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Hamidou Diallo to work out for the Kings today

Hamidou Diallo is out in sunny Sacramento for a Wednesday workout with the Kings. It is the sixth pre-draft workout session for the Kings and it will also feature Kenrich Williams (TCU), Elijah Stewart (USC), Allerick Freeman (NC State), Kendrick Nunn (Oakland) and Svi Mykhailiuk (Kansas). Diallo’s former teammate, Wenyen Gabriel, worked out for the team last month.

Sacramento holds the No. 2 and 36 picks in the draft. The second-round pick is a possible slot for Diallo; Matt Norlander of CBSSports.com even has the Kings drafting him there in his latest mock draft. If it were to happen, it would pair him with De’Aaron Fox, another former UK teammate, in the backcourt; along with two more fellow Wildcats in Willie Cauley-Stein and Skal Labissiere.

In other Sacramento Kings news, the team’s official website has a Shai Gilgeous-Alexander quiz on its front page.


Kentucky NBA Mock Draft Tracker: June 5

The 2018 NBA Draft is just over two weeks away, and now that the early entrant withdrawal deadline has passed, we can start taking mock drafts a little more seriously (and I do mean “little”).

Since deciding to stay in the draft, Jarred Vanderbilt now appears in all of the major mock drafts that include second rounds, ranging anywhere from No. 44 (Washington) to No. 55 (Charlotte). Consensus continues to be that Shai Gilgeous-Alexander will go to the Los Angeles Clippers with the twelfth or thirteenth pick, but the latest Sporting News mock has him sneaking into the top ten, going eighth to Cleveland. Meanwhile, Kevin Knox is still on the edge of the lottery and Hamidou Diallo still trends as an early second round pick.

Shai Alexander Kevin Knox Hamidou Diallo Jarred Vanderbilt Wenyen Gabriel
ESPN Top 100 (Updated 5/30) 12 15 36 59
ESPN (Updated 5/30) 12. LA Clippers 15. Washington 35. Orlando 55. Charlotte
Sports Illustrated (Updated 6/5) 15. Washington 12. LA Clippers 40. Brooklyn 49. San Antonio
Sporting News* (Updated 5/28) 8. Cleveland 14. Denver 30. Atlanta
Gary Parrish* (Updated 5/24) 13. LA Clippers 14. Denver
Matt Norlander (Updated 6/5) 13. LA Clippers 15. Washington 37. Sacramento 50. Indiana
NBADraft.net (Updated 6/5) 12. LA Clippers 11. Charlotte 54. Dallas 44. Washington
Bleacher Report* (Updated 6/5) 12. LA Clippers 15. Washington
The Athletic (Updated 6/1) 12. LA Clippers 14. Denver 35. Orlando 44. Washington

* First Round Only

Late last week, John Calipari said Vanderbilt was receiving plenty of interest from teams despite his injury. The Athletic’s Michael Sotto spoke with an Eastern Conference executive who confirmed Vanderbilt’s versatility and talent are intriguing enough for a team to take a chance on him in the second round.

“I like him because he does a lot of winning things,” a second Eastern Conference executive told The Athletic. “He can do a little bit of everything. He can defend, rebound and score. I like him because he doesn’t do a lot of turnovers and make mistakes. He’s an energy guy who plays hard. He’s young and only going to get better.”

There you go.


Calipari’s perfect one-and-done streak in danger

One of John Calipari’s biggest claims to fame is that all 21 of his one-and-done players at Kentucky have been drafted in the first round; with Jarred Vanderbilt and Hamidou Diallo projected to be second round picks, that streak is probably going to break later this month.

Before we get into the loaded question of whether or not we care, let’s look back at how we got here, because it’s pretty remarkable.

Year Round Pick Player Draft Team
2010 1 1 John Wall Washington Wizards
2010 1 5 DeMarcus Cousins Sacramento Kings
2010 1 18 Eric Bledsoe Oklahoma City Thunder (to LA Clippers)
2010 1 29 Daniel Orton Orlando Magic
2011 1 3 Enes Kanter Utah Jazz
2011 1 8 Brandon Knight Detroit Pistons
2012 1 1 Anthony Davis New Orleans Pelicans
2012 1 2 Michael Kidd-Gilchrist Charlotte Hornets
2012 1 29 Marquis Teague Chicago Bulls
2013 1 6 Nerlens Noel New Orleans Pelicans (to Philadelphia)
2013 1 29 Archie Goodwin Oklahoma City Thunder (to Phoenix)
2014 1 7 Julius Randle Los Angeles Lakers
2014 1 17 James Young Boston Celtics
2015 1 1 Karl-Anthony Towns Minnesota Timberwolves
2015 1 12 Trey Lyles Utah Jazz
2015 1 13 Devin Booker Phoenix Suns
2016 1 7 Jamal Murray Denver Nuggets
2016 1 28 Skal Labissiere Phoenix Suns (to Sacramento)
2017 1 5 De’Aaron Fox Sacramento Kings
2017 1 11 Malik Monk Charlotte Hornets
2017 1 14 Bam Adebayo Miami Heat

