over the past few weeks, the Cats going to the pros have been circling the →
By Ryan Clark on ©April 25th, 2015 @ 9:45pm
Some notes as we continue to watch UK players in the NBA playoffs …
PELICANS UPDATE: Anthony Davis is doing his part to keep the Pelicans in their first round matchup versus Golden State, scoring 19 points and grabbing six rebounds. Unfortunately, for this season, it may not be enough as New Orleans trails 67-54 at the half. A loss would end their season. Still, the experience and strides the Pelicans have made this year will go far in making them a force in seasons to come.
EYBL UPDATE: Mailk Monk vs. Jayson Tatum became, as the Herald-Leader’s Ben Roberts called it, “a free-throw shooting contest.” Monk scored 19 points while Tatum scored 20. Neither shot well from the field (Monk was 3-13 while Tatum was 4-13) but each missed just one free throw, going 25-27 combined. Monk’s Arkansas Wings team beat Tatum and the St. Louis Eagles, 78-69.
Of course, none of this will make any difference. The pair are still two of the highest regarded prospects in the land, and UK would love to have either. Or both. We would always love both.
DEVON/LEAH STILL UPDATE: Remember the Stills? He’s the father, the one who plays for the Bengals as a backup so he can afford medical care for his daughter, who was suffering from cancer? Check this out: She’s in remission, together they helped flip the coin at Temple’s Spring Game, and then she scored a touchdown. You have to see it.
Nick Roush will be by later with a full recap from the day…
Go Big Blue!
By Ryan Clark on ©April 25th, 2015 @ 8:08pm
Big Happy 31st Birthday to Andre Woodson, the former UK quarterback who beat No. 9 Louisville and No. 1 LSU in the same season and won back-to-back bowl games for the Cats.
Andre did a lot while he was a Wildcat, but what he may be most famous for is completely transforming himself into one of the best quarterbacks in the SEC. His 2007 campaign is one of the finest we’ve ever seen. His teams beat the aforementioned top 10 squads, as well as Florida State in the team’s second straight Music City Bowl victory.
Watch a GREAT CSTV story on Woodson talking about his transformation:
Here’s Woodson finding Stevie when he got loose (with the Tom Leach call):
And here’s a bit longer video of highlights from LSU. It’s hard to not watch all of these:
– Julius Randle reportedly showed up tonight in Lexington for the KBA EYBL. How cool is that? Other folks reportedly there included new EKU assistant Michael Bradley, Scott Padgett, Marcus Lee, Alex Poythress, Devin Booker, Willie Cauley Stein, Kenny Payne, Tony Barbee, Richard Pitino, Billy Donovan, and Tom Izzo.
– At the EYBL, the C-J’s Kyle Tucker called the first half of the Mailk Monk (2/9 FG) and Jayson Tatum (1/6) showdown “ragged,” while others say the defense was good, forcing tough shots from the stars. Both players had nine points at the half.
– IU’s Yogi Farell will decide tomorrow whether he’s staying in school or going to the NBA, the Indy Star says. Should he stay, IU could be very good. Should he go? The second round of the draft awaits, and with it no guaranteed roster spot or money.
Go Big Blue!
By Ryan Clark on ©April 25th, 2015 @ 6:28pm
Ben Simmons, Antonio Blakeney and Brandon Sampson to LSU. Skal Labissiere, Isaiah Briscoe and Charles Matthews to the Cats. Mailk Newman to Mississippi State. P.J. Dozier to South Carolina. Tyler Davis, D.J. Hogg and Elijah Thomas to Texas A&M.
That’s 11 of the top 50 players in the country per ESPN, and all are headed to SEC schools. And get this – Florida, a place that traditionally gets its share of McDonald’s All-Americans – isn’t one of those schools.
It’s no secret that in 2013 SEC commish Mike Slive told his athletic directors he wanted to upgrade the conference’s basketball image.
Yes, Florida and UK have made undefeated runs through the league in the past two years, but look for that upgrade in talent to start next season. In the 247 Sports Top Basketball rankings for 2015, Kentucky still holds the No. 1 ranking, followed by LSU. Texas A&M is sixth, while Auburn is No. 16 and (there you have them) Florida is No. 17.
