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Basketball Season Coverage

Duke basketball to be featured in all-access show this fall

Duke basketball will be the focus of an all-access feature this fall called “Earn Everything”, the school announced Thursday.

The series will show Duke’s players arriving to campus, practicing, its exhibition trip to Canada and their preparation for the opening season game against Kentucky.

The eight episode series will air on ESPN Plus, which likely means not too many people will watch it.

UK all-access shows are old news. Calipari has had a 30 for 30 and the Cats have had two all-access shows including one on regular ESPN. Sadly that was the year the Cats went to the NIT. We can only hope Duke suffers a similar fate.

Let’s hope it shows Coach K cry like he did when Luke Kennard committed to the Blue Devils. If that doesn’t happen I’ll settle for this being a distraction for the young Dukies.

See ya in November.


Vote for Kentucky in NCAA’s All-Time Starting Five Tournament

Vote for Kentucky in NCAA’s All-Time Starting Five Tournament

(Mandatory Credit: Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports)

To pass the time until the season, the folks behind the NCAA March Madness social media accounts put together an All-Time Starting Five bracket for fans to vote on. In the first round, Kentucky faces West Virginia. Who did they pick for each team’s top five?

Kentucky:

  • John Wall
  • Tony Delk
  • Tayshaun Prince
  • Anthony Davis
  • DeMarcus Cousins

West Virginia:

  • Jevon Carter
  • Jerry West
  • Da’Sean Butler
  • Kevin Jones
  • Kevin Pittsnogle

We could argue for hours about Kentucky’s starting lineup (No Mashburn? No Issel?), but there’s no denying that this one would kill West Virginia’s. Not surprisingly, Kentucky leads the poll 83 percent to 17 percent:

There’s also a poll on NCAA March Madness’ Instagram story which will be used as a tiebreaker if the Twitter poll is 50/50.

Here’s the complete bracket:

Now, the real question, which is perfect for a slow summer day: What’s your ultimate Kentucky starting lineup?


A Couple Takeaways After Watching James Wiseman on Wednesday Night

IG: bigticket_j13

LOS ANGELES — It was an up-and-down couple days for James Wiseman at Peach Jam last weekend. Coming into the event it was a near consensus that Wiseman was one of two players (along with Vernon Carey) who should be considered the top player in the high school class of 2019. Yet after playing good but not great at Peach Jam (he averaged 16 points and 5.8 rebounds over the course of that weekend), some called into question whether Wiseman should be considered at all for the top spot.

Well, if Wiseman heard those whispers, he showed – beyond a reasonable doubt – on Wednesday night that it is way too premature to remove his name from the conversation of “the best player in high school basketball.” After electing to switch AAU teams (his normal squad, the Bluff City Legends, finished their season last weekend) Wiseman arrived at the Adidas Summer Championships in Los Angeles Wednesday night and put on a show everyone in attendance from coaches, to fans and yes this writer for KSR.

Still, despite appearing to play with a chip on his shoulder, Wiseman said that wasn’t the case at all.

“Really I don’t [feel like I have anything to prove],” Wiseman said following the game. “I feel like I played hard at Peach Jam. I think I showed everything, my offensive game, everything.”

An official scorer from Adidas said that Wiseman finished with 20 points and nine rebounds on Wednesday night, but watching him in person it felt like a much more dominant performance. Beyond just the raw numbers though, Wiseman showed off a skill-set that fits the profile of a player who many consider to be the No. 1 player in the country and a potential future No. 1 pick in the draft.

Over the course of a couple possessions, Wiseman did everything from hit a deep three, to put back a monster dunk, with a beautiful up-and-under move in the paint. Defensively he tore down a couple big rebounds and slapped away a block shot in those same few possessions. Even in a gym where there was other elite talent (consensus Top 10 prospects like Matthew Hurt and Trendon Watford were also in the building), Wiseman stood out as by far the best player at the event (for those wondering, 2020 big man Evan Mobley was probably the closest behind him).

What will be interesting to see is what comes next in Wiseman’s recruitment. Wiseman has claimed all along that his recruitment remains open, and reiterated that Wednesday night, telling me that he plans to release a new “Top 8” schools soon. Still, the consensus seems to be that there are only two really contenders in his recruitment, Kentucky and Memphis, and the crowd on Wednesday night seemed to indicate that. Kentucky assistant Joel Justus was there (multiple sources told KSR that John Calipari is expected in today) and Memphis’ Penny Hardaway and assistant Mike Miller were there as well.

Maybe even more interesting, was who wasn’t there. Although Wiseman said that schools like Duke, North Carolina, Kansas and Vanderbilt have reached out to him (in addition to his top two), outside the contingent from Memphis and Kentucky, as best I could tell, only North Carolina’s Roy Williams seemed to be there explicitly for Wiseman. Kansas didn’t appear to have a coach in the building (although maybe I missed them). And in a wild twist, no one from Duke watched him either. That is especially telling, considering that both Coach K and assistant Jon Scheyer were not only in Los Angeles, but at the same court earlier in the night to watch Matthew Hurt. All they had to do was literally not move from where they were, and they could have seen Wiseman play a few minutes later. Yet they were gone by the time his game tipped off.

