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WATCH: Kentucky Volleyball Prepares for Trip to Brazil

@KentuckyVB

The Kentucky Volleyball team has begun their journey abroad as they are set to compete internationally in four Brazilian cities.

KYWildcatsTV caught up with the team before they departed, and the girls are excited to say the least.

Head Coach Craig Skinner is pumped for additional time with his team, “The fact that we get two extra weeks together as a group helps us to learn about each other and it creates an opportunity for us to play more volleyball, but more importantly, helps us become a team and not just a group of people.”

The team will play a total of 5 matches throughout the 10-day trip with stops in Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Saquerema, and Arrial do Cabo.

BBN, let’s hope for safe travels & a successful trip for the team!


@EMitchKSR


Randall Cobb’s Quarterback Past Helping in Transition to Cowboys

(Jeremiah Jhass/DallasCowboys.com)

Following eight seasons in the same offensive scheme, Randall Cobb is adjusting to life as a member of the Dallas Cowboys.

As the Cowboys held their first Organized Team Activity session this past week, Cobb used the time to become more acclimated to the play-calling of Cowboys first year offense coordinator Kellen Moore.

“On my visit, he [Moore] told me what his plans were and how I would fit into the scheme and what he’s trying to create here. I’m excited for the opportunity to be as versatile as I can and help out as many different ways as I can.”

With the emergence of Amari Cooper, and the continued success of the Cowboys run game, Cobb will be a complementary piece for a team with high expectations.

He is expected to fill the role of recently departed slot receiver Cole Bentley who signed with the Bills in free agency.

So far so good as the former Green Bay Packer has drawn positive reviews from teammates with Dak Prescott telling reporters, “His background playing quarterback really shows. When he asks what number I am in the read. When he’s supposed to come in and block a guy in the box, you don’t even have to motion him. You look up and he’s already in the box. Things like that. He’s been great. He’s gonna benefit this team.”

Cobb agrees with his new teammate, “I have a special ability because I’ve been able to play both positions and having an understanding of his progression and how that ties to my footwork on certain plays, and just trying to use that to help him out.”

It will certainly take time to become comfortable in the new offense, but I’ve got a feeling we will see a bit of a resurgence from Cobb following a few injury-riddled seasons.

The second session of OTA’s for the Cowboys will begin on Tuesday as ‘America’s Team’ tries to build upon last year’s division title.


@EMitchKSR

[SportsDay.DallasNews]


Why Richards and Montgomery are more important than people realize

John Calipari has had great success in his tenure at Kentucky: a record of 305-71 and appearances in seven Elite Eights, four Final Fours and two championship games with one tournament championship. Through it all, there has been one common factor: strong post play.

Since Calipari took the helm for the Cats, they have been top-10 in the nation in total rebounds all but two times – years in which they failed to make the Sweet Sixteen (2015-16) and lost in the first round of the NIT (2013-14). Furthermore, Kentucky has been a top-10 team in blocked shots in all but the 2017-18 season (in which they were ranked 20th) and lost in the Sweet Sixteen. Because of this, getting quality big men is a must for the Cats next year—especially after losing Jaden McDaniels to Washington. As such, having Nick Richards and E.J. Montgomery return should be the priority for the Cats.

Bucknell graduate transfer Nate Sestina will help UK next year, but his impact will be greater as a stretch big (36.4 percent career three-point percentage) than as an enforcer down low (0.7 career blocks per game). Virginia Tech forward Kerry Blackshear (who may join the cats as a transfer or enter the NBA draft) has more versatility than Sestina and is more proven at the Power-5 level. However, Richards and Montgomery not only have more experience running Cal’s system, they have physical tools that can’t be taught.

While neither Montgomery nor Richards saw major action last year, both have better rebounding and block totals per 40 minutes than Blackshear, P.J. Washington or Reid Travis. Richards, in two years alone, has more career blocks (80) than Sestina (70) and Blackshear (73) who have four- and three-years’ experience, respectively.

Furthermore, Richards and Montgomery were first and third on the team in blocks, respectively, despite playing fewer minutes combined than Washington, who was second on the team in that category. Lastly, the duo, though raw, have displayed flashes of shooting ability, with Montgomery hitting two three-pointers last season and Richards shooting better that 70% from the free throw line over his two years.

Sestina will most certainly help the Cats next year, and getting Blackshear would be monumental. However, their styles are not as conducive to success in Calipari’s system as Richard’s and Montgomery’s could be. Of course, both of them need to make improvements and get closer to their potential, but neither has to put up huge numbers—Anthony Davis scored only six points in the national championship but posted 16 boards, five assists, five blocks and three steals.