And this is really just the beginning.
Why? New coaches provide another upgrade, which will equal even more talent. You’re already seeing what Bruce Pearl can do at Auburn – one season translated to a top 20 recruiting class. Frank Martin landed a top 20 talent for the Gamecocks. Be prepared for Tennessee to make a similar leap. New coach Rick Barnes, after 16 seasons at Texas, has never been accused of being the best X’s and O’s coach in the world, but he always gets talent – and the thinking here is he will continue to do so in Knoxville.
Avery Johnson may not have a ton of college credibility, but he will play his NBA experience to the tilt trying to keep those talented Alabama players at home. And he will gets his share – but can he win? It’ll be interesting to watch. And Ben Howland (really? Ben Howland?) has already made his mark in landing Newman.
Along with Calipari, and (I will ask the question here) if Billy Donovan stays in Gainesville, the SEC has some of its most recognized coaches in years. Both Howland and Barnes have made the Final Four, and Pearl knocked on the door with the Vols. On paper, these names are big upgrades, the wildcard being Johnson.
All of this has to make the conference even more attractive to elite recruits, so many of whom come from the South. Get ready for more ballers, SEC fans. And it all starts with more high-profile coaches.
In minutes, the hottest matchup of the KBA EYBL will start, especially as far as Kentucky is concerned – Jayson Tatum vs. Malik Monk. They tip at 6:30 p.m. and it’s safe to say a large contingent of recruiters – with UK leading the way – will be there to watch.
We’ll let you know what happens.
And in other recruiting news, Ben Roberts of the Herald-Leader is saying Kentucky is already recruiting top 3 2017 player Troy Brown. Remember that name.
For now, here’s more on Malik Monk’s performance earlier in the day from The Courier-Journal:
— C-J Sports staff (@sports_cj) April 25, 2015
By Spencer Howle on ©April 25th, 2015 @ 6:00pm
The No. 5 Florida Gators (32-11, 12-7) were blanked for the first time this season as Kentucky (24-16, 9-9) opened the three-game series in Gainesville with a 3-0 victory. The pitching staff, led by Zack Brown, was superb in game one, but the Cats can now solidify themselves as a serious threat in game two.
Today’s game is set for a 7 p.m. first pitch at McKethan Stadium and here is everything you need to know about the matchup:
- UK came into the weekend ranked fourth in the SEC Eastern Division standings and 3.5 games back from first place. With a 9-9 overall conference record and a 4-3 division record, the Cats are still in fourth place after knocking off Florida. However, with the the top four teams in the East all playing each this weekend, UK can improve its standing with another win or two (no easy task).
- Offensively, Kentucky and Florida have an identical .301 team batting average, which is near the top of the SEC team statistical rankings. The Gators boast much more power with 44 home runs on the season, while the Cats have just 19. Both teams have given up their fair share of homers, as Florida and Kentucky rank 13th and 14th, respectively, in the SEC with 32 and 37 home runs allowed.
- Defensively, the two teams are polar opposites. Florida ranks first in the SEC with a .985 fielding percentage and just 25 errors, while Kentucky ranks next to last with a .965 percentage and 56 errors.
- The game features some of the top sluggers in the SEC. UK’s Ka’ai Tom and Kyle Barrett and Florida’s Josh Tobias all rank in the top 10 in the conference in batting average, hitting .383, .368, and .359, respectively. In the RBI category, Tom (44) is joined by Gators JJ Shwarz (47) and Harrison Bader (43) in the top three of the SEC.
- The tentative pitching matchup should be pretty even. UK will send junior righty Dustin Beggs to the mound, while Florida will start sophomore righty Dane Dunning. On the season, Beggs has a 5-2 record and a 2.78 ERA opposed to Dunning who is 4-1 with a 3.02 ERA.
- You can catch all the action on SEC Network+, available via WatchESPN. Should be a good one so tune in.