When you look at this list, it’s pretty crazy that this streak made it past Daniel Orton, so maybe Calipari owes the Orlando Magic a thank you card. His 100% success rate of one-and-dones being drafted in the first round has been his calling card for eight years, helping reel in five-star after five-star. On an impressive list of bragging rights, it is near the top.

The streak has survived close calls in 2010 (Orton), 2012 (Marquis Teague), 2013 (Archie Goodwin), and 2016 (Skal Labissiere), but will almost certainly snap this year. You could argue that Hamidou Diallo isn’t technically a one-and-done since he arrived at Kentucky during the 2016-17 season, but Jarred Vanderbilt definitely is, and due to his injury, I doubt he’ll hear his name called in the first round. Depending on where Hami goes, the streak of Kentucky freshmen drafted in the first round will end at 23 with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Kevin Knox.

Probably the only person that cares about this is Calipari, but he’s got countless other stats to fluff the recruiting pamphlet, such as 31 draft picks, 17 lottery picks, and three No. 1 picks over eight years at Kentucky. Like another significant streak that snapped earlier this year, as time goes on, I bet we’ll start to forget it even existed.


Kevin Knox worked out for the Orlando Magic

Photo: Orlando Sentinel

Kevin Knox had a very important pre-NBA draft workout on Tuesday.

The former Wildcat was in Orlando, less than two hours away from his hometown, hoping to make a positive impression on the Magic. The Magic currently hold the sixth overall pick in the draft, and though Knox isn’t expected to go that high, he was brought in for a workout for team personnel.

“It would be nice to join the Orlando Magic,” Knox said of his dream scenario. “It’s kind of a hometown city for me.”

“It’s close to home. My mom would be real happy, an hour away from her baby. She would definitely love that. My little brothers and sister would love it. They could come visit and stay with me as much as they can. Like I said, it would be really convenient. It would be dream come true to play so close to home and play in front of my family and be able to get drafted by such a great organization.”

Knox is also very close with Jonathan Isaac, who was drafted by the Magic with the sixth overall pick in last year’s draft. Knox would love to climb up to that spot this year to reunite with his former AAU teammate in Orlando.

Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel was on hand to watch Knox’s Tuesday workout and he shared a short clip of the action on Twitter:

Moving forward, Knox will hold a pro day on Thursday, followed by a workout with the New York Knicks on Saturday and the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday. He worked out with the Cleveland Cavaliers last week.


UK in the top 10 of Andy Katz’s college basketball rankings for 2018-2019

UK in the top 10 of Andy Katz’s college basketball rankings for 2018-2019

NCAA.com’s Andy Katz (formerly of ESPN) released his top 36 after last Wednesday’s NBA Draft deadline, and the Cats aren’t listed in the top five.

Katz had UK at No. 7 but said the Cats would “leap ahead” if Reid Travis landed in Lexington.

“The Wildcats will be just as loaded and they get an experienced forward back in P.J. Washington. They can also lean on Quade Green and Nick Richards, too. If Reid Travis were to end up here then the Wildcats would certainly leap ahead. Keldon Johnson, E.J. Montgomery and Immanuel Quickley will be the latest star newcomers who will have their moments to shine. The loss to Kansas State in the Sweet 16 will still sting, considering Kentucky had the goods to get to the Final Four last season based on its bracket. UK does again in 2019.”

Rounding out Katz’s top 10 is:

1. Gonzaga

2. Kansas

3. Virginia

4. Tennessee

5. Nevada

6. Duke

7. UK

8. North Carolina

9. Kansas State

10. Villanova

He also included several other SEC teams in his top 36 (No. 11 Auburn, No. 24 Mississippi State,  No. 28 LSU and No. 32 Florida).

ESPN’s too early of rankings had UK No. 3 and CBS had the Cats No. 4. So, as of today Katz isn’t as high of the Cats as other outlets, but a few spots isn’t a big deal. Although I am a little surprised to see Gonzaga No. 1.

