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Monday’s Top 10: Recruiting, promposals, and spring football

Monday’s Top 10: Recruiting, promposals, and spring football

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Good morning, everyone. I hope you had a good weekend. Mine included a beer festival on Saturday, so I certainly did. Shoutout to Stephen Wang and his six year old son, Evan, who went to the Pelicans/Warriors game this weekend to support Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins (even though the two sat out that game to rest). Awesome sign, guys.

Let’s roll on to today’s top ten, shall we?

1. Which shooting guard will accept their offer first?

Last week, John Calipari offered three shooting guards: Mark Smith, Jemarl Baker, and Pitt transfer Cam Johnson. Smith, the Illinois Mr. Basketball, visited Michigan State this past weekend, and now, 247 Sports’ Jerry Meyer predicts he will become a Spartan; however, Kentucky’s still in very good shape with Baker and Johnson. Which guard will commit first? Stay tuned…

2. The early signing period begins Wednesday

Anxious for the chips to start falling? The early signing period starts Wednesday, which means they’re about to. Not only is Calipari hunting for a shooting guard, Kentucky is also in hot pursuit of Mohamed Bamba and Kevin Knox, two five-star prospects who could have a major impact on next season’s roster. If you listened to the radio show on Friday, you heard Matt say he’s not as confident in Kentucky’s chances with Bamba after a conversation with a secret source, but it’s worth pointing out that Duke signee Gary Trent Jr. is skeptical about the Blue Devils’ chances with him too.

“Man, I don’t know,” Trent Jr. told 247 Sports’ Andrew Slater of the feedback he’s getting from Bamba about coming to Duke. “It’s kind of shaky. We don’t know yet.”

3. Bamba, if you’re reading, now seems like an opportune time to remind you…

4. Jarred Vanderbilt showed out at the Nike Hoop Summit

It’s hard to tell much from all-star games, but future Cat Jarred Vanderbilt sure looked good on Friday night, leading Team USA to a win at the Nike Hoop Summit. Vanderbilt finished with 19 points, 7 rebounds, 3 steals, and 1 assist on 8-11 shooting. Here are some highlights from Team USA’s performance:

5. Calipari’s 30 for 30 debuts Thursday

“One and Not Done” debuts on Thursday night, and after watching it last week, I can tell you that it’s awesome. Click here to read my review of it and watch the latest trailer below:

6. Malik Monk won the Jerry West Award

It was an exciting weekend for Malik Monk, who went to Los Angeles to accept the Jerry West Award on Friday night. Monk beat out Bryce Alford (UCLA), Marcus Foster (Creighton), Peter Jok (Iowa) and Luke Kennard (Duke) for the award, given annually to the nation’s top shooting guard. Winning the award is a huge honor for Monk, but more importantly, what do we think of his suit?

#BLESSED!!💪🏾

A post shared by Malik Monk (@ahmad_monk) on

I guess high waters are in now.

7. Meanwhile, De’Aaron Fox accepted a “promposal”

Kudos to UK fan Kendall Brown, who had the guts to show up to De’Aaron Fox’s autograph signing this weekend and ask him to prom. He said yes!

Well done, Kendall.

8. Here’s where you can catch Fox, Monk, Derek & Dom this week

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Let’s not make asking them to prom a thing, okay?

9. The spring game is Friday

The last week of spring practice is upon us, culminating in Friday’s Spring Game. Eddie Gran was fired up after what he said was an “awful” performance by his offense in Saturday’s scrimmage, which he hopes was a wake up call.

“They were awful. They whipped us. I don’t know what else to say. Their 11 whipped our 11. For an hour and a half today we whipped them. For the last twenty, we got smoked,” Gran said. “I think they’re drinking some Kool-Aid, and it’s bad Kool-Aid and I gotta get ’em to quit drinking it.”

Here’s hoping the offense gets it together before Friday night. The Spring Game starts at 7:30 p.m. at Commonwealth Stadium, and will be televised on the SEC Network.

