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Has Big Blue Madness Campout run its course?

Big Blue Madness Campout is a prime example of what makes Kentucky Basketball so unique; what other school can boast that its fans camp out for free tickets to a practice? Yet, in recent years, Madness Campout has lost its luster. Not only has construction forced UK to limit areas in which fans can camp, the event has become such a production that it’s lost its original charm. With UK once again asking fans to consider getting their tickets online instead of camping out, it’s time to ask ourselves: has Madness Campout run its course? Let’s break it down.

It doesn’t really serve its original purpose

Let’s go back to the origin of the event itself. Midnight Madness began in the 1980s under Joe B. Hall, but fans didn’t start camping out for tickets until 1993. Back then, camping out served a simple purpose: it was the only way to ensure you got your tickets. For the majority of Kentucky fans, that’s a big deal. Tickets in Rupp Arena can be hard to come by, so Madness became the event for the everyday fan, and Madness Campout the event for the most passionate. To some extent, this is still true; however, now that you can get tickets on Ticketmaster, campout is purely symbolic. Case in point: only 1,000 fans camped out last year, and apparently, not everyone who did got lower level seats. If you can’t get lower level seats by camping out, what’s the point?

The spontaneity is gone

One of the best parts about Madness campout used to be the pick-up games on the blue courts. Players would come out and play against campers, the type of interaction fans dream of their entire lives; however, that tradition ended in 2012 when Nerlens Noel almost hurt himself and a young camper on this ill-fated dunk attempt:

So, no more pick-up games. Early on in the Cal Era, players would come and play cornhole and mingle with fans, but the event has grown so big that it’s now an actual production, sponsored by Coke and Papa John’s, with a “Tent City Live” stream and a schedule of activities. From 9-11 a.m., campers will be treated to Coke promotions from the Coca-Cola Stage; at 1 p.m., there will be a hot dog grill out sponsored by Kroger; at 9 p.m., get ready because the players will be passing out Papa John’s pizza!

Campout evolving into a corporately sponsored event was probably an inevitability in this day and age, but it stifles the spontaneity that made the event so fun to begin with.

They’re actually running out of space

UK sent out a warning again this year that because of construction on campus (and the new buildings that construction has produced), space will be extremely limited, and that once the area around Memorial Coliseum reaches capacity, fans will be asked to get their tickets online instead. From a logistics standpoint, camping out is harder than ever.

What has it really become?

Look, I love Kentucky basketball, but, as family, we can admit that we go a little crazy sometimes. That crazy is on full display at campout. For the most part, it’s harmless; fans being fans, sharing their excitement for another season and supporting the players. Yet, in recent years, it feels like campout has become a glorified autograph session, to the point UK puts up barriers between the lodge and gym so the guys can go work out without being mobbed. Some groups embrace that, hanging outside with fans to sign autographs and mingle; others shy away from it, holing up in the lodge.

What can make it better?

Madness campout is one of the best traditions in Kentucky basketball, but it needs a jolt of life. Space limitations can’t be helped, but there has to be a better way for players to interact with fans. Get them out of the lodge to cover it for KyWildcatsTV? Find a unique way to honor the first ten people in line? Open Memorial for a dunk contest? I’m not sure what the solution is, but something’s gotta change.


ESPN’s 2018 Mock Draft suggests two promising scenarios for Kentucky

ESPN’s 2018 Mock Draft suggests two promising scenarios for Kentucky

Kentucky has six top 30 freshman on its roster next season, but according to ESPN’s latest Mock Draft, only two will be drafted in the 2018 NBA Draft.

In the wake of the news that Marvin Bagley is heading to Duke this fall, Jonathan Givony, formerly of Draft Express, released his first 2018 Mock Draft for ESPN, and he projects that Hamidou Diallo and Nick Richards will be the only Cats drafted next season, at No. 18 and No. 22 respectively. That’s right; Givony doesn’t believe that Kevin Knox, PJ Washington, Jarred Vanderbilt, or any of the other Cats will be drafted in the first OR second round of the 2018 Draft, a jaw-dropping prediction that suggests two scenarios. One, that people are majorly underrating Kentucky’s talent this season; or two, that a huge number of players could return for the 2018-19 season, setting up yet another monster run ala 2014-15. Both scenarios are intriguing, although I think the latter will happen regardless.

If you’re curious, Givony still has Missouri’s Michael Porter Jr. going first in the 2018 Draft, followed by Marvin Bagley and DeAndre Ayton. In yet another sign the SEC will be a man’s league this year, Texas A&M sophomore Robert Williams is projected to go fifth and Alabama’s Collin Sexton eighth.

Read it all for yourself below:

[ESPN]

Then get hyped for the season with this Kevin Knox swaggy tweet:

 


Diallo, Richards working out with NBA stars during summer break (UPDATED)

Diallo, Richards working out with NBA stars during summer break (UPDATED)

John Calipari’s Wildcats are supposed to be on summer break right now, but it has been anything but that for Hamidou Diallo and Nick Richards. If anything, they’re working harder against better competition while back home in the New York area.

How is that possible, you ask?

Well, according to several video clips from Chris Brickley, a popular NBA trainer, Diallo and Richards have been working out with some very familiar names, including Carmelo Anthony and Enes Kanter.

