Earlier this week, a KSR caller gave us a great research topic: the recruits that →
Basketball Season Coverage
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©April 12th, 2017 @ 4:26pm
I’ve had a lot of you guys ask me about this on the site and Twitter, so I just thought I’d come out and make it clear that the notification Bleacher Report put out about Wenyen Gabriel declaring for the draft and signing with an agent is FALSE. Bleacher Report got tricked by a fake Jeff Goodman account that’s been trolling fans of several teams all day with reports about kids leaving, specifically Wenyen and Sacha. UK hasn’t sent out any news regarding Wenyen or Sacha today, so those reports are NOT TRUE.
How do you know if a report on Twitter is fake? In cases like this, pay attention to subtle misspellings in the Twitter handle, like the extra “o” in Goodman:
This time of year, always be on alert. Also, is there anyone more pathetic than the person who makes an account claiming to be Jeff Goodman?
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©April 12th, 2017 @ 1:45pm
Want to see Mychal Mulder before they take the next step in their careers? You’re in luck because they’re going on a signing tour together this week, starting tonight from 6-7 p.m. at Barleycorn’s in Cold Spring. Tomorrow, they’ll be at Allsports in Fayette Mall from 6-7 p.m.:
If you missed it, Mychal Mulder called into the show at the start of the second hour to describe his two years in Lexington and what it meant to him. Mulder’s a thoughtful kid, so tune in to hear him reflect on his Kentucky career near the start of the second hour:
In addition to his quotes in Kentucky’s press release, Isaac Humphries also posted this goodbye message to Kentucky fans on Twitter, calling them the “greatest fans in the world”:
— Isaac Humphries (@IsaacHumphries7) April 12, 2017
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©April 12th, 2017 @ 12:10pm
Your first reaction to the news that Isaac Humphries is going pro was probably, “What?” followed by “Why?”. Last season, Isaac averaged 2.8 points and 2.8 rebounds in 8.3 minutes per game, not quite NBA Draft prospect numbers, but the Australian has still decided to declare for the draft, sign with an agent, and see what happens, whether it be in the D-League or abroad. At first glance, this is a confusing call, but upon further reflection, it actually makes a lot of sense. Here’s why.
With Bam potentially staying and Bamba potentially on the way, the frontcourt is loaded
Even if Bam Adebayo decides to stay in the NBA Draft, next year’s roster will be heavy on big men. Between Nick Richards, Sacha Killeya-Jones, Tai Wynyard, and potentially Mohamed Bamba, Humphries probably felt like there weren’t going to be enough minutes to go around; that’s kind of a shame because Humphries brings a lot to the table in that he’s a big, solid kid who can rebound AND shoot a jumper consistently. But, would that be enough to get him minutes over the others when he averaged only eight per game this season?
If Kentucky misses on Bamba and Bam decides to stay in the draft, not having Humphries will sting a lot more, but in order to make his dream of playing professionally come true, he simply needs more playing time, and that probably wouldn’t have happened next season. Or, honestly, maybe even the season after that.
Just because he’s declaring for the NBA Draft doesn’t mean he expects to get drafted
I’ve seen a lot of people slamming Isaac’s decision to enter the NBA draft because there’s a slim chance that he’ll get drafted, but that’s not just what the draft process is about. Isaac will have a chance to get feedback from teams and even though we’re hearing that John Calipari and the staff really wanted Isaac to come back to school, you better believe Calipari will do his best to pitch his best assets to teams to help him find a spot in the D-League or abroad. In fact, Calipari said before the season ended that an Australian scout was at practice to watch him play. Just because he won’t get drafted here doesn’t mean it’s not worth it to use those resources before he moves back down under. Reading his statement, you can tell Isaac knows that.
“At the end of the day I have to do what I believe is best for myself and my family,” Isaac said. “I know turning pro is going to be the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I understand that these next few weeks and months with the pre-draft process is going to take a lot of hard work and maybe some realistic truths.”
He’s coming off his best game
The fact that Isaac’s best game as a Cat was his last is cruel for those of us who wanted him to stay, but going out on a good note does help his stock a little bit. Isaac had a career-high 12 points on 5-8 shooting and five rebounds in 21 minutes vs. North Carolina, eight of those points coming during UK’s 10-2 run to take the lead with five minutes left. As Calipari said, that game proved that Isaac is just now coming into his own.
