There are 36 days until the season opener against Southern Miss, which means there’s plenty →
Basketball Recruiting News
After winning a Gold Medal for Team USA and taking the Peach Jam Title in the Nike EYBL, Kentucky’s top point guard prospect cut his list of prospective schools to six.
Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Texas Tech, Washington and Kansas are featured in the video below. He saved the best for last — Kentucky.
— Trae Young (@TheTraeYoung) July 28, 2016
He spoke about all six of his final choices with Rivals. Here’s what he had to say about UK:
“I love the way coach Cal goes about things. I really like that it’s about business and he puts the team in a spot to compete for a championship each year.”
Young plans on visiting all six schools before making his final decision.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©July 27th, 2016 @ 2:30pm
Last week, five-star small forward Jarred Vanderbilt announced his top nine schools via Twitter, and yesterday, that tweet caught future UK shooting guard Malik Monk’s eye. Monk, whose Arkansas Wings competed against Vanderbilt and Houston Hoops on the EYBL circuit last year, told Vanderbilt he already knows where he should go: (Spoiler: Kentucky)
— Solo (@AhmadMonk) July 26, 2016
De’Aaron Fox played with Vanderbilt for Houston Hoops, so I’m sure he’s putting a bug in his ear as well. So far, it seems to be working; Kentucky has the lead in Vanderbilt’s Crystal Ball, with 69% of the predictions, followed by Texas at 15% and Kansas at 8%.
If you’re really into reading the tweet leaves, Vanderbilt retweeted Monk’s message, which is a good thing, right? Learn more about Vanderbilt from my feature on him back in May, or just watch these highlights:
As the month of July comes to a close, so does the period when coaches can watch recruits play across the country. Highlighted by the Peach Jam, Team USA FIBA competition and the Las Vegas tournaments, NBC Sports handed out awards for who was the best of the best from the 2017 class.
The best guard of the summer is Calipari’s top point guard prospect, Trae Young.
Part of the reason that Porter (named NBC’s MVP) was so good during Peach Jam is that he had Trae Young beside him on MoKan. A 6-foot-1 guard with deep shooting range on pull-ups, Young is underrated as a setup guy as his aggressive scoring capabilities open up a lot of offense for his teammates. Also a member of the USA U18 team that won gold with Porter, if Young shoots it that efficiently from three-point range in the future, he’ll be in the discussion among the best guards in the class.
During the Peach Jam, I didn’t see a better guard in the gym, yet most recruiting services don’t even place Young in the top 20 overall. Young’s Team USA teammate, shooting guard Hamidou Diallo, was tabbed as an honorable mention on the wing.
The best big man award was delivered to DeAndre Ayton. The 7-foot Wildcat target beat his greatest competition consecutively — Marvin Bagley, Wendell Carter and Mitchell Robinson — to advance to the Peach Jam Final Four.
John Calipari’s three prospective point guards in the 2017 class were split up last weekend. Trae Young and Quade Green played for Team USA in the FIBA 18U Americas Tournament. Stateside, Tremont Waters’ Expressions Elite team was in Las Vegas for the Fab 48.
Waters plays alongside Nick Richards, the second-ranked center in the country who is high on Kentucky. Waters placed UK in his top seven, but Connecticut appears have taken the lead as the Cats intensify their talks with Quade Green.
While Young is an outlier that plays like Steph Curry, Green and Waters share a style similar to Tyler Ulis. They are both smaller guards that can use miraculous methods to create enough separation to release a shot. If there is a difference between the two, Green is more physical near the rim whereas Waters’ range extends farther. Check out Tremont’s step-back in the highlights below.
You know it’s a slow news day when I’m reporting that a basketball recruit included UK in his list of top 13 schools, but hey, that’s late July for you. Five-star point guard Quade Green listed UK in his top 13 schools on Twitter yesterday, along with Arizona, Duke, Georgetown, Kansas, Louisville, Maryland, Seton Hall, Syracuse, Temple, Villanova, Virginia and Xavier:
Top13 😏 pic.twitter.com/mHZnyp5eXB
— LiL AI (@Q_Green1) July 24, 2016
(I really hope that little smiley face is a nod to the fact that he’s only narrowed his list to 13 and people are still reporting on it.)
Green is the third point guard in the 2017 class UK offered behind Trae Young and Tremont Waters, and was one of five UK targets on the USA U18 Team that captured gold over the weekend at the FIBA Americas Championship in Chile. Kentucky continues to prioritize Young over Green and Waters at point guard, but given the roster exodus on the horizon, I’d expect Cal to try to snag two of the three, and Green’s put in a good showing this summer. Duke is still considered his favorite, with 81% of the predictions in the 247 Sports Crystal Ball.
