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SI.com ranked next year’s NBA prospects

Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

We know Kentucky has two projected first-round picks in the upcoming NBA draft, but what about next summer?

Jeremy Woo of SI.com believes Kentucky will have two solid NBA prospects in 2019. He released an early ranking of the top 30 prospects and it includes a pair of Wildcats, although one has his sights set on joining the league this summer.

That one is PJ Washington, who is currently testing the waters. Washington still has a few more weeks to think it over, but SI.com projects him as a 2019 draft entrant after a sophomore season at Kentucky, and the 19th-best prospect in that class.

19. P.J. WASHINGTON, F/C, KENTUCKY | FRESHMAN
Height: 6’7″ | Weight: 230 | Age: 19

Washington was at his best playing as a small-ball five this season, with freakish length that helps compensate for his lack of height. He’s presently testing the waters along with teammates Jarred Vanderbilt and Wenyen Gabriel, creating a bit of a quandary as far as playing time for whoever returns. Washington will have a chance to solidify his stock at the combine, but seems more likely to land in the early second round than the first, which could lead to another year of school. He doesn’t have crazy upside, but his skill level on the interior and explosiveness off the floor could make him a quality role player.

ESPN.com currently ranks Washington as the No. 51 prospect in the 2018 draft class, which suggests Washington should be leaning toward a return. Unfortunately, it may be the other way around, though.

Kentucky’s other top 2019 prospect is incoming freshman Keldon Johnson, who is No. 12 on SI.com’s list of 2019 NBA hopefuls.

12. KELDON JOHNSON, G/F, KENTUCKY | HS SR.
Height: 6’6″ | Weight: 210 | Age: 18

Perhaps the most impressive player over the course of McDonald’s All-American week, Johnson is extremely competitive and can be a bully scoring the ball on the wing. While he benefits from being physically mature, he has a polished offensive game at this stage. He’s able to finish above the rim with either hand, hit the three with some consistency and fall back on his midrange jumper if need be. He should have immediate success at Kentucky and potentially parlay that into a one-and-done year, but he may lack the elite upside of some others in this class given he relies more on strength than explosiveness.

It’s a positive outlook for both Washington and Johnson, but it also suggests Nick Richards, Immanuel Quickley, EJ Montgomery and the rest of the team (maybe even Jarred Vanderbilt) are not poised to shine in 2018-19.

Read Woo’s entire ranking here.

Come back, PJ.


WATCH: Kevin Knox works out in Miami

WATCH: Kevin Knox works out in Miami

With classes over, Kentucky’s draft prospects are scattered across the country to train and work out for teams. Kevin Knox is in Miami, where he’s working out with Nick Friedman, a trainer and G-League assistant coach. Hoop Diamonds posted this video of a recent workout, in which Knox shows off his skills in the lane and touch around the rim:

The NBA Draft Lottery is next Wednesday, but currently, Knox is projected to go anywhere from 10th to 16th. Based on this video, he seems determined to land on the high end of that spectrum.


Which loss hurt more: 1992 Duke or 2015 Wisconsin?

Which loss hurt more: 1992 Duke or 2015 Wisconsin?

If you missed this morning’s show, Matt and the gang had a very depressing debate: which hurt more, the 1992 loss to Duke or the 2015 loss to Wisconsin?

Matt ran a Twitter poll earlier today and, as of this writing, the 2015 loss to Wisconsin has a commanding lead with 80% of the votes:

Now, of course, age is a factor. An entire generation of Kentucky fans wasn’t even alive when Christian Laettner hit that shot. I was seven and still remember the silence in my family’s den when the ball went through the basket. I was probably more into horses than basketball back then, but the shot shaped my fandom; seeing how it affected people made me want to be a part of it too. The fact that we wince every time the clip is shown on a March Madness montage or commercial is a testament to the unique bond between Kentucky basketball and its fans. For the longest time, I never thought the heartache would be topped.

And then 2015 came around. Like many of you, I’m still not over it. Like the Duke loss, the Wisconsin loss changed me as a fan. I was so emotionally invested in that team that the pain when it all came crashing down made me reevaluate some things. “If I don’t care as this as much, it won’t hurt as badly when we lose.” The 2017 loss to North Carolina in the Elite Eight still stung, but the 2015 loss to Wisconsin set a precedent that will hopefully never be topped; every loss will be measured against it.

