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Calipari checking in on Cam Reddish and Louis King

Before heading to Canada to check on Simi Shittu, John Calipari is taking in one more game in Las Vegas. According to Adam Zagoria, Calipari is once again watching Cam Reddish and Louis King at the Las Vegas Fab48 this morning. Cal has been keeping a close eye on the pair after coaching them in the FIBA World Cup, and while Reddish already has an offer from Kentucky, King has yet to land one. Given how well the five-star small forward has played this summer, you have to think it’s only a matter of time. Check out this play from Wednesday:

And Reddish’s highlights from another game in Vegas this week, with Calipari courtside:

If you’re wondering where all the fans are, they’re over at the Cashman Center to see the LaVar Ball show, which has already proved to be a circus this morning. During Big Baller Brand’s game vs. Immanuel Quickley and Team BBC, Ball demanded a female official be replaced after she called a technical on him. You know, just in case you’d forgotten how terrible he is.


Top 10 recruit Mitchell Robinson leaves Western Kentucky

Top 10 recruit Mitchell Robinson leaves Western Kentucky

Here’s some eye-opening news: five-star center Mitchell Robinson has left Western Kentucky. Mitchell, a consensus top 10 recruit, was primed to be a game changer for Rick Stansbury at Western, but this morning, the school’s student paper tweeted out that he has left campus:

Whoa. Earlier this month, former UNC star Shammond Williams, who is Robinson’s godfather, resigned from Western’s staff. Since then, rumors spread that Robinson was rethinking his commitment to Western, but he arrived on campus and enrolled in classes. Now, it appears he’s had a change of heart.

Where will Robinson go from here? Overseas? Prep school? Lexington?

(Just kidding on that last one. Kind of.)


We created LaVar Ball…and now we have to live with him

It’s hard to believe that a few years ago, no one had heard of LaVar Ball; now, he’s everywhere, and we only have ourselves to blame.

Last night, the biggest attraction in Las Vegas wasn’t at the MGM Grand, T-Mobile Arena, or the countless pool parties sloshing up and down The Strip; it was at the Cashman Center, a convention center and sports complex on Las Vegas Boulevard north of Fremont Street. By now, you’ve read about the crowd, which reached capacity hours before the main event, to the point that even LeBron James was told to stay away. Thousands more watched online via a Facebook Live stream, which now has over one million views. What did they come to see? LaVar, his youngest son LaMelo, and the Big Baller Squad take on Zion Williamson’s SC Supreme. But, if we’re being honest with ourselves here, they were really there for LaVar.

In the swift span of two years, LaVar Ball has become basketball’s ultimate entertainer. Like the Kardashians, he has somehow become the topic of everyone’s conversation without actually doing anything of merit. When you strip away the talk, the branding, and the hysteria, all you’re left with is a man with a big mouth and three talented sons (whether you like it or not, they have talent). By refusing to keep his mouth shut, LaVar has appealed to the worst in all of us: that morbid curiosity that makes you look at a car wreck. He is sports’ new id in that he says and does whatever he want, and even though every fiber of our being tells us not to, we listen. And click.

“LaVar Ball says his son is better than Steph Curry.”

Click

“LaVar Ball says he would beat Michael Jordan one-on-one.”

Click

“LaVar Ball says De’Aaron Fox is only famous because of his son.”

Click

“LaVar Ball says Kentucky is only a tune-up game for the Final Four.”

Aha! See what I did there? As we became painfully aware back in March, that’s not a real quote from LaVar, but man, it sounds like one.

LaVar is the epitome of a social media superstar because half of the reason we listen and click is so we can judge. LaVar has thoughts and people have THOUGHTS about those thoughts what better way to express them than Twitter and Facebook? “He’s the worst dad in sports!” “He’s the worst dad in the world!” Both of those statements may be true, but each and every one of us that reacts is feeding the frenzy. Readers complain that we post about LaVar too often, but numbers show that those posts get more views and drive more conversation than almost any others. And so the monster grows. It’s a sad reality rooted in the sad reality of our times.

I’d like to think that most people crowded into the Cashman Center last night to see Zion Williamson, a YouTube superstar in his own right; however, a good portion of that crowd was also there to see LaVar. Would he forfeit the game like he did last weekend? What would he say? What would LaMelo do? Would Lonzo be there? Heck, I bet Vegas even took prop bets on whether or not LaVar would be thrown out or get a technical (he delivered on the latter, by the way). The entire circus was made better by the fact that it was actually horrible basketball. Aside from highlights from Zion and LaMelo (who had more misses than makes), it was cringe-worthy, which perfectly encapsulates what AAU has become over the past ten years: all flash, no fundamentals. Yet, the stands were packed, with probably ten different mixtape outlets filming it all for posterity. It’s being called the biggest AAU game of all time, and, not surprisingly, a rematch is already in the works.

