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Basketball Season Coverage

Chad Ford has a brand new board with four Wildcats

Chad Ford’s days at ESPN are numbered but an upcoming exit from the World Wide Leader will not keep a good man like Chad Ford down during his peak season.

Today, Ford updated his NBA big board for the seventh time — aptly named Big Board 7.0 — and it has four Wildcats included: De’Aaron Fox at No. 5, Malik Monk at No. 7, Bam Adebayo at No. 23, and Hamidou Diallo at No. 27.

Here’s what Ford said about Fox:

Fox was the highest-ranked prospect to show up at the combine and do anything besides interviews. He was measured and did medicals.

His measurements came in a little shorter than expected and his weight still isn’t quite cracking 170 pounds. But he was a big hit in interviews for NBA teams, and there is a handful of clubs that prefer him over Ball.

And then Monk:

Monk may end up moving up three or four spots on draft night thanks to where the Sixers and Magic fell in the lottery.

He’s the best shooter and scoring guard in the draft — by a long shot.

And then Adebayo:

Adebayo tested off the charts in his measurements and athletic testing portion of the combine. Teams were also impressed with his interviews.

He seems to be putting himself back into the mix as a mid-first-round pick.

And then Diallo:

Diallo posted the second-highest max vertical in draft combine history. He was one of the best athletes in Chicago. Whether or not he has an offensive game to match is the big question.

He has had workouts with the Celtics, Bucks, Bulls and Nets. He could become a top-10 pick in 2018 after another year at Kentucky, but only if he can prove that he can hit his jumper. Scouts are watching closely.

Diallo made the jump up from unranked in Ford’s new update, while the other three did not move in the rankings.

See the entire board, which does not include any other Wildcats, here.


Isaac Humphries working out for the Nuggets

Isaac Humphries’ busy pre-draft workout tour continues today with a stop in Denver to showcase his skills and his beard for the Nuggets.

Yesterday, Humphries was in Milwaukee for a workout with the Bucks, making for a quick turnaround before today’s work in Denver.

Here’s a glimpse of the action:

The Nuggets hold the No. 49 and 51 picks late in the second round of the draft, so maybe, just maybe, the big Australian can turn some heads today and get himself into contention for one of those spots.


Isaiah Briscoe working out for the Toronto Raptors today

Former Kentucky guard Isaiah Briscoe is in Canada today for a pre-draft workout with the Toronto Raptors. He’ll be trying to show out for the Raptors brass among the likes of North Carolina’s Justin Jackson, Florida State’s Xavier Rathan-Mayes (there’s a name from our past) and Illinois State’s MiKyle McIntosh, among others.

Toronto has only one pick in the draft, in the first round at No. 23, so it’s unlikely Briscoe is playing to convince the Raptors to draft him. But he could play his way into a summer league spot with the team and then work his way up from there.

Good luck to him.


Zagoria: “Diallo Decision ‘Going Down to the Wire’”

No one knows the New York amateur basketball scene better than Adam Zagoria, so you have to trust everything he says and reports about anyone from the area, including Hamidou Diallo.

Therefore, we must listen when Zagoria says a source told him Diallo’s decision may not come until Wednesday, the deadline for making that decision.

“It’s going to the wire on Wednesday,” Zagoria’s source told him“A decision could be made before Wednesday but right now it’s looking like Wednesday.”

That may be the case, but we’ll keep refreshing the Diallo newswire every minute between now and Wednesday at midnight, just to be safe.

Hamidou Diallo Decision ‘Going Down to the Wire’


The Mixtape You’ve Been Waiting For: Ballin’ Like I’m Wenyen

@RCG_melo

We often share songs dedicated to Kentucky basketball.  For the first time in my five-year history at KSR, we have an entire mixtape dedicated to Kentucky basketball.  More specifically, we have an entire mixtape dedicated to Wenyen Gabriel.

New Hampshire native RCG Melo starts the mixtape Ballin’ Like I’m Wenyen with “Upman,” named after Wenyen’s Twitter handle.  As you’ll see, there are other basketball-themed songs like “2nd Half” and “Overtime.”

There are 11 songs with high quality production dedicated to the soon-to-be Kentucky sophomore, Wenyen Gabriel.  Listen to them all below, but beware of explicit lyrics.


ESPN Locks Up Dick Vitale for Three More College Basketball Seasons

After laying off hundreds of personalities last month, this month the four-letter network is extending Dick Vitale’s contract through the 2019-20 college basketball season.  That year will mark Dickie V’s 41st college basketball season.

“Dick Vitale is an ESPN PTPer – our signature college basketball voice for 38 years,” said ESPN President John Skipper in a statement. “He has grown the sport and the place of ESPN in the sport. He is, literally, a Basketball Hall of Famer who has augmented a remarkable on-air career with a tireless passion for helping others, highlighted by his remarkable work on behalf of The V Foundation.”

Even though many hate to hear his voice during Kentucky games, there are few personalities in this world as big as Dickie V.  He’s no longer on ESPN’s A-Team of broadcasters, but when he’s in the building you know it’s a big game.  One of the nicest human beings on the planet, the KSR family will be happy to see Dickie V through 2020.

