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Jarred Vanderbilt’s foot seems just fine

A little less than a month ago John Calipari said his medical staff took a look at Jarred Vanderbilt’s left foot injury — the one he suffered in the Jordan Brand Classic back in April — and that they were keeping Vanderbilt off the court to play it safe. Cal predicted his five-star freshman would return in a couple of weeks.

Well it has been a couple of weeks since those comments, and a short video shared by the @KentuckyMBB Twitter account Friday afternoon shows Vanderbilt is doing just fine:

https://twitter.com/KentuckyMBB/status/883386093374238724


USA pulls away in second half to advance to FIBA semi

Germany kept it close for a half against the Americans, trailing by only two at the break. But then Team USA turned it up a notch and ran away with the quarterfinal game in the third and fourth quarters, allowing only 28 German points in the entire second half.

The final score: 81-59.

Auburn’s Austin Wiley led the team with 19 points for the game with an unstoppable performance inside. Kentucky’s Hamidou Diallo was also a major factor in the win; his play after halftime sparked the second half run that won the game. He finished with eight points, while UK teammate P.J. Washington had a quiet evening with three points and two rebounds.

The win sends Team USA to the semifinals where it will meet Canada and R.J. Barrett, the No. 1 overall player in the 2018 class. That game will be played tomorrow.


Tai Wynyard records double-double in New Zealand win in Cairo

Tai Wynyard and the Junior Tall Blacks earned a win over Mali on Friday in the classification round of the FIBA World Cup. The final score of the game was 87-63.

Wynyard scored 17 points on 8-of-11 shooting from the field to go along with his 13 rebounds. That is a double-double, for those of you keeping score at home. Plus he had three assists.

Watch him run the floor and finish a lob:

Up next for Wynyard and New Zealand: Puerto Rico sometime tomorrow.

Go Tall Blacks.


Photo: FIBA

10 Things We’ve Learned So Far In The FIBA World Cup

Tomorrow at 3:15 p.m., Team USA faces Germany in the quarterfinals of the FIBA World Cup. What have we learned about John Calipari, PJ Washington, Hamidou Diallo, and UK’s 2018 targets since training camp began almost three weeks ago? Quite a lot, actually. I’ve narrowed my list of observations down to ten.

1. PJ Washington is going to be a fan favorite for many reasons

Most of the buzz in the freshman class has surrounded Kevin Knox and Hamidou Diallo, but this summer, PJ Washington has proven that he’s a star in his own right. The 6’8″ forward has been the most “positionless” player on the court, creating mismatches for almost every single team the US has faced. Washington is fifth in the FIBA World Cup in scoring at 16.0 points per game despite playing only 17.5 minutes per game (95th out of 192 players in the tournament). He ranks first in field goal percentage with 67.5%, a good 8% better than Canada’s Danilo Djuricic, the next most efficient scorer.

Washington does a little bit of everything: scoring, rebounding, and creating for others while refusing to back down on defense. As Calipari put it earlier this week, Washington is playing like a “beast” this summer, which should help him get ahead in a loaded crop of forwards this fall. Combine Washington’s on-the-court versatility with his off-the-court charisma and childhood love of the Wildcats and you’ve got an early leader for fan favorite.

2. …But he’s gonna have to work on those free throws

The one glaring hole in Washington’s game right now? His free throw shooting. Washington’s hitting only 42.9% of his shots from the charity stripe, a stat that must improve or teams won’t hesitate to go right at him.

3. Hamidou Diallo will be on SportsCenter‘s Top 10 more than once this season

We knew Diallo was a freak, but he turned in so many ridiculous plays and dunks through four games that FIBA made him his own mixtape:

4. Tai Wynyard’s got potential, but struggles with consistency

Early on, it looked like Wynyard was going to be one of the surprises of the tournament. In New Zealand’s opener vs. Korea, he scored 22 points, 16 in the fourth quarter alone; however, his production has been inconsistent ever since. Wynyard only had three points in New Zealand’s loss to Argentina, but contributed in other ways, pulling down nine rebounds and blocking three shots. Against Germany, he finished with 14 points and 9 rebounds, but turned the ball over four times. Wynyard clearly has potential, but to get minutes over Sacha Killeya-Jones and Nick Richards, he’ll have to be more consistent.