Just get us through June and July so we have preseason basketball in August along with the start of football season.


Wenyen Gabriel worked out for Suns, Timberwolves

Getty Images | Phoenix Suns

Wenyen Gabriel was one of six NBA hopefuls who worked out in Phoenix on Monday.

Shooting was a focal point of Gabriel’s Suns workout, which also included Jevon Carter (West Virginia), Joel Berry II (North Carolina), Élie Okobo (France), Ajdin Penava (Marshall) and Thomas Welsh (UCLA).

Gabriel said, “We got a good chance to show that in shooting drills that we were doing. Just being able to compete during one-on-ones and three-on-threes and how we can create plays for each other. I feel like I did that today.”

Today, he’ll do it all over again in Minnesota.


Anthony Barboza | Getty Images

C.M. Newton’s Legacy: How He Impacted The Game

Anthony Barboza | Getty Images

The world lost a great man with the passing of former UK athletics director C.M. Newton, whose impact on basketball spans far and wide, more so than many even realize. Not only did Newton do wonderful things for the University of Kentucky, he also left his mark around the Southeastern Conference and on the way the college game is played today.

So as those who knew and admired him mourn his death and reflect on his career, we too will celebrate all he accomplished and the legacy he leaves behind. It’s hard to imagine anyone else contributing as much as he did to college athletics — from coaching to integration to rule changes and nearly everything in-between — which is why his passing touches so many people everywhere.

Learn all about his impactful 50-year career as a player, coach and administrator:

 

He was a two-sport star at the University of Kentucky.

As a basketball player, Newton was a member of Kentucky’s national championship team in 1951.

As a baseball player, his pitching helped UK reach the NCAA tournament before he signed an MLB contract with a New York Yankees farm system.

He recruited the first black player at Transylvania. And again at Alabama.

Newton’s coaching career began at Transylvania (thanks to a recommendation from Coach Rupp), where he recruited the school’s first black basketball player.

Then in 1969, as the head coach at Alabama, Newton once again signed his school’s first black player, Wendell Hudson.

Integration was very important to Newton.

He led Alabama to its first two NCAA Tournament appearances.

Newton was brought to Alabama by Bear Bryant (through another Rupp recommendation) in hopes that Newton could turn the Alabama basketball program around. He eventually guided the Crimson Tide to its first two NCAA appearances while winning three straight SEC titles in 1974, 1975 and 1976.

He also led Vanderbilt to two NCAA Tournament appearances.

Newton left Alabama to become assistant commissioner of the Southeastern Conference in 1980, but was convinced to get back into coaching, at Vanderbilt, only a year later. He coached the Commodores to a 129–115 record in eight seasons with two NCAA Tournament bids.

He hired Rick Pitino, Hal Mumme, Tubby Smith and more.

Newton’s alma mater came calling in 1989 to pull its storied basketball program from the ashes. Newton took the AD job at Kentucky and his first move was the hiring of Rick Pitino, the savior of UK basketball in the early 90s. Pitino of course went on to win the national championship, UK’s first in 18 years, in 1996.

Newton also hired popular coaches Hal Mumme and Tubby Smith, as well as UK assistant Bernadette Locke-Mattox, only the second female assistant coach in Division I men’s basketball history.

With the hirings of Smith and Locke-Mattox, Newton is responsible for hiring UK’s first African-American men’s and women’s basketball coaches.

The shot clock, three-point line… He was behind those, too.

Newton served as the chairman of the NCAA Rules Committee from 1979 to 1985. During that time, college basketball added the shot clock, the three-point line, and the coaches’ box.

“What had happened in college basketball is we had gotten to where everything was a post-up game,” Newton explained. “And that’s why I favored the trapezoidal lane, to force the big guy to learn how to play basketball. Our coaches were all doing the same thing. They were putting a big guy on the box and keeping him there and it became a wrestling match. As a consequence you had more sloughing, sagging-type defenses. The three-point shot opened that up.”

He was director of the original Dream Team.

When USA Basketball introduced the “Dream Team” in 1992, Newton was the director of the program. He was vital in the U.S. Olympic team’s transformation from college stars to professionals, which included Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, among many others you already know. The Dream Team dominated Barcelona in Newton’s first year as director.

He was enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

Newton was a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame’s Class of 2000 for all of his accomplishments across the game. He was inducted as a “contributor” for all he contributed to the sport.