Brickley was recently featured in Business Insider for his work with Anthony, Kevin Durant and other NBA superstars, so it’s nice to see him teaching and training the two young Wildcats while they are home for the summer break.

Have a look:

A post shared by Chris Brickley (@cbrickley603) on

A post shared by Chris Brickley (@cbrickley603) on

A post shared by Chris Brickley (@cbrickley603) on

Brickley said Diallo told him he wants to win a national championship and be one of the best players in college basketball next season.

This summer work is certainly a great start in that direction.

UPDATE

LeBron James and Kevin Durant have joined the party this week. Richards can be seen trying to guard them in the new clip from today:

A post shared by Chris Brickley (@cbrickley603) on

How about that for offseason competition before beginning his college career?


Why Marvin Bagley going to Duke is a good thing for Kentucky

By now, you’ve heard that Marvin Bagley, heralded by some as a “once in a generation” type recruit, is headed to Duke, which makes the Blue Devils the definitive No. 1 team in the country heading into the season. Here’s why that’s a great thing for Kentucky.

Last year, the national media penciled Duke in as the national champions before the season even began, hyping the Blue Devils as the perfect mix of talent and experience. As we all know, that wasn’t the case. Injuries and chemistry problems plagued Duke all season, and even though the Blue Devils rallied to win the ACC, they lost to South Carolina in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, making the season undeniably a disappointment. There were a lot of factors to Duke’s failure to launch — Grayson Allen sure was a distraction — but it didn’t help that every single struggle was nitpicked by the national media. Because of the preseason hype, Duke was squarely in the spotlight, and clearly did not fare well because of it; with the number one player in the 2018 class reclassifying to join the Blue Devils this fall, that will be the case once again. After Bagley’s announcement, Duke’s odds of winning the 2018 title jumped from 7-1 to 3-1, making them the second largest preseason favorite in the last ten seasons behind the 2014-15 Kentucky team. For the second straight season, college basketball’s crosshairs will be on Durham.

If there was ever a season for Kentucky to dodge the spotlight, this would be it. As John Calipari has said time and time again (and will ad nauseam until the season starts), this is his youngest team ever. While several players gained experience during international play this summer, the only returning player who averaged more than seven minutes per game is Wenyen Gabriel. Wenyen averaged 4.6 points last year, making this Calipari’s first team at Kentucky without a returning player who averaged 5.0 points or more in the previous season.

The freshmen are talented, yes, but they are still freshmen, and this team will take some lumps. Last year’s team — also young — was able to go through its growing pains while the rest of the nation focused on Duke. As a result, when the tournament rolled around, the Cats hit their stride. Thanks to Marvin Bagley, Kentucky will have that luxury once again.


Kentucky to play Monmouth in Citi Hoops Classic in the Garden

New details have emerged regarding Kentucky’s December basketball game against Monmouth in New York City, including how and when to purchase tickets for the event.

The game was officially introduced today as the Citi Hoops Classic, set for Saturday, December 9, 2017 in Madison Square Garden. Tip-off is set for noon.

“This is a great opportunity to play a strong and up and coming team in a historic venue,” John Calipari said of the game. “We love coming to New York and look forward to seeing the Big Blue Nation in full force out east. I’m always excited to partner with Citi to bring great basketball to the fans.”

Tickets for the event go on sale to the general public on August 25, but Citi cardmembers can go ahead and purchase their tickets today through August 24 on CitiPrivatePass.com.


Marvin Bagley III reclassifies to 2017, commits to Duke

The No. 1 player in the class of 2018 has reclassified to 2017 and will play for Duke.

Marvin Bagley III chose Duke over UCLA, USC, and Kentucky, among other schools.

The Wildcats always seemed to be on the outside looking in with Bagley, and all confidence in reeling in the star forward faded when rumors spread of his reclassification. Calipari would have loved to have him, but with so many forwards on the 2017 roster, it just wasn’t realistic to think he would end up in Lexington.

Duke now takes the No. 1 spot in the 2017 recruiting rankings over the Wildcats, making it even funnier when the Blue Devils lose in the opening weekend next March.

Carry on with your night.

Go Cats.


WATCH: Take an inside look at John Wall’s ridiculous offseason training regimen

BallIsLife.com has been rooming with John Wall this summer, filming a documentary on the former Kentucky star’s ridiculous offseason training regimen.

(The term “offseason” is certainly used loosely here.)

BallIsLife caught up with some of the trainers, Washington team personnel, and Wall himself on how he prepares for the NBA season.

See what it’s like to be John Wall for a summer in part one of the documentary:

Basketball, cardio, boxing, repeat.

Could you keep up with Wall’s schedule?


Immanuel Quickley’s AAU director: “I do believe Kentucky is the leader,” decision expected in September

adidas

It’s not a secret five-star point guard Immanuel Quickley is a big fan of the Kentucky Wildcats, and most experts believe it’d be a massive upset for him to end up anywhere other than UK.

Quickley has cut his list to Kansas, Miami (FL), Maryland, and Kentucky, and he told KSR in June a final decision is expected before his senior year begins.

