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Lakers reportedly want a head-to-head workout between Lonzo Ball and De’Aaron Fox

Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

The growing consensus among NBA pundits is that the Los Angeles Lakers will take Lonzo Ball with the second pick of the draft. From Chino Hills to UCLA, the Ball family is an LA institution, and Lonzo and LaVar have made it clear that’s where they want to be. Despite all the crazy (and there is a lot of crazy), the Lakers seem open to this marriage…maybe. According to ye olde Jonathan Givony of Draft Express, Ball is the heavy favorite for the Lakers, but they’re also intrigued by De’Aaron Fox, whom they met with at the NBA Combine. So intrigued they’d really like to see Fox vs. Ball in a head-to-head workout.

Hahahahahaha…first of all, this already happened. TWICE. Second of all, this will never, ever happen. Do you think the Ball camp is willing to let Lonzo get schooled by Fox for a third time? Also, if you’re De’Aaron, there’s no upside to this; he’s never going to look better vs. Ball than he did in the Sweet 16 in March. Can someone send this tape to Magic Johnson?

 


Mock Draft Roundup: Sacramento trending for De’Aaron Fox

Mock Draft Roundup: Sacramento trending for De’Aaron Fox

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Everybody’s updating their mock drafts this morning following last night’s Draft Lottery, and more and more analysts are predicting De’Aaron Fox will go to Sacramento with the fifth pick. While the thought of another Cat entering the dysfunctional fray that is the Kings organization is a little scary, the prediction makes sense. The Kings desperately need an elite point guard to anchor their franchise alongside Buddy Hield in the backcourt. Sports Illustrated’s Jeremy Woo writes that Fox could be the piece that the Kings have been waiting for.

“In Fox, the Kings finally nail a player capable of pulling all their disparate pieces together. Sacramento can take the best prospect on the board as well as fill their biggest area of need, landing a lead guard with the ability to bring the franchise back to relevance and who’s a jump shot away from being pretty frightening. Fox’s speed will be a game-changer regardless, and his contagious, breakneck nightly effort on both ends might be the shot in the arm the Kings have needed for years.”

Here’s where the rest of the Cats ended up in our latest mock draft roundup:

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Meanwhile, Markelle Fultz going first to the Celtics and Lonzo Ball to the Lakers seems to be the consensus. Have fun with that, Magic.


Wednesday’s Top 10: NBA Draft Lottery, Diallo works out for the Nets, and arrivederci!

Wednesday’s Top 10: NBA Draft Lottery, Diallo works out for the Nets, and arrivederci!

Ciao, miei amici. Forgive me if I’m a bit distracted today because tomorrow, I take off for Italy for two weeks, with stops in Rome, Florence, Cinque Terre, and Venice. I studied abroad in Florence my junior year of college, so this will be a homecoming of sorts, and I am beyond excited. In an attempt to pacify my dog, who starts pouting the instant we bring out our suitcases, I put off packing until the last minute, so today will include lots of laundry and careful decisions. Do I bother packing running gear? (No) Are these wedges comfortable enough to navigate the cobblestones? (Probably not, but I’ll take them anyways) How in the world will I be able to watch the Predators in the Western Conference Finals from there? (Looking at you, XFINITY app on the iPad)

In between all of that, I’ll also be bringing you the latest in UK sports. Andiamo!

1. The NBA Draft order is officially set

Last night was the NBA Draft Lottery, and the Boston Celtics drew the first pick, followed by the Lakers and the 76ers. Here’s the complete order of the first round of the draft now that the lottery’s over:

1. Boston Celtics (from Brooklyn)
2. Los Angeles Lakers
3. Philadelphia 76ers (from Sacramento)
4. Phoenix Suns
5. Sacramento Kings (from Philadelphia)
6. Orlando Magic
7. Minnesota Timberwolves
8. New York Knicks
9. Dallas Mavericks
10. Sacramento Kings (from New Orleans)
11. Charlotte Hornets
12. Detroit Pistons
13. Denver Nuggets
14. Miami Heat
15. Portland Trail Blazers
16. Chicago Bulls
17. Milwaukee Bucks
18. Indiana Pacers
19. Atlanta Hawks
20. Portland Trail Blazers (from Memphis, via Denver and Cleveland)
21. Oklahoma City Thunder
22. Brooklyn Nets (from Washington)
23. Toronto Raptors (from Los Angeles Clippers via Milwaukee)
24. Utah Jazz
25. Orlando Magic (from Toronto)
26. Portland Trail Blazers (from Cleveland)
27. Brooklyn Nets (from Boston)
28. Los Angeles Lakers (from Houston)
29. San Antonio Spurs
30. Utah Jazz (from Golden State)

