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April 22nd, 2018

An in-depth look at UK’s 2018-19 roster, as it stands now

It’s been a hectic few weeks for the basketball world – especially in Kentucky – so no one could blame you if you’ve lost track of all of the recruitments, reclassifications and declarations for the NBA draft. Don’t worry, you’re probably not alone.

With that being said, a LOT still hangs in the balance for Kentucky’s 2018-19 season. Some of our questions could be answered by the end of the week. Others, by the May 30th NBA Draft deadline. And some we might not know until late summer. Here’s everything we know as of now, with predictions and even some *suggestions.*

Point Guards

Ashton Hagans

Status: committed
When news of Hagans’ commitment broke less than two weeks ago, it became pretty obvious he would be the go-to point guard once he arrives at UK – which isn’t surprising, considering he’s the No. 1 point guard in the 2019 class. The question, of course, then becomes: when will he arrive at UK? Although he’s still technically a 2019 recruit, all signs point to a reclassification for 2018.

His commitment announcement, which came the day after 5-star EJ Montgomery’s commitment, continued to boost BBN morale after a disappointing March and the recent announcement of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s departure. Plus, it re-ignited the tradition of John Calipari and star point guards, which is something the Cats lacked this season. Hagans is the real deal, and it’s likely we’ll get to see him in action next season as the Cats’ starting PG.

Immanuel Quickley

Status: signed
He’s another highly-touted point guard for the 2018 class – 24/7 Sports has him listed as the No. 4 point guard in the nation. Quickley is an athlete; he’s just 6-foot-3, but he boasts a 6-foot-7 wingspan. He’s shown he’s a good facilitator, dishing out eight assists and grabbing four rebounds in his 17 minutes off the bench during the McDonalds All-American game. He struggled offensively in that game, ending the night 0-2 from the field. But, we’ve seen he can get hot from the outside. He did tie for first place in the 3-point shootout. Check out Nick Roush’s video:

With a guy like Hagans coming in, you expect to see Quickley coming in off the bench, and (possibly) even being a two-year player. But, then again, that’s what most of us thought about Gilgeous-Alexander too…

Tyrese Maxey

Status: recruit
Just when Kentucky fans thought recruiting news was done, a report came out saying Coach Cal pitched reclassifying and joining the 2018 Cats to another star point guard. Tyrese Maxey is listed as the No. 2 point guard in the 2019 class, coming in right behind already-committed Hagans.

In an interview with SEC Country’s Kyle Tucker, Maxey seemed unphased by the possibility of having to compete with three other 5-star point guards.

“Coach Cal has had three 5-star guards on the roster before with Isaiah Briscoe and De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk, and he gets it done,” Maxey said. “And that’s not the first time he’s had it like that. He had Tyler Ulis, the Harrison twins, Devin Booker. That’s four 5-star guards on one team. He finds a way to make stuff like that happen and work, so you gotta trust him.”

That sounds like a very “Kentucky” answer from the Texan. UK is widely considered the leader in his recruitment, but, at this point, it’s still unclear as to whether or not he will actually reclassify. If he does, we probably won’t know until mid-July.

Quade Green

Status: ?

Even after rumors of positive feedback from Calipari’s recent heart-to-heart with Green, the sophomore’s decision is still up in the air. At this point, it seems like Green is leaning toward returning for his sophomore season, but it’s hard to be sure. Unlike transfer announcements, it’s extremely rare for a player to “announce” that he’s not transferring. And, under usual circumstances, that’s fine. But, with two – possibly three – major point guards coming in next season, it’s hard to ignore the idea that Green may have been “recruited over.”

Still, it’s important to note that Green is the only returning guard who saw considerable playing time last season. We saw this year that experience does matter – especially at point guard – and repeating another all-freshman team could be another huge challenge – especially without guys like Wenyen Gabriel and Sacha Killeya-Jones coming off the bench when the freshmen inevitably revert.

From a (possibly-biased) perspective, it’d obviously be ideal for Green to continue his time as a Wildcat. His calm nature and leadership qualities could be huge for this young team. If he stays, he’ll need to capitalize on his playing time at the beginning of the season, when Quickley and possibly Hagans and Maxey are still adjusting to college ball. Plus, he might have to be comfortable moving to and staying at the 2-guard position and letting one of the younger guys play point guard.

Guards

Keldon Johnson

Status: signed
Johnson comes to Kentucky as a five-star guard and the No. 14 overall recruit. He’s a good size for a shooting guard – 6’6” and 216-pounds – and a good mid-range shooter (something Kentucky seems to love… Long-2-U, anyone?). He’s a “lights-out” scorer, he’s got good speed and he knows how to bring the energy. Fans got to see his competitive nature during the McDonalds All-American game, where he said he planned to “dominate and kill” during the game. If all goes according to plan, Johnson will likely be another one-and-done guard for Kentucky.

Tyler Herro

Status: signed
I’m not going to lie – I’m excited about this kid. He’s a four-star player whose recruitment flew mostly under the radar. He’s picked up steam recently though, especially since Zion Williamson called him the most underrated player in the class. He signed with the Cats early, so he’s given plenty of interviews and quotes with both KSR and Hey Kentucky!. He seems like a great person and an energetic leader, and all signs point to him bringing a lot to the table next season (and possibly for a few more seasons after that).

Jemarl Baker

Status: Redshirt freshman

Baker is a real wild card in next year’s class. He’s been in Lexington for a year now, so he knows the ropes of Kentucky basketball and how to navigate John Calipari & Co. But, his knee injury benched him for the entire season, so he has no more game-time experience than any of the true freshmen.

