It was another wild and news-filled week around Big Blue Nation and KentuckySportsRadio.com. If you →
Basketball Recruiting News
Before they were signed on to play Kentucky, Malik Monk, Bam Adebayo and De’Aaron Fox were competing against one another. Months after the annual Top 100 Camp, Courtside Films has released this unseen footage of the future teammates facing off against one another.
It’s hard to tell who is the most impressive. You be the judge.
Five-star forward P.J. Washington is the latest Calipari recruit to include the Cats while cutting his list.
Findlay Prep’s finest is considered the #23 prospect in the nation and #8 small forward by the 247 Composite Rankings. Their Crystal Ball favors Kentucky more than any other school, with Texas as a not-so close second.
Washington told 247 Sports back in April that Kentucky is near the top of his list, along with three other schools he plans on visiting: Michigan State, Texas and North Carolina. Here’s what he said about UK after taking an unofficial visit in late March:
“It’s a great facility,” Washington recalled. “I feel like it’s one of the easiest ways to get into the league. I feel like it’s almost everybody’s dream to go there. I want to see how they are going to do next year definitely and I’m going to take an official there.”
Two weeks after coming to Lexington, John Calipari returned the favor by visiting Washington’s home. Calipari has obviously made him a priority and you can see why from watching just one of Washington’s many highlight reels below.
When the Cats didn’t make Michael Porter Jr.’s Top Five, Washington became much more important. It’s good to see he’s feeling that love from Kentucky.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©May 23rd, 2016 @ 12:00pm
Trae Young is UK’s top priority at point guard in the 2017 class, but before he makes his college decision, he has to decide whether or not he wants to attend prep school in the fall. Young currently attends Norman North High in Norman, Oklahoma, but may choose to spend his senior year at a prep school like Findlay Prep in Henderson, Nevada, or Montverde Academy in Orlando, Florida. Young told KUSports.com’s Gary Bedore he plans to make that decision by the end of the month.
Kentucky is currently the favorite in Young’s Crystal Ball, with 60% of the predictions, and interestingly, it was John Calipari who first planted the prep school seed in Young’s head. Shortly after receiving an offer from Calipari last August, Young told reporters he was considering prep school for his senior year after Calipari and other high-profile coaches suggested it. You might remember this because, at the time, The Norman Transcript’s Clay Horning wrote a scathing column about Calipari, condemning him for suggesting Young leave Norman for his senior year, calling it another example of “the slimy underbelly of big-time, big-prospect, high school-slash-college basketball.”
Before I get all fired up about that column again, let’s watch some of Young’s recent highlights and wish the kid luck in his senior season — wherever he goes.
By Nick Roush on ©May 21st, 2016 @ 10:30pm
— Kentucky picked up a commitment at a position of need for the Class of 2017 when JUCO defensive lineman Phil Hoskins chose the Cats over Baylor, Oklahoma State and others. He was one of many talented visitors in town this weekend.
— The highest-rated player in the state and Stoops’ top target, Lafayette offensive tackle Jedrick Wills, kept the Cats in his Top Ten. Wills is the No. 8 offensive tackle and No. 35 overall prospect according to the 247 Composite Rankings.
— Four-star outside linebacker Justin Foster put UK in his top seven alongside Clemson, Alabama, Georgia, Notre Dame, Stanford and Tennessee.
Marques Bolden picked Duke. It was kind of a bummer because no matter what, you always get a little worked up leading into the event. However, it’s not the end of the world. UK still has the #1 recruiting class and it leaves two silver linings
- The Cats can play more small-ball with Willis and Bam as the forwards.
- All of the pressure from the public lies on Duke, not Kentucky.
We won’t have to hear 40-0 in the fall, Duke will.
The pair of Toledo Central Catholic commits in the class of 2017 are no longer pledged to Kentucky. It felt as though it were only a matter of time before 4-star defensive end James Hudson decommitted. With offers from Derrick Ansley at Alabama and every other college football powerhouse, it was a reasonable decision.
When Hudson decommitted, there was still a chance he could come back to UK (even though recommitting is rare) because his running back, Michael Warren, was still committed to Kentucky. That changed two days later when Warren re-opened his recruitment.
We know it’s common for early football commits to back out of their pledge, but these were two of the best players from one of the best teams in all of Ohio.
