As expected, UK has just announced that James Young will forgo his sophomore season and →
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©4:30 pm
Got plans tonight? Either cancel them or set your DVR. All four of Kentucky’s 2014 signees–Karl-Anthony Towns, Trey Lyles, Tyler Ulis, and Devin Booker–are playing in the Jordan Brand Classic at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2.
The guys have been in New York all week preparing for the event, and each has turned heads in their own way. Bleacher Report’s CJ Moore says Trey Lyles has the best stroke of any of the big men in the Classic, and would be surprised if he’s NOT the starting four for UK next season:
Lyles is really skilled, can score facing up and has great hands. Everything he does is fluid and fundamentally sound. Even with a really crowded frontcourt, I would be surprised if Lyles is not the starting 4 for the Wildcats.
Depending on who comes back, I doubt that’ll be the case early on, but Lyles is definitely turning heads this week.
A few matchups you should definitely keep an eye on tonight are Tyus Jones vs. Tyler Ulis and James Blackmon, Jr. vs. Devin Booker. Jones is headed to Duke, and considered one of the premiere point guards in the class along with Emmanuel Mudiay, but Ulis’ stock has been rising after an impressive performance in the McDonald’s All-American Game. A few analysts have said he’s better than Jones, so it will be fun to see them go head-to-head.
With Blackmon vs. Booker, you’re not only getting a showdown of two of the best shooters in the class, you’re getting an early taste of the Indiana/Kentucky rivalry. Blackmon was ready to commit to the Cats, but changed his mind at the last minute to go to Indiana, a decision I can’t help but wonder if he’s regretting now.
Go future Cats.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©3:50 pm
It’s official: Marcus Lee will return for his sophomore season. Lee confirmed the news via press release minutes ago. Here are his quotes about coming back:
“I’ve really enjoyed my college experience and I’m looking forward to continuing to develop as an all-around player,” Lee said. “Playing in the Final Four was such an amazing feeling, but I want to come back and help win that final game this year.”
Coach Cal says Lee’s only scratched the surface of what he can do:
“I’m excited for Marcus and think he’s barely scratched the surface of what he’s capable of,” head coach John Calipari said. “In addition to his athleticism and the energy level he brings, the experience he gained in the NCAA Tournament this year will be immeasurable for us next season.”
Lee’s brother told Adam Zagoria Marcus would be back earlier this week, but it’s still good to get the official word. Even better, it sounds like he and Willie share the desire to settle unfinished business and bring home #9.
Welcome back, Marcus!
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©3:30 pm
What are Coach K and Fake Barney doing in the bathroom? You’ll have to listen to today’s Kentucky Sports Radio to find out. Matt and Ryan talked about the latest draft decision rumors, James Young leaving, and Nate Willis’ sports hernia injury. If you’re wondering what a sports hernia is, please Google it and don’t rely on Ryan Lemond’s explanation.
There’s only a few hours left ’til the weekend officially begins. Spend them wisely.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©3:00 pm
Former Orlando Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy was on Mike Bianchi’s “Open Mike” show this morning, and the two discussed the now-dead rumors that John Calipari’s going to the Lakers. Cal’s said that isn’t true and I’m sick to death of talking about it, but Van Gundy’s response to the rumor was too good not to post:
“I have no idea why he would want to go the Lakers,” Van Gundy cracked during his weekly appearance on our Open Mike radio show. ”He has more NBA players (at Kentucky) this year than the Lakers do. It would be a step down talent-wise for him.“
I know Kobe’s out, and he’s probably joking, but man. Cats.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©2:30 pm
According to Jen Smith of the Herald-Leader, 25,000 tickets have been distributed to next Saturday’s Spring Game, which will take place at 3:30 p.m. ET at Commonwealth Stadium. Because the renovations to the stadium are underway (as you can see above), capacity has been limited to 42,500, but it looks like that won’t be a problem based on current estimates.