By Matt Jones on ©April 25th, 2015 @ 5:05pm
I will freely admit. I didn’t know that Upper Deck even still made cards. But they do and since they do, one would think they would do it well. Not this time. The Upper Deck NFL Draft card for Bud Dupree is actually Jalen Whitlow. As you can see, the card shows a player diving for the end zone (which maybe should have been a clue for Upper Deck since Dupree is a Defensive player and likely has dove with the ball only a couple of times ever) and the player is wearing #8. Everyone knows that Dupree was #2 with the Big Blue and the player shown is Jalen Whitlow. Dupree himself noticed the mistake and tweeted it out, likely slightly miffed. Getting a chance to see yourself on a card is pretty awesome…unless the player that is presumably you is actually someone altogether different.
I had the same reaction when my first Kentucky radio card showed a picture of Dick Gabriel.
UPDATE: A couple of you have pointed out that it may be #2 on the card as well, as Whitlow also wore #2. That makes sense and would help explain (a little) the Upper Deck goof. But it is still a goof.
By Ryan Clark on ©April 25th, 2015 @ 4:36pm
— Karl-Anthony Towns (@KATis32) April 25, 2015
And another tidbit for your Saturday afternoon:
Paul Coro says the Suns believe in a “bright future” for Eric Bledsoe, who knows where he needs to improve. http://bit.ly/1ORHMHF
More from the EYBL later this afternoon!
Go Big Blue!
By Bobby Reagan on ©April 25th, 2015 @ 3:00pm
As stated earlier, the EYBL event at KBA is the place to be this weekend if you want to watch some hoops. We know Calipari and staff are there as well as Tom Izzo, Billy Donovan and Roy Williams among other coaches. Joining the coaches are some former (still hurts saying that) Cats catching the action:
— Bradley McKee (@Bradley_Cn2) April 25, 2015
Cauley-Stein wasn’t just a spectator last night as he turned into Coach WCS:
— Regina Lexi Rickert (@acrphoto) April 25, 2015
Please stay away from his car, ladies:
Devin Booker back at KBA, watching Family, E1T1 game
— Steve Jones (@SteveJones_CJ) April 25, 2015
Someone’s gotta convince Harry Giles that Kentucky is a better state than North Carolina, right?
Big crowd, LOTTA future NBA big guys in this one. No. 1 in 2016 Harry Giles (6-10) vs. three 5-star bigs. pic.twitter.com/qJcgCVuRas
— Kyle Tucker (@KyleTucker_CJ) April 25, 2015
Tatum bounces back from a slow start, but falls in OT according to Chris Fisher:
Jayson Tatum hit 11 of 17 shots and finished with 25 points in a 70-69 loss to Alabama Challenge.
— Chris Fisher (@ChrisFisher247) April 25, 2015
Keep an eye on this name, BBN:
UK assistant Kenny Payne also has an eye on Miles Bridges, who said recently he thinks he's close to an offer from the Cats.
— Ben Roberts (@NextCats) April 25, 2015
Not sure Coach Cal ever sleeps. Also, Azubuike is no relation to Kelenna:
John Calipari in the stands for this game between Harry Giles and Udoka Azubuike. Coaches area is pretty crowded.
— Ben Roberts (@NextCats) April 25, 2015
Just a reminder if you want to go catch any games this weekend, they are only allowing 300 fans in at a time. It will be a one-in, one-out type of deal, so get there early and be prepared to wait in line.
By Bobby Reagan on ©April 25th, 2015 @ 2:00pm
We’ve been talking a lot about the Nike EYBL event taking place at the KBA this weekend. Well, this morning it seems like we found a star in Malik Monk. The Courier-Journal’s Kyle Tucker was there and calls Monk the most exciting player in the class of 2016, with Calipari and Kenny Payne glued to watching him score 39 points this morning.
There cannot be a more exciting player in the 2016 class than Monk. Does it all. Calipari and Payne glued to this game.
— Kyle Tucker (@KyleTucker_CJ) April 25, 2015
Monk is an explosive scorer and seemingly has range from anywhere inside the gym. He shot 6-for-8 from behind the line while also showing off his athleticism by finishing at the rim in a variety of ways.
