Fourteen seconds in, it was over. When Aaron Harrison’s three swished through the net, UCLA →
Basketball Recruiting News
Charles Matthews was in action tonight in front of Calipari and the coaching staff and he took full advantage of the opportunity. Matthews finished with 17 points, 12 rebounds, 5 assists, and four blocks. He got it done on both ends of the floor as he drilled shots, defended, and made plays that nobody else on the court could have made. It was an impressive performance on national TV. Matthews and St. Rita survived a late comeback and took down 12th ranked Simeon 51-26.
If there are 43 players in the nation better than this kid then I’d like to see them.
UK Commit Charles Matthews and his St. Ritas squad are currently taking on 12th ranked Simeon just outside of Chicago so Coach Cal, Slice, and Kenny Payne went to watch him work. At the half St Ritas led 24-20 and Matthews had 5 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 assists while showcasing some crazy athleticism that will make him fun to have on campus next season.
You can watch him play as well right now on ESPN2.
We don’t talk about UK’s first 2015 commitment Charles Matthews that often, but UK fans will have a great chance to get to know him better tonight. Matthews and his St. Rita squad will take on Simeon at 6:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2 as part of the Geico ESPN High School Basketball Showcase.
Obviously, the game is in Chicago, as is the Kentucky team, so there’s a very good chance Calipari and the squad will make the trek to Moraine Valley Community Collegein in the Palos Hills suburb of Chi-town to see the future Cat play. If they do, I can guarantee you we’ll have pictures on the site.
Until then, enjoy some highlights:
By Drew Franklin on ©December 16th, 2014 @ 2:24pm
When Kentucky had its sights set on landing a commitment from Tony Parker, a 2012 McDonald’s All-American, Alex Poythress took on the role as UK’s lead recruiter. Poythress was Parker’s AAU teammate on the Georgia Stars and considered the fellow five-star forward to be one of his best friends. When Poythress committed to Kentucky in November of his senior year of high school, he began calling Parker everyday to pitch the Cats and make sure Parker was watching UK’s games.
Two months of blowing up Parker’s phone wasn’t enough to convince him to pick Kentucky and Parker chose UCLA in January of 2012, despite AP’s tireless efforts. Now the two friends and former teammates are on opposing sides entering Saturday’s CBS Sports Classic in Chicago, although Poythress is out with the season-ending ACL injury. Parker sent an encouraging message when he heard the unfortunate news last week:
My brother @AlexTheGreat22 you in my prayers bro minor setback for a major comeback keep your head up bruh !!!!!!
— tony parker (@tonyparker32) December 12, 2014
Parker is averaging 10 points and eight rebounds per game this season as a starter.
With a week off from action before the upcoming UCLA game in Chicago, the Kentucky basketball staff is busy moving around the country, checking in on potential additions.
Slice was in Las Vegas yesterday for visits with Stephen Zimmerman, Derryck Thornton and Troy Brown. Brown is the top-ranked point guard and second overall player in the 2017 class with offers from Kansas, Arizona, Duke, UCLA and Louisville, but not Kentucky.
Tonight Coach Cal will watch Brandon Ingram in North Carolina. UCLA will also have representation at the game to watch the five-star forward.
Kentucky basketball never stops.
By Drew Franklin on ©December 16th, 2014 @ 11:15am
Our good friend Evan Daniels recently caught up with UK target Antonio Blakeney at an event in Maryland to get his current thoughts on the schools on his list and his recruitment in general. Blakeney told Daniels he would prefer to wait until the spring to make a final decision but his mother is ready for the entire process to be over, so an announcement could come sooner than later.
As for what you care about, his thoughts on Kentucky, Blakeney said Coach Cal’s ability to get his players to the NBA is what stands out most.
“He’s had 19 pros in the last five years and honestly I don’t know nobody that has went there and was supposed to be a pro and wasn’t,” the five-star guard said. “The only person is Ryan Harrow and he transferred. This year he may get eight guys to the league and that’s the ultimate goal for everybody so that’s what I like about them.”
The Cats already have an elite guard from the class in Isaiah Briscoe, but Blakeney is watching who returns from this team, not who will be coming in next year.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©December 10th, 2014 @ 10:10pm
By Drew Franklin on ©December 09th, 2014 @ 12:36pm
Fresh off his 77 points in two games at the Marshall County Hoop Fest, Malik Newman is ready to begin his tour of official visits. Newman’s father, Horatio Webster, told Scout.com, “I think he may do some here soon over the Christmas break. He may take a couple.”