Today on KSR: A Salute to C.M. Newton

UK Athletics

Last night former Kentucky Wildcat C.M. Newton died at the age of 88.  Newton was a National Champion on the basketball court, a pitcher on the baseball diamond and the football grounds bear his name.  That’s just a small sample of what Newton accomplished during his incredible life in athletics.

Widely regarded as the man who saved Kentucky basketball, as UK’s athletic director he convinced Rick Pitino to leave the New York Knicks to resurrect the probation-plagued basketball program.  He hired UK’s first men’s and women’s basketball African-American head coaches, and integrated the University of Alabama’s men’s basketball team.  That’s what he’s best known for, but the more you learn about Newton, the more you realize he had an even greater impact on the game.

“His contributions to the sport of basketball continue to this day,” Mitch Barnhart said. “As chairman of the NCAA rules committee, he introduced the shot clock and the 3-point shot. For decades, he worked tirelessly to promote international basketball and was well-rewarded by his election to the Naismith Hall of Fame.”

Newton’s most iconic contribution to international basketball happened in the early 90s when he helped create the Dream Team as the President of USA Basketball.  The team that wowed Americans inspired players all around the world to pick up a basketball for the first time.

Newton’s legacy will last for years.  Last night tributes rolled in from aross the country.

From Tubby Smith:

We lost a wonderful person today in C.M. Newton. I want to first send out our dearest condolences to his wife, Nancy, his three children and all of their relatives. Coach Newton has been a mentor for me for a number of years and has guided my career from the first time I met him.

He has always encouraged me and other coaches to be involved with the NABC and help influence the game of basketball. He was a pioneer in a lot of areas, including having the courage to hire an African-American as coach at Kentucky and to recruit African-Americans at Alabama. He was a man that didn’t see color and was a genuine, caring man that we’ll miss dearly and that we loved dearly.

A larger than life figure, Newton forever changed the University of Kentucky and the Southeastern Conference.  May he rest in peace.

The Cats are Here 

On Day One of the summer, the Kentucky football team hit the weight room while the Kentucky basketball team hit the road.  Coach Cal’s Cats went to Bardstown and Elizabethtown for a pair of satellite camps.  T.J. Walker spoke to Calipari in E-Town and caught some of the campers’ best antics on camera.

Hjelle is a Giant

Fate made the 6’11” UK pitcher a San Francisco Giant.  The 2017 SEC Pitcher of the Year was selected in the second round of the MLB Draft at No. 45 overall, the highest selection by a UK pitcher since 2011.  A handful of other teammates will join Hjelle in the professional ranks later today during rounds 3-10.

Louisville City Hosts an MLS Team

The USL club has advanced to the fourth round of the U.S. Open Cup, bringing MLS competition to the Commonwealth for the first time.  The New England Revolution stand between the boys in purple and the Sweet 16.  The game begins at 7:00 at UofL’s Lynn Stadium and can be heard on Talk Radio 1080 or streamed online with WAVE-3 News.

This Shouldn’t Be Possible

And you thought you were good at ping-pong.


UK not in the top 10 of best college basketball destinations

TripSavvy ranked UK the 11th best destination in college basketball and I have some questions.

You can read the entire top 13 destinations HERE, but I’ll provided their rankings:

1. Dayton

2. VCU

3. Pittsburgh

4. Michigan State

5. UNC

6. Iowa State

7. Arizona

8. Butler

9. Indiana

10. Maryland

11. Kentucky

12. Kansas

13. Duke

It seems the ranker, James Thompson, valued arena atmosphere along with restaurants/bars near the arenas. In some places weather seemed to be a factor, but mostly it was arena atmospheres and food. Sadly as a media member at Rupp Arena the $7 food voucher doesn’t allow you to do both, and when the Cats play a garbage team we go 0/2. #BringBackPapaJohn’s.

But as far as the criteria for rankings, I’m down with both those things. I love food and eat it pretty much three times a day, and I love good college basketball atmospheres.

I’ve only been to a few of the bars/restaurants on this list, but it seems Thompson has made a slew of horrible mistakes putting Dayton, VCU and Pittsburgh No. 1, 2 and 3. If you don’t want UK to be No. 1 I’m perfectly fine with that. There are better atmospheres than Rupp Arena. I very much like the food in and bar scenes in Lexington when you get away from Rupp, but even those establishments could be topped elsewhere.

But if you put it together, restaurants and atmosphere, UK isn’t topped by Dayton, VCU or Pitt.

