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Around the SEC

Best and Worst Fits for SEC NBA Draft Prospects

Here are what I believe are the best and worst fits for the seven SEC prospects slated to be selected on Thursday night. (Note: This post is looking at teams who may realistically draft these players, otherwise everyone’s best fit would be with great franchises like the Spurs or Warriors).

1. Michael Porter Jr., Missouri

Best Fit: Dallas Mavericks at Pick No. 5

Worst Fit: Cleveland Cavaliers at Pick No. 8

Porter Jr. is possibly the most interesting prospect in this draft. He barely played at Missouri last season due to a terrible back injury which will scare off some teams, but he has incredible talent.

Unless teams are secretly terrified of his injury past, there is no way Porter Jr. falls out of the top 10 picks. Ideally, he should be hoping that he gets selected by the Mavericks.

Dallas still has a solid infrastructure with Rick Carlisle as the head coach, an NBA legend in Dirk to help bring along Porter Jr., and a budding young star in Dennis Smith Jr.

Cleveland would be the worst spot as Porter Jr. would be asked way too soon after returning from such a serious injury to try and replace LeBron James (yes, he is going to leave). That won’t be an easy task alongside such a bad roster.

2. Kevin Knox, Kentucky

Best Fit: Charlotte Hornets at Pick No. 11

Worst Fit: Orlando Magic at Pick No. 6

Charlotte seems like a great fit for Knox’s talent. The Hornets have a nice inside-outside game with Kemba Walker and Dwight Howard, and they are just missing an offensive threat from the forward position.

Nicholas Batum and Marvin Williams took huge steps back last season, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist just isn’t good offensively. Slide Knox into the rotation and the Hornets will be in business.

The Magic are one of the worst franchises in the entire league. Combine that with the fact that their roster is full of athletic forwards fighting for playing time, and I’m afraid Knox will get lost in the stupid chaos. In a weird way, I hope he does not get drafted this high.

3. Collin Sexton, Alabama

Best Fit: New York Knicks at Pick No. 9

Worst Fit: Philadelphia 76ers at Pick No. 10

Yes, I know saying that the Knicks are an ideal destination for someone sounds stupid, but hear me out on this one. I’m still high on Sexton’s talent. His flashy style of play will work perfectly with the Knicks who are badly missing an exciting point guard.

Pick and rolls with him and Porzingis would be deadly. Guard Frank Ntilikina is going to be a great defensive guard. Pairing him with Sexton will prevent the Alabama star from spending a lot of energy on defense.

The 76ers drafting Sexton makes literally no sense at all, which is why it won’t happen. They have ball dominant players already in Simmons and potentially Fultz. Landing in Philly means Sexton will struggle to fully translate his talent onto the court.

4. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Kentucky

Best Fit: L.A. Clippers at Pick No. 12 or No. 13

Worst Fit: Milwaukee Bucks at Pick No. 17

Personally, I think the Clippers taking Shai would be one of the best fits in the entire draft. They are incredibly weak at the point guard position considering that Austin Rivers and Milos Teodosic couldn’t guard a trash can.

He would give them an immediate upgrade defensively from those players and become an active player in their rotation. At the end of a lottery, a player like that isn’t always a guarantee.

I don’t think Shai will fall all the way down to 17, but if he did I have a feeling the Bucks would take him to backup Eric Bledsoe. That franchise has a thing for players with huge wingspans, but I feel like he could get lost in this rotation alongside Bledsoe, Brandon Jennings, and Matthew Dellavedova.

5. Robert Williams, Texas A&M

Best Fit: L.A. Clippers at Pick No. 12 or No. 13

Worst Fit: Washington Wizards at Pick No. 15

(Photo: John Glaser, USA TODAY Sports)

I really think it would be in the Clippers best interest to pick Shai and Williams back-to-back on Thursday night. Both players would provide immediate defensive help while also providing potential sparks on offense.

I know that the Clippers still have DeAndre Jordan, but he only has one year left on his contract, and I’m willing to bet he will be getting out of town. Who better to mentor Williams his first year in the league than a fellow Aggie who has a very similar playing style?

The Wizards could potentially select him as they need some rim protection as well. However, they seem like a team with too much drama. Williams doesn’t always play his hardest on the floor, and he certainly doesn’t need to go to a team that will not push him to always play hard.

6. Hamidou Diallo, Kentucky

Best Fit: Atlanta Hawks at Pick No. 30

Worst Fit: Orlando Magic at Pick No. 35

Sneaking into the first round would be huge for Diallo. This draft is supposedly weak at this point which could cause a team like Atlanta to prevent a talented prospect like Diallo from being a second-round pick.