2. Mock Draft season is now in overdrive

NBA pundits went into overdrive last night, pushing out instant reactions to the lottery order. Here’s Jonathan Givony of Draft Express‘ take:

5. De’Aaron Fox — Sacramento Kings
6. Malik Monk — Orlando Magic
32. Bam Adebayo — Phoenix Suns
35. Hamidou Diallo — Orlando Magic

Meanwhile, ESPN’s Chad Ford believes Monk will go off the board first, to Philly at #3:

3. Malik Monk — Philadelphia 76ers
5. De’Aaron Fox — Sacramento Kings
23. Bam Adebayo — Toronto Raptors
27. Hamidou Diallo — Brooklyn Nets

My initial reaction was Fultz first, Ball second, and Fox to the 76ers.

3. Joel Embiid was the real MVP

Embiid had a ball representing the 76ers, showing up to the stage with a Shirley Temple and doing this weird maniacal laughter thing as his squad’s chances of a top pick got better and better:

Embiid is hilarious.

4. Hamidou Diallo works out for the Nets today

Where you going, Hami? I wish I knew, and honestly, that’s the question I look forward to getting away from the most. According to Adam Zagoria, Diallo worked out for the Chicago Bulls on Monday and the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday. The Bulls have the 16th pick in the draft and the Bucks the 17th, and the latter reportedly has “high interest” in Diallo. The Bucks drafted Thon Maker last year, so clearly they don’t have an issue rolling the dice on a prospect who hasn’t played college ball. Tomorrow, Diallo will meet with his hometown Nets, who have the 22nd and 27th picks. That meeting could decide it all.

5. Dominique Hawkins has gotten interest from NFL teams

Dominique Hawkins is determined to continue his basketball career, but yesterday we found out that he’s garnered some interest from some professional football teams as well. Jonathan Givony told Ben Roberts that NFL teams have reached out to Hawkins to see if he’d be interested in switching careers to play defensive back, but for now, Dom is sticking with basketball. So, if you’ve ever said, “Man, Dom would make one hell of a safety,” pat yourself on the back because the NFL agrees.

6. Maria Taylor will replace Samantha Ponder on “College Gameday”

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Shoutout to one of my favorite women in the business, Maria Taylor, on her promotion to “College Gameday.” Taylor hosted “SEC Nation,” the SEC Network’s version of “College Gameday,” last year, and will replace Samantha Ponder, who will host “Sunday NFL Countdown” this fall. I’m very happy about the news because Taylor has the brains and wit to match her beauty, and should be a great fit for one of the last few things ESPN does well.

Speaking of badass ladies…

7. Kendra Harrison is back running hurdles five days after surgery

The former UK track star and current world record holder broke her hand before a race earlier this month, and not only did she run that race anyways and win it, she’s back on the track running hurdles five days after her surgery. Rock star.

8. The Titans gave every offensive line squad goals last night

The Nashville Predators rallied to beat the Anaheim Ducks in a thriller last night to take a 2-1 lead in the series. Before the game, Marcus Mariota and the Titans offensive line served as the hype guys, throwing catfish on the ice and chugging Bud Light tallboys:

Talk about squad goals.

9. Would you rock a “romphim”?

If you answered yes, please get off this website.

10. Radio in an hour

You know the drill.


Keep “sleeping on” Sacha Killeya-Jones, he says

Keep “sleeping on” Sacha Killeya-Jones, he says

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Following a disappointing freshman season for a recruit of his caliber, Sacha Killeya-Jones spent the spring fighting off unsubstantiated transfer rumors, and now he wants you to keep sleeping on him.

The big man, whose confidence seems high as he heads into the summer before his sophomore season, tweeted Tuesday afternoon, “Keep sleeping on me.. I love it.”

