Last week, word broke that ESPN is working on a “30 for 30” special about John Calipari. →
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On Thursday, CBS announced that they’ve chosen Stephen Colbert to fill David Letterman’s shoes on “The Late Show” when Letterman retires next year. In case you’ve been living under a rock, Colbert is the host of Comedy Central’s satirical news show “The Colbert Report,” in which he plays a conservative political pundit. Colbert got his start on “The Daily Show,” and started his spin-off in 2005 to wild success. I’ll be honest–I’m much more of a Jon Stewart gal than a Colbert gal, but I’ve watched off and on for years and always enjoyed it.
Colbert will NOT be doing “The Late Show” in character, so it’ll be refreshing to see a new side of him. Stewart thinks he’ll be a “remarkable” host, telling Vulture that Colbert has “gears he hasn’t even shown people yet.” He’s already making the right moves, saying in a statement that it’s an honor to get the nod, but please excuse him while he goes and grinds a gap in his teeth.
Congrats to Colbert, and since I mentioned the word “political” in this post, I’m sure the comments section will be fun.
Let’s get on to the news of the day…
The players head home to make their decisions
On Thursday, we didn’t hear any news about the players and their NBA decisions, but we did find out that several of them are headed home this weekend to discuss their plans with their families. Julius Randle and James Young posted on Twitter that they’re going home, and with only a limited amount of time left before they have to decide, others are likely doing the same.
Hopefully, on Monday, we’ll start to have a clearer picture of who stays and who goes.
If the season started now, Jalen Whitlow would be your starter
Mark Stoops came on Kentucky Sports Radio this morning to discuss spring practice, and the biggest nugget of information he gave us is if the season started right now, Jalen Whitlow would be the starting quarterback: “If we had to play tomorrow, Jalen would be the guy.” He added that while all of the quarterbacks have shown “flashes” of greatness in practice, none have been consistent enough, nor have they separated themselves from the pack to make the decision as easy as the coaches would like.
Stoops said that Kentucky’s skill players are “much better than they were a year ago,” mentioning Ryan Timmons, Jeff Badet, and JoJo Kemp as standouts. Josh Clemons is also healthy again, and Stoops said that he can definitely be a contributor if he can stay that way. Stoops added that transfer RB Braylon Heard is “gonna be a very good player,” and he looks forward to seeing him perform “when the bullets are flying.” On the defensive side, Stoops singled out defensive tackle Regie Meant as a player showing a lot of promise this spring, and said the defensive line is the strongest and deepest position right now. Here’s a scary and exhilarating comment: Stoops said that Za’Darius Smith has gotten even bigger and stronger in the offseason. “He’s even bigger than he was a year ago,” Stoops said. “He’s looking good, believe me. I just came from Florida State, I know what good looking players look like.”
I hear Nosilla Draw says the same thing to her friends all time time.
Listen to Stoops’ entire interview here:
How long has Jon Hood been at Kentucky? This photo sums it up
Hood lined up all of his UK jerseys from the past five years that would fit into the frame. What’s your favorite?
The Masters is the perfect way to recover from the National Championship loss
Even though Tiger’s not playing, I’m still watching the Masters, if only for the soothing music, hushed voices, and gentle clapping. So far, it’s been the perfect post traumatic therapy for the National Championship loss, especially because of the naps. Nothing is better than a Masters nap.
Nerlens Noel celebrates his birthday by playing bingo at St. Jude’s
How did Nerlens Noel spend his birthday? Playing bingo with the kids at St. Jude’s hospital while the 76ers were in town to play the Grizzlies. Philly’s equipment manager Scott Rego tweeted the picture above Thursday night, yet another reminder of how special Nerlens is. Happy birthday, big fella.
KSR will be live from Keeneland in the morning for Mark Stoops’ Makers Mark bottle signing
Mark Stoops will be at Keeneland starting at 6:30 in the morning to sign his Makers Mark bottles for fans. If you didn’t pick up your ticket for the event on Thursday, you’re out of luck, but KSR will be live on the scene starting at 10 a.m., so Matt and Ryan will bring you all the updates your heart desires.
See you in the morning.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©April 10th, 2014 @ 9:30pm
Excerpts from John Calipari’s new book, “Players First,” continue to trickle out, and in the latest released to The Wall Street Journal, Cal compares the NCAA to the crumbling Soviet Union. Yes, really:
“The situation reminds me a little of the Soviet Union in its last years. It was still powerful. It could still hurt you. But you could see it crumbling, and it was just a matter of time before it either changed or ceased to exist.”