5. His Haka is on point though

6. Watching games without commentary is weird

All of the FIBA World Cup games are streamed live on YouTube, which is probably the way of the future and incredibly convenient for us since we can just embed that stream on the website; however, it has been odd watching games without commentary. There are no broadcast announcers, so the only thing you hear during the game is the PA announcer in the gym (who, to his credit, is lively), vuvuzelas (more on those in a minute), and the occasional shriek or stomp from Calipari. As fans in the modern era, we’ve been conditioned to hear game commentary, even if we complain about it and threaten to turn down the sound. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss it.

7. Vuvuzelas are still popular in Egypt

If you were wondering what happened to vuvuzelas after the 2010 World Cup, well, they’re all at the FIBA World Cup in Egypt now. Vuvuzelas still pop up from time to time (we all have that one friend who brings it to a soccer watch party), but I’ll admit that it took me a second or two to place that annoying, mind-numbing buzz. Let’s keep those over there, okay?

8. PJ Washington’s dad is doing his part to recruit Kentucky’s 2018 prospects

Three of Calipari’s primary targets in the 2018 class have been under his wing for the past three weeks, which is inevitably a great thing for Kentucky, right? Yes, although other than a tweet from Immanuel Quickley and a blog post from Romeo Langford, we haven’t heard a ton of feedback. PJ Washington’s dad Paul traveled to Egypt with his wife and son for the FIBA World Cup and told Larry Vaught he’s been doing his best to recruit Quickley, Langford, Cameron Reddish, and Louis King, the latter of which doesn’t have an offer from Kentucky…yet.

“We had dinner the other night with them all,” Washington said from Egypt. “We talk a lot of recruiting. We are the only parents here, so we are together a lot. So you know me. Whatever I need to do for the UK family, I will do it.”

Washington Sr. also got into Kevin Knox Sr.’s ear during the McDonald’s All-American Game a few months back and that seemed to work out pretty well. Shoutout to Paul and his wife, Sherry, for their extra efforts.

9. Calipari’s “casual” coaching look actually costs a lot

Photo: FIBA

Calipari debuted his new, custom fit Blue Delta Jeans at the FIBA World Cup, which cost approximately $500/pair. According to sneakerheads on Twitter, he is also wearing Nike’s new self-lacing HyperAdapt sneakers, which retail for about $800/pair. I’m sure he got that polo shirt for free (if we’re being honest, probably the jeans and shoes too), so all in all, that outfit retails for about $1,300. Image is everything, right?

10. The picture of him on a camel will never get old

The best way to handle yet another NBA rumor if you’re John Calipari? Hop on a camel, pull up in front of the pyramids, and give us a picture we’ll be using until the end of time. Add some text and a little more swagger and you’ve got the perfect GIF to send to your Louisville friends:


UK Opens Its Doors for Lifelong Fan with Brain Cancer

Photo by Hunter Mitchell | Cameron Mills Radio

Zachary Summers does not have long to live, but he and his family are making the most of it.

The lifelong UK fan from Casey County has terminal brain cancer.  He was told by doctors he has just a few weeks to live.  Summers is spending his final days creating memories with his wife Alyssa and daughter Hadley.

“It’s been amazing to see the outpouring of love and support that people have and the way people want to help Zach and Hadley and us make memories together,” Alyssa said. “People from all over have reached out to offer tickets, or a prayer or just an encouraging word to kind of help things because it’s a scary time.”

Yesterday the University of Kentucky opened their doors for the Summers family.  They toured all of the facilities, from Kroger Field and the Nutter Football Training Facility to Rupp Arena.  Along the way he spoke to football coach Mark Stoops and met former basketball players Jeff Sheppard and Cameron Mills.  It was a day they’ll never forget.

KSTV’s Bradley McKee shared their story.

[KSTV]


New Wildcats volunteer time at Special Olympics basketball camp

New Wildcats volunteer time at Special Olympics basketball camp

Two freshmen from John Calipari’s new backcourt, Jemarl Baker and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, took some time out of their busy lives to volunteer at the Special Olympics Kentucky Basketball Camp at WinStar Farm last week.

