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John Calipari is a baller. At this point, there is nothing else left to be said about him. During his book tour across America, we have seen him in an amazing number of locations. But today may have topped them all. He began the morning on the MSNBC show “Morning Joe”, made his way to something called “Squawk Box” on CNBC, had lunch with former President Bill Clinton, took a jet with Tucker Max to Charlotte for the Bobcats and Bulls, and while there ran into Michael Jordan. Tucker tweeted me and said the two talked about the “One and Done” Rule and Jordan said NBA Commissioner Adam Silver would be pushing hard this summer to get the rule changed to two years. Now I ask you…seeing all that, how does your day compare? I thought my day of doing a remote at Sleep Outfitters, eating lunch with Ryan Lemond at “Smokey Bones”, having a meeting about the KSR Summer Tour at the radio station, organizing my office, eating sushi from “Whole Foods”, watching the WWE Network and cackling on the phone with Bomani Jones for a hour was action-packed…but Calipari puts me to shame again. We really do have the perfect coach for Kentucky here and we probably won’t ever find one better.
With that in mind, three big stories for the day that we need to focus upon:
JALEN WHITLOW TRANSFERS:
It takes a pretty big piece of football news to knock the basketball decisions off of the headlines, but today that decision happened as last year’s starting Quarterback Jalen Whitlow announced he would be transferring. It came as a little bit of a shock, as just last Thursday, Mark Stoops was on KSR Radio and said that if the games started today, Whitlow would be the starter. But a week later, Jalen was told that his future might be best served at another position and he decided it was time to make a move. I spoke today with a source close to the program who helped me process the decision a little bit. He told me that Whitlow’s passing hadn’t improved at a strong enough level to really justify leaving him at the position. The other quarterbacks in the system had taken heavy strides and the staff felt good enough with the position depth to make the move. UK wanted Whitlow around and thought he could be a valuable receiver/Wildcat QB for them as they love him as a player and as a person. But, in the end, the Neal Brown offense needs an efficient passer and my source says the belief was that Whitlow, even though he knew the offense the best and had more dimensions to his game, simply had not made enough strides in that area.
I hate to see Jalen go as I think he would have been a valuable member of the team next year and on a team that needs great athletes, he could have been used. But I also understand why he wants to play Quarterback and how with that in mind, a transfer makes sense. I do not believe UK’s struggles last season were because of Whitlow, as he was just the most obvious face of a team with a lot of holes. But, without better passing ability, a change makes sense. This should make UK fans feel good about the improvement of the guys on the roster, as with this move, the Towles/Barker/Phillips Air Raid era has officially begun.
DRAFT DECISIONS LINGER
KSR is happy that the draft decisions are taking a long time to be made by the six players left on UK’s roster who are up in the air. The traffic on this site has been insane as fans wait breathlessly to find out who is back. However, as a fan the wait is brutal. I am hearing that we will probably find out about one player this week, but the rest will probably go into next week, meaning we will have more time before the April 27th deadline to wait. Nothing has changed on my end…I still think Randle/Young will leave…I still believe that Alex will stay (although I do think there is some pressure from people around him to go)…I think Dakari is torn but will probably (but not certainly) end up back…and I have no clue on the Harrison Twins. I continue to read people who say the Twins are leaning this way or that, but I still give absolutely no stock to it. This is a quiet twosome who isnt talking to anyone locally and I am of the opinion that the folks around UK still don’t know what the decision will be. The speculation is just that, and at least half will end up looking right as it is a yes/no decision. If the Twins leave, I do expect Kentucky to take another perimeter player and my guess is that part of what will take place with new Assistant Coach Barry Rohrrsen is to figure out where to go if that contingency occurs. So more time waiting…get comfortable.
RUPP ARENA FUNDING ISSUE
The Rupp Arena Renovation plan came to a grinding halt late Tuesday night when the Kentucky Senate did not pass the funding necessary for it to begin. There has been a lot of talk about the issue, and we still are left a bit up in the air as to where it stands. I am still surprised and disappointed that the Senate leadership did not approve the money, when they have approved similar money for Louisville’s arena in the past AND approved $60 million this year for the Louisville Convention Center. We have heard reasons from the Senate, but most have to do with “delay in getting documents,” but little on the substance of the issue. This morning on my radio show, I challenged all the major parties to the issue, the Governor Steve Beshear, Senate President Robert Stivers, Speaker of the House Greg Stumbo and Lexington Mayor Jim Grey, to come on my show TOGETHER and debate/talk out the issue. To my pleasant surprise, all today agreed to do it. For scheduling reasons, it won’t take place for a couple of weeks, but I do think at that time, we will know for sure what happened, how it can be fixed and fans can decide who is right and who is wrong. It will be the first time all of Frankfort’s “Big Three” leaders have been in one interview at the same time since they took office. We at KSR appreciate the fact that they would take our forum as the opportunity to make that happen and I do commend them for agreeing to do it.