For those of you who may be a little confused by the tweet, to “sleep on” means to overlook, ignore or completely forget someone or something. Killeya-Jones does not mean “sleep on” in the literal sense, at least not by my interpretation.

Last week I ranked Killeya-Jones as one of the players I am most excited to see in the fall. Hopefully there won’t be too many people sleeping on his game then, after a freshman-to-sophomore transformation. But if he doesn’t make great improvements from Year 1 to Year 2, there are plenty of bodies that will be fighting for playing time in the frontcourt.

#TeamNoSleep on Killeya-Jones.


SwipatheFox | IG

Where the Wildcats Stand in the Post-Lottery Mock Drafts

SwipatheFox | IG

SwipatheFox | IG

Upon first glance at the lottery results, De’Aarn Fox appeared to be a perfect fit for the Philadelphia 76ers.  Built with too many bigs, he’d be the perfect point guard The Process could Trust.  However, Jonathan Givony of Draft Express doesn’t see it that way, penciling Josh Jackson into that No. 3 slot to the Sixers.  Here’s where he believes the Cats will fall:

5. De’Aaron Fox — Sacramento Kings
6. Malik Monk — Orlando Magic
32. Bam Adebayo — Phoenix Suns
35. Hamidou Diallo — Orlando Magic

If you’d like to see more from Draft Express, you can find scouting videos on all the Wildcats here.

Chad Ford believes one Wildcat will Trust The Process, but it’s not De’Aaron Fox.  Where the Cats land in Ford’s post-lottery mock draft:

3. Malik Monk — Philadelphia 76ers
5. De’Aaaron Fox — Sacramento Kings
23. Bam Adebayo — Toronto Raptors
27. Hamidou Diallo — Brooklyn Nets

If there’s one team that could ruin any chances Kentucky has at seeing Hamidou Diallo in a UK jersey, it’s the Brooklyn Nets.  With the No. 22 and No. 27 picks, no first round pick next year and no plan on improving anytime soon, Diallo is a perfect fit for the Nets.  Diallo will workout with the Nets Thursday, according to Adam Zagoria.


10 Things To Know About Tonight’s NBA Draft Lottery

10 Things To Know About Tonight’s NBA Draft Lottery

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The NBA Draft Lottery is tonight at 8:00 PM ET on ESPN and, due to several factors, this year’s could be the most bizarre and interesting in recent memory, which is saying something for a event that centers around ping pong balls. Not only is this year’s draft class stacked, a number of trades have resulted in some pretty confusing scenarios. To get you ready, I spent the day looking into this year’s draft lottery and penned this little primer for you.

1. Here are the odds to land the #1 pick

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2. Yes, the Celtics have the best chance of getting the #1 pick despite being the top seed in the playoffs

Thanks to the 2013 trade with the Nets that sent Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Jason Terry to Brooklyn, the Celtics have the best chance of getting the number one pick because the Nets have the worst record in the league. Boston can do no worse than the fourth pick in the draft, which means right now is a pretty great time to be a Celtics fan. On the flip side, man, that trade didn’t work out well for Brooklyn, did it?

3. The team to watch in all of this is the Lakers

It’s been a long time since two traditional powers like the Celtics and the Lakers have had the chance to pick so high in the draft, and for the Lakers, tonight is absolutely crucial. There’s a 47% chance the Lakers get a top three pick, which is essential because if the pick is any lower, it goes to the Philadelphia 76ers. That’s why the Lakers tanked at the end of the season, but a rare five-game winning streak came back to bite them because the Phoenix Suns dropped below them to become the second worst team in the league, therefore upping their draft lottery odds.

4. Should the Lakers get a top three pick, they’ll use it on Lonzo Ball

Most teams would take Markelle Fultz with the first pick, but should the Lakers get a top three pick, they’ll go after Lonzo Ball and his crazy dad in hopes Ball is a franchise player. Phoenix has also shown interest in Ball, but come on, Suns. You’ve got a lot of great guards and you don’t need that drama. Leave that for Magic Johnson to deal with.

5. The Lakers’ loss would be the 76ers’ gain

Should the Lakers miss out on a top three pick, it would go to the 76ers, who could have a red-letter night. They already have the fourth best chance of landing the number one pick, so if all of the stars aligned for Philadelphia, they could end up with the #1 and #4 picks. I doubt that will happen, but can you imagine?

