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Tuesday’s Top 10: The NBA Combine begins, UK Football lands a big Yahtzee

Good morning, friends, and happy Tuesday. Remember that time that Devin Booker came to school as a four-star shooting guard we all thought would be around for a while and turned out to be a lottery pick? That was fun. Let’s keep that in mind this week, because…

1. The NBA Combine begins

Today, De’Aaron Fox, Bam Adebayo, Isaiah Briscoe, and Hamidou Diallo will head to Chicago for the NBA Combine, which runs through Sunday at the Quest Center. All in all, 67 athletes will participate in the Combine, which, for some, means physical measurements, interviews, drills, medical and athletic testing, and scrimmages. According to Draft Express, Briscoe’s the only Kentucky player who will do the 5-on-5 scrimmages; initially, Diallo was going to, but then decided against it, meaning he will rely solely on his measurements and testing to impress scouts, a safe move, but one that may mean he’s leaning towards staying in the draft. If you’re Diallo and you really want to stay in, why risk getting exploited by older players in 5-on-5 action when you can persuade a team to take a chance on you based on your 6-10 wingspan?

2. Apparently the Nets, Pacers, and Mavericks are already interested in Diallo

…according to Adam Zagoria:

Where you going, Hami?

3. What about Malik Monk?

He was invited to the Combine, but opted out, meaning he thinks he’s showed scouts all they need to know about his game.

While the Combine does start today, the real interesting stuff happens later this week. ESPN2 will televise parts of it on May 11 and May 12 from 3 to 7 p.m.

4. UK Football landed the best player from the state of Michigan

Four-star offensive guard Marquan McCall is the fourth best offensive guard in the country and the best player in the entire state of Michigan, and last night, he decided he wanted to be a Kentucky Wildcat. Stoops put secondary coach Steve Clinkscale in charge of recruiting Michigan, and he hit a home run, pulling in the 6’4″ 320 lbs. McCall, a top 100 player with offers from Michigan, Michigan State, Tennessee, Missouri, Ole Miss, Penn State, and a bevy of other major programs. It’s a long way until signing day, but one piece of good news that can help Kentucky keep him on board is…

5. The early signing period now exists

Beginning this upcoming season, recruits can now sign their national letter of intent with the school of their choice from December 20-22, which is welcome news for programs like Kentucky that identify talent early and get them to commit only to lose them to bigger programs right before signing day in February. For more on this, check out Freddie’s post from last night.

6. ICYMI, a former UK Basketball staffer was indicted for defrauding pro athletes

Yesterday, we found out that Leon Smith, former UK wide receiver and Director of Basketball Opps under Tubby Smith, has been indicted on felony charges of defrauding clients for nearly $1.3 million, aggravated identity theft and money laundering. Among the clients conned by Smith are former Cats Darius Miller and Josh Harrellson, and Jorts is claiming in a civil lawsuit that Smith defrauded him of $180,000. Wow. It’s important to note that Smith only worked at UK under Tubby Smith and Mitch Barnhart, and was gone by the time John Calipari came on board. Pat Forde got that one wrong in his initial report yesterday.

7. Marcus McWilson signed on with the Raiders

@UKFootball

@UKFootball

Congrats to former UK safety Marcus McWilson, who signed on with the Oakland Raiders yesterday, joining Boom Williams (Bengals), Ryan Timmons (Bears), JoJo Kemp (Buccaneers), and JD Harmon (Browns) on the list of former Cats to find a home since the NFL Draft. Still no word on Jon Toth, who went undrafted despite being projected in the fourth round. There were rumors Toth was going to sign on with the 49ers, but after that report was shot down, it’s been radio silence. Hopefully that changes soon.

8. UK Baseball takes on Indiana

After a disappointing weekend, the Bat Cats will look to get back on track tonight vs. a surging Indiana club that’s won eight of its last ten. It looks like a beautiful night to watch some baseball, so head on out to The Cliff, or tune in on the SEC Network at 7 p.m. This weekend, UK hosts Tennessee in a three-game series, and even though the Vols are second to last in the SEC East, every game is crucial for the Bat Cats, who fell behind Florida in the SEC East standings.

