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Nick Richards will be “perfect fit” at Kentucky

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With Bam staying in the draft, 7-foot basketball signee Nick Richards is more valuable now than ever. To figure out just how good he is and what he is going to bring to the newest edition of the Kentucky Wildcats,  Kyle Tucker sat down with Richards high school coach and former Rutger’s coach, Mike Rice.

“Rice said he watches a lot of Kentucky basketball and thinks Richards, a consensus top-20 recruit in the Class of 2017, will be a perfect fit for John Calipari’s style of play.

He can guard one through five about as well as any 7-footer has in a long time,” Rice said. “So I think he has such a big upside and Kentucky is getting a special person.”

I don’t know about you all, but Mr. Rice has me lit for next season.


Chet White | UK Athletics

Hamidou Diallo is Invited to the NBA Combine

Chet White | UK Athletics

Chet White | UK Athletics

Shooting guard Hamidou Diallo received an invitation to the NBA Combine, ESPN’s Jeff Goodman reports.  Diallo is the fifth Wildcat to receive an invitation, joining Malik Monk, Isaiah Briscoe, De’Aaron Fox and Bam Adebayo.

The No. 1 ranked shooting guard in the 2017 class came to Kentucky a semester early in January, but never saw any game action.  Diallo’s draft projections vary, seen by many as a fringe first rounder in the 2017 draft, or a lottery pick in 2018.

The NBA Combine is May 9-14 in Chicago.  Diallo has not hired an agent.  He will have until May 24 to decide if wants to go pro or suit up for Kentucky next year.


Isaiah Briscoe is the First Former Cat Invited to the NBA Combine

Isaiah Briscoe is the First Former Cat Invited to the NBA Combine

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Former Kentucky guard Isaiah Briscoe has received an invitation to the NBA Combine according to Jonathan Givony of Draft Express.

Invitations to the NBA Combine, held May 9-14 in Chicago, were sent out yesterday.  Briscoe is the first Cat to be confirmed, shortly followed by Bam Adebayo.  Isaac Humphries was reportedly not invited to play in the combine’s five-on-five event, but that could change.  De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk will likely join their former teammates in Chicago.

The only combine question remaining revolved around Hamidou Diallo.  An invitation could drastically determine his professional future.  Keep KSR close throughout the day for updates on Diallo’s combine status.

UPDATE: Jeff Goodman confirmed both Monk and Fox received NBA Combine invitations.  Goodman’s list of the 59 prospects who received combine invitations:

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A Cam Johnson Recruiting Update

A Cam Johnson Recruiting Update

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Cameron Johnson is on the move.

The graduate transfer shooting guard from Pittsburgh visited Kentucky Wednesday and Thursday.  One of Calipari’s final targets in the 2017 class, Johnson is visiting Ohio State on Monday and Arizona next weekend, according to multiple reports.

Johnson’s decision will likely be between the two Wildcats.

Jeff Goodman reports Johnson will begin the week by visiting Ohio State. 


NBA Combine invites going out today

We are only days away from knowing this year’s NBA Draft Combine attendees.

The deadline for the 30 NBA organizations to vote on their preferred invites was yesterday and those invites will go out today and tomorrow. Once the prospects respond and the full list of 70ish participants is formed, the entire list of attendees will hit the internets for us to frantically scroll through the names to see if Hamidou Diallo made the cut.

If Hamidou Diallo’s name is included, he will go through the process and make a decision at a later date, sometime before the May 24 deadline.

If his name is not included, we will likely get pretty instant news of a return because missing out on a combine spot is a pretty blatant message to return to school. Ask Isaiah Briscoe last year.

So sit tight on those Diallo worries until we see whether or not he gets the invite. I suspect he will, but there are a lot of names trying to get in there.


Listen to Bam Adebayo’s appearance on KSR

Listen to Bam Adebayo’s appearance on KSR

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Bam Adebayo was kind enough to take a moment out of his busy schedule to pop into the KSR studio this morning to chat with us about life and the pursuit of the NBA.

