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April 22nd, 2017

Andrew Harrison’s Overtime Block is a Game-Saver for the Grizzlies

Screen Shot 2017-04-22 at 11.21.47 PM 1

Trailing two games to one to the San Antonio Spurs, the seven-seed Memphis Grizzlies needed a victory at home to keep their hopes alive.  Hope was in short supply with just over a minute and a half to play in overtime.

Trying to take the lead and behind by two, Memphis turned it over to start a San Antonio two-on-one fast break.  The dagger appeared to be imminent.  Then, Andrew Harrison made a fantastic defensive play.

It’s hard to see that and not think of this.

Aaron approves.

That wasn’t Andrew’s only highlight of the night.

Andrew knocked down two clutch free throws with 22 seconds remaining to give the Grizz a three-point lead.  They gave up a three to Kawhi Leonard, but Marc Gasol’s buzzer-beater ensured Harrison’s play would not be made in vein.  The Grizz won 110-108 to tie the series at two and Harrison finished with 7 points, 3 rebounds, one assist, one steal and one game-changing blocked shot.


A Case for Bam Adebayo to Return to Kentucky

UF-8981

During NBA early entry decision season, more and more elite posts have enlisted to be considered by NBA teams.  As Zach Collins of Gonzaga and Jarrett Allen decided to test the draft waters, I wondered how much it could deter Bam Adebayo from leaving Lexington after just one year.

For optimistic UK fans, I hate say they aren’t hurting Bam’s chances.

After combing through mock drafts from the three most reliable draft gurus, Adebayo’s stock is better than it appears.

  • Draft Express: Second Round, No. 31
  • ESPN’s Chad Ford: First Round, No. 20
  • NBA Draft Net: First Round, No. 19
  • CBS: First Round, No. 30
  • Sports Illustrated: First Round, No. 27

After falling out of the first round in many mock drafts halfway through the season, Bam’s late-season resurgence reinforced the preseason beliefs of scouts.  Knocked for his size at about 6’8,” he proved that he can be an elite rebounder with a few reliable post moves.

Even though his stock is still relatively high — flirting with lottery at best, bottom of the first round at worst — there are two reasons Adebayo could opt to turn down millions of dollars to stay in Lexington for another year.

Depth in the 2018 Draft Class

The 2017 draft class is praised for being deep, primarily at the point guard position.  There could be as many as four point guards taken in the top five picks.

In the paint, Adebayo has plenty of competition.  In Chad Ford’s Top 100, there are eight post prospects ranked higher than Adebayo.  The status of some is questionable, like Duke’s Harry Giles, but either way there are at least ten first round forwards, but that could reach as high as 15.  In 2018, the depth at forward is not as strong.  In Draft Express’ way-too-early 2018 mock draft, there are just nine forwards in the first round.  Only three players — Mo Bamba, DeAndre Ayton and Robert Williams — are lottery locks.

Willie Cauley-Stein vs. Dakari Johnson

Kentucky’s 2015 centers each present case studies that apply to Adebayo.  After their sophomore seasons, Cauley-Stein and Johnson were considered to be late-first round, early-second round picks, about the same position Adebayo is in right now.

Cauley-Stein stayed for another year, went to a Final Four and vaulted into the Top 10.  Selected No. 6 overall, Cauley-Stein’s three-year guaranteed rookie deal is worth $10.6 million.  He’ll make an additional $4.7 million if the Kings pick up his year four option after the 2017 season.

Johnson left Lexington for the NBA after his sophomore season and fell into the second round, selected No. 48 overall by the Oklahoma City Thunder.  Johnson did not sign a rookie deal with OKC.  Johnson’s game has progressed during his two years in the D-League, but he’s only made $51,000, and that’s if he’s considered an “A Player.”  D-League salaries are below $20,000 a year if you are not considered a top-tier player.

In the 2016 NBA Draft, the year after Dakari was drafted, only three college basketball forward/centers were selected in the lottery.

Cauley-Stein and Johnson are the ceiling and the floor for Adebayo.  If his stock remains static around No. 20, he could earn guaranteed money around $3 million in his first two years.  If he falls into the second round and isn’t signed, his D-League contract will be worth about as much as a statewide autograph tour.