He came in as a four-star recruit who was expected to stick around for a few years. But, a loaded class could push Baker a few more seats back. At one point in the season, there were rumors he could transfer. At this point, that doesn’t seem like an option. But, if he struggles to get playing time this season – which is definitely possible – a transfer may not be out of the question. On the other hand, if he works his way into a rotation off the bench this year, he could become a go-to older guy in the coming seasons. Here’s hoping for the latter.

Brad Calipari and Jonny David

Status: Returning

Jonny David returns as the team’s lone senior this season, while Brad Calipari comes in as a junior.

Forwards

EJ Montgomery

Status: signed

While the backcourt is loaded, Montgomery is the only big-name recruit coming in, as of right now, as a 2018 forward. His commitment was huge for the Wildcats; he picked UK over Duke and North Carolina. The No. 5 power forward in the class, Montgomery is expected to dominate around the bucket. According to ESPN, he’s “asserting his will around the rim much more assertively and consistently now.” This is great news for the Cats, especially since this is an area Kentucky was desperately lacking in for the majority of last season.

Nick Richards

Status: (likely) returning

Although Nick Richards hasn’t made any sort of announcement at this time, the BBN would be shocked if he did anything but return. Sure, you could make a case for him “testing the waters” without an agent alongside the rest of the world, but he’s not currently being projected anywhere close to a lottery pick.

Although his play was, at times, frustrating last season, another year of practice and experience could drastically improve not only his play, but his draft stock. Kentucky saw flashes of his potential last season, lead mostly by his athleticism and height. But… he just really needs to work on rebounding with both hands. I’m sure Cal is all over that.

PJ Washington

Status: Declared for draft, no agent

PJ Washington, for me, is the biggest question mark for next season’s roster. He’s a bubble player right now, and he was originally expected to return to Kentucky for his sophomore season. However, he was the first UK player to announce he would be declaring for the NBA Draft (without an agent).

If he comes back, I’d fully expect to see a monster season out of Washington. Washington’s “bully tactics” and experience would be huge for next year’s team, especially if Montgomery struggles to adjust to collegiate basketball. Washington was one of the most-developed players by the end of the season, and, although he hasn’t quite reached lottery-pick caliber yet, it’s clear he could in the future. In fact, he’s listed as an easy first-round pick for the 2019 draft (No. 18, according to Jonathan Givony). That should make it an easy choice… he should return. If he doesn’t, opponents of the one-and-done system will be all over it.

Jarred Vanderbilt

Status: Declared for draft, no agent

Vanderbilt’s mysterious foot injury is once again making news, mostly due to the fact that it is prohibiting him from currently playing basketball, making his decision to declare for the draft all the more puzzling. Sure, he can have conversations and review footage with NBA coaches and scouts this way, but how much have they actually seen from him?

Based on Vanderbilt’s season and injury, it’s expected he will return. Montgomery-Washington-Vanderbilt could be a dangerous front court combination. However, if a team lets him know they would take a chance on him based on his athleticism, energy and potential, an early departure would certainly not be out of the question.

Wenyen Gabriel

Status: Declared for draft, no agent

Although his current state is similar to Washington’s and Vanderbilt’s, his decision will not affect next year’s season quite as much. Sure, it’d be great to see a rare junior getting playing time at Kentucky, but I’m not sure how much that would happen, especially if Washington and Vanderbilt both return.

Throughout the past year, we’ve seen Gabriel develop a lot. But the question is, how much does he have left in him? Could he get substantially better and play for the NBA? Or is his best bet playing in the G-League or overseas? It’d be great to see Gabriel come back, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that didn’t happen.


That puts Kentucky at 13 scholarship players (including Brad Calipari), hitting exactly the NCAA’s limit. But, there are a lot of stars that have to align to hit that number 13. Hagans would need to reclassify; Maxey would need to reclassify and commit; Green would have to decide against transferring; Kentucky’s frontcourt would all need to return. If any of those things don’t happen, scholarships open up and last-minute recruiting efforts begin again. In other words, this roster is far from finalized.

@MaggieDavisKSR


Immanuel Quickley and Tyler Herro invited to 2018 Allen Iverson Roundball Classic

Though the McDonald’s All-American Game, Jordan Brand Classic, and Nike Hoop Summit garner most of the attention, two future Wildcats were invited to participate in another All-Star game named after former NBA superstar Allen Iverson.

The 2018 Allen Iverson Roundball Classic was held last night at Souderton High School (PA), where Immanuel Quickley and Tyler Herro were both listed on the roster.

Quickley put on a show during the practices leading up to the event and the game itself. Here is some of the available footage from the weekend:

Herro was invited, but did not participate.

Other invitees/participants include Nassir Little of UNC, Jahvon Quinerley of Villanova, Shareef O’Neal of UCLA, and high-flying dunker Mac McClung, among others.

There was no boxscore made available to get exact numbers, but Quickley more than held his own against elite competition.

The game was streamed live on Facebook, so you can check it out in its entirety below:

Go Cats.


BBNBA: Pelicans sweep, Wall and Bledsoe help tie series, and Towns cuts Rockets’ lead

Chris Graythen | Getty Images

What a crazy 24 hours it has been for our Wildcats in the NBA.

Anthony Davis helps New Orleans sweep Portland

We’ve written a few posts on it since the game went final yesterday afternoon, but Anthony Davis and the (6) New Orleans Pelicans completed their sweep of the (3) Portland Trail Blazers in a 131-123 victory.

Davis finished with 47 points, 12 rebounds, and 2 blocks in the win. Playoff Rondo proved he was back, as well, finishing with seven points, 16 assists, and seven rebounds. Darius Miller also added three points and four rebounds off the bench for New Orleans.

