After waiting on pins and needles since the NBA Combine, the first report on Hamidou →
Basketball Recruiting News
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©April 20th, 2017 @ 1:00pm
Know how I know John Calipari is feeling good? He sends out one of his swaggy little tweets. He just did that, telling his followers on social media that after a “great last few days,” he’s “not done quite yet” with the 2017 class:
“Been a great last few days meeting with potential future Cats and learning about their dreams and aspirations, talking about what UK is and isn’t,” Calipari wrote. “For those asking about our current signing class, we announce the entire group together when we are finished with the class. Not done quite yet!”
In the past few days, Calipari has criss-crossed the country to meet with recruits, including 2017 star Kevin Knox on Tuesday and 2018 stars Romeo Langford, Immanuel Quickley, Javonte Smart, and Zion Williamson. After Jarred Vanderbilt signed his National Letter of Intent earlier this week, we wondered why UK didn’t announce it the next day, and Calipari just gave you his answer: he’s not done yet with the 2017 class, a fact of which I’m sure Mohamed Bamba and Kevin Knox are well aware.
A live look at Cal after he sent that tweet (or told someone to):
If you’re reading this right now, you’d probably really like to know where Mohamed Bamba and Kevin Knox are going to go to college. Well, unfortunately, I don’t have a concrete answer for you, but I can share ESPN Insider Jeff Borzello’s best guess on both. Let’s start with the good news. Borzello believes Bamba is coming to Kentucky, putting his confidence level at 55%.
“Bamba is still publicly considering all four schools on his final list, but most coaches involved believe it’s between Kentucky and Texas at this point. Texas’ chances received a boost when Jarrett Allen decided to keep his name in the NBA draft, and Kentucky’s mass exodus over the past few weeks hasn’t hurt the Wildcats’ odds either. Neither side is totally confident right now, but Kentucky appears to have a slight edge.”
Okay, what about Knox? Unfortunately, Borzello’s thoughts echo many in recruiting circles when he implies that Kentucky’s not really in the picture. He predicts Knox will go to either Missouri or Duke, giving them both a 45% chance of landing the five-star small forward, with Cuonzo Martin swooping in and making the Tigers a legitimate contender in the last few weeks.
I don’t think Knox will end up at Kentucky either, but you have to think Calipari’s got better than a 10% shot, right?
Break out your wallet and read the rest for yourself at ESPN Insider.
Thursday’s Top 10: Calipari hits the recruiting trail and goes to Whataburger with Jarred Vanderbilt
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©April 20th, 2017 @ 9:00am
Greetings, everyone, and happy April 20, or Darnell Dodson Day, as we like to call it here at KSR. Or maybe we should start calling it Louisville Basketball Appreciation Day in light of recent news stories. Before I get myself in trouble with too many innuendos, let’s roll through the top ten, shall we?
1. Calipari went recruiting yesterday
Great time with Kentucky coach cal this morning💯 pic.twitter.com/6vXXw9H1wb
— Javonte Smart (@JavonteSmart) April 20, 2017
John Calipari did as John Calipari does yesterday and visited two 2018 stars: point guard Javonte Smart and YouTube sensation Zion Williamson. Smart doesn’t have an offer from Kentucky yet, but judging from that picture, one could be coming soon. Meanwhile, you probably know what Zion can do by now, but did you know he went to the ESPNU studios recently to show off his dunking abilities?
High school dunk phenom Zion Williamson (@ZionW32) showed up to ESPNU and dunked on EVERYONE! 💪😱
— ESPNU (@ESPNU) April 12, 2017
Poor Paul Biancardi.
2. Calipari also went to Whataburger with Jarred Vanderbilt
After visiting Smart in Louisiana, Calipari apparently decided to swing by nearby Houston to take his future forward Jarred Vanderbilt to Whataburger. So, while we still don’t have word on Vanderbilt’s foot injury after his fall in the Jordan Brand Classic, apparently he feels good enough to walk in and out of Whataburger with Calipari. I’ll be honest, I’m pretty jealous of that Whataburger right now. I haven’t been to one since college and it’s delicious.
To see the clip of Calipari and Vanderbilt at Whataburger, check out his Instagram story @jvando_. It’s pretty cute.