Adebayo’s decision is his to make.  More likely than not, he’ll receive positive feedback at the NBA Combine in mid-May and make a couple million bucks.  I, and you, can not blame him for making that career decision.  However, the Kentucky centers that came before him provide plenty of evidence to stay for another year to create substantially more in long-term potential earnings.


Five Players Calipari Watched at the Adidas Uprising Circuit

Cal chose the white Jordan OVO XIIIs by Drake, via @ace_hearts8408.

Cal chose the white Jordan OVO XIIIs by Drake, via @ace_hearts8408.

After spending Friday night watching Cam Reddish and Marvin Bagley at the Nike EYBL, John Calipari traveled to the Dallas-Ft. Worth area to see the rising stars in the adidas circuit.  He rarely sits still for long at these events, but here’s who he reportedly watched, if only for a moment, at the adidas event.

Quentin Grimes

One of three point guards with Kentucky offers in the class, Grimes lost a point guard battle last night against Immanuel Quickley.  Hailing form College Park, Texas, 247 Sports ranks him as the No. 1 point guard in the class, but he’s No. 5 in the Composite Rankings.  You be the judge:

Jordan Brown

The fifth-ranked player in the 2018 class and second-ranked power forward hails from Roseville, California.  The 6’10” forward has impressive accolades from the recruiting analysts, but only six scholarship offers.  Cal and Kansas are considered the top two leaders.

David McCormack

The 6’9″ 300-pound center from Oak Hill Academy took an unofficial visit to Lexington last weekend.  The second-ranked center in the 2018 class does not yet have an offer from Kentucky.  Meanwhile Georgetown, Louisville, N.C. State and Kansas are taking the lead in his recruitment.

Charles Bassey

The 6’10” power forward is the third-ranked layer in the Class of 2019.  The powerful post only has three offers — Baylor, Kansas and Texas A&M — but John Calipari has kept a keen eye on him early and often.

Grant Sherfield

The 6’2″ combo guard from Arlington, Texas is a borderline Top 25 player in the 2019 class, currently a four-star prospect.  He has ten early offers — most notably from Kansas, Texas and UCLA — but Sherfield does not have one from Calipari.

Surely a few more players caught his eye, but these five will do for now.  


Prepare for Kentucky Camp Season

cal-stoops

Today marks the first Saturday without Kentucky football or basketball since August.  Until things kick back into gear this August, the athletic fields will be buzzing, filled with campers from across the Big Blue Nation.

Basketball and football camps start seven weeks from today on June 10.  If you’re a football player trying to get noticed, playing in front of the coaches is a great way to start.  See the entire schedule and register here.

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John Calipari’s basketball camps tip-off the same weekend.  The overnight and father/son events will create memories that last a lifetime.  Spots are filling fast; register as soon as possible here or here.

Father/Son Camps

  • June 9 – 10
  • June 16 – 17
  • June 30 – July 1

Overnight Camps

  • June 11 – June 14
  • June 18 – June 21

WKU Football Unveils New One-of-a-Kind Tradition

via @WKUFootball

via @WKUFootball

New Western Kentucky football coach Mike Sanford is bold.  During halftime of the Red/White Game, the first-time head coach announced the creation of a tradition never seen before in the athletic arena.

The Hilltoppers will “Raise the W” each week, something never done before in the history of sports*.  The bold initiative from Coach Sanford is explained in the following press release.

At halftime of Saturday’s Red vs. White Spring Game, WKU Head Football Coach Mike Sanford introduced his ‘Raise the W’ initiative to signify the start of game week in Bowling Green beginning with the 2017 season.

The brainchild of the first-year head coach, the red flag features WKU’s varsity style ‘W’ which has appeared on lettermen jackets dating back to the 1920’s, and it will be raised each Monday by a selected Hilltopper on the basis of commitment to his teammates, the program and level of play from the previous week.

Area business and fans will be encouraged to also raise their own ‘W’ flag to help the Hilltoppers kick off game week in unison across town. Replica versions of the flag, which will fly in the south end zone of Houchens Industries-L.T. Smith Stadium, will be available this summer.