After the game, Davis complimented his teammates for fighting each night to pull off the upset.

To show just how ridiculous the upset was (or how little ESPN knows about the Pelicans), all 22 NBA analysts picked New Orleans to fall in the opening round to Portland.

Oops.

Bam Adebayo’s Heat fall to Sixers, down 3-1

Yesterday afternoon, the former Wildcat big man played just 16 minutes, scoring two points, five rebounds, and a block in Miami’s 106-102 loss to Philadelphia. The Heat will have to pull off a victory on the road on Tuesday, or their season will be over.

Karl-Anthony Towns cuts series deficit to 2-1

The No. 1 seed in the West got off to a ridiculous start, going up 2-0 against Minnesota in dominating fashion.

Today, former Kentucky star Karl-Anthony Towns had something to say about any potential sweep.

Towns finished the day with 18 points, 16 rebounds, three assists, and two blocks in the convincing 121-105 victory.

Eric Bledsoe’s Milwaukee Bucks tie series with Boston

It was a wild start to the series, as former Wildcat Eric Bledsoe and former Cardinal Terry Rozier found themselves in a heated rivalry with one another. After pulling off back-to-back victories, Rozier “mistakenly” called the former Cat “Drew Bledsoe,” sparking much controversey.

Soon thereafter, Bledsoe was asked about Rozier’s comments, where he responded, “I don’t even know who the (expletive) that is.”

After that, Bledsoe’s Bucks fought their way back to two consecutive victories to tie the series up.

In today’s victory, the former Wildcat finished with nine points, five assists, and two blocks. Boston and Milwaukee will play again on Tuesday night in Boston.

John Wall helps even series for Washington with Toronto

After the Raptors took a convincing two-nothing series lead over the Wizards, John Wall decided he had had enough.

He eased the bleeding with a Game Three victory, and then followed it up with a monster performance this afternoon to even the series.

The former Wildcat finished the day with 27 points, 14 assists, six rebounds, and three steals, including several big buckets when Bradley Beal fouled out with just under five minutes to go.

The highlight of the night, however, came on this ridiculous poster slam.

Before long, every team in the Playoffs is going to have a superstar or two representing the Big Blue Nation.

#LaFamilia


Kentucky’s Gymnastics Coaching Staff wins National Award

@UKAthletics

After taking the program to the NCAA Championships for the first time, head coach Tim Garrison and assistant coaches Chuck Dickerson and Rachel Garrison were named the 2018 National Association of College Gymnastics Coaches/Women National Coach and Assistant Coaches of the Year.

The awards are voted on by Division I coaches across the country. Both awards are the program’s first.

Kentucky finished the season ranked No. 12 in the nation after finishing with a 196.0625 at the NCAA Championships.

In a release, Garrison said, “I’m so grateful for my staff. They have given so much of themselves to this team and program and I could not be happier for them to be recognized by our National coaches group and receive the coach of the year award.”

For more information on the award, you can click here.


Glasgow four-star OT Tanner Bowles commits to Alabama

After the Kentucky Wildcats failed to sign a local talent in the class of 2018, it looks like they will be striking out on all the top prospects in the state yet again for 2019.

Tanner Bowles, a four-star offensive tackle out of Glasgow, KY, committed to Alabama this afternoon while on a visit to Tuscaloosa.

Bowles is considered the No. 17 offensive tackle and No. 139 overall recruit in the class of 2019. The 6-foot-5, 280-pound lineman is listed as the No. 4 prospect in the state of Kentucky, behind only Milton Wright, Jacob Lacey, and Stephen Herron Jr.

Wright remains uncommitted, though he has offers from Alabama, Ohio State, and Oregon, among others, and it seems as though he will be leaving the state for college. If he does stay in Kentucky, he will likely end up at Louisville. Lacey is committed to Notre Dame and Herron Jr. is committed to Michigan.

On April 10, Kentucky also lost Scott County four-star OL and major Wildcat target Bryan Hudson to Virginia Tech, who is considered the No. 5 overall player in the state.

Moore High School four-star DE JJ Weaver is the next-highest ranked prospect in the state, and he does have interest in the Cats, visiting just a few weeks ago.

Louisville has 100% of his Crystal Ball picks on 247 Sports, and though it’s not a flawless prediction system, Kentucky obviously has some ground to make up with him.

Mark Stoops said he was upset Kentucky was unable to sign any local talent in the class of 2018, and was going to hit the ground running on 2019 to ensure it didn’t happen again. With each of the top-five prospects in the state either committed or heavily favoring other schools, this certainly isn’t good news…


Jamal Mashburn Jr. wants to follow in father’s footsteps, puts on a show at UA Association

Photo: @CityOfPalmsBKB

At Kentucky, Jamal Mashburn was one of the top players in college basketball. As a junior, he averaged 21 points, 8.4 rebounds, and 3.6 assists per game, earning First-Team All-American, SEC Player of the Year, and All-Tournament honors in the process. He was drafted fourth overall to Dallas in 1993, where he became one of the most prolific scorers in the NBA over the course of his career. He finished as a career 19-point-per-game scorer, made an All-NBA team in 2002-03, and made an NBA All-Star team.

Fast forward 25 years from his last game at Kentucky and Monster Mash’s son is now one of the top prospects in the class of 2020.

Crazy, huh?

Jamal Mashburn Jr. first turned heads last July, when he scored 30 points and grabbed ten rebounds in the Under Armour Finals in Georgia.

