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A look at Barry Rohrssen’s top 15 ranked 2016 guard

 

(247Sports.com)

Conventional wisdom points to Pittsburgh assistant Barry Rohrssen being the replacement for Orlando Antigua on John Calipari’s Kentucky staff. Rumors have been circulating out of Pittsburgh for over a week now, and Kentucky took down the assistant coach job opening post on Friday. Rohrssen is known for his recruiting prowess, highlighted by the commitment of 2016 5-star/4-star (depending on the service) guard Mustapha Heron to Pittsburgh. One would have to think that if Rohrssen does in fact switch to Kentucky’s staff, Heron might consider making the move. Calipari has watched Heron play before. Heron is rated as the #15 player in the class of 2016.

Heron is a 6-4 guard out of Waterbury, Connecticut. Heron was recruited by UCONN, Florida, Kansas, Providence, Syracuse and Vanderbilt.

Check out some of his highlights below…


Could 2015 Be Cal’s Most Important Class?

Darrell Bird l 247 Sports

Darrell Bird l 247 Sports

By now you’ve heard about the NBA’s push to raise their own age limit from 19 to 20, effectively changing “One and Done” to “Two and Through” nationwide.  Even if it’s passed, though, the earliest it could be implemented is 2016, which means that Karl Towns, Tyler Ulis, Devin Booker, and Trey Lyles don’t have to worry about it at all.  If they want to go after one year, they’re free to do that, guaranteed.

But the 2015 class?  Well, that’s where things get interesting.  Because the 2016 NBA Draft could be subject to the 20-year old age limit, the 2015 class could be the first to have to stick in college for two years.  What does that mean?  Well, to put too fine a point on it, that means we need to get good players next year.  Duh, right?  I mean, isn’t that the goal every year?  ”Talent over experience” and all that?  But really, in 2015, that goes beyond important: it becomes mandatory.

Remember that Cal said that if he could keep players for more than a year, he’d stick around a while longer.  Why?  Because it’s easier to keep a good team!  It’s just that simple.  And 2015 could very reasonably be the year that starts.

So how are we doing?

Kentucky’s already on the board with Top-15 player Charles Matthews, a 6’5″ shooting guard from Chicago who committed in February.  That’s a fantastic start.  But who else is considering UK?  How about the #1 and #2 Centers (Stephen Zimmerman and Diamond Stone), #1 Power Forward (Ivan Rabb), #1 Shooting Guard (Malik Newman), and #3 Small Forward (Montaque Gill-Ceasar), among others.  Interestingly, there isn’t a point guard ranked in the top 20 of ESPN’s Super 60, so we’ll have to see how our point guard situation works out by that point.  My suspicion is that we’ll start a sophomore Tyler Ulis to kick off the 2015 season, but we’ll see how things work out.

We always keep a close eye on recruiting, and with 2014 almost completely wrapped, it’s time to turn our attention to Matthews and his future teammates.  We almost always have bragging rights in the recruiting period with Calipari, but in the 2015 class, we could be getting something even better: sophomores.

Think about that.


Watch the future Cats play in tonight’s Jordan Brand Classic

Watch the future Cats play in tonight’s Jordan Brand Classic

Screen Shot 2014-04-18 at 12.14.11 PM

Got plans tonight? Either cancel them or set your DVR. All four of Kentucky’s 2014 signees–Karl-Anthony Towns, Trey Lyles, Tyler Ulis, and Devin Booker–are playing in the Jordan Brand Classic at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2.

The guys have been in New York all week preparing for the event, and each has turned heads in their own way. Bleacher Report’s CJ Moore says Trey Lyles has the best stroke of any of the big men in the Classic, and would be surprised if he’s NOT the starting four for UK next season:

Lyles is really skilled, can score facing up and has great hands. Everything he does is fluid and fundamentally sound. Even with a really crowded frontcourt, I would be surprised if Lyles is not the starting 4 for the Wildcats.

Depending on who comes back, I doubt that’ll be the case early on, but Lyles is definitely turning heads this week.

