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Aaron Torres’ Take

A Recap of Tyrese Maxey’s Interview with KSR’s The Aaron Torres Sports Podcast

It’s been a busy week for the Aaron Torres Sports Podcast. In case you missed it, two-time national champion and the only coach to ever lead three separate programs to the Final Four (yes, I’m being sarcastic) Rick Pitino joined the show on Monday.

And earlier today, I followed it up with an interview with future Kentucky point guard Tyrese Maxey.

Unless you’ve been sleeping under a rock the last six months, you know that Maxey was the first player in the class of 2019 to commit to Kentucky and will be taking an official visit to the school this weekend, along with local product Dontaie Allen. And oh boy was it a fun interview, where Maxey lived up to his reputation as one of the biggest personalities in all of high school basketball.  I have little doubt he will grow into a fan favorite once he arrives in Lexington.

Speaking of “arriving in Lexington,” Maxey will be there Friday (even if it’s only for a few days). As he gets set for his visit, here are some highlights of his interview with the Aaron Torres Sports Podcast (you can download the whole show for free, right here).

The reason he is visiting Kentucky this weekend is because he wanted to experience a football game

One of the biggest things I wanted to ask Maxey was why he is visiting Kentucky this weekend. Especially considering that he is coming back in a few weeks for Big Blue Madness. After all, it’s not often that a player who is already committed to a school takes an official visit, then pays for his own trip a few weeks later.

His answer was surprising. He wanted to experience a Kentucky football game in person.

Maxey added that he actually played football when he was a kid (then again, doesn’t everyone in Texas?), saying that his primary position was quarterback. According to Maxey, the position was perfect for him because he is a natural born leader.

He chose Kentucky because of John Calipari’s honesty

When I asked Maxey why he chose Kentucky, his answer was similar to a number of players who I’ve spoken with through the years. He loved Calipari’s honesty.

“I feel like he never lies to me,” Maxey said, describing John Calipari. “He always tells me the truth. He spit straight facts to me, he never spit any fluff. He came in, he told me I need to get better, he told me I’m not where I need to be right now to be an NBA player and that’s my end goal.”

Maxey also added that another thing that drew him to Kentucky was that he would be surrounded by other good players. He admitted to being a competitive kid, and looks forward to competing with great players every day in practice.

tyresemaxey | Ig

Maxey is already tight with Kentucky basketball royalty

It’s no secret that one of the big draws for any high school player to Kentucky is the number of future NBA stars who’ve come through the school under John Calipari’s watch. It stood out to Maxey, who admitted that he knows quite a few of them. He said that De’Aaron Fox texted him the day he committed, and he’s spoken to Jamal Murray, Devin Booker, DeMarcus Cousins and John Wall among others.

Not bad. Not bad at all.

As I told Maxey during the interview: He better not lose his phone. That is a heck of a rolodex for an 18-year-old to have.

Fun fact: Maxey loves Spiderman

When I asked Maxey to share something that not many folks knew about him, he said that he was a big Spiderman fan. He said that he likes Spiderman’s super-powers, his speed, agility and ability to get from Point A to Point B quickly.

Ironically (or maybe not), that also very accurately describes Maxey’s game on the court.

Not to mention that it seems like one fan is especially fired up about this development.

He has never played against fellow Kentucky commit Dontaie Allen, but knows Kahlil Whitney well

This one was shocker to me, but Maxey said that – as best as he knows – he’s never played against fellow Kentucky commit Dontaie Allen, who will also be on campus this weekend. I know that Allen came onto the scene as a big-time recruit a bit later in the process than most kids, but considering that most of the top players know each other from an early age, that was stunning.

On the other hand, Maxey also said that he’s known the third member of this recruiting class, Kahlil Whitney for years. Maxey described his future teammate’s game similar to his. “He’s a dog,” Maxey said. “That’s one of the reasons Coach Cal likes him. He competes defensively. He competes offensively.”

He is actively recruiting other players

Maxey was surprisingly open while discussing the other players he’s recruiting to Kentucky.

It sounds like he has the closest relationship with Scottie Lewis, and admitted that he talks to him “almost every day.” Considering that Lewis is down to just Florida and Kentucky that has to be a great sign for the Wildcats.

Maxey also said that he speaks with James Wiseman, Vernon Carey and Matthew Hurt regularly. He said that Wiseman is “hard to get a feel” for but that Carey has opened up to him more recently.

Maxey was also in the dark about Jaden McDaniels, who John Calipari recently had an in-home visit with.

Other odds and ends:

There are other odds and ends, but the most important one is this: He has Kentucky beating Mississippi State 31-28 on Saturday night at Kroger Field.

To listen to the full interview with Maxey, subscribe to the Aaron Torres Sports Podcast feed on iTunes or via Android’s Podcast Addict app.  You can easily listen on the KSR App, available on iTunes and Google Play. Streaming online is simple through Pod Paradise.  Don’t forget to follow the show Instagram too.


