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Photo via @Suns Twitter

Devin Booker’s Special NBA Draft Lottery Guest

Photo via @Suns Twitter

Photo via @Suns Twitter

As if we needed another reason to love Devin Booker.

This week, Booker went to go see Suns super fan Noah Smith and asked him to come to the NBA Draft in New York on Tuesday.

Noah Smith, a fifth grader was born with a hole in his heart and, like Devin, plays basketball – for the special olympics. The plan is for Smith and Booker to spend all Tuesday together playing basketball and exploring the city before the big night. I’m sure there will be tons of adorable pictures of the duo on Tuesday. I mean, look at these ones from the announcement:

I think I love him more than Tyler Ulis loves him.


De’Aaron Fox Sits Down with NBATV to Talk Combine, 3PT Shooting, and More

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De’Aaron Fox sat down with NBATV’s Kevin Harlan to discuss why he decided to come to the combine, what NBA teams are asking him, and if he will shoot a high number of 3’s in the NBA.

Fox told Harlan why he came to the combine, “It was always a dream of mine to come to the NBA combine. I have been watching it for many years. With the year I had I didn’t really have to do the testing, just measurements.”

The projected top-5 pick did not want to lose his opportunity to show teams who he is off the court, “I just wanted to meet with teams, 30 minute interviews, just gives them more of a peak at my personality.”

Check out everything Fox had to say below:


De’Aaron Fox Says He’s Best Player in the Draft

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De’Aaron Fox has been at the center of conversations across the NBA this weekend as many believe the star point guard has gained traction as the best player in this draft.

Fox sat down with John Jackson of the Associated Press on Friday to discuss an array of topics.

Jackson asked Fox how he felt he stacked up against fellow star point guards, Lonzo Ball and Markelle Fultz. Fox said, “I feel like I’m the best. If they’re drafted above me, I’m cool with it. You have to play basketball at the end of the day.”

We all know about Fox’s epic 39 point performance against UCLA in the sweet sixteen, he told the AP that there was a little extra motivation behind that performance because of Lonzo Ball.

“He’s the consensus No.1 pick, he could be the No.1 pick. I’m just extremely competitive. That’s what I tell everyone. It didn’t matter if it was him or one of the other top picks. I’m competitive, and I came out hot.”

DraftExpress has Fox slated to go #5 to the Orlando Magic while Fultz and Ball are projected to be the first and second picks in the draft.


Imagining an 8-Team Tournament with NBA Players Playing For Their College Programs

Photo by Dr. Michael Huang

Photo by Dr. Michael Huang

Bleacher Report’s Kerry Miller had an interesting idea that would help to determine which college program is best represented in the NBA. Miller decided to choose eight players (starting five, and 3 bench players)  from Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, Kansas, Duke, UCLA, Texas, and of course Kentucky. Miller seeded the teams in order of overall supremacy and put them through an NBA style best-of-seven formatted tournament.

UK’s lineup consisted of John Wall, Devin Booker, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, DeMarcus Cousins, and Anthony Davis as the starting five along with Eric Bledsoe, Karl Anthony-Towns, and Julius Randle as the bench players.

In the 1st round No.1 seed Kentucky was matched up against the No.8 seed Arizona where Miller projected UK to sweep Arizona in four games. In the final four No.1 Kentucky matched up against a Kyrie Irving-led Duke team, where the size of Davis, Cousins, and Towns would be too much for Mason Plumlee and Jabari Parker to handle. Miller projects Kentucky would win the series in five games.

In the other final four No.2 Texas squares off against No.3 UCLA in a Russell Westbrook-Kevin Durant battle. This would be a fun series to watch as UCLA has a bevy of good guards and Texas is stacked in the front court. In the end the size of LaMarcus Aldridge, Tristan Thompson and KD overpowers the shooting of Kevin Love and Trevor Ariza.

The Championship pits No.1 Kentucky vs No.2 Texas in a series that would be extremely entertaining. Texas would make things interesting with two above average big men in LaMarcus Aldridge and Tristan Thompson along with one of the best players in the world in Durant. In this imaginary scenario John Wall would have himself a field day against Cory Joseph and D.J. Augustin while Cousins and Davis would control the paint. Kentucky wins in six games.

As Miller stated himself, “Texas puts up more of a fight than any other team would, but it’s kind of hard to win an alumni battle against a program that has produced 21 first round draft picks since 2010.”

This exercise demonstrated what Cats fans have known for a while, Kentucky is by far the best represented college program in the NBA with an outstanding 25 players on rosters. To see everything Miller had to say, click here.