SEC Country caught up with Jide Sodipo, executive director of Team BBC and advisor for Quickley, on the star point guard’s recruitment, play style, potential future teammates, and what he knows about the decision date.

When asked about Quickley’s experience playing for Coach Calipari in Egypt, Sodipo said it was Cal’s coaching intensity that intrigued his star guard the most.

“I think he enjoyed it, because he’s the kind of kid who loves to be pushed,” Sodipo said. “That’s one thing he took away from it: Cal coaches tough and likes to push you. He’s going to push you to the limit and sometimes you’re going to love him and sometimes you’re not going to like him, but at the end of the day, you’re getting better.

“He really liked that experience, because he’s a kid that likes to learn. He’s like a sponge; he soaks in everything.”

Most people know about Quickley’s desire to play with high school phenom Zion Williamson, but Sodipo mentioned another name that may be of interest to Kentucky fans.

“I know him and Zion have been roommates [on AAU trips] and that’s something they talk about, and I know he’s played with some other guys like (Cam) Reddish with USA Basketball, and those guys like to play with him,” said Sodipo.

Williamson, Reddish, and several other top prospects in the nation have raved about Quickley in the past and have expressed their desire to play with the Maryland native. But why?

“The kind of young man he is, it’s very easy for a lot of people to want to play with him. He’s so unselfish,” Sodipo said. “He doesn’t mind sacrificing all the points if someone else is doing well. He’s going to make the right basketball play every time, so that attracts a lot of people.”

So when does he plan on making a decision? According to Sodipo, we’re just a month away.

“(After taking his official visits, Quickley will) sit down with me and his family and make a decision,” said Sodipo. “I expect him to make a decision in September.

As far as favorite schools go, Sodipo says the Wildcats are the team to beat for the 6’3 guard.

“In recruiting, anything can happen, but I do believe Kentucky is the leader,” Sodipo said.

Similar to Quade Green last year, Quickley could start quite the domino effect of five-star recruits wanting to join in on the fun at Kentucky.

Read the rest of Sodipo’s interview with SEC Country here.


Bagley will make Duke the No. 1 team, favorite to win title — and that sucks

Bagley will make Duke the No. 1 team, favorite to win title — and that sucks

Marvin Bagley is a generational talent and his Monday night announcement will likely shift the landscape of college basketball this upcoming 2017-18 season.

Bagley’s big announcement, scheduled for the 11 pm edition of SportsCenter, is expected to be his intentions to reclassify to the Class of 2017 and enroll in college this fall, as well as where he will go for his one season of college basketball. Duke, UCLA and USC are the three contenders for Bagley’s services, each having hosted Bagley on a visit within the last month; but Duke is the most likely of the three.

And that sucks for every team and fan base not named Duke.

With the addition of Bagley, the Blue Devils will instantly jump to the No. 1 overall preseason ranking and become the overwhelming favorite to win the NCAA title. Duke already shares the shortest odds to win it all with Kentucky at 7-to-1, per the latest odds from the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook, but those odds will shrink even shorter with the top-ranked player in the country joining what is already considered the second-ranked incoming recruiting class (it will jump Kentucky for first), plus Grayson Allen’s unexpected senior season.

Here’s Duke’s projected starting five, should Bagley commit and gain instant eligibility:

G – Trevon Duval, Freshman (True point guard replacing Frank Jackson; top-ranked point guard and ranked fifth overall in the 2017 ESPN 100)
G – Gary Trent Jr., Freshman (Top-ranked shooting guard and seventh overall player in 2017 ESPN 100)
G – Grayson Allen, Senior (Veteran leader with championship experience; preseason Naismith Player of the Year candidate; NCAA All-American)
F – Marvin Bagley, Freshman 
F/C – Wendell Carter Jr., Freshman (Top-ranked power forward and fourth overall player in 2017 ESPN 100)

There will still be questions of youth and depth, which is a longer conversation for another time, but that is the best starting lineup in the country, at least on paper. The insertion of Bagley into the power forward spot — Duke’s only weakness right now, in theory — will have an enormous impact on how the Blue Devils play and how dominant Coach K’s team will be next year.

Bagley can do it all: inside and out, offensively and defensively; which is why he has always been the Class of 2018’s top player and the projected No. 1 overall pick for whatever year he enters the draft. The pieces are now lining up for that to be next summer (sorry, Michael Porter Jr.), and spending seven months in Durham before the NBA may very well earn him a national championship, too.

Of course, there is still a shot he picks UCLA or USC, which will then direct more national championship talk their way, but Duke stands to grow the strongest after Bagley’s Monday announcement.

And that sucks.

Because nobody likes Duke.


Sports Illustrated profiles Jarred Vanderbilt

With freshmen being the star-power of college basketball these days Sports Illustrated ranked the top 25 incoming freshmen and wrote about their impact for this upcoming season.

Sports Illustrated ranked Jarred Vanderbilt 12th in the RSCI class ranking.

SI says that Vanderbilt’s “addition doesn’t feel as important now as it did when he announced his commitment to Kentucky last December” because of the addition of Kevin Knox. Knox and Vanderbilt play the same position and will help Kentucky win games, “but the Wildcats would have had one of the nation’s top hauls with only one of them.”

SI predicts that Vanderbilt will start the season coming off the bench.