Kentucky Wildcats TV was also in attendance to catch some of the action for a video package that hit the internet today.

If you look closely you’ll catch a glimpse of our own Jack Pilgrim coaching against Gilgeous-Alexander. Jack shared this video from his Twitter account from the day:

Go Cats.


Thomas More and Centre added to UK baskeball schedule

Kentucky added two new games to its 2017-18 basketball schedule, both of the exhibition variety.

The Cats will first host the Saints of Thomas More College on Friday, October 27. Thomas More went 22-7 last season and won the Presidents’ Athletic Conference.

Then on the following Friday, November 3, the Colonels of Centre College will get their shot at the Wildcats. Centre went 14-11 in 2016-17 and finished in second place in the Southern Athletic Association.

It will be the first time either of the two schools travel to Rupp Arena to play Kentucky in an exhibition game.

The tradition of playing in-state teams in the preseason continues!


Of course LaVar Ball and his family are getting a reality TV show

Today in “things that won’t surprise you”: LaVar Ball and his family just landed a reality TV show. According to Deadline.com, the Ball family will star in a reality series produced by Facebook, one of two shows the social media giant is hoping will herald them into the video business.

The show will feature LaVar, Lonzo, Liangelo, and LaMelo, but that’s about the only detail we have thus far. If I had to guess, it will also feature Lonzo’s sneaker, the ZO2, which just came out in red, white, and blue colorways for the Fourth of July. Starting at only $495 a pair!

@BigBallerBrand

@BigBallerBrand

@BigBallerBrand

While an obvious storyline in the show will be Lonzo’s rookie year with the Lakers, it’s only a matter of time before LaVar steals the spotlight. That is his specialty, after all:


Team USA will face Germany on Friday

Team USA will face Germany on Friday

Photo: FIBA

Sadly, Tai Wynyard vs. John Calipari and Team USA just wasn’t meant to be. New Zealand lost to Germany in the Round of 16 today at the FIBA World Cup, meaning the Germans will advance to face the Americans in Friday’s quarterfinal matchup. Loss aside, it was a good day for Tai Wynyard, who had 14 points, 9 rebounds, and 2 steals. Here are all of his stats in the FIBA World Cup thus far:

Game Min FG FT O Reb D Reb Tot Reb As PF To St BS +/- Pts
vs. Korea 19 10/11 2/2 3 3 6 1 3 4 1 2 16 22
vs. France 31 5/8 2/6 0 5 5 3 0 3 0 2 -3 12
vs. Argentina 28 1/8 1/2 5 4 9 1 2 3 1 3 7 3
vs. Germany 23 5/10 4/5 5 4 9 0 4 4 2 1 -1 14

Game times for Friday have yet to be announced, but here’s the updated bracket:

 


PJ Washington thriving in Calipari’s positionless system

Photo: FIBA

Coach Calipari has a new focus when it comes to game strategy: positionless basketball. This is the strategy he said he was going to utilize going into the FIBA Tournament. When you look at the Team USA roster, it becomes clear why his strategy works. Future Wildcat freshman PJ Washington is the main player that comes to mind when discussing versatility, and it has shown this past week. He was the lead scorer in yesterday and today’s game, with 20 points in each.

Team USA will participate in the quarterfinals on Friday and Calipari said he will continue to use his positionless strategy to throw off their opponents.

“What I liked today, we had seven guys in double figures, which means everybody’s playing, everybody’s passing it’s not just one guy shooting all the balls.”

Calipari said that no matter what position any of his players are put in, “Everybody’s going to give us their best shot. It’s just how it is.”

 


Photo: FIBA

WATCH LIVE: Tai Wynyard & New Zealand take on Germany

Photo: FIBA

USA awaits the winner of New Zealand/Germany in the FIBA World Cup quarterfinals, meaning Tai Wynyard has a chance to play against his coach and Kentucky teammates should the Tall Blacks get the victory today. Can they do it? See for yourself via the livestream below:

After a huge performance in New Zealand’s first game, Tai’s scoring has dropped off a little. Here are his stats for the tournament thus far:

Game Min FG 3pts FT O Reb D Reb Tot Reb As PF To St BS +/- Ef Pts
vs. Korea 19 10/11 0/0 2/2 3 3 6 1 3 4 1 2 16 27 22
vs. France 31 5/8 0/0 2/6 0 5 5 3 0 3 0 2 -3 12 12
vs. Argentina 28 1/8 0/0 1/2 5 4 9 1 2 3 1 3 7 6 3

Remember when Tai scored 16 points in the fourth quarter on Saturday? That was fun:

 


Photo: FIBA

Calipari on tougher competition: “I’m worried”

Photo: USA Basketball

The first three games for Coach Calipari’s U19 Team were clean sweeps. Team USA led by massive margins, and each player showed what they can do. Today, in the first quarter of USA vs. Mali, we got a taste of what some tougher competition is going to look like.

Calipari admitted, “We started a little bit shaky.” The team worked out the kinks and adjusted to Mali’s hard defense, up by 20 points in the beginning of the second. “From that point on we played pretty well,” Calipari said.

Team USA went on to beat Mali 117 to 69. Tomorrow, the team will take a break from the tournament before their match up against either Germany or New Zealand. New Zealand has one of Calipari’s own Wildcats, Tai Wynyard, who has been a star player this tournament. Calipari said he likes the idea of playing against Wynyard and his team.

“I would like us to play New Zealand because, I think,  I’d like to see Tai in this kind of game, but we’re gonna play whoever is there.”

Calipari wasn’t afraid to say he was worried about facing tougher competition.

“I’m worried,” Cal said. “I’ll tell you what I’m worried about: how do we perform and execute in a tight game, who can make a shot when it matters, who can make an open three when it matters. When the other team is gonna play loose, and it’s kind of on us to make plays, we don’t know yet, but we’re gonna find out.”

His instructions to his players heading into the quarterfinals, “Play. Do the things you do well.”


Photo: FIBA

WATCH: Hamidou Diallo throws down another nasty windmill dunk

Photo: FIBA

A few days ago, Hamidou Diallo showed off his freak athleticism with a ridiculous windmill dunk vs. Angola, and today, he followed it up with another nasty slam vs. Mali. Check out the video below, courtesy of @FIBA:

He makes that look easy. Diallo finished with 14 points off 6-10 shooting, 6 rebounds, and 3 assists. Here are his stats for all four games so far:

Game Min FG 3pts FT O Reb D Reb Tot Reb Asst PF To Stl BS Pts
vs. Iran 16 7/9 2/3 1/2 1 3 4 2 2 0 1 1 17
vs. Angola 22 6/11 0 3/5 2 1 3 2 0 0 3 1 15
vs. Italy 18 2/9 0 1/2 3 1 4 3 2 0 0 0 5
vs. Mali 19 6/10 0 2/2 2 4 6 3 2 2 1 0 14

And a mixtape of his best highlights:

What will Hami do next?


PJ Washington leads Team USA past Mali

PJ Washington leads Team USA past Mali

Photo: FIBA

Another day, another win for Team USA, and another big performance from PJ Washington. Washington led all scorers with 20 points (9-12), 8 rebounds, and 3 assists in USA’s 117-69 win over Mali. Hamidou Diallo had 14 points off 6-10 shooting and 6 rebounds. Cameron Reddish finished with 11 points, Immanuel Quickley with 3, and Romeo Langford came off the bench to put up 6 points and 3 rebounds in 7 minutes of play.

You know what? Here’s the complete box score:

Team USA moves on to the quarterfinals, where they’ll face the winner of Tai Wynyard’s New Zealand squad and Germany. That game takes place at 2 p.m. this afternoon.

Until then, enjoy this big dunk and flex by Washington:


WATCH LIVE: Team USA plays Mali in the Round of 16

WATCH LIVE: Team USA plays Mali in the Round of 16

After rolling through pool play, Team USA is now in the Round of 16 in the FIBA World Cup. This morning, they’re taking on Mali, a live stream of which you can see below:

Yesterday, Team USA rolled over Italy 98-65. PJ Washington led all scorers with 20 points, followed by Cameron Reddish with 15.

Here’s the Round of 16 bracket:

If USA beats Mali and New Zealand beats Germany, Calipari, PJ Washington, and Hamidou Diallo will square off against fellow Cat Tai Wynyard and the New Zealand team on Friday.