Jamal Mashburn’s son is really good at basketball

Now, Mashburn Jr. is considered a consensus four-star shooting guard and a top-100 sophomore in the nation. At 6-foot, 160-pounds, he has a bit of filling out to do, but the incredible scoring abilities very-obviously run in the family.

This weekend at the Under Armour Association in Dallas, Mashburn Jr. put on a show in front of several college basketball coaches and analysts:

Take a look:

Last year, Mashburn Jr. told Jerry Meyer of 247 Sports that his father is his trainer and mentor, and looks to him for advice on everything when it comes to the sport of basketball.

“He works with me every day,” said Mashburn Jr. “He is my trainer, my mentor. He’s everything. He’s all in on my development and I’m very cool with that.”

Mashburn Sr. became a major businessman after his basketball career ended, where he now owns over 80 franchises, including nearly 40 Outback Steakhouses and over 30 Papa John’s stores. The former Kentucky star’s son is hoping to follow in his footsteps by thriving off the floor as much as on.

He reportedly maintains a 3.7 GPA, takes entrepreneurship courses, and hopes to work hard enough to get into Harvard.

“One of my goals is to have my grades be good enough for Harvard,” Mashburn Jr. told Walter Villa of USA Today. “Injuries can happen, and one day the ball is going to stop dribbling. But I want to have longevity as far as my mind.”

As far as specific interests, he wants to get in the food business, just like Mashburn Sr.

“My dad’s a business guy, and I want to study food franchising,” he told USA Today. “I want to know how to pitch deals, and I want to learn early.”

Mashburn Jr. already holds offers from Louisville, Miami (FL), Florida, and Florida State, and he says there are a ton of other schools that have reached out. He said in an interview over a year ago Louisville was the favorite in his recruitment, as he wanted to learn from Rick Pitino just like his father did.

Now that Pitino is out of the equation, who knows how this recruitment ends up.

I just hope John Calipari gets involved so we get to see Mashburn on the back of a Kentucky jersey again.


Evan Daniels sits down with James Wiseman

USA Basketball

Evan Daniels sat down with UK target and #1 player in the Class of 2019 James Wiseman to discuss his recruiting process. If you’re like me, you have always wondered what a typical Calipari pitch would be. Well, Wiseman answers that question saying:

Basically, if I come to his program he will help me reach my full potential and help me become the player that I want to become.

The interview with Wiseman goes on to discuss more about Kentucky, Memphis and the recruiting process in a whole. You can read it in its’ entirety by clicking here.

Currently, the Wiseman recruitment is thought to be a two horse race between Kentucky and Memphis with his Crystal Ball at 50% for both teams.

James Wiseman
Power Forward/Center | 6-11 | 210 lbs.
Memphis, TN | Memphis East
AAU: Team Penny
ESPN No. 1 | 1 PF Top247 No. 1 | 1 C
Rivals No. 2 | 2 PF 247 Comp.  No. 1 | 1 C

@GormleyKSR


John Calipari selling Vernon Carey Jr. on being the next DeMarcus Cousins

Photo: Jasen Vinlove, USA TODAY Sports

John Calipari was in to see 2019 five-star center Vernon Carey Jr. on April 7, and Kenny Payne followed it up with a visit on April 16. This weekend at the Nike EYBL in Dallas, the Kentucky staff was in to watch him, as well.

James Wiseman has gotten the majority of attention from fans, and rightfully so. The UK coaches have made the No. 1 overall prospect in 2019 their top target, as he possesses ridiculous length and instinct on defense. He runs the floor well, has polished offensive moves in the post, and a developing mid-range jump shot. He models his game after Anthony Davis, and the Kentucky coaching staff is selling him on following in The Brow’s footsteps in the correct shade of blue and white.

But the staff is obviously making the No. 2 overall prospect (No. 1 on Rivals) a priority as well, with dreams of matching up Wiseman and Carey Jr. for easily the best frontcourt in college basketball.

Last week I wrote an article about how Wiseman and Carey Jr. could become Davis and Cousins v.2. You can check that out below:

Could James Wiseman and Vernon Carey Jr. become Davis and Cousins v.2?

According to Chris Fisher of The Cats Pause, John Calipari is using the talented Pelicans’ frontcourt duo as his top pitch for bringing in both prospects to Kentucky.

In fact, Coach Cal is telling Carey Jr. he could be a perfect mix of both Cousins AND Davis.

“That’s what he discussed with me in the meeting,” Carey Jr. told The Cats Pause. “That I could model my game after both of those two players. He told me to focus on those two. Just Anthony Davis’ effort and DeMarcus Cousins’ versatility.”

The 6-foot-10, 245-pound center is currently considered a consensus top-three prospect in the class of 2019, and for good reason. He knows how to throw his weight around in the post better than anyone in the nation, has deceptive athleticism, terrific rebounding fundamentals, and he’s surprisingly solid from mid-range and out to the three-point line.

As far as his interest in Kentucky goes, Carey Jr. told Fisher that he was appreciative of the Wildcat staff putting the full-court press on him, and that the visits have gone well.

“I was supposed to see Coach Cal. He was supposed to come down but I think he had to get surgery or something so just Coach Payne came down for an in-home visit like a week ago,” Carey said. ‘That was good. We just talked about the program. I’ve already been on campus twice so he was just trying to sell his pitch about the program.”

And it’s not just the Kentucky staff selling Carey Jr. on the Cats. According to several reports, Bam Adebayo has talked to the elite big man about playing at Kentucky and why it’d be in his best interest in joining a potentially loaded class in Lexington.