Although Vanderbilt is not an effective perimeter shooter, he’ll provide value as a multi-positional defender, rebounder and transition playmaker, and his versatility will facilitate lineup creativity.

Kentucky under Coach Cal has been most successful when there were returning players on the team. That will not be the case this year. However, SI thinks Kentucky might still be okay.

The newbies may be so good that the dearth of returning production won’t matter. Or perhaps Kentucky will take its lumps while jelling during the regular season before ripping off a deep tourney run. There is a wide range of possible outcomes.

 

Jarred Vanderbilt Is Another Talented Piece in Kentucky’s Loaded Class


Shimmy! It’s Antoine Walker’s Birthday

A celebration is in order for Antoine Walker’s 41st birthday.  The only way to properly celebrate the Kentucky National Champion and NBA Finals winner’s birthday is with his signature move, the shimmy.

In two years at UK Walker averaged 11.7 points and 6.5 rebounds per game.  Named SEC Tournament MVP as a freshman in 1995, Walker was arguably Rick Pitino’s most explosive athlete on the 1996 National Championship team.

A member of the UK Athletics Hall of Fame, he was selected sixth overall in the 1996 NBA Draft by the Boston Celtics.  A three-time All-Star in Boston, he won a championship with Dwyane Wade, Shaq and the Miami Heat in 2006.  He last played in the NBA in 2008.

Now an SEC Network analyst, Walker will return to town in two weeks to play in the UK Alumni Charity Game.  To see Walker and other UK Legends in action, get your tickets here.

Walker isn’t the only former Wildcat born on August 12.  Today Gerald Fitch turns 35.  Ranked No. 24 on UK’s all-time scoring list with 1,391 points, Fitch is one of only two Wildcats with at least 1,300 points, 500 rebounds, 225 assists & 150 steals in a career. The second Wildcat to surpass that career milestone is another Tubby Smith swingman, Keith Bogans.


Brad Calipari Averages Double Figures in International Basketball Trip

Brad Calipari Averages Double Figures in International Basketball Trip

After eight days of basketball in Croatia, Brad Calipari returns to the United States with an impressive stat sheet.

The UK sophomore wing and head coach’s son averaged 14.3 points, 6.5 assists and 3.3 rebounds in four games against Croatian professional teams in the Global Sports Academy event.  His best performance was his first.  Calipari scored 17 points, dished out 7 assists and grabbed 4 rebounds in his Croatian debut.

Calipari is the fifth Wildcat on the 2017-18 roster to play against international competition this offseason.  Hamidou Diallo and P.J. Washington played for Coach Calipari on Team USA at the U19 World Cup, Tai Wynyard played in the same tournament for New Zealand and Sacha Killeya-Jones is playing for Great Britain’s EuroBasket team.


What’s the deal with student ticket prices? Our writers let you know

After yesterday’s surprising announcement regarding the relatively low number of UK Football season tickets sold, it’s easy for some to make snap judgments as to why fans aren’t as enthusiastic as the coaches are about this season. For instance, many analysts, including our own Mrs. Tyler Thompson, point to the recent trend of fans choosing to watch the game from the comfort of their own home over the hassle (and cost) of actually attending the game. And as true as this may be for football, it’s proving to be just as accurate for basketball fans, especially for current students.

A few months ago, UK announced it would be increasing the price of basketball tickets for students from $5 per game to $10. The decision was not met without controversy: students didn’t want to pay more for tickets; non-student fans didn’t understand why these kids were so upset over a five-dollar difference. The university argued the increase would discourage students from buying tickets and then skipping the game, leaving empty seats; others worried the price increase would only encourage students to choose to watch the games from the comfort (?) of State Street.

Here at KSR, we have several writers who currently attend the University of Kentucky, myself included. We decided to ask our writers for their opinions on the subject. Here’s what they had to say:

“I’ve honestly always been surprised that tickets only cost $5. I mean, I’d personally pay 20 or 30 bucks for a ticket, let alone ten. I don’t see it as that big of a deal. Although I think a price jump ought to coincide with more/better seating.” –Jay Winkler

“I think $10 is still a great price if you think about all the talent you’re seeing. Paying $5, $10 or even as much as $20 to see players like Fox, Monk, Booker and Towns is a pretty good deal when you consider how much tickets would be to see them now in the NBA. I get why some students would be upset though – with how many lotteries and games there are, the price increase does add up.” –Savannah Patton

“The price jump doesn’t bother me. Maybe they could’ve compromised and kept tickets for exhibition games and similar games $5 and made conference play and big games like UofL $19. However, UK has always had issues with students buying the cheap tickets and not showing up, so maybe now that they have more money invested in the tickets they’ll actually show up.” – Haley Simpson

“Since I just graduated in May, I’m selfishly happy they waited to increase the prices until after I left. But honestly I’m surprised it took this long for the prices to go up. Students will complain but they’ll still pay to go anyway. Students would resell them for $50 and people bought them at those prices.” –Kindsey Bernhard

“Students obviously want the cheapest deal because most of us struggle to survive on something more sustainable than ramen noodles, but I know people who came to school here just for the basketball program. BBN is crazy – I don’t think $5 will deter students.” –Kelsey Mattingly

“Well until they do something about booing innocent kids for chicken biscuits, I’m not coming back.” – Trey Huntsman, the apparent jokester of the group.