So, for that reason, I’m voting for 2015 Wisconsin. Since the demographics on Twitter and the site are a little different, let’s run a poll of our own. Also, let’s find some happier topics because now I’m all depressed again.


ESPN extends Dick Vitale’s contract through 2021

ESPN extends Dick Vitale’s contract through 2021

Get ready for more Dickie V, baybee! The legendary college basketball analyst just signed a contract extension with ESPN that will keep him on the air through the 2021 season.

“ESPN has been family to me and I am honored that they want me to continue being a contributor on our college basketball team,” Vitale said in a press release. “ESPN has provided me a forum that has turned my dreams to reality. I feel young at heart. I said once, and I will say it again – my goal is to be the first in broadcasting to open a hoops game at 100 years old saying “This is Awesome, Baby!’ with a capital A.”

Vitale is a sports broadcasting icon and will begin his 40th season with ESPN this fall. No one can match Dickie V’s enthusiasm for the game, but I don’t think I’m alone when I say I hope he’s moved on from his passionate defense of Rick Pitino. Keep those thoughts in your Periscopes, please.


Shame on anyone for ever questioning John Calipari’s recruiting touch

Photo by UK Athletics

On Wednesday, Kentucky basketball got another big-time basketball commitment.

If that sounds like a sentence that I simply copied and pasted from a previous article, well, it’s not far off. Over the last few weeks, Kentucky locking in a big-time commitment has seemingly become a weekly occurrence, no different than calling your mom every Sunday just to check in and say hello.

In this case, the player was Tyrese Maxey, a big, powerful, 6’4 guard, widely considered to be the second best point guard in the class of 2019. For those who follow recruiting, you also know that the only point guard ranked ahead of Maxey in the 2019 rankings is Ashton Hagans, who is also committed to Kentucky (although he’ll probably re-classify to the class of 2018). The Wildcats also have a third, five-star recruit in 2019 (D.J. Jeffries), and when you couple all that with a late spring commitment of E.J. Montgomery, it isn’t an exaggeration to say that John Calipari is on one of the hottest recruiting runs of his time at Kentucky.

Still, with the Maxey news, it also may finally put to rest one of the stupidest narratives in sports, one that had gained traction in recent years. That narrative: That John Calipari had “lost” his recruiting touch, and has now suddenly “regained” it. That simply isn’t true, and along with asking “Is LeBron James clutch” might have been the dumbest storyline found anywhere in sports these last few years.

(more…)


NBC Sports puts Kentucky in preseason Top 5, predicts who will return

There are still a lot of pieces up in the air when it comes to Kentucky’s 2018-19 roster, but that’s not stopping the national media from churning out preseason rankings. Today’s comes to us from NBC Sports’ Rob Dauster, who ranks Kentucky fifth in his latest Top 25, and predicts that PJ Washington will return to school and either Jarred Vanderbilt or Wenyen Gabriel will stay in the draft.

As always, there are so many moving parts with this Kentucky team’s roster and who will end up leaving school. At this point, I’m going to set the over-under for the number of players that leave for the draft at four: Knox, Gilgeous-Alexander, Diallo and … either Gabriel or Vanderbilt? Maybe both? Sacha Killeya-Jones already transferred out as well. We’ll see how that all plays out, but regardless of what happens, I think the combination of incoming backcourt talent and the remaining front court veterans is going to be a fun combination for Kentucky fans to watch.

Dauster’s top five: Kansas, Villanova, Gonzaga, Duke, and Kentucky. The SEC is well represented, with Tennessee at No. 6, Auburn No. 12, Mississippi State No. 15, and LSU at No. 23.

To see the full rankings, click the link below.

[NBC Sports]


Condoleezza Rice backtracks, says NCAA athletes should benefit from name, image and likeness

Following countless scandals and embarrassing storylines, the Commission on College Basketball, led by Condoleezza Rice, was created in an attempt to “fix” college basketball.

The Commission spent seven months reviewing potential recommendations, all with hopes of ending the corruption in the sport and creating pathways for student-athlete success.

Originally, they decided it was in the sport’s best interest to end the one-and-done, allow student-athletes to receive earlier assistance from agents, and earn an actual education (*cough* UNC *cough*).

Still, though, the organization decided student-athletes had no business receiving monetary benefits while in college.

KSR’s Aaron Torres wrote a piece at the time about how the NCAA Commission accomplished little-to-nothing in their original recommendations and failed to address the real issues that plagued college basketball.