I talked to Bud Dupree, TV Williams, and Josh Clemons on the phone this morning for some features next week, and both Bud and Josh told me there is a totally different vibe around this team right now, and it’s all about winning. That and checking out the quarterback battle are two huge reasons you need to go out and support Stoops and company next Saturday. Also, tailgating.
Get your Spring Game tickets here.
By Nick Roush on ©1:30 pm
Coach Stoops wasn’t too pleased with his offense today, but was it because the offense played bad, or the defense played well? I’ll take the latter.
The defense came ready to play in early down situations. By getting hands on passes early, they put the offense in a lot of tough situations, “We get behind the chains early and we’re not very efficient.”
Last year the Cats were last in the SEC in interceptions, a rare occurrence for a Stoops and Eliot coached team. They’ve placed an extra emphasis on getting hands on the ball this Spring and it has paid off. Today the unit came down with multiple picks, including one by linebacker Josh Forrest. Forrest has received praise from the coaching staff for his athletic ability, even though it hasn’t been easy learning the 4-3 and 3-4. Forrest caught one of the three interceptions last year, and takes pride in his hands.
With CB Nate Willis out 3-4 months for hernia surgery, the Cats need guys like Forrest to step up. Stoops believes the return of JD Harmon at cornerback has given them much needed versatility and depth. AJ Stamps might be the most versatile playmaker in the group. He’s received praise all Spring from the staff, but his skills with the ball are another new revelation. A guy that played both sides of the ball in JUCO, Stamps doesn’t hesitate to make the big play, and he can do something with it once he comes down with an interception.
Willis’ injury is the only major setback, but the amount of guys ‘banged up’ has forced them to adjust their practice plans, and possibly their plans for the Blue/White game. Today Stoops wanted another full scrimmage, but it was too risky with dwindling numbers on the depth chart. He’d like to have some fun next week and decide teams with a draft, but they might have too many guys on the sideline.
Even though the Cats are struggling with depth (what’s new), Stoops expects to get a lot out of his team in the final week of Spring practice. Stoops wants to see some continuity from his offense, and that could mean deciding a starting quarterback, “if we can figure it out in the last week we will. If not we’ll continue to work through it. We have time until our first game.” Other than quarterback, he wants to determine a solid pecking order at running back, wide receiver and defensive line.
Eight days til the Spring game. Don’t Geek BBN.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©1:00 pm
Police in Ludlow, Kentucky are searching for Matthew Wolfinbarger, a 26-year-old man suspected of robbing Huntington Bank back on April 10. Investigators were able to identify Wolfinbarger from surveillance footage, in which he’s wearing the same hat as he is in pictures on his Facebook page. He can also be identified from this huge UK tattoo on his back:
See, tattoos can always come back to bite you.
(H/t Big Lead)
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©12:30 pm
Want a signed copy of John Calipari’s new book, “Players First”? Calipari’s local book signing tour is rolling through the Bluegrass. Here’s an updated list of dates and locations via CoachCal.com:
Remember, the signing event in Louisville on April 24, “An Evening with John Calipari,” will take place at The Clifton Center, and will feature a discussion led by our own Matt Jones. Tickets are $30, which gets you admission to the discussion with Calipari and Matt, a copy of Calipari’s new book, and a designated place in the book-signing line based on the letter on your ticket stub. Seating at the event will be general admission (no reserved seats). You can order your ticket here.
Can’t make it to one of the stops? You can order your copy of “Players First” online by clicking here.
UPDATE: Cal has added another Keeneland signing, one at the Richmond Road Kroger, and a stop in Owensboro. I’ve updated the list above as well.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©12:00 pm
Considering how they’re dominating the headlines this week, you’d think Kentucky actually won the National Championship game, not UConn. CBS Sports’ Jon Rothstein agrees in his latest column, in which he says, “Win or lose, Kentucky is dominating college basketball.” Here’s a quick snippet:
It’s been a little more than 10 days since UConn beat the Wildcats for the 2014 national title but since that moment, Kentucky has still been the one team that’s dominated virtually every headline in the sport. Maybe it’s because the Wildcats have so many players debating whether or not to leave Lexington early for the NBA Draft. Maybe it’s because John Calipari has been on literally every media outlet possible in the past week to talk about his team’s season and promote his new book — “Players First.” Or maybe it’s just because right now Kentucky will always be the dominant storyline in college basketball.