Aaron Torres Sports Podcast Ep. 80: Future UK Point Guard Tyrese Maxey

After reaching No. 1 on the iTunes charts earlier this week (thanks to an appearance from Rick Pitino) the Aaron Torres Sports Podcast is back with special guest Tyrese Maxey, who joins the show just days before the point guard officially visits Kentucky. But first, Aaron welcomes his buddy Nick Coffey to discuss:
Who Should Be the Next Coach at Kentucky and Duke? On Wednesday, CBS Sports put out a list on who should be the next coach at Kentucky, and Aaron disagreed, so he put out his own list on KSR. Nick and Aaron go through the candidates – why Will Wade could be shaping up as a great hire down the road, and is Fred Hoiberg a better option in the NBA than Billy Donovan or Brad Stevens? Also Duke can’t possibly “keep it in the family” when Coach K retires, can they?
A Week 4 College Football Preview: Next, the guys review the biggest games of the college football weekend – Can Texas A&M keep things close against Alabama and can Mississippi State pull the upset against Kentucky? Also, Aaron and Nick give out their surprise picks of the weekend.
Next up, Aaron welcomes on Kentucky commit Tyrese Maxey to the show. Maxey is headed on his official visit to Kentucky this weekend and discusses the following with Aaron.
What He Is Expecting on His Visit to Lexington: Maxey discusses his plans for the trip down to Lexington this weekend. What does he hope to see, what is his relationship with fellow commits Kahlil Whitney and Dontaie Allen and what is his prediction for the Kentucky-Mississippi State football game?
Who is He Recruiting with Him To Kentucky: Maxey discusses the players he hopes will join him in Lexington. How would he fit in with Scottie Lewis in the backcourt? How he got Vernon Carey to open up recently? And what is his relationship with James Wiseman?
Finally, Maxey discusses his relationship with Kentucky’s NBA players like John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins, and how Celtics guard Marcus Smart has helped him train this summer.

Get the podcast delivered directly to your phone by subscribing to the Aaron Torres Sports Podcast feed on iTunes or via Android’s Podcast Addict app.  You can easily listen on the KSR App, available on iTunes and Google Play. Streaming online is simple through Pod Paradise.  Don’t forget to follow the show Instagram too.


Who’s Next After John Calipari Leaves Kentucky? Here’s a List of Candidates

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Over the course of the last couple weeks, the guys over at CBSSports.com have been doing a series on “Who will be the next coach” at all the major schools that currently have Hall of Fame coaches. For anyone who is a college hoops junkie, it’s a series of fun reads and fascinating “what if’s” on how the future of the sport could unfold.

And after hitting a few other big-time schools recently (Duke, Michigan State, Syracuse) writer Gary Parrish took a look at Kentucky today, discussing what life after John Calipari could look like.

It’s an interesting read and I encourage everyone to check it out, as it has a whole assortment of names. Some are obvious (Billy Donovan), some not so much so (Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann) and some have next to no chance of happening (even if its years before John Calipari retires, I can’t see any scenario where a school the stature of Kentucky would hire Sean Miller after all the FBI stuff of the last year).

Regardless, it also got the wheels turning in my head.

As the national college basketball insider here at KSR, I thought it might be fun to share some names that I’ve heard as potential candidates at Kentucky as well. Understand, this is in no way knocking the CBS article – it’s a really well-done piece – but more of an extension of it, and again, a place to share some thoughts on what I’ve heard as well.

Before we get started, I’d like to add one thing: As the CBS article mentions, John Calipari is only 59-years-old and it appears like it will be a long time before he goes anywhere. At this point, it feels like the NBA ship has sailed and he isn’t go back to the pros (with the money he makes, and recruiting mojo he has, why would he?). Therefore, while it seems unlikely he’ll be at UK another 15 or 20 years I do think it’s probably at least 5-7 years before he seriously contemplates hanging it up. And even that might be a bit on the light side.

So again, that’s the important thing to remember here. A lot of these guys wouldn’t be candidates if the job opened today. But they might be if it opened up down the road.

Here are a few I’ve heard, in addition to a few additional thoughts on some of the names CBS threw out there.

Mike White, Florida head coach

Because it’ll still likely be several years before Calipari steps away, it probably means some of the more obvious names right now might not be so obvious when the job opens up (I’m looking at you, Billy Donovan). It also pushes someone like White to the front of the pack.

No, White probably doesn’t have the resume today to get the job (or at least be the favorite to get it) but he is still only 41-years-old, and to his credit has done a fantastic job keeping Florida basketball relevant in the national conversation after taking over for Donovan. He has also found his niche in recruiting. Not only has White consistently brought talent to Gainesville and developed it once its there, this cycle he has gotten in with some of the best players in high school basketball. You don’t need me to tell you that five-star prospect Scottie Lewis is down to Kentucky and Florida. Plus, at 41-years-old he’s still relatively young, and would have plenty of good years left when the Wildcats job (in theory) opens up.

Just about the only thing White is lacking at this point is major NCAA Tournament chops. In seven years as a head coach he has only made the tournament twice – but those two tourney bids have been in the last two seasons when he’s gotten comfortable at Florida.