All of this is really an excuse to watch Green’s highlights, because what else are we going to do on a day as miserably hot as this one?
New Albany, Indiana native Romeo Langford provided one of the best performances of the summer last night at the adidas National Championship in Las Vegas.
The best sophomore in America last season scored made 9-12 shots in the first half for 25 points, finishing the game with a cool 40, hitting five three-pointers and knocking down 11-13 free throws. His layup with 46 seconds gave his team the lead for good. Langford has an offer from Coach Calipari, who has spent some time watching him play in Vegas.
Check out the highlights from last night:
By Drew Franklin on ©July 22nd, 2016 @ 9:00pm
One of the top prospects in the 2017 basketball recruiting class eliminated some of his suitors today when he named nine finalists for his basketball services.
Jarred Vanderbilt, a five-star small forward, announced that he is down to Arizona, Baylor, Houston, Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina, Oregon, TCU and Texas.
I would like to thank every school who has ever recruited me. After deep evaluations, these are my final 9 schools‼️ pic.twitter.com/gb5CwVD3z2
— Jarred Vanderbilt (@JVando_) July 22, 2016
The Cats (of the UK variety) currently lead his Crystal Ball voting. CBSSports.com called him a strong Kentucky lean back in May.
Forward | 6-8 | 200 lbs.
Bellaire, TX | Victory Prep
AAU: Houston Hoops
|ESPN||No. 20 | 5 PF||Top247||No. 17 | 4 SF|
|Rivals||No. 13 | 4 PF||Scout||No. 15 | 2 PF|
If you read between the lines of Kentucky’s 2017 recruiting this summer, then you should consider five-star center Nick Richards high on John Calipari’s wish list. Not only has Cal backed off fellow big man Wendell Carter, he’s been keeping close tabs on Richards, who included Kentucky in his top five this week, along with Arizona, UConn, Syracuse, and Indiana. Calipari watched Richards and his teammate Tremont Waters at the Fab 48 Tournament in Las Vegas this week, and Richards told ESPN’s Jeff Borzello he’s feeling the love from the Cats.
“Syracuse, UConn and Kentucky have been coming for me the most, to be honest,” Richards said.
Borzello agreed that Kentucky could be moving into a very good spot with Richards.
“There’s been talk behind the scenes for a while that Kentucky could be the favorite if the Wildcats make him a priority, and Calipari could make a move for him if it looks like Carter and Bamba are Duke-bound and Ayton goes to Kansas,” Borzello said.
Don’t look for a decision anytime soon. Richards told Borzello he plans to take all five of his official visits the fall and then weigh his options. Right now, Kentucky has 100% of the predictions in his Crystal Ball.
Let’s enjoy some highlights, shall we?
Center | 6-11 | 235 lbs.
Manhasset, NY | St. Patrick’s
AAU: Expressions Elite
|ESPN||No. 8 | 3 C||Top247||No. 13 | 2 C|
|Rivals||No. 21 | 5 C||Scout||No. 31 | 8 C|
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©July 22nd, 2016 @ 12:15pm
Yesterday, John Calipari made the rounds in Vegas, stopping in to watch several recruits at the adidas Summer Championships. After receiving a scholarship offer back in April, five-star shooting guard Romeo Langford has been high atop Calipari’s wish list for the 2018 class, and yesterday, Cal was among a dozen or so coaches that watched Langford’s Eric Gordon team take on Zion Williamson’s Game Elite.
Shooting Guard | 6-6 | 195 lbs.
New Albany, IN | New Albany Senior
AAU: Eric Gordon
★★★★★ (2018 Class)
|ESPN||No. 2 | 1 PG||Top247||No. 2 | 1 SG|
|Rivals||No. 2||Scout||No. 2 | 1 SG|
Small Forward | 6-7 | 220 lbs.
Spartanburg, SC | Spartanburg Day School
AAU: Game Elite
★★★★★ (2018 Class)
|ESPN||No. 10 | 4 SF||Top247||No. 2 | 1 SF|
|Rivals||No. 3||Scout||No. 4 | 2 PF|
Williamson has yet to receive an offer from Calipari, but, after an impressive showing in Vegas, it’s only a matter of time. Check out these highlights:
— TakeMyTalent.com (@TakeMyTalent) July 22, 2016
— BallerVisions (@BallerVisions) July 21, 2016
And two monster jams from Langford:
Cal also checked in on 2019 shooting guard Matthew Hurt, four-star 2017 small forward Kimani Lawrence, and 2017 four-star power forward Tyler Polley.