A few matchups you should definitely keep an eye on tonight are Tyus Jones vs. Tyler Ulis and James Blackmon, Jr. vs. Devin Booker. Jones is headed to Duke, and considered one of the premiere point guards in the class along with Emmanuel Mudiay, but Ulis’ stock has been rising after an impressive performance in the McDonald’s All-American Game. A few analysts have said he’s better than Jones, so it will be fun to see them go head-to-head.

With Blackmon vs. Booker, you’re not only getting a showdown of two of the best shooters in the class, you’re getting an early taste of the Indiana/Kentucky rivalry. Blackmon was ready to commit to the Cats, but changed his mind at the last minute to go to Indiana, a decision I can’t help but wonder if he’s regretting now.

Go future Cats.


UK a second choice for several 2014 stars

The 2014 recruiting class was the first in which John Calipari didn’t land most of the elite players he went after. Don’t get me wrong, the players he did sign are excellent, but several of the superstar prospects like Emmanuel Mudiay, Stanley Johnson, and Jahlil Okafor all decided to take their services elsewhere. During the McDonald’s All-American game a few weeks ago, USA Today’s Jason Jordan went around and asked some of the players what their second choice school was. For once, many of them said Kentucky. Here’s a breakdown:

Rashad Vaughn (UNLV): Iowa State

Devin Booker (Kentucky): Missouri

James Blackmon (Indiana): Kentucky (Think he regrets choosing the Hoosiers now?)

Kelly Oubre (Kansas): Kentucky

Stanley Johnson (Arizona): Kentucky

Emmanuel Mudiay (SMU): Kentucky

Mudiay’s comments were the most interesting to me. He said that during Cal’s in-home visit, he and his family liked what he had to say so much that he was ready to commit on the spot. His brother advised him to wait, and during Larry Brown’s visit, the legendary coach “talked way better than Cal did.”

Well, Cal does consider him a mentor.


Kentucky taking another look at Devonta Pollard?

Remember Devonta Pollard? Two years ago, Kentucky recruited Pollard, a five-star small forward, but he chose to sign with Alabama. A year ago, Pollard’s mother, Jessie Mae Brown Pollard, was arrested and charged with kidnapping a six-year-old child. Although his involvement was peripheral, Pollard himself was charged with conspiracy to commit kidnapping, and transferred to East Mississippi Community College. After a long, hard year in which he had to testify against his mother to avoid prosecution, Pollard is trying to start anew. One of the schools interested is Kentucky. From The Clarion-Ledger:

Missouri, Kentucky and Troy are three schools after the talented forward, but Pollard hasn’t set up visits with any schools. White says he met with Pollard last week and talked recruiting, but that it’s anyone’s guess to where he ends up. 

At Alabama, Pollard struggled, only averaging 3.9 points and 3.1 rebounds. At EMCC, he averaged 12 points and 6.4 rebounds a game, while shooting 59% from the field. His game needs work, but the potential is there. As the roster continues to shake out over the next few weeks, this may be something to keep an eye on. Pollard has until May 21st to decide.


What a shame, he was already 3-ggogle ready.

UNLV Transfer is going to Iowa State, Not UK

What a shame, he was already 3-ggogle ready.

What a shame, he was already 3-goggle ready.

With a few potential questions next season in the backcourt, Kentucky has been looking around for a Julius Mays pt. 2 – a solid contributing transfer that can play immediately.  One of their primary targets was Bryce Dejean-Jones, UNLV’s 6’5″ leading scorer from 2014 that averaged 13.6 ppg.  Today Dejean-Jones announced on Twitter that he’ll attempt to make the jump to the NBA from Ames, Iowa:

 

It may not end up being all that unfortunate for the Cats.  Dejean-Jones has had multiple off the court issues since he began his playing career at USC.  Dejean-Jones will go down in the book of the Calipari era with Tony Woods, rather than the beloved Julius Mays.


Tim Brown | The Oregonian

Watch Trey Lyles and Karl Towns in the Nike Hoop Summit

Tim Brown | The Oregonian

Tim Brown | The Oregonian

Given the weather and the fact that Keeneland was absolutely humming today, you’re probably exhausted and need to recharge your batteries. If that’s the case, tune your TV to ESPN2 to see Karl Towns and Trey Lyles take on the USA in the annual Nike Hoop Summit. Feel free to use the comment section as the game thread.