Therefore it seems safe to assume that the best is yet to come for White in Gainesville. Which will make him an even more likely candidate down the road.
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Recap of Rick Pitino’s Interview on KSR’s Aaron Torres Sports Podcast

So as you may have heard by now, Rick Pitino was the most recent guest on the Aaron Torres Sports Podcast. He was there to talk about his new book, but in discussing the book, I obviously asked him about a bunch of stuff that needed to be addressed. Mainly, his recruitment of Brian Bowen, his relationships with Jordan Fair and Andre McGee and whether he will ever coach again, be it in college or professionally.

Now before we get into the interview itself, I do think it’s worth mentioning one thing: I tried to go into the interview with an open mind. Admittedly I know that Pitino and KSR have an, umm, checkered history, but even though I work for KSR, I wanted to be fair in the questions I asked and the approach I took to the interview. Do I believe every word Pitino has said through the years about his role in the McGee/Bowen scandals? Absolutely not. Do I believe every word he uttered on my podcast? No. But again, he gave me his time, and while I wanted to ask tough questions, I did want to be fair with him.

So what were some of the highlights of the show and my broader thoughts overall?

Here are a couple key things – and to listen to the whole interview, you can click here.

Pitino sounds like a sad and defeated man

When word started to trickle out that I’d interviewed Pitino, a lot of you reached out and asked what I thought about my conversation with him. Truthfully, the No. 1 takeaway I had wasn’t on Bowen, McGee, truth or lies. It was on the fact that Pitino really does just sound like a sad guy right now.

Now admittedly, he has no one to blame but himself, either for breaking NCAA rules (what most of the public believes) or at the very least for hiring people who broke NCAA rules (which is his version of things). Ultimately no one is feeling sorry for him.

Still, when asked about his time away, he references several times needing to find a “new passion” beyond basketball. It’s clear he still hasn’t found it yet.

He insists there was no reason to see any red flags with Brian Bowen

When we started speaking about the scandals, I immediately began with Brian Bowen. I was particularly interested in the comment that he made when Bowen committed, where he said this was the “luckiest” recruitment he’d ever been part of.

Again, to be clear, this interview isn’t about whether I believe Pitino or not – but asking fair questions for those who doubt him. And this to me, is more than fair. After all, the guy has been involved in college basketball for more than 40 years. It doesn’t take that long being around the sport to know that five-star players don’t just fall out of the sky. Even if Pitino didn’t have proof something fishy was going on, it stands to reason that he should have questioned it.

Ultimately, Pitino stuck to the company line that the commitment only happened because Donovan Mitchell left and a roster spot was open, and that Bowen was “out of options.”

Personally, I’ll agree to disagree.

No five-star player is truly “out of options,” even if they aren’t necessarily good ones.

Two, if he didn’t ask more questions, it is my personal belief he should have.

He disputes Jordan Fair’s role in the Adidas scheme

Fair is the assistant coach at the center of the Bowen controversy, who was said to have been in a Vegas hotel room where the plan to secure Bowen for $100,000 was hatched. According to the FBI, Fair is even heard on wiretap saying that they needed to keep things “low key” because the NCAA was on Louisville for the Andre McGee deal from a few years before.

Pitino had a slightly different version of the events saying that when he talked to Fair, Fair claimed that he left the room as soon as he walked in and saw an envelope full of cash on the table.

When I followed up and asked point blank, “The FBI says they have Fair on wiretap saying to keep things ‘low key’” Pitino slightly changed course, saying that the truth will come out when trials begin in the next few months.

To me, it seemed like he was ducking the question. But ultimately, I’ll let you draw your own conclusion here.

Pitino briefly mentions Papa John and the governor

Again, just go ahead and insert your own commentary here.

Pitino says he wouldn’t believe another coach telling the same stories he is

Towards the end of the interview I ask Pitino point blank if he’d believe another head coach who claimed to be completely innocent after being caught in not one, but two massive NCAA scandals (not to mention an embarrassing personal one).

Pitino admitted he would not.

“As a layman looking back, no I wouldn’t believe him,” Pitino said, before then adding that if the same coach passed a lie detector test and put out a book similar to his own, he would believe him.

While Pitino quickly diverted from his original answer, it was one of the few times I felt genuine candor and honesty from him.

He truly does believe he’ll never coach again

Or so he says, claiming many times that this book is closure and the beginning of the next chapter of his career.

Personally I find it a little bit hard to believe, especially considering the number of times Pitino admits throughout the interview that he is struggling to find a “new passion” in life.

My guess is that we see Pitino on the sidelines again within the next couple years. I doubt – unless he’s cleared in the FBI probe – it’s on a college campus. But I do believe he’ll be on a sideline sometime soon.

Billy Donovan will be his first podcast guest

At the end we finally got to a more laid back portion of the interview where I asked him about his plans for the future. Pitino mentions his podcast, and gives everyone a sneak peek on what to expect: Billy Donovan will be his first guest.

No word yet on how to download the show.

But can subscribe and get the podcast delivered directly to your phone by subscribing to the Aaron Torres Sports Podcast feed on iTunes or via Android’s Podcast Addict app.  Streaming online is simple through Pod Paradise.  Don’t forget to follow the show Instagram too.


