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Basketball Recruiting News
By Brett Bibbins on ©April 16th, 2017 @ 6:00pm
By now, everyone has seen the videos of the number 2 player in ESPN’s top 60 for the class of 2018, Zion Williamson. He’s a freak athlete and his dunks would be nothing short of amazing to see in an NBA game, much less a high school gym.
He was recently invited to the ESPN studios to take part in putting some ESPN employees on the dunk cam.
While these dunks aren’t especially impressive, take a look at what Williamson does with a real ball on a real hoop in real games. Unbelievable.
If Coach Cal can land this kid, Rupp is going to be seeing some dunks it has never seen before.
By Eli Mitchell on ©April 16th, 2017 @ 3:00pm
The No. 7 overall player in the class of 2017 had the opportunity to follow the Brandon Jennings Model by playing professionally overseas for a season before becoming eligible for the 2018 NBA Draft.
According to the Tampa Bay Times, a Chinese Professional team offered Kevin Knox a $1.4 million contract for the 2017-18 season. Knox’s father told the Times, “we politely said thanks but no thanks. He’s going to college.”
Knox has narrowed down his recruitment to 5 schools with Kentucky, North Carolina, Duke, Florida State and Missouri in the mix. The 5-star prospect is expected to make his announcement sometime before May 10th.
Duke is considered the favorite to land Knox but anything can happen in college basketball recruiting.
Illinois Mr. Basketball and UK target Mark Smith discussed his upcoming visit to Lexington after last night’s Derby Classic with Darrell Bird of Cats Pause.
There was speculation that Kentucky would no longer be considered by Smith after the commitment of California shooting guard Jemarl Baker but the 4-star prospect told T.J Walker of Cats Illustrated earlier this week , “That doesn’t change my interest at all.”
Smith is excited to visit Lexington to “meet some of the players, see what Cal’s plan would be for me, see how the campus is, and get to meet the coaches.”
Check out everything Smith had to say about his upcoming visit, his relationship with Kenny Payne, and his Derby Classic teammate UK Commit Shai Gilgeous-Alexander :
By Nick Roush on ©April 15th, 2017 @ 9:30pm
Kentucky signee Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was a class above the competition at tonight’s Kentucky Derby Festival Basketball Classic. The future UK combo guard led all players in scoring (29 points) and assists (6) to take home MVP honors at Freedom Hall.
He wasted no time getting to work, knocking down this trey on the second possession of the game.
— Nick Roush (@RoushKSR) April 16, 2017
Shortly after that bucket, he took it to the rim in transition, AND THE FOUL.
AND ONE pic.twitter.com/yxsIY9IX4R
— Nick Roush (@RoushKSR) April 16, 2017
What makes SGA’s dominance even more impressive is that he only played about 20 minutes. He also won the three-point shooting contest at halftime, with the closest competitor falling by four buckets.
UK signee Shai Gilgeous-Alexander easily wins the 3 point shooting contest at the Kentucky Derby Basketball Classic. pic.twitter.com/EnB3geE2R4
— Jonathan Dunn (@jdunnLEX18) April 16, 2017
The first Kentucky scholarship signee to play in the game since Derek Willis and Dominique Hawkins, SGA also had 9 rebounds. Illinois Mr. Basketball Mark Smith, a shooting guard recruit visiting Lexington next week, finished with 7 points, 6 assists and 4 rebounds. The Team Lightning teammates won 122-109 over the Louisville signee-filled Team Thunder.
The update is there is no update…yet.
After traveling back to Houston, Vanderbilt’s father told T.J. Walker he will receive x-ray results on Monday. The future Kentucky small forward injured his right ankle with 36 seconds left in last night’s Jordan Brand Classic. Injuries to Vanderbilt’s left foot sidelined him for a significant portion of his summer and senior season.
Until Monday, keep your fingers crossed for Jarred.
By Nick Roush on ©April 15th, 2017 @ 4:30pm
Future Kentucky combo guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has an established reputation is an exceptional penetrator. SGA can get to the rim, but many have questioned his outside shooting ability. Last night, he answered that question.
At the Kentucky Derby Festival Basketball Classic’s “Night of the Future Stars,” Gilgeous-Alexander ran away with the preliminary round of the three-point shooting competition. SGA drained 19 threes, four more than his closest competitor. WDRB has footage from his performance.
Alongside Kentucky target Mark Smith, SGA will compete against UofL and IU’s recruiting classes at Freedom Hall. Tickets are $18 and the game tips off at 7:00. If you can’t make it to the fairgrounds, but are in the Louisville area, you can watch the game on WDRB.
The second-ranked center in the 2018 class, David McCormack, will take an unofficial visit to the University of Kentucky tomorrow. According to Evan Daniels, the No. 44 player in the 2018 class will see UK’s campus a day after visiting UofL.
