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Wednesday’s Top 10: Spring Signing Period begins, Jordan Brand Classic Media Day, STOOOOPS on radio

Wednesday’s Top 10: Spring Signing Period begins, Jordan Brand Classic Media Day, STOOOOPS on radio

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Happy Wednesday, everyone, and shoutout to this baby, who, even at a very, very young age, has his or her priorities in order. Flattery will get you everywhere, friends…even if it comes in the form of a baby picture.

Now, let’s make that baby happy and go over today’s agenda, shall we? It’s a busy one.

1. Today is the first day of the spring signing period

 

Starting today, prospects can make their commitments official, which means that in some point over the next few days, we’ll see signatures roll in from Jarred Vanderbilt, who committed December 23 after the early signing was period was over, and Jemarl Baker, who committed yesterday.

2. Landing Baker was huge

Jemarl Baker’s commitment may not seem like a huge deal because he’s only a four-star, but he’s a player Kentucky desperately needs for next season. Baker is probably the best shooter of the remaining prospects, and although he may not be an elite guy like Kevin Knox, he’s still good and will be around for more than one year. Plus, he’s committed now, whereas Knox is going to wait until April 28 or May 1 to decide. Knox is an incredible talent, but waiting on him is a gamble Calipari can’t afford to make with so few shooters on next year’s roster.

3. Who else will join the class?

   

Obviously, Mohamed Bamba is priority #1, followed closely by Knox. Kentucky has offers out to Illinois Mr. Basketball Mark Smith and Pitt transfer Cam Johnson as well. I think you can count on at least two of those five joining the squad, possibly three. If I had to put money on it (and I won’t because I’m not Drew), I’d go with Bamba and Johnson.

Speaking of Bamba and Knox…

4. Today is Media Day at the Jordan Brand Classic

Get ready to hear more from Bamba, Knox, Quade Green, Nick Richards, Jarred Vanderbilt, and PJ Washington, because today is Media Day at the Jordan Brand Classic, the final high school all-star game of the season. KSR contributor Colleen Wagoner will be on the scene for us to bring you video of the future Cats, so keep an eye out.

5. Derek Willis heads to Portsmouth

Willis was selected to participate in the annual Portsmouth Invitational Tournament, a pre-draft camp that features some of the best seniors in college basketball. The tournament actually starts today, but Willis’ team doesn’t play until tomorrow night at 9 p.m. Willis will play alongside Bryce Alford (UCLA), Jabari Bird (California), Matt Jones (Duke), Mangok Mathiang (Louisville), Erick McCree (Louisiana Tech), DeWayne Russell (Grand Canyon) and Steve Taylor Jr. (Toledo).

(Cue the Matt Jones jokes.)

If you missed it yesterday, Derek and Dom recapped the season in this video for KyWildcatsTV, and it’s great:

6. I can’t stop watching this video of a guy getting run over by a deer

A Canadian man was run over by a deer last weekend after getting out of a coworker’s car, but because it happened on April Fool’s Day (and, you know, who gets run over by a deer?), nobody believed him when he said it happened. Luckily, there was a security camera rolling, giving us the best viral deer video since that poor runner got tackled by one a few months ago.

Turns out the guy is a rapper and plans to write a song about the incident. Of course.

7. Drew Barker probably won’t play in the spring game

Friday night’s Spring Game is right around the corner, and yesterday, both Eddie Gran and Darin Hinshaw hinted that Drew Barker won’t play. Barker told reporters he’s 75-80% recovered from his back surgery, but the staff doesn’t want to take any chances. On the flip side, Barker said he’s on track to graduate from UK in August and will enroll in the MBA program, and although the temptation to be a grad transfer must be there considering Stephen Johnson’s success last season, Barker said he remains committed to staying at UK and winning his job back.

Barker’s journey at Kentucky hasn’t always been a smooth one, but as someone who helped him write the Drew Barker Diary for KSR back when he was in high school, I’m very proud of how he’s matured, especially after watching this video from yesterday’s media opp:

8. Speaking of quarterbacks, can Alabama please stay away from ours?

If you heard a collective groan across the Bluegrass last night, it’s because Kentucky’s 2018 QB commit Jarren Williams picked up an offer from Alabama:

Go away, Alabama. Seriously.

9. Get ready for the Spring Game with the KSR Football Podcast

Nick, Freddie, Drew, and Jared reunited yesterday at the iHeart Radio studios to bring you a special Spring Game edition of the KSR Football Podcast. It’s been too long since we’ve heard tales of the Versailles Kroger, Forrest Gump jokes, or Nick’s cheesy puns, so do yourself a favor and pull it up on the KSR feed on iTunes or the countless other podcasting services.

Need more? Mark Stoops will be on the radio show at 11:30 a.m. to get you ready for the Spring Game as only he can.