In a chapter entitled “At War? Common Sense Versus the NCAA,” Cal outlines a 13-step plan to reform college athletics, including increasing the stipend for athletes from $3,000 to $5,000, the NCAA covering eligible players’ insurance premiums and allowing them to accept loans against future earnings, doing away with the one-year transfer sit out period, and giving players money to pay for a flight home each year and formal attire to wear to games.
In fact, Cal says he’s presented these suggestions to the NCAA, only to be turned away:
“I think we could have gotten somewhere with me as the point man, but the NCAA was not interested in my help,” he writes. “The message I got, between the lines, was, ‘No, not you. Not Calipari. We don’t want him involved.’“
There’s a ton more, including Cal’s “common sense” initiative, which you can read about over at The Wall Street Journal.
If the Harrison twins decide to enter the 2014 NBA Draft in the coming weeks, UK may have to work quickly to fill the backcourt if Calipari deems additional depth is necessary to succeed next season. With the guards from the high school ranks that could make an immediate impact already committed, Kentucky’s only option will be the players eligible to play immediately as graduate transfers. While there are a host of quality players looking to transfer that would have to wait out a season (notably Eron Harris of West Virginia), there are very few graduate transfers that Kentucky could play immediately. The only real option for UK is UNLV’s leading scorer from last season, Bryce Dejean-Jones.
The 6’5″ shooting guard originally went to Southern Cal as a highly touted recruit, but he immediately ran into issues ranging from dismissal by the school, complaints about playing time, and altercations with teammates. He transferred to UNLV and played fairly well, but was suspended for the last game of the regular season for undisclosed reasons. These two cases raise some red flags that Dejean-Jones could very well be a toxic player in the locker room, but tougher cases than BDJ have seen dramatic turnarounds in the past when they are given their final chance with the graduate transfer rule.
Dejean-Jones is making his first visit to Iowa State, a team with a knack for having success with transfers. They turned Deandre Kane into a star this season and will likely be making that pitch to Dejean-Jones on his visit. If Dejean-Jones waits long enough on his decision for the Twins to determine their status for next season, it’s very likely that he would make a visit to UK. Perhaps a strong personality like Calipari could be the voice of reason to keep Dejean-Jones from falling into past mistakes.
The other possible option with Dejean-Jones is that he will select to play professionally overseas. With the problems he has had in the college landscape, playing pro across the Atlantic might be the most plausible option. However, the departure of the Twins would leave a depleted backcourt at UK that BDJ could fill in quite nicely.
Happy 20th birthday to one of our favorite Cats, Nerlens Noel. While Nerlens had hoped to make his NBA debut this season, it looks like the 76ers are in no rush to get him on the court, especially with only a handful of games left in the season. However, Nerlens told reporters on Tuesday that his knee is back to 100%, and he’s added three inches to his vertical leap, an astounding feat after tearing his ACL last year. He added that he’s “very encouraged” by the progress he’s made this week, and is trying to be patient with his return:
“I am very encouraged,” Noel said. “Through the past year since I had my injury, I have pushed myself through thick and thin and I’ve had some struggles and I’ve just stayed with it.
To honor Noel, I came up with my 10 favorite Nerlens moments:
10. Dancing with the campers at Cal’s Pro Camp
Nerlens came back to campus in July to help out with Cal’s pro camps, and because he’s Nerlens, couldn’t help but cut up with the campers.
9. His suit at the Draft
Nerlens told UK fans he’d have a surprise for them at the draft, and once his name was called, he opened his suit jacket to reveal his jersey sewn inside the lining. What an awesome way to honor the Cats.
8. The time he put his you-know-whats on that poor Auburn kid’s head
7. When he did it again vs. Alabama
6. The hair
With most of us thinking he was headed to Georgetown, Nerlens shocked the BBN by committing to Kentucky in a way only Nerlens could: by shaving the school’s logo into his hair.
5. The Nerlens Noel Christmas Carol
Nerlens didn’t make this, but it’s still awesome.
4. All of those good deeds
If I listed all of Nerlens Noel’s good deeds individually, this would look even more like one of those ridiculous BuzzFeed articles. So, for brevity’s sake, I’ll round most of them up here. Whereas most kids his age like to spend their free time playing video games, chasing girls, or buying shoes, Nerlens goes to nursing homes, children’s hospitals, homeless shelters, etc. to give back to the community. What 20-year-old kid does that??
3. His 12 blocks against Ole Miss
Nerlens set a single-game record for blocks with 12 against Ole Miss. He finished third in the UK record book for the most blocked shots in a season with 105, behind Anthony Davis and Willie Cauley-Stein. Remember, he only played 24 games.