“Massive” might be the best word to describe McCormack. The 6’10” 300-pounder is a powerful post for Oak Hill Academy. Maryland, Georgetown, N.C. State and Kansas are currently his top suitors. He does not have a scholarship offer from John Calipari. Watch him work:
The 16th Jordan Brand Classic rolled through Brooklyn’s Barclays Center last night, rounding out the third straight weekend of High School All-Star tournaments for the class of 2017.
Quade Green, Nick Richards, Jarred Vanderbilt, and P.J. Washington were on hand representing Jordan Brand’s tournament-high four commitments for Kentucky. Duke and Alabama notched two each.
Divided into East and West, Green and Vanderbilt represented the East with Richards, Washington, and Kentucky-hopeful Bamba on the West.
Jarred Vanderbilt injured with :36 remaining
With 36 seconds remaining in the game, Jarred Vanderbilt had to be carried off the court after a nasty ankle injury. This happened after Vanderbilt lead all Kentucky players with 17 points, adding on an impressive 7 rebounds, 2 blocks, and 1 steal.
Coming into the week, I had the most questions about Vanderbilt. Vanderbilt answered these, and then some.
Vanderbilt was ‘positionless’ on the court. He was a high-efficiency scorer, hustled for rebounds, and displayed a surprising ball-handling ability.
Here, Vanderbilt goes coast-to-coast for an and-1.
— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) April 15, 2017
After the game, I asked P.J. Washington if he had any updates on Vanderbilt
“He was just in the training room and I went in to see if he was okay. It seem like he’s doing fine, but I’m not sure.” Vanderbilt posted this on Instagram shortly after the game.
Prayers out to Vanderbilt. There is no question that the young man has put in work on court over the past few months. It shows up on the stat sheet and will be rewarded as he continues to soar up the recruiting rankings. We hope this is just a minor setback.
From Kentucky to Bowling Green
Quade Green turned in 6 points, 5 rebounds, 1 steal and a game high 9 assists. Other than the alarming 9 turnovers, Green looked to be the dominant point guard on the floor.
Providing highlight after highlight in the first half, Quade Green hooked up with WKU commit Mitchell Robinson for countless ally-oops.
The umpteenth lob from Quade Green to Mitchell Robinson. pic.twitter.com/6MNAZ5SFPw
— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) April 15, 2017
Aside from the no-look, dime dropping delights, Green exhibited annoying defense and a sweet jumper. The comparisons heard throughout the week to Tyler Ulis are no joke.
As for rooming with Mo Bamba and his efforts of getting the big man to Kentucky, Green said, “I only need Mo to come in. Get the papers ready to sign for us.”
Nick Richards likes to dunk
The New Jersey native went 5-7 from the field for 10 points, three of which were backboard-rattling dunks. Having trouble developing a rhythm on the boards, Richards turned in an underwhelming 3 rebounds and 1 block.
Richards did, however, give us the highlight of the night.
— Overtime (@overtime) April 15, 2017
Bamba (Surprisingly) Struggled
Despite being one of the more impressive players during practices, Bamba went 3-9 from the field for a mere 6 points, 2 assists, 1 block, and 1 steal. Luckily, Bamba dominated the boards leading the West with 10 rebounds.
Bamba was a a media member’s dream. There’s no telling how many times Bamba has answered the same recruiting questions over-and-over again. Nevertheless, each is answered with a smile.
I couldn’t pick up any signs throughout the week as to where I felt Bamba swayed. During the practices, I saw him hanging out a lot with P.J Washington and Nick Richards, even hugging them in the huddles.
Tonight, I leave feeling that Texas and Duke are still very much in the thick of it.
Hearing some of the non-Kentucky guys yelling “Hook ’em, Mo!” during media interviews, and Duke-commit Gary Trent Jr. encouraging Bamba to “tell them really where you are really going,” left me feeling less confident.
I understand that both of these pro-Texas and Duke signs could be paranoid observations on my end, but take it as you will.
Future Kentucky small forward Jarred Vanderbilt received raved reviews for his early performance in the Jordan Brand Classic, but his game ended in the worst way possible.
With less only 36 seconds remaining in the game, Vanderbilt planted his right foot awkwardly on a drive to the basket. He remained on the floor, writhing in pain for minutes until he was helped off the court without putting any weight on his right leg. There’s no word on the severity of his injured right ankle.
In the last month Vanderbilt’s stock has soared, primarily because he was finally healthy. Vanderbilt missed chunks of the EYBL, including the Peach Jam, and his high school regular season while dealing with ankle and foot injuries. Before the injury, he had 17 points and 7 rebounds.
Jarred posted this on Instagram to reassure the BBN that he’s okay.
Back in February I went to New Jersey to watch Nick Richards in a tournament at Isaiah Briscoe’s old high school. Richards looked decent through foul trouble, but the trip was worth it to see Naz Reid, a big man in the 2018 class. Dude was incredible and I knew I’d be hearing a lot more about him soon.
Well now’s that time.