Carey Jr. had originally planned on making a decision in August, but that was when it seemed Duke and Miami (FL) were the two runaway favorites. Now that Coach Cal and company have made a massive push, among others, Carey said he may just cut his final list around that time to give him a chance to get more comfortable with all of the coaches and schools involved in his recruitment.

For more on Fisher’s conversation with Carey Jr. in Dallas this weekend, take a look here.


Infinity War Week: All 18 Movies from the Marvel Cinematic Universe Ranked

Avengers Infinity War opens next weekend. (Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios)

After 10 years of movies from the MCU, the culmination of an entire studio happens this week with Infinity War. Here is the definitive ranking of all 18 movies from the universe before the biggest event in movie history happens on Thursday.

18. The Incredible Hulk

The only actual bad movie in this universe. This was such a failure that Edward Norton did not even come back to play the Hulk (Thank god because Mark Ruffalo is infinitely better at the part).

Rating: 4/10

17. Iron Man 2

Blahhhhh. Boring and uninspired. Next.

Rating: 5/10

16. Thor

Meh. It has the same “turn the good-looking douchebag into a likeable superhero” plot that Iron Man had only it’s not done as well.

HOWEVER, this movie stars Natalie Portman and she freaking rocks.

Rating: 6/10

15. Thor: The Dark World

This was as forgettable as the advanced math class I had back in high school.

HOWEVER, this movie stars Natalie Portman AND it features Chris Evans in a cameo! (But for real, it really is better than the first Thor movie)

Rating: 6.5/10

14. Iron Man 3

Better than whatever Iron Man 2 was trying to accomplish, however it featured some terrible villains. It also had a weird ending that tried to get us to believe that Tony Stark was going to give up being Iron Man….and he obviously did not stop.

Rating: 6.75/10

13. Guardians of the Galaxy 2

GOTG 2 is the first “good” movie on this list, but it was still a bit of a letdown from its amazing predecessor. However, this picture is incredibly funny, heartfelt, and it’s just a great movie to enjoy watching.

(Also, this could be heavily debated, but this movie has a better soundtrack than the first “Guardians” movie has. “Brandy” is a perfect song. Do not argue with me on this)

Rating 7/10

12. Doctor Strange

Ahhh yes. Marvel gets back to the “good looking douchebag turns into likeable superhero” plotline that Iron Man and Thor had. How original.

BUT at least in this movie Benedict Cumberbatch does some trippy stuff with his hands, and I totally believe he works as a wizard part-time from being an actor.

Rating: 7.25/10

11. Ant-Man

Ant-Man is miraculously a good movie considering that it 1. turned Paul Rudd of all people into a likeable superhero and 2. perfectly balances between being a superhero origin/heist/drama/comedy movie all at the same time.

This should not have been half as entertaining or emotionally resonant as it turned out to be. Marvel really is awesome.

Rating: 7.5/10

10. Avengers: Age of Ultron

This gets a bit of a bad reputation because it was the sequel to the biggest “event” movie of all time. That’s a tough act to follow, and honestly, it’s a pretty good movie.

Also, it features a scene where the Avengers are drunkenly trying to lift Thor’s hammer. Everyone here is exactly how I envision each Avenger acting at a party.

Rating: 7.5/10

9. Captain America: The First Avenger

Easily the most underrated Marvel movie mainly because its sequels are some of the best superhero movies ever made and it gets overshadowed.

Chris Evans is the definitive Captain America and is the heart of this entire universe. Also, this is one of my personal favorite scenes in any movie ever. I love this.

Rating: 7.75/10

8. Spider-Man: Homecoming

This is where the list changes over from “good” superhero movies into “great” ones. This was literally the sixth Spider-Man movie in 15 years and it feels fresh somehow.

It may not be as good as some of Tobey McGuire’s Spider-Man movies, but man Tom Holland is the definitive webslinger. I can’t wait to watch as his career develops over time.

Rating: 8/10

7. Thor: Ragnarok

Marvel became such a powerhouse over time that its universe actually produced a great Thor movie. Who would’ve thought?

This movie is easily the funniest of all the MCU movies and it is SO much fun to watch. The only reason why it’s not ranked higher is that the comedic tone interferes with some incredibly serious moments.

Next time Marvel, don’t make a joke out of an entire civilization being blown up. Asgard deserved better.

Rating: 8.25/10

6. Guardians of the Galaxy

This is the biggest surprise in the history of any superhero movies. Literally NO ONE had ever heard of these heroes and EVERYONE thought this was going to be trash.

The only reason this isn’t higher on this list is because everyone was a bit too surprised that GOTG was so good. It’s a great movie, but people treat it a bit too kindly. Remember, the climax is a literal dance-off.

(GOTG had the most iconic opening scene of any MCU movie which was highlighted by its best song “Come and Get Your Love.”)

Rating 8.5/10

5. Captain America: The Winter Soldier

They successfully turned a superhero movie into a relevant political espionage thriller while also turning Robert Redford into an awesome villain. Wowza.

I have no idea how they were able to pull something like this off, but me thinks it has a little to do with the Russo Brothers being amazing filmmakers.

And here is where I provide you with this iconic scene that solidified Chris Evans as one of the best action stars working today:

Rating: 8.5/10

4. The Avengers

This conversation begins and ends with this scene. This was the moment that Marvel literally and figuratively flexed its muscles as one of the most unbelievable achievements in film. They really made a movie universe work.

“I’m always angry” will always be one of the most badass lines ever.

Rating: 8.75/10

3. Iron Man

Robert Downey Jr.’s comeback story is one of the best in the history of Hollywood. No one else will ever be able to pull off being “Iron Man” like him. Downey Jr. is Tony Stark. I’m convinced they are the same person.