NCAA commission not only lacks punch, but fails to understand the issues that plague college basketball

Now, Condoleezza Rice has (slightly) backtracked on the commission’s decision to not include monetary benefits, specifically when it comes to the name and likeness of student-athletes.

“We believe that students ought to be able to benefit from name, image and likeness but you can’t decide a program until you know the legal parameters,” Rice told USA TODAY Sports. “That was the point. I think some of the commentary suggested that we didn’t really speak on this issue. I think we did speak on this issue, it’s just that we understand there’s a legal framework that has to be developed first.”

She continued that the current NCAA rules are “incomprehensible” and need a complete makeover.

The current NCAA rules, she said, “(are) just incomprehensible. And sometimes when something’s incomprehensible, you have to go ahead and say, ‘This is incomprehensible,’ which means it probably isn’t right. And I thought that in the report, we were pretty clear, that we think the framework doesn’t work.”

The NCAA is expected to meet from June 11-13 to develop legislation, with a finalization expected in early August.

We will see rule changes in the very near future. How significant, however, is to be determined.

For more of Rice’s comments on the future of college basketball, take a look here.


Tyrese Maxey is leaving the door open for a move to 2018

When five-star guard Tyrese Maxey made his much-anticipated announcement this afternoon, the concern wasn’t even about where he’d end up going to school. Nearly every recruiting expert and analyst considered it a near-lock for the 6-foot-3 scorer to commit to Kentucky. Maxey himself nearly let it slip once or twice over the last few weeks.

When he’d be a Wildcat, however, was the big question.

When the time came for the decision today, Maxey announced he would be sticking with his original class of 2019 rather than make a move to 2018. For now.

“I know that may shock some of y’all but for me it came down to me just wanting to be a kid for my last year of high school. I just wanted to be around all of my friends and all of my family one last year and I don’t want to pass that up,” he said in his new blog post for USA Today.

“My dream is to be a McDonald’s All American too so I’m just gonna take this year and work hard and do everything possible to make that dream a reality.”

And it completely makes sense.

We’ve heard similar comments from No. 1 prospect James Wiseman about just wanting to be a kid and living out his senior year (prom, senior activities, graduation, etc.) like other people his age. As far as basketball accolades go, making a run for a state championship, winning the AAU title during the summer, and being named to all the different All-Star and Team USA teams are all incredibly important to some. For others like Marvin Bagley III, Karl-Anthony Towns, etc., moving up a year early to get started on college and become a professional basketball player a year sooner outweighs the final year of high school. There are pros and cons to both.

While Maxey wants to just be a kid for his last year of high school, he hasn’t officially ruled out a move to 2018 in the future.

In an interview with Evan Daniels of 247 Sports, Maxey said there was a possibility of that changing down the road, specifically later this summer.

“It could,” Maxey said. “Anything is possible, but as of right now I am staying put.”

And he’s going to continue to leave that window open.

According to KSR sources, Maxey will continue to finish up his high school coursework this summer and work toward becoming NCAA eligible for the 2018-19 season, just in case. He only has a few boxes left to check class-wise and he’s in great academic standing, making any potential jump possible. In other words, expect him to stick with the class of 2019, but don’t be shocked if he (like many teenage kids do) changes his mind down the road.

After all, he does call him and (likely 2018) Kentucky Wildcat Ashton Hagans, “The Duo.”

Hard to be a “duo” in separate classes. *shoulder shrug*

Nonetheless, whether it be this year or next, the Cats got a great one in Tyrese Maxey.


Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images North America

Dwane Casey voted NBCA Coach of the Year

Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images North America

Congratulations to former Cat Dwane Casey, who was voted Michael H. Goldberg NBCA Coach of the Year by the league’s 30 head coaches this afternoon.

Casey, a member of Kentucky’s 1978 National Championship team, led the Toronto Raptors to a franchise record 59 wins during the regular season; however, another early exit from the postseason sparked rumors he could be on his way out. The Raptors were swept by the Cleveland Cavaliers for the second time in the past three postseasons earlier this week, which TSN’s Josh Lewenberg says could be enough for Raptors president Masai Ujiri to fire the winningest coach in program history.

With his team fresh off another disappointing postseason exit, Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri has some hard decisions to make over the coming months. Head coach Dwane Casey is expected to be the first domino to fall.

The evaluation period is ongoing but, according to sources, the Raptors are strongly leaning towards making a coaching change.

