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Aaron Torres’ Take

The Aaron Torres Sports Podcast E42: Kent Sterling on Romeo Langford and the IU-UK Series

On the latest edition of the Aaron Torres Sports Podcast, Aaron welcomes on Indianapolis radio host Kent Sterling to the show, to discuss the impact of Romeo Langford’s commitment to Indiana, and the future of the IU-Kentucky rivalry. But first, Aaron is joined by his old buddy Nick Coffey, to whip around the world of college hoops.
The fellas discuss a number of topics, including:
The Langford Commitment: How big was it and what does it mean for Indiana? Also, is it possible that this could be the start of Indiana once again being mentioned among programs like Kentucky, North Carolina and others among the “elite” in college basketball?
Louisville has a CommitmentNick tells fans everything they need to know about Christen Cunningham, the first player to commit to Chris Mack at Louisville. Also, is Mack going to struggle recruiting more than fans expected?
NBA Combine Invites are OutThe guys discuss the latest with NBA Draft combine invites. With invites in the mail, will we start seeing more players announce they’re returning?
Next up, Aaron welcomes in Kent Sterling, host of the “Kent Sterling Show” on CBS Radio in Indianapolis. The pair discuss:
More on the Langford CommitmentKent was in the building on Monday night for Langford’s commitment. He explains why this was so big for Archie Miller and the future of IU basketball. Also, what kind of impact can Langford actually have in his one season at Indiana?
Tom Crean at Georgia: Kent lived through the Crean years at Indiana, and explains why he believes Crean is destined to fail at Georgia.
The Future of Indiana-Kentucky: Kent discusses what he believes needs to happen for Indiana and Kentucky to play again in basketball. Also, Kent has a STRONG message for John Calipari and his refusal to play at Assembly Hall.

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.

Sponsorship Note:

Sign on to sponsor the Aaron Torres Sports Podcast by May 31st to take advantage of a special discount. Contact ksrads@kentuckysportsradio.com to learn more.


The Aaron Torres Sports Podcast E41: Reaction to the NFL Draft and Rice Commission Report

We’re finishing up the week strong with a new edition of the Aaron Torres Sports Podcast. Aaron and Nick Coffey teamed up just minutes after the NFL Draft ended to talk all things draft. You’ll also hear them take a deep dive into the “Rice Commission Report” on college basketball, and…
Lamar Jackson is the last pick of the first roundThe guys give some immediate reaction to Jackson being drafted by the Ravens. Nick explains why there were so many red flags during the draft process and Aaron explains why it’s always a bad idea not to have an agent.
Baker Mayfield to the BrownsThe guys explain why they love Mayfield to the Browns. Aaron says that if the Browns were going to take a risk, why not on a guy who was the best player in college football, and Nick wonders why so many are questioning him. Also, the fellas explain why it’s stupid to compare Mayfield off the field to Johnny Manziel.
Reaction to the Rice CommissionThe Rice Commission’s findings came out on Wednesday and were supposed to change college basketball – but did they? The guys explain why the findings were not only underwhelming, but also didn’t even service the purposes of the initial report. Also, how much will really change in college basketball next season?

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.

Sponsorship Note:

Sign on to sponsor the Aaron Torres Sports Podcast by May 31st to take advantage of a special discount. Contact ksrads@kentuckysportsradio.com to learn more.


NCAA commission not only lacks punch, but fails to understand the issues that plague college basketball

 

© Robert Deutsch | USATSI

In theory, Wednesday was supposed to be a big day in college hoops. It was the day that Condoleezza Rice and her “Commission on College Basketball” released its findings, after digging into the sport for the last nine months. The commission was put together shortly after the FBI probe hit back in September, and during that time it was clear something had to change in college basketball.

The question was what would that change be? We got the answer on Wednesday, and unfortunately, the committee’s “findings” were the most disappointing thing to hit college basketball since Virginia’s loss as a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

In essence, the committee just regurgitated a lot of the same common ideas that have been thrown around for years; that the one-and-done is bad, that draft rules need to change and that summer basketball is the root of all evil. Even the changes that were suggested that could have some value (like say, allowing players to have agent representation) were half-baked at best, and would need sign-off from other entities (like say, “The NBA”) to actually take place.

