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Jamal Mashburn’s son is really good at basketball

Jamal Mashburn’s son is really good at basketball

One of the hottest players in the 2020 class has a very familiar name. Jamal Mashburn Jr., son of the UK legend, turned heads last night at the Under Armour Finals in Georgia, scoring 30 points and grabbing 10 rebounds despite being one of the youngest players in the tournament. Unlike his father, Mashburn Jr. plays point guard, but according to Scout.com’s Brian Snow, who was in the gym last night, he shares his father’s high basketball IQ:

At this point in his development Mashburn is someone who plays on the ball, but his first instinct is to score. He is a more than capable passer, and in fact he showed pretty good floor vision, but it is his scoring that separates him as a player.

What is impressive is at just over 6-feet tall, Mashburn can score from all three levels on the floor. He isn’t yet a great three point shooter, but he more than showed the range on Wednesday night, and the release and rotation are tremendous on his shot. While he can make threes, it is his mid-range game off the dribble and his ability to finish in the lane that are impressive. Mashburn is very strong and functionally understands how to use his strength to finish through contact. On top of that he is excellent changing speeds with his dribble, and tends to get by defenders despite not having elite quickness.

Will Mashburn Jr. follow in his dad’s footsteps at Kentucky? He’s in the 2020 class, so don’t expect any major action from John Calipari for a while, but it’s worth mentioning that Rick Pitino watched him last night and he recently visited Louisville. Hmm.

Check out Snow’s piece for more on Mashburn Jr., and watch his highlights below:

 


Calipari starting his day watching Zion Williamson

Calipari starting his day watching Zion Williamson

Which 2018 recruit did John Calipari choose to watch first this week? Five-star forward Zion Williamson, whose SC Supreme squad is currently on the court at the adidas Gauntlet Finale. Our trusty reporter Jack Pilgrim is in the building right now and snapped this pic of Cal and Joel Justus watching Zion. He’ll have more from the game later, but for now, enjoy these monster blocks from Zion:

And a casual 360 dunk during warm-ups:

You can watch the game for yourself via the Ball is Life Facebook Live feed:


Thursday’s Top 10: Switching gears from football to basketball recruiting

Thursday’s Top 10: Switching gears from football to basketball recruiting

Good morning, friends, and shoutout to these Kentucky fans for climbing Grays and Torreys Peaks in Colorado recently. Well done pairing that UK Football shirt with that gorgeous view. With football in mind, let’s hop right into today’s top 10:

1. Mark Stoops seemed loose and confident

As we’ve seen all week, Media Days can be a boring affair, with coaches gliding by on coach speak and roster talk; however, in his fifth year at the event, Mark Stoops looked more relaxed and confident than ever. Whereas some coaches seemed to have a stick up their butt (cough, McElwain, cough), Stoops cracked jokes about Bret Bielema’s small dogs and Mike Edwards’ ripped pants. Stoops seemed relieved to finally have some results to point to in his rebuilding project, and preached the importance of continuing to build a winning culture, select the right players, and develop them.

Aside from the confirmation that Stephen Johnson is the starter at quarterback and JuCo defensive lineman Phil Hoskins not being ready to go by game one, there wasn’t a lot of big news yesterday; however, when the main story about your team is your junior safety ripping his pants on the plane ride down, that’s probably a good thing.

Watch a portion of Stoops’ main podium speech below:

2. Catch up on all the headlines from yesterday

Build, Select, Develop: Mark Stoops in Hoover
WATCH: Behind-the-Scenes Photos and Videos from UK’s Appearance at SEC Media Days
Mark Stoops Describes the 2016 Season as “Nut-Cuttin’ Time”
WATCH: Mike Edwards Explains How He Ripped His Pants
Mark Stoops Provides Updates on Four Players
Courtney Love Didn’t Let Matt Elam Shy Away from Criticism

Don’t forget to listen to the latest Depth Chart Podcast to hear Nick and Freddie recap the day in audio form. If that’s not enough, Nick will be on The Leach Report at 9:35 a.m. to talk about it some more.

3. Check out Freddie’s recaps of all the other teams

Arkansas
LSU
Tennessee
Georgia
Vanderbilt
Mississippi State
Florida
Alabama
Missouri

4. Up today: South Carolina, Ole Miss, and Auburn

Normally, reporters look for every excuse to get out of the hotel as fast as possible on the final day of Media Days, but given yesterday’s news, that may not be the case this time around. Not only is Ole Miss wrapped up in an NCAA investigation, former head coach Houston Nutt sued the university yesterday for breach of contract, arguing that current head coach Hugh Freeze and school officials created a “false narrative” in order to pin the blame on him for the violations. Something tells me that will come up.

5. Basketball everywhere at the Peach Jam & adidas Gauntlet Finale

It’s the first full day of action at two of the biggest recruiting events of the year. Here’s when UK’s primary targets will be playing today:

PEACH JAM (Games streamed live via FloHoops on Facebook)

  • 12:30 PM: Expressions Elite vs. Cal Supreme (Bol Bol)
  • 2:00 PM: Nike Phamily (Marvin Bagley) vs. Mokan Elite
  • 8:00 PM: Nike Phamily (Marvin Bagley) vs. Team Melo
  • 9:30 PM: Cal Supreme (Bol Bol) vs. PSA Cardinals

adidas Gauntlet Finale

  • 11:20 AM: Team Knight vs. SC Supreme (Zion Williamson)
  • 11:20 AM: Basketball University (Quentin Grimes) vs. Ohio Basketball Club
  • 12:40 PM: Twenty Two Vision (Romeo Langford) vs. AC Georgia
  • 3:20 PM: Team BBC (Immanuel Quickley) vs. TBD

For more on each recruit, check out my preview from Tuesday night. Sadly, we won’t get to see anymore from Cameron Reddish, whose team lost their play-in game at the Peach Jam yesterday despite his 44-point performance.

