Basketball Season Coverage
After going through the NBA Draft evaluation process, Nick Richards has decided to return to Kentucky for his junior season. The big man just announced the news on Instagram.
“First off, I want to thank God, the man up above, for without him I couldn’t do any of this,” Richards said. “Next, I want to thank my family: my mom, my aunt, my sister (and) my brothers. I want to thank my teammates and the coaching staff, for without them I wouldn’t be here. They pushed me in the right direction that I needed to be to where I am today.
“These past two years have been the best of my life. It’s been an incredible experience. I’ve learned a lot, but the job’s not done yet. BBN, are you ready for year three?”
Last season, Richards averaged 4.0 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks per game, shooting 59.8% from the floor and 69.0% from the free-throw line. He led the team in blocks with 47, including a career-high five swats vs. Kansas. During his two-year career in Lexington, he’s appeared in all 74 games, making 40 starts and averaging 4.5 points, 3.9 rebounds and 1.1 blocks.
“I was fully supportive of Nick going through the NBA Draft process for the first time in his career to see where he stood,” John Calipari said. “I’m happy with where Nick and his family ended up and I’m excited to continue to coach Nick because I know how special he can be. I’ve told him, ‘If you come back, I’m expecting you to be one of the best big men in the country.’ There is no reason he can’t be. There is nothing that Nick hasn’t seen at this point, and he knows what my expectations are for him in his junior season. I want him to dominate the game and affect it on every single possession.”
Junior Nick Richards has a nice ring to it.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©May 28th, 2019 @ 2:00pm
Auburn forward Danjel Purifoy has missed over an entire season of his college basketball career due to various NCAA violations he has been involved in since signing with the school in 2014.
Now, he might be in trouble yet again.
You see, the picture shown above isn’t a collage we made here at KSR or one the Auburn basketball team released on a social media. It’s actually a collage of images Purifoy’s mother, Waukesha Blevins, decided to put on t-shirts and sell to her friends on Facebook.
According to AL.com, Blevins, who also allegedly accepted money and violated NCAA rules in the past leading to Purifoy’s previous suspension, made multiple posts on the social media outlet advertising the shirts she was selling for prices ranging from $10 to $12.
In response to Blevins’ posts, several individuals commented their requested shirt sizes, with the former four-star athlete’s mother responding “got you down” to each of them.
The posts have since been deleted.
According to official NCAA rules, as found by AL.com, student-athletes are not allowed to profit off of their name and likeness, and if a third party attempts to do so, the student-athlete is required to “take steps to stop such an activity.”
If not, his or her eligibility is on the line.
NCAA Bylaw 12.1.1(h) states that “any commercial items with names, likenesses or pictures of multiple student-athletes … may be sold only at the member institution at which the student-athlete is enrolled, institutionally controlled … outlets or outlets controlled by the charitable or educational organization. … Items that include an individual student-athlete’s name, picture or likeness … other than informational items (e.g., media guide, schedule cards, institutional publications), may not be sold.”
Per, NCAA Bylaw 12.2.2, “In the event that a third party (such as a store) were to sell an image with a student-athlete, that student-athlete “is required to take steps to stop such an activity in order to retain his or her eligibility for intercollegiate athletics.”
On May 14, the NCAA announced the creation of the “NCAA Board of Governors Federal and State Legislation Working Group,” with the organization’s ultimate goal being to consider whether or not athletes should be able to profit from their likeness.
Unfortunately for Purifoy and his inner circle, that rule has still not been overturned, meaning Blevins’ actions are in violation of NCAA rules.
Add another case to the docket for the NCAA to look into.
The Bluegrass Boys added Kevin Galloway to its now six-man roster for The Basketball Tournament. Galloway joins former UK teammates Josh Harrellson and Ramon Harris with the Bluegrass Boys, as well as Marcus Lee, Derek Willis and Dominique Hawkins.
Galloway made this video to announce his addition to the team:
— Bluegrass Boys (@BluegrassBoys19) May 28, 2019
The Basketball Tournament is up to 72 teams competing for a $2 million grand prize in 2019, its sixth year of existence. One of its regional rounds will be played in Lexington, July 19-21, at Frederick Douglass High School. The Bluegrass Boys are the host team for that location.
By Drew Franklin on ©May 28th, 2019 @ 9:15am
Taylon Vail’s life was cut short when he was struck by stray bullets from a drive-by shooting in West Memphis this past April. Vail, a 16-year-old with a promising future in basketball, was asleep on his grandmother’s couch when he was killed.