2. His recreation of Anthony Davis’ commercial
While in town for the UK/Florida game, Nerlens made a detour from Rupp and recreated Anthony Davis’ Kids Foot Locker commercial with some area kids. Love.
1. When he took 7-year-old Kelly Melton to the Derby
I’ve already mentioned how often Nerlens gives back to the community, and the most touching of these moments for me was when he took 7-year-old Kelly Melton to the Kentucky Derby. Melton is diagnosed with leukemia, and got the red carpet treatment at the Derby thanks to Nerlens. Even thinking about it makes me tear up.
Happy birthday, Nerlens. They don’t make many like you.
I’m sure I’ve forgotten some, so add your favorite Nerlens moment in the comments section.
Kentucky football tweeted out this photo today to remind fans of the Blue-White spring game coming up. The game will be played Saturday, April 26 at 3:30 p.m. in Commonwealth Stadium. Tickets are still available at Ticketmaster.com with reserved seating in the lower level and general admission seats in the north upper level. Tickets are free but there is a small service charge per ticket — claim yours today!
16 days away…
Even though the Dallas Mavericks were out of town last weekend, the Cats visited their locker room and posed in front of Dirk Nowitzki’s locker. Dirk is a self-proclaimed UK fan who says that had he gone to college, he would have gone to Kentucky, and had he been in town, he said he would have been at UK’s games cheering for the Cats.
Well, it turns out the team left him a present. Check out this picture John Calipari posted of Dirk wearing his very own “Succeed and Proceed” t-shirt:
As someone who loves Dirk, this made me go…
By Drew Franklin on ©April 10th, 2014 @ 4:29pm
Before he won our hearts and a national championship at the University of Kentucky, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist played high school basketball in New Jersey with NBA star Kyrie Irving and UMass guard Derrick Gordon, who became the first openly gay player in Division I men’s college basketball yesterday.
Prior to MKG’s Wednesday night contest against the Wizards, he released this statement regarding Gordon’s announcement through the Bobcats organization:
“Derrick was a great teammate and is an even better friend. I admire his courage and willingness to share his story. Just as we supported each other on the court, I am proud to support him now. He is a basketball player, a teammate and a friend, and that’s all that matters.” [source]
Kidd-Gilchrist and Gordon described each other as “best friends” and “brothers” prior to their meeting in the 2012 NCAA Tournament in Louisville, when Kentucky defeated Western Kentucky, Gordon’s former school. After that game, Gordon said he would be pulling for the Wildcats to bring the title back to Lexington in the tournament. Now he’s playing under Derrick Kellogg, a former Calipari point guard and Memphis assistant.
Current Kentucky center Dakari Johnson also played with Gordon and Kidd-Gilchrist at St. Patrick.
By Drew Franklin on ©April 10th, 2014 @ 3:30pm
With lingering back pain and only four games left in the season, the New Orleans Pelicans decided it’s best to sit Anthony Davis for the remainder of the season.
Davis finishes his sophomore NBA year with averages of 20.8 points per game (16th in the NBA), 10 rebounds per game (10th), and 2.82 blocks per game (best in the NBA).
He currently ranks 12th in the league in double-doubles with 36 in 67 games played, and he has the fourth best Player Efficiency Ranking at 26.59, behind only Kevin Durant, LeBron James and Kevin Love.
The NBA is officially on notice in Year 3.
By Drew Franklin on ©April 10th, 2014 @ 3:00pm
Some may argue that April 10th of 2014 is a little too early for college basketball’s 2014-15 rankings, but Seth Davis doesn’t fall into that group. Davis released his preseason Top 25 for SI.com today and he has the Wildcats at No. 8.
Have a look at his top ten:
5. North Carolina
He had this to say about the Cats:
This rank could fluctuate in the coming days depending on which players head to the NBA draft, but John Calipari has again signed a stellar recruiting class that features 6-10 power forward Trey Lyles and 6-5 shooting guard Devin Booker.
This is slightly ridiculous considering no one has any idea how the roster will look a month from now, but everybody’s doing it. (Everyone being the national media.)
Go Cats, though.
By Drew Franklin on ©April 10th, 2014 @ 2:04pm
The University of Louisville football program, where second, third and fourth chances happen, will reportedly add another troubled transfer from the SEC. This time it’s Josh Harvey-Clemons, a five-star defensive back released from Georgia earlier this year.
Harvey-Clemons was let go for violating teams rules, presumed to be multiple failed drug tests. The Dawgs suspended him for the first three games of next season before asking him to pack his bags and hit the road for good in February.
