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Basketball Season Coverage

Washington, Diallo to Participate in Combine 5-on-5

A pair of Wildcats will scrimmage in front of dozens of scouts at the NBA Combine in Chicago.

The rosters have been released for the 5-on-5 portion of the combine.  Hamidou Diallo will play for Team Two alongside Kansas’ Devonte Graham, UCLA’s Kris Wilkes and Louisville’s Ray Spalding.  P.J. Washington will team up with Kansas’ Malik Newman, Auburn’s Austin Wiley and West Virginia’s Sagaba Konate on Team Three.

Kentucky’s Kevin Knox and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, both projected to be lottery picks, are noticeably absent from the roster, seen below:

@JeremyWoo

The scrimmages will take place after players are tested in a variety of drills.  You can catch all of the action on ESPN2 from 3:00-7:00 today and tomorrow.

UPDATE

The fine reporters at ESPN just notified us that even though he’s on the roster, Hamidou Diallo will not participate in the scrimmage portion of the combine.  A surprising move, maybe he believes less is more?


Kentucky’s NBA Combine Measurements Released

The NBA Combine is officially underway in Chicago.

The festivities began with simple measurements.  The results from Kentucky’s representatives — Hamidou Diallo, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Kevin Knox and P.J. Washington  — prove just how lengthy last year’s team was.

Player Body Fat Hand Length Hand Width Height w/o Shoes Height w/Shoes Standing Reach Weight Wingspan
Hamidou Diallo 4.45% 8.75 9 6’4.25 6’6″ 8’7″ 197 6’11.5
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander 3% 9 9 6’4.5 6’6″ 8’8″ 180 6’11.5
Kevin Knox 4.95% 8.75 9.25 6’7.75 6’9″ 9″ 212.6 6’11.75
PJ Washington 6.85% 9 10.25 6’6.5 6’8″ 8’11” 223 7’2.5

Gilgeous-Alexander has the lowest body fat of any NBA Combine participant.  Hamidou Diallo is not far behind at fifth.

Click here to see how they compare with the entire field, and stay tuned to KSR for more combine coverage throughout the day.


UK’s 2018-19 Basketball Schedule As We Know It

UK’s 2018-19 Basketball Schedule As We Know It

As more and more key dates leak out on Kentucky’s 2018-19 basketball schedule, it’s time we put it all together for a glimpse at how next season will look on our calendars.

You will find the games we know as of today in the list below. Plan your winter accordingly.

Bahamas National Team (Foreign Exhibition)
Paradise Island, Bahamas | The Atlantis 
Wednesday, August 8
San Lorenzo de Almagra (Foreign Exhibition)
Paradise Island, Bahamas | The Atlantis 
Thursday, August 9
Mega Bemax (Foreign Exhibition)
Paradise Island, Bahamas | The Atlantis 
Saturday, August 11
Team Toronto (Foreign Exhibition)
Paradise Island, Bahamas | The Atlantis 
Sunday, August 12
Big Blue Madness
Lexington, KY | Rupp Arena
TBD
Blue-White Game
Lexington, KY | Rupp Arena
TBD
Kentucky vs. Duke
Indianapolis, IN | Bankers Life Fieldhouse
Champions Clasic
Tuesday, November 6
Monmouth
Lexington, KY | Rupp Arena
Wednesday, November 28
UNC Greensboro
Lexington, KY | Rupp Arena
Saturday, December 1
Kentucky vs. Seton Hall
New York, NY | Madison Square Garden
Citi Hoops Classic
Saturday, December 8
Utah
Lexington, KY | Rupp Arena
Saturday, December 15
Kentucky vs. North Carolina 
Chicago, IL | United Center
CBS Sports Classic
Saturday, December 22
Kentucky @ Louisville
Louisville, KY | KFC Yum! Center
TBD
Kentucky vs. Big 12 Opponent
Lexington, KY | Rupp Arena
Big 12/SEC Challenge
TBD

You’ll have to wait until late summer/early fall for the full schedule in its entirety.


UK confirms Las Vegas as site of 2019 "destination" double-header

The University of Kentucky men’s basketball program confirmed it will play two games in Las Vegas in 2019-2020.

It is the “destination spot” John Calipari teased two weeks ago.

The Cats will play Ohio State in the CBS Sports Classic double-header on Saturday, December 21. But first they will play Utah on Wednesday, December 18, in the same arena. It’s a pretty genius move by UK’s genius coach.