The first W flag ceremoniously flew at halftime to the tune of WKU’s new football fight song, “Go Tops Go!”

“Hey Bowling Green, what do you say? The Tops are gonna win today!”

(more…)


This John Wall Dunk is too Amazing for Words

Geoff Burk | USA Today

Geoff Burk | USA Today

There are amazing basketball plays that you must see, then there’s what John Wall just did.

Wall starts a fast break, by himself, off a made basket.  He knifes through all five defenders, goes behind his back, murders Kent Bazemore, then stares Bazemore into a traumatic state of humiliation. Wow.

The Wizards aren’t winning, so expect more from craziness from “put the team on my back” Wall.  He was 14 points and 2 assists early in the second quarter.


The Elephant in the Room: Boom Williams will (Probably) not get Drafted

UK Athletics

UK Athletics

A week from today the NFL Draft will come to a close in Philadelphia.  More likely than not, Stanley “Boom” Williams will not hear his name called.

The Kentucky running back declared for the draft immediately after the TaxSlayer Bowl, forfeiting his final year of eligibility by signing with an agent.  A 1,000-yard rusher in 2016, Williams was still just a borderline draft pick at the time of his decision.  Since then his stock has not improved.

A top performer in the 20-yard and three-cone shuttle at the NFL Combine, his best 40-yard dash time was disqualified.  The “Bottom Line” on his NFL.com Combine Analysis is not flattering.

Scat back with outstanding burst who can create for himself in space, but is not about that life when asked to run between the tackles. Williams doesn’t have the blocking or the hands to be a full-time third-down back and he lacks the decisiveness and vision necessary to handle snaps as a backup. While he does have plus athletic ability, Williams may be too limited in what he can offer a team from a roster flexibility standpoint.

Being an above-average scat back is Boom’s best shot at having an NFL Career, but the scouts don’t see those skills.  In three years at Kentucky Boom only caught 38 passes, which is just an average of about one screen pass per game.  To make matters worse, Williams did not do anything Earth-shattering at his Pro Day and he has limited experience as a special teams player.

As we enter the heart of mock draft season, Boom is nowhere to be found.  Todd McShay and Mel Kiper, the two most well-known draft prognosticators, only predict the first two rounds, but ESPN does have a service that ranks every prospect.  Williams is considered the No. 319 player overall.  There are only 253 players selected in the NFL Draft.

Only a few outlets conduct mock drafts for all seven rounds.  Of the following four, Boom was not featured in any mock drafts.

It’s difficult to foresee a home for Boom in the NFL Draft, but that’s ultimately for the best.  As a free agent, he’ll get to choose the team that provides the best opportunity, rather than going to a team that chooses him.  He’ll get a shot, but it probably won’t be through the NFL Draft.

The good news is the BBN has someone to cheer for in Philadelphia.  Jon Toth will be selected somewhere in between the third and sixth rounds and nobody will be happier than Freddie Maggard.


The Ringer: These are John Wall’s Playoffs

John Wall’s rise to superstardom has been well-documented on this website, but it has yet to reach the pinnacle across the NBA landscape.  The four-time all-star has received the accolades, but does not receive the same hype as other NBA superstars.  According to The Ringer’s Jonathan Tjarks, that’s about to change.

Through the first two games of the first round, Wall has never been better, beating the Hawks in dominating fashion.

Wall has been as dominant as anyone in the playoffs so far. In the first two games of the Wizards’ first-round series with the Hawks, he is averaging 32 points on 47.7 percent shooting, 11.5 assists, and 4.5 rebounds a game, and he has been a star on both ends of the floor. He’s a 26-year-old entering the prime of his career, and he’s proving himself capable of carrying a team on his back. Whenever Atlanta has challenged Washington, Wall has provided an answer.

There are plenty specific examples of Wall’s dominance (GIFs included) in the article, but my favorite part is the foreshadowing.  With the Celtics on the ropes early in the series against the Bulls, whoever the Wizards have next will be vulnerable, putting them in position to reach a Conference Final for the first time in Wall’s tenure.  A showdown against LeBron’s Cavs is the spotlight Wall needs.

“John Wall’s time in the shadows is coming to an end,” is an eloquent ending to Tjarks’ article, but I prefer his colleague Shea Serrano’s proclamation: “If you’re not rooting for John Wall, I’ll fight you.”