Newman is considering Kentucky, Kansas and the two Mississippi schools, so look for any of those to get the first looks. If it’s Kentucky that gets an official soon, we have Kenny Payne to thank for forming such a strong relationship. Webster told Scout he talks to Coach Payne everyday.
Webster also said, “Coach Cal does a great job. I mean, Kentucky is Kentucky. You see what they are doing now. There is nothing to not like about Kentucky. You got to really love everything about Kentucky.”
Read more on Newman, his recruitment, and the schools in UK’s way here.
By Caleb Epley on ©December 07th, 2014 @ 11:18am
Several Kentucky targets were in action at the Marshall County Hoop Fest this weekend, but none had a bigger performance than Malik Newman.
He dropped a cool 35 points during his team’s game Friday night. But on Saturday, he upped the ante. Malik scored an impressive 42 points – 4 shy of the event’s record (held by Monta Elis). The fest has previously hosted players like Andrew Wiggins, Brandon Jennings, Derrick Rose, and Carmelo Anthony – not a bad group of players for Newman to beat.
While Malik makes things look easy on the court, predicting where he’ll end up is a bit tougher. According to his father: “He’s say’s he’s signing late. That’s all he’s told me.”
It would be nice if he came to Kentucky.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©December 06th, 2014 @ 10:00pm
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©December 06th, 2014 @ 7:00pm
By Wilder Treadway on ©December 06th, 2014 @ 1:00pm
While the Cats took down the Horns last night, future Cat Skal Labissiere was killin’ the game at the Marshall County Hoopfest in Benton, Ky. The 6’11 center from Memphis finished with 33 points on 13-20 shooting from the field. His team, Reach Your Dream Prep, was annihilated by the much more talented Oak Hill Academy 97-60, but Labissiere was all anyone could talk about.
He got the job done from all over the floor, hitting 3-pointers (are you kidding me?), jump hooks, and mid-range jumpers all with Oak Hill throwing their entire team at him. Labissiere has a chance to finish number one in the Class of 2015, but only time will tell. He’ll surely be a fan favorite in Lexington next year.
Malik Newman, the Mississippi king of mysterious recruitments, finished with 35 points for Callaway but was less productive from the field, only shooting 11-24 and turning the ball over nine times. He plays Orangeville Prep tonight, a team that features Thon Maker, so if you’re thinking about going, go to this game.
Coach Cal will be in attendance tonight to watch Cleveland native Carlton Bragg at the Hoopfest, joining Bill Self and Illinois Coach John Groce, who are all vying for the 6’8 forward.
To read an entire report from the Marshall County Hoopfest go here.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©December 05th, 2014 @ 11:00pm
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©December 04th, 2014 @ 8:00pm
2016 phenom Thon Maker is about to play in the Marshall County Hoop Fest, and thanks to our pals at Team 1 Sports, you can watch all of the games right here on KSR. John Calipari is in the building for tonight’s game, so let’s see Thon has in store for us.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©December 04th, 2014 @ 7:30pm
Got plans this weekend? Some of the best high school basketball players in the country are converging in Marshall County for the 19th annual Marshall County Hoop Fest. Several UK targets and a signee will be in town today through Sunday, making this the perfect opportunity to find your inner basketball scout. I attended the festival two years ago, and after looking at this year’s schedule, put together this list of ten things you just can’t miss.
1. Tonight at 8pm ET: Sunrise Christian vs. Orangeville Prep (Thon Maker)
Calipari will be in the building for this game to see 2016 phenom Thon Maker. This is Maker’s second-straight weekend in our fair state; last weekend, he took an unofficial visit to UK for the Providence game, sitting behind the bench with his brother while in town to play in a tournament at Dunbar. This week, he visited Louisville for the Ohio State game. Now, he’ll play two games in the Hoop Fest before heading back up to Canada. It will also be Cal’s second-straight weekend watching Maker, thought by many to be the next big thing in basketball. There’s a decent chance Maker will reclassify to 2015, a decision he will make in the next month. If he does and picks the Cats…I can’t even.
If you’re not already at the game, don’t worry; you’ll have another chance to see Thon play on Saturday night.
2. “Coaches Row”
John Calipari is just one of many high-level coaches who will be in the beautiful Marshall County gym this weekend. Kansas is in the mix for several of the recruits playing and they play Friday night, so I’d expect to see Bill Self or one of his assistants there on Saturday, along with Rick Pitino, Bruce Pearl, and maybe even Tom Crean. Those photo opps alone are reason to go. (By the way, send those to us!)