Personally, an extra $5 per game doesn’t bother me, and it certainly wouldn’t stop me from buying tickets. However, I do think the timing is a little strange considering student attendance in the upper level has already been relatively low during the past few seasons, especially during exhibition games. As Haley said, I would definitely have supported the idea of keeping smaller games priced at $5 and increasing more “popular” games to $10. This system is already in place for non-students, so it seems like an easy decision to apply the same system for all fans.

Additionally, the lottery system is in need of a major revamp. With today’s technology, there is no reason to have students file into Memorial Coliseum for three hours on a weeknight to wait and buy tickets. I’ll admit it: I turned down tickets to a Kentucky basketball game because I am impatient. Once last season, I won the lottery and was eligible to purchase tickets to the next four home games. As a student (an avid UK fan) who had never been in the eRUPPtion Zone, I was obviously excited to go to these first four games.

However, when I got to Memorial to buy my tickets, I realized my number was drawn in the very last group. I would be sitting for nearly three hours, unable to leave, before I would be allowed to actually buy my tickets. With a paper to write, upcoming exams to study for, and no reliable Wi-Fi, I simply didn’t have the time to sit and wait for the tickets. This is something a price increase will not fix – some students may win the lottery but not actually purchase the tickets, which can prevent the student section from ever selling out the upper level. It’s 2017 people! Let’s make an app.

Most importantly, however, I’m just thankful they haven’t increased football ticket prices for students yet. Currently, students have the ability to buy a “voucher” to use for all of the home games, and it is available for purchase for just $35. Last season, the student section was rarely sold out at football games. Does this mean these tickets will be the next ones to increase in price? I sure hope not.

So, what do you think? Do you agree with our writers? Let us know in the comments.


@MaggieDavisKSR


@NBATV

VIDEO: Interview with Bam, Fox and Monk a “Kentucky takeover”

@NBATV

Earlier this afternoon, NBA TV’s Lang Whitaker tweeted the video from his interview with former UK players De’Aaron Fox, Bam Adebayo and Malik Monk. At the beginning of the interview, Whitaker mentions he’s got “a bunch of Wildcats” with him, to which Monk replies: “Kentucky takeover… that’s what we call it.”  When asked if that should be the official hashtag for the interview, Fox says it “might as well be.”

Throughout the rest of the interview, the reporter covers the basics: the incredible amount of former Calipari players who have been drafted, their improvements from college and the cities in which the guys will be playing next year.

One of the funnier moments comes when Bam discusses how he has improved “everything” in the past year. When Monk and Fox begin to laugh, Bam replies: “They’re laughing at me because I started out terrible.”

“Yeah, he was horrible,” Monk joked. “He had no post moves, he couldn’t shoot a jumper, I don’t know what he could do.”

Watch the whole video for yourself below:


BBNBA Offseason: Tracking UK alums around the NBA

BBNBA Offseason: Tracking UK alums around the NBA

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

This summer has been a busy one for the University of Kentucky’s alums in the National Basketball Association as many former Wildcats were involved in offseason transactions around the league.

Several former Wildcats will be wearing new uniforms when the season tips off, some even on the same team; while others who aren’t as sought-after are still anxiously awaiting a contract offer from any of the 30 organizations with an open spot.

Then there are the eight newcomers to the professional ranks, fresh off their Elite Eight run within John Calipari’s program this past spring. Five of them have already signed deals, but the three others have yet to find a new home for their skills.

Let’s track all their moves in this lengthy recap of the summer…

 


The University of Kentucky had three players drafted, all in the lottery: De’Aaron Fox went fifth overall to the Sacramento Kings; Malik Monk went 11th overall to the Charlotte Hornets; and Bam Adebayo came off the board earlier than many predicted, at No. 14 to the Miami Heat.

Projected salaries for the three drafted rookies are as follows:

De’Aaron Fox
2017/18: $4,609,200
2018/19: $5,470,920

Malik Monk
2017/18: $2,904,480
2018/19: $3,447,480

Bam Adebayo
2017/18: $2,490,360
2018/19: $2,955,840


One other member of the 2016-17 Kentucky Wildcats, Derek Willis, also signed an NBA deal this summer, despite going undrafted.

After a brief stint with the Detroit Pistons in the Orlando Summer League, in which he averaged only 3.5 points per game, Willis signed on with the Pistons for a one-year deal that will likely make him an “affiliate player” within the organization.

Affiliate players are automatically allocated to a team’s NBA G League affiliate — in this case, the Grand Rapids Drive — if they do not make the final roster after training camp. Willis will be a part of the Pistons’ training camp next month, but the intent (and expectation) is he will begin his career in Grand Rapids.

Willis will be available to all 30 teams during his time in the G League, but the Pistons hope to develop him into a player who can be useful one day on down the road.


A fifth member of last year’s Kentucky basketball team, Isaac Humphries, also signed a professional deal this summer, although his is not with an NBA organization.

Humphries has returned home to Sydney, Australia after signing a one-year deal with the Sydney Kings of the National Basketball League. He turned down more lucrative offers from many other professional leagues around the globe, he says, to earn a living playing basketball amongst his family and friends in his hometown.