Root for him on in Game 3 vs. Atlanta at 5:30 on TNT.

[The Ringer]


A Couple of Cats are the Best to Never Make the NBA Playoffs

Brad Rempel-USA Today

Brad Rempel-USA Today

There are a few people in sports media (okay maybe just one) that love to bash NBA Cats for their lack of postseason success.  There’s one big reason why that’s the case — they get drafted early by the worst teams in the NBA.

There’s two ways to solve that problem: leave the decimated team and never look back, or act as the cornerstone in foundation of the program’s improvement.  John Wall is doing the latter right now, rolling through the playoffs at a pace that should take the Wizards to the Conferences Finals (knock on wood).  One other former Cat is destined to do the same.

Bleacher Report used efficiency metrics to rank the best to never make the big dance.  Brandon Knight was an honorable mention.  Ranked seventh on the list with a 24.3 PER, Karl-Anthony Towns has only had two years to improve the Timberwolves, but he’ll be removed from this list soon.

Towns will eventually be permitted to represent the Western Conference, even if that hasn’t happened yet. He’s a generational talent who’s still just 21 years old, and that’s enough to earn such lofty placement.

Plus, the league has grown deeper since many of the aforementioned All-Star contributors suited up. Given the level at which he played in both 2015-16 and 2016-17, it would’ve been impossible to deny Towns an All-Star berth a few decades back.

The most disheartening position on this list is the man at No. 1, DeMarcus Cousins.

“It’s eating me alive. Every loss or every time another team wins in battling for the eighth spot, it’s eating me alive. Our only goal is to be in the playoffs this season,” DeMarcus Cousins said in January, per NBC Sports’ Dan Feldman, who also noted that Cousins and Kevin Love are the only players since the ABA-NBA merger to make multiple All-NBA teams before earning a playoff appearance.

Love has obviously done more than advance to the postseason since earning that ignominious honor. But Cousins hasn’t. Even after a deadline deal gave him a chance to end his drought and sent him to the New Orleans Pelicans, where he could team up with Anthony Davis to form an all-world frontcourt, he was left in the lottery yet again.

This should change before too long.

If it doesn’t change next year, the Pelicans’ front office should be publicly shamed for not getting enough backcourt talent around Cousins and Davis, the best frontcourt in the biz.

[Bleacher Report]


The Greatest Sports Movies Ever

This post is an ode to Mike Pence.  The Vice President and former Indiana Governor is busy traveling around the Pacific.  During a flight between Indonesia and Australia, Pence informed Air Force 2’s press pool they will be watching Hoosiers, “the greatest sports movie ever made.”

Even though I’ve never seen Hoosiers (shame on me, I know), I thought it’d be the perfect opportunity to share with you a list of the greatest sports movies ever created.  You’ll quickly notice this list is the objective, undeniable truth.

1. Friday Night Lights
2. Caddyshack
3. Sandlot
4. Space Jam
5. Remember the Titans
6. Major League
7. Rudy
8. Varsity Blues
9. Hoop Dreams
10. Talladega Nights
11. The Karate Kid
12. The Waterboy
13. The Fighter
14. Field of Dreams
15. The Replacements

Feel free to call men an idiot in the comment section for omitting Rocky.  I don’t care what you say because at the end of the day, “I’m the best around, nothing’s going to ever keep me down.”

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BBNBA: Rondo Tries to Pull a Grayson Allen from the Bench

Rondo rocked a short-sleeve suit on the sideline, via @CBSSportsNBA.

Rondo rocked a short-sleeve suit on the sideline, via @CBSSportsNBA.

Rajon Rondo surprised everybody in the first two games of the NBA Playoffs, helping lead the eight-seed Bulls to two victories over the Boston Celtics, the No. 1 seed in the East.  Unfortunately, the former Kentucky point guard broke his right thumb in game two, forcing him to miss the rest of the playoffs.

Even though he was out of the game, he still tried to change the game from the bench.  After Jae Crowder knocked down a jumper from the corner, Rondo tried to keep Crowder from getting back on defense.