Of the many topics we hit in the two-segment chat, we learned a lot of new and interesting things about Bam, like the fact his favorite movie is Step Brothers and why he chose Kentucky for college.

Catch the entire interview at the beginning of Hour 2 of the podcast:

Here’s where you can find Bam on his #BigBamTour:

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The Ones That Got Away: Checking In On The Recruits Calipari’s Missed On Over The Years

The Ones That Got Away: Checking In On The Recruits Calipari’s Missed On Over The Years

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Earlier this week, a KSR caller gave us a great research topic: the recruits that John Calipari wanted but didn’t get. I spent the past few days making a list of the top recruits Cal’s coveted and missed on, and what they’re doing now. Join me as we take a stroll down memory lane…

2009: Xavier Henry

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Then: Chose Kansas over Kentucky and Memphis

Calipari brought most of his Memphis recruits with him to Kentucky in 2009, but not Xavier Henry, the second best shooting guard in the 2009 class that was committed to Cal at Memphis but reopened his recruitment once he left. After a lot of drama (including a potential last minute change of heart), Henry decided to follow in his father’s footsteps at Kansas.

KSR headlines at the time included:

Now: Plays for the Oklahoma City Blue in the D-League

Henry left Kansas after one season, during which he averaged 13.4 points. He was drafted 12th in the 2010 Draft by the Memphis Grizzlies. Since then, he’s spent time on the New Orleans Hornets, the Los Angeles Lakers, and their respective D-League squads. A torn Achilles set him back in 2014, and since then, he’s struggled to find a spot on an NBA roster. He spent this past season playing alongside Dakari Johnson for the Oklahoma City Blue in the D-League.


2010: Josh Selby

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Then: Chose Kansas over Kentucky, Arizona, UConn, and Tennessee

Selby decommitted from Tennessee in July 2009 and became one of Calipari’s top targets at point guard along with Brandon Knight. In what would be a blessing in disguise, Selby picked Kansas while Knight chose Kentucky.

KSR headlines at the time included:

Now: Plays overseas in Israel 

The NCAA suspended Selby for the first nine games of the season due to his relationship with Carmelo Anthony’s business manager, Robert “Bay” Frazier. Selby struggled in his one year at Kansas, and apparently, stopped going to class after the season was over, moving to Vegas to prepare for the draft. He was drafted 49th by the Grizzlies and was assigned to the D-League after a few months. He stayed in the D-League until taking his game overseas in 2013. He’s now with Maccabi Kiryat Gat in Israel.


2010: CJ Leslie

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Then: Chose NC State over Kentucky and UConn

Power forward and aspiring poet CJ Leslie played alongside John Wall at Word of God Christian Academy in Raleigh, but unlike Wall, Calipari was unable to persuade him to leave his home state.

KSR headlines at the time included:

Now: Plays for the Raptors 905 in the D-League

Leslie played for NC State for three years before going undrafted in the 2013 NBA Draft. Since then, he’s been in and out of the D-League and played overseas for a few years before landing with the Raptors’ D-League team, the Raptors 905.


2011: Andre Drummond

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Then: Chose UConn over Kentucky, Georgetown, Louisville, and West Virginia

Drummond could have been the best big man in the 2012 class and gone straight to the NBA because of his age, but stunned everyone at the last minute by reclassifying to 2011 and enrolling at UConn. In the 2011 class, he was considered the best player behind Anthony Davis.

KSR headlines at the time included:

Now: Plays for the Detroit Pistons

After a year at UConn, Drummond was drafted 9th overall by the Detroit Pistons and has been there ever since. He was voted an All-Star in 2016 and played for the US in the 2014 FIBA World Cup.


2011: Quincy Miller

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Then: Chose Baylor over Kentucky, Duke, Louisville, and Oklahoma

Miller was a top 10 player in the 2011 class and even though he enjoyed doing the John Wall dance, passed on an offer from Kentucky in part because they wouldn’t offer his close friend, Deuce Bello. Also courted by Louisville, Miller was so bitter that Bello didn’t get an offer that he flashed the Louisville “L” at the UK Football team and stared down Calipari while on a recruiting visit to the UK/UofL football game at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium in September 2010. Ultimately, both Miller and Bello ended up at Baylor.