9. Calipari’s playing around with his new Time Set app

Calipari is always on the forefront of social media, and yesterday, he announced a partnership with Time Set, a goal-oriented social networking app. I’ll admit that I don’t know anything about the app yet, but Cal says he plans to announce a new game for the 2017-18 schedule on it this afternoon, so if you need me, I’ll be figuring it out.

10. Radio in an hour

In the meantime, check out this terrifying video of a rally driver slamming into a guardrail during a race on the Canary Islands:

Shew. May everyone’s day be less dramatic than that.


The New Early Signing Period and How it Impacts Kentucky

A NSD Throwback

A NSD Throwback

The Collegiate Commissioners Association (CCA) voted to enact an early National Letter of Intent period for football prospective student-athletes. Selected dates will be December 20th through the 22nd 2017 with the traditional National Signing Day being on February 7th, 2018. So yes, this recruiting cycle. This announcement marks a significant and potential slippery slope change for the landscape of all college football.

Think about it for a minute. December 20th is near the start of bowl season for approximately 80 college football programs. Actually, bowls started on the 16th last season. There will be teams at bowl locations on these dates. That time frame is unfortunately also the stretch of time associated with the firing and at times hiring of coaches. December 22nd is awfully close to the Holiday Season as well. Coming soon, prospects will be able to take official visits much earlier in the process. College football head coaches make millions. But, a continuous work clock can’t be sustained, can it? Yes, especially at programs with a support staff large enough to fill Memorial Coliseum. We’ll touch on that more in a little bit.

The date’s logistics will prevent the same holistic approach that the first Wednesday in February has warranted over the years. That may be a good thing. Maybe not. Networks and blogs such as this one dedicated countless hours to the traditional National Signing Day. Perhaps we’ve seen the last of the hat tosses, shirt changes, and live animals used as props with the new watered down announcement operations. Let’s only hope.

How will this impact Kentucky? Let’s take a look:

In all actuality the new signing period simply moves up the process a month. This proclamation will not be met with joy within the power circles of the Southeastern Conference. Traditional powers reserve the right to hand-pick commitments from the ROY’s (Rest of Y’all) in order to fill gaps in their signing classes. Please don’t feel sorry for Alabama and other “Powers” as they have the unique luxury of affording a overwhelmingly larger recruiting support staff to manage pending alterations. In other words, non-coaching coaches. Huh? An additional signing period was put into place but legislation regulating the number non-coaching personnel has not? Imagine that.

Full disclosure, I’ve yet to solidify my opinion on an early signing period and have to further research. However, I’m yet to be convinced that it will be a world-changer for Mark Stoops and Vince Marrow. A quick glance of UK’s Class of 2017 shows that only three signees committed after December 20th of 2016: Lynn Bowden, Yusuf Corker, and Abule Abadi-Fitzgerald. Corker and Bowden were highly sought after prospects. Abadi-Fitzgerald was a late riser.

True, several attempted to sway some of Kentucky’s signing day haul. An early day to make their commitment truly official could have spared Stoops late December and early February worries. But, the vast majority of the class committed early and stayed that way up until National Signing Day. The Class of 15 was the complete opposite and has arguably turned out to be Stoops’ best class to date.

Various hacks will proclaim the early signing period as a stone cold lock victory for programs like Kentucky, Arkansas, Vanderbilt, and South Carolina. I think the prudent measurement will come with time and observation after at least two classes have cycled through the Collegiate Commissioner Association’s new modus operandi. In no manner do I project the December dates will hurt the Cats. It can only help, right? To what extent? We’ll see.

@UKFootball

@UKFootball

Kentucky Class of 2017 Commitment Dates

Tyrell Ajian-April 21st, 2016
Josh Ali-June 27th, 2016
Quinton Bohanna-February 24th, 2016
Lynn Bowden-January 14th, 2017
Danny Clark-October 26th, 2016
Yusuf Corker-December 26th, 2016
Jamin Davis-March 7th, 2016
Sebastien Dolcine-August 2nd, 2016
Cedrick Dort-August 2nd, 2016
Austin Dotson-March 5th, 2016
Isaiah Epps-December 15th, 2016
Abule Abadi-Fitzgerald February 3rd, 2017
Phil Hoskins-May 21st, 2016
Alex King-April 2nd, 2016
Lonnie Johnson-December 13th, 2016
Bryant Koback-January 17th, 2016
Michael Nesbitt-August 25th, 2016
Josh Paschal-December 13th, 2016
JaVonte Richardson-March 27th, 2016
Clevan Thomas-July 18th, 2016
Naasir Watkins-December 7th, 2016
Chris Whittaker-December 4th, 2016
Walker Wood-October 15th, 2015
Jordan Wright-December 21st, 2016