Malik Monk just finished off a ridiculous reverse bank shot layup between defenders. Next possession: Corner three. UK coaches watching.
— Ben Roberts (@NextCats) April 25, 2015
Monk is high on Kentucky’s list as evidence of Calipari leaving Indianapolis this morning just to get back to Lexington to see him in person. Monk’s brother played basketball and football at Arkansas, which many people believe will be the only other school in contention to land Monk.
My old pal Tom Izzo hanging with Calipari for Malik Monk's game here in Lex. Cal was in Indy two hours ago. That's … not possible.
— Kyle Tucker (@KyleTucker_CJ) April 25, 2015
Jayson Tatum is taking the floor around 12:30, which we’re sure Calipari and crew will be watching. More importantly the biggest game of the day comes at 6:30 when Tatum squares off against Monk. If you want to follow along, Chris Fisher is providing live updates on the 247Sports site which can check out right here.
John Calipari and Kenny Payne finishing out this OT game with Jayson Tatum. … Harry Giles vs. Udoka Azubuike is next.
— Ben Roberts (@NextCats) April 25, 2015
It’s been a somewhat quiet day for Tatum in front of Calipari so far. He might be holding off for tonight’s big game against Monk.
Kyle Tucker at the Courier-Journal also has a great piece breaking down who Kentucky will be watching this weekend.
Stay tuned for more from the EYBL event right here on KSR.
By Bobby Reagan on ©April 25th, 2015 @ 1:00pm
The Rivals Quarterback Challenge presented by Under Armour stopped in Cincinnati today and future Kentucky quarterback Gunnar Hoak competed in the event. The quarterbacks competing in the event will be asked to demonstrate their skills in accuracy, velocity, ability to throw on the run and downfield vision.
The Rivals Camp Series takes place in four cities, with the winners advancing to the finals in Baltimore during the Rivals 100 Five-Star Challenge from June 5-7.
It’s safe to say Kentucky should be just fine at the quarterback position in the future.
— Woody Wommack (@RivalsWoody) April 25, 2015
By Bobby Reagan on ©April 25th, 2015 @ 12:00pm
New player page: SG Mychal Mulder could be the next Wildcat. He'll be in town this weekend. (Bio info, video, etc) http://t.co/mXkd2yeuVD
— Ben Roberts (@NextCats) April 24, 2015
With Malik Newman signing with Mississippi State, all eyes are on junior college transfer Mychal Mulder, who is visiting Kentucky this weekend. Mulder, is a 6’4″ guard from Vincennes University and would provide Kentucky the wing scoring that the Wildcats are used to having.
Larry Vaught talked to Mulder’s coach at Vincennes, who said he expects the recruiting of Mulder to come to a head very quickly and doesn’t expect it to go on for long. Mulder, who was barely recruited coming out of Ontario in high school turned into an All-American at the junior college level.
This past season Mulder shot 44 percent from deep, something that will be much needed with the loss of Aaron Harrison and Devin Booker. Other schools recruiting Mulder includes Creighton, Wichita State, Minnesota, Indiana and Louisville.
Come on down, Mychal. Lexington is wonderful year round.
By Bobby Reagan on ©April 25th, 2015 @ 11:15am
This was said five years ago about John Wall by holier than thou Colin Cowherd:
“J-Wow’s 30-second yo-dog-I’m-the-man, out-of-control-style told me all I need to know,” Cowherd said back in 2010 regarding Wall’s egregious violation of the NBA’s sacred pregame ceremony. “Not a sharp guy, all about him.”
You gleaned all that from a dance? Yo dog, you’re the man!”
Five years later everyone who is a John Wall fan would kindly like Cowherd to shut up. Even as of last week Cowherd was still talking about he knows what Wall is as he somewhat struggled in Game 1 against the Raptors despite battling through a shoulder injury. Well, Colin, I also know what John Wall is as a player. He’s one of the best players, no, check that, one of the best players in the NBA right now.
If you disagree, here’s a little snippet of what John Wall has done in the last week during the first round of the NBA playoffs.