With that, we are back at it tomorrow on radio and on here…the wait is long, but hopefully the results if these players return will be worth it…
Some big news for KSR Radio tonight as all the major parties to the Rupp Arena funding decision have agreed to come on KSR and debate the issue. Governor Steve Beshear, Senate President Robert Stivers, Speaker of the House Greg Stumbo and Lexington Mayor Jim Grey have all agreed to come on the show at the same time to discuss the Rupp Arena funding decision and where it goes from here. My goal in making this happen was to try to ensure that whatever the result, all parties were forced to be in the same room and they could answer each other’s questions/concerns on the issue without sidestepping. Now we will get it. I compliment all four men for agreeing to the exchange and I think it will be beneficial for fans/Kentuckians when it takes place.
Due to scheduling issues, the actual event will likely be the week of April 28th, but that gives Ryan Lemond plenty of time to get ready with all of his insightful thoughts.
By Ally Tucker on ©April 16th, 2014 @ 10:00pm
We’ve all had a few days now to delight in the news that Willie Cauley-Stein will be returning for his junior season at Kentucky. After months of speculation that he would likely go to the NBA after this season, Willie being Willie, threw a bit of a curveball to everyone by deciding to give college another year. Willie has always been his own guy, and has provided plenty of interesting and entertaining moments/pictures/fashion statements in his two years at Kentucky. Willie has created a number of highlights on the court, but he’s also proven what a unique character he is… which shows in the fact that he has so many memorable things to add to this list that are not even basketball related. Enjoy some of the best of Willie Cauley-Stein and his time at Kentucky. Feel free to add to the list.
The infamous Sidewalk chalk picture
The picture that has often been talked about, but is nearly impossible to find. When Willie Cauley-Stein was being recruited by Kentucky and committed, famously a picture of him creating art with sidewalk chalk circulated the internet, which should have been the first of many signs that Willie was going to be a fun guy to have at Kentucky. 10 points to whoever finds that picture.
Although Willie couldn’t join his teammates int he national championship game on the court, he gave a championship effort in choosing his apparel to wear under his jersey that night.
The Dunk against Auburn (Sports Center Top 10 play)
“Did you know Willie Cauley-Stein played wide receiver in high school?
Show me a television broadcast crew that hasn’t mentioned this at some point in the telecast and I’ll show you a Rick Pitino.
Willie famously died his hair for a brief stretch in the middle of the season. Willie’s play was actually quite good during his blonde days, leading to the nickname “Goldiblocks.”
“I’m a Willie Cauley-Stein man”
The put-back dunk against Baylor (apologies for the video_
Hakuna Matata tattoo
The most talked about neck tattoo in Kentucky basketball history…for no apparent reason. For about 48 hours, the Twitter world went crazy with 40-year old blogger types fawning over Willie’s neck tattoo that reads “Hakuna Matata.”
“I like to color in coloring books”
During the SEC tournament, video clips of players saying what they liked to do in their spare time played over the big screens. Willie’s answer was classic Willie: “I like to color in coloring books.”
18 pts, 11 rebounds and 6 blocks against Ole Miss (2014) and 16 pts and 13 rebounds against Arkansas (2014)
pic by @Cole_worldd2
One of the great things about waiting for the UK players to make their draft decisions (well actually there are no “great” things about it) is that we get to go back to our obsessive selves where we read information into anything. The latest example is tonight where the Twins were spotted in the Orlando airport after taking a plane with the UL Baseball team to America’s favorite family destination. The young man in the pic above took a picture with each twin and tweeted this out and while no information is known (beyond Jody Demling saying they were on the same plane as UL baseball), we still can speculate and ask questions. Most importantly:
1. Why are they in Orlando? Is it a destination? Is it a layover between flights? Is Orlando a connection to Houston? Do you know America’s commercial flight schedule? If you do, how do you know it?
2. Why does this kid have on two different shirts? He clearly layered up, but why go one shirt with one and one with the other? Did he all of a sudden get cold (or warm)?
What will we do once these guys actually make their decision?
Photo by USA Today
Please make this happen…PLEASE! Jeff Goodman reports tonight that Richard Pitino is in the mix for the job with Tennessee and is in talks with the school. Pitino has only been at Minnesota for one year, won the NIT with Tubby’s players and now could be considered to come coach the Big Orange. The Vols apparently have a couple of other contenders (including former Morehead State coach Donnie Tyndall), but they like Little Ricky and are considering bringing him in.