It wasn’t a great week in recruiting, but at least it ended on a high note with Hoskins’ commitment.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©May 20th, 2016 @ 11:00pm
Good evening, my friends, or as the fans in the picture above would say, buonasera. We’ve finally reached the end of a long, busy week, and just in case you missed something, I’ve collected our best posts for you. De nadda.
It feels like so long ago, but on Monday, Calipari released the final part of his “Vision for the Program Series” in which he announced he will retire at UK. If you’re feeling down about Marques Bolden, give that another read and it will make you feel better.
Afterwards, Drew examined which goals Calipari is likely to achieve if he stays at UK another ten years.
Inspired by the big Rangers/Blue Jays fight, Freddie Maggard told us which UK football players from the past he would consider “enforcers.”
Nick Roush and TJ Walker broke down another classic episode of “Game of Thrones.”
We had our first Cincinnati Reds baseball report from Eric Roseberry.
Finally, I gave ten suggestions on how to jazz up the game day atmosphere at Rupp Arena, which is one of Calipari’s top priorities over the next few years.
Man, a lot happened on Monday.
2016 signee Chanin Scott decommitted, yet another blow for the UK Hoops program.
UofL fans overreacted to the Yum Center’s promotion of the Timberwolves/Heat preseason game.
NBA Cats were all over the Draft Lottery.
De’Aaron Fox’s new mixtape got us excited for next season.
I attempted to figure out where the UK Hoops program goes after a month of turnover and turmoil.
We found out Charles Matthews is transferring.
Isaiah Briscoe’s dad told Kyle Tucker his son has regained all the confidence he lost during his freshman season at Kentucky during NBA workouts. Hmm.
The first of two bits of bad news for Stoops and company this week.
A lot of Marques Bolden stuff.
Gabriel said he was proud to pick Kentucky over Duke, making him a frontrunner for favorite incoming freshman.
A great feel-good story about Devin and his special guest at the Draft Lottery.
Fox, Monk, Briscoe, Bam, and Willis seems to be the most popular lineup.
Freddie Maggard gives you his way-too-early predictions for football season.
I’ll leave you with this because I’ve watched it so many times today and it’s still funny:
Looking for something to do today before the rain starts? Head on out to John Cropp Stadium at UK and cheer on the UK Softball Team, who is hosting the 2016 NCAA Softball Regional. UK, the 1-seed, plays 4-seed Butler at 1:30 p.m. ET. That game will be preceded by (2) Utah vs. (3) Illinois at 11 a.m. If you can’t make it in person, you can cheer the ladies on via ESPN3.
Here’s the complete schedule for the weekend:
Friday, May 20
Game 1: (2) Utah vs. (3) Illinois – 11 a.m. ET [ESPN3, WatchESPN app, ESPNU Bases Loaded]
Game 2: (1) Kentucky vs. (4) Butler – 1:30 p.m. ET [ESPN3, WatchESPN app, ESPNU Bases Loaded]
Saturday, May 21
Game 3: Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2 – 1 p.m. ET [ESPN3, WatchESPN app, ESPNU Bases Loaded]
Game 4: Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2 – 3:30 p.m. ET [ESPN3, WatchESPN app, ESPNU Bases Loaded]
Game 5: Loser Game 3 vs. Winner Game 4 – 6 p.m. ET [ESPN3, WatchESPN app, ESPNU Bases Loaded]
Sunday, May 22
Game 6: Winner Game 3* vs. Winner Game 5 – 1pm ET [ESPN3, WatchESPN app, ESPNU Bases Loaded]
Game 7 (if necessary) – Same teams – 3:30 p.m. ET [ESPN3, WatchESPN app, ESPNU Bases Loaded]
The winner moves on to the Super Regional next weekend. This should get you in the mood:
Elsewhere in UK Sports world…
All eyes turn to Isaiah Briscoe and Marcus Lee
With Marques Bolden headed to Duke, the final two questions concerning Kentucky’s roster next season center around Isaiah Briscoe and Marcus Lee. Lee seems adamant about staying in the draft despite receiving terrible feedback at the Combine, while Briscoe has gotten great feedback during individual workouts with teams. Earlier this week, Briscoe’s father told Kyle Tucker that his son regained confidence during the process of working out teams, confidence he was apparently lacking during his time at Kentucky. This week, Briscoe worked out for his hometown Nets, who have a second round pick. If offered, it’s hard to see him passing that up.
That being said, I maintain that Briscoe is the key to Kentucky winning a national title next season.