Now watch this painfully awkward technical difficulty-filled morning interview from 2012.

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An NFL Team Watched Dominique Hawkins Work Out for the Lakers

The Los Angeles Lakers weren’t the only team scouting Dominique Hawkins today.  Hawkins’ high school coach, Allen Feldhaus Jr., told The Courier-Journal that the Dallas Cowboys were at the Lakers’ facility in Segundo, California to watch Hawkins do work.

A football star in high school with exceptional combine numbers, Hawkins has reportedly received interest from multiple NFL teams, but as of now he’s still focused on playing basketball professionally.  Still, our friend T.J. Beisner has a question for D-Hawk: “How bout them Cowboys?”

[The Courier-Journal]


Dominique Hawkins looks good in purple and gold

Here’s a glimpse of Hawkins working out in Los Angeles today.

Should the Lakers take him over Lonzo Ball at No. 2?

bike trail guide


Joe Craft Center locker room undergoing renovation

Back in February the UK Board of Trustees approved a renovation of the men’s basketball locker room in the Joe Craft Center practice facility. The privately-funded project was said to cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $4 million and would include changes to the locker and shower space, the lounge, and meeting rooms.

Well that project is now underway, seen here in these photos from the Kentucky basketball Twitter account:

In the end it will look something like this:


Dominique Hawkins will work out with the Lakers

Dominique Hawkins’ NBA dreams are alive and well.  After spending weeks preparing with De’Aaron Fox on the west coast for NBA Draft workouts, Hawkins has earned an opportunity to show off his skills in front of the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Lakers announced on Twitter that Hawkins is one six players working out for the team today, joining Thomas Bryant and Nigel Williams-Goss among others.

Hawkins will have another chance to impress an NBA team later this week.  His high school coach told KSTV he will also work out for the Indianapolis Pacers later this week.


Isaac Humphries has an NBA workout today

With De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk climbing the boards, Bam Adebayo’s fringe projection, Isaiah Briscoe’s comments and all things Hamidou Diallo, we’ve forgotten to check in on another NBA hopeful, Isaac Humphries.

Things have been pretty quiet on the Isaac Humphries front since he announced he is leaving for the pros, but today we have an update: Humphries has an NBA workout.

According to NBA writer Cody TaylorHumphries has a Monday workout with the Milwaukee Bucks. Milwaukee has the No. 17 and 48 picks in the upcoming draft and I assume Humphries’ workout is for consideration for the 48th pick.

North Carolina’s Kennedy Meeks will also be working out with the Bucks today, so maybe Humphries will have the workout of his life and hits jumpers all over Meeks. Again.


Diallo Ends Team Workouts, Enters Decision Mode

A weekend filled with every prospective pro under the sun trying to get face time with NBA teams saw arguably the draft’s most fascinating prospect isolating himself.

Hamidou Diallo put an end to his team workouts last Thursday after mixing it up in front of execs from the Brooklyn Nets. NetsDaily, the Brooklyn affiliate of SB Nation, relayed word from Adam Zagoria on Diallo’s status:

Adam Zagoria, the New York hoops writer, signaled Friday that Hamidou Diallo, the draft’s most intriguing prospect, has ended his team workouts for now and will spend the next few days deciding on whether to stay in the draft.

Zagoria said the Nets workout, held Thursday at HSS Training Center, “went well,” but didn’t provide details.

The Nets were in fact Diallo’s final workout before he has to decide on May 24, next Wednesday, whether to return to Kentucky, where he has yet to play a game, or hire an agent and pursue an NBA career.

Here’s the full rundown from NetsDaily.

The Nets are the hot team right now in discussions for Diallo’s eventual landing point. Brooklyn owns the 22nd and 27th picks of the draft, and likely wouldn’t be afraid to take the late 1st-round risk on a supreme athlete like Hamidou.

The excruciating wait is almost over. As was said, the deadline for all draft decisions is this Wednesday, May 24th. At that point, the outlook for UK’s 2017-2018 season becomes much clearer.

@JayWinkKSR

 


Pittsburgh is Trying to Push Cameron Johnson Out of the ACC

Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Since UK’s acquisition of Kevin Knox, the prospect of Cam Johnson ending up at Kentucky has seemed more improbable. But Johnson is still considering the Cats.

As of now, though, UNC seems to be preferred destination for Johnson. Problem is, Pittsburgh ain’t too keen on letting the kid transfer to a fellow ACC school. Jay Bilas tweeted out Pitt’s statement on the matter:

Seems to me like a lot of unnecessary hurdles. Of course, those hurdles could be avoided at Kentucky. Even with Knox on the roster, I’m sure a spot could be made for Johnson.

@JayWinkKSR


Tom Pennington | Getty Images

One Player Away

In the history of Kentucky Basketball, the Cats have won eight titles. I know that. You know that. Every kid born in the state today will know that. We’ve also come close enough to a title that it makes us physically ill. This morning I was remembering some of those years and what went wrong or was missing.