“We are always trying to put together a schedule that our fans will enjoy while preparing us to be at our best at the end of the season,” Calipari said. “One of the things I hear most about from our fans is they enjoy traveling with us and staying at a destination location for multiple games. That was our goal in scheduling this game with Utah. It gives us a great opponent for our fans at home next season, and then in 2019, our fans can spend a week with us at one of our favorite stops over the last few years. I still get people who come up to me and tell me about how much fun they had in 2016 when we played North Carolina.”

See you there.


Kenny Payne’s son, Zan Payne, signs with Kentucky

Andy Lyons | Getty Images

Lexington Catholic’s Zan Payne made his commitment to Kentucky official today by inking his paperwork during a ceremony at his school.

Payne is of course the son of UK assistant coach Kenny Payne, and his addition to the roster may have a big impact on his dad’s future on John Calipari’s coaching staff.

In an exclusive interview with KSR, Coach Payne said, “I get to monitor him and make sure he’s doing what he needs to do. I get to be hard on him, to push him beyond what he thinks he can go because he’s my blood. I’m not one of those fathers that is going to ever be easy on mine. I’m going to be harder on mine because I know this is bigger than basketball. It’s life.”

He also said he hopes he and Calipari can win a title while their sons are on the team.

“It would be a great experience for them. It would be really gratifying for me and Cal, but more importantly for the Big Blue Nation, the fans, the administration, for the kids, their families.”

Zan Payne ranks 14th in Lexington Catholic history with 1,282 points in his career. He also ranks fourth in school history in rebounds, while earning All-City and All-Region honors his last two seasons.

 


LEX 18

EXCLUSIVE: Kenny Payne speaks with KSR about his son and future plans at UK

Larry Vaught

Just like John Calipari, Kenny Payne will be able to coach his son at the college level. The longtime UK assistant spoke exclusively with Kentucky Sports Radio about his son, Alexander Payne, walking-on at UK. The 6-foot-4, 200-pound wing was the star of Lexington Catholic’s team before suffering a serious knee injury in his last regular season game in December.

The road to recover has been long for Alexander Payne and he will continue to rehab over the summer and possibly into the fall if need be, but Kenny Payne is happy to have his son on UK’s campus.

Kenny Payne spoke with KSR about his son, his future at Kentucky and even Louisville’s Chris Mack.

Kentucky Sports Radio: On how Alexander Payne ended up playing for you and John Calipari at Kentucky

Kenny Payne: First off he’s a good kid that had an unfortunate injury, a really unfortunate injury. He tore his knee up. I thought he was headed into the right direction before that happened. So, after that the main priority became rehab and having the right surgery and getting the leg strong enough to be able to first play basketball again. When he did it we got with the doctors and my only question was asking if he still wanted to play basketball. He told me that he did.

I was proud of that. It meant he had the fight. The first part of our process was getting him to admit that he still wanted to play and he wanted to play on a big scale. His mother always wanted him to be a part of Kentucky so she could keep her hands on him. I could have gone either way with it. Coach Cal was gracious and really good with the situation which made me feel proud and happy I’m working for a man like that who really cares about me and my son. For (Alexander) it’s an opportunity where nothing will be given to him. I’ll probably be harder on him than anybody. He gets no breaks. He gets no leeway. For him, I want him to fight. It will be similar, and I don’t know how many people know this, but Brad Calipari fights. He fights to earn that respect on that basketball team. You do that with your work ethic. How Alexander handles it will be no different. He will earn everything he gets. I will push him beyond where he thinks he will go.

Hopefully the goal is that he makes Kentucky basketball coaches proud and I’m included in that as a coach. I’m already proud as a father but I want to let him know that I want him to make me proud as a coach and the other coaches as well.

Kentucky Sports Radio: On Alexander’s injury and how he’s doing in rehab

Kenny Payne: It happened in the last regular season game with a few seconds left on the clock. They were down one. He drove the ball and was fouled. The guy went up under him or bumped him and he landed awkwardly and had an injury to his knee. So, it’s been long and hard. He’s done a really good job of doing the rehab to this point. We have to continue to do it to get the leg stronger than it was before. It’s going to take a lot of pain and hard days of fighting through it.

Kentucky Sports Radio: On if he’s ever seen anything like this or been on a staff where two sons have been on the same team

Kenny Payne: I’ve never imagined it. I would listen to Cal talk about what a joy it is to take care of your own son and have him with you everyday. I watch (Calipari) before every pregame speech, when he finishes he kisses his son. It shows a side of what we do and that it has another side. We’re fathers, we’re men and we become examples to the other kids of how a man, a father, a leader should act. From that standpoint I’ve watched Cal deal with it with the way he’s done it. Now I get to be a part of it as well, probably a little meaner, but it’s a blessing for me to watch him.

