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Billy Gillispie has Returned to Ranger College, No Longer Retired from Coaching

Don’t call it a comeback.  Billy Gillispie will return to the sidelines as Ranger College’s head coach.

In December of 2016 Gillispie announced he was retiring, citing health issues related to high blood pressure that must be immediately addressed or, “irreversible, bad things were very likely to happen.”    Apparently, those health problems have been addressed and he is good to go.

Gillispie was spotted at a signing ceremony in Springfield, Illinois yesterday for a future Ranger College basketball player.  He confirmed to the The State Journal-Register that his health has improved and he will coach the junior college next fall.

“That’s the intention,” Gillespie said of coaching in the 2017-18 school year. “I had, unfortunately, I had some high blood pressure issues in December so they thought it was a lot worse than it actually ended up being. I’ve got it under control now.

“And the other thing: I’d rather die on the sideline than not be coaching, but no, that’s not going to be happening anytime soon, either, I don’t think. But everything is great with the health and I am definitely looking forward to coaching again.”

Few quotes perfectly encapsulate a personality, but I can’t think of one better for Gillispie than, “I’d rather die on the sideline than not be coaching.”

[The State Journal-Register]


Sacha Killeya-Jones’ Trainer Doesn’t Want You to Sleep On Him Either

So remember this tweet from 3 days ago?

Well, SKJ’s trainer seems to share that same sentiment. SEC Country’s Kyle Tucker shared some words from Sacha’s personal trainer, Gilbert Abraham, on how much Sacha has progressed:

“He was the youngest guy on that team last year; he’s younger than several of the freshmen coming in this year,” Abraham said. “Some of the other guys were more prepared, and I don’t know how prepared from a maturity standpoint he was. When he started to get acclimated, he started to get better. That’s how he’s been since high school. Once he gets comfortable, he gets better and better and better.”

Kentucky fans sleeping on Killeya-Jones “don’t have a clue what he can do,” Abraham said.

Now we’ve heard it from not only the horse’s mouth, but from the horse trainer’s mouth. You can read Abraham’s full lineup of praise here.

With Mo Bamba heading to Texas, I sure hope he’s right.

@JayWinkKSR


Malik Monk in Play for 76ers

Malik Monk

Sam Vecenie of The Sporting News spoke with Catspause.com recently and he said, Malik Monk is now “seriously in play” with the Philadelphia 76ers.

Last week, at the NBA Draft Lottery, the 76ers got the third overall pick and, Monk is projected to go third in many mock drafts. This could be a match made in heaven for Philly – a team that REALLY struggles with shooting. Considering Monk scored a total of 754 points (the most ever by a UK Freshman) last season, I’d say drafting him would fix the 76ers shooting problem.

The 76ers are built around Joel Emiid at the post and Simmons on the interior. Monk could really give them some perimeter depth and play well with Simmons. The only downside to Monk going to Philly? I’d have to actually watch some 6ers games – which means watching Ben Simmons play. But I doubt the 76ers’ franchise owners will take my qualms into consideration on this.

A quick twitter search of Monk’s name shows that 6ers fans REALLY, REALLY want him – I mean who wouldn’t right? If he does go third, that’d be Cal’s seventh top-five pick during his time at UK. Yeah, he’s pretty good at this getting kids ready for the NBA thing.


Isaiah Briscoe worked out with the Rockets today

If we’re to believe Isaiah Briscoe’s Instagram story, which he is very active on, the former Kentucky guard was at the Houston Rockets practice facility in Houston earlier today.

I’d say it’s safe to say he was there to work out for the team, although I cannot confirm that outside of his social media postings.

Houston has two second-round picks in the draft at No. 43 and 45.

As for the other NBA hopefuls, Bam Adebayo is continuing his workouts out in Arizona; last we heard from De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk, they were wearing fancy suits in New York City yesterday; and Hamidou Diallo is trying to make up his mind on his basketball future.

This was your Friday night UK-NBA update.


Mychal Mulder got a Workout with the Orlando Magic

While the Big Blue Nation anxiously awaits for Hamidou Diallo to make his “should I stay or should I go?” decision following NBA workouts, his Kentucky teammates are busy doing work.

De’Aaron Fox , Malik Monk and Bam Adebayo are receiving all of the attention, but the other guys still have a shot.  According to Josh Robbins, yesterday Mychal Muler worked out for the Orlando Magic alongside Frank Mason, Peter Jok and two others.

A 34.3 percent three-point shooter at UK, there’s a chance Mulder can turn some heads at the next level if he’s doing stuff like this:

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See where John Calipari’s home ranks in Lexington’s top 50 most expensive

See where John Calipari’s home ranks in Lexington’s top 50 most expensive

The Herald-Leader has really taken up most of my afternoon with its new ranking of Lexington’s most expensive homes. I’ve scrolled through the list of 50 several times and then spent at least an hour questioning my career path as a blogger and SnapChatter. (Maybe one day, right?)