Vail’s family is having a hard time coping with the loss of such a young life, especially Taylon’s mother, Tabatha Vail; but John Calipari was able to put a smile on her face with a recent act of kindness.
In a new story in The Memphis Commercial Appeal, we learn Calipari shipped a custom UK basketball jersey with Vail’s name across the back, in addition to an official scholarship offer to the University of Kentucky, Vail’s dream school.
“When I opened it up – oh my goodness – I was bawling crying,” Vail said. “I was so excited.”
Inside was a custom, blue Kentucky jersey marked with her son’s last name and his favorite number. On the front, it was signed by Wildcats coach John Calipari.
Accompanying the gear was a letter and an official scholarship offer, intended to fulfill a dream that was tragically stopped short his freshman year of high school.
It was a moment that had been in the works for several weeks, spearheaded by Brown-McCormick, who initially emailed the university and kept the gifts a secret until Mother’s Day.
Taylon Vail always wanted to play college basketball, and his hope was to attend Kentucky just like fellow Arkansas prospect Malik Monk.
Calipari was able to fulfill the young kid’s dream, to which Vail’s mother said, “It’s sad that it had to come true in this way, but just to know that he’s still loved, and that John Calipari took the time to sign the jersey and offer him a full-ride – based on a story – that is the most amazing thing ever.”
Read the entire story here and be proud of your favorite basketball coach.
By Drew Franklin on ©May 27th, 2019 @ 4:00pm
DraftExpress.com released a new video of Tyler Herro during Herro’s time in Chicago for the combine. The popular NBA draft website sat down with the former Kentucky Wildcat during one of Herro’s pre-draft workouts on the University of Illinois at Chicago’s campus.
In the interview, Herro says he is determined to be one of the best to ever play the game.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©May 27th, 2019 @ 1:00pm
With Wednesday’s NBA Draft early-entry withdrawal deadline fast approaching, ESPN’s Jonathan Givony is weighing in on which prospects he believes should stay in the draft and which should return to school. Not surprisingly, Givony says he thinks both EJ Montgomery and Nick Richards would benefit from another year at Kentucky.
EJ Montgomery: “The former top-10 recruit hasn’t gained much traction in the pre-draft process, not being invited to either combine in Chicago, and it would likely be helpful to return to Kentucky for his sophomore season and possibly beyond.”
Nick Richards: “Like Montgomery, Richards did not receive an invite to either Chicago combine and likely will need to return to Kentucky to try to resurrect his stock enough to hear his name called in the draft next year or in 2021.”
Tomorrow, EJ will participate in a Pro Day in Santa Monica, California. As we’ve discussed ad nauseam on this site, if either he or Nick keep their names in the draft, John Calipari’s going to have to go hunting for another big man. Thankfully, we’ll know for certain soon.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©May 27th, 2019 @ 12:15pm
Former Murray State superstar Ja Morant is officially a Nike athlete.
According to Shams Charania, the 6-foot-3 guard out of Dalzell, SC has signed a multi-year endorsement deal with the apparel brand.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) May 27, 2019
Morant took to Twitter this morning to confirm the news:
— Ja Morant (@igotgame_12) May 27, 2019
Morant, who averaged 24.5 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 10.0 assists per game last season for the Racers, is expected to be the No. 2 pick at next month’s NBA Draft.
He has met with all teams in the top three, but according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Grizzlies have their eyes set on him at No. 2.
Murray State PG Ja Morant met Wednesday with the top three teams in next month’s NBA Draft — New Orleans, Memphis and New York, league sources tell ESPN. Grizzlies are focused on Morant at No. 2.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) May 16, 2019
ESPN recently released their scouting breakdown of the explosive playmaker:
Congratulations, young fella!
By Maggie Davis on ©May 26th, 2019 @ 11:00pm
While all eyes and ears have been focused on EJ Montgomery and his ongoing decision between a sophomore season and a chance at the NBA, another question mark is being partially overlooked. Nick Richards is facing the same decision as his teammate, and while his potential may not be as high as Montgomery’s, is Richards’ decision more important for Kentucky’s future?
At least one person thinks so. National basketball analyst Corey Evans, of Rivals.com, claims Nick Richards’ decision will have a larger impact on UK’s success next season than EJ Montgomery’s. Off the bat, Evans is clear he believes Montgomery is a more skilled basketball player. On the other hand, Richards brings something more unique to the Cats’ roster – his height.