By Nick Roush on ©July 21st, 2016 @ 7:00pm
The nation’s second-ranked small forward in the class of 2017 put on a show last night in front of John Calipari. The Cats are in Kevin Knox’s top ten, released earlier this week.
In the highlight video from Courtside Films, you will find a few big dunks from the elite athlete who proves he can handle the ball on the break. One of the deepest positions in this class, Knox is the most athletic small forward in the class. I knew he had a smooth mid-range shot, but he showed Cal he can extend that range.
As impressive as those plays were, Knox doesn’t have the biggest highlight of the Fab 48. That belongs to Isaiah Stokes, Jarnell’s younger brother. This is what he did to a backboard.
Last night, John Calipari arrived in Las Vegas to help out with the USA Basketball Fantasy Camp and do some recruiting. Between the end of the Summer League and Team USA Training Camp, a lot of Calipari’s former pupils are in Sin City as well, and you better believe Cal’s checking in on them, tweeting pictures with Derrick Rose, DeMarcus Cousins, the Harrison Twins, Willie Cauley-Stein, Tyler Ulis, and Devin Booker:
Dinner in Vegas last night! Nothing better. How many wins between these guys? pic.twitter.com/dxHVheSnDY
— John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) July 21, 2016
Two things strike me about these pictures: 1) How happy Cal looks; and 2) How tan he is. Seriously, I know the man has some Italian blood in him, but he looks like a VIP member at Sun Tan City. Between trips to Spain, the Jersey Shore and Jamaica, Cal’s looking absolutely sun kissed. He’s already darker than Devin Booker, and with a few more days in the Vegas sun, he’ll catch up to the rest of the players. If this keeps up, we’re going to have to nickname him “Magda”:
Calipari watched Kevin Knox last night
There are several recruiting tournaments going on in Vegas this week, and last night, Calipari stopped by the Las Vegas Fab 48 tourney to watch Kevin Knox, the second best small forward in the 2017 class. Duke’s considered the heavy favorite for Knox, but Cal made sure to put in an appearance at his game last night. He also checked in on rising sophomores Scottie Lewis and Bryan Antoine.
The football team is currently touring the new practice facility
Photos and videos of the team touring Kentucky’s new $45 million practice facility have dominated social media this morning, and I’ll have a wrap-up of them in just a bit, but for now, enjoy their initial reactions, as captured by KyWildcatsTV:
— KYwildcatsTV (@KYwildcatsTV) July 21, 2016
The media gets to tour the facility tomorrow, so brace yourself for more pictures, as well as a breakdown from Nick Roush and Freddie Maggard.
Speaking of Freddie, can someone explain Pokemon Go to him?
UK invited fans to come catch Pokemon at Commonwealth Stadium yesterday, which resulted in this text from our beloved Freddie:
Odds Freddie is actually the Wildcat Mascot, who brought a net to yesterday’s meetup?
Mark Stoops will (briefly) talk to reporters
Talking season is in full swing, and today, Stoops will address fans at the Rotary Luncheon at Fasig-Tipton in Lexington. Beforehand, he’ll briefly address reporters, so if he says anything of interest (besides, “we need to win games”), I’ll pass it along.
I’m no sneakerhead, but DeMarcus Cousins’ Team USA kicks are sharp
ICYMI, the NCAA is investigating South Florida
Things aren’t exactly going well for Orlando Antigua in South Florida. Yesterday, ESPN reported that Antigua’s brother, Oliver, is the focus of an NCAA investigation, and shortly after that report, Oliver resigned from his position as assistant coach. While Calipari’s haters will pounce on this as proof ‘Cal’s disciples are as crooked as he is!’, it’s important to note that Oliver Antigua never worked for Calipari.
Through two years at South Florida, Orlando Antigua is 17-48 with a dismal 8-25 record last season. There are few people in this world nicer than the former UK assistant, so here’s hoping the NCAA investigation doesn’t mean the end of his tenure as head coach.
KSR is at the RNC for Day 4 of the Convention
Things got a little dramatic at last night’s proceedings, so tune in to hear Matt, Ryan, and Drew break it down in the most ridiculous manner possible.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©July 20th, 2016 @ 8:45pm
Where in the world is John Calipari today? Las Vegas, where he’s hanging with his former point guard Derrick Rose, who is now with the New York Knicks. Calipari is in Sin City to help out with the USA Basketball Fantasy Camp and evaluate recruits at the Las Vegas Fab 48 tournament, where he’s currently watching Kevin Knox. Remember him? He’s good at basketball.