10. The Mavericks claimed DeAndre Liggins

Earlier this week, the Cavaliers waived Liggins, but he didn’t stay out there long. The Mavericks claimed Liggins yesterday and he’ll join fellow former Cat Nerlens Noel on the roster with one game left in the regular season. That’s right, the playoffs start this weekend, which means today is your last chance to see most of Kentucky’s best players in the league. More on that later today in the BBNBA roundup.

Until then, get some work done because the radio show starts in one hour. Remember, STOOPS at 11:30.


10 things you need to know about Jemarl Baker

10 things you need to know about Jemarl Baker

cal-baker

Earlier today, four-star shooting guard Jemarl Baker committed to Kentucky, becoming the seventh member of the Cats’ 2017 class (if you include Hamidou Diallo). By now, you probably know that Baker is a former Cal commit, but since he’s set to make his pledge official tomorrow on the first day of the spring signing period, let’s get to know all we can about him.

1. The Basics

Jemarl Baker
Shooting Guard | 6-4 | 180 lbs.
Eastvale, CA | Roosevelt High School
AAU: Earl Watson Elite
★★★★
ESPN No. 65 | 19 SG Top247 No. 119 | 22 SG
Rivals No. 80 Scout No. 87 | 20 SG

According to 247 Sports Composite, which averages all the major recruiting services, Baker is considered the 73rd best player in the 2017 class and the 16th best shooting guard. He’s a consensus four-star prospect, and with him, Kentucky’s 2017 class remains the best in the country, with a few major prospects still left on the board. Of course, everyone wants to land Mohamed Bamba, but the staff has offers out to three more shooters: Kevin Knox, Mark Smith, and Pitt transfer Cam Johnson. Between Baker and Smith, word is Baker was the staff’s first choice, but they’d like to land at least one of the three remaining guys. They will make room for shooters on this roster.

2. We should probably thank Cuonzo Martin for leaving Cal

Baker committed to Cal as a sophomore and was arguably the best player in Cal’s 2017 class, a player Cuonzo Martin planned to build his offense around; however, once Martin decided to leave Cal for Missouri last month, Baker asked for his release. Here’s the statement he gave Scout’s Josh Gershon:

I committed to Cal as a high school sophomore and signed with the Golden Bears last fall primarily based upon my close relationship with Cuonzo Martin and his ability to develop me not only as a player but also as a person.

Unfortunately that possibility no longer exists for me at Cal due to Coach (Cuonzo) Martin deciding to accept the Missouri job.

Due to those factors I just listed, I have decided to re-open my recruitment and explore all possible opportunities and options. This is in no way a reflection on Cal as an institution or program. Cal is a tremendous school with a historic basketball tradition.

I just feel that due to the current circumstances, I need to consider all my options. I appreciate people understanding the current situation I am in.

It didn’t take long for another Cal to come into the picture.

3. He only needed four days to take Calipari up on his offer

Baker came on the radar when he decommitted from Cal on March 28, and with the recruiting dead period ending on Thursday, John Calipari was in his living room in Los Angeles on Friday night. Cal extended a scholarship offer on that trip, and after taking the weekend to think about it, Baker accepted this morning, picking the Cats over Arizona, Maryland, Marquette, Oregon, Utah and Virginia. Duke also had interest.

4. He fills a huge void on next year’s team

Anyone can look at Kentucky’s roster for next season and tell you they need shooters; Baker fills that need. He led the Under Armour circuit with 41 threes this past season for Earl Watson Elite, and made 94 threes as a senior at Roosevelt High. On Earl Watson Elite, he averaged 16.8 points a game and was in the top 10 of scoring on the circuit; at Roosevelt, he averaged 17.1 points, 4.1 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 1.8 steals.

“Jemarl is the best shooter in the country,” Earl Watson Elite program director Ryan Silver told Scout. “He has a relentless work ethic and is a proven winner.”

Here he is in action:

5. Evan Daniels says he’s “exactly what Kentucky needed”

If there’s one analyst I trust in recruiting, it’s Evan Daniels, who told the Herald-Leader’s Ben Roberts that Jemarl is just what Calipari needs to round out next season’s roster.

“Jemarl brings shooting to the table,” Daniels said. “I think that was what Kentucky’s recruiting class was missing. He’s a really good shooter off the catch, and he has good range and a quick release. He’s exactly what Kentucky needed.”

Plus, odds are he’ll be around for a few years, providing consistency at a crucial spot.

6. ESPN calls him a “willowy scorer”

Want more intel on Baker? Here’s ESPN Insider’s scouting report, which was updated today.

“Baker is a willowy scorer who has a feathery jump shot that extends out to 22-feet and his ball skills are tight. He can nail jump shots off the catch or convert it off his 2-dribble pull-up. He plays on balance and has remarkable savvy and poise for a player of his youth. In addition, he has the ability to slash his way to the rim and his body control is excellent.”