KSR headlines at the time included:

Now: Plays overseas in Israel

After one year at Baylor, Miller was drafted 38th by the Denver Nuggets and was in and out of the D-League until he was waived in 2014. After stints with the Reno Bighorns, the Sacramento Kings, and Detroit Pistons, he moved overseas, where he now plays for Maccabi Tel Aviv in Israel.


2012: Shabazz Muhammed

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Then: Chose UCLA over Kentucky and Duke

Shabazz and Nerlens Noel were considered the best two players in the 2012 class and buzz was that both would land at Kentucky; however, Shabazz elected to stay on the west coast and chose UCLA over Kentucky and Duke.

KSR headlines at the time included:

Now: Plays for the Timberwolves

Oh boy, where to begin with Shabazz? Muhammed’s year at UCLA was mired in scandal, from his suspension for the first three games of the season for receiving illegal benefits during his recruitment to his father lying about how old he was to pouting when his teammate hit a game-winning shot. Shabazz was drafted 14th by the Utah Jazz and quickly traded to the Timberwolves. After being sent home from the NBA rookie transition program, Muhammed spent time in the D-League before returning to Minnesota, where he’s been ever since.


2012: Alex Oriakhi (transfer)

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Then: Chose to transfer from UConn to Missouri over Kentucky

With UConn facing a postseason ban in the 2012-13 season, Alex Oriakhi decided to transfer for his senior season to be able to play in the 2013 NCAA Tournament. With most of the 2012 National Championship team out the door, Calipari was in hot pursuit, but the day before he was scheduled to visit Lexington, Oriakhi decided to go to Missouri instead.

KSR headlines at the time included:

Now: Playing overseas in Spain

Oriakhi did get to play in the NCAA Tournament, but the Tigers lost in the first round to Colorado State. He was drafted 57th in the 2013 Draft by the Phoenix Suns, fizzled on their Summer League team and rotated between overseas pro teams and the D-League. He’s now with Vaqueros de Bayamón in Spain.


2013: Andrew Wiggins

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Then: Chose Kansas over Kentucky, Florida State, and North Carolina

Ah, the recruiting saga to end all recruiting sagas. Kentucky was considered the favorite for Wiggins for most of his recruitment along with Florida State, but he surprised us all by picking Kansas. Did landing Julius Randle scare him off?

KSR headlines at the time included:

If you’re curious, 812 posts have been written about Andrew Wiggins on KSR, which has to be a record. Bamba’s recruitment is nothing compared to his.

Now: Plays for the Timberwolves

After a year at Kansas, Wiggins was drafted first in the 2014 Draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers and traded two months later to the Minnesota Timberwolves. He’s one of the Timberwolves’ young stars alongside our own Karl Towns, with whom he actually shared a room at the Nike Hoop Summit back in 2013.


2013: Aaron Gordon

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Then: Chose Arizona over Kentucky, Washington, and Oregon

Gordon was one of Kentucky’s top targets in the 2013 class along with Wiggins, but like many West Coast recruits, couldn’t tear himself away from that side of the country, not even for Calipari.

KSR headlines at the time included:

Now: Plays for the Orlando Magic

After a season at Arizona, Gordon was drafted fourth in the 2014 Draft by the Orlando Magic, whom he’s been with ever since.


2014: Emmanuel Mudiay

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Then: Chose SMU over Kentucky, Kansas, Baylor, and Oklahoma State.

Emmanuel Mudiay was poised to be the next great Calipari point guard, but surprised everyone when he picked SMU.

KSR headlines at the time included:

Then: Chose China because of eligibility problems

In many ways, not getting Mudiay was a blessing in surprise. Eligibility problems forced him to forgo his college career and play in China for a season. Meanwhile, Kentucky went after Tyler Ulis, now considered one of the greatest point guards in school history.