3. ICYMI, here’s where the 2017 class ended up in the final recruiting rankings
247 Sports released their final Top 247 rankings yesterday, giving us a final list of rankings for Kentucky’s 2017 class, which is the consensus #1 class in the country with a few big fish still undecided. Here’s where everybody ended up:
4. Four men’s basketball Cats made the SEC Academic Honor Roll
Jonny David, Isaac Humphries, Dillon Pulliam, and Tai Wynyard were among the 70 UK student athletes on the Winter SEC Academic Honor Roll, which is based on 2016 spring, summer, and fall terms. UK had the fourth-most honorees in the SEC and ranked in the top three in men’s basketball and men’s swimming and diving representatives. Eight women’s basketball players also received the honor: Evelyn Akhator, Makenzie Cann, Makayla Epps, Jessica Hardin, Maci Morris, Taylor Murray, Rachel Potter, and Alyssa Rice.
Well done, everyone.
5. What will happen to the Atlanta roads today?
If you think the roads are bad in Lexington, Louisville, or even Nashville, at least you don’t live in Atlanta. Yesterday, a sinkhole opened on Fifth Street in midtown Atlanta, the latest in a series of road issues in one of the worst traffic cities in America. A few weeks ago, an overpass on I-85 collapsed after a fire and on Monday, a portion of I-20 buckled. Basically, Atlanta is falling apart, but at least they have MARTA, which is more than we can say here in Nashville. Seriously, can we get some kind of rail system, Mayor Barry? Lord knows we’re making enough off bachelorette parties and the TV show “Nashville” to pay for it.
6. It’s time to Sweep The Blackhawks
Get your brooms out because the Predators are looking to sweep the Chicago Blackhawks in game four of the Stanley Cup Playoffs tonight. If I haven’t gotten you guys to care about Preds hockey yet, it’s probably not going to happen, but regardless, I’ll be in front of the television tonight at 8 p.m. ET to see them complete the sweep on NBC Sports Network. I bet these kids will be watching too:
— Yale Miller (@twostrangers) April 16, 2017
7. If the NBA’s more your thing, here are tonight’s game times
- 7:00 PM: Cavaliers at Pacers, TNT
- 8:00 PM: Raptors (Patrick Patterson) at Bucks, NBATV
- 9:30 PM: Spurs at Grizzlies (Andrew Harrison), TNT
8. John Wall had himself quite the night vs. the Hawks
Wall had 32 points and 9 assists in Washington’s 109-101 win over the Hawks, which takes them to 2-0 in the series. Two of those points came off this epic dunk and stare down over Dennis Schroder:
A post shared by SportsCenter (@sportscenter) on
Wall’s game is on another level this season.
9. Richard Simmons spoke out
I know a lot of you are fans of the “Missing Richard Simmons” podcast that came out a while back, and you’ll be happy to know that yesterday, Simmons broke his silence on his Facebook page following a visit to the hospital for gastrointestinal issues:
10. KSR in an hour
Get some work done now so you can give it your full attention.
The frequent flyer miles are rolling in for one John Calipari and he’ll punch the airline ticket once more tonight as he travels to South Carolina to see a star in next year’s class.
According to Evan Daniels of Scout.com fame, Calipari will pay a visit to Zion Williamson in Spartanburg this evening. The trip marks the second known time Calipari will see Williamson in the last couple of weeks.
Kentucky will watch five-star 2018 forward Zion Williamson this evening, per a source. Williamson is the No. 2 prospect on Scout.
— Evan Daniels (@EvanDaniels) April 19, 2017
However, it is not Calipari’s first stop of the day. He was in to see Javonte Smart, a five-star point guard out of Louisiana, earlier this afternoon.
Cal’s impossible to keep up with this time of year, but I’d love to have his travel points.
By Drew Franklin on ©April 19th, 2017 @ 3:00pm
Basketball recruiting talk continues this afternoon with a look at the final rankings for all seven of the future Wildcats, in addition to the three potential Wildcats still in play.
A little while ago we shared Top247’s final rankings that were released earlier today; now look at the final numbers from the Big Four services: ESPN, 247, Rivals and Scout.