It’s not a coincidence that, over the past few years, the lines in basketball have been blurred between sport and spectacle. A lot of that has to do with the new “superteam” era in the NBA, the one-and-done age in college basketball, and the fervent search for the next “it” player in the high school ranks; however, a lot of it also has to do with social media. More than ever, people are skipping, clicking, and sharing. If something’s too long or boring, we skip it; if something’s flashy, we click it; if something’s controversial, we share it. In all realms of today’s society, media has become so saturated that people only care about the stories that provoke opinions because when it comes down to it, we just want to hear ourselves talk.

LaVar is a star; but like it or not, it’s because we made him one. And now, we have to live with that.


Calipari and Payne spotted with Anthony Davis in Vegas

John Calipari and Kenny Payne caught up with an old friend while evaluating talent at the Las Vegas Classic, a Nike EYBL event featuring several UK targets, last night.

That old friend was none other than Anthony Davis, who sat down between his two former coaches during the Wednesday action, captured here by John Lopez Photography:

Davis is a pretty good guy to have on your side on the recruiting trail. I’m sure the kids noticed.


Calipari back to evaluating in Las Vegas this afternoon

The summer grind continues for John Calipari as he watches more basketball out in Las Vegas.

Today’s evaluations begin with a stop at the Adidas event to watch a pair of 2019 prospects in point guard Ashton Hagans and small forward Christian Brown, teammates with Game Elite 2019.

Hagans is the No. 2 point guard in his class, ranked 12th overall in the 247Sports Composite Rankings. Brown, a prospect out of South Carolina, is the sixth-ranked small forward in that class. Both have drawn recent interest from the Kentucky staff.


Zion vs. LaMelo: What You Missed

Zion vs. LaMelo: What You Missed

Court 5 in Las Vegas’s Cashman Center played host to what is being called the biggest game in AAU basketball history Wednesday night. Thousands of people were turned down at the door for the head-to-head meeting of two high school rock stars, Zion Williamson and LaMelo Ball, in an Adidas Summer Championships game between Williamson’s SC Supreme and Ball’s Big Ballers squad.

Many of you basketball fans stayed up to watch the game live on Facebook, but for those who didn’t break curfew to watch teenagers hoop, here’s a rundown of what you missed:

 

The game was almost called due to the madness. Tournament officials discussed postponing the game due to the overwhelming attendance courtside and beyond. The crowd flooded into the lobby, keeping many college coaches from entering, and an estimated 1,500 more waited outside the front doors.

LeBron James was encouraged to stay away. Stars like Andrew Wiggins, Damian Lillard, Eric Gordon, Jamal Murray and Thon Maker were able to find a seat for the game, but LeBron James was told it would be in everyone’s best interest if he stayed away as the crowd was already out of control. James had planned to attend until all hell broke loose.

Las Vegas Police Department had to step in. The game was eventually able to be played when LVPD evacuated everyone who wasn’t a coach or tournament official or already seated in the gym.

A Facebook live feed had over 800,000 total views. As many as 80,000 people were watching at one time, and close to 50,000 were still watching as the game ended just shy of 2 a.m. on the East Coast.

Coaches couldn’t believe what they were witnessing. “I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Kansas head coach Bill Self. Gonzaga’s Mark Few compared it to the draw of LeBron James’ games in the early 2000s.

SC Supreme’s head coach held his sleeping son on the sideline.

LaMelo Ball was typical LaMelo Ball. He pulled up from long range after crossing halfcourt, only to miss the

Ball went 3-for-12 from outside.

LaVar Ball got a technical foul. My guess is LaVar wanted to make sure the spotlight was still on him and not on the actual game.

A player from another AAU team snuck into the Big Ballers’ locker room. Dexter Shouse from Indiana’s EG10 team wanted to see LaVar Ball in person, so he snuck into the locker room prior to the game. “I have to see LaVar, G,” he said, according to Gary Parrish’s story.

Zion Williamson sealed the win for SC Supreme with a LeBron-like dunk.

The good people at Overtime have a full highlight package.

It could happen again in January. ESPN’s Jeff Goodman reports there is a rematch in the works for the Hoophall Classic.


John Calipari Witnesses Unbelievable Performance by UK Target in Vegas

Kelly Kline | Under Armour

John Calipari received a treat tonight on the recruiting trail.