10. One hour ’til radio

Something tells me Matt will bring up the SNL skit.


Photo: WTVQ and Kennedy Hardman

WATCH: De’Aaron Fox eats a habanero with ABC 36 and Kennedy Hardman

Photo: WTVQ and Kennedy Hardman

Photo: WTVQ and Kennedy Hardman

As De’Aaron Fox continues his autograph and media tour after entering the NBA Draft, he may have just done his most entertaining interview yet.

Today, Fox joined Kennedy Hardman on ABC 36 to play a game of “The Hot Seat.” The rules of the game? Answer the question, or eat something spicy.

Watch Fox and Hardman hilariously go head-to-head below:

Video: WTVQ and Kennedy Hardman


@kendalll_brownn

WATCH: De’Aaron Fox agrees to go to prom with a Kentucky fan

@kendalll_brownn

@kendalll_brownn

Today, De’Aaron Fox made a young Kentucky Wildcat fan’s day during an autograph signing by agreeing to go to prom with her in May.

At first, Fox didn’t know what to make of the sign that read, “I’m ‘De’Aaron’ you to go to prom with me.” When Kendall Brown asked him if he was available the day of the dance, the future NBA point guard told her he’d be there.

After he agreed to go, Brown responded with a laugh, “I tried to DM (direct message) you, but you didn’t follow me back!”

Watch the interaction below:

@JackPilgrimKSR


@HLpreps

Kentucky Sweeps Ohio in Annual High School All-Star Games

 

@HLpreps

@HLpreps

The 26th annual matchup between Kentucky and Ohio’s top basketball stars went down last night, and our fellow Kentuckians brought home all the gold.

The Kentucky girls were led by Franklin County’s Princess Stewart, who scored 18 points to help her team rally from behind to get the 82-74 win, picking up MVP honors in the process.

On the boys’ side, the star of the night was Dunbar standout and KY Mr. Basketball Taveion Hollingsworth, who scored a team high 19 points. He also totally ate some kid’s lunch with this block:

Also making an appearance last night was future UK football super-athlete Lynn Bowden. Curtis Burch had a chat with Bowden’s coach to learn a bit more about the kid’s competitive drive:

You can read a more extensive recap of last night’s festivities right here.

@JayWinkKSR


Four Great Videos for the UK Fans of the Day

Four Great Videos for the UK Fans of the Day

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Today I discovered redshirt freshman walk-on kicker Tyler Pack.  The 6’4″ 275-pound Johnson Central product has quite the boot.  Don’t believe me?  Just watch.

Kickers don’t usually get you fired up for football, but this might.

In the world of basketball, Dakari Johnson is getting things done in the final week of the D-League before it turns into the G-League.

At the other end of the spectrum, these highlights from the Nike Hoops Summit will get you excited about the future.

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Just a few people wanted to see Malik Monk

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A day after Malik Monk became the first ever Kentucky Wildcat to win the Jerry West Award, given to the nation’s best shooting guard, fans clamored to see him in person at Fayette Mall.  The line wrapped around the massive Lexington mall an hour before Monk’s appearance was set to begin.

@djotisbadass

@djotisbadass

If you missed the opportunity, here’s when you can see him again.

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Two Simple Ways to Fix College Basketball

At the conclusion of the college basketball season, people are talking less about the basketball and more about the referees.  As a fan of the former, it’s frustrating to see all of the attention turn to the stripes, but that’s exactly what happened during many college basketball games this season.

There are many complaints, but few solutions.  Matt Giles from Longreads.com has two simple solutions, solutions that are previous NCAA experiments.

1. Play quarters and reset the fouls after each quarter.
2. Change the limit of fouls per player from five to six.

The solutions are frustratingly simple.  This should have been done years ago.  In fact, Giles points out that the latter was done years ago.  From 1990-92 the Big East and A-Sun allowed another foul during conference play, only to scrap the experiment because of a lack of “any real support.”