ESPN says that while Baker needs to get in the weight room (did Lynn Marshall write this?), he should still be considered one of the most elite shooting guards in the class.

7. His first name is pronounced “Jamal”

“Jemarl” is a pretty unique name, but according to Chris Fisher, it’s actually pronounced like “Jamal,” so just forget about that “r.” Don’t worry, UK assistant Joel Justus already got the “Baker” puns off to a fast start:

I have a feeling we’ll be using the 👨‍🍳 🍰 🎂 🍞 emojis a lot next season.

8. He loves Disneyland

Who doesn’t?

Happiest place on earth! ✨

A post shared by Jemarl Baker (@__jroc3__) on

9. He’s squared off vs. the Ball brothers several times

Looking for the next chapter in the Kentucky vs. the Ball family saga? Baker’s Roosevelt High plays the Balls’ Chino Hills regularly, and if you’ve watched one of LaMelo or LiAngelo’s many highlight reels, you’ve probably seen Baker. Back in December 2015, Baker dropped 30 points on Chino Hills, hitting 80% from the three-point line:

This past December, he and LaMelo got in another shootout, but Chino Hills ended up coming out on top.

10. He led his team to a state championship

While the Ball family was focused on other things, Baker helped lead Roosevelt to the CIF state Division I Championship. The win was an emotional one for Baker, who wrote this on Instagram afterwards:

A state championship and becoming a Kentucky Wildcat in the span of a few weeks? I don’t know how anyone could argue Baker’s not good enough now.


Quade Green welcomes Baker to the team

Quade Green welcomes Baker to the team

welcome

Quade Green is the outgoing vocal leader of John Calipari’s latest crop of incoming talent so it shouldn’t be a surprise that he was quick to reach out to Jemarl Baker after today’s big news.

Green wrote to his new teammate on Twitter, simply telling him, “Welcome bruh.” Green also included the handwriting emoji, which one would assume is for Baker signing with UK.

Baker may find himself backing up (or competing with) Green at point guard as Rivals.com lists that as his natural position. But he was brought in for shooting and that full-time point guard spot belongs to Green. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander will also be in the mix at PG.

You ready for a Green-Diallo-Alexander-Baker backcourt? Maybe one more?


Jemarl Baker commits to Kentucky

jemarl-baker

John Calipari has a new guard from the Class of 2017 to help fill the huge vacancy left open in his backcourt.

According to Evan Daniels of Scout.com fame, Jemarl Baker has accepted his scholarship offer from Kentucky and will be a Wildcat next season.

Jemarl Baker
Shooting Guard | 6-4 | 180 lbs.
Eastvale, CA | Roosevelt High School
AAU: Earl Watson Elite
★★★★
ESPN No. 65 | 19 SG Top247 No. 119 | 22 SG
Rivals No. 80 Scout No. 87 | 20 SG

The former Cal-Berkeley signee told Daniels, “I’m honored and humbled by the experience and greatly appreciate coach Cal believing in my abilities. I work extremely hard and to see it paying off means the world to me. I know I’m going to be challenged and pushed every day by the coaching staff and it’s something I look forward to. I get to compete with some of the best players on a daily basis.”

Read the whole story here.


Three Rivals experts predict Mohamed Bamba to… Texas.

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If you’re to believe three of Rivals.com’s four basketball recruiting “experts,” we are in for some bad news on the Mohamed Bamba front.

The website has predictions for the top remaining players and only one analyst, Eric Bossi, has Kentucky as the landing spot for Bamba. Corey Evans, Dan McDonald and Krysten Peek all picked Texas as his future college basketball home.

All four agreed Jemarl Baker will end up at UK, so there’s that.

But back to Bamba, I’ve been all-in on him becoming a Wildcat for quite some time now, and I’m not going to let this Texas momentum change my opinion. Until I hear something new and substantial, I’m going to keep planning on watching him block lots of shots in Rupp Arena next year.

However, there is one factor that has never been considered in my prediction and that’s the return of Bam Adebayo. The assumption of Bamba to UK has always been with the assumption of Adebayo to the NBA, so a surprise return could throw a wrinkle in things, although I still don’t think it will.

Quade Green has put in way too much work recruiting his best friend to Kentucky.


Kentucky’s 2017 Recruiting Board and Predictions

Kentucky’s 2017 Recruiting Board and Predictions

As John Calipari and his staff grind out the final stage of recruiting the Class of 2017, let’s take a look at the five names on the board with predictions for each prospect.

As many as three of the following names could join Quade Green, Shai Alexander, P.J. Washington, Jarred Vanderbilt and Nick Richards as new Wildcats from the class.