The success of Iron Man started this universe. Without this great movie the past 10 years of awesome entertainment does not happen. Here is to you Mr. Downey.

(I hope Marvel actually goes for it and kills Iron Man in Infinity War. It would be the prefect sendoff)

Rating: 9/10

2. Captain America: Civil War

No other Marvel movie (besides the best one) has a plot as good as Civil War’s. The last half of this movie is perfect, and that’s not just because of that amazing airport scene.

The plot twist that Bucky killed Iron Man’s parents and Captain America ACTUALLY KNEW ABOUT IT and never told Tony is amazing.

Hats off to you Marvel for giving us the most stressful climax of any Marvel movie. I never thought I would care for fictional characters like this. Man, Infinity War is going to be tough to watch when they kill everyone.

Rating: 9/10

1. Black Panther

Where do I begin?

This movie fixes all of Marvel’s biggest flaws. Unmemorable soundtracks? Pulitzer Prize-winning artist Kendrick Lamar fixes that here. Bad Villains? Michael B. Jordan’s Killmonger is the best villain in this entire universe. Lack of strong female characters? This movie has the strongest female characters in the MCU.

Black Panther engages with intense themes such as isolationism, colonialism, the legacy of slavery, immigration, and OH MY GOD HOW DID MARVEL SUCCESSFULLY MAKE THIS MOVIE ENTERTAINING??

It’s been two months since I’ve seen Black Panther and I still can’t stop thinking about it and the tragic life of Erik Killmonger.

The best movies give something back to its audiences while also being incredibly entertaining. Black Panther does that easily while transcending its own genre. You will actually think about your place in the world after watching this movie.

This isn’t just the pinnacle of MCU movies, it might just be the peak of all superhero movies.

Rating: 9.5/10


Calipari watching two 2019 prospects in Indy

Scott Jacobson / Post Bulletin

John Calipari made his next stop on the recruiting trail this morning. He attended an Adidas event in Indianapolis. There, he, alongside Roy Williams, Bill Self and Chris Mack, watched 2019 recruits Matthew Hurt and Zeke Nnaji. The two are AAU teammates on the team D1 Minnesota.

Here are the rankings on Hurt:

Matthew Hurt
Power Forward | 6-9 | 200 lbs.
Rochester, MN | John Marshall
AAU: D1 Minnesota
ESPN No. 5 | 2 PF Top247 No. 4 | 2 PF
Rivals No. 5 | 3 PF 247 Comp. No. 4 | 2 PF

Hurt currently does hold an offer from Kentucky and was visited by Calipari on April 6th. In an interview earlier this month with Adam Zagoria, the 18-year-old said about Kentucky:

“Kentucky,the way I could develop there is pretty special. They said they need guys that can shoot the ball and that’s why they’re recruiting me. They said I could fit well in their program, too.”

You can check out his entire interview with Zagoria by clicking here. He gives his opinion on all of the schools that are currently recruiting him.

Currently, his Crystal Ball has 50% to Kansas, 30% to Minnesota, 10% to UNC and 10% as “Cloudy.” Watch Hurt’s latest mixtape:

You can also watch Hurt go up against future UK point guard Immanuel Quickley here:

Nnaji currently doesn’t hold an offer from the Cats, but as a teammate of a five-star, you never know what might happen. Currently, Nnaji’s best offer is probably Baylor and Wisconsin, while his Crystal Ball has Wisconsin at 100%. You can watch him work below as well:

@GormleyKSR


Forgotten UK Quarterbacks: Why competition, controversy hurts the position

Over the past decade or so, Kentucky has continually struggled to find consistency in their quarterback. And, in the process, it’s actually hurt the position. What is usually regarded as the “star” position of the team can quickly become forgettable when the starting spot acts like a revolving door.

Last season, Stephen Johnson was The Guy for Kentucky. He proved time and time again he was the right person for the job. And even so, there was constantly call from a small group of fans to put in the backup QB, Drew Barker. As someone who was a fierce Team SJ member, I was frustrated with this part of our fan base. How could they want to put in Barker when Johnson was clearly the team’s best option?

But then, I started to consider the precedent set by the program. And it’s not just been happening recently – it dates all the way back to the Rich Brooks era. For the past decade – and maybe even longer – there has been drama surrounding Kentucky’s starting quarterback. Sometimes it’s all-consuming in the preseason, while other times it lingers all the way to a bowl game. And, yes, injuries happen and sometimes the back-up ends up being better than expected, but a history of competition and controversy at the position has led to a long list of “forgotten” quarterbacks. 

Do you remember every quarterback that’s put on the jersey and earned playing time in Commonwealth Stadium?

Sure, you remember the “big” names of recent years: Stephen Johnson, Drew Barker, Patrick Towles. And now, Terry Wilson and Gunnar Hoak. And of course you remember the more legendary QBs: Tim Couch, Andre Woodson and now, Stephen Johnson.

But what about Jalen Whitlow? He competed against Towles in 2012, and he started in 15 games for the Wildcats before transferring to Eastern Illinois as a junior.

What about Reese Phillips? He announced he would transfer to Montana roughly a month after Towles announced he would transfer to Boston College.

Surely you remember Matt Roark? Back in 2011, the wide receiver was moved to QB after both UK quarterbacks were sidelined with injuries, and he ended the 26-year losing streak to Tennessee.

Who could forget the drama surrounding Mike Hartline? A torn MCL one season and an arrest for public intoxication and disorderly conduct the next led to Morgan Newton earning, then losing, then re-earning the starting spot.

What about Will Fidler? He also competed against Hartline and appeared in nine games during 2008 and ’09 seasons, but he decided to forgo his senior season.