Here’s what Thompson said about UK:

“Kentucky is the only state in the south that cares more about basketball than it does football, which is what raises Kentucky near the top of our list. Big Blue Nation cares about their Kentucky Wildcats so much that the conversation permeates through talk radio and bar chatter on a 24/7 basis. Rupp Arena holds 23,500, which is largest college basketball venue that’s not a football stadium. (Syracuse’s Carrier Dome holds 33,000 for college basketball games.) We all know what UK offers in terms of basketball history. It’s hard to match up with 17 Final Fours and eight national championships. The double burger at Parkette Drive-In is a local delicacy and the live music at Two Keys Tavern will have you loving your trip. The added benefit of sneaking away for some time on the Bourbon Trail is the cherry on top of your Kentucky sundae experience.”

Nothing against Parkette, but if you’re traveling specifically into Lexington for a basketball game I’m going somewhere better. Perhaps Saul Good? Maybe Malone’s if I’m feeling fancy? If you want to go somewhere cheaper and quicker then what about Joe Bologna’s (best pizza in Lex)?

Also, I went to Two Keys a lot in college. It’s a fine suggestion for out-of-towners heading to Lexington to take in the UK atmosphere away from Rupp, but do they often have live music? Was Thompson thinking Tin Roof? Maybe Two Keys has more live music than I’m remembering but it was mostly just DJs. It makes me question Thompson’s entire list.

When I hear top college basketball destinations I take it as “If you’re going to make a college basketball trip here’s where you need to go.” On my list Dayton, VCU and Pittsburgh wouldn’t make the top 15. I love the food in Pittsburgh, but even when the Panthers have been relevant the Petersen Events Center is underwhelming. Food alone doesn’t make Pittsburgh a top basketball destination.

My list for the top places to travel to see a college basketball game would be:

1. Kansas

2. Duke

3. UK

4. Indiana

5. Butler

6. Louisville

7. Michigan State

8. Purdue

9. UNC

10. Syracuse

Things to do in the city matter, but if you’re traveling to go watch college basketball you need to go to a place that loves and lives it. If you go to any of those places and you plan accordingly you could see a monster matchup. You’re not getting monster matchups at Dayton or VCU.

How would you rank the top 10 college basketball destinations?


C.M. Newton dies at 88

Naismith Hall of Famer and former UK athletic director C.M. Newton died Monday at the age of 88.

Newton also played basketball (1951 national champion) and baseball for the Cats. Newton was hired as the athletic director at UK in 1989 and served Kentucky until 2000. Mitch Barnhart has said on record that Newton recommended John Calipari during the 2009 coaching search.

He was born in Rockwood, Tenn., but his family moved to Fort Lauderdale during the Great Depression before Newton turned one.

Newton didn’t make the Hall of Fame because of his basketball accolades as a player at UK. He played in just 22 games as a Wildcat basketball player. He  scored 27 points in his UK career, but Hall of Famer Frank Ramsey said that he won UK the 1951 Eastern Regional championship because of Newton’s defensive contributions. UK would go on to win the title.

On Adolph Rupp’s recommendation, Newton would go on to coach Transylvania’s basketball team directly out of college while still playing baseball for the Cats and ultimately signing with the Yankee’s organization.

After leaving for the Air Force Newton came back and gave up baseball to be a full-time coach at Transylvania. But he wouldn’t stay in Lexington forever. Paul “Bear” Bryant called Newton to take over Alabama’s basketball program.

Newton would accept as long as he would be allowed to recruit African Americans, which was assured by Bryant. It didn’t take long for Newton to sign the first black scholarship athlete in Alabama history (Wendell Hudson).

He did as much as anyone in the SEC when it came to integrating the conference. In 1973 he had the SEC’s first all-black starting lineup and hired UK’s first black men’s and women’s basketball coaches.

During 12 seasons at Alabama Newton went 211-123 and won three SEC Titles and was named SEC Coach of the Year in 1972 and 1976. He was named the head coach at Vanderbilt in 1982 after a two year stretch being the associate commissioner of the SEC.

Newton returned to UK in 1989 to become the athletic director and almost immediately hired Rick Pitino, who turned around UK’s program in short time.

Newton’s health had been deteriorating over the last few months and Calipari asked fans to pray for him. We you all will continue to keep Newton and his family in your thoughts and prayers.

This was a guy that did it all during his life in athletics. He was friends with Rupp, Bear Bryant, Joe B. Hall, Calipari and several other greats. What a representative he was for UK sports and the SEC. Rest in peace to a UK and SEC great.