Anyway, in scrolling through the magnificent estates on the list, I noticed a couple of familiar homes that I’ve had the privilege of entering or passing by, one of those being John Calipari’s digs on Richmond Road, which is ranked at No. 37 on the list.

Matthew Mitchell’s home, formerly Rick Pitino’s home, is No. 29.

Unfortunately my place did not make the cut, at least not this year. I don’t think they took into account that, though small and slightly messy, I have a kitchen with a Keurig K55 and an original 30×40 Jay Z painting hanging next to an old exercise bike that doesn’t work. Show me one of those 50 rich people homes that has that.


If Kareem Abdul-Jabbar could play with anyone today, he’d pick Anthony Davis

Our dear friends Big Cat and PFT and the late Larry The Goldfish had Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on their podcast this week to discuss his new book and life as a UCLA and NBA legend. I tuned in because I’m an occasional AWL, and I found it interesting when they asked Kareem who he would want to play with if he could play with any present day NBA player.

“The kid in New Orleans, Davis. He’s awesome,” he said. “He can do it either way. He posts up and faces the basket. I think he’s a great center.”

Nice praise for AD, huh?

Kareem also chimed in on the Lonzo Ball debate, telling the show, “Lonzo’s a talented athlete, but I don’t know if he’s the fit for the Lakers… His dad gives me the willies. Parents like that really bother me, trying to exploit their kid like that.”

The Davis line comes around the 32:45 mark on Wednesday’s show.


Heshimu Evans lands coaching job in Kentucky

After a very long and successful career playing basketball, Heshimu Evans has graduated to the coaching side of the game and he is doing it locally here in Kentucky.

East Jessamine High School announced today that it has hired the former Wildcat national champion to join its girl basketball staff. Evans moved back to the Lexington area following his pro career to make it his new and permanent home. This job is a great way for him to get back involved in the community while keeping his basketball expertise in play and as a part of his career.

And for what it’s worth, Evans told us earlier this year that “Heshimu” does not mean “Warrior.” Sorry.

Congrats, Heshimu!


SI.com joins the De’Aaron Fox over Lonzo Ball movement

Big Blue Nation, the De’Aaron Fox to Los Angeles talk is gaining steam outside of our own conversations.

Today, Andrew Sharp, a writer for Sports Illustrated, wrote a piece called, “The Lakers Should Draft De’Aaron Fox, Not Lonzo Ball,” and it says everything we’ve been thinking. (And what I wrote earlier this week.)

In short, Sharp wrote that Ball is overrated because he is always in the news, and Fox is the better fit for the Lakers. Here, have a short excerpt from the article:

The Lakers should take De’Aaron Fox. He is worlds better on defense. His jumper remains a work in progress, but his speed will allow him to drive defenses crazy in the meantime. He plays incredibly hard, and with his athleticism, it feels like he’s only scratching the surface of what he’ll be in five years. [SI.com]

Read more and pass it along to whoever you think needs to read it to keep the Fox-to-LA movement going. It’s still very unlikely the Lakers pass on the hometown celebrity, but if we keep the debate alive, maybe Magic Johnson will wise up and take Fox to run his team.


Without Bamba, Calipari’s Wildcats are in a Similar Situation

Without Bamba, Calipari’s Wildcats are in a Similar Situation

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Mo Bamba is not coming to Kentucky.  Arguably the most sought after recruit in John Calipari’s 2017 class will head to the Big 12 instead of the Bluegrass.  A few hours after the decision, Calipari announced the addition of the three spring signees — Jarred Vanderbilt, Kevin Knox and Jemarl Baker — essentially calling it quits on the 2017 class.

Coach Cal did not finish the offseason recruiting season with a new Top Two player, but he’ll be just fine.  After all, he’s been here before.  Let me take you back to 2013.

All of the McDonald’s All-Americans

Entering the month of May 2013, John Calipari already had stacked the Kentucky roster with a record six McDonald’s All-Americans.  The No. 1 recruiting class in America, it was touted as one of the greatest classes ever, drawing “40-0” considerations early and often.  You can understand why:

  • Julius Randle — 6’9″ 250 lbs., No. 2 player overall
  • Andrew Harrison —  6’4″ 200 lbs., No. 3
  • Aaron Harrison — 6’4″ 200 lbs., No. 5
  • Dakari Johnson — 6’10” 250 lbs., No. 8
  • James Young — 6’6″ 200 lbs., No. 10
  • Marcus Lee –6’9″ 215 lbs., No. 14
  • Derek Willis — 6’9″ 200 lbs., No. 58
  • Dominique Hawkins — 6’1 170 lbs., No. 151

Four years later, John Calipari has the No. 1 class in the nation, but it’s received exponentially less hype, even drawing concerns from some fans.  Still, Calipari has five McDonald’s All-Americans  ranked in the Top 20 of the recruiting class (and maybe even tenth-ranked Hamidou Diallo?).