Small Forward | 6-8 | 195 lbs.
Tampa, FL | Tampa Catholic
|ESPN||No. 7 | 2 SF||Top247||No. 8 | 2 SF|
|Rivals||No. 7 | 2 SF||Scout||No. 6 | 2 SF|
While in town, I’m sure Calipari also check in on DeMarcus Cousins, Willie Cauley-Stein, Devin Booker, and Julius Randle at Team USA Training Camp.
I don’t think it’s possible to look any happier (or tanner) than Cal in that picture. A few more days in the Vegas sun and he’ll be as dark as Derrick.
So far this summer, we’ve focused mainly on the 2017 recruiting class, but John Calipari’s already handed out offers in the 2018 and 2019 classes as well. Today, 247 Sports updated their Top 247 rankings for the 2018 class, and, as you might expect, several Kentucky targets are near the top.
1. Marvin Bagley, PF (Offer)
2. Zion Williamson, SF
5. Romeo Langford, SG (Offer)
6. Cameron Reddish, SF (Offer)
7. Khavon Moore, SF
12. Javonte Smart, PG
15. Immanuel Quickley, PG
17. EJ Montgomery, PF
18. Nazreon Reid, PF
60. Coby White, CG
71. Jaedon LeDee, SF (Offer)
It’s incredibly early, but Kentucky has a slim lead in Bagley’s Crystal Ball, with 67% of predictions. Bagley is considered one of the top prospects in the country regardless of class, hype which he backed up with an impressive performance at the Peach Jam. At 7-foot, Bagley can do it all, according to Scout.com’s Evan Daniels.
“At this point, he doesn’t have a peer in his class. No one is threatening him for the No. 1 spot,” Daniels told Sports Illustrated. “Even at his size, he’s athletic, he’s mobile, he’s versatile, he can score the ball in a variety of ways. He hasn’t shown any rust from not playing last season. If anything, he’s gotten better.”
It’s also worth noting that Shareef O’Neal, son of Shaquille O’Neal, is ranked ninth. The 6’9″ power forward doesn’t have an offer from Kentucky yet, but if it’s up to his famous dad, he’ll be at Kentucky in 2018.
By Nick Roush on ©July 19th, 2016 @ 5:30pm
Team USA began their quest for the U18 FIBA Americas tournament championship today in Chile, easily taking down Puerto Rico 103-70. UK’s five recruits in the Class of 2017 weren’t world-beaters in their debut, but they excelled in their respective specialities.
Trae Young: The point guard that’s known for his shooting range only took four shots, missing his two three-point attempts. Despite only scoring 3 points, he grabbed 5 rebounds and dished out a team-high 4 assists in 22 minutes. While he was on the floor, his team was +24 on the scoreboard, better than any other player.
P.J. Washington: The power forward played more minutes than anyone on Team USA, grabbing a team-high 10 rebounds in the process. Like Young, he struggled to score, but even on bad days he’s going to effectively clean the glass.
Hamidou Diallo: Diallo made the smallest dent in the box score, scoring 4 points with 3 assists.
Quade Green: UK’s other top point guard prospect scored 8 points and handed out 3 assists. It will be interesting to see how Green’s game for Team USA works out. Playing behind Trae Young, he was only in for 13 minutes. Even though the two said playing together at the next level is a possibility, that might change if they do not play significant minutes together in this tournament.
Mohamed Bamba: Nobody made more of their minutes than Mo Bamba. He only played 13 minutes, but in that short amount of time he scored 14 points. Bamba also had 4 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 block. It’s going to be awfully difficult to defend Bamba throughout the tournament. All he has to do is stay in shape and stay out of foul trouble.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©July 19th, 2016 @ 1:23pm
Feel like doing a little scouting this afternoon? Five of UK’s top 2017 targets — Mohamed Bamba, Hamidou Diallo, Quade Green, PJ Washington, and Trae Young — are in Chile with the Team USA U18 squad for the FIBA Americas championships, and thanks to the wonders of technology, you can watch them play Puerto Rico at 1:30 p.m. on YouTube:
Bonus points if you can spot UK assistant Joel Justus, who’s recruiting there this week. Between the FIBA U17 Championships in Spain and the FIBA Americas in Chile, Justus has been quite the world traveler this summer. (Yes, I’m jealous.)