“My belief is what you saw at the end of this season is just the beginning of his pro career,” Cal said. “Isaac has gotten so much better in his two seasons here and I believe he’s only begun to scratch the surface of his true potential. I absolutely understand and fully support his decision and I will do whatever I can to help his dreams come true.”
He’ll find a home at home
The most likely scenario for Humphries is signing with a team in his native Australia, especially since we know Aussie pro scouts have been watching him this year in practice. In reading his and Cal’s quotes, it sounds like that’s a decision Isaac and his family prepared for, and one that may be necessary.
“This decision didn’t come easily for me,” Isaac said. “My goal has always been to play professionally…At the end of the day I have to do what I believe is best for myself and my family.”
“This was a difficult decision for Isaac but one that he and his mom put a lot of thought into,” Calipari said. “You’re talking about a 7-footer who can shoot and can rebound. That has value anywhere in the world.”
If all else fails, he’s got singing
From Kyle Tucker’s profile of Isaac in January 2016:
I’d buy his record.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©April 12th, 2017 @ 11:08am
As of right now, Kentucky has lost seven players off its 2016-17 roster:
- Derek Willis (senior)
- Dominique Hawkins (senior)
- Mychal Mulder (senior)
- De’Aaron Fox (draft with agent)
- Malik Monk (draft with agent)
- Isaiah Briscoe (draft with agent)
- Isaac Humphries (draft with agent)
Bam Adebayo also declared for the draft but did not sign with an agent, leaving the window open to return for a sophomore season. Bam has until May 24 to make that decision, and with some mock drafts slipping him into the second round, it may be one he has to think about carefully. With some pieces still up in the air, here is next season’s roster as it stands right now:
Quade Green, Shai Alexander, Jemarl Baker, Hamidou Diallo
Wenyen Gabriel, Jarred Vanderbilt, PJ Washington, Nick Richards
Bam Adebayo (may stay in draft), Sacha Killeya-Jones, Tai Wynyard
Jonny David, Brad Calipari, Dillon Pulliam
Mo Bamba, Kevin Knox, Cam Johnson, Mark Smith
Again, still some things to be decided, but have some fun and pick out your ideal starting five for next season, which I’m sure we’ll do about a million times before it starts:
We heard some rumblings about this even before the season ended, but this morning, the news just became official. UK just announced that Isaac Humphries is going to pursue his options in the NBA and internationally. He will sign with an agent, ending his career at Kentucky.
“First and foremost, I want to thank the Big Blue Nation for its unwavering support,” Humphries said in a release from UK. “Coming from Australia, I had no idea what to expect when I got to Kentucky, but you made me one of your own. Your support and passion over the last two years has been unbelievable. I can’t thank you enough for making me feel at home.
“This decision didn’t come easily for me. My goal has always been to play professionally. There is no better place to prepare you to take that step than the University of Kentucky. Over the last two years, thanks to Coach Cal and the coaching staff, I’ve gotten so much better and improved my game. I believe I have a lot more I can do, but I also believe that the time for me to take the next step is now.
“At the end of the day I have to do what I believe is best for myself and my family. I know turning pro is going to be the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I understand that these next few weeks and months with the pre-draft process is going to take a lot of hard work and maybe some realistic truths. But, because of what I’ve learned at Kentucky and the support I have from my family and this school, I also feel like I’m ready to face those challenges and that I’m prepared for whatever is next and wherever that may take me.
“It’s going to be difficult not playing at Kentucky next season and I’m going to miss everything that comes with being a Wildcat. I’ll miss my brothers. The friends I have made here and the relationships I have formed will last a lifetime. During such a developing time of my life, it was a true blessing to be surrounded by such incredible people, fans, and teammates who were always looking out for me and always had my back.”
Last season, Isaac averaged 2.8 points and 2.8 rebounds while shooting 51.1 percent from the floor. Sadly, his final game at Kentucky was his best. Against North Carolina in the Elite Eight, Isaac put up a career-high 12 points, five rebounds, one assist and one steal in in 21 minutes. After struggling to find his niche all season, he looked like a complete player, hitting jumpers, layups, and free throws, all while playing impressive defense and injecting the team with some much-needed energy.