 


Mohamed Bamba
Power Forward/Center| 7-0 | 216 lbs.
New York, NY | Westtown
AAU: PSA Cardinals
★★★★★
ESPN No. 5 | 2 C Top247 No. 3 | 2 PF
Rivals No. 4 | 1 PF Scout No. 2 | 2 C

By now you know all about Mohamed Bamba. The five-star big man is as good as it gets when it comes to the physical tools of the game. He recently measured out with a 7-foot-9 wingspan and a 9-foot-6 standing reach, which would be the second longest in the NBA. He is a one-of-a-kind rim protector and one John Calipari would love to add to next year’s roster.

As for Kentucky’s chances, there is some noise around Texas and Duke right now, but some folks I’ve spoken to seem very confident he becomes a Wildcat. He is very close with Quade Green and Hamidou Diallo, and those relationships should help steer him to Lexington.

Considering: Duke, Kentucky, Michigan, Texas

Prediction: Kentucky

YouTube Video:

 

Kevin Knox
Small Forward | 6-8 | 195 lbs.
Tampa, FL | Tampa Catholic
AAU: E1T1
★★★★★
ESPN No. 7 | 2 SF Top247 No. 13 | 4 SF
Rivals No. 9 | 2 SF Scout No. 7 | 2 SF

While Bamba would make a great addition to UK’s class, Kevin Knox is more of a player of need. Knox is a versatile scorer on the wing, which is exactly what Kentucky lacks, and Calipari loves his game. Most believe he will eventually end up in the ACC, but Kentucky isn’t going down without a fight.

Knox will play in the Jordan Brand Classic this Friday night.  His father, Kevin Knox Sr., told T.J. Walker today he will make his final college decision on either April 28 or May 1, depending on national TV availability.

Considering: Duke, Florida State, Kentucky, Missouri, North Carolina

Prediction: North Carolina

YouTube Video:

 

Jemarl Baker
Shooting Guard | 6-4 | 180 lbs.
Eastvale, CA | Roosevelt High School
AAU: Earl Watson Elite
★★★★
ESPN No. 65 | 19 SG Top247 No. 119 | 22 SG
Rivals No. 80 Scout No. 87 | 20 SG

Jemarl Baker is one of three new names on the board as Calipari looks for help to rebuild his backcourt. Kentucky loses six guards from this past season and Baker, a former California commit, recently received a scholarship offer to fill one of those spots.

Baker released a list of nine schools he is considering, but he is reportedly leaning toward Kentucky. I expected to hear of a commitment over the weekend shortly after Calipari paid him a visit late last week.

Considering: Arizona, Arizona State, Duke, Kentucky, Marquette, Maryland, Oregon, San Diego State, Utah

Prediction: Kentucky

YouTube Video:

 

smith Mark Smith
Guard | 6-5 | 225 lbs.
Edwardsville, IL | Edwardsville High School
AAU: Ramey Jets United
★★★★
ESPN NR Top247 No. 184 | 40 PG
Rivals No. 78 | Scout — | 35 SG

Mark Smith was the first of the new guys to pop up as a potential shooter on next year’s squad. Illinois’ Mr. Basketball is a hot name in recruiting right now (the Big Ten loves him) after he emerged as a basketball star in his senior season. He had previously been committed to play baseball at Missouri.

Michigan State is the presumed leader over Illinois and a handful of others, including Kentucky. Of the three backcourt players on UK’s radar, he likely ranks third on the priority list.

Considering: Illinois, Kansas State, Kentucky, Michigan State, Missouri, Northwestern, Ohio State, Texas

Prediction: Michigan State

YouTube Video:

 

Cameron Johnson
Guard| 6-8 | 210 lbs.
Moon Township, PA | Our Lady of the Sacred Heart
TRANSFER from Pittsburgh

Rounding up the recruiting board is Cameron Johnson, a very attractive grad transfer out of Pittsburgh. Unlike most grad transfers, Johnson has two years of eligibility as long as he completes his graduation from Pitt this spring. He will be able to play immediately and UK would love to add him as a shooter. He shot 41.5 percent from outside on almost 300 attempts last season.

Over the weekend, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette said there is “a good chance” he goes to Kentucky.

Considering: Arizona, Baylor, Florida, Iowa State, Kentucky, Marquette, Michigan, Ohio State, Ole Miss, South Carolina, TCU, Texas

Prediction: Kentucky

YouTube Video:


Calipari Pays a Visit to Cameron Reddish

John Calipari and Tony Barbee continued their nationwide recruiting tour last night with a trip to Pennsylvania to see 2018 shooting guard Cameron Reddish.

Reddish is considered the No. 4 player in the class of 2018 and the second-ranked small forward behind Zion Williamson.  A prep school teammate of Mohamed Bamba’s, Reddish hosted Cal and Barbee twice during the regular season after he unofficially visited Lexington for Big Blue Madness.  He’s also considering Duke, Villanova, Arizona and many more.  Watch him work:

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Jarred Vanderbilt’s stock soaring after impressive Nike Hoop Summit; Scouts say Bamba to UK?

(Photo: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports)

(Photo: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports)

Jarred Vanderbilt had quite the weekend. The future Cat turned heads at the Nike Hoop Summit, finishing with 19 points (8-12), 10 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks, and 2 steals in 19 minutes to lead Team USA to a 98-97 win over the World Team. That performance was so impressive that ESPN draft guru Chad Ford ranked Vanderbilt 10th on his 2018 NBA Draft prospects.

“Vanderbilt was the other surprise performer at the Hoop Summit. He was aggressive looking to score and to pass,” Ford said. “He’s a unique forward who can initiate the offense, score at the rim, rebound, block shots and provide a lot of energy. His jumper needs work, but if he gets that going, he could become a big-time draft prospect.”

That’s high praise for a player ranked 20th in the 2018 class by 247 Sports Composite. Ford also listed Hamidou Diallo, PJ Washington, and Nick Richards in his “Others to watch” category. Mohamed Bamba is fourth, and after heaping oodles of praise on the seven-footer, Ford said scouts believe he will be a Cat.

“As he adds strength and skill, he has the potential to be a dominant center in the NBA. He’s rawer than the three prospects ahead of him, but his ceiling is just as high. If he has a big year, he’ll be in the mix for the No. 1 pick.”

“For a college choice, he seems to be down to Kentucky, Duke and Michigan, with scouts tending to view Kentucky as his most likely pick. That would be great news for John Calipari, who already has a strong incoming class but lacks a player with true star potential.”

G-g-g-gotta land Bamba! But even if we don’t, it sounds like Vanderbilt’s a heck of a player.

[ESPN Insider]

 


Roy Williams broke out his ring collection to impress Zion Williamson

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Today, 2018 phenom Zion Williamson posted a new entry to his blog on USA Today High School Sports which includes all of the usual stuff: updates on his game, his life, his recruitment, what music he’s listening to, etc. etc. Williamson is considered the next “it” kid in recruiting circles, which explains why coaches are pulling out all the stops to woo him. Coach K brought the entire Duke coaching staff to Williamson’s house in South Carolina, Calipari and Joel Justus watched him work out at his school, and Roy Williams did as Roy Williams apparently does for big recruits: showed him his ring collection. Williamson took a picture of Roy’s box of rings, which Roy brought along with him on his in-home visit this past weekend:

“He told me he wore his ring from last year all throughout the NCAA Tournament this year,” Williamson wrote. “Then he showed me a ring from the 92-93 Bulls championship that Michael Jordan had made him a replica of. He told me if I work hard enough I could accomplish something like that too.”

If this sounds familiar, it’s probably because Roy did the same thing with Julius Randle back in 2013. It seemed odd to me then and it seems odd to me now, particularly the fact that Roy has a replica of Jordan’s NBA Championship ring. Regardless, Williamson was impressed and gave the visit with Roy a 10/10 “because he’d just won a national championship and he took the time to come and see me.” Ugh.

Meanwhile, Williamson also gave his in-home visit with Coach K and the Duke staff a 10. No ranking for Cal’s visit, but he did call getting an offer from Kentucky and Cal an honor. In a testament to what a rock star Williamson has become, he also discussed his budding friendship with Drake and Quavo, a rapper so new and hip that I had no idea who he was.

To read Williamson’s blog for yourself, click here. Then watch Williamson dunk all over fools in the video below.

 

 


Monday’s Top 10: Recruiting, promposals, and spring football

Monday’s Top 10: Recruiting, promposals, and spring football

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Good morning, everyone. I hope you had a good weekend. Mine included a beer festival on Saturday, so I certainly did. Shoutout to Stephen Wang and his six year old son, Evan, who went to the Pelicans/Warriors game this weekend to support Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins (even though the two sat out that game to rest). Awesome sign, guys.

Let’s roll on to today’s top ten, shall we?

1. Which shooting guard will accept their offer first?

Last week, John Calipari offered three shooting guards: Mark Smith, Jemarl Baker, and Pitt transfer Cam Johnson. Smith, the Illinois Mr. Basketball, visited Michigan State this past weekend, and now, 247 Sports’ Jerry Meyer predicts he will become a Spartan; however, Kentucky’s still in very good shape with Baker and Johnson. Which guard will commit first? Stay tuned…

2. The early signing period begins Wednesday

Anxious for the chips to start falling? The early signing period starts Wednesday, which means they’re about to. Not only is Calipari hunting for a shooting guard, Kentucky is also in hot pursuit of Mohamed Bamba and Kevin Knox, two five-star prospects who could have a major impact on next season’s roster. If you listened to the radio show on Friday, you heard Matt say he’s not as confident in Kentucky’s chances with Bamba after a conversation with a secret source, but it’s worth pointing out that Duke signee Gary Trent Jr. is skeptical about the Blue Devils’ chances with him too.

“Man, I don’t know,” Trent Jr. told 247 Sports’ Andrew Slater of the feedback he’s getting from Bamba about coming to Duke. “It’s kind of shaky. We don’t know yet.”

3. Bamba, if you’re reading, now seems like an opportune time to remind you…

4. Jarred Vanderbilt showed out at the Nike Hoop Summit

It’s hard to tell much from all-star games, but future Cat Jarred Vanderbilt sure looked good on Friday night, leading Team USA to a win at the Nike Hoop Summit. Vanderbilt finished with 19 points, 7 rebounds, 3 steals, and 1 assist on 8-11 shooting. Here are some highlights from Team USA’s performance:

5. Calipari’s 30 for 30 debuts Thursday

“One and Not Done” debuts on Thursday night, and after watching it last week, I can tell you that it’s awesome. Click here to read my review of it and watch the latest trailer below:

6. Malik Monk won the Jerry West Award

It was an exciting weekend for Malik Monk, who went to Los Angeles to accept the Jerry West Award on Friday night. Monk beat out Bryce Alford (UCLA), Marcus Foster (Creighton), Peter Jok (Iowa) and Luke Kennard (Duke) for the award, given annually to the nation’s top shooting guard. Winning the award is a huge honor for Monk, but more importantly, what do we think of his suit?

#BLESSED!!💪🏾

A post shared by Malik Monk (@ahmad_monk) on

I guess high waters are in now.

7. Meanwhile, De’Aaron Fox accepted a “promposal”

Kudos to UK fan Kendall Brown, who had the guts to show up to De’Aaron Fox’s autograph signing this weekend and ask him to prom. He said yes!

Well done, Kendall.

8. Here’s where you can catch Fox, Monk, Derek & Dom this week

IMG_0298 IMG_0310 Screen Shot 2017-04-06 at 7.14.17 PM

Let’s not make asking them to prom a thing, okay?

9. The spring game is Friday

The last week of spring practice is upon us, culminating in Friday’s Spring Game. Eddie Gran was fired up after what he said was an “awful” performance by his offense in Saturday’s scrimmage, which he hopes was a wake up call.

“They were awful. They whipped us. I don’t know what else to say. Their 11 whipped our 11. For an hour and a half today we whipped them. For the last twenty, we got smoked,” Gran said. “I think they’re drinking some Kool-Aid, and it’s bad Kool-Aid and I gotta get ’em to quit drinking it.”

Here’s hoping the offense gets it together before Friday night. The Spring Game starts at 7:30 p.m. at Commonwealth Stadium, and will be televised on the SEC Network.

10. One hour ’til radio

Something tells me Matt will bring up the SNL skit.


Calipari Offers Jemarl Baker

Kelly Kline | Under Armour

Kelly Kline | Under Armour

John Calipari has officially extended scholarship offers to three shooting guards.  During a visit to Jemarl Baker’s Los Angeles home, Calipari offered the four-star shooting guard, following Cameron Johnson and Mark Smith.

The former Cal (Berkeley, not Calipari) signee was released from his letter-of-intent after Cuonzo Martin left for Missouri.  Baker is the No. 73 player in the nation according to the 247 Composite Rankings.  Nobody hit more three-pointers on last summer’s Under Armour circuit.

“I feel like I’m a guy that makes plays and gets guys involved but shooting is something I’ve been able to do my whole life,” Baker told Chris Fisher of The Cats Pause following his offer. “Yeah, shooting is definitely what I do best.”

Baker also shared his thoughts on the Wildcats with Fisher. “They’re a great school.” He added: “They develop a lot of great players and that’s what I really like.”

The 6’2″ sharpshooter is also considering Arizona, Duke, Marquette, Utah, Maryland and many others.

During Calipari’s visit to L.A., he and Kenny Payne got to see Malik Monk win the Jerry West Award and watch Skal Labissiere and Willie Cauley-Stein play against Julius Randle.

@UKCoachCalipari

@UKCoachCalipari

 

[247]


The Nike Hoop Summit’s Saturday Top 10

The Nike Hoop Summit’s Saturday Top 10

Jarred Vanderbilt via USA Basketball

Jarred Vanderbilt via USA Basketball

Malik Monk is Honored

Before sharing a few stories from the Nike Hoop Summit, we must begin with Malik Monk, the 2017 Jerry West Award Winner, given each year to the nation’s top shooting guard.  Anytime you win something named after the logo, it’s a big deal.  Monk is the first Wildcat to win the prestigious award, a year after Jamal Murray fell just short of Buddy Hield.

Malik took after his coach and went to the event without a tie.  He pulled it off much better than his coach.

@ESPNU

@ESPNU

Jarred Vanderbilt is the Unofficial MVP

Don’t take it from me, take it from those who watched him all week.

Vanderbilt came off the bench to lead all players with 19 points and 10 rebounds, one of only three players to post a double-double.  Even though you didn’t see much of it during the McDonald’s All-American Game, Vanderbilt’s improved his shot (8-12 FG) has taken him to another level, one he was far from when he missed the cut for last year’s U17 World Championship team.  He used that cut as motivation.

“It motivated me a lot,” Vanderbilt said after the game.  “I felt like I had a chip on my shoulder, considering that I didn’t get to play last (summer). Just being able to step back on the court with USA Basketball across my chest is a great feeling. It’s a very prestigious game, and I’m just thankful to be here.”

In addition to his 19 points and 10 rebounds, Vanderbilt dished out 3 assists, stole 2 passes and blocked 2 shots to lead Team USA to a 98-87 victory.  His future teammate loved it.

No Quade Green

Dealing with the lingering effects of a concussion suffered in practice this week, Kentucky’s next point guard was forced to watch the game through a pair of sunglasses on the sideline.

@UKBIGBLUENATION

@UKBIGBLUENATION

Ups and Downs for the ‘World’ Players

Jarred Vanderbilt was the only future Wildcat playing for Team USA, but Team World featured Shai-Gilgeous-Alexander (Canada) and Nick Richards (Jamaica).  The starting point guard for Team World, SGA attacked the paint early and often, getting to the free throw line more than any other player on the court (7-10 FT).  He took care of the ball (2 TOs) and didn’t play too flashy, finishing with 11 points.

Richards received above-average reports from camp all week, handling the physicality much better against imposing bigs.  His numbers were exceptional last night — 12 points on 5-of-9 shots — but he only grabbed three boards and had one big gaffe: an air-balled dunk.  I’m not sure how that works, but it happened.

UK’s Other Two Targets

Mo Bamba had an average night for his high standards.  He only attempted 5 shots and scored 7 points, but he grabbed 5 boards, stole 2 passes blocked 4 shots, all while sitting next to Quade Green on the bench.  Kevin Knox had a bad shooting night, knocking down just 2-of-8 shots in 14 minutes of action.

TONS of Spring Football Updates are Incoming

There’s only six days left in the spring season, but we are finally seeing a Kentucky football practice.  Unfortunately, it’s only open to the media, but we’ll have so many eyes on the round, it will feel like you are standing on the sideline watching practice.

New Depth Chart Podcast

While you’re waiting for all of those updates from Spring Football, check out the latest version of the podcast that just hit the feed.  There’s plenty of stuff to prepare you for the sting game, as well as a lengthy discussion about the evolution of high school football talent in the state of Kentucky.  Hear it here.

Masters Leaderboard

Screen Shot 2017-04-08 at 7.25.59 AM

Local products J.B. Holmes (+6) and Justin Thomas (+5) finished just inside the cut to earn two more days at Augusta National.  Holmes will be one of the first to tee off today at 10:40, with Thomas following an hour later.

A HUGE Day for Derby Prep Races

There’s not one, not two, but three major Kentucky Derby prep races today: the Wood Memorial, Santa Anita Derby and the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland.  Load up your Twin Spires account and tune into NBC Sports Network from 5:30-7:30 to see coverage of all three races.

The UK Baseball Team is (Still) Rolling

The BatCats continued to flex their muscles by defeating the No. 22 Bulldogs in Starkville.  Peep the highlights and read Trey’s recap.

They return to the field tonight at 7:00.


Everything You Need to Know before the Nike Hoop Summit

Mar 29, 2017; Chicago, IL, USA; McDonald's High School All-American players Nicholas Richards (4) and Jarred Vanderbilt and Quade Green (0) and PJ Washington Jr. who will all be attending the University of Kentucky in the fall of 2017 pose for a group photo before the 40th Annual McDonald's High School All-American Game at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Tonight brings us yet another preview of the next wave of Kentucky Wildcats. Earlier today, Mrs. Tyler gave you some videos from practice. Here is everything you need to know before the start of the game:

Time: 10pm

Channel: ESPN2 or WatchESPN

Location: Moda Center in Portland, Oregon

Rosters:

Team USA Roster
Mohamed Bamba Undecided
Troy Brown Jr. Oregon
Wendell Carter Jr. Duke
Trevon Duval Undecided
Quade Green Kentucky
Jaren Jackson Jr. Michigan State
Kevin Knox II Undecided
Michael Porter Jr. Missouri
Collin Sexton Alabama
Gary Trent Jr. Duke
Jarred Vanderbilt Kentucky
M.J. Walker Undecided

 

Team World Roster
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander Kentucky
Lindell Wigginton Iowa State
Nickeil Alexander-Walker Virginia Tech
Lugentz Dort Undecided
Tadas Sedekerskis Undecided
RJ Barrett Undecided (2019)
Kostja Mushidi Undecided
Borisa Simankc Undecided
Isaiah Hartenstein Undecided
Felipe Dos Anjos Undecided
Nick Richards Kentucky
Ikechukwu Obiagu Florida State

Some things to watch for:

  1. Mohamed Bamba will be playing with Kentucky signees; Quade Green and Jarred Vanderbilt.
  2. Team USA will look to win the game back-to-back years for the first time, since Anthony Davis led Team USA to a win in 2011.
  3. Quade Green is questionable to play tonight after suffering a concussion earlier in the week

If you are planning on watching tonight, be sure to follow me on Twitter @GormleyKSR to join the conversation! Also, be sure to check back tomorrow for a full recap from Nick Roush.


Reminder: The Nike Hoop Summit is tonight

@NikeHoopSummit

@NikeHoopSummit

Looking for something to do tonight? ESPN2 has you covered. At 8 p.m., Malik Monk will be up for the Jerry West Award at the College Basketball Awards and at 10 p.m., the Nike Hoop Summit. Shai Alexander (pictured above), Nick Richards, and the World Team will take on Jarred Vanderbilt, Mohamed Bamba, Kevin Knox and Team USA. Quade Green is also on Team USA, but suffered a concussion in a scrimmage yesterday and probably won’t play.

Want a preview? Here’s a montage USA Basketball put together of Team USA getting ready, featuring Bamba, Knox, and Vanderbilt:

Should Kevin Knox choose Kentucky, it looks like he has the Cats’ ritual halfcourt shot down:

And for the World Team, Nick Richards, who has earned a lot of praise this week, showing off some fancy footwork:

If you don’t make it to 10 p.m. (I don’t blame you), don’t worry; we’ll have highlights and a recap in the morning.


Breaking down Kentucky’s new options at shooting guard

Breaking down Kentucky’s new options at shooting guard

smith-baker-johnson

With the recruiting dead period over, John Calipari is hard at work to fill in Kentucky’s holes at shooting guard for next season. So far, we know Cal has offered Mark Smith and Pitt transfer Cam Johnson, and he’s expected to extend another offer to Jemarl Baker in Los Angeles today. Once all the offers are out, who will commit first to fill the spots? Let’s break down each target.

Mark Smith

Combo guard | 6’5″ 225 | Edwardsville, Illinois | 2016-17 averages: 21.9 points, 8.4 assists and 8.2 rebounds

Smith focused on baseball for most of his high school career, but an elbow injury last year forced him to hang up his spikes and pick up his sneakers. A year later, Smith won Illinois Mr. Basketball after a monster senior year and picked up a scholarship offer from John Calipari yesterday. At 6’5″ 225 lbs., Smith is similar to the Harrison Twins in terms of size, and can bully to the rim while shooting it consistently from the outside.

Smith has offers from Illinois, Missouri, Texas, Kansas State, Ohio State, Northwestern, Kentucky, and Michigan State. He’s expected to visit Michigan State this weekend.


Jemarl Baker

Shooting guard | 6’4″ 180 | Los Angeles, California | 2016-17 averages: 17.1 points, 4.1 assists, 3.5 rebounds | 2016-17 shooting averages: 39% FG, 34% 3PT, 78% FT

Calipari is traveling to Los Angeles today to visit former Cal signee Jemarl Baker, who was released from his letter of intent after Cuonzo Martin left to take the job at Mizzou. Maryland, Utah, Oregon, Arizona, Duke, Marquette, Virginia, and Arizona State are also interested in Baker, and he’ll likely pick up a scholarship offer from Calipari tonight.


Cam Johnson

Guard | 6’8″ 210 | Moon Township, Pennsylvania | 2016-17 averages: 11.9 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.3 assists | 2016-17 shooting averages: 44.7% FG, 41.5% 3PT, 81.1% FT

This morning, we found out that Kentucky has offered the ex-Pitt guard, who is a redshirt sophomore, but will graduate from Pitt this spring. Johnson can play right away and will have two years of eligibility remaining, and although Calipari spoke out against grad transfers recently, it’s worth pointing out that Johnson’s coming from a school in a major conference, not a mid-major. Plus, he’s from Cal’s hometown of Moon Township and Cam’s dad played at Pitt while Calipari was an assistant there in the late 80’s.

Johnson is most similar to Kevin Knox, and if Knox goes elsewhere, he’d be more than a consolation prize. Of the three options at shooting guard right now, I may want Johnson most because he’s got two solid seasons of experience at the college level.

So, what happens? My guess is Cal takes whichever guard commits first between Baker and Smith, and Johnson if he misses on Knox, who is scheduled to announce his decision in the coming weeks. But what happens if Johnson wants to go ahead and make his decision?