Sitting next to Tony Barbee at the Nike event in Las Vegas, the UK coaches saw Louis King score 41 points.  FORTY-ONE.

Calipari has watched King and his Team Final teammate Cameron Reddish a lot this summer, primarily as their head coach for Team USA.  Reddish has an offer and is one of Calipari’s favorite recruits in the 2018 class, but the 6’8″ King has yet to receive a scholarship offer to Kentucky.

King hoped the Team USA experience would land him an offer, but he’s still waiting, doing whatever he can to earn an offer.  If tonight’s 41-point performance didn’t do it, I don’t know what it will take.


UK target to take on Big Baller Brand tonight

We are all Zion Williamson tonight.

The five-star forward from the Class of 2018 will represent all of America in a battle against the evil Big Baller Brand empire. Williamson’s SC Supreme AAU team is all set to go up against LaVar Ball’s Big Ballers squad, featuring young LaMelo Ball, at the adidas Summer Championships.

It’s a showdown of two internet sensations: the YouTube star known for his vicious dunks that defy gravity versus the youngest Ball brother who is impossible to like and has never seen a shot he won’t take.

You can watch the game live on Facebook, but you’ll have to stay up until midnight for it. Sadly, many of us will, including myself.

Until then, here’s LaMelo Ball trying to dunk in a game last week:

Go Zion.


Quickley writes about time with Coach Cal in new post-Egypt blog entry

It has been a very busy summer for five-star point guard Immanuel Quickley, but he took some time to write a new blog entry for USA Today High School Sports following his trips to Egypt and the adidas Finale earlier this month.

His relationship with Coach Calipari was the first subject matter in the blog, to which he said Calipari gained a recruiting advantage in coaching him with the U19 team.

“Everyone wants to know if him coaching me was an advantage because he’s one of the coaches that’s recruiting me, “Quickley wrote. “And I’d have to say it was.”

He also noted that they did not discuss recruiting while together with Team USA.

Then there is some stuff about his game against Zion Williamson, although he made no reference to the “package deal” he teased on Twitter. The two UK targets went head-to-head at the adidas event and Quickley wrote that all of the hype surrounding Williamson is all “fact” and “real.”

Lastly, Quickley reassured his fans that he plans to decide before his senior season and confirmed the dates of his official visits.

Check out the entire blog entry on USA Today High School Sport:

The Immanuel Quickley Blog: Playing for Coach Cal, facing Zion Williamson and more

 


A New Name to Keep an Eye on in the 2018 Basketball Recruiting Class

Andy Marlin | USA Today

John Calipari knows who he wants in the 2018 recruiting class, but even Coach Cal can’t always get what he wants.  Calipari is casting a wider net into forwards that fit into his new favorite term, “position-less player.”

Today Calipari reached out to the coach of Simi Shittu, a 6’8″ forward ranked No. 9 by the 247 Composite.  Shittu was named First Team All-Peach Jam after performing well for the CIA Bounce in Augusta.  Alex Popp, Shittu’s AAU coach, shared with Adam Zagoria a little bit from his conversation with Calipari.

“Calipari was excited that Simi is just 17 years old,” Popp said. “He was also excited to hear that Simi is a gym rat. He mentioned that Simi is very fortunate to be playing the game of basketball in this era. Cal said the trend right now is positionless basketball and that’s what Simi is.”

Currently Oregon, North Carolina and UConn are providing Shittu their best pitch, but UK’s Kenny Payne is expected to watch him play in person this weekend.

[ZagsBlog]


Zion Williamson vs. LaMelo and LaVar Ball tomorrow in Vegas

Zion Williamson vs. LaMelo and LaVar Ball tomorrow in Vegas

How appropriate is it that one of the most anticipated matchups of the summer will take place in Las Vegas?

Tomorrow night, 2018 phenom Zion Williamson and his SC Supreme squad will face off against the youngest member of the Ball family, LaMelo, and Big Baller Brand, coached by the infamous LaVar, in the adidas Summer Championships. Zion is considered the second best player in the 2018 class, while LaMelo is currently the top ranked point guard in 2019 in ESPN’s rankings.

Like his brothers, LaMelo has gotten more than his fair share of publicity over the past few years, but this summer, he’s going toe-to-toe with the best players in the country now that Big Baller Brand is participating in major AAU tournaments. This probably won’t surprise you, but this past weekend, LaVar pulled his team off the court and forfeited a game at a tournament in California. LaMelo found it all hilarious (language NSFW):

His dad’s antics aside, LaMelo can ball. He turned in back-to-back 50-point games earlier this month:

That’s all fine and good, but I have a feeling Zion will steal the show tomorrow night. Look at what he did in front of John Calipari a few weeks back at the adidas Gauntlet:

On Friday, LaMelo will go head-to-head vs. Zion’s friend and potential future Kentucky teammate Immanuel Quickley. While Zion vs. Big Baller Brand will steal headlines, that’s the real matchup Kentucky fans should look out for. Expect John Calipari to be front and center for both.