6. Alex Poythress said no to Lonzo Ball’s shot

The 76ers played the Lakers in the Summer League last night, and Lonzo Ball rallied from the sore groin injury that held him out of Monday’s game vs. De’Aaron Fox’s Kings to put up 36 points, 11 assists, and 8 rebounds. That’s impressive, but so is Alex Poythress blocking this shot by Ball in the third quarter:

7. That block also broke a laptop, apparently

Alex finished with 16 points and 5 rebounds in the 76ers’ loss. Here’s how all of the Cats did in the Summer League last night:

PLAYER TEAM MIN FG 3PT FT OREB DREB REB AST STL BLK TO PTS
Alex Poythress 76ers 21 7-11 1-3 1-2 3 2 5 0 1 1 1 16
Aaron Harrison 76ers 8 0-2 0-1 0-0 1 1 2 1 1 0 0 0
Isaiah Briscoe 76ers 8 5-7 0-2 2-2 0 2 2 2 1 0 2 12
Skal Labissiere Kings 34 8-13 0-0 3-8 2 7 9 1 3 2 3 19
Dominique Hawkins Kings 11 1-2 1-1 0-2 1 1 2 0 0 0 1 3
James Young Pelicans 21 3-8 2-7 0-0 0 3 3 1 1 0 1 8

De’Aaron Fox (Kings) and Bam Adebayo (Heat) sat out.

8. This video from the ESPYs may make you cry

I only watched a few minutes of the ESPYs, which apparently included lots of Peyton Manning jokes and Kevin Durant memes, but I did see 15-year-old Saints superfan Jarrius Robertson win the Jimmy V Perseverance Award. Warning, you may need tissues as you watch his story:

Jarrius was a star last night, taking over the red carpet and charming everyone with his sense of humor and incredible positivity.

Suddenly, all the little things I’ve complained about lately don’t seem like such a big deal.

9. Lexington lost a restaurant pioneer yesterday

If you live in Lexington, odds are you’ve been to one of Lucie Slone Meyers’ restaurants. The veteran restauranteur passed away yesterday after a battle with lung cancer at the age of 68. Meyers’ latest venture was the Red Light Kitchen & Lounge, which opened in February, but she was most well known for a la Lucie, which closed in 2015 after a 31-year run. Meyers also opened Rosebud, Roy & Nadine’s, the Phoenix, Pacific Pearl, and the Julep Cup.

Growing up, dinner at Roy & Nadine’s or a la Lucie was the epitome of a big night out in the city for this Danville girl, so I know I’m not alone when I say Lexington has lost a culinary star. Rest in peace, Lucie.

10. Today on KSR: The Sklar Brothers

Get your Conway Twitty jokes ready! The Sklars return to KSR in one hour.


Rivals experts make early predictions for 2018

We will soon flood you with info, interviews and highlights from the Nike Peach Jam and the adidas Gauntlet Finale, both showcasing several UK targets down in South Carolina this week; but first, why don’t we check out the happening over at Rivals.com, where the so-called experts attempted to predict the future.

The recruiting website’s college basketball team of Eric Bossi, Corey Evans, Dan McDonald and Krysten Peek gave their predictions for many of the elite prospects Kentucky is pursuing in the 2018 class. According to the four of them, Kentucky is in good standing with Marvin Bagley, Zion Williamson, Moses Brown, Louis King and Immanuel Quickley, all of whom had Kentucky with the most votes in Rivals’ picks. All four experts picked Kentucky for Quickley; Williamson had three Kentucky picks; and the group of Bagley, Brown and King each had two Kentucky picks of the four opinions.

Unfortunately, Romeo Langford and Cameron Reddish, two of Calipari’s U19 guys, did not get any Kentucky love in their predictions, while Bol Bol got one Kentucky vote.

To see all of the predictions with explanations, visit Rivals.com here.


KSR’s Guide to the Peach Jam & adidas Gauntlet Finale

KSR’s Guide to the Peach Jam & adidas Gauntlet Finale

Tomorrow, the two major recruiting events of the year begin 115 miles apart from each other in South Carolina. The top prospects in the 2018 and 2019 classes will be split amongst the Nike Peach Jam in North Augusta and the adidas Gauntlet Finale in Spartanburg, meaning John Calipari and his staff will have the ole private jet fueled up and ready to travel between the two. All six players Kentucky has offered in the 2018 class will be in action, and in turn, KSR is sending two reporters to the Palmetto State. Nick Roush will make the trek from Hoover, Alabama to the Nike Peach Jam following Kentucky’s run at SEC Media Days, while Jack Pilgrim will be camped out at the adidas Gauntlet Finale.

While they pack their bags and steel their stomachs for five days of basketball and Hooters hot wings, check out my guide to the top recruits that will be in action this week.

 NIKE PEACH JAM

Riverview Park Activities Center, North Augusta, South Carolina; Games live streamed on FloHoops.com.

Players Offered:

Marvin Bagley ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Power Forward 6-11 220 lbs Phoenix, AZ Sierra Canyon/Nike Phamily
ESPN: 1 | 1 PF 247: 2 | 1 PF Rivals: 1 Scout: 1 | 1 PF

List: Kentucky, Duke, Kansas, Arizona, UCLA, and Southern Cal

Latest: Only one recruiting service (247 Sports) doesn’t have Bagley in the top spot in the 2018 class. Otherwise, he been called a “once in a decade” type player (ESPN’s Paul Biancardi) with an unique arsenal of skills. Bagley’s Nike Phamily squad didn’t qualify for the Peach Jam, but was added as a wildcard, probably just so Bagley could participate.

Likelihood to Kentucky: Kentucky leads Bagley’s Crystal Ball, but he’s expected to take an official visit to Duke following the Peach Jam, so expect Calipari to make plenty of appearances during his games.

