Basketball Season Coverage
There are multiple stages in the NBA Draft process. You know the official ones: draft declaration, NBA combine, then private workouts. Those provide some insight into a prospect’s decision, but not like the step of the process we just entered: Ambiguous Social Media SZN.
All it takes is one emoji to send the fanbase into a frenzy, and it started last night on P.J. Washington’s Instagram.
But wait, there’s more!
One sarcastic comment from UK’s strength coach and our pets’ heads are falling off. The only thing that’s better than one ambiguous Instagram post, is TWO ambiguous Instagram posts.
I love it. Give me more silly speculation, all day, everyday until the draft deadline arrives one week from today.
UK Baseball Falls in SEC Tournament
The Bat Cats’ ninth-inning rally was not enough to get a win at the SEC Tournament. Kentucky was eliminated by Auburn 4-3 in 11 innings. Health in the bullpen has been a problem, but yesterday it was all at the plate. UK was 2-for-15 with runners in scoring position and left ten base-runners stranded.
Does the loss end UK’s season? The Bat Cats are on the bubble — earlier this week D-1 Baseball said UK was one of the last five in the field — but with a Top 25 RPI, it will be hard to keep them out of the NCAA Tournament.
BW-3s Wins the KSR Food Bracket
Outback’s Bloomin’ Onion could not overcome B-Dubs’ saucy press. Buffalo Wild Wings’ coronation is complete as the 2018 KSR Food Bracket Champions. They celebrated by cutting the nets to One Shining Moment.
— Buffalo Wild Wings (@BWWings) May 23, 2018
The Rockets make it a Series
The Houston Rockets are not done. The NBA team with the best regular season record proved their worth in game four last night, upending the defending champion Golden State Warriors 95-92. Maybe a Golden State repeat is not a foregone conclusion?
The 2-2 Eastern Conference Finals return tonight with an extremely important game five. Boston will host Cleveland at 8:30 on ESPN.
Tonight we will find out if it actually is the Caps’ Year. They will be in Tampa Bay for Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Finals tonight at 8:00 on NBCSN. A day after PFT Commenter was doxed by Deadspin, the Caps owe their biggest fan a Stanley Cup-clinching W.
And you thought you were good at ping-pong.
Most impressive thing you'll see today. ? pic.twitter.com/tMn2sq4NO7
— Whistle Sports (@WhistleSports) May 21, 2018
By TJ Walker on ©May 22nd, 2018 @ 11:00pm
Paul Washington Sr. texted Kentucky Sports Radio to update where things stand with P.J. Washington’s NBA Draft decision.
P.J. Washington said in Chicago last week that if he wasn’t a guaranteed first round pick he would return to Kentucky. His father said that is still the plan but added no final decision has been made.
“We will sit down as a family once we get the info and make a decision that is in the best interest of my son and his goals,” he texted Kentucky Sports Radio.
The mock drafts aren’t favorable for P.J. Washington’s goals of being a first round pick. Out of three mock drafts that project both rounds (ESPN, SI and NBADraft.net) only one has Washington being drafted. Sports Illustrated has him at No. 48 while and no current mock draft has him as a first round selection.
Paul Washington Sr. said that he’s unsure if his son’s decision will come before the May 30th deadline, but it’s looking like it may come down to the wire because P.J. Washington isn’t finished meeting with teams.
P.J. Washington will work out with the Utah Jazz tomorrow and the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday.
The Jazz have the 21st and 52nd pick. The Timberwolves have the 20th pick. Washington has already met with the Clippers, Nets and Celtics. There was a schedule visit with the Bucks but I can’t confirm if that visit actually took place.
P.J.’s last planned workout is May 25th. I’m guessing after that visit he meets with his family over the weekend and comes to a final decision. However, with it being Memorial Day weekend a final decision may not come until May 29th at the earliest. With the deadline being May 30th he may just wait until the final day.
UPDATE (10:55 p.m.): Tyler here. PJ posted this on Instagram tonight, and although it’s silly to read too much into it, his comments do seem to confirm he will wait until May 30 to announce his decision:
UPDATED (11:33 p.m): Back to T.J. This is going to be a nightmare of a week reading way too much into every little comment and social media post. Buckle up, folks. UK head strength coach Rob Harris added an interesting comment but later said he was joking.