The Hawks are such a young and bad team, and they could really use an athletic defender like Diallo at the two-guard spot. Their current shooting guards are Tyler Dorsey and Antonius Cleveland. Diallo should be an upgrade from those guys.

Can you tell I don’t like the Magic? Similar with Knox above, the Magic are pretty set at Diallo’s position and he could get lost in their terrible infrastructure. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if they selected him because they need the defensive help.

7. Jarred Vanderbilt, Kentucky

Best Fit: L.A. Lakers at Pick No. 47

Worst Fit: Houston Rockets at Pick No. 46

In case you haven’t heard, the Lakers are about to completely change up their entire roster. They are a prime team in the LeBron sweepstakes, plus Kawhi Leonard supposedly wants to play there as well.

If they do transform into a super team, Vanderbilt would be a great selection near the end of the draft. A high-energy rebounder that also provides toughness is an ideal skill set for a bench player trying to earn playing time. Plus, he could be learning from Leonard and James which is perfect.

The Rockets were the best team in the regular season last year, but wow does Vanderbilt not need to go there. All they do is shoot three-pointers, and he pretty much has no outside jump shot right now. It wouldn’t make sense for Houston to draft him, but good teams like selecting good defensive players.


© Adam Hagy | USATSI

SEC Media Days will now include a fan day

© Adam Hagy | USATSI

SEC Media Day’s evolution from press conferences to a full-blown circus is now complete. The league just announced they are adding a fan day to this year’s festivities, which will take place in Atlanta.

The event, “SEC Football Kickoff Summerfest,” will be held Sunday, July 15 from 1-8 p.m. ET at Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic Park and will include a live broadcast of SEC Nation, music, food trucks, interactive games, and much, much more. Think of it as a giant tailgate party. In Atlanta. In the middle of July. Even though it will be hot as Hades, you know this guy will be there:

The main event takes place Monday, July 16 through Thursday, July 19 at the College Football Hall of Fame and Omni Atlanta Hotel at CNN Center. Mark Stoops and Kentucky will help get things rolling on day one, along with Texas A&M’s Jimbo Fisher (that still feels weird to type) and LSU’s Ed Orgeron.

MONDAY, July 16

Texas A&M – Jimbo Fisher
Kentucky – Mark Stoops
LSU – Ed Orgeron

TUESDAY, July 17
Arkansas – Chad Morris
Florida – Dan Mullen
Georgia – Kirby Smart
Ole Miss – Matt Luke

WEDNESDAY, July 18
Alabama – Nick Saban
Mississippi State – Joe Moorhead
Missouri – Barry Odom
Tennessee – Jeremy Pruitt

THURSDAY, July 19
Auburn – Gus Malzahn
South Carolina – Will Muschamp
Vanderbilt – Derek Mason

Nick Roush will be in the middle of it all, bless him.

[SECSports.com]


The Aaron Torres Podcast E53: LSU Head Coach Will Wade

The Aaron Torres Sports Podcast is back with a very special guest — LSU head coach Will Wade.  The coach of the Tigers joins the show to talk about his preseason Top 20 team and the influence John Calipari has had on his career. But before the Wade interview, Aaron is joined by his good friend Nick Coffey where they discuss major news in college basketball…
 
Charles Bassey is going to Western KentuckyIn shocking news, the No. 3 player in America has reclassified and will play next season at Western Kentucky. Aaron and Nick go into a deep dive on a very bizarre recruitment that landed Western with a future first round pick. Also, Aaron asks, why does Rick Stansbury have such a bad reputation around college basketball, while known cheaters like Kelvin Sampson and Bruce Pearl seem to get a free pass?
 
LeBron’s NCAA Documentary: The guys circle back on another big story from earlier in the week, a documentary from LeBron about the NCAA which will feature Kentucky’s Nick Richards. The guys explain why they’re already annoyed with the idea and its potential to be one-sided. Also, how many college athletes genuinely make money for their universities?
Next up, Aaron welcomes on a biiiiiig guest, as he is joined by LSU basketball coach Will Wade. Wade has the Tigers primed for a monster season in 2018-2019 and discussed with Aaron the following:
 
The Incredible Turnaround the Tigers had Last SeasonCoach Wade explains what allowed the Tigers to go from a club that was picked to finish 14th in the SEC in the preseason, to one that surprised many on their way to an above .500 finish in the SEC. What allowed him to turn around the culture and have immediate success?
Wade’s Loaded Freshman ClassWade breaks down a star-studded freshman class which is ranked as high as No. 3 in some recruiting services. What can fans expect from McDonald’s All-American Naz Reid? And is Emmitt Williams the most underrated player in the class? Also, how will the return of Tremont Waters help the young players?
 