As it stands now, Richards (who’s 6-foot-11) is the only player listed above 6-foot-8. His ability to block shots and protect the rim is something we’ve seen glimpses of, and we know the potential is there, based on his wingspan and some of the more-impressive blocks we’ve seen throughout the past two seasons. Has he blocked as much as fans would like or as the coaching staff may have expected? Probably not. But he did finish the season with 47 total blocks (1.3 rejections per game), more than any other player on the roster. He was followed by PJ Washington’s 43 and Montgomery’s 38.
While EJ Montgomery and Nate Sestina will play more-similar styles, Richards’ is the only guy on Kentucky’s current roster who has this particular skill set. Here’s how Evans puts it:
“For Kentucky’s sake, though, Richards is a big body that can rebound and alter shots, assets that not many on its current roster can claim to do, which would be the perfect complement to the wealth of perimeter firepower set to enroll.”
Evans goes on to point out Richards’ age – he’ll be 22 years old by the time next year’s Draft rolls back around. Even though he’d be junior Nick Richards, he’d already be the age of most graduating seniors.
For me personally, Montgomery’s potential and build still puts him highest on my priority list of returners. Aaron Torres even calls him the most important stay-or-go prospect in the Draft. And yet, Corey Evans makes an excellent point in singling-out Richards’ individual assets that are unfamiliar to the rest of Kentucky’s roster.
Kerry Blackshear Jr. is listed at 6-foot-10, and his presence in the front court could have a massive impact on the Cats’ success next season. But much like Richards and Montgomery, his future is still viewed as a question mark, and there seems to be growing suspicion he’ll try his hand at the NBA Draft.
There’s also a distinction to be made between a sophomore Montgomery, a junior Nick Richards and a grad transfer Kerry Blackshear Jr., as Kentucky has seen what a few years of experience can do for the locker room and down the stretch of the season. None of these guys are the same as Reid Travis, but it’s reasonable to compare their levels of experience, especially under the spotlight that comes with UK Basketball.
The NCAA’s deadline for players to withdraw from this year’s NBA Draft and retain their college eligibility is 11:59 p.m. this Wednesday.
By Hayden Adams on ©May 26th, 2019 @ 6:30pm
John Calipari has had great success in his tenure at Kentucky: a record of 305-71 and appearances in seven Elite Eights, four Final Fours and two championship games with one tournament championship. Through it all, there has been one common factor: strong post play.
Since Calipari took the helm for the Cats, they have been top-10 in the nation in total rebounds all but two times – years in which they failed to make the Sweet Sixteen (2015-16) and lost in the first round of the NIT (2013-14). Furthermore, Kentucky has been a top-10 team in blocked shots in all but the 2017-18 season (in which they were ranked 20th) and lost in the Sweet Sixteen. Because of this, getting quality big men is a must for the Cats next year—especially after losing Jaden McDaniels to Washington. As such, having Nick Richards and E.J. Montgomery return should be the priority for the Cats.
Bucknell graduate transfer Nate Sestina will help UK next year, but his impact will be greater as a stretch big (36.4 percent career three-point percentage) than as an enforcer down low (0.7 career blocks per game). Virginia Tech forward Kerry Blackshear (who may join the cats as a transfer or enter the NBA draft) has more versatility than Sestina and is more proven at the Power-5 level. However, Richards and Montgomery not only have more experience running Cal’s system, they have physical tools that can’t be taught.
While neither Montgomery nor Richards saw major action last year, both have better rebounding and block totals per 40 minutes than Blackshear, P.J. Washington or Reid Travis. Richards, in two years alone, has more career blocks (80) than Sestina (70) and Blackshear (73) who have four- and three-years’ experience, respectively.
Furthermore, Richards and Montgomery were first and third on the team in blocks, respectively, despite playing fewer minutes combined than Washington, who was second on the team in that category. Lastly, the duo, though raw, have displayed flashes of shooting ability, with Montgomery hitting two three-pointers last season and Richards shooting better that 70% from the free throw line over his two years.
Sestina will most certainly help the Cats next year, and getting Blackshear would be monumental. However, their styles are not as conducive to success in Calipari’s system as Richard’s and Montgomery’s could be. Of course, both of them need to make improvements and get closer to their potential, but neither has to put up huge numbers—Anthony Davis scored only six points in the national championship but posted 16 boards, five assists, five blocks and three steals.
