Media Day unofficially opened the NBA season today, meaning we got to hear from the 31 Kentucky players on NBA rosters for the first time this season.
With so many players and so many quotes, we narrowed it down to the best of the best moments from throughout the day:
Malik Monk got things started with a fantastic quote about growing up now that he has a puppy at the house. If he oversleeps even by 30 minutes, his Neapolitan Mastiff named Bear will pee on the floor:
Hornets' @AhmadMonk says his dog, a Neapolitan Mastiff named Bear, is helping make him a better player. “I look at life differently; it’s like I’ve got a kid now." #BBN #BuzzCity pic.twitter.com/DNL43wV2kA
— ExCats (@ExCats) September 24, 2018
We wrote about it earlier, but Enes Kanter made headlines this afternoon by talking about his nipples at New York’s media day…
— TLSM (@TLSportsMedia) September 24, 2018
Kanter added that the Knicks PR department frequently tells him he needs to “think before (he) tweets.”
Unfortunately for them, they’re going to have to let Enes be Enes.
Enes Kanter says the Knicks PR department tells him frequently: "Think before you tweet!"
— Tommy Beer (@TommyBeer) September 24, 2018
Devin Booker, sporting a sleek green splint following his right-hand surgery this summer, said he’s a big fan of unicycles.
LOL Devin Booker on unicycles: "I'm a big fan. I've never been on one, but I'd like to try one someday."
— Gerald Bourguet (@GeraldBourguet) September 24, 2018
Devin Booker with the green splint. “It’s a fashion statement,” he says with a grin pic.twitter.com/nVsB7O1CYi
— Gerald Bourguet (@GeraldBourguet) September 24, 2018
Speaking of injuries, we also got another taste of #VandoWatch today, bringing back memories of last season.
Denver Nuggets president of basketball operations Tim Connelly says Jarred Vanderbilt has “fallen in love with the weight room,” though there is still no timetable for his return.
Connelly on Jarred Vanderbilt : “Jarred is looking really good and has fallen in love with the weight room.”
There is still no timetable on his return either.
— T.J. McBride (@TJMcBrideNBA) September 24, 2018
Like Vanderbilt, Brandon Knight of the Houston Rockets is dealing with an injury that will keep him out for a while. Rockets GM Daryl Morey says he’s going to miss training camp and the entire preseason.
"He's gonna be out for training camp and preseason. He has an infection (in his knee) that's clearing up." – Morey on Brandon Knight #Rockets
— Alykhan Bijani (@Rockets_Insider) September 24, 2018
Now onto strictly basketball stuff…
Anthony Davis kept it simple: he’s focused on winning games and becoming the most dominant player in the league this season. No big deal.
Anthony Davis is focused on 2 things this season
2) Being the most dominant player in the NBA pic.twitter.com/FaxiDVpgM5
— Def Pen Hoops (@DefPenHoops) September 24, 2018
He also discussed his recruitment of former Kentucky big man Julius Randle, where he said it was an easy job to bring him from Los Angeles to New Orleans.
Anthony Davis on his recruitment of Julius Randle:"When it came to me that he wanted to come here, my job was easy….Honestly, I just told him everything we had…I'm excited about that move (to add Randle to the roster)."#Pelicans
— Scott Prather (@Scott_1420) September 24, 2018
Randle told reporters it was the “perfect situation” for him, and that he plans on making this a long-term home for him.
"This is going to be a lot of fun….this is the perfect situation for a basketball player,"
— New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) September 24, 2018
It was also an opportunity to see DeMarcus Cousins in his new get-up, where we also got a status update on his injured Achilles and his rehab.
— NBA (@NBA) September 24, 2018
Warriors GM Bob Myers says DeMarcus Cousins (Achilles) will be re-evaluated in a month, is on schedule and he is not being held for the playoffs. "We're not holding him back," Myers said.
— Marc J. Spears (@MarcJSpearsESPN) September 24, 2018
Rajon Rondo also sported his new gold-and-purple uniform as a Los Angeles Laker, and it still doesn’t feel right to me.
Lakers’ Rajon Rondo in his new duds pic.twitter.com/5jBjf2snE9
— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) September 24, 2018
Some guy named LeBron James complimented his new teammate, saying Rondo is “one of the most cerebral players, smartest players” he’s ever competed against.
He then said it was great to finally play with someone who can “match wits” with him.
LeBron on Rondo: “Rondo has always been one of the most cerebral players, smartest players … and one of the most competitive players I’ve competed against.” Said he can see some of himself in that, and used to think it’d be crazy to team up w/someone who can match wits.
— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) September 24, 2018
We got to see Shai Gilgeous-Alexander in his new No. 2 uniform for Rondo’s cross-town rival, the Los Angeles Clippers.