Aaron Torres Sports Podcast Ep. 79: Rick Pitino joins the show

It’s a huge day for the Aaron Torres Sports Podcast, as former Louisville coach Rick Pitino joins the show to talk about his new book, his time at UofL and what he’s been doing since he was fired last fall. Before we get to Pitino, Aaron is joined by his good friend Nick Coffey where they discuss:

Nick’s Relationship with Pitino: Before we get to the interview, Nick Coffey, who covered Pitino for years in Louisville, shares his thoughts. What were his impressions of Pitino’s book and does he really believe Pitino when he says he’s done coaching?

A Full College Football Recap: The guys break down LSU’s shocking win at Auburn and ask the question: Why does everyone continue to doubt Coach O? Plus a look at Ohio State’s win and the Big Ten’s awful weekend. Also, who is the most disappointing first year head coach, Willie Taggart, Chip Kelly or Scott Frost?

Next up, Aaron is joined by Rick Pitino, who discusses his new book “Pitino: My Story” his role in college basketball’s biggest scandals and more.

What has Pitino been up to since being fired? Pitino discusses the day he was fired and how his life has changed since. What does he do to fill his days and how much does he miss coaching basketball?

Pitino’s relationships with Andre McGee, Jordan Fair and Brian Bowen: Pitino explains his relationships with the three key figures in his two prominent scandals. He shares why he claims he could have never suspected Brian Bowen was taking money and why he’s still not sure Jordan Fair was directly involved.

Plus, would Pitino believe another coach who claimed to know nothing about either scandal? And does he really believe that he will never coach again?

Get the podcast delivered directly to your phone by subscribing to the Aaron Torres Sports Podcast feed on iTunes or via Android’s Podcast Addict app.  You can easily listen on the KSR App, available on iTunes and Google Play. Streaming online is simple through Pod Paradise.  Don’t forget to follow the show Instagram too.


Everything You Need to Know About the Other Rick Pitino Book

So it feels safe to say that Rick Pitino has been in the news just a wee, tiny little bit over the last couple weeks. You know, the whole “releasing a memoir that is supposed to detail everything, but instead didn’t actually tell us anything at all?” You remember that book, right? How could you forget.

Yet while “Pitino: My Story” has gotten all the headlines over the last few weeks, what’s gotten lost in the shuffle is that another Pitino book is set to come out two Monday’s from now. That book is titled “The Last Temptation of Rick Pitino: A Story of Corruption, Scandal, and the Big Business of College Basketball” by noted author Michael Sokolove. And as you can imagine, it’s definitely got a different feel than Pitino’s own memoir.

With that said, I’ve actually gotten an advanced copy of Sokolove’s book. Here’s what you need to know:

The book shows the full scope of Louisville’s rise as an athletic power

Look, I’m sure that for most people reading this post know all about the back-channel, inner-workings of Louisville athletics. Still, for a guy like me, who follows this stuff but doesn’t live inside the state, it was a fascinating look into the rise of a big-time college athletics program.

It opens with Tom Jurich at the booster dinner where he announced that Louisville had agreed to that massive new deal with Adidas, but then backtracks to when Jurich first got to Louisville in the early 2000’s. From there we go through everything – from the new facilities that were built, to the funds that were raised, to the way that the school swindled the city out of Louisville out of a lot of cash when the KFC Yum Center was built.

That certainly isn’t the only element of the book. But again, as an admitted outsider, I did find it quite interesting.

The book also takes a look at the rise of big money in college sports

The more that I think back on this book, the more that I realize that while it is essentially about the rise and fall of Pitino, it is also about the rise of big-time college athletics with the Louisville scandal kind of serving as the story that brings everything together. There are blurbs about how mob money led to point shaving in the 50’s, the effect that the sneaker companies had on the sport in the 1980’s and 90’s, straight through where we are today with the AAU and sneaker culture of the mid 2000’s.

For a college sports junkie like me, it made for good background, and reinforced a lot of information that I had once learned, but long since forgotten.

Let’s just say that while Louisville might have perfected scandal, it certainly didn’t start with them.

Speaking of scandal, don’t you worry, there is still plenty on Pitino

For all the background and context that this book provides, it still gives complete details on everything that led to the downfall of Pitino last fall.

And make no mistake, when I say “complete details” I’m not talking about the Brian Bowen stuff. I’m talking about details dating all the way back to the Karen Sypher extortion case, through Andre McGee and into the Brian Bowen stuff. And it isn’t just the whole, one-sided “It was one rouge assistant acting completely out of control” stuff that we’ve heard for years but actual, useful and factually correct information.

Point being, if you’re the type of person who is going to enjoy every sordid detail of all of Pitino’s scandals repeated in a slow, meticulous fashion, this book is for you.

The book has some interesting tidbits, at least for an outsider like me

Like for example, I had no idea that Pitino and Jurich essentially had no relationship outside of work. Given that the two will forever be tied together in history and given that both seem to have questionable judgement (Pitino in his personal protocol, Jurich in the people that he hired and then stood behind) I kind of just assumed they were buddies outside of work as well. Two peas in a pod, if you will.