“This was a difficult decision for Isaac but one that he and his mom put a lot of thought into,” head coach John Calipari said. “Isaac has gotten so much better in his two seasons here and I believe he’s only begun to scratch the surface of his true potential. I absolutely understand and fully support his decision and I will do whatever I can to help his dreams come true. You’re talking about a 7-footer who can shoot and can rebound. That has value anywhere in the world. He’s also just 19 years old, the youngest sophomore in the country this past season. Everyone forgets how young he is and how much he’s going to continue to grow and develop. He’s only going to get better and better. My belief is what you saw at the end of this season is just the beginning of his pro career.”
Best of luck to Isaac in the next chapter of his life. We’ll always have this moment of him serenading Shannon Spake:
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©April 12th, 2017 @ 9:00am
Happy Wednesday, everyone, and shoutout to this baby, who, even at a very, very young age, has his or her priorities in order. Flattery will get you everywhere, friends…even if it comes in the form of a baby picture.
Now, let’s make that baby happy and go over today’s agenda, shall we? It’s a busy one.
1. Today is the first day of the spring signing period
Starting today, prospects can make their commitments official, which means that in some point over the next few days, we’ll see signatures roll in from Jarred Vanderbilt, who committed December 23 after the early signing was period was over, and Jemarl Baker, who committed yesterday.
2. Landing Baker was huge
Jemarl Baker’s commitment may not seem like a huge deal because he’s only a four-star, but he’s a player Kentucky desperately needs for next season. Baker is probably the best shooter of the remaining prospects, and although he may not be an elite guy like Kevin Knox, he’s still good and will be around for more than one year. Plus, he’s committed now, whereas Knox is going to wait until April 28 or May 1 to decide. Knox is an incredible talent, but waiting on him is a gamble Calipari can’t afford to make with so few shooters on next year’s roster.
3. Who else will join the class?
Obviously, Mohamed Bamba is priority #1, followed closely by Knox. Kentucky has offers out to Illinois Mr. Basketball Mark Smith and Pitt transfer Cam Johnson as well. I think you can count on at least two of those five joining the squad, possibly three. If I had to put money on it (and I won’t because I’m not Drew), I’d go with Bamba and Johnson.
Speaking of Bamba and Knox…
4. Today is Media Day at the Jordan Brand Classic
Get ready to hear more from Bamba, Knox, Quade Green, Nick Richards, Jarred Vanderbilt, and PJ Washington, because today is Media Day at the Jordan Brand Classic, the final high school all-star game of the season. KSR contributor Colleen Wagoner will be on the scene for us to bring you video of the future Cats, so keep an eye out.
5. Derek Willis heads to Portsmouth
Willis was selected to participate in the annual Portsmouth Invitational Tournament, a pre-draft camp that features some of the best seniors in college basketball. The tournament actually starts today, but Willis’ team doesn’t play until tomorrow night at 9 p.m. Willis will play alongside Bryce Alford (UCLA), Jabari Bird (California), Matt Jones (Duke), Mangok Mathiang (Louisville), Erick McCree (Louisiana Tech), DeWayne Russell (Grand Canyon) and Steve Taylor Jr. (Toledo).
(Cue the Matt Jones jokes.)
If you missed it yesterday, Derek and Dom recapped the season in this video for KyWildcatsTV, and it’s great:
6. I can’t stop watching this video of a guy getting run over by a deer
A Canadian man was run over by a deer last weekend after getting out of a coworker’s car, but because it happened on April Fool’s Day (and, you know, who gets run over by a deer?), nobody believed him when he said it happened. Luckily, there was a security camera rolling, giving us the best viral deer video since that poor runner got tackled by one a few months ago.
— ABC News (@ABC) April 11, 2017
Turns out the guy is a rapper and plans to write a song about the incident. Of course.