Therefore, Wednesday wasn’t really a good day for college basketball, but instead a sad one. After countless hours and dollars spent, this committee essentially came up with the same, boring ideas that any fan with a working knowledge of college basketball could’ve thought of. Wednesday wasn’t really about change, but instead tweaking the status quo and largely keeping things the way they are.

Now before we get into the actual suggestions, I do want to add one thing: In hindsight, I think we should have seen this coming. While this committee looked great on paper, it lacked the one thing that could have led to tangible change: Actual basketball people, who know the issues that actually face college basketball.

In hindsight, there was a grand total of one person on the committee has actually worked in college basketball in recent years (John Thompson III), and he was surrounded by a bunch of grey-haired AD’s, politicians and former players who aren’t in touch with the modern culture of college basketball. With all due respect, do you think Grant Hill has any idea how college basketball actually runs? Do you think Condoleezza Rice has actually been to an AAU Tournament in the past few weeks?

If this committee wanted to truly pack some punch it should have had people who know the landscape, some current head coaches, some assistants who are in the mud recruiting every single day, and maybe a reputable AAU or shoe company representative.

Had that happened, maybe we could have gotten actual change. Instead, here are some thoughts on some suggested changes and why they probably won’t work:
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The Aaron Torres Sports Podcast: World Wide Wob

It’s a new week and time for a fresh edition of the Aaron Torres Sports Podcast!  This week Aaron is joined by his old buddy, Rob Perez, better known as the World’s Greatest Tweeter, “World Wide Wob.”  The president of NBA Twitter talked about his rise to stardom, the NBA Playoffs and more.
But Aaron starts things off with his buddy Nick Coffey, as the two talk:
The NBA Draft DeadlineSunday was the deadline to declare for the NBA Draft, and now that it’s official, who has the most to lose over the next few weeks? Aaron believes that Villanova and Kentucky can go from “good” to “national championship good” if the right pieces come back, does Nick agree? Also, the curious case of Nevada, which could be a Top 10 team going into next year depending on who returns.
Quade Green’s return: The guys briefly touch on Quade Green’s decision to return to Kentucky. They discuss why it was so important, and why it would have been a bad sign for “Calipari’s system” if he didn’t come back.
John Calipari’s NBA Draft Combine idea: The guys wrap up discussing John Calipari’s proposed NBA Draft combine. They explain why Calipari is right, and why if something isn’t put into place it could be chaotic for both pro and college basketball.
Next up, Aaron is joined by his friend, Rob Perez, a.k.a “World Wide” and host of the show “Buckets” on Facebook. The two discuss:
Wob’s unique rise in the industry: Wob tells the story of how he went from an NBA ticket broker, to the “World Wide Wob” phenomenon he is today. He also explains his love of Adam Silver and why he had to once write 14,000 apology letters to Philadelphia fans.
Looking at the NBA PlayoffsWhat are the most surprising results so far? Does anyone have any hope against the Warriors? Does Cleveland have a chance in the East? And where will LeBron end up next year if it’s not Cleveland.
The Rise of Anthony DavisWob and Aaron discuss the rise of former Wildcat Anthony Davis.  Is it time to start naming him alongside LeBron James and Kevin Durant as the NBA’s best player?

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.

Sponsorship Note:

Sign on to sponsor the Aaron Torres Sports Podcast by May 31st to take advantage of a special discount. Contact ksrads@kentuckysportsradio.com to learn more.


The college basketball programs with the most to gain (or lose) with players testing the NBA Draft process

For those of us who love college basketball (which is pretty much everyone reading this post) this past Sunday, April 22nd was one of the biggest days on the college hoops calendar. Why’s that? It was the final day for underclassmen to declare for the NBA Draft.

Therefore, at this point, we know who will enter the draft. In total, there are a staggering 180 players who entered the draft, including well over 100 who declared without an agent (that obviously includes three players from Kentucky). It also means that, as of right now, all 100 can return to college basketball next year, just as long as they don’t sign with an agent. All of them won’t, but will at least have the option between now and the deadline to withdraw on May 30th.