Understand, that is a knock on Coach K, but instead, feels to me like an indicator of where Duke believes they stand in Wiseman’s recruitment.

Even though Wiseman claims that Duke has been in touch, if the Blue Devils were seriously pursuing him, I find it hard to believe that Coach K wouldn’t be courtside, especially since he was already in the building. Some will argue that Duke has prioritized other big men including Vernon Carey and Isaiah Stewart and that’s fair, but let’s be honest, it’s not like Duke hasn’t recruited multiple guys at the same position before (like R.J. Barrett, Cam Reddish and Zion Williamson this year, for example).

Therefore, seeing both Coach K and Scheyer leave once Wiseman took the court can only lead me to one conclusion: They don’t believe they have a real shot at him. To which I ask, when was the last time that Duke basically punted on even trying to recruit the best player in high school basketball?

Those are the times we’re in however and – as has been reported by everyone – it appears as though Wiseman’s recruitment will ultimately come down to Kentucky and Memphis when it’s all said and done.

In the meantime, Wiseman doesn’t seem particularly worried about recruiting, or much else for that matter.

“I just want to keep working hard,” he said when asked about his plans for the rest of the summer. “And just keep getting better.”

If Wednesday was any indication, he is well on his way to doing just that.


Duke’s getting an All-Access Show

Today in “Coach K copies John Calipari,” ESPN just announced that Duke’s getting an all-access show; however, while Kentucky’s four games in the Bahamas will be televised on the SEC Network, Duke’s games in Canada and the all-access show will only be available on ESPN+, the network’s premium (aka $) streaming service. The games will also be televised on TSN and RDS in Canada.

Dan Shulman and Jay Bilas will call Duke’s exhibitions in Canada, which take place August 15-19. The Blue Devils will play three Canadian universities: Ryerson, the University of Toronto, and McGill. The all-access show, entitled “Earn Everything,” will be eight episodes long and follow the Blue Devils through summer workouts, the foreign tour, and the fall leading up to the season opener vs. Kentucky.

“Along the way, college basketball fans will get an inside peek at how Coach K and his staff mold a group of talented basketball players into a group of  ‘Duke Basketball Players,'” the release reads.

Gag. Of course, Kentucky’s no stranger to all-access shows; ESPN documented the 2012-13 season (which in retrospect is pretty unfortunate), the “Let’s Ball” documentary followed the 2014-15 season, and Facebook did a series on the Cats last year.

At the very least, I’m looking forward to seeing how Coach K plans to get R.J. Barrett, Zion Williamson, and Cam Reddish to share minutes. That actually might be worth forking over $4.99 a month.

[ESPN Media Zone]


Meet the Wildcats Podcast: T.J. Beisner discusses P.J. Washington’s return and interviews Keldon Johnson

Our buddy T.J. Beisner from CoachCal.com released his third edition of his “Meet the Wildcat” series on the Behind Kentucky Basketball series. The purpose of the podcast was meeting and interviewing freshman Keldon Johnson, but Beisner started the podcast discussing Washington’s return to practice. The sophomore forward finished the season with a broken pinky and played a few months with the injury.

Here are the P.J. Washington highlights:

  • P.J. Washington has been a leader, even when sidelined after his surgery. “P.J. has shown at this point he is a leader.” Beisner said he was always engaged during practices and would point out mistakes and give advice. That’s pretty cool to hear.
  • Beisner said the team was having great practices but when things were starting to possibly get stale Reid Travis was added to the mix. Then once things may have started slowing down P.J. Washington is now back. Adding these experienced pieces have to be great for the younger guys.
  • Don’t read into who’s wearing blue/white jerseys in practices, says Beisner. That’s smart advice because these guys switch jersey colors multiple times throughout a practice.
  • P.J. stayed nearly two hours after practice on Tuesday night going through individual drills. “P.J.’s practice was only part of the work he put in last night.” Beisner said he’s embracing the process and the grind. “You need a leader to be the first one there and the last one to leave,” he said.

Great stuff regarding P.J. Washington. On the Soundcloud link you can listen to Beisner’s thoughts on Washington from the start to the 6:20 mark of the podcast.