Highlights:

Schedule:

  • Wednesday, 6:30 PM: Nike Phamily vs. Each 1 Teach 1
  • Thursday, 2:00 PM: Nike Phamily vs. Mokan Elite
  • Thursday, 8:00 PM: Nike Phamily vs. Team Melo
  • Friday, 9:00 AM: Nike Phamily vs. Howard Pulley Panters

Bol Bol ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Center/Power Forward 7-2 220 lbs Santa Ana, CA Mater Dei/Cal Supreme
ESPN: 4 | 1 C 247: 3 | 1 PF Rivals: 3 Scout: 2 | 1 C

List: Kentucky, Arizona, Kansas, UCLA, Southern Cal, and others

Latest: Bol was the MVP of the EYBL regular season, averaging 24.1 points (65.6% from the field), 10 rebounds, and 4.5 blocks per game. He was the only 2018 player to earn a scholarship offer from Calipari in the April recruiting period, but was cut from John Calipari’s U19 National Team a few weeks back.

Likelihood to Kentucky: It will be interesting to see what effect being cut from the national team has on Kentucky’s chances with Bol. Team USA was allowed only one naturalized citizen on the squad and the committee went with Georgia Tech’s Josh Okogie, an understandable decision given his age and experience. I expect Calipari will smooth things over just fine.

Highlights:

Schedule:

  • Wednesday, 8:00 PM: Cal Supreme vs. CIA Bounce
  • Thursday, 12:30 PM: Expressions Elite vs. Cal Supreme
  • Thursday, 9:30 PM: Cal Supreme vs. PSA Cardinals
  • Friday, 10:30 AM: Cal Supreme vs. Oakland Soldiers

Cameron Reddish ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Small Forward 6-7 203 lbs. Norristown, PA Westtown/Team Final
ESPN: 3 | 1 SF 247: 5 | 2 SF Rivals: 4 Scout: 4 | 2 SF

List: Kentucky, Arizona, UConn, Duke, Maryland, Miami (Fl.), UCLA, Villanova

Latest: Reddish was one of the most impressive young players on Calipari’s U19 squad, thanks in part to Calipari’s willingness to let him play almost every position. Reddish started at point guard at times during the FIBA World Cup, averaging 10.7 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 3.1 assists. Team Final (which also includes Louis King) must win the play in game tomorrow afternoon to stay in the tournament.

Likelihood to Kentucky: Coming in to the FIBA World Cup, Duke was thought to be the leader for Reddish, but he told Kyle Tucker that is “absolutely not” the case. Calipari letting Reddish showcase his versatility seems to have done Kentucky some big favors in his recruitment.

Highlights:

Schedule:

  • Wednesday, 12:00 PM: Team Final vs. Nike Team Florida

Other interests:

 Louis King, SF (Team Final)

King also played for Calipari in the FIBA World Cup and could be one of the next targets to receive an offer. He’s teammates with Cameron Reddish on Team Final.

Simi Shittu, PF (CIA Bounce)

I Shittu not, Kentucky has shown some interest in this Canada native recently, with Kenny Payne checking in on him at a Nike event in April. Every year, someone breaks out at one of these tournaments, so keep an eye on this versatile power forward.

Keldon Johnson, SG (Boo Williams)

Johnson’s ranked 13th in ESPN’s rankings and just transferred to Oak Hill Academy from Huntington Prep. Maryland seems to be the early leader, but should Calipari extend an offer, that could change.

 Zion Harmon (2021, Boo Williams)

The point guard from Bowling Green may only be a rising freshman, but he’s already turning heads. As the youngest player in the EYBL, Harmon averaged 12.6 points and 3.6 assists in 16 games for Boo Williams. He also led Bowling Green to its first state title as an eighth grader and played in the FIBA Americas U15 Championships last month in Argentina.

 Evelyn (1959, Hooters)

Evelyn’s been the head waitress at the Augusta Hooters since it opened in 1990. If Nick knows what’s good for him, he won’t give her any lip.

Additional Note: 2019 #1 prospect RJ Barrett’s team did not qualify.


ADIDAS GAUNTLET FINALE

Upward Star Center, Spartanburg, South Carolina

Players Offered:

Zion Williamson ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Power/Small Forward 6-7 230 lbs Spartanburg, SC Spartanburg Day School/SC Supreme
ESPN: 2 | 2 PF 247: 1 | 1 SF Rivals: 2 Scout: 3 | 1 SF

List: Kentucky, Duke, Kansas, Clemson, North Carolina, UCLA, and others

Latest: Williamson is just coming off a knee injury that sidelined him for a few months, but showed off his signature explosive dunks at a scrimmage this past week. With the adidas Gauntlet Finale taking place in his hometown, expect Williamson to be the star.

Likelihood to Kentucky: Williamson wasn’t able to participate in training camp for Calipari’s U19 National Team due to his knee injury, but Kentucky is still up there among the perceived favorites, along with Duke, Clemson (his dad’s alma mater), UNC, etc. etc.

Highlights:

Schedule:

  • Thursday, 11:20 AM: Team Knight vs. SC Supreme

Romeo Langford ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Shooting Guard 6-5 195 lbs New Albany, IN New Albany/Twenty Two Vision
ESPN: 5 | 1 SG 247: 4 | 1 SG Rivals: 5 Scout: 5 | 1 SG

List: Kentucky, Duke, Indiana, Louisville, Kansas

Latest: Langford battled back spasms throughout the FIBA World Cup, averaging 4.2 points and 1.2 rebounds in 5.7 minutes per game. He sat out the Angola and Canada games, but rallied to score eight points in three minutes vs. Spain in the bronze medal game. Despite the injury, he said he still plans to play in the adidas event.

Likelihood to Kentucky: It will be interesting to hear feedback from Langford on his experience in Egypt. Dealing with his back injury must have been frustrating, but his latest USA Today HSS blog included this perplexing line: “I really don’t like watching and knowing that I could play.” Hmm. Is he calling out Calipari and staff for not playing him?