Not the case. At least according to the book.

Another thing that I found interesting was that one of the few disputes the two had was when Jurich decided to re-hire Bobby Petrino as the school’s football coach. I’m not sure if this has ever been told publicly or not – again, I hardly claim to be an expert on Louisville athletics – but apparently when rumor started to trickle out that Petrino would return, Pitino tried to put the kibosh on it.

So why was Pitino so upset? Get this: Pitino thought that bringing back Petrino – who obviously had been fired for having an affair – would reflect poorly on him, and bring back to light conversations about his own affair with Karen Sypher.

Consider me shocked (I’m kidding of course) that Pitino would take something that has nothing to do with him, and make it about himself. Who could ever imagine that?

Credit to the author

Credit needs to go to the author Sokolove on at least one account: He tracked down both Tom Jurich and Rick Pitino for interviews.

Admittedly, none of what they said is particularly groundbreaking (Pitino stuck his whole “My only crime was hiring the wrong people” line) but at the very least, at least he attempted to get both side of the story.

Even if one side is very skewed.

And some final thoughts

In reflecting back on this book, my biggest take away is that this by far the most comprehensive thing I’ve read on either the Louisville athletics scandal or the FBI scandal that tore through college basketball last season. It gives just about every detail, from every angle, be it from the history of Louisville, the NCAA, Christian Dawkins, his associates, you name it. I blew through it in a couple days because I enjoyed it that much.

To be blunt, I don’t know quite how much a Louisville or Kentucky will truly “learn” from the book, but if you want an honest and fair recounting of what happened and how it all went down, pick yourself up a copy of the book on Amazon.


Aaron Torres Sports Podcast E77: Recapping Kentucky’s Win, Georgia’s Dominance and the Coolest High School Coach Ever

A new Aaron Torres Sports Podcast is LIVE.  In the latest episode, Aaron and Nick recap a wild Week 2 of college football, including:
Kentucky’s Historic Win: The guys recap a once-in-a-lifetime win in Gainesville. After each picked Florida last week, the guys admit they were completely wrong and discuss how Kentucky looked like the better team on Saturday night. With the loss, how long will it take Florida to rebuild this once proud program? And, what is the ceiling this year for Kentucky?
Clemson’s Thrilling Win over Texas A&M: Even though Clemson won, it felt like A&M was the big winner, as Jimbo Fisher looks like the real deal for the Aggies. Aaron explains why Saturday proved that he was worth every penny.
Georgia’s Dominance and other Takeaways: Finally, the guys wrap up by talking about Georgia’s dominance — are they the best team in college football? Also, the guys chat about Herm Edwards surprising start and let you know about the coolest coach in all of high school football.

Get the podcast delivered directly to your phone by subscribing to the Aaron Torres Sports Podcast feed on iTunes or via Android’s Podcast Addict app.  You can easily listen on the KSR App, available on iTunes and Google Play. Streaming online is simple through Pod Paradise.  Don’t forget to follow the show Instagram too.


An Outsider’s Thoughts on Kentucky’s Historic Victory over Florida

(Photo: USA Today/Kim Klement)

Over the past year or so, I’ve carved out a nice little niche as KSR’s resident “outsider,” the person doing his best to give you an outside perspective on basically anything of interest to a Kentucky sports fan.

Admittedly, most of my posts have covered hoops – you know, college basketball, recruiting, the NBA Draft whatever – but every once in a while I do dabble my toes in the Kentucky football waters (my first post at KSR was actually on UK football). I don’t claim to be an expert. But there are times a year where football takes precedent over basketball.

And this feels like one of those days. After all, it’s not often the team I’m covering snaps a 31-game losing streak to a hated rival.

Therefore, today I will take a break from the hoops beat and share a few thoughts on Kentucky’s wild, 27-16 victory over Florida on Saturday night. Again, I don’t claim to be an expert (I leave that to folks like Nick Roush and others who are with the team every day), but after watching roughly 12 hours of all sorts of college football every Saturday (then talking about it on radio and podcast) I do feel like I’ve got a thing or two to say from time to time.

So what were this outsider’s thoughts on UK’s historic victory over Florida? Here are nine:

Benny Snell is the truth

Snell has been hyped as the best back in the SEC by a handful of experts from across college football the last few months, which isn’t surprising when you remember that he rushed for over 1,000 yards in both his freshman and sophomore years.

Still, if there was any doubt just how good he was, Snell proved it to a national audience on Saturday night. On the evening, Snell finished with 175 yards, and averaged 6.5 yards per carry. Not a bad night’s work, yet as impressive as those numbers were, watching him wrack up all that yardage was even more impressive.

Put simply, Snell is a complete back. He’s a guy who not only has size and speed, but also the vision to see holes before they open and burst through them once he does get that crease. And not to mention, he is one of the more powerful backs I’ve seen in college football as well. As Jordan Rogers said a few times on Saturday’s broadcast “there aren’t many running backs with as many yards after contact as Snell.”

No there aren’t.

And to be blunt, there aren’t many running backs anywhere in college football with the skills of Snell either.