6. The Boogie trade makes tonight particularly stressful for the Pelicans and Kings

The Pelicans have the 10th best chance of landing the #1 pick, so not great, but even if they get a top three pick, they have to give it to the Kings to settle the terms of the DeMarcus Cousins/Buddy Hield trade. Additionally, if the Kings get a top ten pick ahead of the 76ers — again, a slim possibility — the 76ers will can swap the picks and take the higher one because of a trade in 2015. Should Sacramento get the eleventh pick or lower, Philadelphia’s rights to swap are nullified.

Okay, enough of trade scenarios because my brain hurts.

7. They do the drawing before the broadcast even begins

Sadly, what you’ll watch tonight is just the unveiling of the results of the actual drawing, which takes place just before ESPN’s broadcast begins. And yes, they actually use ping pong balls to determine the order, which makes it all the more bizarre and therefore awesome.

8. Devin Booker will be in the house with a special guest

Get ready to see your favorite baby-faced assassin because Devin Booker will represent the Suns for the second year in a row. In what has become tradition, Booker is bringing a young fan with him. Last year, it was 16-year-old Suns superfan Jenna Warren, who has Down Syndrome. This year, it’s 11-year-old Noah Smith, a huge Suns fan and Special Olympics athlete. They’re already having a great time in NYC, shooting hoops in Brooklyn Bridge Park:

Gotta love Booker.

9. De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk will be there too

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Fox and Monk were among the top prospects invited to the lottery and will have front row seats to see the results. Fox has met with eight teams so far, including the Lakers, the Sixers, and the Knicks, and according to Chad Ford, he did himself a lot of favors in those meetings and at the combine, to the point he’s passed Lonzo Ball on several draft boards. Monk didn’t participate in the combine, but is still considered a top eight pick. Thankfully, he left the manpris at home:

#nbadraftlottery

A post shared by Malik Monk (@ahmad_monk) on

Other prospects who will be in the house tonight: Markelle Fultz, Josh Jackson, Justin Jackson, Justin Patton, Jayson Tatum, Lauri Markkanen, and Jarrett Allen.

10. What about LaVar–I mean, Lonzo Ball?

Remains to be seen, but if he and his dad are in the building, you know they’ll make an entrance.

Does Big Baller Brand make suits?


NFL teams interested in Dominique Hawkins?

Dominique Hawkins

In a new story on Dominique Hawkins from Ben Roberts of the Herald-Leader, we learn something about Hawkins’ post-UK career that had been rumored all along: someone from the NFL will have interest in him.

Roberts spoke with Jonathan Givony from Draft Express about Hawkins’ future in basketball, and Givony dropped a little nugget about some NFL teams calling Hawkins to feel him out about pursuing a pro football career:

Givony said that he’s heard some NFL teams have been calling Hawkins about possibly trying out a career on the football field. Madison Central Coach Allen Feldhaus Jr. confirmed to the Herald-Leader that Hawkins has indeed heard from NFL teams in recent weeks — his football potential, particularly as a defensive back, has been mentioned before — but basketball is the long-term goal for the time being.

Hawkins looks the part to be an All-Pro NFL defensive back, but it seems his heart is set on continuing his basketball career professionally, and not learning the ins and outs of playing safety. But it’d be pretty cool to see him give the gridiron a shot, right? He looks pretty good in these old Madison Central highlights.

Read the whole Hawkins story here.


Indiana coaching staff stealing from… Brad Calipari?

It looks like there is a new motto floating around the Indiana basketball locker room and Brad Calipari might have something to say about its originality.

From the Hoosiers’ director of athletic performance, Clif Marshall:

@ClifMarshall

@ClifMarshall

Brad wears it much better on his chest.


Diallo working out with the Bucks today

diallo

Today Hamidou Diallo will work out with the Milwaukee Bucks, an organization that is probably one of the most willing to take a chance on him in this year’s draft.

Last year the Bucks drafted Thon Maker at No. 10 overall in a very similar situation: Maker went straight to the NBA from prep school without ever playing a game at the college level. Diallo is in the same boat (although he spent four months in college) and with a 6’11” wingspan and a 44.5″ vertical, the Bucks may run it back by selecting a second straight unknown with its first pick, this year at No. 17.