The Kings sent scouts to watch Humphries on multiple occasions during his sophomore season in Lexington. He admitted that the opportunity was always in the back of his mind, which explains why he made the decision to test the NBA waters after two seasons when many believed he was making a mistake.


The three other NBA hopefuls from last season are still looking for their first professional contracts.

All-SEC Tournament selection Dominique Hawkins is still in search of a deal at the next level, while toying with NFL dreams in the process. He worked out with the Philadelphia Eagles to test his football talents, but has said he still hopes to play basketball for a living.

Then there is Isaiah Briscoe, who had a shot at getting drafted, but did not hear his name called on draft night. He played for the Philadelphia 76ers in the Utah and Las Vegas summer leagues, but that contract expired and we haven’t heard anything about him since.

Mychal Mulder played for the Toronto Raptors in the Las Vegas summer league.


Joining Isaiah Briscoe on the Sixers’ summer league roster were Alex Poythress and Aaron Harrison, who each played well over the summer, but are still looking for opportunities in the NBA.

Philadelphia used an injured player exception to sign Poythress late last season, and he could be back as a two-way player with Philly this fall. As a two-way player (it’s a new contract option under the CBA that extends NBA rosters by two extra spots), the Sixers could move him back and forth from the G League if he doesn’t make the 15-man roster out of training camp, which won’t be easy due to depth at his position. The Los Angeles Clippers have also expressed interest in adding him as a two-way player.

In Aaron Harrison’s case, he’s waiting for the phone to ring with a training camp opportunity, as far as I know.


One former Wildcat who really shined in the summer league was Dakari Johnson, and he was rewarded for his play with a two-year deal with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Johnson got the call-up from the team that drafted him in 2015, following two years of growth with OKC Blue, the Thunder’s G-League affiliate.


Oklahoma City didn’t stop with the addition of Dakari Johnson to its roster, which already included another former Wildcat in Enes Kanter; it also added Patrick Patterson via free agency, making it three former Cats in OKC.

Patterson signed a three-year deal worth $16,354,800 and he is expected to start for the new West contender. However, things are already off to a rocky start as Patterson underwent an arthroscopic procedure on his left knee, and is expected to miss four to six weeks to start the season.


Transitioning to Kentucky’s oldest and most seasoned NBA veteran, four-time All-Star Rajon Rondo signed with his fifth NBA team this summer.

Rondo signed a one-year deal with the New Orleans Pelicans for a base salary of $3.3 million in 2017-18.

Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry has already said Rondo and Jrue Holiday, the team’s returning starting point guard, will start together in the backcourt. They will, of course, start alongside two other former Wildcats in DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis.

Cousins was instrumental in bringing Rondo, his former teammate in Sacramento, to New Orleans.


The Pelicans also signed a fourth former Wildcat to its roster this summer with the addition of Darius Miller, who, of course, won a national championship with Anthony Davis at Kentucky.

Miller made his way back to the NBA after starring for Brose Bamberg of the German Basketball Bundesliga. Miller helped guide the team to back-to-back league championships in 2016 and 2017, while earning All-BBL First Team honors in 2017; Second Team honors in 2016; and being named BBL Finals MVP after the 2016 title.

Miller rejoins the Pelicans after he was selected No. 46 overall by New Orleans in 2012. He averaged 3.1 points, 1.3 rebounds and 0.9 assists in 102 games during his first stint with the team.


And now for some unfortunate news regarding one of your favorite former Wildcats, Brandon Knight, who is expected to miss the entire 2017-18 season with a torn ACL. Knight suffered the injury while playing in a pro-am game near his home in South Florida.

Prior to the injury, he had been mentioned in possible trade scenarios for Cleveland point guard Kyrie Irving. Knight’s injury likely hurt the potential of that deal, although the impact on his own career is much greater.

Knight has three years left on his contract, with a salary of $13.6 million this season and $43.9 million through 2019-20. This past season was considered a disappointment as he played a career-low 21.1 minutes per game with averages of only 11.0 points and 2.4 assists.


One of Knight’s old teammates in Phoenix, Archie Goodwin, is in search of a new home in the NBA after he was waived by the Brooklyn Nets this summer.

Goodwin appeared in 12 games for the Nets in the 2016-17 season, recording averages of 7.9 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.9 assists in 15.4 minutes per game.

He originally signed a 10-year deal to join the team back in March; then signed another 10-day contract to extend his stay; before inking a multi-year deal in April.

Goodwin cleared waivers and became an unrestricted free agent on July 30.


Nerlens Noel is still on the market, somehow. After the 2016 summer saw several mediocre centers sign insane contracts beyond comprehension, Noel is still searching for his.

It’s been reported that Noel is disappointed in the contract talks with the Dallas Mavericks, the organization that traded for him in April. It has also been reported that he and his agent want a max deal, so that may explain the hold up.


James Young is also waiting patiently on the market. His best bet is that his time in the summer league with the New Orleans Pelicans will earn him a camp invite.


A fresh start is exactly what Trey Lyles needed after a very disappointing second season in which he averaged only 16.3 minutes per game with 6.2 points and 2.6 rebounds in 71 appearances. Lyles’ new beginning begins in Denver after he was traded from the Jazz to the Nuggets in a swap for draft picks.