So with that deadline a month away, which college programs (including Kentucky) have the most to gain or lose nearly the NBA Draft deadline? Here they are:

9) Kansas

Graduating seniors: Devonte Graham, Svi Mykhailiuk
Declared with an agent, won’t return: Malik Newman
Testing the Waters (Could Return): Udoka Azibuke, LaGerald Vick

This is a weird one, and let me explain why. Vick has declared without an agent but it seems like (based on the statement he made when he declared) that he’s as good as gone. And if Vick does leave, it would mean that Azibuke is the only projected starter to return to Lawrence next year. In theory, it’s probably not a good thing for a team that just made the Final Four to lose all five starters. That’s especially true when you remember that their best back-up big man this past season, Silvio de Souza, was recently named in the FBI probe. His future in Lawrence remains uncertain.

So that’s the bad, but let me explain why this is weird: I’m not sure that Azibuke’s return has all that much impact on the Jayhawks next year. Azibuke was good but not great this year, and the Jayhawks two best big guys might have actually been Dedric and KJ Lawson, two brothers who sat out last season after transferring from Memphis. Dedric Lawson is already being projected as the next star of the Jayhawks after averaging 19 points and nine rebounds as a sophomore at Memphis two years ago.

So again, this is all in theory, but the reality is that even if Azibuke comes back he might not have a huge impact next year. Still, we’ll put Kansas on the list, because no program anywhere in college basketball, wants to lose all five starters.

8) North Carolina

Graduating seniors: Joel Berry, Theo Pinson
Declared with an agent, won’t return: N/A
Testing the Waters (Could Return): Luke Maye

This one is really pretty simple, so we won’t spend a lot of time on it. If Maye returns, than I believe North Carolina is a legit ACC title contender. Maye was sneaky good last year, averaging 16 points and 10 rebounds per game, and if you add him in with Cameron Johnson, Kenny Williams and a loaded freshman class (headlined by Top 5 prospect Nassir Little) that feels like a team that can compete with anyone in the league.

But if you remove Maye? Then all of a sudden it gets dicey. Not only is there no leader at point guard (after Joel Berry graduated this past year) but also, your best low post threat is gone too. All of a sudden you’re trying to patch together a roster full of role players and freshmen and turn them into a legitimate team.

The good news for North Carolina is that if you read Maye’s announcement carefully, it feels like he is only testing the waters to get feedback, and plans to return to school. That’s a good thing for Carolina… just as long as Maye sticks with that plan.

7) Syracuse

Graduating seniors: N/A
Declared with an agent, won’t return: Darius Bazley (straight from high school to the G-League)
Testing the Waters (Could Return): Tyus Battle

Ultimately, this one is basically the same as North Carolina. The Orange could survive the loss of Bazley (the famed high school player who will bypass college to go to the G-League next year), but they can’t afford to lose Battle, who averaged nearly 20 points per game this past season.

With Battle, they’re likely a Top 15 team and dark horse ACC title contender. Without him, they have a gaping hole at point guard and will, for roughly the 28th year in a row, likely end up as a bubble team come Selection Sunday.

6) West Virginia

Graduating seniors: Jevon Carter
Declared with an agent, won’t return: N/A
Testing the Waters (Could Return): Esa Ahmad, Sagaba Konate

The Mountaineers (who Kentucky could very well face in the Big 12-SEC Challenge) will already lose Jevon Carter, one of the most feared perimeter defenders in recent college basketball history. That’s bad enough. But if they lose Ahmad and Konate? They will be more or less starting over from scratch next season.

That’s because for all the toughness that Carter provided on the perimeter, Konate (and to a smaller degree Ahmad, who was suspended for half the season) provided the same physicality on the interior. Over the course of last season, Konate evolved into one of the most feared shot blockers in the sport, where he averaged over three blocks per game, to go along with 11 points and seven rebounds. If you need visual reminder of how good Konate was last year, just watch the video below.

With Konate and Ahmad back, West Virginia would be West Virginia again, that mean, tough, feared team, that plays hard, defends like hell and takes crap from no one. They’re also probably the second or third best team in the Big 12. But without them? They’re just a shell of themselves and probably not a Top 25 team entering the season.