Some might resist the addition of a foul, but the change of quarters must happen immediately.  Men’s college basketball is the only level of basketball that is not played in quarters.  The women made the change a few years ago and it’s been a net positive.  There’s no basketball-related ideological argument against the change.  Resistance is only commercial: the change to quarters would eliminate one TV timeout per half.  Pardon me for not caring about another commercial break.

People will always complain about refs.  There are few solutions to the problem, but these two should do not enough to pacify the masses.

[Longreads]


Malik Monk wins the Jerry West Award

Photo by Chet White | UK Athletics

Photo by Chet White | UK Athletics

Tonight, the National Basketball Hall of Fame announced Malik Monk as the winner of the Jerry West Award. The award is annually given to the nation’s best shooting guard. The award was first given in 2015, when Ohio State’s DeAngelo Russell won. Last season, Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield won the award. This year, Monk beat out other finalists, Luke Kennard, Peter Jok, Marcus Foster and Bryce Alford.

The award puts a cap on what will go down as a historic career for Malik Monk. Monk finished the season averaging 19.8 ppg, with most of those coming on 104 threes. Monk’s explosive performances this season will forever be engrained in Kentucky fans’ heads. Congrats to Malik on what will not be the last of awards to come.

 


The One Thing We Don’t Know about Dom Hawkins

DomSmile

It is no secret that Dominique Hawkins will go down as one of the most beloved Kentucky players of all time. Kentucky fans know Hawkins because of his smile that never seems to go away… or does it? Lex 18’s Alan Cutler looked more into this with Dom’s girlfriend and Derek Willis.

 

It is definitely an interesting aspect to one of my all-time favorite Cats.


Everything You Need to Know before the Nike Hoop Summit

Mar 29, 2017; Chicago, IL, USA; McDonald's High School All-American players Nicholas Richards (4) and Jarred Vanderbilt and Quade Green (0) and PJ Washington Jr. who will all be attending the University of Kentucky in the fall of 2017 pose for a group photo before the 40th Annual McDonald's High School All-American Game at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Tonight brings us yet another preview of the next wave of Kentucky Wildcats. Earlier today, Mrs. Tyler gave you some videos from practice. Here is everything you need to know before the start of the game:

Time: 10pm

Channel: ESPN2 or WatchESPN

Location: Moda Center in Portland, Oregon

Rosters:

Team USA Roster
Mohamed Bamba Undecided
Troy Brown Jr. Oregon
Wendell Carter Jr. Duke
Trevon Duval Undecided
Quade Green Kentucky
Jaren Jackson Jr. Michigan State
Kevin Knox II Undecided
Michael Porter Jr. Missouri
Collin Sexton Alabama
Gary Trent Jr. Duke
Jarred Vanderbilt Kentucky
M.J. Walker Undecided

 

Team World Roster
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander Kentucky
Lindell Wigginton Iowa State
Nickeil Alexander-Walker Virginia Tech
Lugentz Dort Undecided
Tadas Sedekerskis Undecided
RJ Barrett Undecided (2019)
Kostja Mushidi Undecided
Borisa Simankc Undecided
Isaiah Hartenstein Undecided
Felipe Dos Anjos Undecided
Nick Richards Kentucky
Ikechukwu Obiagu Florida State

Some things to watch for:

  1. Mohamed Bamba will be playing with Kentucky signees; Quade Green and Jarred Vanderbilt.
  2. Team USA will look to win the game back-to-back years for the first time, since Anthony Davis led Team USA to a win in 2011.
  3. Quade Green is questionable to play tonight after suffering a concussion earlier in the week

If you are planning on watching tonight, be sure to follow me on Twitter @GormleyKSR to join the conversation! Also, be sure to check back tomorrow for a full recap from Nick Roush.