Top 100 Offensive Lineman Commits to Kentucky

Scout

Scout

Kentucky just got a lot better in the trenches.  The No. 3 offensive guard in the 2018 recruiting class, Marquan McCall of Oak Park, Michigan just announced his decision to be a Wildcat on Twitter.

@Mccallmarquan

@Mccallmarquan

The best player in the state of Michigan picked Kentucky over Michigan, Michigan State, Tennessee and many others.  Ranked as the No. 94 prospect in America by Rivals, McCall is the second four-star offensive lineman in UK’s 2018 class, joining Ohio’s Darian Kinnard.  After this morning’s decommitment, Kentucky now has seven members in the Class of 2018, ranked No. 25 in the 247 Composite Rankings.

Mark Stoops made a living recruiting some of the best in Ohio away from Michigan.  Now, Stoops has sent Steve Clinkscale to take some of Michigan’s best talent south to Lexington.  To start with McCall is an impressive achievement for Clinckscale, one that cannot be oversold.  See for yourself:


College football now has an early signing period

KSR-football-7979

Big news for college football today as the Collegiate Commissioners Association approved an early signing period for the sport.

Beginning this upcoming season, college football recruits will have a 72-day window in December to sign their National Letter of Intent with the school of their choosing. This season’s window will run from December 20 to December 22.

The new signing period is big for those programs that lose players late in the process when the top-tier programs swoop in and poach the talent ahead of signing day. In theory, schools will get their long-time commitments locked in so coaches can focus their efforts on recruiting others.

A couple of years ago, Mark Stoops told The Cats Pause he supported an early signing period. He said, “For the guys who are absolutely ready to go and have been committed for a good amount of time, let’s knock it out and get it over with.”


Jarren Williams opens up about his recruitment

@Jarren2Williams

@Jarren2Williams

Chris Kirschner over at SEC Country wrote about the latest in Alabama football recruiting and it includes a lot of stuff from Jarren Williams, including some very positive talk about Kentucky.

Williams told the website that his relationships with coaching staffs are very important and no one is closer to him than the staff at Kentucky. Kentucky is also one of only a couple of schools to let him know he is the No. 1 priority in the class, which is another point on the board for the Wildcats.

Williams also explained the decision to de-commit from UK after more and more offers rolled in this spring:

“I just talked to my dad and coach and came to the decision that the best thing to do was because I wanted to visit some other schools — and out of the respect to the University of Kentucky — I didn’t want to give them a bad look because I am the quarterback and considered the face of the program’s class. It was best to de-commit to give them the respect.”

If he announces his final decision in the next couple of weeks, as he said he plans to do, Kentucky is the very heavy favorite.

We may be in for the rare re-commitment with the top QB on UK’s board.

Read more on that here.


Kentucky football loses wide receiver commitment

Kentucky football loses wide receiver commitment

gaskin

Kentucky’s next great football class lost one of its members with the new decommitment of Cadarius Gaskin. Ryan Bartow of 247Sports fame broke the news this morning:

Gaskin’s commitment wasn’t even a month old. The 113rd-ranked wide receiver out of Florida committed to Kentucky back on April 16 after receiving his offer in January. Now he’s back open to the recruiting world.


Photo by Michael Clark

Jarren Williams invited to Elite 11 Finals

Photo by Michael Clark

Photo by Michael Clark

Former Kentucky three-star quarterback commit Jarren Williams has earned an invite to the Elite 11 Finals  in Los Angeles, California.

Williams competed in the Regionals this past weekend in North Carolina, where he earned his invitation.

Williams de-commited from UK on April 24th, but UK still remains in the top position according to his Crystal Ball, with a 75 percent chance of him going to UK and 25 percent chance to Florida. He’s also received an offer from Alabama.

The last Cat to play in the Elite 11 Finals was Drew Barker in 2014 and Mac Jones participated last year.


Friday’s Top 10: Happy Oaks Day!

Friday’s Top 10: Happy Oaks Day!

Happy Friday, everyone, or, rather, Happy Oaks Day. The Kentucky Oaks, aka the locals’ day to play (or is that now Thurby?), is upon us, and a few minutes after 6:12 p.m. ET, we’ll find out which filly gets the lilies. Unfortunately, the forecast looks awful, with highs barely reaching the 50’s and rain all day long, so take a poncho to protect all that pink you’re wearing. Here’s the hourly forecast for Louisville from weather.com:

Screen Shot 2017-05-05 at 7.12.57 AM

So, wear rain boots. Or, stay inside, read KSR, and watch the Oaks on NBC Sports Network. Your choice. Let’s roll through today’s top 10, shall we?

1. Here’s the Oaks field

Paradise Woods is currently the favorite at 5-2, followed by Miss Sky Warrior at 9-2:

# HORSE ODDS
1 Ever So Clever 20-1
2 Lockdown 20-1
3 Mopotism 20-1
4 Paradise Woods 5-2
5 Jordan’s Henny 30-1
6 Vexatious 20-1
7 Farrell 5-1
8 Sailor’s Valentine 30-1
9 Wicked Lick 30-1
10 Miss Sky Warrior 9-2
11 Tequilita 20-1
12 Daddys Lil Darling 20-1
13 Abel Tasman 5-1
14 Salty 6-1
15 Summer Luck 30-1

2. Keep an eye out for Matt’s purple suit

If you missed “Hey Kentucky!” last night, Derby suit expert Chip Cosby took Matt shopping for a suit to wear to the Oaks, and they came up with this purple number. When you think about it, this suit is a pretty wise investment because by day, Matt can attend the Oaks and by night, he can play the Joker in his community theater’s production of Batman.

Here’s the whole clip from last night:

Switching gears to basketball…

3. Kevin Knox is (probably) announcing tomorrow

It looks like there may finally be an end in sight for Kevin Knox’s recruitment. According to Jake Perper of Prep Sports Scouting, Knox will announce his final decision on Saturday. No word on the time yet, but knowing how this always happens, it’ll probably come out right as the Derby begins. Knox is down to Duke, North Carolina, Florida State, Kentucky and Missouri, with Duke continuing to surge as the heavy favorite. Thankfully (hopefully), we’ll know for certain tomorrow.

4. Cam Johnson lists Kentucky as his early favorite

One person who will probably be very interested in Knox’s decision is Cam Johnson, the Pitt grad transfer that visited Kentucky last week. Yesterday, Johnson told Evan Daniels that Kentucky is his early favorite, although that’s mostly because he hasn’t taken many visits yet. This weekend, he visits Arizona, and next week, he’ll go to UCLA and Oregon. TCU and Ohio State are also in the mix. Here’s what he said about Calipari’s pitch:

“His pitch to me was pretty much the fact that the team is young and they need some experience and some age,” Johnson said. “They have a need for a player that can shoot like myself, along with the fact that it’s Kentucky. There are pro scouts at every practice. They compete every day. It’s just a competitive environment to get better in.”

Johnson also said he loved UK’s campus and the few remaining players that will be on next year’s squad. If Knox heads elsewhere (and it’s looking like he will), hopefully Johnson will decide to take advantage of the rare opportunity to be an immediate impact player on a perennial title contender.

5. Vince Marrow and Darin Hinshaw visited Jarren Williams yesterday

The talented dual threat quarterback decommitted from Kentucky last week, but this week, there have been rumblings he may come back on board. Last night, Vince Marrow and Darin Hinshaw traveled to Lawrenceville, Georgia last night to make Kentucky’s case, only hours after Williams picked up an offer from his home state Georgia Bulldogs. No word yet on how that visit went, but interpret this tweet from Williams how you’d like:

6. The baseball team starts its series with Georgia

The Bat Cats got a bit of bad news yesterday when Nick Mingione announced that reliever Zach Pop will miss at least two weeks with a forearm injury, but they’re poised to continue their impressive rise this weekend with a three-game series against the struggling Georgia Bulldogs. Today’s game will start at 2 p.m. (in anticipation of the bad weather tonight), tomorrow’s at 6:30 p.m., and Sunday’s finale begins at 1 p.m. All games will be broadcast on SEC Network+ (streaming), or you can listen on 630 WLAP.