— Thomas Hunley (@ThomasHunley8) May 23, 2018
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©May 22nd, 2018 @ 9:00pm
Dick Vitale and his wife are celebrating their 47th wedding anniversary today, which means Dickie V. is flooding Instagram with pictures to commemorate the occasion. Among snaps of celebrities, athletes, and Broken Egg Cafe customers includes this picture of the two with John Calipari, posed directly under a mural of Rick Pitino in the Kentucky Basketball facilities:
A post shared by Dick Vitale (@dickiev_espn) on
Because it’s a slow night and there are only so many times I can type, “PJ Washington, Jarred Vanderbilt, and Wenyen Gabriel have until May 30th to decide whether to stay in the draft or return to school,” I ask you, the KSR readers: Is this picture a troll move or not? Did Dickie V. intentionally ask to take the pic under the mural of his beloved Rick to honor their friendship or did Calipari do it to thumb his nose at his former foe? Or, is it a Tuesday night and there’s nothing better to talk about?
I’m going with the latter, but let me know what you think in the comments.
Hamidou Diallo worked out with the Washington Wizards on Tuesday, his second workout in two days (the other was Monday with the Chicago Bulls).
After putting in work, Diallo took some time to speak to the media about what he can bring to a team and how he would fit in with the Wizards playing alongside the speedy John Wall, who attended Diallo’s workout.
Hear what he had to say:
— Washington Wizards (@WashWizards) May 22, 2018
Joe B. Hall made a special guest appearance on Tuesday’s Kentucky Sports Radio radio show to share the memory of his former player, Bret Bearup, who passed away unexpectedly last week.
As many of you well know or have heard, Bearup was as bright as they come and a close friend to many. Coach Hall remembers him as a genius, and maybe too smart for basketball:
“A sportswriter called me yesterday and started naming the players that I coached or recruited that have passed on, and it’s very discouraging to hear that kind of news. And when Bear passed, he’s too young — 56 years old and a healthy, strong, practically young man. Bret was a free spirited, very intelligent, almost genius. And maybe he was genius; I don’t know how they prove that. But he breezed through law school. He read four newspapers a day. He was very intelligent. But when it came to basketball, he had difficulty focusing. I think he was so intelligent, the game was under his radar.”
Listen to Coach Hall’s full comment below:
Bearup played for Hall at Kentucky from 1980-85, and was the starting center on Hall’s final team in Lexington. He was an All-Academic SEC selection his senior year, and finished his UK career with 410 points and 308 rebounds in 114 games.
We are one month away from the NBA Draft, and with the Lottery and Combine now in the rearview mirror, basketball analysts across the country are releasing new mock drafts. Sports Illustrated’s Jeremy Woo updated his projections today and has five Kentucky players going in the draft, but only two in the first round:
- 12. Los Angeles Clippers: Kevin Knox
- 13. Los Angeles Clippers: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
- 43. Denver Nuggets: Hamidou Diallo
- 48. Minnesota Timberwolves: PJ Washington
- 52. Utah Jazz: Jarred Vanderbilt
As you are well aware, PJ Washington, Jarred Vanderbilt, and Wenyen Gabriel have until May 30 to decide whether or not to stay in the draft. TJ Walker doled out his predictions as to what they’ll do in the Insider Notes earlier today:
Here’s where all six players stand in the latest round of mock drafts:
|Shai Alexander||Kevin Knox||Hamidou Diallo||PJ Washington||Jarred Vanderbilt||Wenyen Gabriel|
|ESPN Top 100 (Updated 5/13)||12||15||37||51||63||—|
|ESPN (Updated 5/15)||12. LA Clippers||15. Washington||40. Brooklyn||—||—||—|
|Sports Illustrated (Updated 5/21)||12. LA Clippers||13. LA Clippers||43. Denver||48. Minnesota||52. Utah||—|
|Sporting News* (Updated 5/21)||12. LA Clippers||16. Phoenix (via Miami)||—||—||—||—|
|Gary Parrish* (Updated 5/16)||13. LA Clippers||14. Denver||—||—||—||—|
|NBADraft.net (Updated 5/17)||12. LA Clippers||11. Charlotte||52. Utah||—||—||—|
|Bleacher Report* (Updated 5/21)||12. LA Clipppers||14. Denver||—||—||—||—|
|The Athletic* (Updated 5/16)||12. LA Clippers||14. Denver||—||—||—||—|
|* First Round only|
Sadly we’re no closer to knowing if Wenyen Gabriel will return to Kentucky, but we haven’t heard much from him since the end of UK’s season.