Because of the way Calipari runs his team, and with the talent he has at the guard spots, Montgomery and Richards are the necessary pieces for a strong interior presence. Blackshear would be a welcome addition, but what Cal really needs are quality rebounders and rim protectors. First and foremost, though, UK has to get them back.


Enes Kanter says he’ll host 30 free basketball camps this summer

(Photo via Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)

Enes Kanter’s life has been far from an easy one, but he recognizes the advantages he’s made for himself because of his basketball career. Now, he wants to give some of those same advantages to kids across the country – for free.

“I will have 30 camps in 30 different states. Free camp, by the way,” Kanter said in a recent press conference. “This year, I cannot leave the country. I just don’t want to sit at home or just go to the beach and waste my time. I’ve got to do something – I’ve got to give back to the community, for sure.”

As for the camps themselves, they’ve already started. Kanter’s already hosted two free camps in Oregon. More than 800 kids were in attendance.

America gave me so much. I think it’s right to just come to the camp and enjoy it for free. I’m not going to charge [for it] just because I play in the NBA. The most important thing… is just inspiring kids, man,” Kanter said. “Because whenever I hold a camp, we don’t just talk about basketball. We talk about education; on and off the court stuff. It’s definitely a very important thing for me.”

For someone with a lot of problems in his personal life, Kanter sure does make time for the people around him. He’ll be traveling from North Dakota to New York City to Florida to Hawaii this summer, just to name a few destinations. Although it doesn’t look like he has a camp planned for the Bluegrass state yet, don’t rule it out as a possibility in the future.

For more information about Kanter’s camps, click here.


Memphis threw a “James Wiseman Day” Parade. Seriously.

Man, Penny Hardaway really knows how to turn a middling program into a cocky villain.

In honor of Memphis’ freshly minted number 1 ranked recruiting class, Hardaway decided the best way to commemorate his crop would be to throw a parade centered solely around their prized recruit, James Wiseman. He even gave James a lot of the credit for helping to round out the class.

“You have to have some help and some luck,” he said Tuesday while discussing the Tigers’ recruiting class. “Of course James, getting James, him coming to Memphis, him playing for me, jump-started everything because the guys wanted to play with him as well.”

So about a month ago, local artist and Memphis supporter Melony Walker came up with the idea to put together an event thanking Wiseman for all he accomplished since moving to Memphis about two years ago.

The event involved Wiseman and his family cruising around town, all in separate Corvettes, with music blasting and fans lining the streets, culminating in a pep rally at Wiseman’s school.

Would something like this have taken place if Wiseman had chosen, say, Kentucky instead of Memphis?

“I don’t think so,” fellow Memphis signee and East teammate Malcolm Dandridge said.

[Commercial Appeal]

I’ve gotta agree with Malcolm on this one. Getting a top ranked recruit around here looks less like a parade and more like your average Tuesday.

@JayWinkKSR


Best NBA Landing Spots for UK Prospects

With the NBA Draft quickly approaching, the Wildcats will make their presence known once again at the event. P.J. Washington, Tyler Herro, and Keldon Johnson all are slated to be selected in the first round of the 2019 NBA Draft. Here is the best (and worst) landing spots for all three prospects.

P.J. Washington

Best Landing Spot: Miami Heat at pick No. 13

While this may be a bit low for Washington considering that I’ve seen some mock drafts have him selected in the 9-11 range, this is still easily the best spot for him. Plus, he is still a lottery pick which isn’t all that bad. The Heat are a franchise with a well-respected head coach and front office. Living rich in Miami is also pretty ideal for anyone.

However, this is a franchise in transition. The Heat’s best players (Hassan Whiteside and Goran Dragic) both have player options as free agents this summer. Plus, Dwayne Wade is retiring and Udonis Haslem will probably join him as well. This is a team that needs an influx of young talent. The bad news is that at pick No. 14, who knows who will be left over by then. Washington may be the best player available.

Whiteside might finally be on his way out of Miami, which means the frontcourt will need added depth. James Johnson and Kelly Olynyk underwhelmed last season as well. Who knows, if Washington goes here and Whiteside leaves, we could be seeing an all-Kentucky frontcourt in Miami with Bam Adebayo and Washington. It doesn’t get much more ideal than that.

Worst Landing Spot: Charlotte Hornets at pick No. 12

The Hornets are notorious for picking blue-chip college talent only to completely waste their talents. Remember Malik Monk? Cody Zeller? Frank Kaminsky? Michael Kidd Gilchirst? The list goes on. Point is, if you get picked by Michael Jordan you are probably going to be misused and turned into a bust of a pick. Also, don’t forget that star Kemba Walker is probably on his way out of Charlotte as a free agent in the offseason. The Hornets are about to be a very, very bad team next season.