Now: Plays for the Denver Nuggets

After earning over a million dollars playing for the Guangdong Southern Tigers in China, Mudiay was drafted seventh in the 2015 NBA Draft by the Denver Nuggets. Now, he’s the backup behind Jameer Nelson, and is losing minutes to another Wildcat, Jamal Murray.


2014: Cliff Alexander

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Then: Chose Kansas over Illinois and DePaul

Kentucky was high on Alexander early on, but backed off once they got a commitment from Trey Lyles. From there, Alexander cut the Cats from his list and committed to Kansas, making his dad the happiest person in the world:

Confession: That video is the only reason I kept Alexander on the list.

KSR headlines at the time included:

Now: Plays in the D-League

Alexander averaged 7.1 points and 5.3 rebounds in his freshman year at Kansas until he was suspended in late February over an NCAA investigation. After claiming he “got dealt a bad deck of cards” at Kansas, Alexander entered the 2015 NBA Draft and was undrafted. He signed a training camp deal with the Portland Trail Blazers, but struggled due to injury and was waived. Since then, he’s been in the D-League.


2015: Stephen Zimmerman

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Then: Chose UNLV over Kentucky, Kansas, UCLA, and Arizona

2015 was a tough recruiting year for Calipari because many of the players he wanted most decided to stay home instead of coming to Lexington. Stephen Zimmerman was one of those players. Calipari made it clear Zimmerman was one his top targets, but Zimmerman couldn’t bring himself to leave Las Vegas, choosing UNLV instead.

KSR headlines at the time included:

Now: Plays for the Orlando Magic

After one year at UNLV, Zimmerman was drafted 41st by the Orlando Magic in the 2016 NBA Draft. He was in and out of the D-League in his rookie season.


2015: Malik Newman

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Then: Chose Mississippi State over Kentucky and Kansas

Kentucky was considered the favorite for the top point guard in the 2015 class for most of his recruitment, but Newman shocked everyone by choosing to stay home and play for Mississippi State instead.

KSR headlines at the time included:

Then: Transferred to Kansas

Newman’s decision to stay home and play for Mississippi State came back to bite him. After averaging 11.3 points in his freshman year, he tried to go pro but discovered his stock wasn’t high enough, so he withdrew his name and returned to school. Unfortunately, he had a bad habit of skipping classes, so he wasn’t exactly welcomed back with open arms, so he decided to transfer.

Now: Plays for Kansas

Newman had to sit out the 2016-17 season, but will suit up for the Jayhawks this fall.


2015: Antonio Blakeney

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Then: Chose LSU over Kentucky and Missouri

Blakeney was one of the top shooting guards in the 2015 class and in September 2014, committed to Louisville only to decommit eleven days later. We didn’t know it at the time, but that’s because UofL tried to woo him with prostitutes, which you know, is pretty disgusting, so after the grossness of it all sunk in, he got the heck outta there. From there, it looked like he would come to Kentucky, but he elected to join Ben Simmons at LSU instead.

KSR headlines at the time included:

Now: Preparing for the 2017 Draft

Blakeney’s freshman year at LSU with Ben Simmons didn’t exactly go as planned (JUST LIKE THAT RECRUITING VISIT TO LOUISVILLE, AMIRITE), with the Tigers failing to make the NCAA Tournament and turning down the NIT. It didn’t get any better in his sophomore year, with the Tigers finishing 13th in the SEC behind Missouri. Now, he’s signed with an agent for the 2017 Draft even though he’s barely in Draft Express’ ranking of Top 100 prospects.

…However, he did help expose the Louisville sex scandal and for that reason, will forever be in our hearts.

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Isaac Humphries joins Hey Kentucky!

Isaac Humphries joins Hey Kentucky!

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Kentucky forward Isaac Humphries took some time out of his busy schedule to join Matt Jones on Hey Kentucky!  Come to hear about how he discovered Kentucky basketball, what it was like when he got to Lexington and what’s next.  Stay to see Isaac almost take a tumble in the middle of the interview.

Watch today’s entire episode after the jump.

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Jay Bilas clarifies his tweets on KSR

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Jay Bilas was kind enough to call in to KSR today to talk about his tweets and criticisms of SEC commissioner Greg Sankey pulling double-duty as the chairman of the NCAA infractions committee.