5) UCLA

Graduating seniors: Thomas Welsh
Declared with an agent, won’t return: Aaron Holiday
Testing the Waters (Could Return): Jaylen Hands, Kris Wilkes

From the time he decided to return for his junior season, it was a foregone conclusion that Holiday would go pro after the 2017-2018 campaign. And considering he was the second best player in the Pac-12 this year (behind only DeAndre Ayton), it should be no surprise that Holiday not only entered the draft but will stay in. He will almost certainly be a first round pick and has a bright NBA future.

So yeah, the Holiday decision was expected. And you could have made the case before the season started that both Wilkes and Hands could go pro after this year – but after the seasons they actually had on the court, no one expected it. Neither were “bad” per se, but neither were difference-makers as well, and both would risk going undrafted if they don’t remove their names before the deadline. Wilkes, who averaged 13 points per game this past season, might go somewhere in the second round.

Therefore, these next two weeks really turn into a zero-sum game for Steve Alford. The Bruins will already be young, but will be young and talented with the return of Wilkes and Hands. But if they don’t return? UCLA will need a starting point guard and a new go-to scorer, and will rely almost exclusively on freshmen entering the season.

That’s bad news for Alford, as he enters a make-or-break season in Westwood.

4) Mississippi State

Graduating seniors: N/A
Declared with an agent, won’t return: N/A
Testing the Waters (Could Return): Aric Holman, Lamar Peters, Quinndary Weathersppon

If we’re being total honest here, Mississippi State was probably one of the 68 best teams in college basketball last year even if they didn’t make the NCAA Tournament. They went 9-9 within the SEC with some very solid wins, and had it not been for an at-large resume that fell somewhere between “pathetic” and “grotesque” they very well could have been a tourney team. The good news however is that as they entered the off-season, every key was projected to return.

Of course then NBA Draft decisions rolled in and three of their four leading scorers – Weatherspoon, Holman and Peters – declared for the draft. It also creates a very contentious few weeks for Ben Howland in Starkville.

The simple truth is that with these three, Mississippi State is not only an NCAA Tournament team, but also realistically, a sneaky SEC title contender. Without them however, it would be a fourth-straight year where the Bulldogs missed the NCAA Tourney – and it might be time to start asking if Howland is the right man for the job.

3) Nevada

Graduating seniors: Kendall Stephens
Declared with an agent, won’t return: N/A
Testing the Waters (Could Return): Caleb Martin, Cody Martin and Jordan Caroline

You all remember Nevada, right? That fun, bubbly team, who mounted those wild comebacks against Texas and Cincinnati in the NCAA Tournament (take that, Mick Cronin!) and then saw its coach rip his shirt off after their games? Well yeah, here’s the crazy thing: In theory, they could bring back most of their roster off a 29-win team that made the Sweet 16. And if they do, the Wolf Pack will almost certainly start the year in the Top 10 with true Final Four aspirations.

Now the question is this: Will they actually return all their key players? It’s not as simple as it seems. That’s because while none of their three best players (Caleb Martin, Jordan Caroline and Cody Martin) are expected to be drafted, they also might not have a ton of reason to come back to college next year either. All three were fourth-year seniors this past year, and all will be 23 by the end of next season. Will any of them really improve their draft position by this time next year?

It’s a fair question and one that all three of these guys need to ask themselves. If all three do leave and decide to just start their professional futures no one could blame them. But it would knock Nevada down quite a few pegs next year as well.

2) Kentucky

Graduating seniors: N/A
Declared with an agent, won’t return: Kevin Knox, Hamidou Diallo, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
Testing the Waters (Could Return): Wenyen Gabriel, P.J. Washington, Jarred Vanderbilt

Ultimately I believe Villanova and Kentucky are basically the same: Two teams that, if all their pieces return can be No. 1 in the country to enter the season. They could also be in big trouble if they don’t get everyone back. But let’s start with Kentucky (and I’ll explain later why I have Nova at No. 1).

As I mentioned, with the Wildcats, I really do believe that if they get everyone back they will have all the pieces to be a title contender. With Quade Green’s return they will have a steadying hand at point guard, with the addition of Keldon Johnson they have wing scoring, and Tyler Herro and Jemarl Baker they’ll have much needed shooting as well. And if everyone returns, or even two out of three players who’ve declared, Kentucky is again stacked in the front court as well.