Gabriel spoke with media members in Sacramento after his workout with the Kings. The stretch forward seemed upbeat and positive, but didn’t drop any hints about where he’s leaning in his decision making process, but that’s probably because he wasn’t asked.
Gabriel did say that he spoke with former teammate De’Aaron Fox when asked about what he knew about the Kings.
“I knew a little bit. I know there are already a lot of Kentucky players already play for the program. One of my former teammates De’Aaron Fox is already here. He said he loved it here. I asked him about the city and he said great weather. The fans are great over here and obviously the facilities are nice. They have a nice developmental program here. I mean, it’s just a great place and I love the energy around here.”
If you’re looking for anything and you’re willing to dig deep, his quote about the Kings’ developmental program was intriguing. It seems like Gabriel knows that if he gets any chance in the NBA he will be spending time in the G-League.
Gabriel mentions he has worked out for Sacramento, Brooklyn, Oklahoma City, Milwaukee and Utah.
Fox is joined by former Cats Willie Cauley-Stein and Skal Labissiere. The Kings have one of the youngest teams in the NBA that feature several stretch forwards and on the one hand there aren’t many (if any) established wings, which would be good for Gabriel, but on the other hand the Kings probably aren’t looking for more wings.
Best of luck Wenyen. At the latest we’ll know his decision in nine days.
By Aaron Torres on ©May 21st, 2018 @ 8:00pm
To quote my colleague here at KSR Nick Roush, we have officially reached that magical time on the annual basketball calendar simply known as “NBA Draft stay or go SZN.” Sure, a handful of college basketball’s biggest stars (guys like DeAndre Ayton, Kevin Knox etc.) long ago hired agents, entered the draft and never looked back. But there are still dozens of others who are still “testing the waters” without agents and trying to figure out what their futures hold.
Now in terms of Kentucky, there isn’t a player with more intrigue in this process than P.J. Washington. Since Washington declared for the draft shortly after the season without an agent, he has made it abundantly clear that he will only leave school if he is a first round pick – a stance which he re-affirmed at the NBA Draft Combine last weekend. And as I’ve written and tweeted about many times this spring, I think this is the right approach for Washington specifically. While second round NBA Draft money is better than ever, Washington is one of those guys who could really make a leap in next year’s draft if he comes back to school and improves a few elements of his game (most notably his three-point shooting).
So that’s the good with Washington, but after spending the last few weeks speaking with NBA people, college coaches and others “in the know” there is something else that would concern me if I was a Kentucky fan looking for Washington to return next season. It’s something that few are talking about, and has little to do with Washington himself. But it’s also something that could play a major role in his decision.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©May 21st, 2018 @ 4:45pm
The news that Zan Payne, son of UK associate head coach Kenny Payne, will join next year’s squad as a walk-on has been out there for a while, but this afternoon, Kentucky made it official, welcoming the Lexington Catholic star to the squad in a press release.
“I am very excited to a part of the Big Blue Nation,” Payne said. “Over the last eight years, I’ve seen the best of the best players and teams in college basketball come through Lexington, and to be a part of the tradition is a dream come true. For Coach Cal to allow me this extraordinary opportunity, words can’t express my gratitude and appreciation.”
Payne scored over 1,000 points at Lexington Catholic, but his senior season was cut short when he suffered a knee injury in December. Once hoping for a scholarship at a Division I program, Payne had to reevaluate his future, which Calipari is thrilled will include Kentucky.