If you go out to the ballpark, you’ll see this new wrap on “Big Blue Wall” in right field:

The wall now features the names of lettermen, coaches and season ticket holders. Neat.

7. You’ve gotta love Dickie V’s response to Lonzo Ball’s new shoe

If you somehow missed it on social media, Lonzo Ball and his dad revealed their new shoe, the ZO2, which retails for a ridiculous $495/pair. By now, everyone’s had a chance to weigh in on the shoe, a blatant ripoff of Kobes and Adidas Boosts, but Dick Vitale may have had the best response:

Get ’em, Dickie V!

8. John Wall went nuts last night

Wall’s stats may not seem that flashy, but he was absolutely incredible last night, scoring 24 points and dishing 8 assists to lead the Wizards to a crucial 116-89 win over the Celtics in Game 3:

Wall was great, but did you see Kelly Oubre???

As you might expect, he got kicked out for that.

9. Congrats to everyone graduating from UK today

Not only is today Oaks and Cinco de Mayo, it’s day one of graduation at UK (the ceremonies continue through Sunday). Congrats to everyone who’s making the walk. Enjoy today and relish in the fact that most of you accomplished something in four years that took Nick Roush seven. (Or was it eight? I lost track.)

If you know someone who’s graduating but can’t make it to Rupp (or if you’re just really bored), you can watch the ceremony on the live stream below:

10. The winner of the KSR Movie Bracket will be crowned

The show will be live from the Oaks today, where the gang will decide the winner of the KSR Movie Bracket, which is down to Pulp Fiction and Forrest Gump. Who ya got??

Finally, what do you do when the betting machines at Churchill Downs break down? Dance it out, of course:

What happens when the betting system goes down at Churchill!

A post shared by Margaret Romine (@mrsromine12) on

Can’t top that on a Friday morning.


2018 Quarterback Will Visit UK Friday

247

247

Kentucky will host 2018 pro-style quarterback Kevin Doyle this Friday.  The three-star pocket passer from Washington D.C. told Justin Rowland he will make the trip to Kentucky after Darin Hinshaw and Steve Clinkscale watched him throw to his receivers today.

“We went through all our routes and (Hinshaw) was very happy with what I did,” Doyle said.  “He was really happy with my arm strength and he said everything he saw last summer was what he saw again, only I’m bigger, stronger and faster than I was last year.”

Doyle has been a priority recruit since Jarren Williams reopened his recruitment.  The Cats are still near the top of the dual-threat quarterback’s list, but Doyle could step in to fill the spot before Williams reconsiders.  The three-star quarterback is ranked nineteenth at his position.  Doyle is also considering Pitt, Boston College, Syracuse, West Virginia and others.  Watch him do work:

[Cats Illustrated]


National recruiting analyst makes a big prediction about former QB commit Jarren Williams

A week ago, 2018 dual threat quarterback Jarren Williams decommitted from Kentucky after receiving some major offers, most notably from Alabama. At the time, Williams’ decommitment felt inevitable, the tale as old as time of a bigger school luring away a top prospect; however, 247 Sports Director of Recruiting Steve Wiltfong just made a prediction that should calm everyone down a little bit. Wiltfong predicted Williams will return to Kentucky, picking the Cats above all others in Williams’ Crystal Ball.

A few days after Williams decommitted, he told Justin Rowland that he still has Kentucky number one on his list, and that Darin Hinshaw and Vince Marrow planned on visiting him on May 1 and 12. Today’s May 2, so if Wiltfong’s prediction is any indication, yesterday’s visit went very well.

Come on back, Jarren. We’ll leave the light on for you.

UPDATE: Hinshaw and Marrow had to reschedule yesterday’s visit to Thursday, making the good buzz in the Cats’ direction even more promising if you ask me.


Kentucky lands commitment from four-star offensive lineman

Mark Stoops has another big-time commit in Kentucky’s 2018 class with the addition of Darian Kinnard, a 6-foot-7, 336-pound offensive tackle out of Cleveland.