Because of the way Calipari runs his team, and with the talent he has at the guard spots, Montgomery and Richards are the necessary pieces for a strong interior presence. Blackshear would be a welcome addition, but what Cal really needs are quality rebounders and rim protectors. First and foremost, though, UK has to get them back.
With the NBA Draft quickly approaching, the Wildcats will make their presence known once again at the event. P.J. Washington, Tyler Herro, and Keldon Johnson all are slated to be selected in the first round of the 2019 NBA Draft. Here is the best (and worst) landing spots for all three prospects.
Best Landing Spot: Miami Heat at pick No. 13
While this may be a bit low for Washington considering that I’ve seen some mock drafts have him selected in the 9-11 range, this is still easily the best spot for him. Plus, he is still a lottery pick which isn’t all that bad. The Heat are a franchise with a well-respected head coach and front office. Living rich in Miami is also pretty ideal for anyone.
However, this is a franchise in transition. The Heat’s best players (Hassan Whiteside and Goran Dragic) both have player options as free agents this summer. Plus, Dwayne Wade is retiring and Udonis Haslem will probably join him as well. This is a team that needs an influx of young talent. The bad news is that at pick No. 14, who knows who will be left over by then. Washington may be the best player available.
Whiteside might finally be on his way out of Miami, which means the frontcourt will need added depth. James Johnson and Kelly Olynyk underwhelmed last season as well. Who knows, if Washington goes here and Whiteside leaves, we could be seeing an all-Kentucky frontcourt in Miami with Bam Adebayo and Washington. It doesn’t get much more ideal than that.
Could PJ Washington end up in Miami with Bam at No. 13? https://t.co/AGXdlQKcVq
Not if Charlotte snags him at No. 12, where he went in our NBA beat writers' mock draft: https://t.co/hSWBTFKrtX
— Kyle Tucker (@KyleTucker_ATH) May 16, 2019
Worst Landing Spot: Charlotte Hornets at pick No. 12
The Hornets are notorious for picking blue-chip college talent only to completely waste their talents. Remember Malik Monk? Cody Zeller? Frank Kaminsky? Michael Kidd Gilchirst? The list goes on. Point is, if you get picked by Michael Jordan you are probably going to be misused and turned into a bust of a pick. Also, don’t forget that star Kemba Walker is probably on his way out of Charlotte as a free agent in the offseason. The Hornets are about to be a very, very bad team next season.
Fit-wise, picking Washington would also not make much sense. They already have Zeller and Kaminsky who will be returning. The Hornets badly need a guard considering that Walker and Jeremy Lamb are unrestricted free agents. This is a franchise that has been poorly ran the past decade, could be terrible next season, and it features a roster with several terrible contracts. Personally, I’m tired of seeing Charlotte ruin talented players from Kentucky. Let’s hope it doesn’t happen again.
Best Landing Spot: Boston Celtics at either pick No. 14 or No. 22
I know this may seem a bit too obvious, but I really think Boston is the best fit for Herro. First off, this is another great front office and good head coach that a Kentucky player would be going to. Danny Ainge was an incredibly cocky and intensely competitive player in his playing days. Him and Herro seem like they were destined to be together.
More importantly, the Celtics need better three-point shooting from their guards. The entire basketball world knows that both Kyrie Irving and Terry Rozier will most likely be on their way out of Boston this summer, so the need for shooting in the backcourt should skyrocket. Herro seems like a guarantee to be selected somewhere between Boston’s mid first-round picks so it makes a ton of sense that the Celtics will select him. That city in particular will love Herro’s spunkiness. It’s up to Ainge to make it happen.
Tyler Herro to Boston confirmed pic.twitter.com/YCJ7dGBBt2
— Sirius Steve (@15YearOldSteve) March 29, 2019
Worst Landing Spot: Brooklyn Nets at pick No. 17
Brooklyn may be an up and coming team in the league, but Herro going here would make no sense at all. The Nets are stacked with talented guards who are all good shooters. What they badly need are wingmen and depth in the frontcourt. It seems like a sure thing that Brooklyn won’t take a guard here, but any team in the league could possibly pick the best player available when they pick. The Nets could love Herro and want to stash him away on the bench for a few seasons. The fit just isn’t right here at all.
Best Landing Spot: San Antonio Spurs at pick No. 19
Of course, going to one of the best franchises in NBA history seems a bit too obvious as an “ideal landing spot.” However, I really do think it’s the perfect location for Johnson who has became a bit of a divisive prospect over the past few months. Some mock drafts have him going towards the very end of the first round which would be quite the fall for a player that started out the season as a unanimous top-ten guy. Going to play for the Spurs would be an amazing situation to fall into not only because of the organization but because of the fit as well.