7. Drew Barker probably won’t play in the spring game
Friday night’s Spring Game is right around the corner, and yesterday, both Eddie Gran and Darin Hinshaw hinted that Drew Barker won’t play. Barker told reporters he’s 75-80% recovered from his back surgery, but the staff doesn’t want to take any chances. On the flip side, Barker said he’s on track to graduate from UK in August and will enroll in the MBA program, and although the temptation to be a grad transfer must be there considering Stephen Johnson’s success last season, Barker said he remains committed to staying at UK and winning his job back.
Barker’s journey at Kentucky hasn’t always been a smooth one, but as someone who helped him write the Drew Barker Diary for KSR back when he was in high school, I’m very proud of how he’s matured, especially after watching this video from yesterday’s media opp:
8. Speaking of quarterbacks, can Alabama please stay away from ours?
If you heard a collective groan across the Bluegrass last night, it’s because Kentucky’s 2018 QB commit Jarren Williams picked up an offer from Alabama:
Blessed to recieve my 21st offer from the University of Alabama pic.twitter.com/ijp5JJMko3
— Jarren Williams (@Jarren2Williams) April 11, 2017
Go away, Alabama. Seriously.
9. Get ready for the Spring Game with the KSR Football Podcast
Nick, Freddie, Drew, and Jared reunited yesterday at the iHeart Radio studios to bring you a special Spring Game edition of the KSR Football Podcast. It’s been too long since we’ve heard tales of the Versailles Kroger, Forrest Gump jokes, or Nick’s cheesy puns, so do yourself a favor and pull it up on the KSR feed on iTunes or the countless other podcasting services.
Need more? Mark Stoops will be on the radio show at 11:30 a.m. to get you ready for the Spring Game as only he can.
10. The Mavericks claimed DeAndre Liggins
Earlier this week, the Cavaliers waived Liggins, but he didn’t stay out there long. The Mavericks claimed Liggins yesterday and he’ll join fellow former Cat Nerlens Noel on the roster with one game left in the regular season. That’s right, the playoffs start this weekend, which means today is your last chance to see most of Kentucky’s best players in the league. More on that later today in the BBNBA roundup.
Until then, get some work done because the radio show starts in one hour. Remember, STOOPS at 11:30.
Earlier today, four-star shooting guard Jemarl Baker committed to Kentucky, becoming the seventh member of the Cats’ 2017 class (if you include Hamidou Diallo). By now, you probably know that Baker is a former Cal commit, but since he’s set to make his pledge official tomorrow on the first day of the spring signing period, let’s get to know all we can about him.
1. The Basics
Shooting Guard | 6-4 | 180 lbs.
Eastvale, CA | Roosevelt High School
AAU: Earl Watson Elite
|ESPN||No. 65 | 19 SG||Top247||No. 119 | 22 SG|
|Rivals||No. 80||Scout||No. 87 | 20 SG|
According to 247 Sports Composite, which averages all the major recruiting services, Baker is considered the 73rd best player in the 2017 class and the 16th best shooting guard. He’s a consensus four-star prospect, and with him, Kentucky’s 2017 class remains the best in the country, with a few major prospects still left on the board. Of course, everyone wants to land Mohamed Bamba, but the staff has offers out to three more shooters: Kevin Knox, Mark Smith, and Pitt transfer Cam Johnson. Between Baker and Smith, word is Baker was the staff’s first choice, but they’d like to land at least one of the three remaining guys. They will make room for shooters on this roster.
2. We should probably thank Cuonzo Martin for leaving Cal
Baker committed to Cal as a sophomore and was arguably the best player in Cal’s 2017 class, a player Cuonzo Martin planned to build his offense around; however, once Martin decided to leave Cal for Missouri last month, Baker asked for his release. Here’s the statement he gave Scout’s Josh Gershon:
I committed to Cal as a high school sophomore and signed with the Golden Bears last fall primarily based upon my close relationship with Cuonzo Martin and his ability to develop me not only as a player but also as a person.
Unfortunately that possibility no longer exists for me at Cal due to Coach (Cuonzo) Martin deciding to accept the Missouri job.
Due to those factors I just listed, I have decided to re-open my recruitment and explore all possible opportunities and options. This is in no way a reflection on Cal as an institution or program. Cal is a tremendous school with a historic basketball tradition.
I just feel that due to the current circumstances, I need to consider all my options. I appreciate people understanding the current situation I am in.