What about Curtis Pulley? The Hopkinsville native was named Kentucky’s Mr. Football in 2004, and he served as Andre Woodson’s backup in 2006. After a short stint at wide receiver and a redshirt season, Pulley was dismissed from the team following a marijuana citation and an arrest for traffic charges.

What about Maxwell Smith (who transferred to play at San Diego State as a graduate), Ryan Mossakowski (who transferred to Northwest Mississippi Community College) or Matt Lentz (who was recruited as a quarterback but never actually played that position)… do you see what I’m getting at here? Obviously this list is not inclusive of every player who’s put on the jersey and played QB for Kentucky, but you get the point.

Let’s not forget even Randall Cobb played half a season at the starting position before being moved to wide receiver for his sophomore season.

The quarterback culture at Kentucky is one of trial-and-error. Sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn’t. But what I’m getting at here is even though there have been big moments, important wins and off-the-field controversies, Kentucky’s quarterback position belongs to five memorable (and consistent) names: Tim Couch, Freddie Maggard, Jared Lorenzen, Andre Woodson and Stephen Johnson.

Will we add another name to that list this season? With the competition between Terry Wilson and Gunnar Hoak still underway, plus wildcard Danny Clark, we seem to be in the same situation as we have been in so many years before. Who is going to step up and be the team’s one consistent quarterback this year? Only time will tell.


@MaggieDavisKSR


Ashton Hagans deemed a “defensive master,” best in high school basketball

Photo by adidas

The April Evaluation Period is officially underway, where John Calipari and the Kentucky coaching staff are making their rounds on elite high school prospects throughout the nation. The AAU circuit tipped off this weekend in Dallas, with coaches checking out the Nike EYBL, Adidas Gauntlet, and Under Armour Association throughout.

One of those players? Kentucky’s newest point guard commitment Ashton Hagans, who is playing for Game Elite in the Adidas event.

On Saturday, Hagans put on a show in front of John Calipari, scoring 29 total points in two games to go with eight rebounds and seven assists. He even shot 80-percent from the three-point line throughout the weekend, drilling four of five attempts.

And his scoring display wasn’t even the most impressive aspect of his game.

According to Corey Evans of Rivals.com, who is in Dallas for the event, Hagans is a “defensive master,” and the best in all of high school basketball.

“Hagans again put his Game Elite squad on his back Saturday, going for a cool 29 points,” he said. “While he does have to cut down on his turnovers, Hagans’ defensive mastery remains the best in high school basketball.”

Evans talked to Hagans after his impressive performance on both ends of the floor, who told him that we should know “in the next few weeks” whether or not he will be joining the class of 2018, as most of the Big Blue Nation expects.

“I am just trying to get all caught up with school and it is just a possibility that I would reclassify into 2018,” he told Evans. “It is just finishing up classes right now and getting all of my credits to qualify. I would say I would know in the next few weeks, sometime by June.”

Check out Hagans’ performance against top-three recruit and Louisville Aspire Academy product Charles Bassey:

We’ve heard Hagans was a “dog” and thrived on both ends of the floor, but the best defender in high school basketball?

That’s music to the Big Blue Nation’s ears.


The Future of Cliff Hagan Stadium

photo courtesy: UK Athletics

The BatCats are in the midst of their 50th and final season of playing ball inside Cliff Hagan Stadium. Come next spring, the Kentucky baseball team is expected to be all moved into their new home. They’re just going down the road – the new stadium will be off Alumni Drive between Kroger Field and the Bell Soccer Complex.

The new stadium – which has not yet been named – costs a reported $49 million. It will feature permanent seating for 2,500 fans with additional space for bleachers. That would bring total attendance up to 7,000 fans, making the new stadium an attractive option for NCAA Tournament games.

For the team, the new stadium will have AstroTurf, a team lounge, an updated locker room, indoor hitting and pitching areas, coaching offices and a recruiting room. For the fans, there will be chair-back seating, suites and a new club area.

It’s a major improvement for the program, but one thing will be missing: The Cliff. The free, student-run area overlooking the field is a very popular spot during the games (speaking from experience), and drawings of the new stadium do not include anything similar, unless students would be able to see the game from the grassy areas (shown below on the right side of the image) while bleachers are not in use.

via UK Athletics

So, what’s happening to Cliff Hagan stadium? Original reports say it will be torn down to serve as the space for a state-of-the-art tennis facility. Currently, the UK tennis teams’ indoor base is the Hilary J. Boone center, which – again, speaking from experience – desperately needs an upgrade. Here’s an interpretation of the projected $20 million tennis complex:


@MaggieDavisKSR


Today on KSR : Pelicans Advance, Bat Cats Beat Florida

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Sunday Big Blue Nation! Let’s get it started with a little recap of the weekend and a preview of the week to come…

Pelicans Sweep Blazers 4-0 to advance to Round Two

Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday combined to score 88 points to complete the sweep of the Damian Lillard-led Blazers by a score of 131-123. The duo scored 28 of the Pelicans last 29 points to close out the game. Davis finished with 47 points, 12 rebounds, and 2 blocks in a dominant close-out performance.

Pelicans Head Coach Alvin Gentry gave his young star high praise after the game, “In a close-out game and with the magnitude of the situation, this was probably the best game he’s played since I’ve been here. He just was not gonna let us lose.”

NBA Action Today

We’ve got four playoff games to look out for today as things are starting to get interesting with Eric Bledsoe and John Wall trying to even the series for their respective teams.