Kyle Wiltjer and DeAndre Liggins were involved in the NBA’s biggest trade of the summer as both former Cats were shipped from the Rockets to the Clippers in the Chris Paul deal. Houston acquired Liggins from Dallas specifically for the trade, while Wiltjer was dealt to L.A. after playing in only 14 games in his rookie season with Houston.

The Clippers waived Wiltjer on July 18.

Liggins remains on the team.


Maybe the most surprising news of the summer is Terrence Jones is already out of the NBA, not too far removed from his starting role with the Houston Rockets. Jones started 71 games in 2013-14 and would’ve had another big year in the starting lineup in 2014-15, if not for a nerve inflammation in his left leg that kept him out of 41 games. He had another injury plagued season in 2015–16, and hasn’t found a stable situation in the league since.

Jones is now on his way to the Chinese Basketball Association, where he signed one of the largest single-season deals in China history. He’ll be a member of the Qingdao DoubleStar, reportedly for $2 million for the one year.

Jones hopes he’ll be a hot commodity in NBA free agency after the season away.


Jodie Meeks has a new NBA team, his sixth, after he signed a two-year, $7 million deal with the Washington Wizards.

Meeks averaged 9.1 points on 40.9 percent shooting from outside with Orlando last season, playing in only 36 games due to injury. Prior to joining the Magic, Meeks played only 63 games in two years with the Detroit Pistons, and only three games in the 2015-16 season.


Continuing the Wizards theme, we’ll wrap things up with John Wall and his new “super-max” contract. The extension is a four-year deal for $170 million that should keep him in Washington until 2023.

When asked about the lucrative payday, Wall smiled and said, “My kids’ kids’ kids should be fine.”


To summarize: Kentucky has produced a lot of professional basketball players.


A Difficult Renovation Looms Over Memorial Coliseum

The University of Kentucky’s campus-wide facelift has touched almost every corner of campus.  Gatton shines bright on Limestone, the new Academic Science Building beams from Rose Street and on the south side Kroger Field casts a shadow over the construction site of the new baseball stadium.

Every significant site on campus has undergone change, except “The House that Rupp Built,” Memorial Coliseum.

The former home of the Wildcats men’s basketball team was built in 1950 and is currently the home for women’s basketball, volleyball and gymnastics.  It’s received minor upgrades throughout the years, but Mitch Barnhart told the Herald-Leader he’s ready to give the Coliseum a proper renovation.  The initial study shows it will not be easy.

“It’s a little bit of an ‘Oh, wow,’” he said of reading the study, which was not made public because it’s still in draft form. Barnhart didn’t indicate what the dollar figure was, just that it was well over $10 million.

“My hopes were going to be that it was something that I could get my hands around. Now I think I’m going to get my arms around it a little differently.”

At the heart of campus on the Avenue of Champions and the home of multiple athletic programs, just being able to find the time to shut down the arena is difficult.  That’s one seemingly simple complication, but there are many more.  Once you fix one thing, you have to fix ten more.

Still, Barnhart is prepared to make the investment to highlight the landmark’s historic past.  He drew comparisons to The Palestra, but there’s a long and winding road to reach the finish line for a new Memorial Coliseum.

[Herald-Leader]


Kevin Knox turned off phone to avoid social media attacks after committing to UK

Kevin Knox turned off phone to avoid social media attacks after committing to UK

Social media can be cruel, especially to high school players after they make their college decisions. Kentucky freshman Kevin Knox had a simple solution to avoiding the negativity: he turned off his phone.

“I turned my phone off for a day-and-a-half after all the chaos,” Knox said in the latest installment of CoachCal.com’s “Meet the Wildcats” series. “As soon as I pressed send on Instagram and Twitter, I immediately turned my phone off, gave it to my parents and let them have it for like a day-and-a-half. I didn’t want none of that criticism, all those people cussing at me and all that bad, negative energy.”

We’ve heard a lot of this material before (how Knox and family would laugh at people thinking Kentucky was out of the running, his father’s connection to Vince Marrow and Lamar Thomas), but it’s definitely worth a read. Head on over to CoachCal.com to check it out, and then watch Knox school poor Josh Hopkins in CATS (aka HORSE):

Meet the Wildcats: Whirlwind recruitment over, Knox ready for freshman campaign

 


Kentucky fan that fell down Rupp Arena bleachers in 2013 passes away

You probably remember the name Dickie Gregory. In 2013, Gregory survived a scary fall from the Rupp Arena bleachers that left him paralyzed from the chest down. High atop Row J in Section 238, Gregory reached out to catch his wife when she tripped and, after saving her, fell six or seven rows, breaking his neck in three places. On Monday, he passed away at the age of 76.

Over the past four years, we’ve received updates on Gregory, who underwent several surgeries and moved from facility to facility. After his fall, John Calipari and the Kentucky basketball team visited Gregory in the hospital, and Calipari kept tabs on him in the years to follow, visiting him the next spring while in Louisville for a book tour:

Through all the pain, Gregory’s love for the Cats stayed strong. If you read anything today, let it be the interviews Gregg Doyel and Ryan Clark did with Gregory and his family following his accident. There’s no doubt he was a True Blue soul, who is finally at peace.