— LA Clippers (@LAClippers) September 24, 2018
If you look on the back, you’ll notice SGA has the coolest jersey in sports history.
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) September 24, 2018
Former Louisville guard Terry Rozier couldn’t help but talk about his former college coach’s new Twitter account.
Terry Rozier on following Rick Pitino’s new twitter account: “He gets me going in the morning.”
— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanHoops) September 24, 2018
So yes, Mr. Rozier is a Pitweeto. Case dismissed.
— Jack Pilgrim (@JackPilgrimKSR) September 22, 2018
Training camp opens tomorrow. Gametime, baby.
Oh, you thought Benny Snell was the only one that was going to get an award campaign this season?
Now, Kentucky star linebacker Josh Allen has a campaign of his own ready to roll: DraftJosh41len.com
The official UK Football account released the following hype video this evening:
— Kentucky Football (@UKFootball) September 24, 2018
Similar to Snell’s website, SnellYeah.com, Allen’s site breaks down his statistics, highlights, player comparisons, and more. He may not have the Heisman hype Snell does, but you better believe Allen has the highest draft stock of any Kentucky player on the roster, especially after UK’s huge win over Mississippi State.
The goal with this campaign? Get the Wildcat pass rusher all the accolades and NFL draft hype he deserves.
Head on over to DraftJosh41len.com to see for yourself.
By KSR on ©September 24th, 2018 @ 9:00pm
Another week, another win. The Cats completely demolished the Bulldogs of Mississippi State and the KSR Football Podcast is here to talk about it all. Charles Walker, Austin MacGinnis, Drew Franklin and Nick Roush will help you celebrate the win, prepare for South Carolina and…
— Credit MacGinnis for hyping up the crowd.
— Charles’ 12-0 season prediction is still alive.
— Could Anthony Davis block an Austin MacGinnis field goal?
— Only Hannibal Lector rips off faces better than Darius West.
— ‘Tucky Towels need to be at every game.
— Benny Snell is the best, but Josh Allen is not far behind.
— Jake Bentley won’t graduate until he loses to Kentucky two more times.
Get the podcast delivered to your phone by subscribing to “KSR Football Podcast” on iTunes or via Android’s Podcast Addict app (just search “KSR Football Podcast”). You can easily listen on the KSR App, available on iTunes and Google Play , and streaming online is simple through Pod Paradise.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©September 24th, 2018 @ 8:00pm
Go figure, Benny Snell is ready to prove more doubters wrong.
In an interview on the Paul Finebaum Show this afternoon, Kentucky’s star running back talked about his team’s upset victory over Mississippi State and what he thinks about those choosing South Carolina to defeat his Wildcats on Saturday.
“Every week, every game, I’m chomping at the bit,” Snell said. “I’ve got a chip on my shoulder, this team’s got a chip. We’ve got some doubters to prove wrong.”
Snell even got back to his third-person ways, talking about who he is as a person and what drives him to compete every day.
“Benny Snell, he’s a hard runner. He’s got the heart of a lion. I love football so much, it’s the love of my life. I like having fun. I’ve been doubted, I’ve been doubted ever since I came out of high school. Coming into college, me being overlooked, it’s nothing new for me. I forever have a chip on my shoulder, I forever have to prove haters wrong.”
Finebaum also asked Snell about his Heisman campaign, where he said he certainly hears the noise, though he’s going to continue to put his team and victories first.
“It’s a long time coming, a blessing,” he said. “But we have to keep winning games, we’ve got tough opponents. It’s all about those fourth quarters, that second half when you’re tired. Striving to fight to the finish.”
Check out his incredible interview below:
By Jack Pilgrim on ©September 24th, 2018 @ 7:30pm
Mark Stoops’ alloted 24 hours of celebration for the Kentucky Wildcats are over. His football team had their time to party following a massive upset victory over No. 14 Mississippi State, but now, the UK head coach says it’s time to turn the focus toward South Carolina.
“After 24 hours after the win, we go right back at it and are focused on USC. We spent a lot of time on them today. There are still so many things we can do better,” Stoops said in his weekly call-in show.
He singled out Mississippi State’s lone touchdown drive of the night, one where the Cats gave up four third-down conversions and a short Nick Fitzgerald touchdown run. On two of those conversions, one being a third-and-five and another a third-and-13, Kentucky gave up passes of 15 and 24 yards for first downs.
“We didn’t play that drive,” he said. “We totally didn’t execute, we gave them that.”
Beyond those seven points, the Wildcats played a near-perfect game on defense, highlighted by star outside linebacker Josh Allen. On the season, the senior has been just about as dominant as you could hope for.