The problem becomes if the players don’t return. We’re hearing increased rumblings that P.J. Washington may simply bolt for the pros regardless of where he’ll be drafted, and at 21-years-old, it’d be hard to blame Wenyen Gabriel decided to start his professional career, wherever it may be. Jarred Vanderbilt has no real draft prospects, but what if he decides that he is too injury-prone to risk coming back to campus?

If that were to happen, then all of a sudden, Kentucky has some gaping holes in the front court. Now they can off-set it some by a wealth of talent in the back-court (Green, Immanuel Quickley, maybe Ashton Hagans) but the front-court would be E.J. Montgomery, Nick Richards and… well, that’s basically it.

Therefore, these next couple weeks in Lexington will be massive. It could be the difference between a true national championship contender and just another good, but not great team.

1) Villanova

Graduating seniors: N/A
Declared with an agent, won’t return: Jalen Brunson, Mikal Bridges
Testing the Waters (Could Return): Donte DiVencenzio, Omari Spellman

Villanova almost certainly knew they were going to lose both Bridges and Brunson following the season. Bridges is projected as a lottery pick and Brunson is a National Player of the Year, won two national championships and earned his degree. There was really nothing left for him to come back for in college basketball.

However, if there was a downside to winning a national championship this year (something I’m not totally sure exists) it’s that now DiVencenzio and Spellman are on everyone’s radar, including the folks in the NBA. We all know that DiVencenzio went for 31 points in the title game. But don’t forget about Spellman, who at 6’10 was not only Villanova’s leading rebounder but a great three-point shooter. His ability to space the floor and give Nova five legitimate shooters on the court at all times is what made them so dangerous.

Looking ahead, the good news for the Wildcats is that while both of these guys were relatively unknowns to non-Villanova fans, the truth is that NBA people have known about each for a while now. One good game (no matter how big the stage) isn’t likely going to sway NBA folks, who have been scouting and evaluating these guys for years.

But if both guys leave…. that’s bad news for Nova. First off, it upsets the entire structure that their program has been built on, where one star leaves and the next one steps up in his place. If both leave, it also means that the Wildcats will likely be forced to have freshmen play key roles next year, especially at the point guard position. That’s simply not how Nova’s program is supposed to run.

And that’s the ultimate reason why I have Villanova No. 1 on this list. While I believe Kentucky could still have some semblance of a Top 10 team even if all three of their guys go pro, I think Villanova drops from “national championship contender” all the way to “fringe Top 25” if DiVencenzio and Spellman leave. Basically, their ceiling is just as high as Kentucky, but their basement is much lower.

That’s also why the Wildcats will be worth watching these next few weeks.


The Aaron Torres Sports Podcast E39: Sam Vecenie

The deadline to enter the NBA Draft is fast approaching, and that is the focus of the latest episode of the Aaron Torres Sports podcast, as The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie joins the show to break it all down. But first up, it’s a visit from Nick Coffey. Highlights:
New Draft Rule: Do we really like the new rule that allows players to enter without an agent when 100+ players have declared? Does everyone really need to enter the draft to get feedback or can they simply ask their college coaches?
Jarred VanderbiltAaron and Nick discuss Jarred Vanderbilt’s decision to “test the waters.” Can he actually test them if he can’t play? And why Vanderbilt has one of the toughest decisions of anyone in the draft.
The Quade Green SagaWill Quade stay or go, and is it even fair to him for Kentucky to be recruiting all these point guards? Aaron explains why he’d be pissed if he was Green.
Should more Return? Aaron opens the conversation with Sam by asking about the 2019 draft. Is Sam surprised that more players didn’t decide to come back to college, knowing how bad next year’s draft will be?
Rising StockSam shares a few names that he believes he can impress scouts and improve their draft stock over the next couple weeks.
Brian Bowen: Aaron asks Sam about Brian Bowen, and the tough decision he faces with his NCAA future uncertain.

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.

Sponsorship Note:

Sign on to sponsor the Aaron Torres Sports Podcast by May 31st to take advantage of a special discount. Contact ksrads@kentuckysportsradio.com to learn more.


Which undecided player is most important to Kentucky’s 2018-2019 season?

Yes, it’s that time of year again. Those stressful few weeks where everyone tries to sit back and figure out who will leave Kentucky’s basketball program, who will stay and what the next roster will look like. Every year there is drama. Every year there is intrigue. And every year there are a few surprises.