Rudy Gay is an unrestricted free agent this summer and will surely leave a big hole at that hybrid 2/3 position. That’s exactly what Johnson is as a player. Shooting guard Quincy Poindexter also will probably be leaving this summer so at the very least Johnson will be able to provide depth for the Spurs at that swingman position. The Spurs usually only pick players who showcase solid defensive potential which is great news for Johnson. As a playoff team, San Antonio is pretty stacked everywhere except for its frontcourt depth. But at this point in the draft, teams don’t get their choice of who they want. All the good big guys should be picked by now, plus Johnson is probably going to fall to here. For his sake, staying in the top 20 and going to the Spurs is more than any young player could ask for.
Kentucky wing Keldon Johnson showing off his explosiveness today. Powerful athlete when he gets downhill. pic.twitter.com/RIDOhwhfYF
— Mike Schmitz (@Mike_Schmitz) May 22, 2019
Worst Landing Spot: Cleveland Cavaliers at pick No. 26
Yuck. To be fair, this would be a terrible franchise for any young player to land at. The front office is incompetent at the moment, and they have a rookie head coach from Michigan in John Beilein. The Cavs had no idea how to handle rookie guard Collin Sexton last season. Also, they earned the fifth pick in the draft which means they are going to miss out on a lot of the top prospects. Johnson is versatile enough to be a “fit” on any team he goes to. That means that it all comes down to which franchise will get the most out of him. Cleveland is not that team. Considering that he might fall to the high 20’s, the Cavs might have a chance to pick Johnson. For his sake, hopefully Cleveland goes in another direction.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©May 25th, 2019 @ 5:00pm
If you want to participate in John Calipari’s Inaugural Father/Daughter Camp, you better act quickly.
Just 24 hours after opening registration, they are already approaching 200 attendees, and there aren’t many spots remaining.
The Kentucky head coach took to Twitter to let fans know that they need to register as soon as possible to make sure they are locked in to participate on June 22.
“My focus is making this a GREAT camp – not the biggest – since this is a unique thing so we’ll have to limit how many can attend,” Calipari said this afternoon. “With the way this is going and now with [Megan Calipari] and maybe [Erin Calipari] participating, this could fill up fast.
The cost of the camp is $99 per person ($198 for a father/daughter) duo and includes:
- Lunch (noon to 1 p.m.)
- Camp T-shirt
- Two sessions of instruction and competition
- Photo and autograph opportunities with UK staff and players
The John Calipari 2019 Father/Daughter Camp will take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET on June 22 at the Joe Craft Center and Memorial Coliseum.
While you’re at it, spots in all three sessions of the John Calipari 2019 Father/Son Camp are also still available, which are scheduled for June 7, 14, and 28.
To register for either camp, head on over to UKAthletics.com/CAMPS and sign up.
You won’t want to miss these awesome opportunities.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©May 25th, 2019 @ 2:00pm
Kentucky has always been considered a basketball state, and according to a recent study by WalletHub.com, we have the numbers to back it up.
WalletHub, a financial help resource, put together a list of all of the best (and worst) basketball cities in America. According to the website’s description, the study put together an equation that factored in attendance, fan engagement, stadium accessibility, and ticket costs, among 21 total key metrics.
Out of 290 total cities, Lexington, KY was rated as the eighth-best college basketball location and No. 33 in basketball (professional or college) overall.
Here is the entire list of top 25 college basketball cities in America:
- Durham, NC
- Los Angeles, CA
- Lawrence, KS
- Philadelphia, PA
- East Lansing, MI
- Storrs, CT
- Chapel Hill, NC
- Lexington, KY
- Fayette, MS
- Loretto, PA
- New York, NY
- Morgantown, WV
- Kingston, RI
- College Park, MD
- Washington, DC
- Ann Arbor, MI
- Bloomington, IN
- West Point, NY
- Boston, MA
- Charlottesville, VA
- Cincinnati, OH
- Fayetteville, AR
- Lewiston, NY
- South Bend, IN
- Buies Creek, NC
Beyond Lexington, six other cities in Kentucky made the list, but they might not be in the order you expected. Surprisingly, not only is Louisville not the No. 2 basketball location in the state, they’re not even in the top three.