Here’s how the Cats finished among their peers:
The Early Enrollee
Hamidou Diallo, Guard
Quade Green, Guard
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Guard
Nick Richards, Center
Jarred Vanderbilt, Forward
P.J. Washington, Forward
The Hard Commit
Jemarl Baker, Guard
Still On The Board
Mohamed Bamba, Center
Kevin Knox, Forward
Mark Smith, Guard
The unanimous No. 1 class once again. Go Cats.
By Drew Franklin on ©April 19th, 2017 @ 1:00pm
It’s basketball recruiting season (as you can tell by reading the site) and 247 Sports is the latest publication to release its final rankings for the Class of 2017.
Michael Porter Jr. earned the top spot in the class (S-E-C! S-E-C! S-E-C!), followed by Mohamed Bamba, the top player remaining on John Calipari’s big board, at No. 2.
As for the UK signees, Jarred Vanderbilt is the highest ranked signee at No. 8, two spots ahead of Hamidou Diallo. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander made the biggest climb of the bunch, up 23 spots to No. 19.
Check out all the UK signees in the final Top247, as well as their jump/decline in the new update:
8. Jarred Vanderbilt (+9)
10. Hamidou Diallo (-2)
14. Nick Richards (-2)
18. P.J. Washington (-3)
19. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (+23)
30. Quade Green (-3)
83. Jemarl Baker (+36)
Kevin Knox is the No. 17 prospect in the class. Mark Smith is No. 137.
Kevin Knox has three in-home visits scheduled tonight beginning with North Carolina at 4:15 pm, followed by Missouri at 6:00 pm and then Duke at 8:00 pm. It will likely be his last three meetings with the five schools he is considering — Florida State and Kentucky were in last night — before he makes and announces his final decision sometime soon.
Barring a late, surprise invite, we will not be in Knox’s Tampa home when he meets with Roy Williams, Cuonzo Martin and Coach K. But that doesn’t mean we can’t predict the coaches’ final recruiting pitches, which I have done below.
Roy Williams, North Carolina
“Kevin, we need you dagummit. I tried to get Justin to stay one more year but he bolted for the dad-blum NBA with that new fiancee of his. Now my startin’ wing spot is open like a barn door and it’s all yours if you want it, kid. I can get you enrolled in whatever classes you want (wink, wink) with a dorm room full of all those Michael Jordan tennis sneakers. Now take a look at this box of UNC rings and tell me you want to be a Tar Heel. We can end this ‘crootment right here and now.”
Cuonzo Martin, Missouri
“Does your dad need a job? I’ll hire him right now. Director of Basketball ops work? Assistant? You name it and he’ll start tomorrow. Here, I even brought the Mizzou Athletics Employee Handbook and a map of campus. Now if you’ll just get him to sign this contract here and initial here and here, then fill out this I-9, we should be good to go. I went ahead and conducted a background check and he checked out, all good. I also had my secretary put together this welcoming package — there’s a card for a good realtor in there… Now Kevin, let me ask you: Are you a Tiger? Your dad and I would love to have you on our staff.”
Mike Krzyzewski, Duke
“Kevin, I heard you met with John Calipari last night. What did he tell you? … Okay, that’s exactly what I was going to say. Word for word. Swear. Soooo pick Duke instead? I have more titles and I coach Team USA.”
It is way too early to be making predictions on where the top high school juniors will attend college but that’s exactly what you can find over at Rivals.com today.
Rivals’ supposed experts took 10 of the top prospects in next year’s class and did their absolute best to forecast those prospects’ recruitment.
Kentucky is the presumed winner (by vote count) for Zion Williamson, Moses Brown and Javonte Smart, while receiving one vote for Marvin Bagley III, the No. 1 overall player.
Romeo Langford, who Calipari visited earlier this week in nearby New Albany, In., was not projected to Kentucky by any of the four voting experts. Louisville picked up three of the four votes for Langford; the other belonging to Indiana.
We’ll have more on the 2018 targets here on KSR tomorrow as we look ahead to AAU season. For now, check out Rivals’ predictions for entertainment purposes only.
So much for seeing Shaquille O’Neal in Rupp Arena in 2018-19.
Shaq’s son, Shareef O’Neal, has committed to Arizona over several other offers and growing interest around college basketball. The 6-foot-9, 200-pound power forward announced the news on Twitter via retweets from his AAU team’s account early Wednesday morning.
O’Neal had not yet earned his scholarship offer from Kentucky, but his old man has said many times in the past that he would like to see his son play for John Calipari in Lexington. He most recently said it while speaking at an event in Kentucky earlier this month, telling a crowd at the University of the Cumberlands, “I love — well, I can’t say I love UK… UK for me was always a tough place to play. It’s one of the schools on my son’s list. So, I don’t know where he’s going to go, but I’d love for him to play for a coach like Cal.”
Shareef is the No. 31 overall player and No. 13 power forward in the 247 Composite Rankings.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©April 18th, 2017 @ 3:30pm
By now, you are well aware that Mohamed Bamba is a special type of player. Next in a line of “it” prospects, Bamba has all the tools to be a superstar: freakish size, off the charts measurements, and a basketball IQ so high that he spends his free time going to seminars on sports business at MIT. In accordance with their final Top 100 rankings, ESPN released their final scouting report on Bamba, and, well, if you wanted him to come to Kentucky before, you’ll really, really want him to come here now.
“His physical tools are absolutely off the charts,” ESPN begins. “He has been measured at 6-foot-11 with an incredible 7-foot-8 wingspan and a 9-foot-5 standing reach-and those numbers are truly astounding. Combine that size and length with incredible grace and fluidity, not to mention the athleticism to get his head on the rim with ease and the ability to run the floor like a deer, and you have arguably the most physically gifted player in all of high school basketball.”
Unlike a lot of seven-foot prospects, Bamba’s got the skill to match his size.
“But Bamba isn’t just a track star. There is an element of skill to his game as well. He has really good touch around the rim, is starting to develop as a face-up mid-range shooter and can even handle the ball a little bit. He’s an unselfish player who can change a game defensively with his ability to block shots and a huge defensive weapon in full court situations because of his ability to cover the court so effortlessly.”
So, why is Bamba ranked third in the ESPN Top 100 and not first? ESPN notes that his offensive game could still use some polishing.
“His offensive game is still a work in progress,” ESPN says. “He plays hard in spurts, but needs to learn to keep that motor running in first gear every minute he’s on the floor. He’ll also need to continue bulking up what is a long, but still very lean frame.”
Okay, weight room, got it. But as ESPN concludes, bottom line is, Bamba’s potential is “off the charts.”
“His upside is absolutely off the charts. His physical gifts are on a level almost all of their own and he also has some natural skill to develop but there’s plenty of work still in front of him as he attempts to develop from one of the nation’s most elite prospects into one of the nation’s most elite players.”
Para bailar la bamba!
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©April 18th, 2017 @ 2:30pm
Earlier today, ESPN released their final Top 100 for the 2017 class, and, as you might imagine, it’s covered in Kentucky Wildcats. Here’s where Kentucky’s current 2017 class ended up:
11. PJ Washington
16. Nick Richards
18. Jarred Vanderbilt
23. Quade Green
33. Shai Alexander
63. Jemarl Baker
Mohamed Bamba is #3 and Kevin Knox #9. Since Hamidou Diallo is enrolled at Kentucky already, ESPN didn’t include him in the final version of its rankings, but before, he was ranked #11. Four-star shooting guard Mark Smith didn’t make the top 100, but it’s worth noting that he hasn’t been evaluated at all by ESPN. 247 Sports Composite has Smith ranked #81.
Sounds like it’s time for a 2017 class mixtape, don’t you think?
John Calipari is capitalizing on his 30 for 30 by hitting the recruiting trail. As I told you this morning, Calipari will check in on 2018 point guard Immanuel Quickley in Maryland today before heading to Tampa to deliver a final pitch to 2017 small forward Kevin Knox. Turns out that last night, he visited another 2018 star: Romeo Langford. According to the Courier-Journal, Cal made the short trek to New Albany, Indiana to check in on the five-star shooting guard, one of five juniors with an offer from the Cats.
Shooting Guard| 6-5 | 190 lbs.
New Albany, IN | New Albany High School
AAU: Eric Gordon All-Stars
|ESPN||No. 3 | 1 SG||Top247||No. 3 | 1 SG|
|Rivals||No. 3 | — SG||Scout||No. 3 | 1 SG|
Langford visited UK for Big Blue Madness in October and has offers from all the big programs.Roy Williams visited Langford three days after North Carolina won the national championship (ugh) and I’m sure he brought his ring collection. Indiana’s Archie Miller is expected to meet with him today.
Calipari must have thought the visit went well, because he treated himself to a nice Jeff Ruby’s steak afterwards:
Had great dinner at @JeffRubys in Louisville after a recruiting trip. Headed home now.
— John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) April 18, 2017
While I daydream about that signature Jeff Ruby crust, enjoy some of Langford’s recent highlights:
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©April 18th, 2017 @ 9:00am
Forgive me if I’m a little sleepy this morning, friends. I was up until the wee hours of the night watching my Nashville Predators pull off an incredible comeback to beat the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2 in overtime to take a 3-0 series lead in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. I’ll be honest, things looked bleak when the Preds headed into the third period down 0-2, but this gritty, gutsy team didn’t flinch, with Filip Forsberg scoring two goals to force OT and Kevin Fiala mercifully ending it all after 16:44 of overtime with this beautiful goal:
KEVIN FIALA. Preds lead the Blackhawks 3-0 in the series. Unbelievable. pic.twitter.com/IvrLlhfAVA
— Mark Harris (@MCHisTweeting) April 18, 2017
Shoutout to goalkeeper Pekka Rinne for shutting out the Blackhawks the first two games and the first 20 minutes of the third game. Even though he gave up two goals last night, he was incredible, and this diving save was insane:
I became a Preds fans during the playoffs last year and now? I’m getting a jersey, man. Nothing compares to the fast-flying, excruciating anxiety of playoff hockey, and at several times last night, I was convinced my heart was going to fall out of my butt. Tea gonna be the real MVP today, but man, what a night. I’ll have my broom ready for the sweep on Thursday night.
Meanwhile, the UK Sports world kept churning as only it does. Here’s what’s on today’s agenda…
1. Calipari will check in on Kevin Knox
Most analysts believe Kentucky is out of the running for Kevin Knox, one of two five-stars left on the Cats’ 2017 wish list, but never count out Calipari. According to ye olde Evan Daniels, Cal is firing up the jet and heading to Tampa to meet with Knox tonight, one of four in-home visits the talented small forward just scheduled. Florida State will meet with Knox prior to Calipari, while Missouri and Duke will check in on him tomorrow night. North Carolina is also in the running. We know Knox watched Calipari’s 30 for 30 last week; I can’t imagine better timing for Cal to follow up and make his final pitch as the reviews continue to trickle in.
2. Calipari will also visit Immanuel Quickley
Cal will also work on his 2018 class, traveling to Maryland to visit point guard Immanuel Quickley, one of five juniors with an offer from Kentucky. Quickley is is considered the best point guard in the class by ESPN and was the first point guard to get an offer from Calipari, which is high praise in itself. He’s also got Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, Miami, Providence, Virginia and Maryland on his list. Watch him work below:
3. Hopefully we’ll get an update on Jarred Vanderbilt’s right foot
Vanderbilt scared us all during the Jordan Brand Classic on Friday when he crumpled to the ground holding his right foot. We continue to wait to find out how bad that injury is. Vanderbilt has a doctor’s visit coming up and is still waiting on the results of the X-rays he had done this weekend, so stay tuned.
4. ICYMI, Vanderbilt did make it official with Kentucky yesterday
Vanderbilt did make his commitment to Kentucky official yesterday, signing his National Letter of Intent in front of friends and family at his high school. Here’s video from Mark Berman of Fox 26 in Houston:
— Mark Berman (@MarkBermanFox26) April 17, 2017
5. What’s the latest with Mark Smith?
Smith is still on Kentucky’s radar, and will likely visit Lexington later this week to check things out. How crazy has life been for the 6’5″ Illinois Mr. Basketball lately? Duke just got involved in his recruitment as well. Michigan State, Illinois, and Ohio State are also in hot pursuit. While Smith seems eager to make his decision in the next week or so, Pitt grad transfer Cam Johnson is not. The other guard on Kentucky’s wish list is taking his time breaking down his options and doesn’t even plan on taking the bulk of his visits until after he graduates on April 30. Coincidentally, that’s also around the time Kevin Knox plans to announce his decision.