In case you’ve missed it, Bilas has been very active on Twitter in voicing his concerns over a conflict of interest with Sankey leading the investigation into the North Carolina scandal. He first made this known publicly when Sankey said he wished there had been more about academics in John Calipari’s One And Not Done.

Like many of you, I don’t understand Bilas’ rationale here. I normally side with him in his assessment of all things, namely hip-hop, but this particular topic is one we don’t see eye to eye on.

Matt Jones also doesn’t see eye to eye with Bilas on this discussion, and that is very clear in today’s interview. They went into lawyer-mode while arguing each of their points and it made for good, intelligent radio (in the middle of our movie debates).

Give it a listen around the 22:15 mark in the second hour podcast below:


Diallo projected as second-round pick

Chet White | UK Athletics

Chet White | UK Athletics

Hamidou Diallo should return to school.

He made the right decision by entering the draft; hopefully he will make the right decision and return to school, if the current projections are where he really stands to go.

The latest to project Diallo’s NBA draft future is DraftExpress.com, which released its updated mock draft Wednesday evening. DraftExpress’s new projection has Diallo going No. 33 overall to the Orlando Magic in the second round.

ESPN’s Chad Ford said the same thing about Diallo a couple of days ago, adding that he could climb his way into the lottery by playing one season at UK:

Hamidou Diallo, SG, Fr, Kentucky*

Diallo enrolled in Kentucky this winter and practiced with the team, but never suited up for the Wildcats. He was widely regarded as a top-15 high school prospect thanks to elite athleticism, a strong motor and an aggressive offensive game based on attacking basket. His jump shot is the biggest question mark for scouts. He’d likely be a late-lottery to mid-first-round pick in 2018 after playing at Kentucky next season. If he stays in this draft, he’ll get looks in the late first round and would be a likely second-round pick. [ESPN]

So unless there’s a team out there that tells Diallo they’re willing to gamble with him in the mid- to late-first round, it would be in his best interest to come back and ball out in Lexington next year. Then again, maybe a team will fall in love with him at the combine, who knows.

But for now, the early projections aren’t great for the potential none-and-done Wildcat.

The deadline to return to school is May 24. The combine will be held May 9-14.


Preston Spradlin joins Hey Kentucky!

Preston Spradlin joins Hey Kentucky!

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Once a graduate assistant for John Calipari at Kentucky, Preston Spradlin is now Morehead State’s head basketball coach, the youngest college basketball coach in the country.  Spradlin discusses recruiting from Morehead, a little bit about his time working for Cal and much more.

Watch the entire episode from Morehead with Chris Tomlin after the jump.

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Ellen Calipari trolls son with hilarious recreation of sneaker picture

Ellen Calipari trolls son with hilarious recreation of sneaker picture

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Brad Calipari hasn’t had a bigger fan this season than his mother, Ellen, who proudly sports her son’s jersey at games, but even Ellen had to poke some fun at her son today. It all started with the picture of John Calipari wearing the Jordan 8s Drake named in his honor, which he posted on social media last weekend:

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Awesome picture, right? So awesome that Brad recreated it the next day in the Calipari living room:

Today, Brad’s big sister Megan shared a picture of Ellen doing the same pose in the black version of the shoes, teasing her baby boy:

To use Brad’s words, Ellen’s trolling is earned, not given.


Derek Willis says Sacha Killeya-Jones has the most potential of anyone left on UK’s roster

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By now, you’re aware of just how young next season’s team will be, which makes the few returning players even more important. Wenyen Gabriel is Kentucky’s leading returning scorer, with 4.6 points and 4.8 rebounds in 17.8 minutes per game, but on today’s show, outgoing senior Derek Willis said he believes another big man will turn some heads next season: Sacha Killeya-Jones.

“I think the kid with most potential on the team didn’t play hardly at all this year, Sacha,” Derek said. “Without a doubt. He has all the skill, all the potential’s there. You have to work with that stuff. He’s been in the gym, doing his thing but it’s hard for someone that young.”