I get to monitor him and make sure he’s doing what he needs to do. I get to be hard on him, to push him beyond what he thinks he can go because he’s my blood. I’m not one of those fathers that is going to ever be easy on mine. I’m going to be harder on mine because I know this is bigger than basketball. It’s life. And what’s out there in life for these young men is that you have to earn everything you’re going to get. In today’s society our kids are disillusioned or they have a falseness about what they expect to get and what they have to put out to get it. I want my son, like all kids and all the kids we deal with, I want them to know they have to be borderline ready to fight and die for what you want in this life. 

Kentucky Sports Radio: On if this sparks a new fire for you and Calipari wanting to win a championship with your kids as players

Kenny Payne: Well, I never thought about that until you just said it. I’ve had conversations with Cal and Cal has had conversations with me but more about building a team and surrounding it with kids that we can win a national championship with. There are times and years where the talent level may be down and now you can’t really have a young group that can really fight and see why they’re there, if that makes sense. They’re so young and they need a year or two, two years to figure it out.

Well, we’ve had conversations about putting together a team that can win a championship and not that we don’t do it every year. Obviously that’s our goal more than I can tell you, but having really thought about it but now that you said it and with my son and Cal’s son, it would be great. It would be a great experience for them. It would be really gratifying for me and Cal, but more importantly for the Big Blue Nation, the fans, the administration, for the kids, their families. To be a part of a special group that wins a national title you’re never forgotten when you do.

Kentucky Sports Radio: On what you would tell fans that think you’re locked in for a few years now that your son is on the team

Kenny Payne: Yeah, it’s a tough question. I think that me being at UK I have a dream job. I work for a great man who’s really, really good to me. I work in a unique institution where basketball is a priority and I love my job at UK. It would be hard, hard for somebody to… I do want to be a head coach. I do want my own program, but they better come correct because I have a really, really unique situation. I don’t say that lightly and I respect it. It’s been a blessing. A blessing to be with kids.

Two days ago I get a text message from Karl-Anthony Towns wishing my wife a happy Mother’s Day. I can go on and on. Devin (Booker), Anthony Davis, I had dinner with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist last week. Bam came in and we went to the Kentucky Derby together. All I can say to you is that you can’t draw up a better scenario than what I’ve lived over my last eight years and I want it to continue to be special as long as I can. If that means I’m in Kentucky another five years, four years, six years, whatever that number is I appreciate and love every single day that I’m on the job.

Courier Journal

Kentucky Sports Radio: On Louisville hiring Chris Mack

Kenny Payne: I think they hired a good coach. I think Vince (Tyra) is really happy. The administration is really happy. I think he’ll do a good job. I think he has some obstacles to overcome trying to get that program back to national prominence, which he’s capable of doing. I wished him well. I’m a fan of Louisville and I want those kids, who don’t deserve a lot of this negativity that has happened there. They don’t deserve it. I wished him well.

Obviously I went to school there and won a national championship there. There will always be a special place in my heart for the University of Louisville.

 


UK sets school record with six teams winning APR award

The University of Kentucky beat its own personal best with a record six teams receiving Public Recognition Awards for their Academic Progress Rate scores, the NCAA announced Wednesday.

Those six Kentucky teams are men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s golf, softball, and volleyball.

The previous school record for APR top-10 awards was four, set each of the past two years. Today’s news also marks the first time a UK squad has won in seven consecutive years, as this is the seventh APR award in a row for men’s golf.

The team you’re most interested in, John Calipari’s basketball team, earned the honor for the fourth consecutive year and fifth time overall.

Calipari had this to say about the achievement:

“Our whole mindset is preparing our kids for the rest of their lives. It’s about taking that next step to what they are going to do once they leave Kentucky. For some kids that’s playing professional basketball. For others it’s outside of basketball. Whatever they decide to do – whatever their ‘genius’ is in – it’s our job to make sure they’re prepared when they leave here. With 18 players who have graduated over the last nine years, I believe we’ve done that. Our kids are committed to learning and take care of business in the classroom. We teach growth in all areas. It’s well documented what our players learn about giving back that they carry with them for the rest of their lives. If they decide to pursue their genius and play professional basketball, they know they have lifetime scholarships so they can come back and finish their degree. Whether they leave early or stay here, they’re in good academic standing and on schedule to graduate. Michael Stone and the CATS staff do a wonderful job of making sure our kids are lifelong learners.”

Go Cats.


John Calipari chimes in on Yanny vs. Laurel

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Everyone you know has already picked a side in the Yanny/Laurel debate, and now John Calipari has entered the conversation as well.