Let’s hope that doesn’t happen.

[NBCA]


Herald-Leader poll: Most Kentucky fans hate checkerboard uniforms

Herald-Leader poll: Most Kentucky fans hate checkerboard uniforms

Man, Shannon the Dude really stirred things up, didn’t he?

A day after our beloved radio producer asked Mitch Barnhart about Kentucky’s checkerboard uniforms, the debate continues, with the Herald-Leader doing a write-up on the interview and asking fans to weigh in. As expected, the overwhelming majority of fans said they HATE the checkerboard motif. Sixty-five percent, in fact.

Shannon even got a mention in the story:

One of the checkerboard detractors, Kentucky Sports Radio producer Shannon “the Dude” Grigsby challenged UK Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart on the use of the checkerboard during a segment of “The Morning Tip Off with Michael Bennett” Monday morning on iHeart Radio’s WKJK in Louisville.

“A lot of people have expressed concerns not liking the checkerboard uniforms,” Grigsby said prefacing his question to Barnhart “So, are the checkerboards here to stay or are they here for another year? What’s the future?”

If you listened to this morning’s radio show, you heard Matt hint at the possibility of new uniforms due the recent uproar; if that happens, we will all forever be indebted to Shannon the Dude.

To vote in the Herald-Leader’s poll, click the link below.

[Herald-Leader]


Immanuel Quickley “excited to play with whoever” at UK

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Immanuel Quickley was a special guest on America’s fastest-growing podcast, The Aaron Torres Podcast, on the extremely popular Kentucky Sports Radio podcast network. We shared Aaron’s new episode last night, but in listening to it this morning, I decided one of Quickley’s comments needed to be written here on the internet’s best sports website, Kentucky-Sports-Radio-dot-com.

The Aaron Torres Sports Podcast E43: Immanuel Quickley

It came when Aaron asked Quickley about the potential logjam in the UK backcourt next season. To my knowledge, it’s the first time we’ve heard from Quickley since Calipari began adding new guards from the 2019 class. He said he’s excited to play with whoever ends up on the court beside him and he trusts Cal to make it work:

“I’m really excited to play with whoever is there, honestly. I think it just speaks to Coach Cal because he’s pretty much had teams like this already. There was the year where they had the Harrison twins, Tyler Ulis and Devin Booker, and he got them all to play together and they reached the Final Four. And pretty much all of them are in the league so it just speaks to his ability to coach and to get guys to play together.”

It’s good to hear he’s staying positive as Cal tries to add more pieces, considering he could be skipped over for playing time.

He also gave scouting reports on his three classmates: Keldon Johnson, EJ Montgomery and Tyler Herro.

Give it a listen here.


Travel agency scammed my favorite UK fans

Travel agency scammed my favorite UK fans

If you’ve ever attended a UK basketball game outside of Rupp Arena, there is a good chance you’ve spotted a beautiful group of women wearing matching blue sweaters. I travel to several road games every year and I can’t think of a time I haven’t seen this group cheering on the Cats behind enemy lines (even in the Bahamas).

Photo: Facebook

They’re awesome. I love them. And that is why I’m ready to kick doors down to get to the bottom of this con job they say scammed them out of thousands of dollars.

Barbara Coleman told LEX18 the group contacted Attorney General Andy Beshear about their travel agency, ‘Travel Crazy.’ They’ve used the agency for years, but this past season the agency canceled three separate trips within days of departure, costing the group lots of money. The agency’s owner, Kenn Harp, is now being sued after more complaints have come forward.

Hear more from Coleman on the scam in her interview with LEX18:

This is infuriating.


If P.J. Washington is a first round pick he will stay in the draft

P.J. Washington’s father, Paul Washington Sr., told Fletcher Page of the Courier Journal that if P.J. is promised to be picked in the first round of the NBA Draft it will make his son’s decision easy.

He will stay in the draft. But even if Washington isn’t promised a first round spot there’s no guarantee he will return to Kentucky for a sophomore season.

“It’s real simple — if he’s guaranteed a first round pick, then he’ll stay in the draft,” Paul Washington said. “If he doesn’t get that, we’ll have to make a decision. It’s PJ’s decision. Now, if he doesn’t get a first-round guarantee and a team says he’ll be an early second round pick, then PJ might say he wants to do that. That’s his decision as well. But the easiest thing is if he gets a guarantee in writing that he’ll go in the first round.”