“Every conversation Kenny and I have had about Zan has been about what’s best for Zan,” UK head coach John Calipari said. “I wanted Kenny to take the same approach with Zan that I had with Brad. Let the kid do what’s best for him and be there to support them. We’ve always been an option for him, but we wanted Zan to make this decision on his own. I’m so happy he’s decided to stay at home with us because he’s an underrated talent who is going to bring a lot of depth to our team. Like his dad, he’s got a fighter’s mentality and there is no doubt in my mind he’s going to scratch and claw his way to a role on this team once he get his knee healthy. One of the most gratifying times of my coaching career has been watching Brad grow and develop to the man he is today, and I’m so happy Kenny and Zan get that experience now. It will be fun to watch.”
For more on Zan, check out TJ Walker’s exclusive interview with Kenny Payne from last week:
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©May 21st, 2018 @ 4:30pm
This week, Kentucky’s draft prospects are criss-crossing the country to participate in pre-draft workouts. Today, Wenyen Gabriel worked out for the Sacramento Kings and tomorrow, Hamidou Diallo will work out for the Washington Wizards, who have the 15th and 44th picks in next month’s draft.
Diallo is one of six players in the group workout, alongside Chris Chiozza (Florida), Tiwian Kendley (Morgan State), Jarius Lyles (UMBC), Doral Moore (Wake Forest), and Ray Spalding (Louisville). Diallo actually met with the Wizards at last week’s NBA Draft Combine, along with the Philadelphia 76ers, who own picks 10, 26, 38, 39, 56, and 60.
Diallo didn’t participate in the 5-on-5 play at the Combine but once again posted impressive results in the athletic testing, including the third best lane agility time (10.53 seconds) and one of the top max vertical leaps (40.5″, down from 44.5″ a year ago). Last season at Kentucky, he averaged 10.0 points and 3.6 rebounds per game, and is currently projected to go in the mid-second round of the draft.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©May 21st, 2018 @ 3:09pm
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Kevin Knox are Kentucky’s best draft prospects this year, and in turn, John Calipari made the rounds at the NBA Draft Combine last week to talk them up. In an interview with Jon Hale, Calipari said Shai and Kevin could be the steals of the draft ala Louisville’s Donovan Mitchell, who was drafted 13th last summer but is now one of the finalists for Rookie of the Year.
“Someone is going to take him, and everybody is going to say, ‘How did people pass on him?’” Cal said of Knox, who will turn 19 on August 11. “He’s going to be that. And you’re going to say because he was 18 at the time and who would have known?’ But that’s what I think will happen.”
Shai came to Kentucky as a four-star recruit but quickly established himself as the steal of the class, to the point the Cats could rarely survive an off-night from him.
“You’ve got to judge guys on can they make plays when the game is on the line? When he played bad this year for us, we lost,” Calipari said. “I didn’t realize it until like, ‘Holy s—, if he don’t play well, we’re going to lose.’ So, thank goodness he played well most of the year.”
Most mock drafts have Shai going to the Los Angeles Clippers at No. 12 or No. 13 and Knox anywhere from Charlotte at No. 11 to Phoenix at No. 16. More quotes from Calipari on Shai and Kevin at the link below.
By TJ Walker on ©May 21st, 2018 @ 12:11pm
Welcome back to the Monday Insider Notes! I hope you all had a great weekend, enjoyed the Preakness, and watched the UK Softball Cats dominate their regional.
The NBA Draft Combine is over and while things are slightly more clear there’s still much to be determined in the next nine days. We only have nine days! The deadlines are confusing with the NBA’s deadline being in June and the NCAA’s deadline being May 30th, but circle May 30th. That’s when we will know about P.J. Washington, Jarred Vanderbilt and Wenyen Gabriel’s final plans.
Of course those three could decide earlier and make our job easier, but if Hamidou Diallo taught us anything last year this may come down to the wire.
Jarred Vanderbilt: Not only did Vanderbilt not compete in the NBA Combine, I don’t think Vanderbilt has met with many (if any) NBA teams since the season has ended. Calipari said last week that he met with a team or two, but I’m not so sure how formal those meetings were and how many actually took place. If it’s any it’s likely not more than two or three.