Now feels like the appropriate time to revisit Al McGuire’s classic quote about Kentucky basketball: ”They had it before you, they had it during you, they’ll have it when you’re gone.”
By T.Walters on ©11:30 am
Posted in Main
Want to make $20,000 this weekend? Join Draft Street’s 2-day $100,000 NBA Playoffs league!
This Salary Cap style league is similar to Draft Street’s standard daily leagues, with one exception. Draft rooms contain games from 2 consecutive days and you’ll accumulate points over both days of the contest. Rosters will lock at the start of the first game on day 1. Fill out your roster without going over the $100,000 salary cap and finish with the most fantasy points over the 2-day scoring period to take down the big score and $20,000.
This league is only for games on April 19 and April 20. All you have to do to enter is go to DraftStreet.com, pay the $55 entry fee, and start drafting your team. There’s a $100,000 prize pool, with first place getting $20,000 and the top 300 finishers getting paid. First time depositors at DraftStreet will received a 100% bonus up to $200.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©11:04 am
Some bad news from this morning’s spring practice: according to Mark Stoops, cornerback Nate Willis needs sports hernia surgery, and will be out three or four months. Ouch.
Nick Roush will be by later with a full recap from practice. Get well soon, Nate.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©10:45 am
NCAA President Mark Emmert went on “Mike & Mike” this morning, and listeners were able to ask him questions on Twitter using the hashtag #AskEmmert. Of course, this turned into a total, hilarious disaster. SBNation and Lost Lettermen took some screenshots of the funnier tweets Emmert received:
I see you, Bomani Jones!
What did they really expect?
For what it’s worth, during the actual interview, Emmert did admit that the NCAA’s previous rule restricting meals and snacks was stupid, so, there’s that.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©10:15 am
New NBA commissioner Adam Silver has said ending the one-and-done rule is a priority this summer, and there are several possible solutions on the table, including extending the age limit so that players would have to stay in school two years, which John Calipari endorses.
According to The Sporting News’ Sean Deveney, another proposal that is currently making the rounds is extending the age limit to three years in college while also expanding the D-League with higher salaries so that players who want to come to the league immediately have a proper training ground, and be able to make a decent living. So, go to college for three years or straight to the D-League.
The sources said that, in order to pave the way for raising the age limit, the league would be willing to expand salaries in the D-League, giving each team a salary cap and allowing executives with each team to sign players as they wish. Not only would that allow D-League teams to sign good young players, it would allow NBA clubs to size up young executives and player evaluators.
Deveney says the problem is the NBA Players’ Association hasn’t been able to find an executive director to work with Adam Silver on the matter. Once they do, Deveney notes, finding a solution to the one-and-done problem will be a priority.
It’s Friday! Let’s celebrate with two hours of Kentucky Sports Radio! This morning, Matt and Ryan are in studio to discuss all the latest happenings, including James Young declaring for the draft, who may or may not join him, and next week’s Spring Game.
Join in on the fun by calling (502) 571-1080.