Calipari tweeted he is on Team Laurel, but said he heard “five star” the first time he listed to the internet’s most popular sound byte.

In Cal’s defense, he probably has five star on the brain after landing three of them since the season ended.


Sacha Killeya-Jones to Transfer to N.C. State

Sacha Killeya-Jones has found a new home.  The former Kentucky Wildcat forward announced he will transfer to N.C. State for his final two years of college basketball.

A former McDonald’s All-American, the move to Raleigh will not be far from his childhood home of Chapel Hill.  Killeya-Jones must sit out this fall before he is eligible to play for former Louisville assistant Kevin Keatts in the 2019-20 season.

In two years at Kentucky, Killeya-Jones averaged 3.3 points and 2.9 rebounds per game.  He averaged 13 minutes per game this season after appearing in only 15 games as a freshman.


Getting to know next year’s opponent: The Utah Utes

Getting to know next year’s opponent: The Utah Utes

It’s the moment America has been waiting for…

Ok, so maybe that’s a slight exaggeration. But if you’ll remember, a few weeks ago John Calipari announced that Kentucky was preparing to share details about a couple games at “destination locations.” And on Tuesday the first piece of that puzzle started to crystalize.

That’s because according to KSR’s Matt Jones, Kentucky has agreed to a two-game series with Utah starting next season. The first game will be played at Rupp Arena during the 2018-2019 campaign and the following game will be played in… are you ready for this… Vegas in the 2019-2020 season. That’s right, Vegas baby!

Of course with this scheduling announcement, it’s led to a number of different questions from Big Blue Nation today, with most of them focused on the same few themes: Is it too early to request time off from work? What hotel should I stay at? Is there any way I can fake my own death so my girlfriend doesn’t find out about this trip to Vegas?

Admittedly, I don’t have answers to most of those questions, but the one thing I can help you with is information on the latest opponent on Kentucky’s schedule. As KSR’s resident national college basketball analyst and (frankly) one of the few people anywhere outside Utah who actually watched the Utes last year, I can tell you a bit of what to expect when the Utes arrive at Rupp Arena next year.

Here’s what you need to know about the 2019 schedule’s newest opponent, Utah.

As a program they’ve actually be better than most people realize

Think of Utah as the West Coast version of say, Miami basketball. You don’t think of either school as a “power” or to be blunt, you probably don’t think much about either school at all. Yet each has had surprisingly success over the last couple years.

(Just to finish out the analogy, Miami has made three straight NCAA Tournaments – and no, I definitely didn’t know that until I typed it)

When it comes to Utah, did you know that the Utes have finished with at least 20 wins in five straight seasons, and finished in the Top 4 of the Pac-12 in each of the last four years? That’s something that only Arizona – and not UCLA, USC or Oregon – can claim.

The Utes have also made two NCAA Tournaments during that stretch, including a run to the 2015 Sweet 16, so they’re no strangers to postseason basketball or overall tournament success.
(more…)


The dunk that put Billy's shoes on the map (Andy Lyons | Getty Images)

Meet the Man who Customizes the Kentucky Basketball Team’s Kicks

The dunk that put Billy’s shoes on the map.

P.J. Washington turned heads in the Wildcats’ January trip to Knoxville.  He bruised for 13 hard-fought points, until cramps took him out of the game for good in the second half.  The Twitter audience could not stop talking about Washington, and not because of his moves or his injury; because of his shoes.

Washington wore a pair of all-blue Jordan XI’s, a color you cannot buy on the shelves in a shoe that’s coveted by sneaker-heads everywhere.   People asked, “Where can I get those?”  There’s only one man who can do it.

Billy Hobbs is the owner and artist behind True Blue Customs.  The Lexington native has customized many of the shoes you’ll see the Wildcats wear on the court, from Washington’s XIs, to Nick Richards’ Jamaican Vs and Quade’s Philly kicks.

What started as a side job turned into his life’s work in 2015.  Willie Cauley-Stein’s passion for art met his basketball craft with shoe customization.  The two collaborated for a few different pairs, but one pair of XI’s changed the game when Willie did this in the NCAA Tournament:

“He was really into art.  He wanted to talk about anything but basketball.  It was kind of his release from basketball,” Hobbs said.  “He wore those that night.  I went to bed.  Woke up the next morning and had like 10,000 followers.”

Since then, Hobbs has made shoes that have been in the World Series, he’s hooked up No. 1 draft picks and he’s put a few pairs on Coach Cal’s feet.

You can see Hobbs’ entire operation in this seven-minute interview with J. Kyle Mann, who you might know better as the remixer of Kentucky Joe’s songs.