Joining Diallo in Milwaukee today: Deng Adel (Louisville), L.J. Peak (Georgetown), Nigel Hayes (Wisconsin), Sterling Brown (SMU) and Jalen Moore (Utah State).


Former UK Basketball staffer charged with defrauding pro athletes pleads not guilty

And now, an update from a big story last week: Leon Smith, the former UK Basketball staffer accused of conning pro athletes of nearly $1.3 million, pleaded not guilty this morning in the U.S. District Court in Lexington. Smith’s trial will begin July 18 in Lexington; if found guilty of all charges, he could face more than 30 years in prison.

Smith, a former UK wide receiver and Director of Basketball Opps under Tubby Smith, faces 14 counts, including fraud, aggravated identity theft, and money laundering. According to an open records request by the Herald-Leader, UK officials were unhappy with Smith back in 2006 because he ordered $12,000 worth of SEC Championship rings without going through proper purchasing procedures. UK only found out about the rings when Balfour, the vendor, contacted them about a past-due invoice. Around that time, Smith’s role with UK shifted from director of men’s basketball operations to assistant athletic director under Mitch Barnhart, a position he held until he resigned in April 2010. (While it appears his time at UK did overlap with John Calipari’s, it’s important to note that Smith only worked with Barnhart.)

Among the clients conned by Smith are Darius Miller and Josh Harrellson, the latter of which is suing Smith for defrauding him of $180,000.

More details at the Herald-Leader.


Let’s answer the 5 weirdest questions players were asked at the NBA Combine

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The measurements, agility testing, and on the court stuff at the NBA Combine is important, but equally as important are team interviews. Typically, those interviews include some really weird questions. These aren’t your standard interview questions like where you see yourself in five years or whether or not you would turn something in incomplete on a deadline; these questions are designed to throw players off to gauge their reactions. Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype.com asked players at the Combine to share the weirdest questions they were asked, and because it’s a Monday and we’ve got nothing better to do, I thought I’d share five of my favorites so you can answer in the comments:

1. Why is a manhole cover round?

I’ve never thought about this before, and the answer is actually really clever: it’s because a circular manhole cover can’t fall through the opening like a square one would. I totally spoiled that for you, but what a fun fact, right?

2. What would the janitor at your school say if I asked him about you?

That I drank too much Diet Coke and stunted my growth? (And hopefully that I recycled.)

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3. Can you explain each of your tattoos?

If Malik Monk had participated in the Combine, teams would get to hear that his large chest tattoo is a tribute to his hometown of Lepanto, specifically “The Woods” where he played pickup basketball growing up.

Also, I have no tattoos.

4. If you were the size of a pencil and stuck in a blender, how would you get out?

According to Kennedy, this question is popular in Silicon Valley to test applicants’ analytic problem solving skills. And I have no idea how I’d answer. Chill on the edge and pray?

5. What drink do you order when you’re in the club?

Yes, players were asked about their drinking and their marijuana habits. I’d be curious to see how many players answered honestly (knowing that teams will do their homework on them) or how many played it safe and lied, especially if they were under 21.

My answer, even though I never go clubbing? In my limited experience, clubs have limited craft beer selection, so I’ll go with Hendricks and tonic, cucumber, no lime.

 

Your turn if you wanna. Or, just go to HoopsHype.com to read the rest.


Monday’s Top 10: Fox soars, John Wall has his moment, and some big breaking news coming soon…

Monday’s Top 10: Fox soars, John Wall has his moment, and some big breaking news coming soon…

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Greetings all, and welcome to a new week. Shoutout to KSR and UK fan Nick for repping the Cats at the Parthenon. Sure, it may be the full-scale replica that’s here in Nashville — built in 1897 for the Tennessee Centennial Exposition — but it’s still impressive and in close proximity to plenty of great hot chicken places and craft breweries. Nick, I hope you took advantage of all that.

Before I call Prince’s to see if they’re open at 9 a.m., let’s roll through the top ten, because that’s probably a decision that I’d regret later today.