Allen, who was a preseason All-SEC selection and a candidate for the Bednarik and Butkus awards, leads all active SEC players with 17.5 sacks to go along with 26 tackles for loss. He has already managed 25 total tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, three sacks, four quarterback hurries, two pass breakups, and a forced fumble in his first four games this season.
Against Mississippi State on Saturday, he destroyed the competition, earning SEC Defensive Player of the Week honors in the process. When you combine the ten yards he racked up in tackles for loss, along with the false starts and holds he forced against MSU, Allen’s play resulted in over 50 negative yards by the Bulldog offense. One of his quarterback hurries also resulted in a thrown interception by Fitzgerald.
“He only got credited with a few hurries, but he was threatening their offense every time it was a predictable pass play,” Stoops said tonight. “There were six pre-snap penalties on guys lined up against him alone. Josh was affecting their quarterback all night long.”
Kentucky’s stud on the other side of the football, Benny Snell, leaped into the Heisman race with a 165-yard, four-touchdown performance against the Bulldogs on Saturday. This evening, Stoops acknowledged just how special he is to the team and defended his superstar back for speaking his mind on social media and in interviews.
“Benny plays for the team,” he said. “He truly cares about his teammates and wants to play really well for them. Benny’s heart is in the right place. He believes in himself, what’s he supposed to say? “I’m not going to run for a ton of yards?” I’d rather say “woah” than “giddy up.”‘
Following the victory, the Cats moved up to No. 17 in the AP and Coaches Polls, with several media outlets raving about their potential as an SEC East sleeper pick. Stoops believes no team is perfect from start to finish throughout the season, though he feels his team is capable of stacking up against any opponent.
“Without a doubt, they deserve to be recognized (in the polls),” he said. “We beat two ranked teams, they’ve played undefeated football. … Through 12 weeks, teams are not going to play at their peak all 12 weeks. The best teams win even when they’re not at their peak, and we’re trying to be that way. We’re deeper, and we do have a more mature team.”
He’s preparing this team to compete in every game, no matter what logo is on the opponent’s helmet. He believes they have a chance to win every time they step onto the football field.
“We compete to win every game we play,” Stoops said. “We strive to compete in every single game. We don’t look at the season and pick a number of wins as our goal for the year. We don’t have goals on there as far as wins and losses. If I say we’re supposed to win ten games, does that mean I expect us to lose two? We’re prepared to win every game we play. I’m proud of the way we prepared, I’m proud of the work we put in throughout the week. It’s hard to describe the kind of stress these players go through, seven days a week. We spend so much time mentally with these players because there’s so much that goes into it.”
A major factor in the victory over MSU had to do with the crowd’s presence at Kroger Field on Saturday. Stoops called out the Big Blue Nation to not only come out in full force against South Carolina, but to top the 60,037 announced attendance from Mississippi State.
“Without a doubt (the fans) made a difference. They affected the outcome of the game,” Stoops said. “Our composure was a big piece of the game last week. With a crowd almost at capacity, it was key for our team to stay composed throughout the game. This Saturday we really need the stadium to be filled again for another big game. …We need it upped again this week.”
Overall, he understands there are some issues to be fixed, but he is proud of how far they’ve come from this summer, to fall camp, to today.
“I was extremely confident in this team because I saw how hard they were working,” he said. “I saw how important this was to them. I’m proud of this team. We have a long way to go, but I’m proud of what we’re doing right now.”
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©September 24th, 2018 @ 6:30pm
Kentucky’s ranked No. 1 in preseason polls by Blue Ribbon, The Sporting News, ESPN, CBS Sports, and The Stadium, but NBC Sports’ Rob Dauster has the Cats No. 2 in his Top 25, which came out this morning.
Dauster believes Kansas is the best team in the land heading into the season, citing the Jayhawks’ experience and talent. As for the Cats, he says they’ll be plenty of fun to watch, but raises questions about defense.
“As always, there is quite a bit of turnover on the Kentucky roster. Six key pieces from last year are gone, while the Wildcats bring in yet another loaded recruiting class. I think the combination of incoming backcourt talent and the remaining front court veterans is going to be a fun combination for Kentucky fans to watch, especially when Stanford grad transfer Travis is factored into the mix. The big question for Kentucky is going to be how they can put a team on the floor that can both shoot and play the kind of elite-level defense we all are expecting. Cal has plenty of weapons, and it will be fascinating to see how he decides to deploy them.”
It’s worth noting that John Calipari didn’t even install his defense for the Bahamas games. Considering that and how tenacious Ashton Hagans and Immanuel Quickley already look on the defensive end and I think the Cats will be just fine.