Sometimes the title slips through the players’ grasp with just one bad game. He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named wasn’t ejected, then hit the shot in 1992. Dwyane Wade went off in 2003. UAB in 2004. Michigan State in overtime in 2005. Wisconsin’s revenge in 2015. North Carolina’s revenge this past March. We can lament certain plays or calls that swung the game in the opponents’ favor, but by and large the result came about because of the play on the floor.

Since I was born into UK fandom (mid 70’s), it has always bugged me when I felt that if we had had a certain player in other games, the tide may have turned into more titles. The reasons absent players vary, from injury, to turning down UK or going pro. Having lost out on Mo Bamba, and potentially Hamidou Diallo, this could be another season like some in the past. Here are just a few examples of when we may have been just one player away and what impact they could have had.

Herald Leader Photo

Sam Bowie – 1984

Team Result – Lost in Final Four

What Could Have Been: Sam Bowie came to UK with a smile on his face and a spring in his step. Watching the SEC Storied program “Going Big” about Bowie will almost bring a tear to your eye. Bowie had incredible talent to go with his height. The highlights of Bowie before he was injured against Vanderbilt as a sophomore would have been on Sportscenter’s Top Ten list every night. With a feathery jumper and fantastic hops for someone who is 7′ 1″, Bowie was poised to become the big man that would dominate college and the NBA for years to come.

Alas, Bowie fractured his tibia on an ill fated alley-oop in that game Vandy against the Commodores in 1981. And not only did he break it, the doctors had a hard time diagnosing the extent of the injury. The weeks of healing became months. The months rolled into years. At last, doctors discovered Bowie had a bone disease that hindered his healing. This kept him off the court for almost two years.

Once Bowie was healthy enough to play, he wasn’t the same. He still had the jump shot, but his explosive jump to the rim was taken away. I can only image what Bowie would’ve done to Patrick Ewing in the Final Four in Seattle if he still had hops. The second half struggles the Cats had shooting the ball may have been alleviated if Bowie had been able to catch an alley-oop or two. Because teams struggle from time to time, one thunderous dunk may have ignited the entire team into a flurry of points, leading to title number six.

Derek Anderson – 1997

Team Result – Lost in Championship Game

What Could Have Been: The 1996-97 team was an odd offensive team judging by today’s standards. It is extremely rare for any team, be it college or pros, to win with just two players doing the majority of the scoring. Going into the year, Coach Pitino realized who his best scorers were and built his offense around them. Ron Mercer and Derek Anderson were the main guys. While the team was run by Anthony Epps and Wayne Turner, it was Mercer and Anderson that filled up the stat sheet.

Sadly, against Auburn in SEC play, Anderson went down with a knee injury. Fans didn’t know the extent of the injury for two days. On the Monday after the game, Pitino brought our worst fears too light when he announced Anderson had torn his ACL and was out for the season.  The Cats continued to win, the team was shut down if Mercer was properly defended.

The fact the Cats made it all the way to the title game is almost miraculous in and of itself. And fans were teased when Anderson came off the bench to shoot technical foul free throws in the Final Four game against Minnesota. Anderson himself said he could have played, however Pitino had his players best interest at heart (ironic isn’t it?) and would not risk Anderson with further injury. Anderson did go on to have a lengthy career in the NBA, but oh what might have been title number 8.

Big Blue History Photo

Keith Bogans – 2003

Team Result – Lost in Elite Eight

What Could Have Been: The results of the Elite Eight loss to Marquette could be solely attributed to Dwyane Wade. Whoever guarded him was unable to turn the tide almost from the opening tip. However, the player who could’ve slowed him down enough for a victory was hampered throughout.

Keith Bogans may be the most underappreciated player Kentucky has ever had. Fans would probably have a different view of him if he had been able to neutralize Wade. Alas, Bogans sustained a deep thigh bruise from the Sweet Sixteen game against Wisconsin. The Cats were able to get by the Badgers, and still looked to be the better team headed to the Final Four.

Bogans entered the game with a large wrap on his thigh, but he was obviously in a lot of pain. What is the old coaches saying? “Are you hurt, or are your injured?”  Many players can play through the pain of being hurt, it goes with the territory, but Bogans was injured, no doubt about it. That injury may have cost the Cats another title.

(more…)


Bam Adebayo Can Shoot Threes

John Calipari loves to tease his big men when they leave the paint.  “You were a shooter, not a maker,” was the line he used in his recent Cal Cast with Anthony Davis.  It turns out, Bam Adebayo is a shooter AND a maker from behind the three-point line.

After playing primarily in the post in college, Adebayo is using pre-draft workouts to prove to NBA scouts that he can stretch the floor.

“Most people think I can’t shoot, but I’m working on it and staying humble,” he told DraftExpress.  “I’m getting more comfortable with it.  I shot midrange in college.  I just got evaluate myself and shoot better from three.”

Calipari always told the media that Bam could knock ’em down from deep, but he never attempted a three-pointer in his one season at Kentucky.  He knocks down a few in the footage from his Chicago workout, displaying scary versatility that could move him up draft boards.

[DraftExpress]