Tip-off is slated for 7 pm and the over/under for Kentucky fans in the crowd is set at 15.


@tulis3

Tyler Ulis Faces a Lockdown Defender

@tulis3

@tulis3

Earlier today, incoming Kentucky recruit, Tyler Ulis, posted an awesome picture of him being guarded by Andrew Harrison back when they were both in the AAU circuit. According to Ulis on Twitter, he was well below 5 feet tall when this picture was taken several years ago.

Big Blue degrees of separation?


Karl Towns Throws Down

Karl Towns Throws Down

Incoming Kentucky recruit, Karl Towns, is currently prepping for tonight’s Nike Hoop Summit in Portland, Oregon. The above posterization is fairly strong evidence that things are going pretty well for Mr. Towns this week. Also, I didn’t find the post-dunk reaction from the crowd to be satisfactory, so I’ll use this gif to express what the crowd should’ve been doing after that monster slam.

perfectloopgif


A new graduate transfer option emerges

Xavier forward Justin Martin is free to move about the country for his final season of college basketball. Martin will graduate from Xavier this May and will seek a transfer out for his final year of eligibility.

Kentucky could use a good wing next season, and that’s exactly what Martin offers. He’s listed at 6-6, 205-pounds and he averaged 11.7 points and 5.2 rebounds per game for the Musketeers in 2013-14.

It worked with Julius Mays; why not try it out again?


Courtesy of 247sports.com

If the Twins Leave, Where Will UK Look?

Courtesy of 247sports.com

Courtesy of 247sports.com

If the Harrison twins decide to enter the 2014 NBA Draft in the coming weeks, UK may have to work quickly to fill the backcourt if Calipari deems additional depth is necessary to succeed next season. With the guards from the high school ranks that could make an immediate impact already committed, Kentucky’s only option will be the players eligible to play immediately as graduate transfers. While there are a host of quality players looking to transfer that would have to wait out a season (notably Eron Harris of West Virginia), there are very few graduate transfers that Kentucky could play immediately. The only real option for UK is UNLV’s leading scorer from last season, Bryce Dejean-Jones

The 6’5″ shooting guard originally went to Southern Cal as a highly touted recruit, but he immediately ran into issues ranging from dismissal by the school, complaints about playing time, and altercations with teammates. He transferred to UNLV and played fairly well, but was suspended for the last game of the regular season for undisclosed reasons. These two cases raise some red flags that Dejean-Jones could very well be a toxic player in the locker room, but tougher cases than BDJ have seen dramatic turnarounds in the past when they are given their final chance with the graduate transfer rule.

Dejean-Jones is making his first visit to Iowa State, a team with a knack for having success with transfers. They turned Deandre Kane into a star this season and will likely be making that pitch to Dejean-Jones on his visit. If Dejean-Jones waits long enough on his decision for the Twins to determine their status for next season, it’s very likely that he would make a visit to UK. Perhaps a strong personality like Calipari could be the voice of reason to keep Dejean-Jones from falling into past mistakes.

The other possible option with Dejean-Jones is that he will select to play professionally overseas. With the problems he has had in the college landscape, playing pro across the Atlantic might be the most plausible option. However, the departure of the Twins would leave a depleted backcourt at UK that BDJ could fill in quite nicely.


Tyler Ulis’ latest mixtape will make you fall in love with him

Is he the new Tyler the Creator?


Photo by Matt Hernandez

Trey Lyles named Indiana Mr. Basketball

Photo by Matt Hernandez

Photo by Matt Hernandez

Here’s some happy news: future Cat Trey Lyles was named Indiana Mr. Basketball this morning. The UK signee beat out Trevon Bluiett and Indiana committ James Blackmon Jr. for the award.

Congrats, Trey.


McDonald’s All-American Game Wrap Up

McDonald’s All-American Game Wrap Up

Via Brian Spurlock USA Today Sports

Via Brian Spurlock USA Today Sports

The 36th annual McDonald’s All-American Game was played tonight at the United Center with plenty of buzz as 3 hometown kids (Ulis, Okafor, and Alexander) were taking center stage. With all 4 2014 UK recruits on the rosters, Kentucky fans had plenty of reason to watch the game, and the incoming players did not fail to provide some excitement for next season. The West team (Ulis and Booker) beat the East (Lyles and Towns) in a tight 105-102 contest. Justin Jackson (UNC commit) and Jahlil Okafor (Duke commit) were awarded the MVPs.