247Sports.com broke the news when Harvey-Clemons’ grandfather told the website, “Louisville made him an offer and he’s planning on attending. He’ll redshirt this year and have two years of eligibility.”
Anyone surprised? Didn’t think so.
This video slipped under KSR’s radar yesterday (we have a strict no-baby policy) but it’s a must-see for Cats fans because it sums up the feelings of Big Blue Nation. Watch as this little youngster wakes up Tuesday morning and asks his mom if Kentucky won the national championship. He clearly gets it.
By Drew Franklin on ©April 10th, 2014 @ 1:00pm
Tomorrow is a big day for Cats fans at Keeneland, and it’s getting started early. First, Mark Stoops, Maker’s Mark COO Rob Samuels, Maker’s Mark chairman emeritus Bill Samuels Jr. and Keeneland president and CEO Bill Thomason will be around to sign already-purchased bottles beginning at 6:30 a.m. You’ll need a ticket for the signing and those are being distributed at Keeneland today. No bottles will be for sale at the event because they’re all gone.
Once you get your bottle signed, you can stick around to hear Kentucky Sports Radio radio live from the track from 10:00 a.m. to noon. Matt Jones and Ryan Lemond will be in their Sunday best for Friday morning’s show at Keeneland.
Taking the morning off from work is more than acceptable and your absence should be excused.
By Ally Tucker on ©April 10th, 2014 @ 12:30pm
Some people might have grumbled a bit about the prospect of a 7-seed and an 8-seed playing for the college basketball national championship Monday night. After all, when the tournament started, a host of other teams who put together a better regular season than either Kentucky or UCONN were expected to have a better chance of making that championship game. When it’s all said and done, the perfect regular season didn’t matter. The senior-laden Florida club who weathered every regular season storm from December on didn’t matter. The seeds didn’t matter.
Yesterday on his podcast, Colin Cowherd brought up a few interesting points regarding Kentucky, UCONN and Monday night’s championship game. Cowherd basically alluded to the fact that both Kentucky and UCONN were stacked with future NBA talent. How they performed on a nightly basis during the long haul of the regular season was essentially irrelevant. With the talent they had on the court, they just needed to get into the tournament. Cowherd also said forget the Butlers of the world. Those teams win because of great coaching, great game-planning, etc. Cowherd said he actually prefers a team that wins because it has the best players.
Here’s part of the main points Cowherd made in his opening statements:
“I know all of you love the Butler story, but I don’t go to the Steak House for the waiter and I don’t go to the Steak House for the garnish or the potatoes. I go for the steak. Yeah, Butler made national championships. One year they shot 18%, the next year they shot 34. Last night was NBA dudes. Kentucky has 22 guys in the league. Connecticut’s got 15. The steak was great last night. I don’t want to hear about the waiter, I don’t want to hear about the coach. I don’t watch hoops for the coach. I watch basketball for next level talent– vertical talent, up-tempo, jams. That’s what I watch for. Last night was great college basketball because it gave you a little bit of the NBA, not quite refined. You get the NBA length with Kentucky, the NBA size. You get the ball-handling of the NBA with UCONN.
I know you love the Butler story. And I know you date the girl cuz of the personality. I don’t. I don’t. I thought last night was great. NBA jams, NBA blocks, NBA speed. That’s what it’s all about. College basketball is becoming more like the NBA. UCONN’s last two titles, they’ve been a 7 seed and 10th in the Big East. You can have an off regular season. You can have off nights. Just get into the tournament. Forget about your seed. Just get in there. Last night I’m watching programs where the backcourt for UCONN– that’s NBA stuff. The front court for Kentucky– that’s NBA stuff. The quality was great. I don’t want Butler and they’re shooting 18%. Let’s be honest about the Butler story, that was about the coach. I don’t care about the coach. Give me the ace on the mound. Give me the quarterback.”
Do you agree with Cowherd’s line of thinking? Did this year’s championship game between UCONN and Kentucky prove that the regular season is not such a big deal and it’s simply about getting into the tournament? Will championship runs like this year’s be the exception, or the rule? Feel free to discuss…
In case you missed this morning’s interview with Kentucky Sports Radio, the hardworking people behind the scenes (Shannon The Dude and Maria) uploaded the first hour of today’s podcast for your football-loving ears. Stoops gave a great interview, as he always does with KSR, giving us an in-depth update on how everything stands through six spring practices, including how the quarterback race is shaping up.
Excellent stuff from Stoops below to kick off the first hour: