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Calipari starting the weekend watching Zion Williamson

@bubbajames33

It’s yet another big weekend on the recruiting trail, and John Calipari is starting things off by watching Zion Williamson play in the HoopSeen Best of the South event in Emerson, Georgia.

After proving he’s one of the can’t-miss-on players in the 2018 class at the adidas Gauntlet Finale last week, Williamson turned heads once again last night in a much-anticipated matchup with Emmitt Williams. Williamson finished with 37 points and 7 rebounds, looking every bit the freak of nature we’ve come to know via his YouTube mixtapes. If you haven’t yet, I really encourage you to listen to Nick and Jack break down Zion’s game on their recruiting podcast, which was released yesterday. Jack gave the best description I’ve heard of Zion’s freakish build and athleticism I’ve heard yet. They also go into detail on the potential Zion/Immanuel Quickley package deal, which is very good news for Kentucky.

Here are Zion’s highlights from last night:

And one from today:

With Cal watching, Zion put up 32 points this afternoon. What will he do next?


Zion Williamson and Calipari text every other day

Since the July recruiting period began, we’ve learned two things: Zion Williamson is the real deal, and Kentucky’s chances of landing him look very good.

Not only has Williamson gone on record saying he wants to be a package deal with Immanuel Quickley, the recruit most likely to commit to Kentucky first, he told reporters last week that he wants to make his decision soon. Given the buzz surrounding the Quickley-Williamson package deal, the quicker the decision the better for Kentucky, and today, the five-star phenom told Rivals’ Corey Evans he and John Calipari text every two days.

“Coach Cal (John Calipari) texts me every two days,” Williamson said. “He just says if my dream is to get to the NBA, I can help you do that. They are just known for that, making one-and-dones.”

I still wonder what Calipari and recruits talk about on these texts (to me, Cal seems like an emoji guy), but that’s good news. Judging by Zion’s comments, it sounds like he and Cal text more frequently than Coach K or Bill Self, which is also good news.

Here’s why:

[Rivals]


A Recruiting Road Trip Recap Podcast with Roush and Pilgrim

A Recruiting Road Trip Recap Podcast with Roush and Pilgrim

After spending a weekend watching the nation’s top basketball recruits at the Nike Peach Jam and Adidas Gauntlet Finale, Nick Roush and Jack Pilgrim have a few stories to tell.  In the 45-minute podcast, KSR’s young guns reveal where Kentucky stands with the best in the 2018 class.  They also share…

—  Jack’s odd encounter with a coach who was eliminated in the NCAA Tournament by UK.

—  The Williamson/Quickley potential package deal and excitement around the scoop.

—  Names to keep an eye on in the 2019 class.

—  Bed Bug Hysteria.

You can easily listen on the KSR App, available on iTunes and Google Play.  Streaming online is simple through Pod Paradise.  You can also get it directly to your phone by subscribing to “Kentucky Sports Radio” on iTunes or via Android’s Podcast Addict app.


Thursday’s Top 10: John Calipari goes to Washington

Thursday’s Top 10: John Calipari goes to Washington

Where in the world is John Calipari? Washington D.C., apparently. This morning, Cal took a Twitter video from a hotel lobby, telling fans he’s headed to the Capitol to do some “special things”:

What are those special things? One of them is watching his friend Kelly Knight Craft be confirmed as the US Ambassador to Canada:

Congrats, Kelly. I’m sure Cal will post plenty more from his trip to Washington, so stay tuned. In the meantime, here’s today’s Top 10.

1. Last night, Cal was in Philadelphia

This is another big recruiting weekend and Cal started things off in Philadelphia at the UAA All-American Camp, where he watched 2018 big men Moses Brown and Naz Reid and 2019 stars Scottie Lewis and Bryan Antoine. Cal has yet to extend an offer to Brown, but could soon should things not go well with UK’s primary target at center, Bol Bol.

2. Naz Reid says he wants to take an official visit to Kentucky

Adam Zagoria spoke to Reid last night, and even though the 6’9″ power forward doesn’t have an offer from Kentucky yet, he said he’s been in touch with Tony Barbee and hopes to land one soon. He also wants to visit Lexington.

“They just definitely want me to be the best version of me,” Reid said of the Kentucky coaching staff. “If I can keep that consistent 110 [percent] battle effort, then the sky’s the limit.”

Want more recruiting talk? Check out Nick’s extensive update from last night.

3. I can’t stop watching this video of Jonny David playing “Basketball Hero”

You know Guitar Hero? This is Basketball Hero with Jonny David.

A post shared by Kentucky Men's Basketball (@kentuckymbb) on

Back at home, the current team is hard at work in summer workouts, and I can’t stop watching this video of Jonny David playing with the “Basketball Hero” machine last night (nicknamed so because it’s like Guitar Hero). It’s oddly fascinating.

4. More #HorseWithTheCats is on the way

Yesterday, Rex Chapman squared off against PJ Washington and Quade Green for the latest installment of the #HorseWithTheCats series. KyWildcatsTV should release the final versions of the videos soon, but here’s a sneak peek from @KentuckyMBB:

5. The new deal between UofL and the Yum Center will be announced today

Last night, we first got word of a new deal between the University of Louisville and the Yum Center, which should apparently loosen the stronghold the university has over the arena’s finances. Under the amended lease, UofL will pay the arena authority $2.5 million each year for debt payments. Most interestingly, the deal was apparently made behind Tom Jurich’s back in what is being called a “shift in power” from the athletics department to the president’s office. As you might imagine, that didn’t go over well:

Right now, the UofL Athletics Association is learning about the deal, which will then go to the Board of Trustees for approval. Should it pass, the arena authority will announce all of the details to the public. In the meantime, feel free to laugh at this:

6. Details on Rajon Rondo’s deal with the Pelicans

Word that Rondo is headed to the Pelicans broke last week, but yesterday, Shams Charania reported that Rondo’s one-year deal is worth $3.3 million. With DeMarcus Cousins set to be an unrestricted free agent next summer, this is a make it or break it year for the Pels. Will Rondo help or hurt?

7. I love this interview with UK’s 13-year-old football recruit

Over the weekend, you may have seen the picture of the 13-year-old 6-6 350 lbs. football recruit at one of UK’s camps. KSTV caught up with him, and it turns out he’s probably the most likable 13-year-old ever.

Speaking of KSTV, major congrats to TJ Beisner and his son, Tyler. Tyler, a wide receiver at North Oldham High School, just got an offer to walk on at UK in 2018. Simply awesome. If you don’t know Tyler’s story, I suggest you take some time and read this today.

8. The Open begins

The British Open (aka The Open) begins today at the Royal Birkdale and action is already underway. You can watch live on the Golf Channel and see all of the tee times here, but the only thing you really need to know is Kent Bulle tees off at 10:54 a.m. alongside Haotong Li and Haydn McCullen. His cheering section is ready:

Go get ’em, Kent!

9. Interested in sponsoring one of KSR’s UK Football photo galleries?

KSR’s 2017 UK Football Photo Gallery packages are now on sale. We have mini season, full season, and title sponsorship options. Don’t miss your chance to have your business featured alongside the work of our award-winning photographer, Dr. Michael Huang. Email ksrads@kentuckysportsradio.com for more package info.

10. Today on KSR: Matthew Mitchell

Cue up the Kelly Clarkson! One of our favorite guest hosts takes over the mics in one hour.


247

Where UK Stands with the Best College Basketball Recruits in the 2018 Class

247

Each year the live recruiting period provides more clarity as to where Kentucky stands with players in its upcoming recruiting class. After spending a weekend watching and talking to recruits on the Nike and Adidas circuit, I have some bad news, some good news and a few other nuggets of information. First, the bad news.

It’s Not Looking Good

Marvin Bagley
Power Forward | 6-11 | 200 lbs.
Phoenix, AZ | Sierra Canyon
AAU: Phoenix Phamily
★★★★★
ESPN No. 1 | 1 PF Top247 No. 1 | 1 PF
Rivals No. 1 | 1 PF Scout No. 1 | 1 PF

Before the Peach Jam, two Rivals recruiting analysts predicted the nation’s top-ranked player would eventually become a Kentucky Wildcat. After his second game at the Peach Jam, Bagley said he’ll “eventually get to Kentucky,” but he did not mean that in a good way.

The 6’11” athlete that does it all will visit Duke this week. Now the most likely East Coast destination for the West Coast kid, the word on the street is that Bagley could reclassify to play college basketball this year. He should do it. He’s wasting his time playing high school basketball. I just hope it’s USC, not Duke.

If Bagley doesn’t reclassify to 2017, Kentucky will still be in the mix, but I would not get my hopes up.

Romeo Langford 
Shooting Guard| 6-5 | 190 lbs.
New Albany, IN | New Albany High School
AAU: 22 Vision
★★★★★
ESPN No. 3 | 1 SG Top247 No. 3 | 1 SG
Rivals No. 3 | — SG Scout No. 3 | 1 SG

Langford’s recruitment has been the most entertaining since Patrick Patterson/Jai Lucas. Living in the middle of UK/IU/UofL country, the country’s top-ranked wing from New Albany, Indiana has created a buzz the area hasn’t seen in years. Now everybody knows somebody that knows somebody that knows sumthin’ bout (h/t Trick Daddy).

Amidst all of the buzz there were two schools that stood out early in the process: Duke and Kentucky, with the Blue Devils receiving a slight edge. Now, neither school is a serious contender, especially Duke. After a game at the Adidas Gauntlet Finale in Spartanburg, Langford said he is no longer communicating with Duke.

The Duke vacancy isn’t an opportunity for Calipari. Even though many believed coaching Team USA in Egypt would be nothing but a positive for Coach Cal, that’s not the case with Langford. Even if he wasn’t limited by back spasms, Langford still wasn’t going to be a star for that team, forced to take a backseat to another UK recruit.

Langford’s recruitment will be a circus for the next nine months. His recent, sudden change could reverse course later in the process, but it’s doubtful to turn toward UK following his Team USA experience. Indiana and Texas were two prominent names to watch, two places where Langford can be the show.

UK is the Team to Beat 

Cameron Reddish
Small Forward | 6-8 | 196 lbs.
Norristown, PA | Westtown
AAU: Team Final
★★★★★
ESPN No. 4 | 1 SF Top247 No. 4 | 2 SF
Rivals No. 5 | 2 SF Scout No. 4 | 1 SF

Reddish is the reason Langford will most likely not play college basketball in Lexington. A 6’8” forward with elite guard skills, Reddish received the starting two-spot for Team USA instead of Langford. Even if he didn’t directly take Langford’s place, the way Calipari played Reddish all but convinced Langford he can’t play with Cam.

This is not necessarily bad news. If Langford isn’t scoring, there’s not much else he can do to contribute. Reddish can do just about anything and everything at any given moment on a basketball court. His three-point shot has improved, but if it’s not falling he can get easy buckets in the post. Defensively, Reddish is a physical presence and an excellent rebounder.

Intitially perceived as a Duke-lean, Reddish told Kyle Tucker the Blue Devils are “absolutely not” his leader. Cal’s Team USA experience will help get Reddish to UK.  For another recruit, that experience helped even more.

Immanuel Quickley
Point Guard (2018) | 6-3 | 175 lbs.
Bel Air, MD | John Carroll School
AAU: Team BBC
★★★★★
ESPN No. 14 | 2 PG Top247 No. 16 | 5 PG
Rivals No. 15 | 4 PG Scout No. 10 | 3 PG

The point guard has not committed to Kentucky, but everybody already considers Quickley a Wildcat. There are still some people in his ear trying to convince him to stay home to play for Maryland, but that’s highly doubtful. Quickley doesn’t just speak positively about his experience with Calipari, he provides glowing reviews and discusses the importance of working with him over the summer.

Even though I’d seen Quickley in action for Team USA, he was even more impressive in Spartanburg, playing off just one day of rest in the last month. An excellent passer with an improved shot, Quickley’s skills will be valuable to Kentucky, but maybe not as valuable as his ability to bring other elite recruits into the fold.   Just like Quade Green in 2017, Quickley’s skill-set and personality will attract some of the best in the nation to UK.

Zion Williamson
Forward | 6-7 | 220 lbs.
Spartanburg, SC | Spartanburg
AAU: SC Supreme
★★★★★
ESPN No. 2 | 2 PF Top247 No. 1 | 1 SF
Rivals No. 2 | 1 SF Scout No. 2 | 2 PF

The previous two players are certainly close to committing to Kentucky.  Zion is not close to making a decision, but Kentucky does appear to be in much better shape, thanks to Quickley.

“Me and Immanuel are good friends,” Williamson said.  “We bonded over the Adidas Path and I just love the way he plays point guard.  That’s the type of point guard I want to play with.”

They don’t make big guys as explosive as Zion is. Truly a marvel to watch, his highlights don’t do it justice. I could write 1,300 words about him (like Jack did here) but it still doesn’t encapsulate his presence on and off the court.

A Spartanburg native, he brought crowds that are abnormal for AAU events. Those crowds will try to convince him to stay home and play for Frank Martin at South Carolina. After the Gamecocks’ Final Four run, it’s possible. He’s also the kind of kid that would stay home.

We will not know Zion’s destination for a long time, but Kentucky is in a better place now than they’ve ever been before.

There’s a Long Way to Go

Bol Bol
Power Forward/Center | 7-3 | 225 lbs.
Santa Ana, CA | Mater Dei
AAU: Cal Supreme
★★★★★
ESPN No. 41 | 13 PF Top247 No. 5 | 2 PF
Rivals No. 7 | 3 PF Scout No. 13 | 3 C

Bol is a beast that can help you quickly forget the Cats are seemingly out of the picture for Marvin Bagley. A 7’3” guy with elite offensive skills (even a jump shot that can extend beyond the three-point line), it’s unbelievable that he didn’t make the cut for Team USA. Bol did not sound too terribly upset that he did not make the team, but Kenny Payne made sure Bol knew immediately after the cut that he should have made the team.

Even though many recruiting analysts are hearing he will stay on the West Coast, Calipari is in a good position. Coach Cal will continue to build that relationship throughout the year until Bol makes a decision next spring.

Quentin Grimes
Point Guard | 6-4 | 175 lbs.
The Woodlands, TX | College Park
AAU: Basketball University
★★★★★
ESPN No. 14 | 2 PG Top247 No. 8 | 1 PG
Rivals No. 12 | 3 PG Scout No. 24 | 6 PG

Considered one of the top point guards in the class, he’s not really a point guard, he’s a shooting guard. The one time I watched Grimes play, he scored 30 and made threes from all over the floor.

A guy that could complement Immanuel Quickley well on the wing, Kentucky likes their position with Grimes, even though the 247 Crystal Ball currently predicts Grimes will end up at Kansas.

Questionable

Darius Garland
Point Guard | 6-2 | 170 lbs.
Brentwood, TN | Brentwood Academy
AAU: St. Louis Eagles
★★★★★
ESPN No. 11 | 1 PG Top247 No. 10 | 2 PG
Rivals No. 12 |   — Scout No. 8 | 2 PG

The Cats held off on extending a scholarship offer to the nation’s top-ranked point guard until this weekend.  Reading between the lines, the move was probably because of the situation with Romeo Langford. Long seen as a Duke-lean, it’ll be interesting to see if Kentucky gets any traction following the offer.

Moses Brown
Center | 7-1 | 210 lbs.
Briarwood, NY | Archbishop Malloy
AAU: New Heights
★★★★★
ESPN No. 6 | 2 C Top247 No. 25 | 2 C
Rivals No. 7 |  — Scout No. 6 | 2 C

Calipari has watched the nation’s top-ranked center (Bol and Bagley are considered forwards) multiple times on the Under Armour circuit, including tonight, however, he has yet to extend a scholarship offer to Brown. The Cats might not lose a ton of talent in the post after next season. Brown will likely be UK’s next option if things do not go well with Bol.

Louis King
Small Forward | 6-6 | 205 lbs.
Columbus, NJ | Hudson Catholic
AAU: Team Final
★★★★★
ESPN No. 16 | 2 SF Top247 No. 14 | 3 SF
Rivals No. 16 |   — Scout No. 12 | 3 SF

One of the wings on Team USA and Cam Reddish’s AAU teammate, King has not been shy about his intentions: he wants a scholarship offer from Kentucky. King believes he did enough in Egypt to earn one, but Cal still has not pulled the trigger.  If he does, it would not take King long to do the same and commit to Kentucky.


John Calipari is Back on the Recruiting Trail

private-jet

Now that the live recruiting window has reopened, John Calipari has returned to the bleachers to watch some of the most talented high school basketball players in America.  Adam Zagoria reports Coach Cal is spending his night in Philadelphia for the Under Armour All-American Camp.

The most notable name on the court from the 2018 class is Moses Brown.  Calipari has yet to extend a scholarship offer to the nation’s top-ranked center, but he’s met with Brown on numerous occasions.  Two of Cal’s top targets in the 2019 class, Scottie Lewis and Bryan Antoine, are also on the Under Armour court.

Calipari and Tony Barbee have just a little bit of company in Philly.

@AdamZagoria

Stay tuned later tonight for more recruiting scoop.


Wednesday’s Top 10: Getting over that hump

Wednesday’s Top 10: Getting over that hump

You know what Wednesday is? It’s Hump Day, and during one of the slower weeks of the summer, that is certainly something to celebrate. Shoutout to Beth, an avid UK and KSR fan, for repping the Cats while in the Dominican Republic doing humanitarian work. Great picture, Beth. This Top 10 is for you.

1. Bovada updated the over/under win total for UK Football

The oddsmakers at the popular online sportsbook set Kentucky’s win total at 7 for this season. We’ll do this a lot over the next few months, but I’m picking the Cats to go OVER with wins over Southern Miss, Eastern Kentucky, Florida (I’ve already talked myself into this), Eastern Michigan, Missouri, Tennessee, Ole Miss, and Vanderbilt. It’s still July, so I reserve the right to change my picks before the season begins…but, because it’s July, if my picks turn out to be correct, I’m a freaking genius.

2. Thoughts on the UK Football Media Guide cover?

They’re really committed to that handwriting font, aren’t they?

3. Stephen Johnson, Alex Montgomery, and Lamar Thomas went bowling

The kind with bowling pins, of course. Who won is still up for debate:

Hopefully we’ll get to the bottom of this when Thomas and other UK coaches host the show on Friday.

4. Nerlens Noel is still waiting for an offer from Dallas

Noel was traded to the Mavericks near the end of last season and it seemed like a good match, but he’s still waiting on them to extend what his camp is calling a “realistic offer.” With the Mavericks still weighing options on Summer League players, it seems negotiations have stalled, leaving Noel in yet another frustrating situation with a front office.

Make it happen, Mark Cuban.

5. Recruiting link of the day: “Why UK will lose out on Romeo Langford”

The Courier-Journal’s Fletcher Page penned an article yesterday outlining all the reasons why five-star shooting guard Romeo Langford will go somewhere other than Kentucky. Basically, he argues that Calipari got in the race for Langford too late and is focusing on a variety of five-star recruits right now, whereas schools like Louisville and Indiana are honing in solely on the New Albany native. For more of this reasoning, check out the link below.

[Courier-Journal]

6. NBA rumor of the day: Boston wants Anthony Davis

Who doesn’t, right? On Monday, a report came out that the Boston Celtics will make a “strong run” for Davis if the Boogie/Brow situation in New Orleans doesn’t work out this season. Should they be able to pry him away from the Pelicans (he’s under contract until 2020-21), that would make them the latest superteam in the league. Make of that what you will.

7. This pool at LSU is awesome

@LSU

I’m jealous of just about anyone with a pool these days, but this brand new one at LSU might take the cake. Check out the Tigers’ new outdoor leisure pool, which is only 3.5 feet deep and includes four bubbler lounges. Kindsey Bernhard, when you get to Baton Rouge, I expect a full review.

8. The results of the Mt. Rushmore of Calipari haters poll

The top four vote-getters in the Calipari haters Mount Rushmore are…Bobby Knight, Pat Forde, John Chaney, and John Feinstein. Here are the complete results:

Items Number of Points Number of First
Bobby Knight 26611 1227
Pat Forde 25228 880
John Chaney 14166 509
John Feinstein 12355 401
Rick Pitino 10950 238
Jeff Goodman 10364 99
Pete Thamel 9343 115
Jim Calhoun 9227 133
Dan Shaughnessy 8254 145
Dana O’Neil 1036 3

Shoutout to the following write-in votes:

  • “My stupid cousin”
  • Colin Cowherd
  • John Higgins
  • Shep Smith
  • Matt Jones
  • and “You forgot that Memphis Commercial Appeal sports writer”

9. Is it just me or are the mosquitoes worse than ever this year?

Mosquitoes love me, which is especially unfortunate since every bite I get turns into a welt. Are they as bad in the Bluegrass as they are in Nashville this year? Over the past few weeks, I’ve been swarmed, most likely while watering flowers at night, and other than soaking the bites in scalding hot water and dousing myself in stinky, sticky bug spray, I’ve got nothing. We’ve tried spraying our yard with Cutter Backyard Bug Control, etc., but clearly it’s not working. Is it worth it to have our yard professionally sprayed, or does that only work when your neighbors do the same?

10. Today on KSR: Tim Couch

The Deuce is loose on KSR in approximately one hour. Anyone else wearing their Couch Browns jersey?


This Marvin Bagley Highlight Reel is Ridiculous

At Kentucky Sports Radio, we cover recruiting in the most ridiculous manner possible.  Nothing is more ridiculous than Marvin Bagley’s new highlight reel.

The top-ranked player in the class of 2018 is a younger Kevin Durant.  Throwing around NBA MVP-comparisons is risky business, but Bagley fits the bill.  A 6’11” athlete that thrives on the perimeter, in two-and-a-half minutes you will see him do pretty much whatever he wants.  He hits threes, he creates posters at the rim, he even blocks Bol Bol.

There’s a lot of buzz following the Peach Jam that Bagley will reclassify and play for either USC or Duke in 2017.  Bagley will visit Duke this week, but never say never as long as John Calipari is recruiting at the University of Kentucky.


Monday’s Top 10: It’s A Total UK Takeover

Monday’s Top 10: It’s A Total UK Takeover

Good morning, friends, and what a way to start the week. At midnight, UK’s takeover of the SEC Network began, meaning if you want to spend your day doing nothing but watching UK sports, it’s totally possible. In fact, I bet your boss would totally understand. With that in mind, let’s hop right in to the top 10.

1. Stop what you’re doing and program that DVR

It’s all UK all day on the SEC Network, so if you’ve been looking to catch up on some of the biggest games of the year, program the DVR to record the following:

  • 8:30-10 a.m. – Gymnastics vs. Alabama, Feb. 10, 2017
  • 10-10:30 a.m. – Big Blue Review
  • 10:30-11 a.m. – The Kentucky Experience: Wildcat Roundtable
  • 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. – Women’s basketball vs. Mississippi State, Feb. 23, 2017
  • 12:30-2:30 p.m. – Softball vs. Florida, April 15, 2017
  • 2:30-4:30 p.m. – Softball vs. Texas A&M, April 29, 2017
  • 4:30-5 p.m. – Big Blue Review
  • 5-5:30 p.m. – The Kentucky Experience: Wildcat Roundtable
  • 5:30-7:30 p.m. – Baseball vs. North Carolina State, June 5, 2017
  • 7:30-8 p.m. – Never Been Done Before: Kentucky Baseball 2017
  • 8-10 p.m. – Football at Louisville, Nov. 26, 2016
  • 10 p.m.-midnight – One and Not Done

2. Just in case you can’t wait until 8 p.m. for football highlights

Don’t feel bad for needing a fix. I pretty much watch this every morning.

3. It’s UK Takeover Week on KSR as well

Normally, I reserve show news and guest host announcements for the end of the wakeup post, but today’s show is so big it’s up at #3. Deputy Director of Athletics DeWayne Peevy will host today’s show alongside Ryan Lemond, and I’m sure he’s going to bring on some special guests that the rest of us could only dream of having in our Rolodex (contact list for you young folk). DeWayne’s hosting gig is just an appetizer for UK’s takeover of KSR this week. Here’s the entire schedule:

July 17: DeWayne Peevy
July 18: Nick Mingione
July 19: Tim Couch
July 20: Matthew Mitchell
July 21: UK Football coaches

4. Matt was spotted at the Tour De France

Had fun at the Tour De France today. Great afternoon

A post shared by Matt Jones (@kysportsradio) on

Where in the world is Matt Jones? Yesterday, he did a short Periscope from the Tour de France with an adorable old French man who didn’t speak any English. Today, I believe our fearless leader is headed towards Switzerland. Between all of my coworker’s vacations, I’ve got five straight dayshifts staring at me this week, so he better bring me a Toblerone.

5. Meanwhile, Tom Izzo was spotted eating popcorn off the floor

Does the five second rule apply here? With most foods, I might say yes, but he’s got more kernels in that box and who the heck knows what’s happened in that hallway, so let it be, Tom. Let it be.

6. Immanuel Quickley will visit UK on September 16

Kentucky remains in the driver’s seat for the five-star point guard, who set the dates for official visits last night. Per Evan Daniels, Quickley will visit Kentucky the weekend of September 16, the last of his four official visits. This keeps him on track to announce his decision before the start of his senior season in late September. Speaking of…

7. Did you hear he’s a potential package deal with Zion Williamson?

The biggest news out of the adidas Gauntlet Finale was the possibility of Quickley teaming up with Zion Williamson at the next level. That’s excellent news for Kentucky because the Cats are currently the favorite for both. For more on Williamson, check out Jack Pilgrim’s in-depth profile from yesterday.

8. Jerry Bird passed away yesterday

UK lost two greats this weekend. On Saturday, UK Football legend Babe Parilli passed away at the age of 87, and yesterday, former UK Basketball player Jerry Bird passed away at the age of 83. Bird played at UK from 1954-56, helping the Cats to two SEC titles and the 1954 Helms Athletic Foundation title. He was inducted into the UK Athletics Hall of Fame in 2005 as a part of the hall of fame’s charter class and his No. 22 jersey is retired in the Rupp Arena rafters.

After his basketball career in the NBA was over, Bird returned to his hometown of Corbin and worked for American Greeting Card until retirement. A memorial service in his honor is planned for Saturday at 12:30 p.m. at Central Baptist Church in Corbin. It is open to the public.

9. What did we think of the season premiere of “Game of Thrones”?

No spoilers, but I was very pleased with the exception of one horrible cameo. I thought GofT was above such things. Nick Roush and TJ Walker are currently taping a new episode of “Kentucky Thrones Radio,” so look for that on the KSR podcast feed later today.

10. DeWayne Peevy and friends one hour from now

Call in and congratulate him on his son’s 9U team winning the State Championship yesterday:

Ice cream on Uncle Matt, kiddos.


247Sports

Immanuel Quickley sets official visit dates

247Sports

John Calipari’s top target at the guard position from the class of 2018, Immanuel Quickley, has set dates for his official college visits. According to Scout’s Evan Daniels, Quickley’s coach Jide Sodipo said that the top 10 player will visit Kansas, Miami, and Kentucky on three consecutive weekends.

Kansas will be first, hosting Quickley the first weekend in September. Second will be Miami as Quickley heads to the sunshine state on the weekend of September 9th. Lastly will be Kentucky the following weekend, on September 16th. Maryland will also receive an unofficial visit from the class of 2018 prospect, but no date is set, according to Sodipo.

Evan Daniels also reported, what Quickley has hinted at previously, that he will most likely make his decision late in September before his high school senior season gets underway. With the possibility of a Quickley package deal alongside Zion Williamson, it would be a great start to John Calipari’s recruiting class to bring in his next point guard.

Williamson and Quickley faced off this weekend in a great back and forth matchup at the Adidas Gauntlet.

Here are some of Quickley’s comments about Zion Williamson to the Herald Leader.

Come on down Immanuel, we’d be happy to have you.

@BrettBibbinsKSR


Photo: Scout

Darius Garland picks up Kentucky offer

Photo: Scout

One of the top point guards in the class of 2018 just picked up an offer from John Calipari. Darius Garland, listed at 6’1″ and 170 pounds, is widely regarded as one of the top two to three point guards in his class, alongside Immanuel Quickley and Tre Jones who is the brother of former Duke guard Tyus Jones.

Garland put up some strong performances at the Peach Jam, so a UK offer isn’t a huge shocker. However, it is a little bit surprising to see Coach Cal go after another point guard with how much chatter there is in Kentucky’s favor for fellow top guard prospect Immanuel Quickley. Will definitely be interesting to see if Cal continues to pursue Garland if Quickley pulls the trigger with a Kentucky commit before the start of his senior season. We all know that Calipari does like to play a lineup with two strong ball-handling guards, so playing Garland alongside Quickley could be a possible idea.

Take a look at some of Garland’s recent highlights for his AAU team, Brad Beal Elite:

@BrettBibbinsKSR


Five-star forward Zion Williamson is a freak of nature, and Calipari needs to do whatever it takes to reel him in.

Five-star forward Zion Williamson is a freak of nature, and Calipari needs to do whatever it takes to reel him in.

Let’s cut to the chase: Five-star forward Zion Williamson is absolutely the real deal, and John Calipari needs to do anything his power to get this kid to Lexington.

I’ll admit it, I wasn’t sold in the past. All of Williamson’s highlight tapes looked like he just bullied on kids half his size, and though the athleticism was always impressive, I was worried how he’d perform against top-level competition. Needless to say, I was anxious for the adidas Uprising Gauntlet event in Spartanburg, SC, where we’d see his play against some of the top players in America.

On day one of the adidas Gauntlet, Williamson dropped 31 points, nine rebounds, two assists, four blocks, and two steals in 31 minutes of play. Williamson was everything he was hyped up to be. The athleticism, defensive presence, ball handling, shooting ability, and sheer size. But I wanted to see more than one game at the event before I was all aboard the Zion hype train.

And then he went for 32 and nine. And then 24 and 19. And then 28 and 16 against star point guard Calipari’s likely first commitment in Immanuel Quickley. And then 33 and nine.

Williamson proved he was the best player at the event by a country mile, and I may go as far as to say he’s the best player in the country.

Let me break down some of the film, discuss the strengths and weaknesses in Williamson’s game, and touch on the prized recruit’s recruitment:

Strengths

…Strength

It may sound cliche, but you notice his size from a mile away: Williamson has the most NBA-ready body in the nation. We saw it with Julius Randle and Bam Adebayo, and now Williamson will follow a similar path.

There wasn’t a player on the court Williamson couldn’t bully, and you better believe he did just that. With the ability to barrel his way to the basket, initiate contact to go to the line, and create space around the basket, this kid has the ability to absolutely dominate the game.

One of the biggest knocks on his game has always been that he’s a bit undersized, but don’t tell him that. He’s a bowling ball with zero mercy for defenders:

Athleticism

This has always been Williamson’s bread and butter, but seeing it in person was fascinating. Whether it was grabbing a rebound over three defenders, pinning someone on the backboard with his shoulders above the rim, or throwing down a ridiculous slam, the top-five prospect put on a show.

His athleticism is second to none in this country, and it was evident this weekend.

You can see it on this block:

And this one:

And this dunk.

I could post hundreds of videos I took showing off his ridiculous athleticism, but we’ll save that for another time. There’s a lot more to his game than just jumping out of the gym.

Versatility

At 6’8, 250 lbs., Williamson does things you shouldn’t be able to do at his size. While dribbling through defenders, making full court touchdown passes for easy layups, and bringing the ball up court, you’d think he was just a freak of nature guard.

And then two possessions later he posts up the biggest player on the opposing team and babies him to the basket, either dunking on him or pulling off a beautiful post move.

You’re left both speechless and with your jaw wide open more often than not.

On defense, the Spartanburg native can defend all five positions on the floor. Throughout the weekend, Williamson chose the opposing team’s best player and guarded him for the majority of the game. He will play mostly at the three and four, but he absolutely will not be a liability on defense when switched onto guards or massive centers.

Calipari lives and breathes versatility, and Williamson is the prototype of just that.

This kid can do it all.

Shooting ability

A knee injury sidelined Williamson for several weeks earlier this year, and many spectators were worried about how he would respond when he got back onto the court. Not only did he come back stronger than ever, his shot dramatically improved.

While injured, the five-star prospect told reporters he was able to really focus on his shooting touch, working at the free throw line, his mid-range game, and his shot behind the arc.

Within minutes at the event, you were able to see a fine example of the improvement:

Williamson would go on to shoot extremely well from three, even going four-for-four from deep in one matchup. He also made several pull-ups from midrange and a few floaters for good measure.

Though his shot has certainly improved, there are still some things Williamson needs to work on before we start considering him a knockdown shooter in college. We’ll discuss those later.

Weaknesses

Well… there weren’t many. The few weaknesses to his game seemed to revolve around working a little too hard and/or being so tired from putting the team on his back and playing nearly all of the 32 total minutes in each game. But we’ll give it a shot.

A bit out of control

When Williamson builds up too much momentum, he tends to get a little carried away and loses his handles or bulldozes defenders for charges. There were several times his teammates’ shots weren’t falling and he’d have to single-handedly take over a game, but turn the ball over in the process when double-teamed.

The Kentucky recruit loves having the ball in his hands, and most of the time, he does some pretty fascinating things with it. Other times, however, his big-game gene will force him to make some silly mistakes when better opportunities were available.

When he gathers speed and puts his head down in the lane, trouble (sometimes) follows.

Giving up on plays

Williamson got a little lazy on defense throughout the weekend, failing to get back on fast breaks, giving up offensive rebounds, etc.

Late in games, he doesn’t close out well on defenders, giving up big shots that let the opposing team right back in the game. There were a few times that each impressive basket Williamson managed on the offensive end would turn into a bucket given up on the other.

Again, five games in three days at 30+ minutes a game will do that to you, but it is worth noting.

Free throws/shooting ability

As I mentioned earlier, both good and bad comes from Williamson shooting the ball. Inconsistency is the name of the game with Williamson, and it might take a while before that gets fixed completely.

When he gets hot, he’s the most dominant player in the world and can score from all three levels of the floor. It’s a scary sight.

When he’s struggling, however, it’s rough to watch. And he can struggle from beyond the arc just as much as he can get hot.

Similar to Julius Randle, he’s going to take jumpers at the college level, and he’s probably going to frustrate fans with it at times. They’ll go in at a fair rate, but he’ll miss enough of them to make you yell at the television.

Williamson has to work on his consistency from both the line and beyond the arc during his senior year before getting to college.

Recruitment

It’s obvious every school in the country wants him; he’s the most entertaining high school prospect this country has to offer. Williamson told KSR he’s still open to all schools and won’t be putting together any formal “list” before making a decision.

The main schools in the running, however, seem to be UK, Kansas, Duke, UNC, South Carolina, and Clemson.

On Friday evening, five-star PG Immanuel Quickley told KSR he and Williamson had a package deal in the works, and both parties would talk to their respective families about taking the proper steps to make it happen. Williamson followed it up by telling KSR there was “a lot of truth” to the package deal and that Quickley was the exact type of point guard he wants to play with.

Yesterday, Williamson told Kyle Tucker of SEC Country things are heating up on the package deal front:

“That’s the real deal. I want to play with Immanuel Quickley when I go to college,” he said. “If he goes to Kentucky, then I’m going to look into Kentucky really hard.

(Another tidbit of information for you all reading all the way to this point: I talked to someone with Quickley’s AAU team at the event that said “Quickley is going to have a hard time saying no to Kentucky. A lot of the local people want him to go to Maryland, but that’s not happening. I’d put it at about 98% he ends up at Kentucky.”)

With Quickley likely making his college decision in the next month or so and Kentucky being the odds-on favorite in his recruitment, you put the puzzle pieces together.

This Zion Williamson-to-Kentucky thing is absolutely real, and the BBN needs to prepare accordingly. He’s one of the best basketball players I’ve seen in person in the last decade.

Wow.


WATCH: Five-star forward Zion Williamson destroys the competition at adidas Uprising Gauntlet Finale

We’ve been keeping you updated on Zion Williamson’s ridiculous weekend at the adidas Uprising Gauntlet Finale, and now we have your highlights from the event.

Williamson averaged 27.1 points, 11.3 rebounds, and four assists a game in front of Coach Cal, Coach K, Bill Self, Tom Izzo, and just about every assistant coach in America.

Clutch plays, ferocious dunks, beautiful post moves, and absolutely disgusting blocks. What more could you want from a potential future Wildcat?

See for yourself how incredible this kid is with KSR’s highlights:

If that wasn’t enough, catch up on some of the other videos from the weekend:

We’ve got to get this kid to Lexington at all costs…


Where in the World is Coach Cal?

Photo via @AdamZagoria

Fresh home from Egypt, Coach Cal has been back on the recruiting trail this week. Pictured above, you can spot Calipari at the Peach Jam watching 2019 recruit Wendell Moore. Cal has made appearances at both the Peach Jam and Adidas Gauntlet event in Spartanburg, SC.

Cal is also taking some time to see some of his “familia” as he calls it.

The classic dad selfie with Melvin Booker is too much for me to handle.


Five Words to Describe Bol Bol

Jeff Lefkowitz | Getty

Tall

Standing close to seven feet three inches tall, the first thing you notice is Bol’s striking height.  It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve come across a seven-footer, Bol puts them all to shame.  To make Bol appear taller, his wingspan can cover the entire lane.  Even though he’s stretched out higher than almost anyone I’ve ever seen, he still fits the cliche, “He can scratch his knees standing straight up.”

Runner

Bol’s height appears uncommon, but he’s not the only seven-foot African on the AAU circuit.  I once played against two of them on the same team (that also featured Vinny Zollo) and am not ashamed to say I was dunked on.  Players like Bol fail to get to the top of the rankings because they can’t move.  Bol can.  He runs the floor with the best of them in break and can finish lobs with ease.

Shooter

Bol is a threat all over the floor.  If he can’t run in the break because he got the rebound, as a trailer he’s lethal from outside.  At one point Thursday night, a pump fake from behind the three-point line, got not one, but three opponents to bite for the fake, leaving more than one option wide open.

Bol does not make his money hitting threes, but he hits open ones, about 50 percent on the EYBL circuit.  He’s most deadly from midrange.  A shot that cannot be blocked, his smooth stroke is fundamentally sound.

Smooth

To add to the previous two points, Bol doesn’t waste movement.  It’s all one smooth, fluid motion.  When double teams come, he drops off perfect passes.  There’s a nice touch to each pass, making it catchable for teammates half his size.  It can be difficult to describe.  Simply put: watching Bol play basketball is beautiful.

Impactful

Naturally, when he’s in the game against inferior opponents, he draws double and triple teams almost every time down the court.  If he’s in the right position near the rim, he’ll finish.  If they can’t get it to him, he’s still making a positive impact by drawing fouls and forcing opposing defenses to constantly keep an eye on him.

When Anthony Davis finished his successful one-year career at Kentucky, many said we’ll never see another player like him ever again.  Bol Bol disproves that notion.  Davis was a better shot-blocker and more powerful near the rim, but not as nearly skilled offensively as Bol.  Like Davis, he’s a late-riser who’s improved exponentially since the start of his junior season.  His ceiling is higher than his extreme height.

Now that Marvin Bagley is apparently considering other options, Calipari’s primary focus in the post for the 2018 class is Bol.  There’s a long way to go, but you better believe John Calipari will be there until the very end.