The Strength of SEC Basketball: Finally, Coach Wade wraps up discussing the strength of the SEC. Does this league get the credit it deserves nationally? Also, what has he learned while watching John Calipari at Kentucky that Wade takes with him every day?
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 June 15th to take advantage of a special discount. Contact ksrads@kentuckysportsradio.com to learn more.


Ranking Kentucky’s 2018-19 Conference Games

Ranking Kentucky’s 2018-19 Conference Games

We found out Kentucky’s conference opponents for the 2018-19 season yesterday, and although we don’t know the dates of each game yet, we’re gonna do what we do and rank them from hardest to easiest.

After examining the list, let me tell you, it is one tough slate.

1. at Tennessee

Not only has Kentucky lost their last four games at Thompson-Boling Arena, the Vols are ranked as high as third in some preseason lists. With their top six scorers back, including Grant Williams and Admiral Schofield, Rick Barnes’ squad will once again be a formidable foe.

2. at Auburn

Similarly, Kentucky’s lost at Auburn the last two seasons. Mustapha Heron may be transferring but Bryce Brown and Jared Harper will be back, along with Austin Wiley and Danjel Purifoy, who had to sit out last season due to the FBI investigation.

3. Tennessee

The Vols’ win in Rupp Arena last season proved they are no longer scared of the Cats; however, I am scared of them.

4. at Mississippi State

This is not your typical Mississippi State team. Ben Howland has his top six scorers back, including the Weatherspoon brothers, and a Top 25 recruiting class coming in. The Bulldogs are a preseason top 15 team according to CBS Sports and NBC Sports, and the Hump will be rocking.

5. Auburn

Bruce Pearl is desperate to win in Rupp Arena. The Tigers didn’t come to Lexington last season, so this could be his best shot.

6. at Florida

Chris Chorizo Chiozza is gone, but Jalen Hudson and Kevaughn Allen aren’t, and the O’Dome is a notoriously tough place to play; in fact, Kentucky’s lost there the last two years.

7. at Vanderbilt

Five-star freshmen Simi Shittu and Darius Garland won’t make Vanderbilt a title contender, but they could help them knock off Kentucky in that bizarre ass gym.

8. LSU

Kentucky was lucky to leave Baton Rouge with a win last year; this year’s game may be in Rupp, but a sophomore Tremont Waters is scary and he’ll be joined by five-stars Naz Reid and Emmitt Williams, along with Oregon transfer Kavell Bigby-Williams. If this game was at LSU, Kentucky would lose.

9. Mississippi State

I think Kentucky splits the series with Mississippi State. Obviously, this is the easier one to win.

10. at Alabama

Collin Sexton is off to the NBA, but Alabama has everyone else back and adds Tevin Mack, a transfer from Texas. Avery Johnson will do everything in his power to make sure Coleman Coliseum is packed and loud when the Cats come to town.

11. Florida

Florida was one of two SEC teams to beat Kentucky in Rupp last year and they did it while shooting an uncharacteristic 20% from three. Who knows what the Gators will be like without Chiozza, but they won’t be scared of the bright lights at Rupp.

12. at Missouri

Kentucky lost at Missouri last year by nine points; the Tigers lost a lot of players and only have two point guards — one a true freshman — but they do have Jontay Porter, the SEC’s co-Sixth Man of the Year, back from the NBA Draft.

13. at Georgia

Tom Crean has a heck of a rebuilding project ahead of him, but what better way to make a splash in your first year than beating Kentucky? With former Georgia commit Ashton Hagans and fellow in-state star EJ Montgomery coming to town wearing Kentucky blue, the crowd at Stegeman Coliseum could get nasty.

14. Vanderbilt

Both Darius Garland and Simi Shittu were recruited by Kentucky; they will be eager to prove themselves at Rupp.

Photo: Wesley Hitt/Getty Images North America

15. Arkansas

I don’t think there’s anything Mike Anderson wants more in this world than to beat John Calipari…except maybe another pocket square.

16. at Ole Miss

Kermit Davis takes over for Andy Kennedy — let me pour one out for my homie — and has his work cut out for him, but at least the Rebel Black Bear Land Sharks got Terence Davis back from the draft.

17. South Carolina

Why did we lose at South Carolina last year again? Oh yeah, because Chris Silva scored a career-high 27 points. He’s back, but this game’s at Rupp, so I’m not concerned.