UK Hoops picked up a much-needed player last night
In case you missed the news when it broke late last night, 3-star point guard Jaida Roper committed to Kentucky. Roper, a Memphis native, is a former Louisiana Tech signee who was released by her National Letter of Intent after the Tyler Summitt scandal and will be able to play next season. This is really, really good news for UK Hoops, who now has seven players for next season.
JuCo DL Phil Hoskins is on campus
Could the football team get some good news too? Justin Rowland is reporting that 6’5″ 280 lbs. JuCo defensive lineman Phil Hoskins is visiting campus today. Hoskins has offers from Baylor, Houston, Iowa State, Mississippi State, Syracuse, Central Florida, and others, and getting him on campus is a big deal for Stoops and company in the wake of James Hudson’s decommitment.
Enjoy your stay, Phil. Make yourself at home.
Kent Bulle goes for that money in Greenville, SC
Our friend Kent Bulle is playing in the BMW Charity Pro-Am today in Greenville, South Carolina, and he’ll have another friendly face cheering him on today alongside caddy and former KSR writer Aaron Flener. Drew made the trek to South Carolina to cheer on Bulle, who is currently -5 and tied for 17th. He tees off in about ten minutes, so if you want to keep track of his progress, follow along on PGATour.com.
Tony Vanetti steps in to cohost KSR
With Ryan Lemond on vacation, Matt’s called up Tony Vanetti from the bullpen. Tune in an hour from now to hear Tony and Matt do their thing. Maybe Tony will treat us to his Australian accent.
Finally, Steph is great, but LeBron is also insane:
— Cleveland Cavaliers (@cavs) May 20, 2016
How are the 2016 signees taking the news that Marques Bolden is heading to Duke? Just fine, it seems:
Tunnel vision 😈
— De'Aaron Fox (@Swipathef0x) May 19, 2016
Nice use of that devil emoji, De’Aaron.
— Bam Adebayo™ (@IAmBam13_) May 19, 2016
Don’t forget the retweets, those speak volumes too:
And, of course, Wenyen Gabriel’s mic drop we already devoted a whole post to:
And he's proud of it. https://t.co/92IQyTCg1U
— UPMΛN™⁶ (@WenyenGabriel) May 19, 2016
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©May 19th, 2016 @ 5:30pm
Earlier this afternoon, Marques Bolden picked Duke over Kentucky, which was not quite the ideal outcome for Wildcat fans; however, as a UK sports blogger, it’s my job to point out the silver linings and spin this as a positive for the Cats. It wasn’t easy, but I spent the past hour or so coming up with reasons why UK is just fine without Bolden, thank you very much.
First, here’s a look at the current roster:
(Isaiah Briscoe and Marcus Lee’s decisions are still pending)
Smaller, faster lineup, even more minutes for Bam
The reason UK went after Bolden was to fill up the post with a solid, back-to-the-basket type presence — a “big butt guy,” as Ryan Lemond would say — but with Bolden out of the picture, to me, this means a smaller, faster lineup and more minutes for Bam Adebayo. At 6’9″ 230 lbs., Bam can play alongside 6’10” Wenyen Gabriel or 6’9″ Derek Willis to stretch the court. If Isaiah Briscoe comes back, I expect Calipari to stick with three guards in the starting lineup:
- G: De’Aaron Fox
- G: Malik Monk
- G: Isaiah Briscoe
- F: Derek Willis
- F: Bam Adebayo
If Marcus Lee decides to return to school, you could rotate Lee and Killeya-Jones in at the four/five spots.
Isaiah Briscoe’s decision becomes even more important
Bolden and Briscoe obviously play very different positions, but with Bolden off to Duke, Kentucky needs Briscoe back more than ever. Not only would having Briscoe make it easier for Cal to go with a three-guard lineup to compensate for size in the post, this team needs Briscoe’s defense. Briscoe’s dad’s comments yesterday about his son regaining confidence in his NBA workouts have me worried he’ll decide to stay in the draft, so here’s hoping that in the next week, he realizes just how much he could gain by coming back to school and working on his jump shot for a year. In my opinion, Briscoe is the key to Kentucky making another championship run.
If Briscoe decides to stay in the draft, I’m looking at you, Dominique Hawkins.