All I can say (repeatedly) is PLEASE LET THIS HAPPEN…Richard looks like he could be a good coach, but considering all the comedy that a second Pitino at a UK rival could bring, KSR is willing to even chip in money to make this happen. Plus, how much fun would it be to see Calipari beat up regularly on another Pitino as we watch the sour faces of a family that simply cant defeat their arch nemesis.
Let me start the chant…”RICKY TO ROCKY TOP, RICKY TO ROCKY TOP!”
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©April 16th, 2014 @ 7:00pm
Remember Devonta Pollard? Two years ago, Kentucky recruited Pollard, a five-star small forward, but he chose to sign with Alabama. A year ago, Pollard’s mother, Jessie Mae Brown Pollard, was arrested and charged with kidnapping a six-year-old child. Although his involvement was peripheral, Pollard himself was charged with conspiracy to commit kidnapping, and transferred to East Mississippi Community College. After a long, hard year in which he had to testify against his mother to avoid prosecution, Pollard is trying to start anew. One of the schools interested is Kentucky. From The Clarion-Ledger:
Missouri, Kentucky and Troy are three schools after the talented forward, but Pollard hasn’t set up visits with any schools. White says he met with Pollard last week and talked recruiting, but that it’s anyone’s guess to where he ends up.
At Alabama, Pollard struggled, only averaging 3.9 points and 3.1 rebounds. At EMCC, he averaged 12 points and 6.4 rebounds a game, while shooting 59% from the field. His game needs work, but the potential is there. As the roster continues to shake out over the next few weeks, this may be something to keep an eye on. Pollard has until May 21st to decide.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©April 16th, 2014 @ 6:15pm
Where in the world is John Calipari? Charlotte, North Carolina to see the Bobcats play the Chicago Bulls. Tucker Max posted this pic of himself and Cal on a private jet headed to the game, a prize Tucker won in the Calipari Fantasy Camp.
Does this mean we’ll get a MKG/Derrick Rose/Cal picture later tonight? There’s no way it tops the absurdity of this one.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©April 16th, 2014 @ 5:30pm
We usually refrain from posting kid pictures on here (no offense to your children, we love them, but if we do, we’ll have more kid pictures in our inboxes than your aunt/sister/grandmother/college BFF’s Facebook account combined), but this Willie Cauley-Stein costume was too good to pass up. Well done, girl. Now you just need a motorized scooter.
As another day slowly creeps by without any updates on the players’ decisions, Matt’s had his ear to the ground, and is hearing that aside from one player, most of the NBA decisions will likely come next week. So yes, more waiting. More torture. Hopefully some cryptic tweets to overanalyze.
Miss today’s show? It was a good one. Matt and Ryan were at the new Sleep Outfitters in Louisville and talked a lot about the draft decisions and the news that Jalen Whitlow is transferring. They also spoke to Lexington Mayor Jim Gray, who has agreed to take part in a debate about the Rupp Arena renovation funding drama, along with Senate President Robert Stivers and Speaker of the House Greg Stumbo. We’ve got a call into Governor Steve Beshear, who will hopefully complete the roundtable. Listen in to hear all the latest on the dealings.
I don’t have any major draft updates for you, but I do have this video of Alex Poythress riding Willie Cauley-Stein’s motorized scooter through around Wildcat Coal Lodge. As we told you earlier in the week, Willie had surgery and now uses the scooter to get around campus. And apparently make Vine videos in the Lodge, which we totally approve of.
By now, you surely know that John Calipari’s new book, “Players First,” is in bookstores. You can order the book online here, or buy it during one of Cal’s book-signing events across the state. CoachCal.com is releasing excerpts from the books over the next few days, beginning with this one on the “Players First” motto Cal adopted when he came to UK, and what motivates his players. Here’s just a snippet of it:
I ask the young men entrusted to me to dig deep within and explore what motivates them. “What is your ‘why?’ ” I ask them. “Why are you playing basketball for the University of Kentucky, and what do you hope to achieve?”
A lot of them tell me their “why” is that they want to take care of their families. That means different things to different kids. Not every one of them is headed to the NBA. Julius Mays, a steadying influence on our turbulent 2012—13 team, memorably said, in front of all his teammates, “I’m my mother’s only son, and I’m not going to fail.” Other players tell me, “I’m going to take care of my mom and my grandma because they’ve been through so much for me. I’m going give them the world once I make it to the league, because I promised them that.”
That makes me love Julius Mays even more. To read the full excerpt, head on over to CoachCal.com.