Coach Cal Urged Bam to Hire Agent

champ-bam-smile

Bam Adebayo has expected to be a 1st round pick in this year’s 2017 NBA Draft since he committed to UK over a year ago. Throughout the season, Bam’s spot in mock drafts fluctuated, but his desire to turn pro never did.

Initially, Bam left the door open for a return to UK for his sophomore season by not hiring an agent to start the pre-draft process. Two weeks later after a meeting with assistant coach Kenny Payne, Bam’s mother, and Coach Calipari, Bam hired an agent to end his time at Kentucky.

Thanks to our friend, Kyle Tucker, over at seccountry.com we have learned that Calipari told the Adebayo’s that Bam would be crazy to consider coming back as a projected top-20 pick.

Adebayo told reporters at the combine on Friday, “He felt like I was doubting my potential. He was like, ‘What’s wrong with you, man?’ He was like, ‘Go!’ I was like, ‘All right.”

Bam has looked great at the combine this week, showing off his freakish frame while weighing in at 243 pounds with 5.2% body fat. Draft Express currently has the 6’10 big man set to join the Phoenix Wildcats with the 32nd pick in the draft.

It’s hard to be blame a kid that just wants to support his family, the BBN is behind you, Bam!


Photo via @FletcherPage

De’Aaron Fox was Mr. Popular at the Combine

Photo via @FletcherPage

Photo via @FletcherPage

It’s safe to say that De’Aaron Fox is pretty popular at the NBA Combine this week. Honestly, looking at this picture makes me a little claustrophobic. I’m very happy I’m a 5’4″ white girl and not a superstar basketball player.

Fox has a few different options of where he could go. The Twitter account Strictly Knicks posted this interview from Fox on the possibility of playing with the Knicks yesterday:

There’s also talks of Fox going to the Kings. Kings Writer Jason Jones posted this video on his twitter last night:

The possibility of Fox, Skal, and Willie together makes my heart happy. It’s still early and this is all talk but, I’m crossing my fingers he goes there.


The post-NBA Combine Mock Draft is here

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The 2017 NBA Combine has come and gone and Draft Express has released their latest Mock Draft. This time, four Kentucky guys are expected go.

#5: De’Aaron Fox – Orlando Magic
#7:  Malik Monk – New York Knicks
#32: Bam Adebayo – Phoenix Suns
#35: Hamidou Diallo – Orlando Magic

De’Aaron and Diallo on the Magic? A UK player that isn’t a guard on the Suns? I love it all. Maybe Monk can bring some stability to the crumbling Knicks franchise? We’ll just have to wait and see.


Briscoe says he’s leaving UK in past, looking at future

Denny Medley | USA Today

Denny Medley | USA Today

As usual, when you take a Kentucky player out of Kentucky and put them in front of reporters who don’t cover the team day in and day out, they get asked a bazillion and one Kentucky questions.

However, Isaiah Briscoe was having none of that today, according to SEC Country’s Kyle Tucker.

“All the Kentucky questions, I don’t play for Kentucky no more!” Briscoe yelped. “I’m just trying to start fresh.”

I enjoyed my time at Kentucky, it was fine, but I moved on,” he said, declaring that his pro position will be point guard. “Obviously, I wasn’t playing point guard in college, but it is what it is. College is over with. Why we still talking about college? I’m starting a new chapter in my life.”

Briscoe did have a solid outing in two 5-on-5 scrimmages, scoring 28 points with 11 assists and six rebounds in 46 minutes of play. And did take time to talk about how the program has prepared him for the NBA.

“I’ve been playing against NBA guys for the last two years and pretty much all my life, so it’s nothing new,” he said. “And then the combine we have at Kentucky, I think it’s more pressure there than in here, because the gym is so small and everybody’s on top of you.

So far the only team that Briscoe has met with is the Miami Heat, but you only need one team to give you a shot.


Diallo was an asset last season according to De’Aaron Fox

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UK Athletics

Even though he never played a single minute in a Kentucky uniform last season, and he may never put one on, Hamidou Diallo still made a difference in his own way.

In media availability today, De’Aaron Fox talked about the impact the possible none-and-done had this season by bringing practice to the next level with his defense, according to SEC Country’s Kyle Tucker.

“When he was defending us — like when people ask me what was harder, the practices or games, practices for me were a lot tougher than games,” star point guard De’Aaron Fox said Friday at the NBA Combine. “He’s a great defender.”

“He’s extremely tough and gritty,” Fox said. “But he’s from the Bronx. All the New York guards are like that. His ball skills are better than what I thought they were. He can shoot the ball (but) he’s going to have to shoot it better from the NBA three. That’s true of just about every player in the draft, though, except Malik (Monk); Malik shoots it from half court well.”