Obviously NBA teams do these interviews to learn more about potential prospects. They want to learn about their character, competitive nature and to try and smooth over any potential red flags.
But with Vanderbilt the obvious topic of conversation would be his injuries, possible surgeries and when he will be able to play basketball. The fact that we haven’t learned more about these meetings is telling but behind the scenes people close to the situation haven’t heard of any formal meetings between Vanderbilt and front-office executives.
Things look better for UK’s chance at having a sophomore Vanderbilt, but the crux of his decision remains prominent. Does he need to start making money because of injury concerns or does he need to prove he can stay healthy? He certainly isn’t drumming up more NBA buzz with how quiet things have been around Vanderbilt’s camp.
Some have asked if Vanderbilt is still hurt from the March injury that ended his season. Many folks believe he’s been rehabbing from a possible surgery required after that injury. That timetable would seem to line up and keep him out of NBA Draft Combine activities.
My guess is he comes back to Kentucky.
P.J. Washington: It seems more likely that P.J. Washington leaves for the NBA than returns to Kentucky as of today. Things had been leaning that way for a few weeks but the NBA Combine may have sealed the deal for Washington. I was told that if Washington completely stunk in Chicago then that could tilt the scales, but he didn’t stink. His measurements were great in some areas and underwhelming in others, but his performance on the floor in scrimmages turned heads.
It may be all Washington needed to officially make the jump. P.J. had the quote that if he wasn’t a guaranteed first round pick he would return to UK, but some fans have misinterpreted that quote. There will be no written agreement between Washington and an NBA team, but instead it will be a promise. Washington could be told that he will be a first round pick but there won’t be a binding agreement. Basically, an NBA team could screw over Washington. Or an NBA team could be sincere and take him with one of the last picks in the first round. Regardless, it’s been overblown. I know if Washington stays in the draft and doesn’t go to the second round some people will call him a liar. That won’t necessarily be true.
Regardless, I’m guessing Washington hears what he wants to hear and stays in the draft. UK has a plan in place if Washington leaves.
Wenyen Gabriel: Gabriel is the guy that I go back-and-forth on more often than any other player. Gabriel wasn’t invited to the NBA Draft Combine and wasn’t included in the Professional Basketball Combine (a second tier combine). However, Gabriel wasn’t invited to the PBC because you must have given up college eligibility to participate. He is still considering going back to school.
He continues to work out for teams (Sacramento Kings) but that seems to strictly be for summer camp roster spots, which Gabriel would land if he stays in the draft. It would be a major shock if he heard his name on draft night. However, while it is far from being set in stone my opinion has turned to Gabriel returning to Kentucky for his junior season.
If Gabriel was set on going pro he missed an opportunity not participating in the PBC. He will continue to work out for teams likely up until the deadline and that will be great learning experience for Gabriel.
Roster Outlook: If I’m right and Vanderbilt and Gabriel return to UK, let’s look at the frontcourt:
Jarred Vanderbilt, Nick Richards, Wenyen Gabriel and E.J. Montgomery. That wouldn’t be Calipari’s best frontcourt but it would be far from his worst. You would have scoring, rebounding and defense. Gabriel would be a threat from deep and Montgomery can stretch the floor, too.
The question is would Calipari continue with his plan to bring in a certain grad-transfer from the left coast? If just one of Gabriel or Vanderbilt join Washington in the NBA Draft then it’s a no-brainer. But, if Gabriel and Vanderbilt return it becomes tricky for Calipari. You would want an embarrassment of riches, but you also wouldn’t want to tick off any frontcourt players.
Keion Brooks: He remains one of UK’s big targets in 2019, but news broke over the weekend that his dad may try to coach his high school team. I always think it’s cool when a parent can coach their kids, but be on the lookout of other colleges trying to hire Brooks’ father. This is a somewhat common occurrence for recruiting. I think UK is in a great spot for Brooks, but that could clearly change things if his pops is hired elsewhere.