After the game, Rondo had a great excuse for his leg extension.  “After you tear an ACL, your leg gets stiff every one in a while.  I had to stretch it out.”  The Bulls lost to the Celtics by 17 to climb back into the series.

Enes Kanter was the only other former Wildcat in action last night (Trey Lyles did not play for the Utah Jazz in a loss to the Clippers).  Kanter had 10 points, two rebounds and one block in just ten minutes of action, including this (kinda sorta) dunk.

The Thunder won 115-113 to give Houston a 2-1 series advantage.


John Calipari is on the Move

private-jet

Coach John Calipari is leaving the Nike EYBL in Virginia to see the sights at the adidas event in Texas where UK targets Zion Williamson, Romeo Langford, Quentin Grimes and Immanuel Quickley are playing. Coach Cal announced the move with the most Calipari humblebrag ever.

“I’m going to an adidas event and I can’t decide which custom Jordan’s from Drake I should wear.”  #RecruitingProbz


Empirical Evidence the Reds are the Best Team in the History of Baseball

@Grifa11

@Griffa11

Entering the season, nobody expected the Cincinnati Reds to amount to much of anything.  Predicted to fill the bottom of the NL Central barrel, they entered last night’s matchup with the defending World Series Champs with a half-game lead in the division.

The Red lost to the Cubs in extra innings, but after seeing this montage you’ll realize the Reds were the real winners.

Well done Reds, well done.


Romeo Langford Discusses In-Home Visit with John Calipari

Williamson (left) vs. Langford.

Zion Williamson (left) vs. Romeo Langford.

After Romeo Langford dropped 28 points to lock in a a win over Zion Williamson (who scored 26 points), the top-ranked shooting guard in the class of 2018 from New Albany, Indiana discussed his Kentucky in-home visit with Rivals’ Eric Bossi.  It sounds like Calipari’s Monday-night trip went well.

“It went really well (with Kentucky),” said Langford. “Coach (John) Calipari and assistant coach (Kenny) Payne came down to my house and they were just talking about how they would help me out in the long run.

“The first thing I look at when it comes to the schools is the education aspect. Then I look at if I can trust them and if my family can trust them and how they will treat me.”

Langford and Williamson are both far from making a decision about their future.  Pursued by every team in the country, they can play their hand as they please.  Maybe they might pick the same school?  Zion said after the game they’re “good friends,” so it’s more than wishful thinking.

If you need more highlights from their duel, have at it.

Langford vs. Williamson wasn’t the only elite matchup at the opening night of the adidas circuit.  Two of the class’ best point guards, Immanuel Quickley and Quentin Grimes, went head-to-head.  I don’t believe anybody has been recruited by Calipari longer in the 2018 than Quickley, while Grimes received an offer from Calipari at the end of March.

The lengthy Quickley got the best of Grimes last night, posting 22 points, 5 rebounds and 3 steals in a 15-point victory.  Grimes never could find a rhythm, finishing with just 6 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists.

Those numbers sound bad, but it looks MUCH worse when you see Quickley drain threes right in Grimes’ face.

John Calipari spent opening night at the Nike EYBL in Virginia where he saw Cameron Reddish, the No. 2 small forward in the 2018 class, lead Team Final to a victory behind an exceptional performance: 24-points, 7-rebounds, 3 steals and 2 assists.  Here’s a sample of what Calipari saw:

Reddish wasn’t the most impressive player at the EYBL.  The nation’s consensus No. 1 player, center Marvin Bagley, scored 27 points and grabbed 10 rebounds.  The 7-footer does not play like a traditional 7-footer.

Meanwhile at the Under Armour event in New York,  UK targets were busy making highlights.  Kentucky assistants saw the dynamic 2019 wings Bryan Antoine and Scottie Lewis before checking out 2018 forwards Naz Reid and Moses Brown.  Reid’s lob is impressive…

…but Brown’s poster is pure brutality.

Stay tuned for more updates throughout the day as UK coaches scour all three events.