John Wall: 1st player with consecutive playoff games with at least 15 assists since Steve Nash in 2010
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) April 25, 2015
Now, this shouldn’t surprise anyone from Kentucky as Wall was a star from the moment he stepped onto the court at Rupp Arena during the 2009-10 season. His personality was contagious as he became a fan favorite and still is beloved throughout the Commonwealth.
It’s not a coincidence that Wall turned the Wizards around quickly after being drafted No. 1 overall in the 2010 NBA Draft. In the first three years of Wall’s career, the Wizards lost more games than everyone in the league not named the Charlotte Bobcats or Cleveland Cavaliers sans LeBron James. Wall now has the Wizards on the brink of sweeping the Raptors and in the second round of the NBA Playoffs for the second straight year.
The biggest area of improvement for Wall has been his in-between game, something that many pundits believed would never come for Wall. He’s obviously an uber-athletic guard that can finish at the rim, but he shot nearly 50 percent from the midrange this season.
His passing has been fantastic as well, despite the fact many people see him as a scoring point guard. Wall finished second in the league in assists, averaging 10 per game, just .2 behind Chris Paul for the league lead.
Not bad for a guy who didn’t ‘possess leadership.’
By Bobby Reagan on ©April 25th, 2015 @ 10:30am
— UK Softball (@UKsoftball) April 25, 2015
Per UK athletics the softball game today against Georgia has been moved from 3 p.m. to 1 p.m. The change in time is due to the inclement weather that is expected across the state today, as officials believe if the game starts at 1, the game will be done before the storm comes. Kentucky is looking to even up the series after losing 3-0 last night to the Bulldogs. It’s the last home series of the year for Kentucky, so make sure to get out to John Cropp Stadium and support them against Georgia.
Saturday Morning Links brought to you by Colin Cowherd’s smug face, which I can only assume he made while watching John Wall dismantle the Toronto Raptors in a playoff game, again. Seriously, how has this guy not changed his mind on Wall?
– Speaking of one of Kentucky’s favorite sons, Wall had himself a night in leading the Wizards to a 3-0 lead over the Raptors in the first round of the playoffs. Eric Freeman at Yahoo says Wall has proven he’s the best player in the series, no questions asked.
– There’s plenty of talent in Lexington right now thanks to the Nike EYBL event at KBA. Only 300 fans will be allowed into the event at a time so there’s not overflow, especially with a large contingent of coaches in the arena. Kentucky targets playing in the event include Harry Giles, Jayson Tatum, Malik Monk and Udoka Azubuike.
– Ben Roberts had plenty of good things to say after watching Udoka Azubuike – no relation to Kelenna – at the Nike EYBL event. Azubuike is a 6’11”, 265 pound prospect, who showed a ton of strength in attacking the rim last night, almost looking as if he was going to snap one in half.
– NFL.com is reporting Bud Dupree will workout for the Washington Redskins, who hold the No. 5 pick. Dupree’s stock has been soaring over the last couple of the weeks and if this report is true, the thought that Dupree could go No. 5 is unbelievable. The workout will take place in Macon, Ga., just outside Dupree’s hometown.
– Kentucky baseball picked up a 5-0 win win at No. 5 Florida thanks to Zack Brown and his seven innings of shutout pitching. Every person in Kentucky’s lineup recorded a win as the Bat Cats moved to 24-16 on the year and 9-9 in SEC play.
By Trey Huntsman on ©April 24th, 2015 @ 11:56pm
Zack Brown dominated once again, and Kentucky opened a three-game series with a 3-0 win against #5 Florida. The shutout victory was Kentucky’s fifth straight win, giving the Cats a 24-16 (9-9) record on the season. Brown, backed by Dorian Hairston’s two RBIs, pitched seven shutout innings to earn his fourth win on the year.
Facing off against the leaders in the SEC East, Kentucky grabbed the lead early. JaVon Shelby led the second inning off with a triple, and Dorian Hairston drove him in on an RBI groundout to give UK a 1-0 lead. Kyle Barrett and Evan White hit singles with two outs in the third to put runners on for Ka’ai Tom. With an RBI single to left, Tom gave Kentucky a 2-0 lead in the third.