KSR Affiliate List
WAIN (93.9 fm) Columbia
WHIR (1230 am) Danville
WCLU (1490 am) Glasgow
WHOP (1230am/95.3 fm) Hopkinsville
WJKY (1060 am) Jamestown
WLAP (630 am) Lexington
WFTG (1400 am) London
WKJK (1080 am) Louisville
WFMW (730 am/94.9 fm) Madisonville
WFTM (1240 am) Maysville
WKYM (101.7 fm) Monticello
WMSK (1550 am) Morganfield
WLME (102.7 fm) Owensboro
WKYH (600 am) Paintsville
WLSI (900 am) Pikeville
WPRT (960 am) Prestonsburg
WSFC (1240 am) Somerset
WTCW (920 am) Whitesburg
WBTH (1400 am) Williamson, WV
On Delay (ALL TIMES LISTED EASTERN)…
WBGN (1340 am) Bowling Green 11am-1pm
WMTL (870 am) Leitchfield 11am-1pm
WLBQ (1570 am) Morgantown 3-5 pm
WRIL (106.3 fm) Middlesboro Thur 8-10 pm
WPAD (99.5 fm/1560 am) Paducah 5-7 pm
WHAY (98.3 fm) Whitley City 2-4 pm
By Bryan the Intern on ©9:00 am
On Wednesday, you may have seen a post I need charting just how much income Calipari guys from UK have taken in over the last 4 NBA seasons. If you didn’t see it, you catch read it here. But in the comments section, somebody made a good suggestion that I thought I would turn into a post. How does Cal’s players income, which is $115.74 million with another $195.62 million in future contracts, compare to other top coaches in that timeframe between 2010 and now.
TOTAL (46 seasons): $115.74 million ($195.62 million more in future earnings)
Cole Aldrich (4 seasons): $7.74 million
Xavier Henry (4 seasons): $7.43 million
Thomas Robinson (2 seasons): $6.90 million, 2 years remaining for $8.34 million
Markieff Morris (3 seasons): $6.07 million, 1 year remaining for $2.99 million
Marcus Morris (3 seasons): $5.77 million, 1 year remaining for $2.94 million
Ben McLemore (1 season): $2.94 million, 3 years remaining for $10.19 million
Josh Selby (2 seasons): $1.31 million
Tyshawn Taylor (2 seasons): $1.26 million
Jeff Withey (1 season): $0.49 million, 1 year remaining for $0.82 million
Sharron Collins (1 season): $0.47 million
TOTAL (23 seasons): $40.38 million ($25.28 million more in future earnings)
Kyrie Irving (3 seasons): $16.28 million, 1 year remaining for $7.07 million
Austin Rivers (2 seasons): $4.58 million, 2 years remaining for $5.55 million
Nolan Smith (2 seasons): $2.71 million
Miles Plumlee (2 seasons): 2.19 million, 2 years remaining for $2.37 million
Kyle Singler (2 seasons): $2.05 million, 1 year remaining for $1.09 million
Lance Thomas (3 seasons): $1.97 million
Mason Plumlee (1 season): $1.30 million, 3 years remaining for $5.09 million
Ryan Kelly (1 season): $0.49 million
TOTAL (17 seasons): $31.57 million ($21.17 million more in future earnings)
Ed Davis (4 seasons): $9.34 million
Harrison Barnes (2 seasons): $5.72 million, 2 years remaining for $6.92 million
Kendall Marshall (2 seasons): $3.92 million, 1 year remaining for $0.92 million
John Henson (2 seasons): $3.73 million, 2 years remaining for $4.93 million
Tyler Zeller (2 seasons): $3.19 million, 2 years remaining for $4.73 million
Reggie Bullock (1 season): $1.15 million, 3 years remaining for $4.71 million
TOTAL (13 seasons): $27.05 million ($22.21 million more in future earnings)
Wesley Johnson (4 seasons): $12.93 million
Dion Waiters (2 seasons): $7.62 million, 2 years remaining for $9.19 million
Fab Melo (2 seasons): $3.35 million
Michael Carter-Williams (1 seasons): $2.20 million, 3 years remaining for $7.87 million
Kris Joseph (1 season): $0.19 million
TOTAL: $26.29 million ($17.06 million more in future earnings)
Bradley Beal (2 seasons): $8.45 million, 2 years remaining for $10.19 million
Chandler Parsons (3 seasons): $2.66 million, 1 year remaining for $0.96 million
Vernon Macklin (1 season): $0.47 million
TOTAL (6 seasons): $11.58 million ($11.15 million more in future earnings)
Welcome to today’s edition of KSR’s top tweets. We will focus most of our attention on relevant Kentucky sports-centric tweets but, as per usual, there are no limits to our madness. You, the KSR fans, can also participate in our top-10 tweet countdown by using hashtags such as #BBN #KSR #KSRTopTen or by tweeting @KySportsRadio.