Saturday’s Soggy Thunder Over Louisville Top 10

Today marks the unofficial start of Derby Season (for those who haven’t already spent two weeks celebrating).  Each year it begins with a bang on the Waterfront at Thunder Over Louisville, but it will not be the same this year.  Forecasts project rain, then rain and some more rain.  If you don’t have a poncho and a heavy cooler, it might be best to celebrate the most wonderful time of the year from home, unless you’re optimistic that the rain will cease just before the fireworks begin around 9-9:30.

If Derby isn’t the only thing on your mind (what’s wrong with you?) there’s other things happening around the Big Blue Nation.

Stoops Picked up his Seventh 2018 Commit

Three-star Florida athlete Shocky Jacques-Louis became the best name in the Big Blue Nation when he pledge his allegiance to Mark Stoops yesterday.  The commit pushed the Cats into the Top 20 of Rivals 2018 class rankings, but more importantly, it’s the Cats’ fourth commit from the state of Florida.

Investing in Ohio was important, but it’s hard to succeed without elite Florida athletes.  Gran, Hinshaw and Thomas have earned their pay with the ’17 and ’18 classes.  See what Jacques-Louis can do with a football in his hands here.

Stoops Don’t Give a Damn

Actually, he doesn’t give a “crap” about what you have to think about Kentucky’s TaxSlayer Bowl rings.  A contentious topic from fans and foes alike, Mark Stoops addressed the topic yesterday on Sirius XM Radio.

“Our players — we have bowl games and we have money allotted to bowl games so they can get what they want,” Stoops said. “I could care less what they get. They want a ring? We’ll get a ring. They want a t-shirt, we’ll get a t-shirt. They want a sweatsuit? We’ll get that. That’s for those guys to decide. So, I really don’t give a crap what anybody else says.

Nick Haynes has INSANE Hops

The 300-pound offensive guard has posted dunk videos before, but this is the best of the best.

This guy never ceases to amaze me.

Circuit Season has Started

The shoe company national AAU circuits began last night and John Calipari was prepared to watch as many games as possible.  While Calipari watched Cam Reddish at the Nike EYBL in Hampton, Virginia, assistants covered the adidas Gauntlet in Ft. Worth, Texas and Under Armour’s Association in New York City.  We’ll have updates from the events on the site throughout the day.

UK Baseball Splits Doubleheader

The weather changed up the schedule between UK and LSU.  The Cats rolled through the first game Friday afternoon 12-5, but could not put together enough offense in the nightcap, falling to the Tigers 4-3.  The BatCats will try to get the bats rolling for a series win at The Cliff Sunday at 1:00.  Until then, enjoy the highlights from the good game.

NBA Playoff Schedule

John Wall will attempt to steal away the hopes and dreams of the Atlanta Hawks while Andrew Harrison’s Grizzlies try to even things up with the Spurs.

  • 3:00 — Toronto (Patterson) at Milwaukee on TNT
  • 5:30 — Washington (Wall) at Atlanta on TNT
  • 8:00 — San Antonio at Memphis (Andrew Harrison) on ESPN
  • 10:30 — Golden State at Portland

Ace, Ace Baby

Louisville-native Justin Thomas knows how to swing a golf club.  Fresh off Spring Break, JT decided he didn’t feel like putting on this Par 3.

Keep Your Ears Busy with KSR Podcasts

I’ve plugged ’em once this week and I’ll plug them again, because they’re worth your time.  There’s baseball and the Bahamas story, along with a breakdown of Spring Football and the hit podcast S-Town.  I highly recommend the F-Town Podcast; the squad covers pretty much every angle of S-Town and got me thinking about the mysterious town clerk.  I’m determined Faye Gamble is up to no good and we need to figure out what the hell she did to that gold.

Or You Can Listen to This Story

On my weekly appearance with the Afternoon Underdogs, in honor of Tony’s new show I shared a little Locker Room Talk that helped transform me into the man I am today.  One of the most influential stories from my youth, it will make you cringe, but it’s a story you can’t not hear.  Listen here around the 30-minute mark.

The Return of Sully’s

Drew Franklin’s crew is to Lexington Tin Roof is what my crew is to Sully’s in Louisville.  The Fourth Street shit-show establishment closed to make room for Guy Fieri, but a grown-up version is opening in St. Matthews.  When Sullivan’s opens its doors on Thursday, I’m prepared for mayhem.  I hope to see you there.