As Brown finished up his start on the mound, Kentucky’s offense gave their bullpen some insurance. Hairston collected his second RBI on the day with an eighth inning single to score White. All three of Kentucky’s runs were allowed by Florida starter Logan Shore.
Brown kept the Gators’ offense at bay by firing seven shutout innings and striking out six. Following Brown’s incredible start, Kentucky turned to Zach Strecker in the eighth inning. With a 3-0 lead, Strecker sat down the Gators in the eighth and sent the Cats to ninth.
Three outs away from a win in the Swamp, things got a bit interesting. Strecker retired the first two batters of the ninth before walking Jeremy Vasquez. Gary Henderson went back to his bullpen to bring in closer Spencer Jack. Henderson would be forced to make yet another pitching change when Jack walked the only batter he faced. Logan Salow emerged from the bullpen and struck out Taylor Lane to end the game.
Brown has propelled himself into the category of top weekend starters in the SEC. Following 7.1 shutout innings against Tennessee last week, Brown fired seven shutout innings against Florida. The sophomore struck out six and allowed only five hits against one of the top hitting teams in the nation. The dominant start lowered Brown’s ERA on the season to 2.81 in 11 games and a team-leading 67.1 innings. Brown has a scoreless streak of 15.1 innings over his last three games.
— Kentucky Baseball (@UKBaseball) April 25, 2015
Combining with Brown, the Kentucky bullpen helped to shut down one of the best offensive attacks in the nation. Player of the Year candidates Harrison Bader and JJ Schwarz combined to go one-for-seven at the plate with three strikeouts. The Gators left ten men on base and struck out nine times.
The Cats and Gators will continue their series tomorrow night at 7 p.m and Sunday at 12:30 p.m. Catch both games on SEC Network+ and follow our recaps here.
By Bobby Reagan on ©April 24th, 2015 @ 10:30pm
If you don’t read these News and Views, we’ll send the Ole Ball Coach to hunt you down. Two tickets to the gun show everyone!
The KBA is the Place to be Right Now
The Nike EYBL even is taking place right now at the KBA in Lexington and of course there are plenty of coaches and Kentucky players in attendance. Kenny Payne, Marcus Lee, Alex Poythress and Tyler Ulis were all on hand to see Malik Monk play tonight. Monk is one of the best scorers in the class of 2016 and everyone believes it will come down to either Kentucky or Arkansas for his decision.
Malik Newman Picked Mississippi State
Malik Newman, a top prospect in the class of 2015 picked Mississippi State over Kentucky and Kansas today. Yep, in basketball. Now, Newman is from Mississippi, so it makes sense and is a great get for new head coach Ben Howland. Best of luck to Newman except when he plays the blue and white.
John Calipari is Next-Level Thinking
No matter what happens the rest of the time Calipari is in Lexington no one can ever say Calipari wasn’t creative or willing to try new things out. His latest adventure? Something called Ceeks, which according to their website is “the first smart audio headphone.” Calipari said he wants to use virtual reality headsets during games and practices to give fans and recruits an inside view of the Kentucky program. Of course Calipari thinks of that.
Chris Walker is Leaving Florida for the NBA
I guess it’s news? Chris Walker has declared for the NBA Draft. In other words I’m also declaring for the NBA Draft. You heard it first, KSR readers. Bobby Reagan declares for the NBA Draft, because if Chris Walker can so can I.
gators lose chris walker to nba draft, errr euro draft, errrr south america….somewhere….
— Dan Hicken (@DanHicken) April 24, 2015
Rockets and Mavericks Game 3 was a Thriller – But No Rondo
The Mavericks and head coach Rick Carlisle were true to their words as Rajon Rondo was not in a Dallas jersey for tonight’s Game 3, which was a 130-128 win for the Rockets. Former Kentucky star Terrence Jones had 12 points and six rebounds in 25 minutes for Houston while adopted son Dirk Nowitzki had 34 points in a losing effort.
We’ll be back at it starting at 10 tomorrow morning.