Yet despite this process always being wacky, doesn’t it feel like this year is especially bonkers?

Rarely have we entered the home-stretch of the declaration period with this much uncertainty at what the roster will look like. We know that Kevin Knox, Hamidou Diallo and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander will be going pro and not looking back, and we also know that Nick Richards and Jemarl Baker will definitely be returning.

What we don’t know however is what the heck the future holds for P.J. Washington, Wenyen Gabriel, Quade Green and Jarred Vanderbilt. The first two have declared for the draft but haven’t hired an agent, Vanderbilt is still pondering his decision, and Green, well, he’s got one of the most confusing futures of anyone in college basketball. Although Green hasn’t said anything publicly, there continues to be rampant, RAMPANT speculation that he will transfer at some point this off-season, with the latest news coming that LaSalle could be a potential landing spot (REALLY!?!??!) if he decides to leave. The rumors simply don’t stop, even as Green remains quiet.

But in looking at these four players, it’s time to ask: Which player is the most important for Kentucky’s success next season? Here is this writer’s list:

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Why You Shouldn’t Expect James Wiseman to Reclassify into the Class of 2018

USA Basketball

There are no shortage of topics which interest Kentucky fans right now – be it what players are going pro, what players are returning for the 2019 season, and overall just what the heck the roster will look like by tip-off of the first game next year. Yet there might not be a topic more intriguing than the future of James Wiseman. The Kentucky staff met with him yesterday and everyone wants to know where the Wildcats stand, and when he will make his college choice.

Oh and there’s one other question too – will Wiseman, the top ranked player in the class of 2019, actually stay in the 2019 class at all? For months there have been all sorts of rumors that Wiseman is seriously considering a move to the class of 2018, to try and get eligible for next season.

Yet while that’s been the talk for months among fans, it isn’t something that most media members are taking seriously… yet. At least not 247 Sports’ recruiting guru and FS1 college basketball analyst Evan Daniels.

Daniels joined KSR’s “Aaron Torres Sports Podcast” earlier this week, and when Aaron asked Wiseman, and why everyone keeps bringing up a possible reclassification, Daniels shared his thoughts.

“I get why people keep asking,” Daniels said. “But he keeps answering it the same way. So until James Wiseman says something differently you have to take him at his word.”

Daniels explained that while sometimes reclassification rumors are legit, on this one, he hasn’t actually heard from anyone credible that it is a serious conversation.

Instead, it’s mostly fans that are stirring the pot and creating the narrative.

“Sometimes you hear things in the background,” Daniels said. “Sources and people recruiting the kid will say that the kid is going to do something; whether it’s commit [or] reclassify. I haven’t heard any of that with him. There’s just been speculation among fans. At this point he says he’s not reclassifying, he’s staying in the 2019 class. I’ll start to take another stance seriously when he makes a public statement saying otherwise.”

Ultimately while the potential reclassification of a star like Wiseman is exciting, there is plenty of reason to pump the breaks here a bit. There is Wiseman repeatedly denying the rumor, something that his mom did as well on Wednesday. Also, keep in mind that Wiseman is young for his age. While players like Marvin Bagley and Ashton Hags (who is trying to reclassify for next year) were a year old, and tried to get back into their proper age group, Wiseman is the age of a normal high school junior. He just turned 17 a few weeks ago and won’t be 18 for another, full, calendar year. If he stays in his class, he will enter college at the normal age for most of his peers.

So while the Wiseman/reclassification buzz is exciting, it’s probably too early to take things seriously. At least according to the biggest name in the recruiting game.

Also, to hear the rest of Evan Daniels’ entire interview with Aaron Torres, including conversation about the 2019 recruiting class as a whole, how Jeff Capel’s departure impacts Duke and more Wiseman talk, be sure to download the show by clicking here.


Was R.J. Barrett closer to committing to Kentucky than he led on?

It seems like since the day that R.J. Barrett first burst onto the national college basketball scene back last summer, it was inevitable that he was headed to Duke. The Canadian wing, who dropped 38 points on a John Calipari-led Team USA club at last summer’s FIBA U-19 World Cup grew up a Duke fan, and once he reclassified to the Class of 2018 (he was originally a 2019 recruit) it seemed to be a matter of “when” not “if” he’d end up a Blue Devil.