Highlights:

Schedule:

  • Thursday, 12:40 PM: Twenty Two Vision vs. AC Georgia

Immanuel Quickley ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Point Guard 6-3 180 lbs Bel Air, MD John Carroll/Team BBC
ESPN: 14 | 2 PG 247: 14 | 3 PG Rivals: 10 Scout: 10 | 3 PG

List: Kentucky, Kansas, Maryland, Miami (Fl.)

Latest: Quickley averaged 6.7 points, 2.4 assists, and 1.7 rebounds in 18.3 minutes for Team USA in the FIBA World Cup, and showcased all the qualities John Calipari likes in a point guard: size, athleticism, length, and smarts.

Likelihood to Kentucky: Very, very high. Quickley confirmed on KSR that Kentucky is “definitely” his leader, and although he still plans to take his four official visits later this summer before announcing this fall, it looks like he’s Calipari’s to lose.

Highlights:

Schedule:

  • Thursday, 3:20 PM: Team BBC vs. TBD

 Quentin Grimes ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Point/Shooting Guard 6-4 195 lbs The Woodlands, TX The Woodlands College Park/Basketball University
ESPN: 29 | 6 SG 247: 17 | 5 PG Rivals: 20 Scout: 23 | 6 PG

List: Kentucky, Kansas, Arizona, Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Texas, and others

Latest: There hasn’t been much buzz about Grimes lately. The Texas native primarily plays point, but is comfortable playing off the ball as well.

Likelihood to Kentucky: Kansas seems to be the early leader for Grimes, which makes sense considering Quickley is Kentucky’s priority at the point guard position; however, Grimes did tell MadeHoops he wants to take an official visit to Kentucky this fall.

Highlights:

Schedule:

  • Thursday, 11:20 AM: Basketball University vs. Ohio Basketball Club

Other interests:

 David McCormack, C (Team Loaded)

The 6-10 center plays on Bam Adebayo’s old AAU team and visited Kentucky unofficially back in April. He’s shed a lot of weight over the past several months, and as a result, his stock is rising.

 Charles Bassey, C (2019, YIIS TX Future)

Bassey is considered the second best player in the 2019 class behind RJ Barrett and visited Kentucky last month.

 Ashton Hagans, PG (2019, Game Elite)

Hagans visited UK for Big Blue Madness last season and was one of the standouts at the NBA Top 100 Camp last month. In a recent USA Today HSS blog, he said he’s looking forward to hearing more from Kentucky. He also said his favorite movie is Norbit; he was eight when it came out, so I’ll let that one slide.


Where Kentucky’s 2018 targets stand in the latest Rivals rankings

This is the biggest week of the year in basketball recruiting, and in turn, Rivals just released a new ranking of the 2018 prospects. Where do Kentucky’s targets stand? I’m glad you asked.

# Name Pos Ht Wt UK offer?
1 Marvin Bagley III F 6’10” 220 ✔️
2 Zion Williamson F 6’6″ 230 ✔️
3 Bol Bol F 7’2″ 215 ✔️
4 Cameron Reddish F 6’7″ 180 ✔️
5 Romeo Langford G 6’4″ 185 ✔️
6 Jordan Brown F 6’10” 190  
7 Moses Brown C 7’0″ 225  
9 Simisola Shittu F 6’9″ 220  
10 Immanuel Quickley G 6’4″ 180 ✔️
13 Nazreon Reid C 6’10” 230  
16 Louis King F 6’7″ 195  
20 Quentin Grimes G 6’5″ 180 ✔️
24 Keldon Johnson F 6’6″ 205  
35 David McCormack C 6’10” 290

Here’s where a lot of those players will be this week:

Nike Peach Jam (EYBL)

  • Marvin Bagley
  • Bol Bol
  • Cameron Reddish
  • Simi Shittu
  • Louis King
  • Keldon Johnson
  • R.J. Barrett (2019)

adidas Gauntlet finale

  • Zion Williamson
  • Romeo Langford
  • Immanuel Quickley
  • Quentin Grimes
  • David McCormack

In his breakdown of the rankings, Rivals analyst Eric Bossi says that while Bagley is a clear cut No. 1, the race for the No. 2 spot is wide open.

“The real race is for the No. 2 spot that is currently occupied by Zion Williamson,” Bossi writes. “The way I see it, 7-footer Bol Bol and 6-foot-8 point forward Cameron Reddish could easily make a claim for that spot. Not only are they both big-time talents with great positional size and high skill levels, they’ve put up huge numbers on the grassroots circuit in Nike’s EYBL.”

Read more at the link below, then watch some film on the top three, including Zion Williamson’s first game back from injury.

[Rivals]

 


Romeo Langford plans to play in the adidas Gauntlet Finale

Photo: FIBA

Romeo Langford battled back issues throughout the FIBA World Cup, but he’s determined to participate in the adidas Gauntlet Finale, which starts Wednesday in South Carolina. Langford didn’t play in Team USA’s semifinal loss to Canada on Saturday, but did chip in eight points vs. Spain in the bronze medal game yesterday. In his latest blog post for USA Today High School Sports, Langford says he plans to receive treatment for his back spasms when he gets home, then get on the road to South Carolina.

“I’ll probably be home for two days and then I’m heading to South Carolina for the adidas Gauntlet finals. Right now, my plan is to get home and get some treatment and I’ll see what happens then.”

Starting Wednesday, Langford and Immanuel Quickley will be in Spartanburg, while Team USA teammate Cameron Reddish will be at the Peach Jam in North Augusta, along with Marvin Bagley and Bol Bol. Jack and Nick will be at both events to bring you all the coverage you could dream of.

Click here to read the rest of Langford’s blog post, or check out his highlights from the adidas Gauntlet in Atlanta a few months back:

 


@Cdn_Ballers

So Who is R.J. Barrett?