Here are the rankings of Kentucky cities based solely on their status as a prime college basketball location:
- No. 37 Murray, KY
- No. 40 Highland Heights, KY
- No. 44 Louisville, KY
- No. 96 Morehead, KY
- No. 119 Bowling Green, KY
- No. 174 Richmond, KY
And the rankings of those same cities in terms of both college and professional basketball combined:
- No. 57 Murray, KY
- No. 60 Highland Heights, KY
- No. 64 Louisville, KY
- No. 112 Morehead, KY
- No. 132 Bowling Green, KY
- No. 184 Richmond, KY
Murray AND Highland Heights ahead of Louisville? Ouch.
What do you guys think of the lists?
By Jack Pilgrim on ©May 25th, 2019 @ 10:30am
Yesterday morning, former Kentucky basketball star Tony Delk posted on Instagram that he was “training and advising” current Wildcat forward EJ Montgomery during the NBA Draft process.
View this post on Instagram
A post shared by Tony Delk (@tonydelk) on
On Friday night, Jerry Tipton of the Herald-Leader caught up with Delk about his time with Montgomery, who said that he thinks the Kentucky freshman will ultimately leave his name in the NBA Draft.
“I think he’s staying in,” Delk said. “Just from what I’ve been hearing. He’s already had a couple workouts with teams. So I guess he’s got some good reports from GMs.”
While he added that he doesn’t believe the decision is set in stone, Delk did say that Tuesday would be a huge day for Montgomery and his future.
The reasoning? The 6-foot-11 forward will be participating in a Pro Day in Santa Monica, California, where several NBA teams will be in attendance to see what he has to offer.
“A lot of GMs will be there,” Delk said. “I think that will be the determining factor. They’ll get a chance to see him up close with other guys, and see how his shooting is, see how his lateral movement is, see how his ball-handling skills are.”
While he says he would “love” for the Fort Pierce, FL native to go back to Kentucky for a sophomore season and thinks he would have a tremendous year, Delk understands that the decision is entirely up to Montgomery. Teams love drafting on potential, and the ten-year NBA veteran certainly thinks he has a lot of it.
“I’ve talked to him and I’ve talked to mom and dad. Gave them words of encouragement and words of wisdom. It seems like it’s a him-decision,” he said. “I told him, ‘You don’t make a decision for your parents. This is your life. You have to hopefully make the right decision. Also knowing it’s a learning process. You’re still young. There’s a lot to learn. Hopefully, if he stays in, he gets drafted by the right organization.”
Montgomery has until Wednesday at 11:59 p.m. ET to withdraw from the NBA Draft and retain his college eligibility. With his Pro Day taking place on Tuesday, it looks like we’ll be seeing yet another decision at or close to the final deadline.
By Zack Geoghegan on ©May 24th, 2019 @ 8:30pm
Kentucky assistant coach Joel Justus sat down with TJ Beisner during the latest episode of the Behind Kentucky Basketball Podcast. Justus mainly talked about the incoming recruits and how he perceives they’ll be received by Kentucky fans along with their character and even a little bit about their basketball skills.
You can listen to the entire 24-minute podcast here on SoundCloud, but if you don’t have the time for that, here are some of the highlights.
Justus spoke highly of each player as an individual person and not strictly as basketball players. He sounded particularly excited about how much fun these kids appear to be around and talk with.
“This is going to be the second year in a row where you’ve got some great personalities,” Justus said.
He touched on the most recent addition to the class, Johnny Juzang, and how he could be one of those hidden gems type players. A guy who wasn’t as highly sought after when he came to Kentucky but quickly proved to everyone he belonged. Think Shai Gilgeous-Alexander in that sense.
“He joins a group of guys that have come here with a little bit of a chip on their shoulder,” Justus said. “to say I want people to say, ‘Man, I knew you were good but man, I didn’t know you were that good.’ And Johnny is in that group.”
Juzang’s sister is also apparently an incredibly talented singer.
Keion Brooks stood out to Justus, as well.
“I remember the first time I saw Keion I don’t think he was in the same place twice,” Justus said. “He was at the high post, he was at the elbows, he was on the baseline, he brought the ball up the floor, he rebounded, they put him in the post, he was being moved around and I said if this isn’t positionless then I don’t know who is.”
Check out the full podcast if you have the time. There’s a ton of cool insight regarding the players and how they are perceived by their new coaches.
One current Kentucky Wildcat is working out with a former one during the NBA Draft process.