Just looking at the UK players:

Tyler Ulis- 5 points 3 assists 3 rebounds

-Ulis has been making waves all week in the practices and scrimmages and continued to impress everyone watching on the big stage. He threaded the needle time and time again to the open player. Notably, he drove baseline in transition only to find a trailing Jahlil Okafor for a huge slam. He followed that play up by pushing the pace and throwing a bullet across the court to Stanley Johnson in the corner. Ulis did get swallowed up on his first drive to the basket, but he made up that and any mistake by playing incredibly quick and intelligent defense, causing steals and all sorts of problems for Duke commit Tyus Jones. I cannot stress enough how impressive Ulis has been this week amongst so many stars.

Trey Lyles- 8 points 8 rebounds

- Lyles is never going to make the Sportscenter top play, but he is a pleasure to watch play basketball. He has outstanding vision for a post player and simply finds a way to score the ball. He’s great at getting in position on rebounds, has great touch around the basket, and is so polished for a high school player. One play that really stuck out with Lyles is when he went diving on the ground for a ball in an exhibition game. That type of hustle will always translate to the next level.

Karl Towns- 6 points 5 rebounds 2 blocks

Towns’ best play came early in the game when he swatted the shot of future teammate Devin Booker and sent a full court outlet pass on the money to give his team an easy basket. Towns maintained the fluidity and smoothness to his offensive game that he has showcased throughout his high school career. He seems much quicker since the last time I saw him play which was a serious area of improvement for him.

Devin Booker- 8 points

Booker had a relatively quiet game, but he was only one of two players who hit multiple threes in the game. Evan Daniels noted that Booker still “had a really solid week” on Twitter. Booker also showed strong defensive effort especially in the All-Star Game environment where defense is never expected.

Other Notes:

-Emmanuel Mudiay is everything he has been hyped up to be. He threw down a slam right before the half time buzzer that was simply vicious. He will be a scoring machine at SMU next year with his elite athleticism to get to the rim.

- If UK plays Duke next year in the tournament, Ulis will be a fantastic option to use on Tyus Jones. The two elite point guards have a budding rivalry, and Ulis has a knack for really giving Jones fits with his defense.

- Stanley Johnson continues to impress every time I watch him play. He is simply one of those players that really catch your eye even on a court full of five star recruits.

 


Photo @Banksix

McDonald’s All-American Game Open Thread

Photo @Banksix

Photo @Banksix

The McDonald’s All-American Game is coming up in about 15 minutes on ESPN, so flip on over and great ready to watch future Cats Tyler Ulis, Trey Lyles, Karl Towns and Devin Booker. All four have been impressive this week in the skills competitions and scrimmages, with Tyler Ulis dominating the talk of the event on Tuesday.

We’ll have a recap afterwards, but until then, use this thread to talk about the game.


Tyler Ulis impressing at McDAAG

Tyler Ulis impressing at McDAAG

ulis

Story from 247Sports national basketball recruiting analyst Jerry Meyer on Tyler Ulis from the McDonald’s All-American Game in Chicago:

At 5-9, Kentucky signee Tyler Ulis is the smallest player participating in the McDonald’s All American Game, but he just might have the biggest impact on the game.

Simply put, Ulis is the consummate point guard. He has the vision, handle, quickness, passing skills and shooting ability to make all the plays despite being an undersized point guard. On top of his ability to run the show offensively, Ulis also is a determined defender. His quickness gives a lot of opposing point guards trouble.

For more on Ulis and Kentucky’s three other signees in Chicago, visit CatsPause.com [FREE]

@ChrisFisher247


Watch UK’s signees prepare for the McDonald’s All-American game

The McDonald’s All-American Game is tonight, and all week, Tyler Ulis, Trey Lyles, Devin Booker, and Karl Towns have been getting ready. Check out this highlight reel of their performances in practice as they’ve gone up against the nation’s finest.