UK Fans of the Day want some NBA Draft chatter

UK Fans of the Day want some NBA Draft chatter

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It is a mind numbingly slow afternoon here at the KSR South Compound, but I’m pushing through. Check out this awesome picture of former UK, Seattle Seahawks, and Carolina Panthers offensive lineman Dean Wells with his sons in Arizona. Wells’ family planned a trip out west for the Final Four, and even though the Cats didn’t make it, they did their best to represent the good blue and white while they were out there.

I’m going to do my best to get through the late afternoon haul before heading out for the weekend. Between Monk being up for the Jerry West award at 8 p.m., the Nike Hoop Summit at 10 p.m., and John Calipari’s meeting with Jemarl Barker, there will be plenty of news coming up tonight, but until then, let’s review the latest NBA Draft scuttlebutt, shall we?

Bam Adebayo not included in the first round of SI’s new mock draft

Sports Illustrated’s Andrew Sharp released his latest mock draft this week and, surprisingly, does NOT have Bam Adebayo going in the first round. I know Bam’s stock has slipped in most mocks to mid to late first round, but I can’t envision him falling out of the first round completely, so hopefully this is an oversight. Regardless, Sharp has Malik Monk going fifth to the Sixers and De’Aaron Fox sixth to the Knicks. Here’s what he had to say about Fox.

“Nobody in the tournament helped himself more than De’Aaron Fox,” Sharp said. “There are still reasons to be skeptical about his jumper from the perimeter, but the biggest difference for Fox was his intermediate game. Once his floaters started falling, everyone noticed that it was absolutely impossible to keep Fox out of the lane. That’s a skill that will translate with or without a jumper, especially if he’s finishing at the rim.”

I know the Knicks suck, but Fox in NYC seems like a natural fit.

[Sports Illustrated]

Chad Ford’s thoughts on Isaiah Briscoe

Yesterday, Briscoe announced he is declaring for the draft AND signing with an agent, a move some have questioned since he’s not included in any of the major mocks. Chad Ford, who doesn’t even have Briscoe in his Top 100 draft prospect rankings, weighed in on the decision and didn’t rule out the possibility of Briscoe getting drafted, but suggested it’s not likely.

“As a freshman, Briscoe started on our board as a potential first-round prospect, but he never really developed a reliable NBA skill. While his shooting improved a bit, he’s widely considered a tweener without a position. It’s possible he’s drafted in the second round, though most likely he goes undrafted.”

As for Bam, Ford says he’s now in the 18-25 range should he decide to stay in the draft.

[ESPN]

What will Hamidou Diallo do?

Diallo is technically eligible for this draft and could still declare, not sign with an agent to get feedback from teams at the combine, and return. I honestly don’t know what he’s going to do, but I do have a new a new 8-minute breakdown of his film for you from MakePlayz to share:

One of these days, Drew and I are going to make mixtapes/breakdowns like these for all of the KSR writers. And it’s going to be glorious.

 


Matt’s Random Friday Thoughts

Matt’s Random Friday Thoughts

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Been awhile since I have written here on the Blog, so I thought I would take a chance to round-up a few thoughts/tidbits going into the weekend. If you get an opportunity this weekend start on the terrific S-Town Podcast that is making waves across the country. It is from the folks that do “This American Life” and while I have yet to finish it, I must say it is one of the more intriguing Podcasts I have ever heard. It starts as a fairly regular “Who Dun It” type story, but quickly moves to something else, an engaging character portrait of an individual (and town) that is enthralling. It is worth your time if you are driving or lounging and need some entertainment.