Celtics @ Bucks (Eric Bledsoe) – 1 PM (BOS leads 2-1) 

Warriors @ Spurs – 3:30 PM (GSW leads 3-0) 

Raptors @ Wizards (John Wall)  – 6:00 PM (TOR leads 2-1) 

Cavaliers @ Pacers (Alex Poythress) – 8:30 PM (IND leads 2-1) 

Justin Lewis Leads Kentucky to a 3-2 win over Florida

It had been an ugly few days for the Kentucky baseball team as #1 ranked Florida took the first two games of the weekend series in dominant fashion. Thankfully, Justin Lewis was on the mound for Saturday’s game with the sophomore throwing one of his best games in a Kentucky uniform.

Lewis finished with 11 strikeouts on 119 pitches continuing an impressive streak for the Georgia-native, in his last four starts, Lewis has given up just six runs in 31.2 innings with 32 strikeouts.

RIP Pat Tillman

On this day in 2004 the great Pat Tillman passed away in a friendly-fire incident while serving as a member of the 2nd Army Ranger Battalion – read the story of his life, his death, and the people he left behind here.


Enjoy your Sunday, folks!

@EMitchKSR


April 21st, 2018

Power Ranking the Kentucky Derby Festival Events

Tonight fireworks will roar across the Louisville sky, marking the official start to the 2018 Kentucky Derby Festival.  For the next two weeks, the city of Louisville will buzz as the bluegrass prepares for the fastest two minutes in sports.

There are many different ways you can prepare for the Derby.  If you’re experiencing the event for the first time, allow me to guide you to the best of the best.  You can click here to see a complete list of events or visit KDF.org for more information.

10. The “Great” Steamboat Race

Once a marquee event, thousands gathered at the water tower to watch the Belle of Louisville and the Delta Queen glide over the Ohio River.  The glory days have long faded and the Delta Queen has been retired, with the Belle of Cincinnati racing in its place.  The race’s demise crawls under Tony Vanetti’s skin, but you can’t blame people for not caring about a race that’s fixed.

9. Pegasus Parade

Unless you know somebody that’s in the parade, the horse pooper-scoopers are the highlight of the event.

8. The Great Balloon Race

Ran each year the Saturday before the Derby, this event holds a dear place in my childhood heart.  If the wind blew the balloons to my end of town, the family packed up the minivan, made a stop at Krispy Kreme and chased the balloons to their landing spot.  The end of the race is rather anticlimactic, unless a balloon lands on top of a house, as one did to my grade school classmate’s 15 years ago.

7. Hole in One Golf Contest

You can win a million dollars, but you probably will not.  Taking place over ten days at Seneca Park, the person closest to the pin on each day become finalists that earn an opportunity to win a million bucks with one shot.  That rarely ever happens, so if you miss out, don’t be mad.  Treat it as a day at the driving range.

6. The Chow Wagon/Kroger Fest-a-Ville

Chow wagons used to pop up all around the city, but now the beer gardens and food booths are all centrally located at Waterfront Park.  This could be the best thing in the city, if they got better food.  We live in 2018.  They should bring in a few nice food trucks instead of exclusively carrying deep fried State Fair food.

The nightly concerts downtown make or break the event.  Usually relegated to poppy new country stars, this year they’re changing things up with The Lone Bellow on Wednesday of Derby Week and Judah & the Lion the following day.  Find a complete lineup here.

5. Thunder Over Louisville

Thunder can be one of the best days of the year, or one of the worst days of the year.  It all really depends on the weather and whether you can find a spot that’s free from roaming bands of high schoolers.

4. The Great Bed Races

The most under-rated Derby Festival Event, businesses from around the state create a wheeled bed that resembles a parade float.  Creativity consumes the contraptions that fly down through Broadbent Arena.  Five people push as one person lies down face-first as the bed flies toward the finish line.  It may not tickle everyone’s fancy, but it’s a fantastic family event.

3. Mini Marathon

Running 13.1 miles (or 26.2 in the Marathon) does not exactly sound like a good time.  You don’t have to be a runner to have a blast at the Mini-Marathon.

Thousands line the streets to cheer on the participants.  There are few places your hand can go numb from giving high-fives; the Mini is on of those places.  If you really want to make the event great, tailgating is highly encouraged.  For more than a decade my group of rowdy South End friends have gathered at 4:00 a.m. to prepare for the runners.  Rain or shine, it’s always a good time.

2. Balloon Glow

The KDF has created six separate events that lead into the Saturday morning race.  The Glow the night before at the fairgrounds is hands-down the best of the best.  Lit up against the dark night sky, it’s astounding to stand next to the massive balloons and look up in awe.

The event is fun for every person in every age group and demographic, except for large people. Upon seeing the tiny wicker baskets the balloons hold, I learned I will never, under any circumstances, take a hot air balloon ride.

1. Dawn at the Downs

This is not an officially sanctioned Kentucky Derby Festival event, but it’s the best way to prepare for the Kentucky Derby.  In the twilight of the early morning, the sights and sounds of the hustle and bustle around Churchill Downs give you a greater appreciation for all the work that goes into a two-minute race.

You can feel fancy and enjoy brunch on Millionaires’ Row.  You can edge up to the rail for a closer look, and if you have kids, a jockey might hand them a pair of goggles.  If you know a guy (or are extra sneaky), the backside is the best place to see all of the action.  TV and radio crews broadcast along the rail, hundreds of donuts are served and trainers entertain crowds atop a viewing platform.

There are many more reasons why Dawn at the Downs is my favorite part of Derby Week.  It’s a tradition I will uphold as long as I possibly can, because I cannot pick my Derby horse until I’ve seen it run on a brisk spring morning at Churchill Downs.