Thursday night’s NBA Draft went surprisingly well for the Kentucky Wildcats. Once considered a fringe first →
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©June 22nd, 2017 @ 10:00am
UK Football just unveiled the 2017 schedule posters, including one dedicated to the program’s in-state players. If you haven’t noticed yet, Kash Daniel is in full-on WWE superstar mode:
Check out all seven posters, which will be available at Krogers statewide starting on July 15.
The offensive line, aka “The Big Blue Wall”:
Josh Allen and Denzil Ware:
Only 72 days until football season.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©June 22nd, 2017 @ 9:55am
Good morning, everyone, and welcome to the Thursday edition of Kentucky Sports Radio. Today, the gang is at the Sleep Outfitters in Henderson to get you ready for tonight’s draft. Tune in to hear all the latest, along with their take on Rick Pitino’s letter to supporters and Matt’s interview with Katina Powell. If you can’t make it to Henderson, the gang will be in Owensboro tomorrow to wrap up leg one of the KSR Summer Tour:
06/12/17: Prestonsburg – StoneCrest Golf Course
06/13/17: London – Sleep Outfitters
06/14/17: Russell Springs – Lawless-Smith True Value Supply
06/15/17: Somerset – Ashley HomeStore
06/16/17: Lexington – Don Franklin Auto Mall 06/19/17: Danville – Dexter Insurance
06/20/17: Leitchfield – Future Designs Building Materials
06/21/17: Louisville – Academy Sports + Outdoors
06/22/17: Henderson – Sleep Outfitters
06/23/17: Owensboro – Don Moore Automotive Group
Join in on the fun by calling (502) 571-1080.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©June 22nd, 2017 @ 9:00am
A message from our friends at Barleycorn’s…
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1. It’s Draft Day
Believe it or not, Draft Day is finally here, meaning that twelve hours from now, we should know the fates of at least three Wildcats. De’Aaron Fox, Malik Monk, and Bam Adebayo are all expected to go in the first round, Fox and Monk certainly in the lottery. Of the remaining Cats that declared, Isaiah Briscoe and Isaac Humphries probably have the best chance of hearing their names in the second round, although that’s a long shot.
2. Where Fox, Monk, and Bam stand in the latest mock drafts
The best part about Draft Day? It’s the last day we have to deal with mock drafts for a while. Here’s where the Cats lie in the major mocks right now:
|De’Aaron Fox||Malik Monk||Bam Adebayo|
|Draft Express||5. Sacramento||8. New York||18. Indiana|
|Chad Ford||4. Phoenix||11. Charlotte||17. Milwaukee|
|Sports Illustrated||5. Sacramento||8. New York||19. Atlanta|
This is Jonathan Givony and Chad Ford’s Super Bowl, so expect those to be updated throughout the day as rumors fly.
3. Calipari will be there
Cal is taking a timeout from his head coaching duties in Colorado Springs to fly to New York to be a proud papa for the night. As you might expect, he’s scheduled to spend some time with ESPN’s team of analysts, which includes Rece Davis, Jalen Rose, Michael Wilbon, and Jay Bilas. Don’t worry, I’m already preparing a Bingo board so you can keep track of all of the predictable things he’ll say.
4. Watch the Draft with KSR
ESPN’s coverage of the Draft begins at 7 p.m. ET, but that will likely include at least 30 minutes of pre-draft coverage. We’ll start the KSR LIVE BLOG a few minutes before the real action begins. In the meantime, keep refreshing because we’ll have the latest rumors, mocks, pictures, videos, etc. as we continue the countdown.
Speaking of ESPN’s coverage, for some reason, they’ve got Rece Davis reporting from the bathroom at the Barclays Center:
Rece Davis, who usually works out in our overcrowded Green Room lavatory vestibule, Draft preps in high style. pic.twitter.com/T71LqDvWlN
— Jay Bilas (@JayBilas) June 21, 2017
Not sure what that’s all about.
5. Kevin Knox withdraws from the U19 Team
We were all looking forward to watching Kevin Knox play in the FIBA World Cup, but unfortunately, that’s not going to happen. Yesterday, Calipari announced that Knox tweaked his hamstring in practice Wednesday morning and will withdraw from the U19 team and return to Lexington. It’ll be a bummer not to be able to see him play this summer, but as Cal pointed out, having him at full strength this fall is much more important.
6. Hamidou Diallo and PJ Washington looked great last night
With Knox on his way back to Lexington, all eyes turn to Hamidou Diallo and PJ Washington, and last night, the two Cats dominated Team USA’s scrimmage. Yesterday morning, it seemed like Washington might be headed home early too when he sat out practice with a sore back, but he rallied to put up 10 points and 7 rebounds last night. Diallo led all players in the scrimmage with 22 points off 8-10 shooting, 4-5 from the free throw line. Here are some highlights courtesy of Kyle Tucker:
7. Check out the latest OTT Podcast
ICYMI last night, Fake Barney and I fired up the ole podcasting machine to draft the best NBA cities. Citing a fear of natural disasters and murder, Barney drafted Miami, Manhattan, and Los Angeles with his first three picks, which is just as ironic as it sounds. Meanwhile, I took Denver, New Orleans, and Chicago because food and views. If you’re looking for a way to pass the time before the draft, listening to us debate which is better, Cleveland or Detroit, is certainly a way to do it.
While you’re at it, check out the latest Kentucky Thrones Radio podcast, along with the KSR Baseball Podcast and Freddie’s Depth Chart Podcast. All can be found on the KSR Podcast feed on iTunes/Podbay/Sitcher/Itcher/Etcher/Etc. Speaking of…
8. Did you see the latest “Game of Thrones” trailer?
— Game Of Thrones (@GameOfThrones) June 21, 2017
Only 24 more days.
9. Katina Powell will be on “Hey Kentucky!” tonight
Matt tweeted out this sneak peek of their interview, and I must say, kudos to Katina for sporting red and black. Her troll game is strong.
10. KSR is in Henderson
Come on out to the Sleep Outfitters in Henderson to hear Matt, Ryan, and Drew talk about the draft, Matt’s interview with Katina, and Rick Pitino’s ridiculous letter to UofL supporters. Because it really was ridiculous.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©June 21st, 2017 @ 11:00pm
Tomorrow night, at least three Kentucky Wildcats will hear their names called in the NBA Draft, a moment De’Aaron Fox, Malik Monk, and Bam Adebayo have dreamed of their entire lives. Not only is being drafted the culmination of years of hard work for the players, it’s a testament to the countless sacrifices made by their families.
Every year on the night before the draft, I like to go back and revisit each player’s story to fully appreciate what the moment means. As Kentucky fans, we feel like we know these players better than anyone, but on the eve of the biggest night of their lives, let’s look at the blood, sweat, and tears that got them here.
In a way, De’Aaron Fox has his older brother Quentin to thank for getting him into basketball. Quentin is five years his senior and just before De’Aaron turned two, really got into basketball. The family was gathered at his grandmother’s house for Thanksgiving when De’Aaron noticed Quentin playing, and, like many little brothers do, De’Aaron picked up a plastic pumpkin bucket used for trick-or-treating to mimic him.
“It was just hilarious,” Lorraine Fox told Bleacher Report’s Reid Forgrave. “It was like, ‘OK, son, that’s not a basketball.'”
From there, Fox was hooked. He also played football when he was young (it was Texas, after all), but gave it up when he got tired of practicing outside in the unforgiving heat. Fox’s speed is undeniable, but his mind moves just as fast. Like many kids his age, Fox also loved video games, playing NBA2K as early as fourth grade for hours on end. Whereas gaming is often associated with lazy nerds, Fox and those around him credit the countless hours with controller in hand for sharpening his hand-eye coordination, concentration, and analytical thinking on the court.
Fox is predicted to go anywhere from second to fifth in tomorrow night’s draft, his most likely landing spot being Sacramento at No. 5. In a draft not short on stars, he’s emerged as the media darling thanks to his thoughtful, candid personality. The more Fox talks, the more Kentucky fans miss him. Not only did he tug on our heartstrings with an emotional tribute to his teammates in the locker room after the loss to North Carolina, he’s not afraid to speak his mind when it comes to topics like LaVar Ball. He really endeared himself this afternoon when he said of Kentucky, “We actually go to class, not like some other places.” Oh, snap!
De’Aaron will probably always be the player we wish we had gotten to know better earlier, but he’ll also be one to make us proud for years to come.
As the tattoo on his chest will tell you, Malik grew up in “The Woodz,” aka the basketball courts in Lepanto, Arkansas, a tiny town with a population of 1,893. There’s nothing flashy about Lepanto — its poverty rate is more than double the national average — but Malik considers it home, even after his mother decided to move them to Bentonville to be closer to his older brother Marcus and expand his opportunities.
“Escaping Lepanto was always the goal. Malik just did it early,” Ron Crawford, the longtime president of Malik’s AAU team Arkansas Wings Elite, told the Memphis Commercial Appeal. “He would’ve been the hero of the town, but he wasn’t learning anything. I know a lot of people, it hurt their feelings when Malik left, but it changed his life. It changed his life as far as his vision.”
Malik’s vision prompted him to pick Kentucky over Arkansas despite relentless pressure from Razorback fans, who envisioned him following in his brother’s footsteps as a home state hero. But when Malik made his decision, his family stood behind him 100%. So did the Big Blue Nation, his new family.
“Kentucky fans made one thing crystal clear to me: They had my back,” Malik wrote in a letter in The Players’ Tribune. “No one made me wait until the fall, until I got to Lexington, to be accepted into Big Blue Nation. Man, it was just right off the bat: Like, Once you’re one of us, you’re one of us. And whether it was defending me on social media … or sending me messages about how excited they were for me to come play there … or alums getting in touch and letting me know what an amazing experience was in store for me in the fall … it really helped a lot. It helped turn an extremely tough situation into an extremely positive one. And it helped me realize that, just by committing to Kentucky, I was already a part of something special. And I’ll never forget that.”
Malik proved to be the most electric scorer in college basketball last year, lighting North Carolina up for 47 points back in December. Projected to go anywhere from sixth to eleventh, Malik will be a valuable asset for whichever team picks him, a player that can scorch opponents on almost any night. Most mock drafts have him going to the Knicks at No. 8, and even though New York City is a far cry from “The Woodz,” all you have to do is take one look at that tattoo to remember what got him there.
Bam’s story has always centered around his mother, Marilyn. When Bam was seven, Marilyn moved them from the rough streets of Newark, New Jersey to the backwoods of North Carolina where she grew up. The two stayed with Marilyn’s sister until she got a job as a cashier at the Acre Station Meat Farm in Pinetown. Bam and Marilyn moved into a trailer nearby, and while she worked long hours, he played basketball. Bam was always a big kid — by now you know he earned his nickname by turning over a coffee table when he was one year old — but by age 13, he was already 6’6″. As Bam continued to draw attention for his size and power, his mother worked even harder to make sure he had what he needed.
“She fought for us,” Adebayo told Sports Illustrated’s Brian Hamilton. “She made it happen. She made it work. . . . Growing up in a trailer, you think everything you get is good. I always thought it was a gift from God, because some people are out here struggling and on the street. We had warmth. We had clothes. We had a roof over our head.”
There was no greater joy this season than watching Bam’s mother watch her son play. Marilyn, decked out in her custom “Yabba Dabba Blue” shirt, lit up every time Bam had the ball, and when there was a bad call, she made everyone in the stands aware. Who could forget her reaction to Kentucky’s win over Wichita State, in which her son “shut up” the Shockers’ Darral Willis, Jr., who had talked trash about Bam the day before:
Bam Adebayo's mother, Marilyn Blount, after UK's victory over Wichita State. "He didn't shut (Bam) down, did he?! Bam went at him!" pic.twitter.com/uRkR8B1vhD
— Tanner Hesterberg (@TannerWKYT) March 19, 2017
Projected as a late first round/early second round pick a few months ago, Bam went home to North Carolina to think about his decision. After consulting with his mother and family members, he decided to keep his name in the draft. Now, after impressing teams with his shooting, he’s projected to go anywhere from the late lottery to the mid-20’s. Most mocks have him going to Indiana at No. 18 or Portland at No. 20, but after a recent workout with the Hornets, there were rumblings that Charlotte may be interested in taking him at No. 11. I think the folks in Pinetown would be pretty happy with that.