John Calipari and Tony Barbee had an in-home visit with Reid today in Jersey, according to this guy:
Nazreon Reid, a class of 2018 PF from Sports U (NJ), just had an in-home visit with Kentucky's John Calipari and Tony Barbee.
— Pat Lawless (@PatLawless_) April 14, 2017
Calipari and Barbee were also in attendance when I caught my first glimpse of him, and it’s no surprise they made a return trip for more.
Watch this young man do his thing and then explain to me how he is a junior in high school:
By Drew Franklin on ©April 14th, 2017 @ 10:30am
Like you and me, Nick Richards wants Mohamed Bamba in Kentucky blue next season. We want him because we want the best for the Cats; Richards wants him so they can form a dominant, defensive-minded duo in the paint.
At the Jordan Brand Classic yesterday Richards told Adam Zagoria, “Nobody not gonna score any layups if we go to Kentucky… Blocking shots all day, every day.”
Richards plays an active role in the recruitment of Bamba even though they could be competing for minutes next season. The “block shots all day” quote further proves he genuinely wants his fellow big man to join him in Lexington so they can form a new set of twin towers.
And how fun does that sound?
For more from Richards and others about Bamba, check out Zagoria’s story here.
After California shooting guard Jemarl Baker committed to Kentucky earlier this week, many believed it closed the door on Pitt grad transfer Cameron Johnson or Mr. Illinois Basketball Mark Smith. For Smith, that’s not the case.
“That doesn’t change my interest at all,” Smith told Cats Illustrated’s T.J. Walker. Smith is in Louisville this weekend to play in Saturday night’s Derby Festival Classic. Before he arrived, he received a text from Kenny Payne, who reassured him that there’s still plenty of room for another shooting guard in Lexington. Smith will return to Kentucky next week to visit UK’s campus.
Smith will also visit Ohio State next week. He took a trip to East Lansing a week ago where Tom Izzo urged him to commit to Michigan State. While Smith weighs his options, the Cats have two things working in their favor.
Smith grew up as a bit of a UK fan, watching Kentucky from afar. Once they contacted him it was “a dream come true.” When Calipari showed up at his door he was left “speechless.” He will be connected to UK throughout his time in Louisville. Smith’s roommate for the Derby Classic is Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
Smith plans on announcing his college choice not long after next week’s visits. If you can’t wait to watch him play, be at Freedom Hall Saturday night at 7:00. Tickets are $18 and can be purchased here.
By Nick Roush on ©April 12th, 2017 @ 7:05pm
During John Calipari’s tenure at Kentucky, rarely do we witness a late recruiting surprise. The emergence of California shooting guard Jemarl Baker is an exception to that rule. You’ve seen snippets, but this highlight from Courtside Films encapsulates Baker’s game perfectly.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©April 12th, 2017 @ 5:00pm
Quade Green and Mohamed Bamba are good friends and AAU teammates, so it’s not surprising that the two are rooming together this week leading up to the Jordan Brand Classic. In an interview with our own Colleen Wagoner today, Bamba said Quade has definitely taken advantage of the extra time with Bamba to try to convince the big man to join him in Lexington.
“I’m roommates with Quade and Quade’s going to Kentucky, so he’s throwing in his pitch,” Bamba said, adding that Duke signees Gary Trent Jr. and Wendell Carter have also been “pretty relentless” and even Matt Coleman has been trying to sway him to Texas. “It’s pretty chill. Everyone knows and respects the process, so there’s no pressure or anything.”
Even though the spring signing period started today, Bamba maintains that he hasn’t made his decision yet; however, he is enjoying seeing his fellow high school all-stars react to being in his hometown of New York City.
“It means a lot, being able to play in front of your hometown and watching guys with wide eyes when you walk through the city, and I’m just like, it’s home to me,” Bamba said.
Watch the rest of his interview below for more, along with a few highlights Colleen caught during practice. I can’t overstate how much I’d like to see this kid in Kentucky blue and white next season.
Bamba shooting a three:
Bamba vs. 7-foot DeAndre Ayton:
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©April 12th, 2017 @ 3:30pm
Today is Media Day at the Jordan Brand Classic, and KSR’s own Colleen Wagoner was there to interview Kentucky’s 2017 class and the two players that may still join it, Mohamed Bamba and Kevin Knox. As you surely know by now, ESPN’s 30 for 30 on John Calipari debuts tomorrow night at 9 p.m., and Knox said he’s definitely going to tune in.
“I’m looking forward to watching it,” Knox said. “Coach Cal is a great guy, great sense of humor, so it’s definitely great. It’s going to be a great film. I know all the Kentucky kids will probably watch it, so I’ll end up watching it too.”
PJ Washington, Nick Richards, and Jarred Vanderbilt echoed Knox’s excitement, with Richards telling Colleen he’s excited to see it because “just the way that [Calipari] talks to his players, he’s basically going to tell the truth.”
Hopefully the Kentucky boys have a nice little viewing party in NYC tomorrow night and that they give Knox and Bamba the best seats.