This morning, former Kentucky star Tony Delk posted a picture on Instagram with freshman forward EJ Montgomery, saying he is “training and advising” the 6-foot-11 big man.
View this post on Instagram
A post shared by Tony Delk (@tonydelk) on
This comes just one day after Montgomery posted on his own Instagram story that he was in San Antonio working out for the Spurs:
As for Montgomery’s current Kentucky teammate and the other Wildcat with an NBA Draft decision to make, Nick Richards, he posted an individual workout of his own on his Instagram story:
Montgomery and Richards both have until May 29 to withdraw from the NBA Draft and retain their college eligibility.
For Richards, the general consensus is that he will be returning to school for a junior season, while Montgomery’s situation still remains fuzzy.
We’ll find out for certain either way in just five days (at most).
By Aaron Torres on ©May 23rd, 2019 @ 11:00pm
Late Tuesday night, under the cloak of darkness, one of the last big puzzle pieces in the 2019 recruiting class officially fell. After a back-and-forth recruitment, one that left even the best recruiting experts uncertain of where he’d land, Jaden McDaniels officially decided to play at Washington.
Although Washington was the spot that McDaniels’ recruitment had trended for weeks, no one really knew where he’d end up… until he actually ended up there, choosing the Huskies over Kentucky while most fans slept the night away.
But with McDaniels’ recruitment officially closed, another reality set in for Kentucky on Wednesday morning: For the Wildcats to reach their full potential next season, they need EJ Montgomery to come back to Lexington. As a matter of fact, I think you could make a legitimate case that of all the players who are still truly “testing the waters” in the NBA Draft process, Montgomery is the most important decision left anywhere in college basketball.
— Jmac (@Jmcdaniels7) May 22, 2019
Now to be clear, this isn’t just about McDaniels’ decision to go elsewhere, as it was never really an “either/or” kind of deal between the two. Although both are listed at 6’11, they play a completely different style of game, with McDaniels much more comfortable putting the ball on the floor as more of a hybrid, new-age four-man in the mold of Kevin Durant, Tracy McGrady or Michael Porter Jr. (to be clear, I’m not comparing McDaniels upside to any of those players – just his style of play). Montgomery, as we all saw last year, is more of a traditional four-man, not quite as comfortable making plays for himself, but more competent around the rim and in the paint.
Had McDaniels chosen Kentucky he wouldn’t have necessarily been a player to “replace” Montgomery, but instead one to compliment him.
Still with McDaniels finally of the picture, Reid Travis graduated, and PJ Washington gone after his sophomore year, there is in fact a gaping hole in the Kentucky front-court. And the best option to fill that spot and maximize the potential out of this entire Kentucky team would be for Montgomery to return.
The bottom-line is that Montgomery fills an incredible void for the Wildcats next year as a big-time threat down low. Admittedly, he didn’t have a great offensive season last year (averaging just four points a game) but did show flashes, with 11 points and 13 boards against South Carolina, and a couple other double-figure scoring games, to go along with several more where he helped the team on the glass. Considering his pedigree as a McDonald’s All-American it doesn’t seem far-fetched to assume that he would make a leap similar to PJ Washington last summer and become a focal point of the offense. He might not become an All-SEC caliber player like Washington. But it isn’t necessarily inconceivable either.
Just as important, his skill-set certainly fits with the other guys that Kentucky is projected to have back. If the Wildcats want to go big, Montgomery can play the four-spot, with Nick Richards (assuming Richards returns as well) serving as a rim protector and true center. If they want to go small, Montgomery would fit in well as a new-age five-man, with Kahlil Whitney stepping in at the four-spot. John Calipari wants to play position-less basketball, and the two of them really would make a dynamic duo together.
Because of that, Montgomery is the missing piece for Kentucky. The guy who makes them the heavy favorite in the SEC, and a legit national championship contender.
But without him? There is that gaping hole in the middle, with no obvious replacements available.
Looking at the other options, we all know that Richards doesn’t have the offensive upside of Montgomery, and I do worry about Nate Sestina’s ability to transition to the increased competition in the SEC. Kerry Blackshear is of course a possibility, but he seems hell bent on staying in the draft if at all possible. Beyond that, it seems like a reach to get any other high school players to reclassify, and no other grad transfers have been linked to UK either.
Yup, EJ Montgomery remains the best available option for a consistent front-court presence for the Wildcats next year.
Will he be back?