Diallo still hasn’t played a game since his time on the AAU circuit, but the times and measurements he’s putting up at the combine are impressive. The possibility of Diallo leaving and never playing a game are getting realer and realer each day.


Chillin’ Stan Van Gundy wants some notes from today’s session at the NBA Combine

Chillin’ Stan Van Gundy wants some notes from today’s session at the NBA Combine

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I knew today’s session at the NBA Combine probably couldn’t live up to yesterday’s, but man, it’s been a snooze fest. Regardless, Isaiah Briscoe and Bam Adebayo made the rounds, therefore, I’m here to bring you some notes before signing off for the weekend.

— Briscoe competed in 5-on-5 scrimmages again today and looked good, showing off his skills at point guard after mostly playing off the ball at Kentucky. Afterwards, Briscoe spoke to reporters, and tried to direct the conversation away from Kentucky and towards his future. According to Kyle Tucker, Briscoe said that while he “enjoyed his time at Kentucky,” he’s ready to move on, and has met with one NBA team so far: the Miami Heat. 

While Briscoe seems happy to be getting away from the local media, Kyle did us all a favor and got one more installment of the “One Question with Zay” segment that KSTV’s TJ Beisner and Bradley McKee made famous:

Thank you, and God Bless.

— One takeaway from yesterday’s Combine measurements was Bam Adebayo’s 15 lbs. weight loss from when UK did their own measurements in September. What did Bam attribute that weight loss to?

There you go. It’s that easy…for a 19-year-old kid who’s about to play basketball for a living. Got it.

— A North Carolina native, Bam said he has always dreamed of playing for the Charlotte Hornets:

Bam and MKG? I like it.

— After announcing he’ll sign with an agent and stay in the draft, Duke’s Frank Jackson recorded the second highest vertical jump of the Combine at 42″:

Of course, that’s behind Hamidou Diallo’s 44.5″ from yesterday.

— De’Aaron Fox has yet to make the rounds at the Combine, but according to Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel, that’s because he was meeting with the Orlando Magic. Yesterday, Fox met with the New York Knicks.

That’s it for me this week. Haley Simpson will have more coverage from the Combine for you throughout the night.


John Calipari is at Marcus Camby’s graduation

John Calipari is at Marcus Camby’s graduation

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@UKCoachCalipari

Where in the world is John Calipari? After checking in on his guys at the NBA Combine in Chicago, Calipari headed to his old stomping grounds of Amherst, Massachusetts to see his 43-year-old former pupil Marcus Camby graduate from UMass. Camby left UMass for the NBA in 1996, and 21 years later, will finally get his degree, which he has been working on since retiring from the NBA in 2013. Like a proud papa, Calipari was in the stands to watch him walk this afternoon: 

(Love the shadow of Cal taking the pic)

Very cool. Congrats to Camby on the accomplishment.

UPDATE: This picture of Camby towering over his fellow grads is great…

 


NCAA rules committee shelves talk of switching from halves to quarters

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In this year’s NIT, the NCAA experimented with some potential new rules, switching from the traditional 20-minute halves to four 10-minute quarters. Sadly, that rule will not carry over to college basketball this season. This afternoon, the rules committee recommended a series of rules for the 2017-18 season, and although they discussed the change from halves to quarters, no action was taken. There was also talk of moving the three-point line back and widening the lane from 12 to 16 feet, but instead of sending those ahead to the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel, they decided to “encourage conferences to experiment with these concepts next season.” Chicken!

Here are the rules they did recommend to the panel, which will meet on June 13:

  • Extend the coach’s box to 38 feet for the 2017-18 season. The coach’s box is now 28 feet. Committee members believe this will allow coaches to improve communication with their teams. “We believe this change will help our coaches, particularly when the ball is at the opposite end of the floor,” Dambrot said.
  • Reset the shot clock to 20 seconds when the ball is inbounded in the front court after a foul or other violation by the defense, such as a kicked ball. If more than 20 seconds remains on the shot clock, the shot clock will not be reset.
  • Make throw-in spots more consistent in the front court. The location of all throw-ins in the front court will be determined by the current rule, defined as an imaginary line from the corner of the court to the intersection of the lane line and the free-throw line. If the stoppage of play is inside this area, the throw-in will occur on the end line three feet outside the lane line. If the stoppage occurs outside this area, the throw-in will be at the nearest sideline at the 28-foot mark. Deflections will continue to be put back in play at the nearest out-of-bounds spot. Throw-ins in the back court will continue to be at the nearest spot.
  • Allow referees to use the instant replay rule in the last two minutes of the second half or last two minutes of overtime to see if a secondary defender was in or outside the restricted-area arc. If the player is in the restricted area, a block will be called on the defender. If the secondary defender is in legal guarding position and outside the restricted area, a player control foul will be called. The Big Ten and Mid-American conferences experimented with this rule last season.
  • A mandatory minimum of 0.3 second be taken off the game clock when the ball is legally touched.
  • Redefine a legal screen to require that the inside of the screener’s feet be no wider than his shoulders.
  • Adjust the officiating guidance in relation to the cylinder rule. If a defensive player straddles an offensive player’s leg in a way that prohibits him from making a normal basketball move — which now includes pivoting — contact that creates a common foul will be called on the defensive player.
  • Approve the Southeastern Conference’s request to use a separate individual or individuals to collaborate with the on-court officials on all monitor reviews during their league games during the 2017-18 season. This collaboration will take place from a central location that is not at the game site.