@Cdn_Ballers

The U.S.’s 6 year streak of competing for gold at the FIBA U19 World Cup ended today, as they were forced to settle for bronze in a win over Spain, 96-72. Who is the primary culprit to blame for the Americans’ stumble?

R.J. Barrett.

You may be unfamiliar with Barrett, since he’s still only a sophomore in high school, but you’re going to hear his name much more often in the years to come, so if you are only just hearing his name, consider this your introduction to a future star.

Barrett is the top player in the class of 2019 according to 247 Sports. At 6’6″, 180 lbs., he’s not overwhelmingly big for a small forward, but his game is, let’s just say versatile:

Barrett is a product of Montverde Academy in Florida, the same school that produced D’Angelo Russell, Joel Embiid, and UK’s own Dakari Johnson.

As of now, 247’s Crystal Ball is all in on Duke for Barrett, but there’s still plenty of time for Kentucky to make a move. After Barrett’s 38 point performance against Team USA, you can bet Cal is already preparing a pitch for this kid.

@JayWinkKSR


First Impressions of UK’s Basketball Future

Calipari and Kenny Payne watch uncommitted P.J. Washington (25) at the Peach Jam.

Every year around this time The Peach Jam, Nike’s National Championship, provides the BBN with a sneak peek of the possible players with a future in Lexington.

Yesterday marked the one year anniversary of my first trip to the tournament.  My initial takeaways on the future Wildcats were semi-newsworthy at the time, but in hindsight they are much more interesting.

Knox vs. Diallo

The second game I saw at the Peach Jam was an action-packed showdown between two future Kentucky stars.  Now they are friends and teammates.  A year ago they were throwing each other to the ground.

“Going for the dunk in the fast break, Diallo took out Knox.  Knox’s head hit the wooden bleachers and Diallo got hit with an intentional…Probably wasn’t intentional, but Diallo showed no mercy (almost got the block) so the refs will give him none.”

Reading between the lines of my 140 character Tweets, I became a big fan of Diallo on that play.  In many AAU settings, most players will easily surrender a transition bucket to the opposing team’s best player, but Diallo isn’t like most players.  He went for the block, and when he didn’t get it, he made sure Knox was going to earn those points from the free throw line.

I was impressed with Diallo after that play, but questioned his shooting form on every jump shot he took. Knox on the other hand was the total package.

“Of all the SFs I’ve seen in this talented SF class, Knox is the most physically impressive. Not a bad 3-point shot either.”

He had all of the tools — a smooth shot, exceptional ball handling, a weapon in transition — and he was physically gifted well beyond his peers.  To be fair, Jarred Vanderbilt was in a walking boot and did not play, but Knox still had it all.  He came up big in the biggest moments too.

“Knox just made a poster to go up 4 with .35 to play.  If that’s the dagger, it’s one of the most impressive I’ve ever seen.”

I don’t recall the specific play to describe it, because it was not the dagger.

“Diallo’s defense kept his team in the game. Not enough to win, but he did all the little things. Knox was annoyed every time they matched up.”

Two minutes later, Diallo did enough for his team to win.

“Then a guy hits a fadeaway three to tie it at the buzzer. I spoke too soon.”

“A guy” was named Hamidou Diallo.  I could not see who it was because every person in the audience was standing when he let the deep, contested game-tying three fly.

Hami kept the team on his back and carried the NY Rens to an overtime victory over Knox’s E1T1.

P.J. Washington vs. Marvin Bagley

The first game I watched at the Peach Jam did not feature as much drama, but there was still some awesomeness to be seen thanks to P.J. Washington.

“PJ Washington with a tough finish at the rim, an And 1 over 6’11” #NotTooShabby”

Upon further investigation, I discovered that 6’11” guy was Marvin Bagley, the No. 1 player in the 2018 class.  A center with guard skills, some think he’s the best recruit in a decade.  He receives that tag because his skills are incomparable to any player his size.

“Bagley, the #1 player in 18, just had a nice top in transition.  A 6’11” athlete that I can find no immediate comparison for.”

Bagley hasn’t given much away in his recruitment, but the Kentucky Wildcats are currently his Crystal Ball leader at 50 percent, just ahead of Duke, UCLA, USC and Arizona.  A West Coast kid, getting him across the country may be difficult, but if anyone can do it, Calipari can.  I’ll have updates on Bagley from the Peach Jam next week.

Quade Green vs. P.J. Washington

Green with Greg Anthony following a quarterfinal Peach Jam win via @AdamZagoria

Quade Green was the person I knew the least entering the event.  Leaving the event he was one of my favorite players.

Nobody was more clutch than Quade.  His PSA Cardinals teammate, Mo Bamba, received all the attention, but Green stole the show at the end of games.  He penetrated to finish with contact near the rim, or created space with a step-back.  At the highest level in the semifinals against Washington’s Team Penny, PSA couldn’t win without him.

“Team Penny is up 17 now in the first half. The difference? Quade Green isn’t playing like himself tonight”

32 minutes later…

“Green has come back to life and it’s a one point game”

29 minutes later…

“PSA wins thanks to Green’s second half heroics. Came from 18 down for the win”

Next weekend I’ll get a first look at guys that could become Wildcats in the 2018-19 season at the Peach Jam in North Augusta, South Carolina.  Who knows, maybe Cameron Reddish could be the next P.J. Washington…


WATCH: Immanuel Quickley’s Highlights from NBPA Top 100 Camp

USA Basketball

For the last week point guard Immanuel Quickley has been playing for John Calipari’s U19 Team USA team.  Before the USA Basketball festivities began, he was doing work at the annual NBPA Top 100 camp in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Potentially the first to commit to Kentucky in the 2018 class, Quickley was one of the best at the prestigious camp.

w


Photo: FIBA

10 Things We’ve Learned So Far In The FIBA World Cup

Tomorrow at 3:15 p.m., Team USA faces Germany in the quarterfinals of the FIBA World Cup. What have we learned about John Calipari, PJ Washington, Hamidou Diallo, and UK’s 2018 targets since training camp began almost three weeks ago? Quite a lot, actually. I’ve narrowed my list of observations down to ten.

1. PJ Washington is going to be a fan favorite for many reasons

Most of the buzz in the freshman class has surrounded Kevin Knox and Hamidou Diallo, but this summer, PJ Washington has proven that he’s a star in his own right. The 6’8″ forward has been the most “positionless” player on the court, creating mismatches for almost every single team the US has faced. Washington is fifth in the FIBA World Cup in scoring at 16.0 points per game despite playing only 17.5 minutes per game (95th out of 192 players in the tournament). He ranks first in field goal percentage with 67.5%, a good 8% better than Canada’s Danilo Djuricic, the next most efficient scorer.

Washington does a little bit of everything: scoring, rebounding, and creating for others while refusing to back down on defense. As Calipari put it earlier this week, Washington is playing like a “beast” this summer, which should help him get ahead in a loaded crop of forwards this fall. Combine Washington’s on-the-court versatility with his off-the-court charisma and childhood love of the Wildcats and you’ve got an early leader for fan favorite.

2. …But he’s gonna have to work on those free throws

The one glaring hole in Washington’s game right now? His free throw shooting. Washington’s hitting only 42.9% of his shots from the charity stripe, a stat that must improve or teams won’t hesitate to go right at him.

3. Hamidou Diallo will be on SportsCenter‘s Top 10 more than once this season

We knew Diallo was a freak, but he turned in so many ridiculous plays and dunks through four games that FIBA made him his own mixtape:

4. Tai Wynyard’s got potential, but struggles with consistency

Early on, it looked like Wynyard was going to be one of the surprises of the tournament. In New Zealand’s opener vs. Korea, he scored 22 points, 16 in the fourth quarter alone; however, his production has been inconsistent ever since. Wynyard only had three points in New Zealand’s loss to Argentina, but contributed in other ways, pulling down nine rebounds and blocking three shots. Against Germany, he finished with 14 points and 9 rebounds, but turned the ball over four times. Wynyard clearly has potential, but to get minutes over Sacha Killeya-Jones and Nick Richards, he’ll have to be more consistent.

5. His Haka is on point though

6. Watching games without commentary is weird

All of the FIBA World Cup games are streamed live on YouTube, which is probably the way of the future and incredibly convenient for us since we can just embed that stream on the website; however, it has been odd watching games without commentary. There are no broadcast announcers, so the only thing you hear during the game is the PA announcer in the gym (who, to his credit, is lively), vuvuzelas (more on those in a minute), and the occasional shriek or stomp from Calipari. As fans in the modern era, we’ve been conditioned to hear game commentary, even if we complain about it and threaten to turn down the sound. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss it.

7. Vuvuzelas are still popular in Egypt

If you were wondering what happened to vuvuzelas after the 2010 World Cup, well, they’re all at the FIBA World Cup in Egypt now. Vuvuzelas still pop up from time to time (we all have that one friend who brings it to a soccer watch party), but I’ll admit that it took me a second or two to place that annoying, mind-numbing buzz. Let’s keep those over there, okay?

8. PJ Washington’s dad is doing his part to recruit Kentucky’s 2018 prospects

Three of Calipari’s primary targets in the 2018 class have been under his wing for the past three weeks, which is inevitably a great thing for Kentucky, right? Yes, although other than a tweet from Immanuel Quickley and a blog post from Romeo Langford, we haven’t heard a ton of feedback. PJ Washington’s dad Paul traveled to Egypt with his wife and son for the FIBA World Cup and told Larry Vaught he’s been doing his best to recruit Quickley, Langford, Cameron Reddish, and Louis King, the latter of which doesn’t have an offer from Kentucky…yet.

“We had dinner the other night with them all,” Washington said from Egypt. “We talk a lot of recruiting. We are the only parents here, so we are together a lot. So you know me. Whatever I need to do for the UK family, I will do it.”

Washington Sr. also got into Kevin Knox Sr.’s ear during the McDonald’s All-American Game a few months back and that seemed to work out pretty well. Shoutout to Paul and his wife, Sherry, for their extra efforts.

9. Calipari’s “casual” coaching look actually costs a lot

Photo: FIBA

Calipari debuted his new, custom fit Blue Delta Jeans at the FIBA World Cup, which cost approximately $500/pair. According to sneakerheads on Twitter, he is also wearing Nike’s new self-lacing HyperAdapt sneakers, which retail for about $800/pair. I’m sure he got that polo shirt for free (if we’re being honest, probably the jeans and shoes too), so all in all, that outfit retails for about $1,300. Image is everything, right?

10. The picture of him on a camel will never get old

The best way to handle yet another NBA rumor if you’re John Calipari? Hop on a camel, pull up in front of the pyramids, and give us a picture we’ll be using until the end of time. Add some text and a little more swagger and you’ve got the perfect GIF to send to your Louisville friends:


This is a good sign for Kentucky’s chances with Quickley

There are several signs pointing to an eventual commitment to Kentucky from five-star point guard Immanuel Quickley, and today we saw another sign that suggests the same.

During Team USA’s day off in Egypt, Quickley tweeted a photo of himself receiving instruction from John Calipari, with a caption that reads, “Learning from the best.”

That’s good, right?

Quickley, ranked tenth overall and second at his position in the 247Sports Composite Rankings, intends to take his four official visits later this summer and then announce a final decision before the beginning of his senior season.

Get in here.


COMMITTED: Kentucky’s 15 members of the 2018 recruiting class

COMMITTED: Kentucky’s 15 members of the 2018 recruiting class

With two new commitments over the holiday, including the program’s highest-ranked out-of-state linebacker ever in Xavier Peters, Kentucky’s 2018 football class is coming together and it is full of potential and star power.