Zion Williamson Just Never Stops

Another day, another Zion Williamson highlight that almost makes you throw your iPad across the room… right?

Anyway, check this put-back dunk out.

Like, how? That was so seamless, I could believe he just wanted to give the rim the assist.

At this point, I’d throw a tantrum like a kid in a toy store if it meant seeing Zion suit up in Kentucky blue.

@JayWinkKSR


Just your weekly reminder that Zion Williamson is a freak athlete

How many times have we said on this site that Zion Williamson was a freakish athlete like we had never seen before? Well how ever high that number is, add one more to it.

I don’t even care that this is in warmups. If a player can do this, imagine what he can do when he is surrounded by high level players on a fastbreak.

I will never get tired of seeing what this kid can do with a basketball. Fingers crossed that he and Immanuel Quickley keep their plan of a package deal and end up in Lexington together because that would be really, really fun to watch.


Darius Garland releases top 6 list, includes UK

Photo: Scout

Darius Garland is widely considered as a top three point guard in the class of 2018. On Sunday, I wrote about him receiving a Kentucky offer, and it seems that Garland is already ramping up his recruitment. Just now, Garland released his top six teams, and the Kentucky Wildcats made the cut.

As you can see, the other five schools to round out the top six are Indiana, Kansas, Duke, Vandy, and UCLA. All stereotypical blue-blood schools, with the exception of the outlier in Vanderbilt. However, keeping the Commodores on the list makes sense, as the campus is less than 20 minutes from where Garland grew up in Brentwood, Tennessee.

Still interesting to see how Garland’s recruitment will be effected by Kentucky’s positive position with Immanuel Quickley, but you can never recruit too many good guards.

Check out some of Garland’s highlights against fellow top guard in the class of 2018, Tre Jones, at the Peach Jam:

@BrettBibbinsKSR


UK Fans of the Day Want Friday at 5 p.m. Notes

UK Fans of the Day Want Friday at 5 p.m. Notes

Well, friends, we did it. It’s Friday at 5 p.m., which means that for most of us, the work week is over and it’s time to get our weekend on. Before I peel myself off my office chair for the first time since Monday morning, I thought I’d share some leftovers that have been floating around.

Kyrie Irving wants out of Cleveland

The biggest sports news of the day is that Kyrie Irving reportedly wants out of Cleveland. ESPN is reporting that last week, Irving met with Cavs owner Dan Gilbert and requested a trade because he doesn’t want to play alongside LeBron James anymore. Whoa. As you might expect, LeBron was reportedly “blindsided” by the news and disappointed, per ESPN’s sources.

Where is Kyrie headed? Per Chris Haynes, he told the Cavs his four preferred landing spots were New York, Miami, San Antonio, and Minnesota. Even though Kyrie’s a Dukie, that would make the Timberwolves a contender, so I’m all in.

Kent Bulle tied for 10th at The British Open

Bulle was on the course early this morning, which turned out to be a blessing as conditions at the Royal Birkdale deteriorated throughout the day. Bulle shot a 72 in round two, which takes him to even. He’s now tied for 10th, and will certainly make the cut. Former Cat JB Holmes isn’t far behind, tied for 35th at +3.

The 13-year-old UK offered last week just picked up another SEC offer

Remember Keyaunta Goodwin, the 6-6 350 lbs. 13-year-old UK offered last week? Georgia just offered him today as well. If you can’t tell, he’s the big one:

He also likes pancakes?

Here are some more highlights from Zion Williamson’s game today

As you can see, Calipari had a front row seat. Speaking of recruiting…

Darius Garland will announce his top six in one hour

UK offered the 2018 point guard last weekend, and barring a disaster, the Cats should make his top six, which will drop around 6 p.m. While Kentucky is still prioritizing Immanuel Quickley at point guard in 2018, Calipari has clearly proved he’s not afraid to have multiple point guards on his roster.

Malik Monk is coming back to Kentucky

Monk will be back in the Bluegrass to help out with the Big Blue Basketball ProCamp next week, and while in town, he’s doing a mini autograph tour. Here’s where you can see Monk next weekend:

Have a great weekend, folks. I’ll see you bright and early Monday morning.