The offensive line deserves a ton of credit for the win

Writing about offensive line play is about as sexy as writing about help side defense in basketball, but in the case of Saturday night’s win, the guys up front deserve a ton of credit. With all the focus on Snell, Terry Wilson and the defensive pass rush, it feels like they’re being a little overlooked.

To the offensive line’s credit they absolutely controlled the line of scrimmage against a good Florida defense, opening holes and allowing Kentucky to average over seven yards per run. Admittedly, some of that was Snell simply running through tackles and Terry Wilson making people miss. But a lot of that was the guys up front too.

Still, you know what stood out to me the most about the line’s play? Remember that late touchdown throw that Terry Wilson had to Lynn Bowden Jr. (of course you remember, how could you forget!). Did you notice how much time Wilson had in the pocket there? He had forever to read the defense and deliver the perfect pass.

And that’s a credit to the big guys up front. They don’t always get the acknowledgment they deserve. But at least in this article, we’re going to change that.

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The 25 Best Out Of Conference Games in College Basketball This Season

Photo by UK Athletics

Yesterday was a weirdly busy day in college basketball, where for some reason (likely to do with TV schedules becoming official) the CBS Sports Classic, Big 12-SEC Challenge and Champion’s Classic all announced start-times for their games.

It was a flurry of college hoops excitement the likes of which we haven’t seen since the NBA Draft deadline, and with it, daydreaming of the season ahead. When you can set your calendar for games like Kentucky-Duke, Kansas-Kentucky, West Virginia-Tennessee, Kentucky-North Carolina, Kansas-Michigan State etc., well, I mean, what’s better than that?

With all the news though, it got me really wanting to set my calendar- not just with the handful of games in those three events but with ALL the big games in college basketball this upcoming season.

Which is exactly what I did below – with the 25 best out of conference games in college basketball this year.

Again, these are just the out of conference games, with no conference games listed (since some leagues haven’t released their conference slate yet). Therefore, you won’t see some of the bigger inter-league games like Kentucky-Tennessee, Duke-Carolina, Duke-Louisville or whatever else below.

But you will see that the college basketball slate is LOADED this November and December. Here are the best games:

25) Western Kentucky at Washington (November 6th)

Opening night will serve as America’s first look at Western Kentucky super-recruit Charles Bassey, and will also serve as a first look at a team that is good enough to win the Pac-12. No word on whether this game follows the Champions Classic or not but wow, what a nightcap this would be.

24) Nebraska at Clemson (November 26th)

Go ahead and insert your lame “I’d rather watch these two teams play football” joke, but just know that Clemson made the Sweet 16 last year and Nebraska finished in fourth place in the Big Ten and just barely missed the NCAA Tournament. Joke all you want, but skip this game at your own peril. You’ll need to know these teams come March.

23) Memphis at LSU (November 13th)

LSU is a Top 15 team talent-wise that really won’t be tested too much in the out of conference, while Penny Hardaway is a master recruiter who we are still waiting to see coach a game in college basketball. Is either a fraud? We will find out right away.

22) Vanderbilt at USC (November 11th)

Looking for a couple teams who missed the NCAA Tournament last year that are good enough to make the Sweet 16 this year? Look no further than these two schools – and their superstar recruits (Darius Garland at Vanderbilt and Kevin Porter at USC).

Plus, how else are you going to spend the first Sunday of college basketball season? Actually watching the NFL? Give me a break.

21) North Carolina at Michigan (November 28th)

The first of several ACC-Big Ten Challenge games on this list, this game loses a little of its pizzazz considering that Michigan lost a big chunk of its roster. Still, we’re talking Carolina and Michigan. You will be watching.

20) Arizona at UConn (December 2nd)

A fun inter-sectional game between two teams who are trying to find themselves. No one is quite sure what to expect from Arizona after they lost DeAndre Ayton, Allonzo Trier and Rawle Alkins and no one is quite sure what to expect from UConn in Year 1 of the Dan Hurley era either (Although I think both will be better than many people expect).

The names of the program will get you in the door. The intrigue of what this game means in the big picture could last all season.

19) West Virginia at Tennessee (January 26th)

This is one of the two Big 12-SEC Challenge games on our list here (and I’m betting you can guess what the other one will be) with two teams that will start the year ranked in the Top 20. Will they be as good as advertised? We should have the answer by the time these teams tip off in late January.
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Rick Pitino Finally Admits Something the Rest of Us Already Knew: He’ll Never Coach Again

Generally, the day after a holiday weekend is supposed to be a slow news day, one where not much happens, and you can ease back into your normal routine after three-and-a-half days of overindulging on food, drink and college football.

Not this Labor Day Tuesday though, as Rick Pitino released his new book and with it, came the expected media onslaught that followed. Pitino had some pre-planned interviews with some of the bigger media companies out there, with plenty of appearances to come (everybody set your DVR for Good Morning America Wednesday!). And as they always do, my colleagues here at KSR have kept you up to date on just about everything Pitino has said and done today, including a book review from my buddy Drew Franklin that was so thorough even Oprah was a tiny bit jealous.

Still, of all the things Pitino said on Tuesday, one of the most interesting things went relatively under-reported. It came in an interview with ESPN’s Jeff Borzello.