6. UK Baseball hosts Louisville
This is a HUGE week for Nick Mingione’s squad, which will host two top 10 teams this week, starting with #2 Louisville tonight. The Cards got the best of the Cats two weeks ago in Louisville, so the 10th ranked Cats will be looking for revenge. If you’re able, get on out to the ballpark for the game, which starts at 7 p.m. ET and will also be televised on the SEC Network. UK will host #8 LSU in a three-game series later this week, so plenty of opportunities to cheer them on.
7. If you missed it yesterday, check out Funkhouser’s podcast about “S-Town”
You’ve heard us recommend “S-Town,” the podcast from the creators of “Serial” and “This American Life,” and if you’re a fan, you owe it to yourself to hear our talented Funkhouser crew break it down as only they can. You can easily listen on the KSR App, available on iTunes and Google Play. I’m pathetically behind on finishing the series, in part because I enjoy John B. McLemore’s accent so much I don’t want it to end.
8. Four Cats in NBA Playoff action tonight
The NBA Playoffs roll on, with four Cats in action in three games:
- 7:00 PM ET: Bucks vs. Raptors (Patrick Patterson), NBATV
- 8:00 PM ET: Bulls (Rajon Rondo) vs. Celtics (James Young), TNT
- 10:30 PM ET: Jazz (Trey Lyles) vs. Clippers, TNT
By now, I’m sure you’ve heard, but Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas will play tonight before flying to Seattle for a memorial service honoring his late sister, Chyna, who died in a car crash Saturday morning. Watching the now viral video of Thomas breaking down during shoot around of Sunday’s game was moving, and I’m sure tonight will be emotional as well.
9. Today’s badass: Staff Sergeant Jose Luis Sanchez
Running the Boston Marathon is hard enough, but imagine doing it with a prosthetic leg. That’s what Staff Sergeant Jose Luis Sanchez did yesterday. Sanchez is a retired Marine who lost the lower part of his left leg after stepping on an IED in Afghanistan in 2011. He did all 26.2 grueling miles on his prosthetic leg, while carrying an American flag nonetheless. It took him almost six hours, but if there’s a more heartwarming video out there this morning, I’d like to see it:
— AndreaWBZ (@AndreaWBZ) April 17, 2017
What a tough guy.
10. Also tough? Reggie Warford
Former Cat Reggie Warford will have a kidney transplant today, three years after getting a heart transplant. Check out his story via Alan Cutler, and send him your thoughts as he fights for his life:
You got this, Reggie.
By Nick Roush on ©April 17th, 2017 @ 9:45pm
Next year he’ll be a Kentucky Wildcat. This year he was the nation’s second-ranked center at The Patrick School.
Winners of the New Jersey Tournament of Champions, Richards showed progress for The Patrick School throughout a season that was frustrating at times, but ultimately successful. The Jamaican-born athlete can ball, and is quite the connoisseur of dunks and blocks. Check it all out below and remember, “Don’t Geek.”
If that didn’t tickle your fancy, peep Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s complete highlights from Saturday night’s Kentucky Derby Festival Basketball Classic.
— KSTV (@KSTV_Sports) April 17, 2017
You can add Mike Kryqhkewsdski’s name to the list of coaches expressing interest in Mark Smith.
Coach K is reportedly entering Duke into the race for Smith’s services and the Blue Devils head coach will be in Illinois this week to pay the four-star guard a visit.
Ryan Evan reports Wednesday will be the day Krysjqyskwski visits Smith’s Edwardsville home:
Mark smith in home schedule as follows. MSU tomorrow/duke Wednesday. OSU/Kentucky would follow. With #illini rounding out this weeknd visits
— Ryan Evan (@ESPN1050_Ryan) April 17, 2017
If Evan’s schedule is accurate, Duke will follow Michigan State and then Ohio State and Kentucky will get visits after that. Illinois will go last over the weekend.
Not a bad list of schools for a former Mizzou baseball commit, huh?