A few notes:

— The big stories right now are recruiting-based, specifically whether Kentucky will get Mohammed Bamba or Kevin Knox. I am unsure about whether either player will be a Cat, but as I have stated on the radio, my opinion slightly diverges from the consensus on both guys. For Bamba, I have assumed Kentucky was the leader for at least two months, and while I am still in that camp, my confidence isn’t quite on the level of most in the UK Fanbase. Up until three days ago, everyone I had spoken with said Kentucky leads and all of the circumstantial evidence, including his friendship with UK recruits and public statements, have made UK seem the obvious choice. But then I spoke with a source that is very good who said to me for the first time that UK was not getting him. While this person is against the grain and the only individual I know who believes the choice won’t be UK, it is someone with a great deal of knowledge and close to the situation. So I am left unsure of UK’s position. If I were forced to pick, I would still say Bamba to UK, but my confidence is much lower than it was last week (and I get a good test going forward for this particular type of source). As for Knox, I think UK is in a better position than most do…I still would not pick UK for Knox (I am not sure of any of the Big Three get him), but the folks around Lexington feel better about their position with him than the general consensus seems to suggest. Either way his decision comes soon and if they don’t get him, expect UK to go all-in after Pitt transfer Cameron Johnson.

— The main question to be resolved for UK’s roster next year in terms of returning players is Isaac Humphries. The big man is considering going back to Australia and playing pro basketball there. I don’t think that is his preference and Calipari wants him to stay, but he is considering whether coming back to UK will help further his career. I would say his future is a coin toss right now and it is my hope the singing Australian decides to stick it out, as I think they will need his physical presence next season.

— As for 2018, I really like Kentucky’s position with Zion Williamson. The kid is an absolute star and while there is still a ton of time for things to change, I would pick Kentucky for him right now. He would be an absolute explosive talent and is the type of player that you build a class around.

— Kentucky’s schedule for next season is up in the air, as the program tries to figure out what kind of roster they will have. At this current time, the Cats are scheduled to play UCLA, Kansas, Louisville and a Big 12 road game (possibly West Virginia?), but only have one other game locked in (Harvard). I am not sure if the Cats will get another marquee non-conference home game, besides Louisville. There is likely a possibility of getting a mid-level Power 6 team (like a Marquette, Seton Hall or Providence), but I think you will likely see a home schedule that includes no other huge names at this time.

— If you didn’t get a chance last night, watch the video below of Derek Willis and Dominique Hawkins hosting “Hey Kentucky” with me (there are more at HeyKentucky.com). The guys were great and a lot of fun…going to really miss those kids at UK.

— Hearing some really good things about the Quarterback play at UK during Spring Practice. A lot has been written about how well Stephen Johnson has been playing but some KSR moles tell me that Gunnar Hoak has also taken major steps forward. He is by far the least known of the current crop of QBs but the staff likes him a lot and while there is certainly not a QB competition for the starting job, there might be more of one for the Backup than people realize.

— Finally, if you have been listening to the radio you know how frustrated I have become from the whole “Roofing referee” story and the idiotic behavior by some of our fans that occurred after the game. My position on this has been clear on the radio and it remains the same. Higgins called a poor game, especially in the first half. That to me is indisputable. However the terrible calls don’t mean that people should invade his personal (or business) life, especially in the form of threatening messages or calls. That is stupid behavior and there is no excuse for it.

With that said, the amount of people who engaged in such behavior is small. Those that attempt to paint those actions upon the entire UK Fanbase are doing it solely for their anti-UK and Calipari agenda and they deserve to be called out for what they are…reporters with an agenda. They have passed on a narrative that this what the UK Fanbase is like as a whole, knowing full well there are insane people in every fan base and terrible actions are ubiquitous. Similarly, I am tired of the narrative that has emerged that KSR had some measure of responsibility for this simply because we talked about the story. Even though virtually every national outlet weighed in, stories about Higgins have continued to include references to a “Kentucky Sports Radio” show that talked about the issue and the impact that may have had. All we ever said on the show was not to call or write and I resent the idea that we are responsible for behavior we had nothing to do with. The people who threatened Higgins engaged in stupid and irrational acts and deserve criticism. But that doesn’t mean every UK fan, media member or the Administration do as well.