Jalen Lecque: He is still deciding whether to stay in 2019 or move to 2018, but it’s unlikely he ends up at UK in either class. 2018 certainly won’t happen for Lecque and UK, but there’s some rumblings that he prefers other schools. I actually think NC State and Tennessee are in really nice spots for Lecque. Lecque would be a fun combo guard to pair with Maxey in 2019, and it’s not impossible, but seems more unlikely.
Dontaie Allen: He continues to roll in nice offers and my advice for UK’s staff would to be to offer the kid ASAP. Accept his commitment and allow Kentucky fans around the state to fall in love with him during his senior season. I think as long as UK eventually offers Allen he ends up in Lexington, but the sooner the better. UK fans love Kentuckians and Allen would be a great fit. UK’s staff does just fine on the recruiting trail but landing Allen this summer would be nothing but a positive.
Matthew Hurt: Be on the lookout for visits planned by Hurt. He may take some this summer, or he may wait until the early fall, but he isn’t going to drag his recruitment out until the spring of 2019. That may not be great news because UK prefers Carey and Wiseman, but we’ll see how UK handles possibly prioritizing Hurt.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©May 21st, 2018 @ 12:00pm
PJ Washington turned in a good performance at the NBA Draft Combine last week, but according to ESPN’s Mike Schmitz, it probably wasn’t enough to get him the first-round guarantee he wants. Schmitz said Washington has a lot to gain from a second year at Kentucky, such as consistent effort and an outside shot.
“Although he posted a 26.7 PER and monster per 40 numbers, Washington looked far from a surefire first-round pick in Chicago,” Schmitz wrote. “He had some impressive moments as an offensive rebounder, but his feel for the game and bouts of inconsistent effort still crept in. Washington doesn’t quite have an elite skill at this stage and would benefit from adding a standstill 3-pointer to his repertoire before maximizing his draft stock.”
At the Combine, Washington reiterated that he will return to school if he’s not given a first-round guarantee; thankfully, we’ll know for certain a week from Wednesday, the NCAA’s deadline for underclassmen to withdraw from the Draft.
For more notes on who helped or hurt their NBA Draft stock at the Combine, get your wallet out and head on over to ESPN Insider. (Spoiler: he thought Hamidou Diallo should have played in the 5-on-5 scrimmages.)
Underclassmen staying in the NBA Draft despite not being projected to be drafted is a conundrum Kentucky fans have grappled with the past few years, so sometimes it’s nice to be reminded it’s not just a Kentucky issue. Texas A&M big man Tyler Davis announced yesterday he will forego his senior year in College Station and remain in the draft even though he’s not listed on any of the major mock drafts. Adam Zagoria is reporting that Davis will sign with an agent and play in Europe this fall.
Of the three Kentucky players currently testing the NBA Draft waters, Wenyen Gabriel’s situation is most similar to Davis’. Wenyen, who will work out for the Sacramento Kings today, isn’t projected to be drafted, but may be ready to explore options overseas or in the G-League. Wenyen, PJ Washington, and Jarred Vanderbilt have until May 30 to decide whether to stay in the draft or return to school.
Davis is the third Texas A&M star to announce he’s staying in the draft, joining Robert Williams and D.J. Hogg. That means the Aggies will be without three of their top four scorers next year. Talk about a rebuilding year for Billy Kennedy.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©May 21st, 2018 @ 10:00am
The NCAA’s deadline to withdraw from the NBA Draft is next Wednesday, May 30, making this a big week for pre-draft workouts. Wenyen Gabriel will start his week in Sacramento, where he’ll work out for the Kings:
— Sacramen2 Kings (@SacramentoKings) May 21, 2018
On May 12, Wenyen worked out for the Utah Jazz. Joining him in today’s workout are Trevon Bluiett (Xavier), Jevon Carter (West Virginia), Caleb Martin (Nevada), Cameron Reynolds (Tulane), and Gabe Vincent (UC Santa Barbara).
Last season, Wenyen averaged 6.8 points and 5.4 rebounds per game and established himself as a three-point threat, hitting almost 40 percent from beyond the arc. He’s not listed on any of the major mock drafts or top 100 prospect rankings, but may be prepared to explore a professional career regardless; good performances at workouts like this one would certainly help.