Photo: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images North America

Keldon Johnson

  • Beisner said he loves watching him practice. “He makes everyone better because if you don’t play better you’re going to get run into the ground.” He said that Johnson is having to guard every player on the team and putting him in uncomfortable situations and he’s thriving.
  • Beisner notes that Calipari said last week on KSR that Johnson was UK’s most consistent shooter. “I like my job so I won’t disagree.” It sounds like there may have been a little Cal fluff on Johnson’s shooting, but Beisner said he’s been impressed with his outside shot.
  • The interview starts at 8:48 in the podcast.
  • Keldon Johnson said practices get a little chippy because everyone wants to compete.
  • Keldon Johnson’s brother is a senior at Georgetown and he grew up with the mindset that he needed to be better than him. Johnson said he is better than his brother although his brother would disagree. Kaleb Johnson averaged 7.9 points, 4.2 rebounds and two assists per game during his junior season for the Hoyas.
  • Johnson said every player is different on the team, so each player has to expand their game to be able to keep up with their teammates.
  • “I’m a dog. I do whatever it takes to win. I’m the ultimate competitor. I score the basketball very well. I lock up on defense. My shot has improved a lot and I’m starting to knockdown more shots,” Keldon said when describing his game.
  • Keldon said interacting with the Big Blue Nation is a once in a lifetime experience. He said he maybe signed 2k-3k autographs during the summer.
  • Keldon said one of his first basketball memories was watching Jodie Meeks scoring 54 points against Tennessee. After that Keldon wanted to play with UK on video games and shoot threes with Jodie Meeks.
  • The interview ends at the 16:30 mark.

Other tidbits

  • The teams in the Bahamas are better than the ones they played four years ago. Beisner was told by Calipari that UK may lose some games, maybe all the games, but no one should hit the panic button.
  • Beisner said the last game in the Bahamas will feature UK squaring off against former Cat Kyle Wiltjer. I did not know that and that will be incredibly cool.
  • Beisner said no one is really separating themselves, but he said Calipari is adamant there will not be any platoons, but Beisner said you just never know with Calipari, but the plan will be to not platoon.
  • Beisner said UK is NOT switching from Nike to Jordan Brand. The practice jerseys were a one time deal and they were immediately available. Those are temporary practice jerseys and it was a “technical” issue.

You should listen to the entire interview. Beisner is informative and has been killing it on the CoachCal.com beat.

 

 


WATCH: Kentucky basketball releases MORE practice highlights

WATCH: Kentucky basketball releases MORE practice highlights

@KentuckyMBB

If you’re not aware of this yet, the Kentucky coaching staff and those around the program are excited about the basketball team. Extremely excited.

We’re already getting inside information from our friend TJ Beisner at CoachCal.com, who has been releasing practice recaps, player interviews, and podcasts each week.

Now, the official Kentucky men’s basketball account is unleashing more practice content on both Twitter and Instagram almost daily.

First up, a Reid Travis slam in transition, assisted by Tyler Herro:

Next, Immanuel Quickley swatted Quade Green’s shot back in his face:

On Instagram, we’re getting similar videos to the ones shown above, but also more raw footage on their story:

Very, very impressive.

We’re just a few weeks away from the Bahamas trip, BBN. Hang on just a bit longer, and then we’ll have all the highlight videos we could ever need… To hold us over until Big Blue Madness, at least.


Jeff Gross | Getty Images

Doron Lamb named one of New York City’s best ballers

Jeff Gross | Getty Images

Doron Lamb is one of the best three-point shooters in Kentucky history. And according to SLAM Magazine, he’s one of the best basketball players in New York City history.

SLAM named the 60 best basketball players to ever come out of the Big Apple today and Doron Lamb made the cut. The players are not ranked, but this is the short snippet about Lamb.

Doron Lamb

Lower East Side native Doron Lamb started his high school career at Bishop Loughlin in Brooklyn. He put up 22 a game as a sophomore, catching the eye of Oak Hill Academy. He left New York to finish high school, finding his way to Kentucky as a collegian. He won a National Championship in 2012.

Now seems like a good time to revisit Lamb’s two years in Lexington. His title game in 2012 is one of the more underrated performances in a big game.


Jonny David, Dillon Pulliam honored by NABC

A big congratulations to Jonny David and Dillion Pulliam, who were honored by the National Association of Basketball Coaches for their outstanding academic achievements following the 2017-18 season. The NABC recognizes students who are juniors or seniors (what are those?) with a GPA of 3.2 or higher.

Pulliam left the program this past May to pursue a master’s degree in electrical and computer engineering at Carnegie Mellon. He graduated from UK with a 4.0 GPA and gave up a final year of athletic eligibility to begin the next phase of his education.

David is back this year as the old man on the team. He is a three-time member of the SEC Academic Team and is slated to graduate in May of 2019 with a degree in kinesiology.

Go Cats.


Must-Listen: Oscar Combs’ podcast with John Y. Brown

Must-Listen: Oscar Combs’ podcast with John Y. Brown

This morning, Oscar Combs released the latest episode of his podcast, and it’s well worth a few minutes of your time. UK’s premiere basketball historian interviewed the great John Y. Brown, the former governor of Kentucky, Kentucky Fried Chicken entrepreneur, and owner of the Kentucky Colonels, Buffalo Braves, and Boston Celtics.

In part one of the three-part series, the two touched on a variety of topics, including Brown’s college days at UK, how he got Adolph Rupp and Colonel Sanders in the same room, and his decision to get into fried chicken, pro basketball, and politics.

Listen below, and keep an eye on Oscar’s Twitter and website for parts two and three. Based on these teasers from Oscar, you won’t want to miss them: