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Johnson said his UK visit was really good

Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Michael Reaves/Getty Images

We have an update on Cam Johnson’s visit, courtesy of the well-connected Adam Zagoria.

Zagoria updated his story today to include a quote from Johnson, who said via text, “Just finished up, it was really good.”

So there ya go. It was really good. I know that’s not the greatest update, but it’s an update nonetheless.

Enjoy the rest of your day.

[ZagsBlog]


The Ones That Got Away: Checking In On The Recruits Calipari’s Missed On Over The Years

The Ones That Got Away: Checking In On The Recruits Calipari’s Missed On Over The Years

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Earlier this week, a KSR caller gave us a great research topic: the recruits that John Calipari wanted but didn’t get. I spent the past few days making a list of the top recruits Cal’s coveted and missed on, and what they’re doing now. Join me as we take a stroll down memory lane…

2009: Xavier Henry

xavierhenry

Then: Chose Kansas over Kentucky and Memphis

Calipari brought most of his Memphis recruits with him to Kentucky in 2009, but not Xavier Henry, the second best shooting guard in the 2009 class that was committed to Cal at Memphis but reopened his recruitment once he left. After a lot of drama (including a potential last minute change of heart), Henry decided to follow in his father’s footsteps at Kansas.

KSR headlines at the time included:

Now: Plays for the Oklahoma City Blue in the D-League

Henry left Kansas after one season, during which he averaged 13.4 points. He was drafted 12th in the 2010 Draft by the Memphis Grizzlies. Since then, he’s spent time on the New Orleans Hornets, the Los Angeles Lakers, and their respective D-League squads. A torn Achilles set him back in 2014, and since then, he’s struggled to find a spot on an NBA roster. He spent this past season playing alongside Dakari Johnson for the Oklahoma City Blue in the D-League.


2010: Josh Selby

joshselby

Then: Chose Kansas over Kentucky, Arizona, UConn, and Tennessee

Selby decommitted from Tennessee in July 2009 and became one of Calipari’s top targets at point guard along with Brandon Knight. In what would be a blessing in disguise, Selby picked Kansas while Knight chose Kentucky.

KSR headlines at the time included:

Now: Plays overseas in Israel 

The NCAA suspended Selby for the first nine games of the season due to his relationship with Carmelo Anthony’s business manager, Robert “Bay” Frazier. Selby struggled in his one year at Kansas, and apparently, stopped going to class after the season was over, moving to Vegas to prepare for the draft. He was drafted 49th by the Grizzlies and was assigned to the D-League after a few months. He stayed in the D-League until taking his game overseas in 2013. He’s now with Maccabi Kiryat Gat in Israel.


2010: CJ Leslie

cjleslie

Then: Chose NC State over Kentucky and UConn

Power forward and aspiring poet CJ Leslie played alongside John Wall at Word of God Christian Academy in Raleigh, but unlike Wall, Calipari was unable to persuade him to leave his home state.

KSR headlines at the time included:

Now: Plays for the Raptors 905 in the D-League

Leslie played for NC State for three years before going undrafted in the 2013 NBA Draft. Since then, he’s been in and out of the D-League and played overseas for a few years before landing with the Raptors’ D-League team, the Raptors 905.


2011: Andre Drummond

andredrummond

Then: Chose UConn over Kentucky, Georgetown, Louisville, and West Virginia

Drummond could have been the best big man in the 2012 class and gone straight to the NBA because of his age, but stunned everyone at the last minute by reclassifying to 2011 and enrolling at UConn. In the 2011 class, he was considered the best player behind Anthony Davis.

KSR headlines at the time included:

Now: Plays for the Detroit Pistons

After a year at UConn, Drummond was drafted 9th overall by the Detroit Pistons and has been there ever since. He was voted an All-Star in 2016 and played for the US in the 2014 FIBA World Cup.


2011: Quincy Miller

quincymiller

Then: Chose Baylor over Kentucky, Duke, Louisville, and Oklahoma

Miller was a top 10 player in the 2011 class and even though he enjoyed doing the John Wall dance, passed on an offer from Kentucky in part because they wouldn’t offer his close friend, Deuce Bello. Also courted by Louisville, Miller was so bitter that Bello didn’t get an offer that he flashed the Louisville “L” at the UK Football team and stared down Calipari while on a recruiting visit to the UK/UofL football game at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium in September 2010. Ultimately, both Miller and Bello ended up at Baylor.

KSR headlines at the time included:

Now: Plays overseas in Israel

After one year at Baylor, Miller was drafted 38th by the Denver Nuggets and was in and out of the D-League until he was waived in 2014. After stints with the Reno Bighorns, the Sacramento Kings, and Detroit Pistons, he moved overseas, where he now plays for Maccabi Tel Aviv in Israel.


2012: Shabazz Muhammed

shabazzmuhammed

Then: Chose UCLA over Kentucky and Duke

Shabazz and Nerlens Noel were considered the best two players in the 2012 class and buzz was that both would land at Kentucky; however, Shabazz elected to stay on the west coast and chose UCLA over Kentucky and Duke.

KSR headlines at the time included:

Now: Plays for the Timberwolves

Oh boy, where to begin with Shabazz? Muhammed’s year at UCLA was mired in scandal, from his suspension for the first three games of the season for receiving illegal benefits during his recruitment to his father lying about how old he was to pouting when his teammate hit a game-winning shot. Shabazz was drafted 14th by the Utah Jazz and quickly traded to the Timberwolves. After being sent home from the NBA rookie transition program, Muhammed spent time in the D-League before returning to Minnesota, where he’s been ever since.


2012: Alex Oriakhi (transfer)

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Then: Chose to transfer from UConn to Missouri over Kentucky

With UConn facing a postseason ban in the 2012-13 season, Alex Oriakhi decided to transfer for his senior season to be able to play in the 2013 NCAA Tournament. With most of the 2012 National Championship team out the door, Calipari was in hot pursuit, but the day before he was scheduled to visit Lexington, Oriakhi decided to go to Missouri instead.

KSR headlines at the time included:

Now: Playing overseas in Spain

Oriakhi did get to play in the NCAA Tournament, but the Tigers lost in the first round to Colorado State. He was drafted 57th in the 2013 Draft by the Phoenix Suns, fizzled on their Summer League team and rotated between overseas pro teams and the D-League. He’s now with Vaqueros de Bayamón in Spain.


2013: Andrew Wiggins

wiggins

Then: Chose Kansas over Kentucky, Florida State, and North Carolina

Ah, the recruiting saga to end all recruiting sagas. Kentucky was considered the favorite for Wiggins for most of his recruitment along with Florida State, but he surprised us all by picking Kansas. Did landing Julius Randle scare him off?

KSR headlines at the time included:

If you’re curious, 812 posts have been written about Andrew Wiggins on KSR, which has to be a record. Bamba’s recruitment is nothing compared to his.

Now: Plays for the Timberwolves

After a year at Kansas, Wiggins was drafted first in the 2014 Draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers and traded two months later to the Minnesota Timberwolves. He’s one of the Timberwolves’ young stars alongside our own Karl Towns, with whom he actually shared a room at the Nike Hoop Summit back in 2013.


2013: Aaron Gordon

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Then: Chose Arizona over Kentucky, Washington, and Oregon

Gordon was one of Kentucky’s top targets in the 2013 class along with Wiggins, but like many West Coast recruits, couldn’t tear himself away from that side of the country, not even for Calipari.

KSR headlines at the time included:

Now: Plays for the Orlando Magic

After a season at Arizona, Gordon was drafted fourth in the 2014 Draft by the Orlando Magic, whom he’s been with ever since.


2014: Emmanuel Mudiay

mudiay

Then: Chose SMU over Kentucky, Kansas, Baylor, and Oklahoma State.

Emmanuel Mudiay was poised to be the next great Calipari point guard, but surprised everyone when he picked SMU.

KSR headlines at the time included:

Then: Chose China because of eligibility problems

In many ways, not getting Mudiay was a blessing in surprise. Eligibility problems forced him to forgo his college career and play in China for a season. Meanwhile, Kentucky went after Tyler Ulis, now considered one of the greatest point guards in school history.

Now: Plays for the Denver Nuggets

After earning over a million dollars playing for the Guangdong Southern Tigers in China, Mudiay was drafted seventh in the 2015 NBA Draft by the Denver Nuggets. Now, he’s the backup behind Jameer Nelson, and is losing minutes to another Wildcat, Jamal Murray.


2014: Cliff Alexander

cliff-alexander

Then: Chose Kansas over Illinois and DePaul

Kentucky was high on Alexander early on, but backed off once they got a commitment from Trey Lyles. From there, Alexander cut the Cats from his list and committed to Kansas, making his dad the happiest person in the world:

Confession: That video is the only reason I kept Alexander on the list.

KSR headlines at the time included:

Now: Plays in the D-League

Alexander averaged 7.1 points and 5.3 rebounds in his freshman year at Kansas until he was suspended in late February over an NCAA investigation. After claiming he “got dealt a bad deck of cards” at Kansas, Alexander entered the 2015 NBA Draft and was undrafted. He signed a training camp deal with the Portland Trail Blazers, but struggled due to injury and was waived. Since then, he’s been in the D-League.


2015: Stephen Zimmerman

zimmerman1

Then: Chose UNLV over Kentucky, Kansas, UCLA, and Arizona

2015 was a tough recruiting year for Calipari because many of the players he wanted most decided to stay home instead of coming to Lexington. Stephen Zimmerman was one of those players. Calipari made it clear Zimmerman was one his top targets, but Zimmerman couldn’t bring himself to leave Las Vegas, choosing UNLV instead.

KSR headlines at the time included:

Now: Plays for the Orlando Magic

After one year at UNLV, Zimmerman was drafted 41st by the Orlando Magic in the 2016 NBA Draft. He was in and out of the D-League in his rookie season.


2015: Malik Newman

maliknewman

Then: Chose Mississippi State over Kentucky and Kansas

Kentucky was considered the favorite for the top point guard in the 2015 class for most of his recruitment, but Newman shocked everyone by choosing to stay home and play for Mississippi State instead.

KSR headlines at the time included:

Then: Transferred to Kansas

Newman’s decision to stay home and play for Mississippi State came back to bite him. After averaging 11.3 points in his freshman year, he tried to go pro but discovered his stock wasn’t high enough, so he withdrew his name and returned to school. Unfortunately, he had a bad habit of skipping classes, so he wasn’t exactly welcomed back with open arms, so he decided to transfer.

Now: Plays for Kansas

Newman had to sit out the 2016-17 season, but will suit up for the Jayhawks this fall.


2015: Antonio Blakeney

blakeney

Then: Chose LSU over Kentucky and Missouri

Blakeney was one of the top shooting guards in the 2015 class and in September 2014, committed to Louisville only to decommit eleven days later. We didn’t know it at the time, but that’s because UofL tried to woo him with prostitutes, which you know, is pretty disgusting, so after the grossness of it all sunk in, he got the heck outta there. From there, it looked like he would come to Kentucky, but he elected to join Ben Simmons at LSU instead.

KSR headlines at the time included:

Now: Preparing for the 2017 Draft

Blakeney’s freshman year at LSU with Ben Simmons didn’t exactly go as planned (JUST LIKE THAT RECRUITING VISIT TO LOUISVILLE, AMIRITE), with the Tigers failing to make the NCAA Tournament and turning down the NIT. It didn’t get any better in his sophomore year, with the Tigers finishing 13th in the SEC behind Missouri. Now, he’s signed with an agent for the 2017 Draft even though he’s barely in Draft Express’ ranking of Top 100 prospects.

…However, he did help expose the Louisville sex scandal and for that reason, will forever be in our hearts.

(more…)


Mark Smith Commits to Illinois

Mark Smith Commits to Illinois

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Shooting guard Mark Smith has committed to Illinois.  The state’s Mr. Basketball will stay home to play college basketball.

Smith’s stellar senior season propelled him into the recruiting spotlight after the conclusion of the college basketball season, drawing attention from Coach Cal, Coach K and many others.  Smith played in the Derby Basketball Classic two weeks ago and planned to visit Kentucky.  After a trip to Champaign, he’d seen enough.

Moving forward, John Calipari has already picked up one postseason commitment from shooting guard Jemarl Baker.  The next shooting guard to commit could be on campus right now, Pitt grad transfer Cam Johnson.


Midday Crystal Ball check: Illinois the runaway favorite for Mark Smith

Midday Crystal Ball check: Illinois the runaway favorite for Mark Smith

Tonight at 7 p.m. ET, four-star shooting guard Mark Smith will announce his decision at his high school in Edwardsville, Illinois. Smith picked up an offer from Kentucky early this month and hosted Duke last week, but Illinois seems to be the overwhelming favorite for the state’s Mr. Basketball. The Fighting Illini have 82% of the predictions in Smith’s Crystal Ball, including all nine in the past week.

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Smith visited Illinois over the weekend, and considering he chose to go ahead and set his announcement before taking a trip to Kentucky, I’d say he’s going to stay home. Before you get too depressed, keep in mind that UK landed a commitment from fellow four-star shooting guard Jemarl Baker a few weeks back and Pitt transfer Cam Johnson is on campus for an official visit starting today.

Regardless, we’ll let you know what Smith decides tonight at 7 p.m.


Wednesday’s Top 10: Cam Johnson on campus, Mark Smith announcing, Preds vs. the Blues

Wednesday’s Top 10: Cam Johnson on campus, Mark Smith announcing, Preds vs. the Blues

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Shoutout to this young KSR and UK fan Blaine Colliver, who refused to enter Alberta, Canada without throwing up his three goggles. Well done, Blaine. I hope you enjoyed Wild Rose Country.

Let’s give him the ten things happening in UK Sports today, shall we?

12131405 1. Cam Johnson starts his official visit

The big news of the day is Pitt grad transfer Cam Johnson beginning his official visit to Kentucky. I told you all about Johnson last night and why he would be such a valuable addition to next season’s roster, and it sounds like if he likes what he sees over the next two days, odds are high he’ll become a Cat. Johnson, who will be eligible to play immediately and has two seasons of eligibility remaining, also has Arizona, Ohio State, Oregon, UCLA, and TCU on his list.

His trip to Lexington comes as…

 2. Jemarl Baker wrapped up his official visit

After committing to Kentucky a few weeks ago, the four-star shooting guard from Los Angeles took his official visit to Lexington to check everything out before signing on the dotted line. Based on his SnapChat story, it looks like he enjoyed himself. Highlights of the story include him hanging at Calipari’s house and getting an up-close look at Cal’s new Air Jordan 8 “Calipari Pack” from Drake, a tour of Rupp Arena and the Joe Craft Center, and even a trip to a horse farm (maybe to meet American Pharaoh like Bamba?).

smith3. Mark Smith announces at 7 p.m.

Kentucky’s other offer at shooting guard, Mark Smith, will announce his decision at 7 p.m. ET at his high school in Illinois. Other than Baker’s commitment, there’s been no indication that Kentucky’s backed off Smith, but the fact that he decided not to visit Kentucky and is announcing on the heels of his official visit to Illinois seems like writing on the wall to me. We’ll have all the coverage on the site tonight.

4. Will Kentucky face West Virginia in the Big 12 Challenge next year?

If you listened to KSR a few weeks back, you heard us mention the possibility of West Virginia being Kentucky’s opponent in next season’s Big 12 Challenge, and yesterday, Oscar Combs took a break from Twitter polls to double down on the rumor, adding that the Cats will likely travel to Morgantown for the showdown with the fighting Huggy Bears. As then-#1 Baylor and #2 Kansas learned last season, taking down the Mountaineers at home is no easy feat. Regardless, I’m already looking forward to the media opps with Cal and Huggins.

5. UK Baseball hosts Xavier

Need a baseball fix? The 6th ranked Bat Cats host Xavier tonight at 7 p.m. at Cliff Hagan Stadium. UK’s recent success has them in the mix for a national seed in the NCAA Tournament, which means they’ll be able to host postseason games, so every game’s important now. You can watch on the SEC Network. This weekend, the Bat Cats travel to South Carolina to take on the Gamecocks, who rank third in the SEC East behind Kentucky and Florida.

On that note, be sure to check out the latest episode of the KSR Baseball Podcast featuring Trey Huntsman, former head coach Keith Madison, and this week’s guest, D1 Baseball writer Aaron Fitt. You can easily listen on the KSR App, available on iTunes and Google Play.

6. The Preds start their second round series with the Blues

After sweeping the Chicago Blackhawks, the Nashville Predators are back in action tonight in Game 1 of their second round series with the St. Louis Blues. As a relatively new hockey fan, I’ll admit, I don’t know much about the Blues other than the Preds won their regular season series against them 3-2 and they’ve got a great goalie. So, we’ll see what happens when the puck drops tonight at 8 p.m. ET in St. Louis. It’s on NBC Sports Network if you’d like to watch.

Oh yeah, in a fit of excitement after Game 3 last week, I gave in and bought a jersey. PK Subban, you and I are in this together now, buddy.

7. One episode left in 13 Reasons Why

The 13-part Netflix sensation about a teenage suicide has been the talk of the nation in pop culture the past month and thankfully, it’s finally picking up after a long stretch of “Why won’t he just go home and listen to the tapes?!”. Seriously, I know that would make for a terrible TV show, but isn’t that we all would do? Looking forward to finishing it tonight. 

8. Forecast for this weekend’s half/full marathons looks steamy

Lots of half and full marathons going on this weekend, including the Kentucky Derby Festival marathon in Louisville and the Rock and Roll Marathon here in Nashville. I’m running in the Nashville half for the second year in a row and unfortunately, the forecast looks hot and humid. If you need me, I’ll be drinking water today.

9. Catch Bam Adebayo on his autograph tour

Yesterday, Bam made the news that he’ll stay in the draft official via a release from UK, thanking his coaches, teammates, and the fans for helping him grow as a player and person over the last year.

“This process we went through at Kentucky was a tough but a rewarding one. It was everything I wanted when I decided to come to Kentucky. It taught me a lot. It taught me how to be a better man on and off the court. I have improved so much since the beginning of the season thanks to the hard work of the coaching staff. They helped me with every step of the process along the way and they never gave up on me.

“I also want to thank my teammates. I couldn’t have asked for a better group to grow with. We were all like brothers. I also want to thank the fans for their support and everything they do for us. Their passion is like nothing I’ve ever seen before.”

You can catch Bam on his autograph tour, which starts Friday in Somerset and Glasgow:

10. KSR is live from Sleep Outfitters in Morehead

Come on out to 352 Kroger Center Drive to enjoy the show, and when it’s over, stick around to see Derek Willis and Isaac Humphries, who will be signing autographs starting at noon.


The 10 Things You Need To Know About Cam Johnson

The 10 Things You Need To Know About Cam Johnson

Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Tomorrow, shooting guard Cameron Johnson will arrive on Kentucky’s campus for a two-day official visit. Johnson is a grad transfer from Pitt in search of a new home and Kentucky is one of six schools he’s considering. Given Johnson’s skills as a shooter, his three years of college experience, and two remaining years of eligibility, he is a hot commodity on the transfer market for programs in search of experience, like the Cats. With that in mind, let’s get to know Cameron Johnson, aka “Cam.”

1. The Basics

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Shooting Guard
6-8, 210 lbs.
Birthdate: March 3, 1996
Hometown: Moon Township, Pennsylvania
Class: Redshirt sophomore

As a high schooler, Johnson was considered the 60th best shooting guard in the 2014 class by 247 Sports. He picked Pitt over Columbia, Penn, Boston College, Stanford, Rice, Richmond, and Virginia. If those Ivy League offers aren’t indication enough, Johnson is one smart cookie, a two-time all-ACC academic team selection with a 3.9 GPA. After three years at Pitt, he will graduate this spring and have two years of eligibility at the school of his choice. His final list: Kentucky, Arizona, Ohio State, Oregon, UCLA, and TCU.

2. He averaged 11.9 points off 44.7% shooting last season

Kentucky is in dire need of shooters for next season, and Johnson’s a pretty good one. Last year, he averaged 11.9 points off 44.7% shooting, 41.5% from behind the three-point line. He also averaged 4.5 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game.

Here are his season averages:

SEASON MIN FG% 3PT% FT% REB AST BLK STL TO PTS
2016-17 33.3 0.447 0.415 0.811 4.5 2.3 0.3 0.9 1.2 11.9
2015-16 11.7 0.397 0.375 0.808 1.8 0.5 0.2 0.3 0.5 4.8
2014-15 14.4 0.394 0.348 0.500 1.1 0.5 0.4 0.1 0.5 4.5

Here’s how Johnson’s 41.5% three-point shooting average compares to past Kentucky shooters:

  • Malik Monk: 39.7%
  • Jamal Murray: 40.8%
  • Devin Booker: 41.1%
  • Doron Lamb: 47.5%

Man, who would have guessed Doron Lamb had the highest three-point percentage of that bunch?

3. He injured his shoulder his freshman year

Johnson played in the first eight games of his freshman season before injuring his shoulder and receiving a medical redshirt. That’s why as a graduate transfer, he’ll have two years of eligibility remaining, which is pretty rare. Yet another reason Calipari wants him, despite his disdain for the grad transfer process (which I’ll get to in a bit).

4. His father played for Pitt around the time Calipari was an assistant there

Not only was Cam Johnson born in Calipari’s hometown of Moon Township, Pennsylvania, his dad was a player at Pitt around the time that Calipari was an assistant on the Pitt staff. Cal left Pitt to take the head coaching job at UMass in 1988, which is also the year that Gilbert Johnson, Cam’s dad, joined the program as a junior college transfer. Calipari’s years at Pitt were the time in which he was cutting his teeth as a recruiter, so odds are he had a hand in bringing Johnson on board. If that’s not enough, Johnson Sr. has known Kenny Payne for over 30 years, according to the Herald-Leader.

In a hilarious aside, check out “Tips from the Panthers” on the back of Gilbert Johnson’s playing card:

True then and true now.

5. His brother played for Calipari’s alma mater

Need another Calipari connection? After transferring from Princeton, Cam’s brother Aaron played for Clarion, just like Calipari. Not only that, Aaron was a recipient of the John Calipari Endowment Scholarship. When it comes to this grad transfer, it really is a small world.

6. His breakout performance came against Syracuse in the 2016 ACC Tournament

Johnson came into his own in the opening round of the 2016 ACC Tournament, when he scored 24 points including four threes to help Pitt beat Syracuse:

7. He carried that performance into next season

Johnson finished fifth in the ACC in three-point percentage (.415) and eighth in three-point field goals (2.36 3pg.) last season. Not too shabby in a conference that also included Luke Kennard, Joel Berry II, and Kyle Guy.

8. Why is he leaving Pitt?

Aside from the fact that he’s finishing up his degree and can go to a higher profile program, is the fact that Kevin Stallings is now his coach good enough reason? It would be for me. Stallings took over at Pitt after Jamie Dixon left for TCU last year, which also explains why TCU is on Johnson’s list.

9. Why Calipari would make an exception for this grad transfer

During the tournament, Calipari went on a rant about grad transfers during one of his media opportunities, complaining that they leave mid-major programs in a lurch. This was in response to Drexel firing Cal’s friend Bruiser Flint after the program struggled to recover from Damion Lee transferring to Louisville. While Calipari pursuing a grad transfer a month after going on that rant seems hypocritical, here are three reasons why it’s not:

  • Pitt is in the ACC, arguably the best conference in the sport
  • Stallings is just in his second year there and a player wanting out after a coaching change is pretty common (especially when it’s Stallings…it’s worth mentioning that Johnson is one of four Pitt players to leave the program since the season ended)
  • Johnson has two years of eligibility remaining. That’s a lot of time to reshape your future, and considering Pitt’s in rebuilding mode, this is the perfect opportunity

10. He’s more than a consolation prize for Kevin Knox

Most recruiting pundits don’t think Kentucky is among the favorites for five-star small forward Kevin Knox and consider Johnson as an excellent consolation prize. I think he’s more than that. On what will essentially be a brand-new roster, Johnson can provide some much needed experience in the backcourt, along with reliable shooting. His off the court success in the classroom doesn’t hurt either. For all of those reasons, while we would love to have Knox, I think Johnson’s a more important addition. Fortunately, we’re hearing if this visit goes well, the chances are high he’ll be a Cat.

So, come on down and enjoy yourself, Cam.


Green, Washington team up with Mo Bamba in another All-American game

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Thanks to the good people at Ballislife, Quade Green will get yet another opportunity to continue recruiting his good friend Mohamed Bamba to Kentucky.

Earlier today Green and Bamba were named to Team Elite in the Ballislife All-American Game next month, along with Kentucky’s P.J. Washington, who will join Green and Bamba on the Elite roster.

The game is set for May 6 at Long Beach City College in California.

Full rosters are as follows:

This past weekend Green and Washington stood out in the Allen Iverson Roundball Classic in Portsmouth, Virginia, where Washington took home MVP honors with a game-high 37 points. Green chipped in 32 of his own for the other team.

Speaking of Bamba, things remain extremely quiet in and around his recruitment as the wait continues.


Cameron Johnson will Visit Kentucky This Week

Pitt Athletics

Pitt Athletics

Pittsburgh graduate transfer shooting guard Cameron Johnson will take a visit to Lexington this Wednesday and Thursday, according to Evan Daniels and Jeff Goodman.

A graduate transfer, Johnson will be eligible to play immediately.  Unlike most grad transfers, he has two years of eligibility remaining.  Last year Johnson averaged 11.9 points on 41.5 percent shooting from behind the three-point line (44.7 overall), adding 4.5 rebounds and 2.3 assists in about 33 minutes per game.

Also considering Ohio State, Oregon, USC, Arizona and TCU, the “Johnson to Kentucky” buzz has been generally positive over the last week.  A great visit this week could put the Cats over the top.


CBS Sports: “John Calipari will have his youngest Kentucky team ever – and still likely be good”

2017-class

After reports that Bam Adebayo is staying in the draft and Hamidou Diallo is considering it, it’s clearer than ever that next year’s team is going to be YOUNG. The biggest “veteran” coming back is Wenyen Gabriel, who averaged 4.6 points in 17.8 minutes this past season. Still, having a young team is no new task for John Calipari, and while a lot of fans are frustrated at the thought of another blank slate, CBS Sports’ Gary Parrish is here to remind you that history shows that Kentucky will probably be fine.

Calipari’s four teams that have relied on freshmen to score more than 60.0 percent of their points were the 2011, 2013, 2014 and 2017 teams — and three of those freshmen-heavy teams (2011, 2013, 2014) lost six SEC games, which isn’t good. But let the record show that three of those four teams (2011, 2014, 2017) still made the Elite Eight. And two of those four teams (2011, 2014) still advanced to the Final Four.

My point: Even when UK’s young teams “struggle” they tend to finish impressively.

So, another roller coaster season, which means we need that talent to be really elite. Looking at you, Bamba!

[CBS Sports]


2017 target will announce decision on Wednesday

More breaking news! According to Scout.com, four-star shooting guard Mark Smith will announce his college decision Wednesday at 7 p.m. ET at his high school in Illinois. Smith is one of three shooting guards John Calipari has been pursuing to bulk up depth in the 2017 class; another, Jemarl Baker committed to Kentucky a few weeks back; the third, Pitt transfer Cam Johnson, has Kentucky in his final list, but has yet to announce a timetable.

Smith has picked up a lot of interest from major programs in recent weeks, but given Baker’s commitment and the fact that Smith decided not to visit Kentucky this weekend after trips to Illinois and Ohio State, I’m going to guess that he’ll elect to stay in the Big 10. Thankfully, we’ll know for sure Wednesday evening as the dominoes continue to fall for the 2017 class.

Meanwhile, Baker is currently on campus enjoying his official visit to his future school. His SnapChat story suggests he’s having a great time.


Monday’s Top 10: Diallo will test the waters, latest on recruiting, and UK Baseball keeps rising

Shoutout to this lovely couple for repping the Cats all the way in Machu Picchu. What a gorgeous picture, and, I imagine, one heck of a hike. After three straight days of rain down here in Nashville, I’ve pretty much forgotten what it’s like to go outside.

Yet, the sun’s making its triumphant return today, which makes Monday slightly less annoying. Let’s roll through today’s agenda, shall we?

1. Hamidou Diallo will test the NBA Draft waters

Just when I thought Sunday couldn’t get any slower, news broke around 7 p.m. that freshman Hamidou Diallo will declare for the NBA Draft but NOT sign with an agent so he can get feedback and “keep all doors open.” The news may come as a shock to some since Diallo only enrolled in January, but keep in mind that since the rules changed last year, it makes sense for him to go through the evaluation process and receive feedback because there’s no risk. He and Bam will have until May 24 to decide whether or not to stay in the draft or come back. Diallo explained his decision in this statement from UK:

“Playing in the NBA has always been the ultimate goal for me,” Diallo said. “It’s part of what makes Kentucky so special is that it prepares you for the next level better than anywhere else. When I decided to enroll in school in January, my plan was to come to Kentucky to work on my game and to focus on school. At the end of the season, I knew I wanted to see where I was in the draft process and go through that so I could get a proper evaluation.

“That plan hasn’t changed and that’s why I am declaring for the NBA Draft. I do not plan on hiring an agent at this time. I want to see where my game is and explore my options. I just want to keep all doors open, and I want to thank Coach Cal, the coaching staff and my teammates for allowing me to pursue my dreams. My game has grown so much in the four months I’ve been at UK.

“I don’t know what the next few weeks are going to have in store for me, but I do know I’m going to work as hard as I ever have and keep an open mind. At the end of the day, this is a learning process for me and I appreciate the Big Blue Nation for being both understanding and supportive of my decision. I can’t thank you enough for making me a part of the family from day one.”

If you’re still bothered by the timing, remember that midnight last night was the deadline to put your name in the draft.

2. Calipari “fully supports” Diallo’s decision

What would you expect from the coach who wanted his entire team to declare for the draft last year once the rules changed to make the process more flexible? Here’s Cal’s statement in full:

“With the information that will be available to Hami and the feedback he will receive by going through this process, I fully support his decision,” head coach John Calipari said. “It’s in Hami’s best interests to evaluate if now is his time or if he would be better served returning to school. Whatever Hami ultimately chooses to do, you’re talking about an athletic guard with great ball skills, an unbelievable finisher and a terrific defender. He’s gotten so much better in his four months with us and he’s only going to continue to get better.”

Another round of “will he stay or will he go” may frustrate fans, but honestly, if you’re an elite college player, you’d be stupid not to take advantage of the chance to get feedback from the next level to make an informed decision. If Diallo does decide to stay in the draft, does it hurt Kentucky next year? Roster-wise, yes. From everything we’ve heard, he’s an elite player with tremendous upside and could be one of the cornerstones of next year’s squad. But, by now, you should know that Calipari will never hold a kid back, and if you don’t understand the reasons why, I suggest you go watch his “30 for 30” again, particularly the part about Dajuan Wagner.

3. What about Bam?

It’s been 19 days since Bam Adebayo declared for the draft and still no word on whether or not he plans to sign with an agent or return to school for his sophomore year. There were rumblings last week that Bam may be leaning towards staying for another year, and this past weekend, he went home to North Carolina to visit with his family, during which there were probably some talks about his future.

With one month until the withdrawal deadline, Bam and Diallo will get to go through workouts with teams leading up to the all-important NBA Draft Combine May 9-14 in Chicago. I wouldn’t expect any decisions before then.

4. Jemarl Baker is on campus

Lost in the shuffle of Diallo’s decision was new UK commit Jemarl Baker’s arrival on campus. Baker committed to UK a few weeks back, and, according to Ben Roberts, is only now taking his official visit. Welcome to campus, Jemarl. Enjoy yourself.

5. John Calipari sent out one of the swaggiest pictures ever

It was only a matter of time before Calipari found a way to mention the Air Jordan 8 “Calipari pack” Drake made in his honor, and sure enough, it came on the first weekend of the live recruiting period. In a tweet only Calipari could pull off, he posed with both pairs of shoes and asked fans which he should wear to the adidas Uprising in Dallas. As you would expect, that tweet got a lot of attention from its target audience online, with all of the UK 2017 commits and several of Cal’s current and former players sharing it as proof that their coach is a boss. Or, as many of them put it, the greatest of all time.

If you’re curious, he went with the white version:

@CourtsideFilms

@CourtsideFilms

Nice choice.

6. Here’s who Calipari and staff watched this weekend

As mentioned, it was the first weekend of the live period, and Calipari and staff crisscrossed the country to check in on their 2018 prospects. Here’s a rundown of who they saw where. Recruits with an offer from the Cats have an asterisk, those that don’t don’t.

Nike EYBL, Virginia (Calipari)

  • SF Cameron Reddish*
  • SF Louis King
  • PF Marvin Bagley*
  • PG Javonte Smart

adidas Uprising, Dallas (Kenny Payne and Cal)

  • PF Zion Williamson*
  • SG Romeo Langford*
  • PG Immanuel Quickley*
  • PG Quentin Grimes*
  • C David McCormack
  • 2019 prospects Charles Bassey, Christian Brown, Ashton Hagans, and Josh Nickelberry

Under Armour, New York (Tony Barbee)

  • C Moses Brown
  • PF Naz Reid
  • 2019 prospects Bryan Antoine and Scottie Lewis

Calipari and staff will be on the road against next weekend watching recruits at Nike and Under Armour events in Indianapolis and the adidas circuit in Atlanta. As for what’s going on with Kentucky’s remaining targets for next season (Mohamed Bamba, Kevin Knox, Cam Johnson, and Mark Smith), no new developments over the weekend.

7.  The CATSPYs are tonight

You know it’s a busy day when we’re just getting to the fact that the CATSPYs, UK Athletics’ annual banquet, are tonight at Memorial Coliseum. The 15th annual awards show starts at 7 p.m. and will be open to the public this year, with tickets available for $5 online. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. De’Aaron Fox, Malik Monk, and Benny Snell are all up for Male Rookie of the Year, while Dominique Hawkins seems to be a shoo-in for the Supporting Role Award.

If you can’t make it to the show, you can watch a live stream on UKAthletics.com, or, of course, check this website for complete coverage.

8. UK Baseball wrapped up a big week with a win over LSU

What a week for UK Baseball. The #10 Bat Cats beat #8 LSU 10-2 yesterday to win the series, and earlier in the week, knocked off #2 Louisville. The Cats are now 28-13, 12-6 SEC, and have won six of the last eight games. They currently hold a two-game lead over Florida in the SEC East with 12 conference games left. Next up: Xavier at Cliff Hagan Stadium on Wednesday at 7 p.m., followed by a three-game series with South Carolina this weekend.

9. PJ Washington won MVP honors at the Allen Iverson Roundball Classic

Just when you thought the high school All-Star circuit was over, here came Friday night’s inaugural Allen Iverson Roundball Classic. PJ Washington took home MVP honors, scoring a game-high 37 points for Team Honor, which defeated Team Loyalty 198-152 (yes, that is a real score). Shai Alexander followed up his Derby Festival MVP performance with 21 points while Quade Green had 32. That makes 90 points combined for the future Cats in the All-Star Game, a pretty nice little weekend for the 2017 class.

10. Ever had a moment like Patrick Patterson did yesterday?

Man, I hate when that happens.

Radio in an hour…


Caption This: Coach Cal, Tubby scout five-star guard Romeo Langford

Feeling creative and comical this Sunday evening? Welcome to today’s KSR version of Caption This! Check out the picture below, featuring Coach Cal, Tubby Smith and others watching Romeo Langford, a shooting guard from New Albany.

Langford is being looked at by Duke, Louisville, Kansas, Indiana and of course yours truly, the Kentucky Wildcats. The five-star class of 2018 guard averaged 24.7 points this weekend in the first adidas Gauntlet session at GameOn Sports in Dallas.

So, what do you think this group of guys were saying when their photo was taken? Caption it in the comments below!


2018 Forward Naz Reid Should Be On Your Radar

Prep Insiders

Prep Insiders

There are some pretty insane athletes in the class of 2018. Zion Williamson may have all the attention, and deservedly so, but we shouldn’t forget about Nazreon “Naz” Reid. John Calipari sure hasn’t, as told by Adam Zagoria:

Reid met this past week with Kentucky coach John Calipari, who has tracked Reid for several years now out of the same high school that produced former Wildcats guard Isaiah Briscoe.

“It’s a winning team,” he said. “‘[Their message is] just stay focused, run the floor, do what I do best. Be the best version of me.”

Asked if Kentucky — who had assistant Tony Barbee on hand — might offer him after evaluating him this spring, Reid said, “Yes.”

You can read Zagoria’s full breakdown of Reid’s recruitment here. Naz is currently ranked 14th overall in the class of 2018 by 247Sports. At 6’10”, 220 lbs., your mind’s eye might picture a Marcus Lee-esque rim protecting specialist.

You would be wrong:

Tell me you don’t want this kid.

@JayWinkKSR


Cal chose the white Jordan OVO XIIIs by Drake, via @ace_hearts8408.

Five Players Calipari Watched at the Adidas Uprising Circuit

Cal chose the white Jordan OVO XIIIs by Drake, via @ace_hearts8408.

Cal chose the white Jordan OVO XIIIs by Drake, via @ace_hearts8408.

After spending Friday night watching Cam Reddish and Marvin Bagley at the Nike EYBL, John Calipari traveled to the Dallas-Ft. Worth area to see the rising stars in the adidas circuit.  He rarely sits still for long at these events, but here’s who he reportedly watched, if only for a moment, at the adidas event.

Quentin Grimes

One of three point guards with Kentucky offers in the class, Grimes lost a point guard battle last night against Immanuel Quickley.  Hailing form College Park, Texas, 247 Sports ranks him as the No. 1 point guard in the class, but he’s No. 5 in the Composite Rankings.  You be the judge:

Jordan Brown

The fifth-ranked player in the 2018 class and second-ranked power forward hails from Roseville, California.  The 6’10” forward has impressive accolades from the recruiting analysts, but only six scholarship offers.  Cal and Kansas are considered the top two leaders.

David McCormack

The 6’9″ 300-pound center from Oak Hill Academy took an unofficial visit to Lexington last weekend.  The second-ranked center in the 2018 class does not yet have an offer from Kentucky.  Meanwhile Georgetown, Louisville, N.C. State and Kansas are taking the lead in his recruitment.

Charles Bassey

The 6’10” power forward is the third-ranked layer in the Class of 2019.  The powerful post only has three offers — Baylor, Kansas and Texas A&M — but John Calipari has kept a keen eye on him early and often.

Grant Sherfield

The 6’2″ combo guard from Arlington, Texas is a borderline Top 25 player in the 2019 class, currently a four-star prospect.  He has ten early offers — most notably from Kansas, Texas and UCLA — but Sherfield does not have one from Calipari.

Surely a few more players caught his eye, but these five will do for now.  


John Calipari is on the Move

private-jet

Coach John Calipari is leaving the Nike EYBL in Virginia to see the sights at the adidas event in Texas where UK targets Zion Williamson, Romeo Langford, Quentin Grimes and Immanuel Quickley are playing. Coach Cal announced the move with the most Calipari humblebrag ever.

“I’m going to an adidas event and I can’t decide which custom Jordan’s from Drake I should wear.”  #RecruitingProbz