  • Jarred Vanderbilt — 6’9″ 213 bs., No. 8 player overall
  • Nick Richards — 7’0 240 lbs., No. 14
  • Kevin Knox — 6’9″ 206 lbs., No. 17
  • P.J. Washington — 6’8″ 230 lbs., No. 18
  • Shai Gilgeous-Alexander — 6’6″ 175 lbs., No. 19
  • Quade Green — 6’1″ 175 lbs., No. 30
  • Jemarl Baker — 6’4″ 185 lbs, No. 83

Just like in mid-May of 2013, it was an impressive class that still had room to grow, with one top-ranked player at forefront near the end of the spring signing period.

Andrew Wiggins

On May 14, 2013, Matt Jones spent two hours on Kentucky Sports Radio calling every famous person in his cell phone to ask: “Where’s Wiggins going?”  Choosing between Kansas, North Carolina, Kentucky and his parents’ school, Florida State, the Commonwealth was buzzing like never before for a recruit’s decision.

The future No. 1 pick turned down the Cats and his parents to take his talents to the land of the Big 12 in Lawrence, Kansas.  The Jayhawks lost in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, while Kentucky went to the National Title.

Today on May 18, 2017, Calipari’s class “ended” with a whimper when the 2018 No. 1 overall draft pick* opted for Texas.  Bamba and Wiggins are much different players, but their unbelievable impact on the game is comparable.

Stability at Center

SKJ by Mark Zerof | USA Today

SKJ by Mark Zerof | USA Today

When Calipari didn’t add a highlight-maker at the end of the 2013 class, the Cats were covered with McDonald’s All-American James Young ready to step in at the wing in Wiggins’ place.  In the post, he had an incoming McDonald’s All-American seven-footer, Dakari Johnson.  His raw offensive talent is not unlike this year’s McDonald’s All-American center, Nick Richards.

To ensure Johnson did not need to step in to play right away, returning sophomore Willie Cauley-Stein was ready to either temporarily fill the void, or take his game to the next level.  This year’s hyphenated returning sophomore finds himself at a similar crossroad.  Sacha Killeya-Jones wowed during summer practices, drawing comparisons to the former unanimous All-American, but he could never get comfortable during his freshman season, unable to find significant time on the floor.

By all indications, SKJ is prepared to take a Cauley-Stein-sized step up in 2017-18.

An Enormous Roster

I made it a point to list the heights for each of the two recruiting classes.  The first Harrison Twin team to reach the title didn’t have two-platoons with three guys over 6’10,” but they still had the kind of size rarely seen in college basketball.

As the game shifts toward perimeter-oriented style, Calipari’s 2017-18 team will look like his lengthy teams from the past.  Excluding Green and Baker, the rest of the team is at least 6’6,” with the ability to play a lineup ( with Kevin Knox at the wing) featuring four players taller than 6’8.”


Losing Bamba hurts, but there’s more than enough reasons to remain optimistic about next season based on Calipari’s proven ability to cater his style to his players.  Additionally, he’ll have extra time this summer to coach most of his new players for Team USA in the FIBA U19 World Championships in Cairo.

Any time there is extreme turnover, there’s a significant adjustment period, but if the team that didn’t get Bamba turns out anything like the team that didn’t get Wiggins, hold on, it’s about to be a wild ride.


Monk, Fox Spent the Day Giving Away Suits in New York City

@JCPennyNews

@JCPennyNews

Kentucky’s former backcourt combo and top NBA Draft prospects spent the day doing charity work with Kenny “The Jet” Smith in New York City.

Inside the Vanderbilt YMCA gymnasium, Monk and Fox teamed up with JC Penny to help teens, “suit up for success.”  Along with Smith, they shared life lessons, fitted the teens with new suits and missed a few three-pointers in formal attire.

Following their charity work, Fox and Monk shared stories with the press from their meetings with Knicks’ executives, most notably Phil Jackson.

“[The Knicks] were trying to get a feel for my personality, how I feel about them, how I would fit with some of the players they have,” Fox told the New York Daily News. “It was really cool meeting Phil Jackson. He was one person I idolized as I was growing up.”

Even though the Knicks don’t pick until No. 8, likely unable to select either of the two, Monk is interested in which ever team is willing to take a chance on him in the draft.

“Any team that picks me I’m going to have to be interested because that’s where I’m going,” Monk told Newsday. “I’m just going to do what they tell me to do, play how they want me to play, and just try and do what’s best for me too.”

Naturally, Fox echoed a similar sentiment, one they will repeat often until the draft on June 22.

“It’s cool to be going through this with a brother,” Fox said. “I can’t predict what will happen.”