It didn’t take long for another Cal to come into the picture.
3. He only needed four days to take Calipari up on his offer
Baker came on the radar when he decommitted from Cal on March 28, and with the recruiting dead period ending on Thursday, John Calipari was in his living room in Los Angeles on Friday night. Cal extended a scholarship offer on that trip, and after taking the weekend to think about it, Baker accepted this morning, picking the Cats over Arizona, Maryland, Marquette, Oregon, Utah and Virginia. Duke also had interest.
4. He fills a huge void on next year’s team
Anyone can look at Kentucky’s roster for next season and tell you they need shooters; Baker fills that need. He led the Under Armour circuit with 41 threes this past season for Earl Watson Elite, and made 94 threes as a senior at Roosevelt High. On Earl Watson Elite, he averaged 16.8 points a game and was in the top 10 of scoring on the circuit; at Roosevelt, he averaged 17.1 points, 4.1 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 1.8 steals.
“Jemarl is the best shooter in the country,” Earl Watson Elite program director Ryan Silver told Scout. “He has a relentless work ethic and is a proven winner.”
Here he is in action:
5. Evan Daniels says he’s “exactly what Kentucky needed”
If there’s one analyst I trust in recruiting, it’s Evan Daniels, who told the Herald-Leader’s Ben Roberts that Jemarl is just what Calipari needs to round out next season’s roster.
“Jemarl brings shooting to the table,” Daniels said. “I think that was what Kentucky’s recruiting class was missing. He’s a really good shooter off the catch, and he has good range and a quick release. He’s exactly what Kentucky needed.”
Plus, odds are he’ll be around for a few years, providing consistency at a crucial spot.
6. ESPN calls him a “willowy scorer”
Want more intel on Baker? Here’s ESPN Insider’s scouting report, which was updated today.
“Baker is a willowy scorer who has a feathery jump shot that extends out to 22-feet and his ball skills are tight. He can nail jump shots off the catch or convert it off his 2-dribble pull-up. He plays on balance and has remarkable savvy and poise for a player of his youth. In addition, he has the ability to slash his way to the rim and his body control is excellent.”
ESPN says that while Baker needs to get in the weight room (did Lynn Marshall write this?), he should still be considered one of the most elite shooting guards in the class.
7. His first name is pronounced “Jamal”
“Jemarl” is a pretty unique name, but according to Chris Fisher, it’s actually pronounced like “Jamal,” so just forget about that “r.” Don’t worry, UK assistant Joel Justus already got the “Baker” puns off to a fast start:
— Joel Justus (@UKCoachJustus) April 11, 2017
I have a feeling we’ll be using the 👨🍳 🍰 🎂 🍞 emojis a lot next season.
8. He loves Disneyland
A post shared by Jemarl Baker (@__jroc3__) on
9. He’s squared off vs. the Ball brothers several times
Looking for the next chapter in the Kentucky vs. the Ball family saga? Baker’s Roosevelt High plays the Balls’ Chino Hills regularly, and if you’ve watched one of LaMelo or LiAngelo’s many highlight reels, you’ve probably seen Baker. Back in December 2015, Baker dropped 30 points on Chino Hills, hitting 80% from the three-point line:
This past December, he and LaMelo got in another shootout, but Chino Hills ended up coming out on top.
10. He led his team to a state championship
While the Ball family was focused on other things, Baker helped lead Roosevelt to the CIF state Division I Championship. The win was an emotional one for Baker, who wrote this on Instagram afterwards:
I've heard I'll never be good enough, I'm not a point guard, I can't lead a team … The list goes on. But what people fail to understand is that the only person who can put a cap on my growth is God. I'm not the fastest or the strongest but I tirelessly work on my craft to get to where I'm going. Yesterday I won a state championship with my team doing what I love! I think I'm doing pretty good for someone who's not good enough. 💍🙏🏽
A post shared by Jemarl Baker (@__jroc3__) on
A state championship and becoming a Kentucky Wildcat in the span of a few weeks? I don’t know how anyone could argue Baker’s not good enough now.