You can choose to say the Big Blue Nation is represented by its worst actions carried about a selected few. I choose to think it is represented by people like a man who came to my radio show today. Before our drawing at the end of the show to win a signed John Calipari basketball, an older woman in a bundled up in a large coat walked in carrying a basketball (a rubber one with dimples) of her own in a plastic Kroger bag. She had heard me talk about Calipari and mistakenly believed that he would be there to sign autographs at the show. She was saddened when I told her that Calipari wouldn’t be in attendance and while she sat and listened to the show, it was evident on her face how disappointed she truly was. At the end of the show, I drew a man’s name out of the box and he took the ball, went over to the woman and offered it to her while giving her a hug. She was a complete stranger who he likely will never see again, but he knew having the basketball would mean more to her than him. That kindness and compassion is what the BBN is about to me…not the select actions of a few in anger, but the shared passion of a state that loves its team. That story won’t be written by most in the national media, but is the more representative one worth telling.

Have a great weekend and start watching “The Americans” if you have never seen it…


Malik Monk up for the Jerry West Shooting Guard of the Year Award tonight

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Looking for a way to kill time before tonight’s Nike Hoop Summit? Malik Monk is one of five players up for the Jerry West Award, given annually to the best shooting guard in college basketball. The award will be handed out tonight at the College Basketball Awards Show in Los Angeles, and you can see if Malik wins it for yourself on ESPN2 at 8:00 p.m. ET.

Also up for the award: Bryce Alford (UCLA), Marcus Foster (Creighton), Peter Jok (Iowa) and Luke Kennard (Duke). According to social media and some pictures we’ve received, Monk is in LA right now, so I’d say there’s a pretty good chance he wins…

 


REVIEW: The Calipari 30 for 30 will make even his haters think twice

REVIEW: The Calipari 30 for 30 will make even his haters think twice

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[Ed. note: ESPN’s 30 for 30 on John Calipari, “One and Not Done,” debuts next Thursday, April 13 at 9 p.m. on ESPN, but I was able to get my hands on an advanced copy. After viewing it last night, here are my thoughts.]

There are a lot of people in this world that don’t like John Calipari; as a Kentucky fan, odds are you’ve encountered a lot of them in the last eight years.

“Cal’s a cheater!” they say. “Look at what he did at UMass and Memphis!”

“How does it feel to make a deal with the devil?” a Georgia fan had the audacity to ask me a few months ago. “It’s only a matter of time, isn’t it?”

I’ve learned that defending Calipari to his haters is useless because, at this point, their perception of him has hardened into rock. Even after reaching the pinnacle of his career, Calipari remains the most polarizing figure in college basketball, which is why ESPN’s 30 for 30 on him is so fascinating. “One and Not Done” chronicles Calipari’s career from his upbringing as the son of blue collar parents and the grandson of Italian immigrants to his induction to the Basketball Hall of Fame, but the part that was most interesting to me was Calipari’s rise from a junior counselor at Five-Star Basketball Camp to his first head coaching job at UMass. That’s always been a time Calipari talks about fondly, but director Jonathan Hock uses testimonies from Cal’s friends, colleagues, former players, and yes, enemies, to bring it to life. I can’t share specifics from the film, but what struck me most was how Cal’s peers described his relentless ambition, which sometimes, as even he admits, got out of control. I’m paraphrasing here, but as one of Calipari’s mentors says, what makes Cal so great is that if you lock a bunch of people in a dark room and throw away the key, he’ll be the first to find a way out.