By Nick Roush on ©September 24th, 2018 @ 5:30pm
Kentucky received two commitments in less than 12 hours after the victory over Mississippi State. Junior college cornerback Brandin Echols and quarterback Amani Gilmore weren’t the only high profile players at Kroger Field Saturday night.
There were multiple members of Kentucky’s 2019 class in town for the game. Two linebackers were on their official visits, KD McDaniel and Taures Payne. McDaniel, a Georgia native, was the first 2019 commitment and is currently the second-highest ranked player in the 2019 class. Payne is a junior college transfer that currently plays with Echols at Northwest Community College in Mississippi.
The highest-ranked member of UK’s class, Moses Douglass, brought a teammate to the game. Isaiah Gibson was in the Kroger Field stands just three days after committing to Kentucky.
— Isaiah Gibson (@IsaiahGibson75) September 22, 2018
There were also plenty of talented in-state recruits in Lexington. J.J. Weaver is not just one of the best remaining 2019 recruits on the board, the four-star defensive end is one of the nation’s top pass rushers. I’m sure Josh Allen’s performance was an eye-opener for the Louisville Moore star. Weaver will return for an official visit later this fall.
Most of the recruits were underclassmen. Junior quarterback and legacy recruit Beau Allen was in the building. John Young, a four-star junior offensive tackle from Louisville Christian Academy, saw Kentucky beat up a physical Miss. State team in the trenches. Another young talent from Louisville, Male wide receiver Izayah Cummings, tried on a Kentucky uniform during his visit.
Another junior quarterback was blown away by Kentucky’s performance. Michael Wright, a three-star pocket passer from Atlanta, left Lexington typing in all caps.
— ?Mike Wright? (@mikewright2020) September 23, 2018
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©September 24th, 2018 @ 5:00pm
Terry Wilson was a guest on ESPNU Radio after Kentucky’s win over No. 14 Mississippi State and aptly summed up the Cats’ momentum right now.
“I think of an avalanche,” Wilson told host Jeff Rickard. “We’re rolling right now.”
Wilson attributed this team’s success to the chemistry and camaraderie between the players, a common refrain we’ve heard from Stoops and others this season.
“We’re so close as a team. We love each other and we fight for each other. We do the little things right and we go the extra mile. It definitely shows. These dudes care and we have a lot of veterans on this team, so it means a lot to them.”
— College Sports on SiriusXM (@SXMCollege) September 24, 2018
Another cool note on Terry: yesterday, he did an Instagram Live in which he invited young fans to chat with him about the game. The video isn’t up anymore, but we’ve seen some screenshots floating around:
Good on ya, Terry.
By Drew Franklin on ©September 24th, 2018 @ 4:00pm
There is some excitement in New York with the addition of Kevin Knox to the Knicks’ rebuild of young talent. Knox had an outstanding summer and he is expected to be a major contributor in the team’s push for a return to the playoffs for the first time since 2013.
Enes Kanter is very excited about the possibility of a postseason. Speaking at the Knicks’ opening of training camp on Monday, Kanter said, “When I think of the playoffs, my nipples get hard.”
— SportsNet New York (@SNYtv) September 24, 2018
TMI, Enes. TMI.
By Nick Roush on ©September 24th, 2018 @ 3:00pm
I hope you haven’t made any plans for New Year’s. After Kentucky’s dominant 28-7 win over Mississippi State, multiple college football experts are picking the Cats to play in the Outback Bowl.
Three different outlets predict the Cats will return to the Outback Bowl in 2018. Brett McMurphy picks the Cats to play Michigan State, Sporting News predicts a matchup with Wisconsin and ESPN’s Mitch Sherman foresees a duel between Kentucky and Michigan in the Outback Bowl.
If Kentucky is invited to the Outback Bowl, the game will take place on the 20th anniversary of UK’s only other appearance in the New Year’s Day game. Tim Couch’s Cats took a 14-3 lead in the first quarter before ultimately falling to Penn State 26-14.
Not everyone projects UK to the Outback Bowl, but a few others believe Kentucky will play on New Year’s Day in Florida. SB Nation (vs. Wisconsin) and 247 Sports (vs. Michigan) are projecting UK to appear in the Capital One Citrus Bowl in Orlando.
Not everybody is buying the Kentucky hype. ESPN’s Kyle Bonagura must have forgotten Kentucky played in the Music City Bowl last year, because he picked them to return to Nashville to play Boston College. CBS’ Jerry Palm has Kentucky playing Kansas State in the Liberty Bowl, giving the football team a chance to avenge the basketball team’s NCAA Tournament loss.
Until the haters start believing in Kentucky, I’ll feast on bloomin’ onion.