18. Texas A&M

Robert Williams, Tyler Davis, and DJ Hogg are all off to the NBA, making the Aggies a shell of their former selves. Admon Gilder’s still there, but not even Billy Kennedy can coach a team that returns two of its top eight scorers to a win at Rupp.

 

Let’s hear your predictions for Kentucky’s conference record next season.


Auburn extends Bruce Pearl’s contract

(Photo: Andy Lyons/Getty Images North America)

What if I told you a program in the midst of a scandal just rewarded their coach with a contract extension? Auburn borrowed a page from Louisville’s playbook and extended Bruce Pearl’s contract through the 2022-23 season despite the FBI’s investigation into the Tigers’ basketball program.

Pearl led Auburn to a 26-8 record and SEC regular season title last season amid the investigation, which prevented two of its biggest stars, Austin Wiley and Danjel Purifoy, from playing and led to the firing of associate head coach Chuck Person.

“It was a historic season for Auburn basketball and one that was matched by excellence in the classroom as well,” Auburn athletic director Allen Greene said in a release. “Coach Pearl shares my commitment to ensuring the holistic development of our student-athletes and adhering to the mission of Auburn University as an institution of higher learning.”

“Our coaches and student-athletes believe in Auburn and we love it,” Pearl said. “We came here to work hard, make a positive difference on the campus and in the community and bring credibility and championships back to Auburn basketball. I’m grateful to President Dr. Steven Leath and Director of Athletics Allen Greene for their commitment and support. My family is blessed to be a part of the Auburn Family.”

Back when the FBI’s report came out last fall, many believed Pearl wouldn’t even make it through the season, especially when he refused to cooperate with Auburn’s internal investigation. Pearl turned in an incredible coaching job and continues to kill it on the recruiting trail, so he deserves to keep his job, but doubling down and offering him an extension? Winning really does cure all ails.


Les Miles’ Next Job: Acting

Les Miles’ Next Job: Acting

The Mad Hatter has taken off his college football coaching cap to try a new career — acting.

A National Champion at LSU, since Les Miles was fired by the Tigers he’s tried a few different jobs.  After going the TV-anaylst route, he’s putting his face on the big screen.  An odd turn for a college football coach, Miles told The Advocate’s Ross Dellenger that he’s fulfilling a lifelong dream.

“I don’t know that anybody ever doesn’t dream at one point in time, ‘I’m going to be in a movie,’ ” Miles said. “I don’t know how you don’t think that way. As a child, I wanted to be the president of the United States, wanted to be a head football coach and wanted to be an actor in a movie. We only get one go-around at this thing called life. There’s no do-overs.”

After a pair of cameo appearances, Miles will play the role of NASA chief Nelson in an upcoming movie about the Challenger disaster titled, Angry Men, set to release later this summer.  In one clip from the movie, he actually plays the part quite well.  I can’t say the same when he was asked by to perform Bill Pullman’s Independence Day speech.


WATCH: Alabama football stranded on lake after boat runs out of gas

(John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports)

The Alabama football team may have a knack for winning on the field, but they fall short when it comes to life on the lake.

What started as a Leadership Team Lake Day meant for team bonding ended with Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide being stranded on a boat in the middle of the water.

Why? They simply ran out of gas.

Some of the Tide players posted videos on social media documenting the wild day, and they are absolutely hilarious.

It didn’t take long for Butch Jones to screw up on the job, something he did quite well at Tennessee.

Jones was hired as an off-field analyst and intern for Saban this offseason, where he will be paid $35,000 annually, a 99-percent pay decrease from his time in Knoxville.

Row Tide.


SEC grad transfers now have immediate eligibility if they transfer intraconference

Here’s one interesting note from the SEC Spring Meetings in Destin. According to Brett McMurphy, the league’s presidents just voted to allow grad transfers who transfer from one SEC school to another immediate eligibility. Under the previous policy, the SEC required grad transfers to sit out one year if they transferred to another school in the league.

The grad transfer market is already crazy in both basketball and football; this will make it absolutely bonkers. The new rule could directly affect Alabama backup center Brandon Kennedy, who announced he was going to transfer earlier this month to either Tennessee or Auburn, but was denied, prompting this response from Nick Saban.

“I don’t think it should be on me,” he said, via Marc Weiszer. “I think we should change the rule. If we agree at the SEC at these meetings that we’re going to have free agency in our league and everyone can go wherever they want to go when they graduate, that’s what’s best for the game, then that’s what we should do. Then Brandon Kennedy can go where ever he wants to go.”

Sounds like he might be able to.