[New York Daily News and Newsday]


Was Calipari at Diallo’s workout with the Nets?

Hamidou Diallo had his workout with the Brooklyn Nets today. We know that via many reports here on this website and throughout the internet. But was John Calipari there by his side?

I’m a two and two together kind of a guy, a real tea leaves reader, and it seems Calipari was also at the Brooklyn Nets facility today. Cal shared a photo with Archie Goodwin from inside the Nets facility earlier this afternoon:

That tells me Calipari was in attendance for Diallo’s workout for the NBA team eyeing Diallo the most. Was he there as a spectator? Was he at the table when the interview and draft talks occurred? WHAT DOES THIS MEAN!

Then again I’m probably overanalyzing it because my brain is fried from all things Hamidou Diallo the last couple of weeks, so who knows.

Probably just a big coincidence they were in Sunset Park in Brooklyn at the same time on a Thursday afternoon.


Coach Cal announces the three new signings

Coach Cal announces the three new signings

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All seven of Kentucky’s Class of 2017 commitments are officially on board with the signings of the three spring additions — Kevin Knox, Jarred Vanderbilt and Jemarl Baker.

Coach Cal made a video to announce the news Thursday afternoon, and in it he gives his thoughts on the new three, plus the class as a whole.

“We will be the youngest team, most inexperienced team in the country,” he said (and will say many times again between now and next fall). “This may be my youngest team ever; but you know what, I love the challenge of it because we have guys that will share, that are going to give it up for each other, that are comfortable in their own skin, come from great homes, understand they’re on a mission and want to get better — those are the kind of kids we want here at Kentucky.”

See it all for yourself:


Five Immediate Thoughts After The Bamba News

mohamed-bamba

Mohamed Bamba’s recruitment is over and it didn’t go in Kentucky’s favor. Here are five quick thoughts on his decision to pick Texas as we get back on our feet after the disappoint blow to BBN’s recruiting momentum…

 

1. Hey, at least he didn’t go to Duke.

If you’re going to lose a recruitment, you always want to lose to a school that’s not a threat. Texas will be a good team next season, but nowhere near as good as if Duke, our arch nemesis, had added Bamba to its roster.

2. He makes a good point about Jarrett Allen.

Bamba wrote:

I can’t say enough about the strides my friend Jarrett Allen made this past year. I saw his footwork improve. I saw the spots they put him in — where he was shooting, passing and stretching the paint like a modern five. Most importantly, I saw his confidence grow throughout the season as he distinguished himself as a possible lottery pick. I’m thankful for the blueprint he laid down and I hope to follow in his footsteps.

Now let’s look at Bam Adebayo and Sacha Killeya-Jones, two other five-star big men from Allen’s class who attended Kentucky. Bam went from projected lottery pick to fringe first-rounder after a year that didn’t live up to expectations; Killeya-Jones didn’t play at all. Calipari’s long-term record with bigs is good, but those are three guys Bamba has known most of his basketball life and probably kept close tabs on last season when Allen proved to make the most strides in one year. One point to Texas.

3. It’s really not a big deal for Kentucky next year.

As nice as it would’ve been to add a game-changer like Bamba, Kentucky is already pretty loaded in the paint, probably too loaded. A month ago you would’ve ranked Bamba third behind Kevin Knox and Hamidou Diallo based on need; well, you got Knox and Diallo is still TBD.

However, no Bamba puts pressure on Nick Richards and a sophomore Killeya-Jones to perform, but it’s not like Kentucky won’t have a big man because it didn’t get Bamba.

He would’ve been a great addition because he is special. It’s not the end of the world.

4. He is really, really, really smart and I’m a huge fan.

Unlike most (all) player contributions to The Players’ Tribune, I really believe Bamba wrote his own. Watch one interview with him and you know he’s a very special young man outside of his basketball talents. He clearly put a lot of thought into this decision and believes he is doing what’s best for his family, which is all that really matters in the end. How can you not love that he wants to, in his words, “build a long, successful career that will ensure that my father won’t have to drive a cab 70-plus hours a week, including nights and weekends”?  Consider me a big fan of Mo Bamba for life.

5. I still like my team.

When the ball tips next fall, give me the University of Kentucky over anyone.

They’re at the table waiting to eat.

mcdaag-uk


LaVar Ball is an awful person, take 85

lavar-ball

LaVar Ball is by far the most talked about name in the 2017 Draft Class even though he’s 48 years old, 320 lbs., and won’t even be drafted. The outspoken dad of Lonzo kept his family’s name in the news today when he went on Colin Cowherd’s show and was incredibly rude to the cohost Kristine Leahy. Throughout several exchanges, Ball demeans and chastises Leahy, telling her to, “Stay in your lane,” and “Don’t even talk to me.” Ball even refused to look her in the eye:

And by far, the worst of all:

It is impossible to like this guy.