Fit-wise, picking Washington would also not make much sense. They already have Zeller and Kaminsky who will be returning. The Hornets badly need a guard considering that Walker and Jeremy Lamb are unrestricted free agents. This is a franchise that has been poorly ran the past decade, could be terrible next season, and it features a roster with several terrible contracts. Personally, I’m tired of seeing Charlotte ruin talented players from Kentucky. Let’s hope it doesn’t happen again.

Tyler Herro

Best Landing Spot: Boston Celtics at either pick No. 14 or No. 22

I know this may seem a bit too obvious, but I really think Boston is the best fit for Herro. First off, this is another great front office and good head coach that a Kentucky player would be going to. Danny Ainge was an incredibly cocky and intensely competitive player in his playing days. Him and Herro seem like they were destined to be together.

More importantly, the Celtics need better three-point shooting from their guards. The entire basketball world knows that both Kyrie Irving and Terry Rozier will most likely be on their way out of Boston this summer, so the need for shooting in the backcourt should skyrocket. Herro seems like a guarantee to be selected somewhere between Boston’s mid first-round picks so it makes a ton of sense that the Celtics will select him. That city in particular will love Herro’s spunkiness. It’s up to Ainge to make it happen.

Worst Landing Spot: Brooklyn Nets at pick No. 17

Brooklyn may be an up and coming team in the league, but Herro going here would make no sense at all. The Nets are stacked with talented guards who are all good shooters. What they badly need are wingmen and depth in the frontcourt. It seems like a sure thing that Brooklyn won’t take a guard here, but any team in the league could possibly pick the best player available when they pick. The Nets could love Herro and want to stash him away on the bench for a few seasons. The fit just isn’t right here at all.

Keldon Johnson

Best Landing Spot: San Antonio Spurs at pick No. 19

Of course, going to one of the best franchises in NBA history seems a bit too obvious as an “ideal landing spot.” However, I really do think it’s the perfect location for Johnson who has became a bit of a divisive prospect over the past few months. Some mock drafts have him going towards the very end of the first round which would be quite the fall for a player that started out the season as a unanimous top-ten guy. Going to play for the Spurs would be an amazing situation to fall into not only because of the organization but because of the fit as well.

Rudy Gay is an unrestricted free agent this summer and will surely leave a big hole at that hybrid 2/3 position. That’s exactly what Johnson is as a player. Shooting guard Quincy Poindexter also will probably be leaving this summer so at the very least Johnson will be able to provide depth for the Spurs at that swingman position. The Spurs usually only pick players who showcase solid defensive potential which is great news for Johnson. As a playoff team, San Antonio is pretty stacked everywhere except for its frontcourt depth. But at this point in the draft, teams don’t get their choice of who they want. All the good big guys should be picked by now, plus Johnson is probably going to fall to here. For his sake, staying in the top 20 and going to the Spurs is more than any young player could ask for.

Worst Landing Spot: Cleveland Cavaliers at pick No. 26

Yuck. To be fair, this would be a terrible franchise for any young player to land at. The front office is incompetent at the moment, and they have a rookie head coach from Michigan in John Beilein. The Cavs had no idea how to handle rookie guard Collin Sexton last season. Also, they earned the fifth pick in the draft which means they are going to miss out on a lot of the top prospects. Johnson is versatile enough to be a “fit” on any team he goes to. That means that it all comes down to which franchise will get the most out of him. Cleveland is not that team. Considering that he might fall to the high 20’s, the Cavs might have a chance to pick Johnson. For his sake, hopefully Cleveland goes in another direction.


Careful what you tweet, future NBA players

A reality of modern life is that if you’re looking for a job, you should probably make sure your social media feeds are as sparkly clean as can be. Anyone who’s watched the news recently has almost certainly seen a story about a firing or just a public shaming over a years old tweet. So prospective employees, make sure there’s nothing incriminating tied to your online presence.

Future NBA players, that goes for you too.

Keldon Johnson and Tyler Herro have both already made sure there’s nothing for trolls to dig up from their internet pasts, according to a new report by the Herald Leader.

“I don’t have that many posts,” Keldon Johnson said. “I only have Instagram. I only have about five or six posts. I know there’s nothing up there that’s bad. So I’m fine.”

Likewise, Tyler Herro said a pre-Combine review meant his postings would pose no problem.

“I had someone do that for me,” he said. “I didn’t know what was deleted. I just know my Twitter is clean now.”

[Kentucky.com]

Wait, is combing through future pro athletes social media posts a viable business? Herro sure made it sound like a professional handled his.