By Nick Roush on ©April 11th, 2017 @ 8:00pm
The dust has finally settled on the 2017 basketball season. The NBA departures and next year’s recruiting close are almost complete. Before you move forward, look back on the amazing season with the help of Derek Willis, Dominique Hawkins and KY Wildcats TV.
By Nick Roush on ©April 11th, 2017 @ 6:30pm
Just because his Kentucky career is over, doesn’t mean Derek Willis is putting down a basketball anytime soon. After winning MVP honors at the Reese’s College All-Star Game, Willis will take his talents to Virginia for the Portsmouth Invitational.
The nation’s oldest amateur basketball tournament places 64 college seniors on eight teams to duke it out over four days in front of NBA and international scouts. Willis will team up with a few former foes: UCLA’s Bryce Alford, Duke’s Matt Jones and Louisville’s Mangok Mathiang.
Willis’ Sales Systems Ltd. team begins play Thursday at 9:00 p.m. Click here to see a full schedule.
Mychal Mulder is the next in line to book some dates around the state to get out and see some of Kentucky basketball’s best fans.
The UK senior announced his #MeetMikeTour with two stops this week: one at Barleycorn’s in Cold Spring on Wednesday and another at AllSports in Fayette Mall in Lexington on Thursday.
Get out there and meet him and get his John Hancock.
By Drew Franklin on ©April 11th, 2017 @ 3:32pm
Big Blue Nation got a shout-out on last night’s ESPN broadcast of the Chicago Cubs’ home opener last night. In talking about the Chicago faithful during the raising of the new World Series banner, Karl Ravech said, “The blue that you see here is like Kentucky Wildcats when they travel as a basketball program.”
— Joseph Tindle (@KentuckyJoe84) April 10, 2017
It’s not quite as good and unexpected as the Kentucky basketball reference during CNN’s live coverage of the Syria strike last week, but #BlueGotIn to a nationally-televised conversation once again.
Isaiah Briscoe was better than we ever could’ve imagined on this morning’s show when he dropped by the studio for his departing KSR interview. Briscoe was honest (very honest), funny and held nothing back in his discussion with the show, which lasted around 30 minutes and contained all kinds of good stuff.
— The decision to leave and how a return was never an option
— His on-court relationship with John Calipari
— How he was supposed to be on the infamous United flight
— What the future holds for his career
— Not turning on the TV to watch Tony Allen
Give it a listen below:
And as a bonus, Ramel Bradley took over in the second hour to talk about all the latest news and what he has been up to since we last saw him. Give it a listen too:
A junior season was never an option for Isaiah Briscoe. When asked on this morning’s KSR show if he ever considered returning for a third year, Briscoe simply and honestly said, “No.”
No, he did not consider coming back once more. The plan from the beginning was to leave and that plan never changed. When he came back after last season, he knew the 2016-17 season was his last, no matter what.
This isn’t much of a surprise, but it’s the first time he has said it publicly.
So there ya go.
By Drew Franklin on ©April 11th, 2017 @ 10:36am
Isaiah Briscoe was almost a part of the biggest news story in the world right now.
As he told it on KSR this morning, Briscoe was scheduled to be on United Flight 3411 from Chicago to Louisville — yeah, that one — but some confusion in the Newark airport left him behind.
Briscoe said he was told he was on standby for his flight from Newark to Chicago, so he sat at the terminal and watched his plane leave without him. Then another United employee told him he was actually supposed to be on the flight that had just left, but at that point it was too late. He was rescheduled on another flight to Chicago that couldn’t get him there in time to make his connection to United Flight 3411, the flight that was overbooked and violent.
So what would’ve happened to Briscoe if he had been on 3411?
Well, I guess there’s a decent chance he could’ve been one of the passengers pulled from the plane, but it wouldn’t have ended the way it did for the doctor from Elizabethtown. Briscoe wouldn’t say what he would’ve done, but he did say he wouldn’t be yanked from his seat like the poor man you’ve seen on the news. (And I think we know what that means.)
By Drew Franklin on ©April 11th, 2017 @ 9:55am
We have two big guests joining us in studio today with Isaiah Briscoe in the first hour followed by Ramel Bradley in the second. I’m not sure there’s ever been two bigger trash talkers on one show, so you should definitely tune in.
Join in on the fun by calling (502) 571-1080.