1. Sorting through the aftermath of the NBA Combine

The NBA Draft Combine finally wrapped up yesterday in Chicago, and for Kentucky fans, there were two main takeaways: 1) Hamidou Diallo’s measurements/agility piqued the interest of several teams; and 2) De’Aaron Fox did himself some favors. We’ll start with Diallo, who has nine days left to make the decision to stay in the draft or come back to Kentucky. After doing some reading, it seems that Diallo’s 44.5″ vertical and 6’11.25″ wingspan were enough to make NBA teams want to hear more. According to Chad Ford, Diallo is now viewed as an “intriguing” prospect that could go in the 20’s, whereas if he stayed at Kentucky and had a good season, could go in the top 10 of the 2018 draft. The speculation surrounding Diallo is overwhelming and, honestly, a bit exhausting, but we’ll keep bringing you the news as it happens.

2. De’Aaron Fox charmed everyone

The other big takeaway of the Combine to me was the emergence of De’Aaron Fox. Fox was one of the few projected top 10 prospects to actually attend the Combine, and that decision seems to have worked in his favor. Fox charmed everyone, to the point that Chad Ford believes many squads would pick him over Lonzo Ball, putting him in contention for the second or third pick. That’s huge.

One of the many media opps Fox did this week:

Fox seems primed to become the next great ambassador of Kentucky Basketball. Let’s hope he lands somewhere good.

3. The NBA Draft Lottery is tomorrow

Here are the latest odds:

4. It’s Game 7 for Wizards/Celtics

Friday night was the night John Wall told the world that he’s an NBA superstar. Wall quietly put together an impressive regular season, and when some haters — cough, Cowherd, cough — still questioned that he had the talent and charisma to be among the league’s elite, he made a statement Friday night. After the buzzer sounded following his game-winning three, Wall leapt on the scorer’s table and motioned to the Washington crowd to get loud. The pictures and video of the moment have been everywhere, but this perspective from the crowd may be my favorite:

Tonight, the Wizards and Celtics will meet one final time in Boston to decide the series, the winner of which will advance to play the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference finals. That game tips at 8 p.m. ET on TNT.

5. UK Baseball swept the Vols

UK Baseball made Senior Weekend one to remember by sweeping Tennessee at The Cliff. After a date with Northern Kentucky on Tuesday, the Bat Cats will turn their sights to a crucial weekend showdown with Florida with the SEC championship on the line. The Cats (36-16, 18-9 SEC) will need to win at least two of three games to claim a piece of the division – and possibly overall – crown in coach Nick Mingione’s first season as head coach.

We’ve said it a lot, but what Mingione has done this season is incredible. Keep it up, fellas.

6. The football team landed a three-star center

Mark Stoops added an eighth member to his 2018 class this weekend in the form of three-star center Quintin Wilson. Wilson is the third offensive lineman in the 2018 class and the fourth recruit from the state of Ohio, aka Vince Marrow land. UK’s 2018 class is now ranked 22nd in 247 Sports’ rankings, and Alex Reigelsperger, who has seized the role of lead recruiter, says more Yahtzees are coming soon:

Hmm…

7. UK Softball will host a regional

Last night, the UK Softball team drew the No. 14 national seed in the 2017 NCAA Softball Championships, and will serve as regional hosts this weekend at John Cropp Stadium. Illinois, Marshall and DePaul will come to town for the double-elimination style bracket, the winner of which will advance to the super regionals. Kentucky will open play on Friday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. ET against DePaul, which will be shown live on ESPN 3/WatchESPN.

Tickets are available now at the UK Ticket Office, so make plans to go support the ladies this weekend.

8. My Preds dropped Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals

Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals started well for the Nashville Predators, who quickly leapt to a 2-0 lead, but Anaheim didn’t give up, eventually winning by a final score of 5-3. Thankfully, Nashville won Game 1, so the series is tied at 1-1, and now comes home to Bridgestone Arena, which will be absolutely nuts on Tuesday and Thursday nights. Hopefully I can be there on Tuesday to cheer them on before leaving for vacation. Either way, I’m taking jersey with me to Italy.

9. Julius Randle won Mother’s Day

Shoutout to Julius Randle for a very impressive and creative Mother’s Day gift for his fiancée, Kendra. Guys, good luck topping this one:

10. Some big news is going to drop on today’s show

I suggest you be by your radio at 10 a.m. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.