Kinnard pledged his commitment to the Wildcat via this tweet Sunday night.

Kinnard is a four-star prospect in the Top247 rankings, considered to be the No. 17 tackle in the entire nation.

He chose Kentucky over several offers, including West Virginia, Penn State, Maryland, Missouri, Pittsburgh and Purdue, as well as interest from Ohio State.


Mark Stoops Offers Bear Bryant’s Kin

*30 for 30 voice* What if I told you, it was time to reverse the curse?

Sixty-six years after Bear Bryant left Lexington, his great-grandson could return to the University of Kentucky.  Earlier today, Mark Stoops extended a scholarship offer to 2019 quarterback Paul Tyson.

The 6’4″ 210-pound pro-style quarterback hails from Trussville, Alabama.  The offer from Kentucky is just Tyson’s second scholarship offer, following Jacksonville State.  The junior-to-be has also received some early interest from Clemson and, of course, Alabama.

If there is some kind of curse since Bryant left, here’s Stoops’ chance to change the program’s fortune forever.  If not, he’s still a pretty good QB who could blossom into a star at UK.


Jarren Williams told Rivals.com he still likes Kentucky

Justin Rowland over at Rivals.com has some excellent news for Kentucky football fans.

Rowland caught up with Jarren Williams, the rising high school quarterback who decommitted from UK last week, to gauge Williams’ interest in the Cats since re-opening his recruitment.

Williams told him,  “UK is number one.”

That is great to hear considering most decommits rarely jump back on board with their original schools. Many fans considered Williams to be long gone once he backed out of his Kentucky commitment, but it’s comforting to hear he still has his old team above the rest.

This recruitment still has a long way to go and there are a ton of big-time programs on Williams’ offer sheet, Alabama being the most intimidating. But the Cats are still in it, at least for now.

Read the whole story here.

Get back in here, Jarren.


2018 quarterback Jarren Williams decommits from Kentucky

Welp, when Alabama offered him a few weeks ago, you could feel this one coming. According to Rivals’ Trent Smallwood, 2018 quarterback Jarren Williams just decommitted from Kentucky. Williams is considered the 17th best dual-threat quarterback in the 2018 class by 247 Sports and has picked up some major offers lately, notably from the aforementioned Crimson Tide, Florida, LSU, Tennessee, Missouri, and Mississippi State.

As Mark Stoops said on KSR a few weeks back when Williams picked up an offer from Alabama, this sort of stuff happens all the time…but it still sucks.

“Of course it does,” he said. “The common phrase is, ‘It’s not personal.’ Well, it is personal. Recruiting is personal, because we spend so much time on it. We work at it, we evaluate, we watch tape, we watch these kids for years, we build relationships with them on the phone, by them coming to campus, social media, just all the time we put into it. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get frustrated, but I’ll tell you this, it’s just part of our job. It is. It’s part of our job. We’ve taken guys that were committed to other schools and other schools have taken guys that were committed to us.”

Go away, Alabama!

UPDATE: Here’s the statement Williams just posted on Twitter…

 


Kentucky Football’s 2018 class is now ranked in the top 20

Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Earlier today, Kentucky picked up its seventh commitment in the 2018 class, three-star athlete Shocky Jacques-Louis. Not only does Jacques-Louis have a fantastic name, he just bumped Kentucky’s 2018 class into the top 20 nationally. Right now, Mark Stoops’ 2018 class is ranked 19th by Rivals, ahead of programs like Alabama, Auburn, Tennessee, and Louisville. Of course, it’s early, but still, that’s an impressive start, and good enough for fourth in the SEC behind LSU (#4), Texas A&M (#17), and Florida (#8).

Back to Shocky Jacques-Louis. He’s Kentucky’s fourth commitment in the 2018 class from the state of Florida, a testament to Eddie Gran and Darin Hinshaw’s hard work in the area. Shocky will reportedly play wide receiver for Kentucky and was courted heavily by Alex Reigelsperger, who committed back in February. After Shocky shared the news, Reigelsperger took to Twitter to celebrate:

If his name and Twitter picture weren’t reason enough for you to fall in love with Shocky, here’s a profile of him and his twin brother, Rocky. Shocky and Rocky Jacques-Louis. Wow. Can we have Rocky too?