By now, you know all about Calipari’s career, so you should be familiar with most of the ground the documentary covers (the never-before-seen footage and pictures are awesome); however, Hock’s biggest achievement is exploring how Cal is perceived in the public eye. He sheds light on the parts of Cal’s life and career that most may not know about (or choose to ignore) while balancing it with the chorus of criticism Cal has received throughout. The documentary includes several of Calipari’s former players and friends, but also former UConn coach Jim Calhoun, who serves almost as a reminder of those Cal has burned along the way. You can hear echoes of Cal’s enemies in Calhoun’s voice as he recalls Cal blazing the recruiting trail at UMass, and through interviews with others, sense the struggle many coaches had in dealing with an up and comer who, for lack of a better phrase, gave no f—s. That chip on Cal’s shoulder may be covered in $3,000 Italian wool now, but watching and hearing about how sharp it was back in the day tells you a lot about the man he is today and why he’s been so successful AND controversial.

Screen Shot 2017-03-24 at 12.31.11 PM

The documentary spends plenty of time on the Marcus Camby and Derrick Rose ordeals, the crux of any Calipari hater’s arguments; Hock does a good job of painting both of those stories in a responsible light through interviews with Cal, Camby, Rose, and those who covered UMass and Memphis at the time. After watching it, it seems pretty clear to me that Cal had no knowledge of either of the trespasses, but that will probably do little to deter those who have spent decades believing otherwise. More interesting to me will be what those people say after viewing the part about Cal’s relationship with William Wesley, aka World Wide Wes, which actually began when Wes sought him out to coach his nephew, Dajuan Wagner, at Memphis. Again, I can’t talk specifics, but that interaction laid the foundation for not only Calipari and Wes’ relationship for years to come, but Cal’s selfless approach to players going to the NBA. Wagner’s story is one I wasn’t familiar with, and even to those who hate Cal the most, humanizes his philosophy. That story is echoed in all of the stars Cal’s coached: Camby, Rose, John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis, Karl Towns, Devin Booker, who all speak during the documentary. By now, we know why Cal encourages players to chase their dream, even if it comes at the expense of his own success; this documentary shows that side of him to the world.

My final takeaway from the 30 for 30 is this: John Calipari blazed a path for himself in this industry and didn’t care about making friends along the way. However, when it all comes down to it, he does care about validation, which makes the end of the documentary so powerful. As Cal’s former players gather around him on stage at the Hall of Fame induction, it’s hard not to be moved. By now, the harshest of his critics can’t argue with his success, and those who hate him? After seeing this documentary, they can’t help but soften, even if they won’t admit it.


Friday’s Top 10: Happy Opening Day at Keeneland

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Happy Friday, friends. I’m sure many of you will find excuses to slip out of work early today to go enjoy the opening day of the spring meet at Keeneland, a time of year I get so homesick it hurts. If you do head out to the racetrack today, bundle up; highs are only supposed to get in the low 50’s, but something tells me that won’t stop girls from wearing sundresses and cowboy boots or wedges.

For the rest of us, there’s plenty to do, so let’s run through the agenda.

1. Calipari offered Mark Smith

The recruiting dead period ended yesterday at noon and John Calipari went straight to work to shore up Kentucky’s bare cupboard at guard, traveling to Edwardsville, Illinois to visit Mark Smith. Cal extended a scholarship offer to the Illinois Mr. Basketball on that trip, a sign of how serious this fast and furious this recruitment has become. Smith also has offers from Illinois, Indiana, Ohio State, Missouri, Butler, and Michigan State and is expected to visit the Spartans this weekend. Also of note: Smith will play in the Derby Classic in Louisville later this month.

2. Don’t forget about Jemarl Baker and Cameron Johnson

 

Calipari is headed to California today to visit Jemarl Baker, a four-star shooting guard that decommitted from Cal when Cuonzo Martin took the job at Missouri. Yesterday, 247 Sports recruiting guru Jerry Meyer told the Herald Leader he believes Baker’s the best fit for the Cats next season.

“I think the idea here is to get shooting, and I like him best as a shooter,” Meyer said. “All three are good, solid players. Baker just makes the most sense to me. I think he’s the better of the three, and I think he’s the better shooter of the three.”