#10 Lost Lettermen
If I'm Jabari Parker, I'm telling the Bucks, "If you draft me, I'm going to Uzbekistan on a Mormon mission."
— LostLettermen.com (@LostLettermen) April 17, 2014
I’ve heard it’s lovely this time of year.
#9 Devin Booker
In the booth yesterday pic.twitter.com/MrKgpOdSrU
— Devin Booker (@DevinBook) April 18, 2014
Drake? Is that you?
#8 Jay Bilas
@Beisner_cn2 Of course. It would be wrong if players chose a college based upon education.
— Jay Bilas (@JayBilas) April 17, 2014
#8 Kevin Ding
I'm convinced Meeks is more excited about graduating from Kentucky this summer than his free agency–which is cool.
— KEVIN DING (@KevinDing) April 17, 2014
This top-10 is getting awfully nerdy…
#6 Willie Cauley-Stein
Swear I'm tired of this cast 😒
— Willie Cauley-Stein (@THEwillieCS15) April 18, 2014
Kind of want to start an ill-fated–”cut it off” chant, you?
#5 Big Blue Jesus
Did a quick search to locate my twin babies. pic.twitter.com/FTxeklmqg2
— Big Blue Jesus (@BigBlueJesus) April 17, 2014
Go home Twitter–you’re drunk.
#4 Kyle Tucker
Of note: all 10 of Calipari's previous UK one-and-doners (Suceed-and-Proceeders) have been drafted in the first round, six in the lottery.
— Kyle Tucker (@KyleTucker_CJ) April 17, 2014
Succeed and proceed… not gonna get used to that Cal-ism.
#3 Tyler Thompson
That dunk in the National Championship game showed us why James Young is NBA ready. Best of luck to him. We’ll always have Wanda.
— Tyler Thompson (@MrsTylerKSR) April 17, 2014
#2 Boring Jabari Parker
Wow, If I had known I get unlimited pizza I wouldn't have declared for the NBA draft! #Devastated
— Boring Jabari Parker (@BoringJabari) April 17, 2014
Papa’s in the
#1 Reese Kemp
— Reese Kemp (@ReeseKemp2) April 17, 2014
What it’s all about.
By Matt Jones on ©10:45 pm
My senior year of high school at Middlesboro High was relatively boring. I had taken most of the classes that could be offered, was finishing up my athletic career with mediocre seasons in golf and tennis (I had already given up basketball due to general awfulness) and I was ready to go off to college in a city where all the restaurants did not close by 10 pm. But during this time one of my teachers (Mrs. Wilson) put me on an independent study where I would spend a hour in the library lying on the beanbags and reading various novels that she picked out. At first I thought the class would be the best thing ever because of how restful it would be, but in the end it became one of my favorites because of the world it introduced me to. As part of this class, I read the works of the great novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who passed away on Thursday at the age of 87. Marquez is considered one of top handful of novelists of the 20th century, but at the time for me, he was just a name I had recited so I could win academic team competitions (I told you I was a really cool high schooler). However during that year, I read “100 Years of Solitude” and “Love in the Time of Cholera” and immediately loved both books. The stories were unlike anything I had ever before encountered and the language, even having been altered through translation, was vivid and beautiful. I looked forward to the hour every day when I could open the book and get taken away to Marquez’s created worlds and those reading experiences helped introduce me to a canon of literature that I would have never otherwise taken the time to encounter. Marquez died of cancer complications today, having lived a full life mixed in the worlds of literature and politics. If you get a chance some time, check out the two novels I first encountered on a Middlesboro High School library bean bag a number of years ago, and who knows, maybe you will find them just as enjoyable (or maybe not and you can still watch a marathon of “Party Down South” instead).