ZZzzzZZZzzzZZZzzz…oh, sorry. All of those are really boring.

[NCAA]


John Calipari aims fire at Duke in swaggy tweet

coach-k-calipari

Over the past few years, the Kentucky/Duke rivalry has amped up thanks to Duke’s 2015 title and Coach K’s success on the recruiting trail. As a result, John Calipari has upped his game and, in the past six months, recaptured the momentum from his friendly foe. Not only did Duke have a roller coaster season after everyone predicted they’d win the title and possibly go 40-0, it was full of drama, and this morning, freshman Frank Jackson announced he’s staying in the draft, the third Duke freshman to do so alongside Harry Giles and Jayson Tatum.

To add insult to injury for the Blue Devils, on Saturday, Kevin Knox shocked everyone by picking Kentucky over Duke, Missouri, Florida State, and North Carolina. All of the momentum was going in Duke’s direction before the announcement, but Knox chose Calipari over Coach K, a turn of events that pushed Cal into super swaggy mode. Not only did Cal ride a hover board around his kitchen, he told reporters he’s “not done yet” with his 2017 class yesterday at the combine, a not so subtle nod in Mohamed Bamba’s direction. Duke is also a contender for Bamba, which makes the tweet Cal sent earlier today so great. While having lunch in Chicago this afternoon (at which appears to be Rosebud on Rush again), he took a minute to compose this tweet that includes a shot at the Blue Devils:

That day was November 17, 2015, and not only did UK beat Duke that night, they got a commitment from Bam Adebayo that morning. Malik Monk announced his commitment to Kentucky the following day, the 18th, but I’m guessing Cal knew about it beforehand, making the 17th a red-letter day in his book.

Between Bamba, Diallo, and Cam Johnson’s decisions, there’s plenty of uncertainty right now, but Calipari feeling good makes me feel good.


Photo by Dr. Michael Huang

UK sets the date for the annual Alumni Charity Game

Photo by Dr. Michael Huang

Photo by Dr. Michael Huang

Mark your calendars, because UK just announced the date for the annual Alumni Charity Game. Kentucky’s pros will descend on Lexington on Friday, August 25 to square off at Rupp Arena, the opening festivities for the sixth annual John Calipari Fantasy Camp. This will be the first alumni basketball game since 2015. Last year, organizers decided to have a charity softball game instead.

There’s still no word on which pros will participate in this year’s game, but history suggests we’ll see a lot of familiar faces in Rupp Arena on the final Friday in August, a nice dose of basketball before football season begins.


Hamidou Diallo. 2016-17. University of Kentucky men's basketball. 

Photo by Chet White | UK Athletics

Hamidou Diallio’s message to fans is a nice dose of perspective

Photo by Chet White | UK Athletics

Photo by Chet White | UK Athletics

Yesterday was the first time we’ve heard from Hamidou Diallo since his decision to declare for the draft a few weeks ago. Diallo’s 44.5″ vertical jump and 6’11.25″ wingspan have people buzzing this morning, further proof that the 6’4″ guard is an athletic freak. While the thought of Diallo, a player who didn’t play a single minute for Kentucky, going pro already is a hard pill to swallow for many fans, he insists he hasn’t made his decision yet. Should Diallo decide to stay in the draft, what’s his message to Kentucky fans? 

“It’s just a situation that occurred, a situation I might have to take advantage of,” Diallo said, via Jerry Tipton. “As a kid, it’s something I always dreamed about. If the door’s open, I feel like it’s the right thing to do for me, and the right thing for my family.”

“Anybody who really has anything negative to say, I feel like at the end of the day, I’m the one playing and the one trying to provide for my family.”

Diallo must make his decision by May 24, so 12 days from now. There will be a lot of speculation between now and then, but as we wait, that’s some nice perspective to keep in mind.

[Herald-Leader]