It could be the difference between the Wildcats being a legit title contender and a good, but not great team.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©May 23rd, 2019 @ 9:00pm
The NCAA wants you to know that the day of reckoning is almost here.
Kevin Lennon, the NCAA’s vice president of Division I Governance, said in a meeting on Wednesday that notices of allegations “will be coming” for the guilty parties involved in the recent college basketball scandal.
With the FBI’s investigation into the corruption of the sport now complete, it’s time for punishments to be handed down.
“You don’t get in the way of a federal investigation,” Lennon said during a meeting of the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics. “Activity was going on during that span that was within our purview, but now that the court cases are done, now we’re in a position where you’re likely to see notices of allegations going to institutions that have violated NCAA rules, etc. I think you can anticipate notices of allegations will be coming.”
When asked of a specific timetable, Lennon was unable to give a firm answer, but did say it would come “in due time and I think fairly quickly.”
The NCAA has already launched investigations into programs such as Arizona, Kansas, Louisville, and North Carolina State following the trials in October, where they requested all documents each school submitted to the federal authorities during the trial.
We already know the serious alleged wrongdoings of Arizona, Louisville, LSU, Kansas, and North Carolina State. Schools such as Duke, North Carolina, Oregon, and UNLV, among plenty others, have also thrown their hats into the ring as other schools with various alleged involvements.
Nonetheless, we’re finally about to see just what the heck the NCAA will do about one of the biggest college sports scandals in history.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©May 23rd, 2019 @ 8:00pm
The greatest photograph in the history of photographs has been released to the public.
After looking through their old archives, the fine folks over at UK Athletics found and dusted off an old image of former Kentucky basketball coach in the ring taking on boxing legend Evander Holyfield.
Yes, that's Tubby Smith boxing. Yes, that's Evander @holyfield he's sparring with.
This photo comes from a Muhammad Ali tribute in Louisville.
Good luck finding a better #TBT picture today.
The things you'll find when you start looking through the old archives files. ? pic.twitter.com/6uiM0b6ZvI
— Kentucky Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) May 23, 2019
The photo was taken during Smith’s three-round bout against the former heavyweight champion back on September 20, 1997 at the Muhammad Ali Cup International Amateur Boxing Challenge in Louisville, KY.
There are no public records or videos that show how the former Kentucky head coach fared against the only boxer in history to win the undisputed championship in two different weight classes, but I’m going to go ahead and say that Tubby knocked him out in the first round.
Since retiring from his historic boxing career, Smith has done pretty well for himself as a college basketball head coach. He won the NCAA championship in 1998, five SEC regular season and tournament titles, and was named AP College Coach of the Year in 2003.
Since leaving Kentucky in 2007, Smith has made head coaching stops at Minnesota, Texas Tech, Memphis, and High Point. Over the course of his 19-year coaching career, Smith has accumulated a total record of 613–317.
By Nick Roush on ©May 23rd, 2019 @ 2:30pm
The Kentucky basketball father/son camp has been a staple in the Bluegrass for years. Now it’s the girls’ turn.
This summer John Calipari will host the first ever Kentucky Basketball Father/Daughter Camp. Fathers and daughters will receive individual instruction from UK basketball players and coaches during the one-day event. The skill work is designed to give both father and daughter drills and techniques to take home and continue working on together.
The camp is set for June 22 from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Joe Craft Center and costs $198 for the father-daughter combo. It’s open to all fathers and daughters from ages 6-17, regardless of basketball experience. Campers will receive two sessions of instruction, lunch, a camp t-shirt and photo/autograph opportunities with the players and coaches.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©May 23rd, 2019 @ 2:00pm
Today, Tyler Herro is showing off his skills at Excel Sports’ Pro Day in New York City, and in case there was any doubt, he’s still a bucket. Watch Herro nail three after three from NBA range in this shooting drill:
And again in the same drill pic.twitter.com/xksp6n9G6k
— Jonathan Givony (@DraftExpress) May 23, 2019
Here’s Herro breaking down his shot at the NBA Draft Combine last week:
From the NBA Draft Combine: Breaking down film with one of the most versatile shooters in the draft, Kentucky guard Tyler Herro. pic.twitter.com/ik8RiOtdRE
— Mike Schmitz (@Mike_Schmitz) May 23, 2019
Herro is just outside the lottery in most major mock drafts, with ESPN’s Jonathan Givony projecting him to go No. 16 to the Orlando Magic in his post-lottery mock last week. It’ll be interesting to see if shooting performances like today’s cause his stock to rise.