Time for Isaac Humphries to step up
The best thing that could happen for Kentucky this offseason? Isaac Humphries turning into a star. Humphries had his ups and downs his first season at UK, as expected, but with Bolden out of the picture, he could step in and really be a difference maker. Like last year, Kentucky will need a big guy down low from time to time, and the opportunity is there for Isaac Humphries if he chooses to accept it.
The spotlight will be on someone else for once
The best thing about Bolden heading to Duke? Duke is all but assured to be the preseason number one, and will get to enjoy all the pressure and expectations that come along with it. It’s already started:
- Marques Bolden’s commitment adds to Duke’s embarrassment of riches
- Duke basketball’s latest signing instantly makes them the 2017 title favorites
- With addition of 5-star center Marques Bolden, Duke is college basketball’s clear No. 1
- Dream Team headed to Duke? Nation’s top center Marques Bolden picks Blue Devils
Kentucky will be up there as well, of course, but for once, another mega team will have the spotlight. As someone who has watched teams both win and wilt under that load, I’m just fine with Kentucky hanging out on the sidelines and coming in at the end to steal a title.
…Kind of like Duke did. Twice.
Finally, if you’re still feeling down, watch this
See? Just fine.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©May 19th, 2016 @ 4:00pm
Duke may have gotten Marques Bolden, but according to ESPN and Rivals, Kentucky still has the #1 recruiting class in the country:
In our team rankings, Kentucky still remains as the No. 1 class, with five five-star prospects entering the fold next season.
— Jeff Borzello (@jeffborzello) May 19, 2016
It’s a close call, but with five five-star prospects, Kentucky holds the edge over Duke for No. 1 in 2016 team recruiting rankings.
— Eric Bossi (@ebosshoops) May 19, 2016
247 Sports and Scout now give Duke the edge. Here are both classes for comparison:
And don’t forget about Brad Calipari!
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©May 19th, 2016 @ 3:20pm
Future Cat Wenyen Gabriel was one of the 2016 signees who attempted to convince Marques Bolden to come to Kentucky, but once Bolden chose Duke, Gabriel made it very clear how he feels about the Blue Devils:
Now that’s a true Wildcat.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©May 19th, 2016 @ 2:56pm
It’s finally over and Marques Bolden picked Duke, ending the long Big Blue National nightmare. Kentucky will hang on to the number one class in Rivals and ESPN’s recruiting rankings, while Duke is now in front according to 247 Sports.
That’s all whatever, but what I’m really interested in is Duke’s official basketball Twitter account taking a shot at Kentucky with this tweet:
— Duke Basketball (@dukeblueplanet) May 19, 2016
If you’ve been reading Calipari’s remarks over the last few weeks, that tweet clearly takes a shot at his “we don’t give kids the fish, we give them the fishing rod” speech.
“Our approach is to give them the fishing rod and the lures to help them catch fish, not to just give you the fish,” Cal wrote on May 9.
Oh, it’s on.
It is ON.
UPDATE: Duke deleted the tweet because they are lame, but fortunately, screenshots don’t lie…
It’s almost the moment we’ve all been waiting for! Marques Bolden is minutes away from announcing his decision, and I’ll be here to take you through the latest happenings.
Until then, here are the latest updates:
2:35 PM: We continue to wait. And Marques has his own bobblehead:
2:26 PM: The site is crashing, but if you can get through, I switched videos to a less popular stream. Apparently, Bolden has gone to change…again.
2:16 PM: Bolden just changed t-shirts:
2:15 PM: There are also blue balloons tied to a bobblehead: (more…)
We are less than thirty minutes away from Marques Bolden’s announcement, but the big man is in the house at DeSoto High School, wearing a…TCU shirt?!? 247 Sports’ William Wilkerson is in the gym and just tweeted this photo of Bolden, who everyone assumed was choosing between Kentucky and Duke.
Bahaha. Regardless of what happens, Bolden just went a notch up in my book for some quality trolling.
Suddenly, some scuttlebutt, courtesy of our fearless leader. If you go by Matt’s sources — which, 95% of the time, you should — Kentucky’s chances of landing Marques Bolden do not look good. Minutes ago, Matt tweeted that after having a few last minute conversations, he thinks Bolden is likely to pick Duke.
Of course, those sources could be mistaken. Or maybe it’s a smokescreen. Or maybe you should just prepare yourself for it being Duke because it’s happening in about an hour anyways.
If so, this will be on repeat in the KSR bunker for the rest afternoon. (Language NSFW or kids!)