3. Friday, 8 p.m. ET: Callaway (Malik Newman) vs. Archbishop Carroll
At one time, it seemed like Malik Newman was at the top of John Calipari’s 2015 wish list. That may still be the case, but Newman’s recruitment has been a hard one to follow. The Mississippi native doesn’t do many interviews, but right now, it looks like it’s down to staying in his home state at either Ole Miss or Mississippi State or going to one of the blue bloods at Kansas, Kentucky, or UConn. Newman, a combo guard, recently said that he would have no problem playing alongside current UK commit Isaiah Briscoe, a point guard, which is promising news for the Cats.
This game is at the same time as UK/Texas, and while I’m sure the game will be on TVs/smartphones throughout the building, no one will blame you for waiting until Saturday night to see Malik.
4. Friday, 11 p.m. ET: Oak Hill vs. Reach Your Dream Prep (Skal Labissiere)
This is the first of two chances UK fans will get to see the future Cat play in Kentucky this weekend. Saturday night, he’ll play in the Legacy Nissan Classic at North Laurel High School in London, but if you’re located in the Western part of the state or just can’t wait, he and his slightly sketchy Reach Your Dream Prep squad will face perennial power Oak Hill Academy in the late game Friday night.
5. Larry Vaught
Larry Vaught loves four things in life: his family, Danville, the dance team, and the Marshall County Hoop Fest. Nothing will keep Larry away from the Hoop Fest, not even the UK/Texas game. That’s right, Larry is missing out on tomorrow night’s showdown to devote his full attention to the high school basketball. Be sure to say hello to him over on press row.
6. The BBQ Nachos
The Hoop Fest was the first event I covered as a full-time KSR writer, and after I settled into my seat on press row next to Larry Vaught, a basket of delicious BBQ nachos magically appeared in front of me, thanks to the Marshall County Dugout Club. Aside from all the elite prospects on the court, the BBQ nachos are the star of the Hoop Fest, and just one of many impressive offerings from the concession stand. If memory serves me right, there were ribeye sandwiches, waffle cones made on the spot, and even designer cupcakes. This is not your average concession stand fare.
Maybe that’s why Larry loves it so much.
7. Saturday, 7 p.m. ET: Archbishop Carroll vs. Villa Angela-St. Joseph (Carlton Bragg)
Calipari will also be in the building for this game before he hops on his private jet and heads south to see Jaylen Brown play in Georgia. Kentucky and Kansas are the perceived favorites for Bragg, who surprised everyone when he eliminated Ohio State from his list a little while back. The Cats are in a good spot with Bragg, who visited for Big Blue Madness. If Trey Lyles ends up going to the NBA in the spring, Bragg would be a perfect fit to replace him.
8. Saturday, 8:30 p.m. ET: Oak Hill vs. Our Savior (Cheick Diallo)
This will be your only chance to see Cheick Diallo, the best power forward in the 2015 class. Kansas, Kentucky, Iowa State, and St. John’s are in hot pursuit of Diallo, with the Jayhawks leading his 247 Sports Crystal Ball. In turn, Bill Self and his hair plugs will likely be on the front row.
9. Saturday, 10 p.m. ET: Orangeville Prep (Thon Maker) vs. Callaway (Malik Newman)
If you can only go to one game this weekend, make it this one. Thon Maker vs. Malik Newman will be the premiere showdown, with the most exciting player in the 2016 class vs. the best scorer in the 2015 class. Expect plenty of coaches in the building for this one, with plenty of caffeine in hand.
10. Seeing teenagers become rock stars
Two years ago, we were still wrapped up in the Andrew Wiggins saga, and Wiggins got his first taste of the BBN at the Hoop Fest. Wiggins was mobbed by fans for pictures and autographs throughout the night, to the point that the festival organizers opened the gym floor up after the last game for fans to line up to meet Wiggins; the Harrison Twins had similar lines in the lobby.
For many kids, this is their first time playing in front of crowds as passionate about basketball as Kentuckians. By now, they’re used to the AAU/EYBL tournament circuit, but having fans treat them like rockstars afterwards can be a new experience, and it’s always interesting to see how they react. I expect Skal to get a HUGE ovation from the crowd Friday night, and I can’t wait to hear how he interacts with fans. Be sure to give him a warm welcome to la familia if you go.
Tickets for the entire fest are $35 and $15 for single sessions. For a full schedule and more information about tickets, visit marshallcountyhoopfest.com.