A quick glance at the team rankings for the class shows the Wildcats are fourth in the SEC and No. 15 overall in both the 247Sports and Rivals.com rankings. It goes without saying that that is some uncharted territory for a school that couldn’t get a sniff of the top 25 under previous regimes.

So as excitement rides high and the dice stay hot, let’s meet the 15 UK commits as of today, listed in order by their rating in the 247Sports Composite:

MARQUAN McCALL
Offensive Guard | 6-4 | 320 lbs.
Oak Park, MI | Oak Park
Committed: 5/8/17
★★★★
ESPN No. 13 OG Top247 No. 4 OG
Rivals No. 4 OG Scout No. 6 OG

Marquan McCall committed to Kentucky as the top-ranked player in the state of Michigan. UK defensive backs coach Steve Clinkscale pulled McCall out of his home state and away from Michigan and Michigan State, from which McCall held scholarship offers, among many others.

XAVIER PETERS
Outside Linebacker | 6-4 | 225 lbs.
West Chester, OH | Lakota West
Committed: 7/4/17
★★★★
ESPN No. 17 OLB Top247 No. 8 OLB
Rivals No. 32 OLB Scout No. 7 ILB

Xavier Peters’ 4th of July commitment gave Kentucky one of the best linebacker prospects in the entire country; however, Peters’ commitment doesn’t seem so solid 24 hours after he made the announcement. The highly-touted Ohioan sent out a Wednesday afternoon tweet saying, “I still have to sit down and think about some things.”

DARIAN KINNARD
Offensive Tackle | 6-7 | 336 lbs.
Cleveland, OH | St. Ignatius
Committed: 4/30/17
★★★★
ESPN No. 27 OT Top247 No. 18 OT
Rivals No. 21 OT Scout No. 16 OT

Darian Kinnard is widely considered a standout at offensive tackle and he wants to join John Schlarman’s line in Lexington. At 6-foot-7 and 336 pounds, Kinnard already looks the part to line up in the SEC.

JARREN WILLIAMS
Quarterback | 6-2 | 206 lbs.
Lawrenceville, GA | Central Gwinnett
Committed: 5/15/17
★★★★
ESPN No. 9 DT-QB Top247 No. 9 DT-QB
Rivals No. 2 | 12 DT-QB Scout No. 28 QB

The distant future of the Kentucky offense will likely fall into the hands of quarterback Jarren Williams, one of the hottest names in football recruiting this summer. Williams added several elite offers after committing to the Cats last summer, but then decommitted in May to consider his many new options. The second round of his recruitment was short lived, though, and Williams re-pledged his commitment to the Wildcats once again to be the face and star QB of the class. He’ll soon see a jump in his rankings after showing out at this week’s The Opening Finals out in Oregon.

DeANDRE SQUARE
Safety/Linebacker | 6-1 | 200 lbs.
Detroit, MI | Cass Technical
Committed: 6/16/17
★★★
ESPN No. 47 OLB Top247 No. 30 S
Rivals No. 44 OLB Scout No. 20 OLB

What’s better than having the best player in Michigan? Adding another top player from the state to go along with him. That is what Coach Clinkscale did when he landed DeAndre Square, a defensive menace out of Detroit. It was another recruiting victory for Clinkscale and Kentucky over Michigan State in its own backyard.

BRENDEN BATES
Tight End | 6-5 | 230 lbs.
Cincinnati, OH | Archbishop Moeller
Committed: 3/10/17
★★★
ESPN No. 10 TE-Y Top247 No. 18 TE
Rivals No. 11 TE Scout No. 22 TE

Cincinnati tight end Brenden Bates has a father and a big brother who played for the hometown Cincinnati Bearcats, but Brendan is breaking the family trend and taking his talents across the river into Kentucky. Considered a four-star tight end by the Rivals folks, Bates is going with the school that offered him first in the summer before his junior season at Archbishop Moeller.

ALEX REIGELSPERGER
Defensive End | 6-3 | 225 lbs.
Dayton, OH | Wayne
Committed: 2/25/17
★★★
ESPN No. 17 DE Top247 No. 65 ATH
Rivals No. 38 WDE Scout No. 47 DE

Maybe the most outgoing of UK’s 2018 class, at least on social media, is defensive end Alex Reigelsperger, who seems to be recruiting more players as much as anyone. Reigelsperger, another Ohio kid, announced his commitment on a KSR basketball pregame show and now his focus is on getting his high school teammate, four-star wide receiver Blue Smith, to join him in Lexington.

MARVIN ALEXANDER
Wide Receiver | 6-3 | 175 lbs.
Hollywood, FL | Chaminade-Madonna Prep
Committed: 2/21/17
★★★
ESPN No. 123 WR Top247 No. 123 WR
Rivals No. 73 WR Scout No. 156 WR

Marvin Alexander was one of two players from Chaminade-Madonna Prep in Hollywood, Florida to commit to Kentucky on the same day back in February. He and teammate Davoan Hawkins, a defensive end, pulled the trigger together with Alexander following Hawkins’ lead.

QUINTIN WILSON
Center | 6-3 | 290 lbs.
Cincinnati, OH | Walnut Hills
Committed: 5/14/17
★★★
ESPN No. 8 C Top247 No. 10 C
Rivals No. 5 C Scout No. 61 OG

Cincinnati has been a recruiting hot bed for Mark Stoops’ staff and Quintin Wilson is another example of that success. A top-10 center nationally, Wilson announced his commitment on Mother’s Day.

DAVOAN HAWKINS
Defensive End | 6-4 | 246 lbs.
Hollywood, FL | Chaminade-Madonna Prep
Committed: 2/21/17
★★★
ESPN No. 56 DT Top247 No. 33 SDE
Rivals Scout No. 93 DE

Hawkins became the second member of Kentucky’s 2018 class when he committed back in February. Minutes later, his high school teammate, Marvin Alexander, made it two commitments from Chaminade-Madonna Prep on the same morning.