There, Pitino basically admitted to something that the rest of us have known for a while: That he will never coach major, Division I basketball again.

“There was one job this past year, that I really did want. They called the NCAA and the NCAA said, ‘We’re handcuffed. The FBI will not allow us to investigate, we can’t give you a yes or no on Rick Pitino because we’re not allowed to investigate,'” Pitino said. “I’m not really thinking about coaching again in the future because I’m not in control of that. I feel it’s over for me.”

Ultimately this isn’t a shot at Pitino, but the reality of the mess he’s created. The FBI thing Pitino references is a fascinating twist on the whole thing, with the NCAA basically saying “You can’t hire him until we get more details.” But even if we do get those details, and even if he is somehow cleared of any wrongdoing in this case, with all of the burden falling on his assistant coaches (as he claims) I can still say with near certainty that no AD will risk their career by hiring him going forward.

Because ultimately that’s what an AD would be doing by hiring Pitino: Putting their career on the line by putting their faith in him. Is that something that anyone with half a brain, or heck, the ability to search Google is going to do?

I doubt it.

As I said throughout the college basketball coaching carousel last year, the simple truth is that most AD’s are just guys and girls that – like the rest of us – are trying to keep their jobs. Remember, most AD’s at big-time schools have been working 20 or 30 years to get to a big-time job, with a big-time payday (top AD’s make well over $1 million a year). AD’s at smaller schools are doing their best to grind their way up the ladder where they can one day have one of those $1 million a year kind of jobs.

While the quickest way to get one of those jobs is to have success (which Pitino will certainly bring), the quickest way to lose one of those jobs (and ensure you never get another one) is to get in trouble with the NCAA. And while there’s no guarantee that hiring Rick Pitino will bring problems with the NCAA (remember, as Pitino has told us many times, he was never found personally accountable in the Katina Powell and Brian Bowen cases) history tells us that if Pitino is there, NCAA trouble will follow. Even if he is a Hall of Famer, is any AD really willing to put his or her career on the line with the baggage that Pitino brings? I doubt it.

That’s also why I never bought the rumors when Pitino was reportedly a “candidate” for the Georgia head coaching job.

Or the Rhode Island job.

Or pretty much any job that was rumored to be interested in him (that tweet is dripping in sarcasm, for those of you who didn’t follow).

The risk doesn’t outweigh the reward.

It never will.

You never say never, but I feel pretty comfortable saying never here: Rick Pitino will never coach major college basketball again.


Your Full Week 1 College Football Viewing Guide

(John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports)

Well folks, as hard as it is to believe, we are just hours from the start of college football season. And if it feels like it snuck up on you this season, well, you’re not alone.

Since the end of football season, the basketball world has given us plenty of non-pigskin related sports content to consume. Oh, you know, the whole college basketball season, NCAA Tournament, NBA Playoffs, NBA Finals (even if they lasted for like eight-and-a-half seconds), Draft season, Summer League and Kentucky and Duke overseas trips. Just all that little stuff.

Therefore, you can be forgiven if you aren’t totally ready for college football season, or not totally caught up on what’s going on Week 1. Thankfully that’s what we’re here for. We are the professionals after all, and with five straight days of college football – yes, FIVE – there is a lot to prepare for.

So what do you need to know? And who do you need to watch over the next few days? Here is your College Football Week 1 viewing guide:

No. 21 UCF at UConn: Thursday, 7:00 p.m. ET (ESPNU)

What better way to start the season than watching the old alma mater (at least mine, anyway) take on the defending national champions? Ok, so maybe my alma mater is awful (thanks for nothing Randy Edsall) and maybe UCF isn’t technically the national champs anywhere except on a t-shirt, but hey, at least it’s football, right?

Still, this will be a nice smooth way to ease into the weekend. Whether or not things remain smooth at UCF post-Scott Frost will be one of the more intriguing storylines across the sport this fall.

Northwestern at Purdue: Thursday, 8:00 p.m. ET (ESPN)

Purdue’s offense might have the single best nickname in all of college football (anyone got an extra “Brohm Squad” t-shirt they can send me? Please?) and one of the more interesting teams in the country as well. After Jeff Brohm completely flipped Purdue on its head, and took the program from 3-9 program to a team that won seven games including a bowl, what does he have in store for an encore?

More importantly, after denying overtures from Tennessee last year, how long does he have in West Lafayette before one of the big boys comes and swoops him up?
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What Wednesday’s USA Basketball Announcement Means for the Future of College Hoops

Photo: USA Basketball

It’s been a tumultuous few months for those of us who love college basketball. Since the FBI probe hit in September it feels inevitable that change is coming to the sport, and it also seems like that change has slowly trickled out all spring and summer long. In April we got the release of the Condoleezza Rice Commission findings. And a few weeks ago we got details on how the NCAA plans to put those findings into place, with the announcement that undrafted players were allowed to return to school and others were allowed to hire agents. As it turned out those findings weren’t quite all they were made out to be. And you knew there would be something else that eventually came down the pipe.