Three stories as we close out the week of my return to the night post:
JAMES YOUNG SAYS GOODBYE
I expected us to get one decision from a player this week and it came today as James Young announced he would be entering the NBA Draft. This is probably the least surprising decision of anyone making the call this year, in large part because of James himself. While Young is a great kid and has the potential to be a very good NBA player, school just wasn’t something he particularly loved. Those around the program knew that Young was unlikely to stay more than one year, not because he didn’t love Kentucky or being a Cat, but because he wasn’t interested in being in school for any longer than necessary. While that makes some people frustrated, I have no problem with kids pursuing whatever the dream is, even if it doesn’t involve Sociology 101.
Kentucky will miss Young, but I actually think he will showcase more of his skills in the NBA than in college IF he is willing to work (and this is a big if). Young may have the best offensive game of anyone on the team. He can shoot relatively well but is explosive off the dribble and can finish well at the rim. I don’t think we saw nearly as much of his ability in this area as he has, in large part because it just wasn’t what this team needed and they already had two other players in the Twins who were driving more often. Young is not a great defender (although he could be if he works) and is a terrible passer (and I dont know if that will get much better). But he does have the potential to get buckets in the league in bulk IF he puts in the work. All I worry about for James is that he showcases he loves basketball and that he is willing to be like Brandon Knight, MKG and others and put in the hours to get better. If he does, I think he will be a starter/6th man in the league. If he doesn’t then he could bounce around and not be effective. It is up to him. Either way however, I think this is the right decision for James and the NBA game will suit his set of skills well.
WAITING ON THE HARRISONS
While Julius Randle, Dakari Johnson and Alex Poythress are still left to make a decision, nearly all the focus from fans has been on the Harrison Twins. Part of that is because they seem like the biggest unknown, but part is because of the realization that their decision is the most important. Because Kentucky’s roster makeup is now so big-heavy (especially with the Willie Cauley-Stein decision), the Twins could hold the keys to the potential for a very big season. A UK backcourt without them only has three guards on the entire roster (Ulis, Booker and Hawkins). With them however, you go five deep and potentially have a 12 player bench that is quite formidable. I would argue getting the two of them back would be even bigger than the pipe dream of getting Randle back. They can improve by leaps and bounds and if they do, the team has amazing potential. Chad Ford of ESPN today said that the Twins are now leaning towards returning (he said they were leaving 36 hours ago) and that they would make a decision Tuesday or Wednesday. As I have said all along, I believe no one when it comes to Twins “scoop” because I think those that are talking about what they are going to do, aren’t part of the decision making process. If you made me guess, I would guess they return, but that (along with all the other opinions you see out there) is just a guess. But man…if they come back…whoa…
UK’S SUMMER PLANS
This will actually be an action-packed summer around UK’s basketball world. Calipari has another couple of weeks of promoting his book and then he is having hip replacement surgery on May 2. That will probably keep him out of activities for about a month and thus this could be one of the quieter Mays that we have ever had. But then recruiting will be huge this summer with the possibility of the 2015 class being the first that could end up with a two year rule by the NBA. If that happens, 2015 guys are even more valuable and the recruiting done this summer by Calipari, Kenny Payne and the new assistant (presumably Slice Rohrssen) is of tremendous importance. Kentucky will also get a summer trip and regardless of where it is, it will likely be timed somewhere in mid August. That will give the Cats a few weeks or practice before the trip and then 3-4 games on the trip. This new team gets all of that time to work out together and it will be a huge step towards creating team chemistry early on. We saw how important that was this year when the Twins and James Young were not able to get here early, and thus this is a very positive step. We have been used to summer offseasons with little news in the last couple of years…you may get a slight break in May, but after that, this summer will be action packed.
That is all for now…we hit the radio thing again in the morning and then head for a weekend of rest before the decisions of next week. Cross your fingers as I do feel good about where we are headed…