That “when” came in early November when Barrett officially declared for Duke, picking the Blue Devils over Kentucky and Oregon on decision day. But what if “Barrett to Duke” wasn’t nearly as done of a deal as everyone made it out to be?

It sounds crazy, but that’s what Barrett claims. Earlier this week at the Nike Hoops Summit, KSR asked Barrett about the recruiting process and he dropped a shocking note: “Barrett to Duke” wasn’t nearly as much of a lock as everyone made it out to be.

“I mean, I’ve always liked Duke,” he said following practice at the Nike Hoops Summit on Thursday. “Kentucky and Oregon were high on the list too. So I really had no idea until the day before. It was tough.”

He continued.

“I had no idea what I wanted to do.”

Maybe Barrett is playing nice, or maybe, just maybe he really did consider other schools. It’s not as though Coach Cal didn’t make a strong sell to Barrett, essentially telling him that the 38-point performance against Team USA was just a preview of things to come if he were to commit to Kentucky. And Barrett’s own AAU coach confessed to spending quite a bit of time speaking with the UK coaching staff once Barrett officially decided to reclassify over the summer, according to SEC Country’s Kyle Tucker.

Again, Barrett’s ultimate choice was Duke, but if his decision really did come down to the wire, could it have possibly been Kentucky had he not chosen Duke?

Barrett with coy when asked that question.

“I wouldn’t know that either,” Barrett said when asked where he would have gone if he didn’t chose Duke. “Kentucky and Oregon were right beside each other.”

It’s no surprise that all these months later that Barrett is playing nice, and claiming that he had no leader behind Duke.

Still, watch the video closely and you can see a glimmer in Barrett’s eye when he talks about those other schools.

Doesn’t it look like he’s thinking “Kentucky” even if he didn’t say it?


Courtesy: USA Basketball

Ten Things I Learned at the 2018 Nike Hoops Summit

It was a busy week in Oregon, where for the 21st time the Nike Hoops Summit took place on Friday. The event is annually one of the best All-Star games on the late season circuit, drawing the best players from across the world and across high school basketball here in the United States. And this year was no different. Virtually every big name player in the age group was at the Hoops Summit, ranging from R.J. Barrett and Bol Bol, to Kentucky commits Keldon Johnson and Tyler Herro.

And even though the game turned into a bit of a dud (which I wrote about here) there was still plenty to take away from the week itself. In addition to the game, I was able to sit in on three total practices (two for Team USA and one for the World Team) which gave me great insight into not just the players who are headed to Kentucky, but really, all of the players who were here, including many who will play in college basketball next season.

So what did I learn from both the Nike Hoops Summit game and practices? Here are 10 things:

1) There’s no other way to put it: Tyler Herro got screwed on Friday night – but that shouldn’t take away from a good week here

I hate to be this blunt right off the top, but there’s really no other way to put it: Tyler Herro got screwed on Friday night. Look, I get that this is a competitive event where both coaches are trying to win. But the fact that he only got seven minutes of play when other Team USA guards like Tre Jones and Darius Garland got 30+ is absolutely inexcusable. If they weren’t going to play him, they just shouldn’t have brought him out. And to be clear, there was no injury or anything. I asked the Team USA coach and he simply said that playing Herro limited minutes was just how the game worked out.

Still, to Herro’s credit he took the high road after the game – and it really is important to note that a quiet night on Friday shouldn’t take away from what was an otherwise successful week for him in Portland overall. It also shouldn’t take away from the fact that over the last two weeks (including the Jordan Brand Game) he proved that he deserves more respect on the national level.

If anything, this week showed me exactly what I expected when I first came up to Portland: Not only can Herro contribute next year at Kentucky, but Kentucky needs him to contribute for this team to be successful. In the scrimmages behind closed doors Herro proved to be the true offensive threat that he’s been advertised as. The shots didn’t always fall, but he was able to get to his spots on the court, and showed a good savvy around the rim. In his limited time on the court Friday he also showed nice moves, including a sweet step back jumper.

Don’t let the disappointing night fool you: Herro will be an important piece for Kentucky next year. And a problem for the rest of the SEC.
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