NBA Teams are Starting to Figure Out De’Aaron Fox is Better than Lonzo Ball

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It ain’t hard to tell that De’Aaron Fox is better than Lonzo Ball.

The first time the two point guards faced off at Rupp Arena, Ball’s team won, but he was outplayed by Fox.  Ball had 14 points, 7 assists and 6 rebounds, compared to Fox’s 24 points and 5 steals.

In the NCAA Tournament, Fox completely dominated Ball from start to finish.  Fox had 39 points, 4 assists and two steals.  Ball made 1-of-6 threes, scored just 10 points and immediately said after the game, “That was my final game for UCLA.  I appreciate all the fans for all the support.”

Despite all of that, NBA scouts still saw Ball as a better pro prospect, penciling him as the No. 2 player in the draft.  That’s no longer the case.

Even though neither of the two players participated in the drills at the NBA Draft Combine, ESPN’s Chad Ford left Chicago with one important takeaway: Fox has surpassed Ball on the draft boards of many NBA teams.

“No one helped himself more in March than Fox did,” Ford said.  “He has a chance to go as high as No. 2 or No. 3 in this draft.”

I don’t know what took teams so long to come to their senses.  Maybe it was Lonzo’s new shoe?

[Chad Ford]


John Calipari has a Problem at Forward

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It’s been eight days since Kevin Knox shocked the Big Blue Nation by committing to Kentucky.  Naturally, the addition of a Top 10 player in the class of 2017 created excitement.  Now that the dust has settled, there’s an elephant in the room: Calipari has too many forwards.

John Calipari doesn’t have many weaknesses as a recruiter, but he always struggled to recruit true small forwards.  Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is an exception, but MKG is not an offensive player.  This year he has not just one, but three small forwards in his recruiting class who excel offensively.  Along with the returning players, here’s who will be in the crowded frontcourt:

  • Kevin Knox
  • Jarred Vanderbilt
  • P.J. Washington
  • Sacha Killeya-Jones
  • Wenyen Gabriel
  • Tai Wynyard
  • Nick Richards
  • Mo Bamba (maybe)

Even though Calipari has excelled with size (the 2015 team started three guys 6’10” and over), only Richards and Bamba are true centers.  For arguments sake, I’ll leave Bamba out of the equation.  That leaves six players vying to play two forward positions.  There are a few ways Calipari can make it work.

Play Small

Tai Wynyard and P.J. Washington are both bruisers on the defensive end of the floor.  Exceptional rebounders with a wide base, they can sacrifice some size and still adequately defend the opponent’s center.

This leaves room for the others to stretch the floor.  Gabriel, Knox and Vanderbilt are all at their best facing the basket and can extend their game all the way to the three-point line.  SKJ doesn’t have that range, but that’s more of an assumption because we haven’t seen much of him since high school.

Play Big

 

With Richards in the middle, Calipari can still employ three other small forwards because of their versatility.  Knox and Vanderbilt weren’t great three-point shooters during their senior seasons, but have dramatically improved their shooting over the last six months.  Each of them could play on the wing, while Washington or Killeya-Jones plays the four-spot.  This puts four players on the court at 6’8″ and above.

The Problem

Spacing.  The last two seasons Calipari has had two of his best backcourts.  Spreading the floor, he let them use space to create shots near the rim or find an open man an the three-point line.

Nobody in college basketball is more adaptable than Calipari, but if Hamidou Diallo does not return, the Cats will only have two players (Quade Green, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander) who can truly create off the dribble.  As basketball becomes more perimeter-oriented, next year’s team is going in the opposite direction.

There will be some growing pains at the start of the season, but if there’s a will, there’s a way.


Mother’s Day Wishes from the Big Blue Nation

@KentuckyMBB

@KentuckyMBB

Your favorite University of Kentucky Wildcats are celebrating their beloved Mothers with social media shout outs.  For those Moms who aren’t on Twitter, it makes no sense to me, but that’s a conversation for another day.  Today is a day to honor the wonderful women who made us who we are, starting with a special video from the football team.

Coach Rich Brooks

Karl-Anthony Towns

Coach Mark Stoops 

Coach Cal

Linebacker Courtney Love

Running Back Benny Snell

Former UK Center Max Godby 

Cornerback Jordan Griffin

J.B. Holmes, before he tries to win The Players’ Championship.

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