The entire article from Page can be found here and it’s worth the read. Washington has worked out for the Celtics and Nets and will work out for the Clippers this week before meeting with the Bucks and Timberwolves. After those meetings and workouts Washington will head to the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago next week.

The Texas native byway of Findlay Prep in Nevada averaged 10.8 points and 5.7 rebounds during his freshman season at UK. Washington would be one of the favorites for SEC Player of the Season if he returned for a sophomore season but if one team falls in love with Washington it sounds like he won’t be back.

“Mentally, physically and what can he do at the next level and at what position,” Washington Sr. told me back in March after the season. “It will have to be the right spot, just like why we picked UK. Hopefully it will be the right team. Everybody gets all caught up on the draft board. Only one team is going to draft him. That’s it. Can he make a team? Can he make another team better? He’s a winning basketball player so I think he does.”

You mix that quote in with Page’s latest and it may not seem to be great for Washington. Currently Washington isn’t projected in the first round, but that can always change.

Here are the (current) NBA Draft picks for the team’s that have/will met with Washington:

Celtics: 27th pick.

Nets: 29th pick, 40th pick (second round), 45th pick (second round).

Clippers: 12th and 13th pick.

Bucks: 17th pick.

Timberwolves: 20th pick, 48th pick (second round).

Obviously some of these draft orders may change with trades and whatnot, but it seems like the Celtics and Nets are the big concerns. Surely Washington wouldn’t leave with a promised pick in the 40s, right?

 

 


The Aaron Torres Sports Podcast E43: Immanuel Quickley

Future Kentucky Wildcat Immanuel Quickley is the guest on the latest edition of the Aaron Torres Sports Podcast, as he gets set to head to Lexington in just a few weeks from now. But first, Aaron and Nick Coffey spin around the world of college basketball, discussing a number of topics.
Wendell Carter’s MomAaron goes bonkers talking about Wendell Carter’s mom, and her comparison of college sports to slavery. Aaron explains why they’re not only wrong, but why she is the last person that should ever say them. Also, why do people who actively choose to part of the NCAA process only go on to complain about it.
Former Louisville coach is HiredThe guys dive into the surprising decision by LaSalle to hire former Louisville assistant Kenny Johnson. Johnson was fired on Rick Pitino’s staff, and is the first coach from a program fired in the wake of the FBI probe to get re-hired. Does LaSalle know something we don’t?
Tyrese MaxeyAaron has a very brief update on Tyrese Maxey and what he’s hearing in the lead-up to Wednesday’s announcement.
Next up, Aaron welcomes future Kentucky Wildcat Immanuel Quickley onto the show. The Baltimore guard will arrive at Kentucky in June, and discussed the following with Aaron.
Quickley’s Relationship with John CalipariHow did it start? What sold him on Kentucky over other schools? And does he have any funny stories about Coach Cal from their time together in Egypt as part of the Team USA club?
Advice from Allen Iverson: Fresh off a trip to Allen Iverson’s All-Star game in Philadelphia, Quickley explains what he learned from the legend.
Does he have a problem with all the guards Kentucky is recruiting? Quickley and Aaron discuss UK’s recruiting strategy, and if it bothers him to see a bunch of other guards joining him in Lexington.

You can easily listen on the KSR App, available on iTunes and Google Play. Streaming online is simple through Pod Paradise.  You can also get it directly to your phone by subscribing to the Aaron Torres Sports Podcast feed on iTunes or via Android’s Podcast Addict app.

Sponsorship Note:

Sign on to sponsor the Aaron Torres Sports Podcast by May 31st to take advantage of a special discount. Contact ksrads@kentuckysportsradio.com to learn more.


Sacha Killeya-Jones to visit three ACC schools, maybe more

Sacha Killeya-Jones has yet to find a new home to continue his college basketball career.

The former Kentucky big man, who announced his transfer soon after this past season, began the search for new opportunities this week.

According to ESPN’s Jeff Borzello, Killeya-Jones will visit NC State tonight and tomorrow. From there, he will check out Jeff Capel’s program and the campus at Pittsburgh this coming weekend, followed by a visit to Wake Forest over Memorial Day weekend.

The University of North Carolina is also on Killeya-Jones’ radar, but a visit to Chapel Hill has not been scheduled at this time.

Other schools reportedly in consideration include Arizona State, Clemson, Georgetown, Nevada, Notre Dame and Texas.