As I told you in the post directly before this one, Kentucky has reportedly also offered Pitt grad transfer Cam Johnson, who will be able to play right away and have two years of eligibility remaining. Not only is Johnson an impressive shooter, making 41.5% of his threes last season, he’s also 6’8″, meaning he has the size Calipari loves. For more on Johnson, read Roush’s profile on him from last week.

3. ICYMI, Isaiah Briscoe is gone

One of the reasons Kentucky needs guards so badly next season is that three of this year’s have announced plans to go pro. Yesterday, Isaiah Briscoe followed in De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk’s footsteps by announcing that he’ll go to the draft and sign with an agent, ending his two-year career at UK. This move doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone who’s talked to Briscoe in the last year, and although he’s not included in any of the major mock drafts/prospect rankings, here’s hoping he lands somewhere good. We know he’s got the drive.

4. Is Isaac Humphries leaving too?

We’ve heard rumblings for a while that Isaac Humphries was thinking of going pro in his native Australia. Humphries told Joe Mussatto that he was rethinking his future at UK during the tournament and Calipari said that an Australian scout watched Humphries in practice last month. Yesterday, Evan Daniels added fuel to the fire when he tweeted that Humphries is “seriously contemplating pursuing professional options.” Daniels said Humphries hasn’t made his mind up, but with a loaded frontcourt coming in, this is something to keep an eye on. Although, it would be such a shame coming off a game after which Humphries would have likely been considered a folk hero had the Cats won.

5. A CNN analyst compared the US bombing Syria last night to Kentucky basketball

After US warships launched at least 50 tomahawk missiles at Syria last night, CNN analsyt Major General Spider Marks compared the bombing to Kentucky basketball in one of the most ridiculous and inappropriate statements I think I’ve ever heard.

Stick to war, General Marks, and keep Kentucky Basketball outta your mouth.

6. The Nike Hoop Summit is tonight

If you like your all-star high school basketball late at night, you’re in luck because the Nike Hoop Summit tips off tonight at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN2 from Portland, Oregon. Shai Alexander and Nick Richards are on the World Team, and will face Jarred Vanderbilt, Mo Bamba, and Kevin Knox on Team USA. Quade Green is also a member of Team USA, but suffered a concussion yesterday and is unlikely to play tonight.

7. Mo Bamba’s wingspan is insane

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Yesterday, the Nike Hoop Summit released the measurements for Team USA, and the ones that stand out the most are Mohamed Bamba’s 7’9″ wingspan and 9’6″ standing reach. If you’re looking for a comparison, Wilt Chamberlain’s famous wingspan was 7’8″ and Anthony Davis’ measured at 7’5.5″ at the 2012 Draft Combine and has reportedly grown to 7’7.75″. The largest wingspan in NBA history belonged to 7’7″ Maunte Bol, whose arms spread a ridiculous 8’6″.

Just another reason we’ve gotta get Bamba.

8. I’ll have a review of Calipari’s 30 for 30 for you later

I was lucky enough to get my hands on a screener of Calipari’s 30 for 30 last night and it’s really, really good. I’ll have a complete review for you this afternoon, but until then, do yourself a favor and make sure your DVR is set to record the documentary, which debuts next Thursday night (April 13) at 9 p.m. on ESPN. Here’s the trailer:

9. The Masters rolls on

It’s Friday at The Masters, which means it’s going to on my second computer monitor for most of the day. After yesterday’s windy start, only 11 players are under par, led by Charley Hoffman, who leads at -7, four strokes ahead of William McGirt in second place. Phil Mickelson is tied with Justin Rose, Sergio Garcia, and a bunch of players at -1, while JB Holmes is tied for 74th at 6+ after bogeying his last five holes. Ouch.

You can see all the tee times here.

10. Go see De’Aaron Fox, Malik Monk, Dominique Hawkins, and Derek Willis on their signing tours this weekend

The Signing Tours start in force this weekend, so get on out there and say thank you to this year’s Cats before they take the next step:

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