Well that next step came on Wednesday. Unlike the release from the NCAA a few weeks ago in which it seemed like no one (not the NBA, USA Basketball etc. were alerted prior to the announcement) this one came via Team USA Basketball, and it is much more comprehensive. For the first time, all of the major entities in youth basketball – Team USA, the NBA, NBA Players Association and USA Basketball – have announced that they are working together on a new youth basketball initiative.

The goal? Find the Top 20 or so players in each high school class and start giving them the life skills necessary to have success once they get to the NBA.

It also feels like the first tangible step to remove the one-and-done rule.

We’ll get to that in a second. But first, here is the official release from Team USA:

USA Basketball today announced plans to collaborate with the National Basketball Association (NBA), National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) in the expansion of its Men’s Junior National Team program to include additional training camps and year-round player development programming, with focuses on health and wellness and life skills.

Through the expansion, USA Basketball’s Junior National Team will build on its existing basketball development program to provide unprecedented on- and off-court player development opportunities for more than 80 top U.S. high school players.

Approximately 20 athletes from each high school class will participate in six training camps and competitions throughout the 2018-19 calendar year, including the first Junior National Team minicamp for players from all high school grades from Oct. 5-7 at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Now with that, I probably know what you’re thinking: Cut through the mumbo-jumbo, Torres. What does it all mean? And how does it impact college basketball forward?

So for starters, this is a big deal because it is in fact the first time that all the major stake holders in basketball (USA Basketball, the NCAA and NBA) are working together to work with kids, starting from the youth level straight to the NBA. The goal is to give them the life skills to cope with transitioning straight from high school to being a professional – if you read the release, it sounds like they will be getting mental health training, money management, things like that.
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The Aaron Torres Podcast E73: College Football Preview

Aaron Torres is back from vacation and with it, a new edition of the Aaron Torres Sports Podcast! He’s joined by his good buddy to discuss all the big storylines heading into Week 1 of the college football season. Before that though, the guys quickly hit on one basketball topic:
Darius Bazley and the G-League: Bazley is the kid who decided to skip college at Syracuse and play in the G-League – only instead, he’ll sit out this whole season instead. The guys explain why everyone in the media predicted this inevitable ending and why it never made sense for Bazley to play in the G-League. Also, Aaron explains why once again, college basketball comes out on top after a decision like this.
Week 1 of college football: Aaron asks Nick the vibe in Louisville, as the Cardinals embrace for an inevitable slaughtering at the hands of Alabama. Also, are a dominant Clemson and Alabama “bad” for college football, the way the Warriors are for the NBA? Aaron says no, and explains why.
Playoff picks: Finally, the guys make their playoff picks. They both explain why they love Washington and Aaron takes a deep dive on why this is FINALLY the year Michigan breaks through under Jim Harbaugh.

You can easily listen on the KSR App, available on iTunes and Google Play. Streaming online is simple through Pod Paradise.  You can also get it directly to your phone by subscribing to the Aaron Torres Sports Podcast feed on iTunes or via Android’s Podcast Addict app. Don’t forget to follow the show Instagram too.


The Aaron Torres Sports Podcast E70: Jon Rothstein on SEC Basketball

In the latest episode of the Aaron Torres Sports Podcast, Aaron talks all things SEC and college hoops with Jon Rothstein. The CBS college basketball insider picked Tennessee as the top team in the SEC heading into the season and he does not back down from his selection as the two talk SEC hoops.
Before Rothstein joins the program, Aaron discusses Duke’s first game in the Bahamas. Highlights:
The Emergence of Zion Williamson: While R.J. Barrett led the way, Zion Williamson emerged as the star of the Blue Devils on Wednesday. Aaron explains how Williamson exceeded expectations and showed a more well-rounded game than anyone could have expected.
Duke’s ConcernsWhat can go wrong for Duke? Will depth plague this team? Do they have a second point guard behind Tre Jones? Aaron also explains why Marques Bolden continues to struggle.
Next, Aaron welcomes CBS Sports college basketball insider Jon Rothstein to the show. The pair discuss:
How Rothstein became a College Basketball InsiderRothstein explains his winding road to where he is today, as one of the pre-eminent insiders in the sport. Why it takes a decade to make an overnight success story, and how one game created his college basketball fandom — and nearly ruined his parents’ marriage.
His thoughts on the SECRothstein explains in great detail why he has Tennessee atop the conference. He also explains why he still believes Kentucky is capable of winning a national championship. Also, is this the best the SEC has ever been?
 
Top College Basketball StorylinesRothstein wraps by discussing an unsettled Big East, why Nevada is so fascinating and what to expect from UConn in the first year of the Dan Hurley era. Also, why he refuses to give out New York City restaurant recommendations to Aaron!

You can easily listen on the KSR App, available on iTunes and Google Play. Streaming online is simple through Pod Paradise.  You can also get it directly to your phone by subscribing to the Aaron Torres Sports Podcast feed on iTunes or via Android’s Podcast Addict app.

Also, we recently started an “Aaron Torres Sports Podcast” Instagram page, for videos and pictures related to show and to preview upcoming guests. Go ahead and click here to follow the show.