I might just have to invest.

@JayWinkKSR


Benny Snell is adjusting well to the “speed” of the NFL

Rebecca Mehling | Pittsburgh Steelers

Just because Benny Snell Jr. gets to play for a historically smash-mouth NFL organization doesn’t mean he gets to play slowly.

The Steelers’ rookie running back may have been a bit star struck when he first arrived in Pittsburgh, but he is quickly learning what it means to be an NFL player, which is to say, you have to work hard and learn fast.

“The game’s, like, really fast,” Snell told reporters in Pittsburgh. “You just gotta be able to go at your own pace but you gotta be able to learn and get better every day… It’s really about learning from each experience.”

Experiences like, for example, playing alongside a future Hall of Famer that Snell grew up watching, Ben Roethlisberger. But Snell isn’t just there for an autograph.

“Right now, I would say I just take it as a teammate thing,” Snell said. “I don’t really [have] time to look and be like, ‘Oh, that’s Ben!’ I got things I gotta do. This is my job now. I take it all seriously, 100 percent. Hopefully one day I’ll be able to sit down with him and chat it up, but it’s all business right now.”

[DK Pittsburgh Sports]

And business, as they say, is booming.

@JayWinkKSR


Is Nick Richards’ return more important than EJ Montgomery’s?

While all eyes and ears have been focused on EJ Montgomery and his ongoing decision between a sophomore season and a chance at the NBA, another question mark is being partially overlooked. Nick Richards is facing the same decision as his teammate, and while his potential may not be as high as Montgomery’s, is Richards’ decision more important for Kentucky’s future?

At least one person thinks so. National basketball analyst Corey Evans, of Rivals.com, claims Nick Richards’ decision will have a larger impact on UK’s success next season than EJ Montgomery’s. Off the bat, Evans is clear he believes Montgomery is a more skilled basketball player. On the other hand, Richards brings something more unique to the Cats’ roster – his height.

As it stands now, Richards (who’s 6-foot-11) is the only player listed above 6-foot-8. His ability to block shots and protect the rim is something we’ve seen glimpses of, and we know the potential is there, based on his wingspan and some of the more-impressive blocks we’ve seen throughout the past two seasons. Has he blocked as much as fans would like or as the coaching staff may have expected? Probably not. But he did finish the season with 47 total blocks (1.3 rejections per game), more than any other player on the roster. He was followed by PJ Washington’s 43 and Montgomery’s 38.

While EJ Montgomery and Nate Sestina will play more-similar styles, Richards’ is the only guy on Kentucky’s current roster who has this particular skill set. Here’s how Evans puts it:

“For Kentucky’s sake, though, Richards is a big body that can rebound and alter shots, assets that not many on its current roster can claim to do, which would be the perfect complement to the wealth of perimeter firepower set to enroll.”

Evans goes on to point out Richards’ age – he’ll be 22 years old by the time next year’s Draft rolls back around. Even though he’d be junior Nick Richards, he’d already be the age of most graduating seniors.

For me personally, Montgomery’s potential and build still puts him highest on my priority list of returners. Aaron Torres even calls him the most important stay-or-go prospect in the Draft. And yet, Corey Evans makes an excellent point in singling-out Richards’ individual assets that are unfamiliar to the rest of Kentucky’s roster.

Kerry Blackshear Jr. is listed at 6-foot-10, and his presence in the front court could have a massive impact on the Cats’ success next season. But much like Richards and Montgomery, his future is still viewed as a question mark, and there seems to be growing suspicion he’ll try his hand at the NBA Draft.

There’s also a distinction to be made between a sophomore Montgomery, a junior Nick Richards and a grad transfer Kerry Blackshear Jr., as Kentucky has seen what a few years of experience can do for the locker room and down the stretch of the season. None of these guys are the same as Reid Travis, but it’s reasonable to compare their levels of experience, especially under the spotlight that comes with UK Basketball.

The NCAA’s deadline for players to withdraw from this year’s NBA Draft and retain their college eligibility is 11:59 p.m. this Wednesday.

[Rivals]


The voice of Auburn football and basketball passes away

Todd Van Emst/AU Athletics

Rod Bramblett, the “Voice of the Auburn Tigers,” and his wife Paula both passed away due to injuries suffered during a tragic two-car accident on Saturday night in Auburn.

Bramblett was airlifted to UAB Hospital in Birmingham where he later passed away.

Auburn Athletics released the following statement Saturday night:

Rod Bramblett, the Voice of the Auburn Tigers, and his wife, Paula, were involved in a serious car accident early Saturday evening in Auburn.