Gregg Doyel: Calipari’s Wildcats, Kentucky fans unite behind paralyzed fan
Gregg Doyel: Title run giving paralyzed Kentucky fan feelings of happiness

http://kentuckysportsradio.com/main/an-update-on-dickie-gregory/


Photo by Britney McIntosh | UK Athletics

Big Blue Madness Campout dates set

Photo by Britney McIntosh | UK Athletics

Mark your calendars because UK just announced the dates for the Big Blue Madness Campout. This year’s campout will take place September 27-29. Tickets to Madness will be distributed on Friday, September 29 at 10 p.m. Madness itself will take place Friday, October 13 at 7 p.m. at Rupp Arena.

As always, tickets to Madness are free and can be obtained on Ticketmaster starting at 10 p.m. on the 29th. For those fans that camp out, a limited number of control cards will be issued on the 29th at 2 p.m. All fans must be present to obtain their control cards and only one control card per person will be accepted at distribution. All people with control cards must be in line by 10 p.m.

UK is asking fans not to line up before 5 a.m. on Wednesday, September 27. Because of the never-ending construction on campus, space will limited this year and fans are encouraged to use Ticketmaster to obtain their tickets. In fact, UK says that once the grounds around Memorial reach capacity, they’ll stop distributing control cards. More details will be released closer to the event.

For now, dust that tent off. Madness campout is coming.

 


Today on KSR: Go Eastern Little League, UK Football does the Cha Cha Slide

Today on KSR: Go Eastern Little League, UK Football does the Cha Cha Slide

Good morning, friends. I hope you’re enjoying the last few days of summer like these fans in Okaloosa Beach, Florida. Judging by the number of “First day of school” pictures taking over my Facebook feed, you don’t have much time left. So, read today’s agenda, then get right to it.

No football availability today

Tragic, I know, but the football team deserves a break from the media, especially Nick Haynes, who is probably getting tired of answering questions about diabetes. Have no fear; select coaches and players will be back in front of reporters tomorrow to recap practice and preview Saturday’s scrimmage.

The Eastern Little League All-Stars take on Michigan at 5 p.m.

On Tuesday, Lexington’s Eastern Little Leaguers beat Wisconsin to stay alive in the Great Lakes Regional, but to make it to the Little League World Series, they need to win three more games. Today, they’ll take on Michigan at 5 p.m. on ESPN. That’s right, no WatchESPN BS, full-on ESPN. They’re big time now.

UK Football Hype Video of the Day

These are coming out on a daily basis and I am not complaining.

UK Football Locker Room Video of the Day

I’m not exaggerating when I say the team doing the “Cha Cha Slide” in unison may be my favorite thing ever. I can’t stop watching it.

Trick Shot of the Day: Harlem Globetrotters make bucket from helicopter

I’ve seen a lot of trick shots over the years, but this one by the Harlem Globetrotters’ Bull Bullard may take the cake:

The video makes it seem like he got that in only one shot. How many takes do you think it REALLY took? Speaking of impressive basketball…

Will we hear of any more players participating in the UK Alumni Game?

Tickets go on sale tomorrow (or yesterday for those of you who heard Ryan Lemond give away the presale code…cough, BBN, cough), so hopefully we’ll hear more about the current pros who will participate in the main event before then. ICYMI, we have a list of who’s playing in the Legends game, and it sets up some truly awesome matchups:

List of Kentucky players participating in the Alumni Legends Game grows

Terrence Jones may score 50 points.

SEC Basketball Move of the Day: Jontay Porter reclassifying to play at Missouri

Missouri basketball was already destined to be better with new coach Cuonzo Martin and top-ranked recruit Michael Porter, Jr., but the Tigers got another boost in the form of Porter’s little brother Jontay. Jontay announced last night he’s reclassifying and will join Mizzou this fall. Jontay was considered a top 10 player in the 2018 class and had a huge summer on the AAU circuit, so this move is significant.

Bring it on, Tigers.

Tearjerker of the Day: Vince Wilfork’s retirement announcement

I don’t really care about Vince Wilfork, but this video got me a bit choked up. The longtime New England Patriots defensive lineman lost his parents in 2002, and during his retirement news conference yesterday, said the biggest regret of his 13-year NFL career was that they weren’t able to see him finally achieve his dream.

I hate New England, but kudos to them for signing Wilfork to a one-day contract so he could retire as a Patriot. That’s very cool.

Reminder of the Day: Meet Jon Toth at Reese’s Wish Fundraiser

Earlier this week, you heard Freddie Maggard geek out over Jon Toth calling into the Depth Chart Podcast. If you’re also a Toth fanboy or you just want to support a good cause, make plans to attend the 2nd Annual “Reece’s Wish” Yard Sale, which takes place Saturday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Anchorage Presbyterian Church in Louisville. Toth will be on hand to sign autographs from 12 – 2 p.m. For more information, click here.

Summer Tour Stop of the Day: Flemingsburg

Peoples Bank is the place to be this morning, so get on down there to enjoy the show. But check your oil first; we don’t want anyone else’s car breaking down on the way.