AKEEM HAYES
Athlete | 5-10 | 175 lbs.
Hollywood, FL | Chaminade-Madonna Prep
Committed: 6/20/17
★★★
ESPN No. 50 ATH Top247 No. 95 WR
Rivals Scout No. 160 WR

Yet another prospect from Chaminade-Madonna Prep made it three in UK’s 2018 class when Akeem Hayes flipped his commitment from Louisville to Kentucky earlier this summer. Hayes became the fifth player from Chaminade-Madonna to pick Kentucky over the last two years, all of whom were recruited by Eddie Gran. How’s that for a pipeline?

TYLER BENTLEY
Defensive Tackle | 6-3 | 295 lbs.
West Chester, OH | Lakota West
Committed: 6/11/17
★★★
ESPN No. 39 DT Top247 No. 67 DT
Rivals Scout No. 52 DT

Tyler Bentley hails from the same Ohio high school as new stud linebacker commit Xavier Peters. And like Peters, Bentley picked the Cats over offers from SEC powerhouses like Alabama, Florida, Tennessee and LSU.

KEATON UPSHAW
Tight End | 6-7 | 225 lbs.
Lima, OH | Lima Senior
Committed: 7/1/17
★★★
ESPN Top247 No. 41 TE
Rivals No. 33 TE Scout No. 25 TE

The first of the two 4th of July weekend commitments came from Keaton Upshaw, an athletic tight end out of — you guessed it — Ohio. Kentucky loves Upshaw’s upside and he adds a different dynamic to the tight end position than 2018 commit Brendan Bates.

DOMONIQUE WILLIAMS
Cornerback | 5-10 | 190 lbs.
Highland, KS | Highland C.C. (JC)
Committed: 6/15/17
★★★
ESPN Top247 No. 2 JUCO CB
Rivals Scout

Domonique Williams is the lone JUCO transfer in Kentucky’s current haul and a familiar name to UK assistant Dean Hood. A Knoxville native, Williams originally signed with Eastern Kentucky out of high school when Hood was the head coach, but he failed to qualify academically. He then committed to Colorado State and eventually made his way to Highland Community College, where he had 52 tackles, three interceptions and 11 pass breakups as a freshman last season.

CHANCE POORE
Kicker | 6-3 | 200 lbs.
Anderson, SC | Westside
Committed: 6/6/17
N/A
ESPN Top247
Rivals Scout No. 2 | 2 PF

That’s a hell of a name for a kicker, but he trained with NFL kickers when he was only 14 years old and kicked his first 40-yarder in middle school.

 

Who’s next?

Hi, Blue Smith.

Romeo Langford raves about playing for Calipari

Photo: FIBA

Team USA leads Mali by 20 right now in the FIBA World Cup, but one player we’ve yet to see today is 2018 shooting guard Romeo Langford. Langford has been sidelined with back spasms for most of the tournament so far, but he’s still making the most of the experience, which he’s documenting in a blog on USA Today’s High School Sports site. Yesterday, Langford wrote about the trip to Egypt, his injury, and what it’s like to play for John Calipari. Here’s something that won’t surprise you: so far, he’s really enjoying playing for Cal.

Of course everyone knows that Coach (John) Calipari is our coach on the U19 team and it’s been a great experience having him as a coach at this level. He’s one of the coaches that’s been recruiting me so it’s good to have this opportunity to see how he does things.

He really harps on guys playing hard. He doesn’t even care about mistakes, he just wants your effort. So that’s cool.

Kentucky, Duke, Louisville, and Indiana are all after Langford, a New Albany native, so this experience with Cal is huge to say the least. Plus, he got to see the pyramids, which he wrote in his last blog entry was the thing he was looking forward to seeing the most. Did they live up to his expectations?

Our downtime has been pretty cool too; we went to see the pyramids two days ago and, I’ve gotta be honest, they weren’t what I expected to see.

You’d think they’d be like they look in the movies, but they’re really old and pointy. The biggest one, you can actually walk up it so we had fun doing that.

Really old and pointy is exactly what I would expect the pyramids to look like, but I’m glad Langford is having fun. Hopefully his back gets better and we can see him on the court again soon.

[The Romeo Langford Blog]


ESPN says one 2018 recruit is far and away the best in the class

It is officially July, meaning that in less than two weeks, the most important live recruiting period of the year begins. Who will John Calipari prioritize when he returns from Egypt? One recruit he will certainly zero in on is Marvin Bagley, considered the best player in the 2018 class by three of the four major recruiting services. In a preview of the July recruiting period for ESPN, Jeff Borzello said that Bagley, a 6’10” power froward from Tempe, Arizona, is far and away the best player in the class.

“Can anyone go past Bagley in the coming weeks? It’s unlikely. On the Nike EYBL circuit, Bagley was dominant in the spring, averaging 25.8 points, 14.9 rebounds and 3.1 blocks.

Chasing Bagley are Zion Williamson (No. 2), a highlight-reel dunker; Cameron Reddish (No. 3), a smooth and versatile perimeter player; Bol Bol (No. 4), who had one of the best springs of anyone; and Romeo Langford (No. 5), the best guard in the class. All four are terrific players, but none has a legitimate case for the No. 1 spot right now. There’s more of a debate for No. 2 at this point.”

Kentucky leads in Bagley’s 247 Sports Crystal Ball right now with 50% of the predictions, but Duke isn’t far behind at 30%. Bagley says he’ll visit Duke this month, so it’s imperative for Calipari and his staff to make a good impression on him during the Nike Peach Jam July 12-17. A few weeks ago, Paul Biancardi called Bagley a “once in a decade type player,” and after you see his highlight reel, you’ll know why.

Here he is taking on DeMar DeRozan at the LA Drew League this past weekend:

Not all highlights in that last video, but DeRozan is an NBA All-Star after all.