“We ask the Auburn Family to keep the Bramblett family in your thoughts and prayers.

Bramblett was famously known for his call during the 2013 Iron Ball or “The Kick Six.” His line, “Auburn’s going to win the football game,” is one of the most famous lines in modern college football.

The Big Blue Nation sends our thoughts and prayers to the family and friends of both Rod and Paula Bramblett.

 


Today on KSR: So, What Now?

Image result for tumbleweed

Last night, Kentucky’s softball season ended in the Super Regionals for the third straight season, ending all major spring sports at UK this season and sadly, the party is over. We now enter the worst time of the year for college sports fans as we await the return of college football in 98 days.  So, what do we as Kentucky fans do now?

How about looking back on the fact that the 2018-19 season in athletics was one of the best, if not the best, in Kentucky history.

  • A thrilling 10-win football season, that was capped off with a Citrus Bowl Victory.
  • UK started 2019 Nationally ranked in 10 different sports.
  • A share at the SEC title in Volleyball for the second straight season
  • A Conference USA championship in soccer with an appearance in the elite eight
  • An elite eight appearance from Kentucky basketball team with big wins over, Kansas, Tennesee, North Carolina, and Louisville.
  • A farewell to one of Kentucky’s beloved athletes Maci Morris
  • Another historic season for softball with record-shattering performances by players like Abbey Cheek and Alex Martens
  • The opening of Kentucky Proud Park.
  • A Succesful NFL draft that saw Josh Allen go in the top 10 to the Jacksonville Jaguars
  • Mitch Barnhart winning Athletic Director of the year.
  • Oh yeah, and we watched all of this at KSBar.

What a year. Don’t be sad that it’s over, just be happy that it happened.

Now, here’s what’s on the docket for today.

Jodie Meeks and The Raptors are heading to the NBA Finals

Last night, as I took a pre-game nap before the Kentucky softball game, The Toronto Raptors won their first Eastern Conference Championship in Franchise history, as they beat the Bucks 100-94. Toronto will go onto face the Golden State Warriors (sigh) in the NBA Finals.

For the first time in seemingly ever, Kentucky will have a player in the NBA Finals. Jodie Meeks will head there with the Raptors, and Boogie Cousins makes his first finals appearance as well with Golden State. The only question for Boogie is if he is healthy enough for a return in this season’s NBA Finals.

This also means that we will have another week full of Drake memes and sideline antics, but hey if Toronto can somehow beat the heavily favored Warriors to end the Drake curse so Kentucky can win another national championship, I’m all for it.

Not only does all of America root against Golden State, but it looks like all of Canada will be too.

Giannis is Confused

The NBA is so fun to watch, just for the funny little things like this.

Most times when players walkout mid-press conference, it’s usually through frustration, but it’s evident in this video the Greek Freek just misunderstood Khris Middleton in their season-ending press conference. Middleton gave Giannis the go-ahead nod to answer the question while Giannis though Middleton was signaling him to leave. The confusion on Middleton’s face says it all, and I can’t stop laughing.

What Will EJ Do?

On a more serious topic, it has lately become evident that EJ Montgomery may be closer to the draft than we thought. Once EJ put his name in the draft, we thought he would for sure test the waters, then return for this sophomore season at UK. But, as time has gone on, it’s become more evident by the day he may be leaning towards staying in the draft.

He is lowering the bar for himself, seemingly by day for reasons to stay in the draft. It went from first round draft pick, to now he wants a second round guaranteed deal to remain in the draft. Tony Delk even came out yesterday and said he believes EJ will stay in the draft.

UK on one shoulder, NBA on the other, what will EJ do? He has until the end of May to decide.

The best thing from the internet you’ll see today

Think your favorite teacher is the coolest? Nope. This professor in this viral tweet has taken that claim. With his resemblance to Walter White and these awesome in-class experiments, it has me thinking I may transfer to whenever this guy is teaching. So watch this to start your Sunday on a positive note.

Happy Sunday, BBN!


@BrentW_KSR


KSR Shop: Register to win a special gift package!

KSR Shop: Register to win a special gift package!

The KSR Shop and Kentucky Branded have a neat gift offer right now. Through Monday, you can register to win a Kentucky-Americana gift set valued at $100! Package includes a watercolor racing flag, Kentucky graphic tumbler, Kentucky watercolor flag tee, and a fun Kentucky trivia book.

But that’s not the only offer this Memorial Day weekend. The KSR Shop and Kentucky Branded are also offering 20% off on everything else.

Hurry and sign up for this great gift package before Monday. Also stock up on KSR, UK, and State Pride apparel to complete your summer wardrobe.

[KSR Shop]