Sacha barely saw the court this season, which was surprising given all the preseason hype. Anyone who watched the team play before the season began would tell you that Sacha was the most exciting player on the court, but that performance didn’t carry over to games. After four years at Kentucky, Derek knows better than anyone how tough it can be to stay motivated when you don’t get a lot of playing time.

“It was hard for me to come in and see the end goal,” Derek said. “Once I started getting on the court and feeling like I was really contributing, then that was when I was like, okay, I’m going to work a little harder and a little harder and that’s when I started staying in the gym more.”

With an offseason to build confidence, Derek thinks the sky’s the limit for Sacha.

“Without a doubt, that will help anyone,” Derek said of more time in the gym. “He’s super athletic, he has a lot of bounce to him. His jump shot right inside the three-point line looks good. It’s all there, he just has to put it together for himself.”

Listen to Derek talk about Sacha around the 38-minute mark.


Chet White | UK Athletics

Draft Express’ latest prospect rankings suggest Diallo should return to school

Photo by Chet White | UK Athletics

Photo by Chet White | UK Athletics

On Sunday night, Hamidou Diallo declared for the draft, but said he’s not going to sign an agent so he can go through the evaluation process and decide whether or not it’s best to go back to school or stay in. In turn, mock draft sites are factoring Diallo into the 2017 mix, and based on that, it sounds like Hami would be wise to return to the school to work on his game and improve his stock. Draft Express’ latest ranking of the Top 100 prospects has Diallo 35th, so, theoretically, the fifth pick in the second round. Similarly, ESPN’s Chad Ford has Diallo 37th in his latest rankings.

Here’s where the rest of Kentucky’s prospects landed in Draft Express’ Top 100 rankings:

5. De’Aaron Fox
6. Malik Monk
34. Bam Adebayo
35. Hamidou Diallo
89. Isaiah Briscoe
100. Isaac Humphries

While Draft Express hasn’t updated its 2017 mock draft to include Diallo, he is in the 2018 version as the 22nd pick, along with Mohamed Bamba at 4th and Nick Richards at 19th.

Come back, Hami!


Familiar names among the massive layoffs at ESPN today (UPDATING throughout the day)

It’s a rough day for the folks up in Bristol. According to The Sporting News, ESPN is laying off close to 100 employees today, including on-air and online reporters, anchors, reporters, analysts, and production staffers. While the names of those laid off won’t be made public (and rightly so), several are taking to social media to share the news, including longtime college basketball reporter Dana O’Neil:

And veteran NFL reporter Ed Werder:

Also, NFL writer Paul Kuharksky, who Matt clashed with on the Midday 180 a few weeks back:

The Hollywood Reporter is also reporting that ESPN personalities Ryen Russillo, Hannah Storm, and Baseball Tonight‘s Karl Ravitch’s roles will be “significantly reduced.” ESPN president John Skipper confirmed the layoffs this morning in a statement, essentially saying that the Worldwide Leader was forced to make cuts to keep up with the changing landscape of sports media (I read that as more “hot takes,” less actual reporting):

A necessary component of managing change involves constantly evaluating how we best utilize all of our resources, and that sometimes involves difficult decisions. Our content strategy – primarily illustrated in recent months by melding distinct, personality-driven SportsCenter TV editions and digital-only efforts with our biggest sub-brand – still needs to go further, faster…and as always, must be efficient and nimble.  Dynamic change demands an increased focus on versatility and value, and as a result, we have been engaged in the challenging process of determining the talent—anchors, analysts, reporters, writers and those who handle play-by-play—necessary to meet those demands.  We will implement changes in our talent lineup this week.  A limited number of other positions will also be affected and a handful of new jobs will be posted to fill various needs.

While the writing’s been on the wall with ESPN for a while, it’s never fun to see people lose their jobs. Best of luck to those affected.

UPDATE: Add veteran college football reporter Brett McMurphy to the list…

And college hoops reporter Eamonn Brennan:

And former Courier-Journal sportswriter C.L. Brown:

Wow. No one is safe in Bristol today.