No matter the scenario, can you imagine a better “thank you” than the hug Bam will give his mother once his name is called tomorrow night?
The one and only Big Mick is a meaty masterpiece in its own right. Composed of two quarter-pound patties* of never-fresh, frozen, mostly beef raised close to the processing plant. Only McDowell’s
has the frosted beef and processed cheese to give you a major reason for
the afternoon trip to the secret bathroom only you and Debra know about on the 9th floor that is under construction.
You can be a part of McDowell’s KSR Top 10 Tweets by using hashtags like #KSR #BBN or #KSRtop10. You can also nominate tweets by mentioning them with the hashtag. If we like what we see, it could be posted the next day.
If you are interested in sponsoring KSR’s Top 10 Tweets, please contact us Via Email
— Hebes (@andrewheeb) June 21, 2017
I wanna be the one carrying the bell.
— CeeCee (@kycats606) June 21, 2017
He already looks dead now.
#8 Cameron Manley
@KySportsRadio I am so excited for the UK-UL bball game this year. We need a P.I.P. camera constantly on Pitino from the moment he walks in
— Cameron Manley (@Ctmanley12) June 21, 2017
I almost feel bad for Pitino having to walk in to Rupp this year…wait, no I don’t.
#7 Kristoffer Singleton
— Kristoffer Singleton (@kristoffersing) June 21, 2017
What an excellent parent.
#6 Billy Big Blue
— Billy Big Blue (@Billy_Fey) June 21, 2017
Let’s all hope not.
#5 John Robic’s Hair
— John Robic’s Hair (@JohnRobicsHair) June 21, 2017
Clearly, Ryan is the backbone of this show.
#4 Jamie Tulenko
I absolutely adore the fact that @KySportsRadio‘s mom listens to him on the show each day. What a proud and dedicated parent!
— Jamie Tulenko (@JLTCatFan) June 21, 2017
And it makes for endearing on-air stories too.
#3 Tim N
Meanwhile Big Baller Brand. pic.twitter.com/r3Q6h7G7Qj
— Tim N (@narbstang) June 21, 2017
Shoe Carnival…because LaVar is a clown.
#2 Bucky Small Hooves
Prediction – Cal says what Katina did was the ultimate in servant leadership @KySportsRadio
— Bucky Small Hooves (@BuckyHooves) June 21, 2017
#1 Nick Comella
— Nick Comella (@Comellan19) June 21, 2017
There was one less Wildcat on the court after Kevin Knox left training camp with a tweaked hamstring, but it didn’t prevent the others from dominating the field.
Hamidou Diallo made 8-of-10 field goals to score 22 points in Team USA’s first scrimmage. Most of those came in only 12 minutes and in a variety of forms. Tonight his preferred method of scoring was the “And One.”
Hamidou Diallo is balling tonight. And-one, 9 points in 6 minutes of scrimmage. pic.twitter.com/GqzdnKLq2u
— Kyle Tucker (@KyleTucker_SEC) June 22, 2017
And-one. Diallo still hasn't missed. Now 20 points in roughy a dozen minutes of action. pic.twitter.com/fHY3AhRAq5
— Kyle Tucker (@KyleTucker_SEC) June 22, 2017
John Calipari was pleased with the play from both of his players, especially Diallo. Knox and P.J. Washington are often praised for their versatility, but don’t sleep on Hami.
“He’s playing the one, the two, the three, that’s what he is. He can play any of those positions,” Cal told reporters after practice. “You see him around the rim. You saw we posted him. There’s a lot of stuff we can do with him.”
His other Wildcat teammate wasn’t too shabby either. Questionable to return after tweaking his back in the morning session, Washington put together a complete performance with 10 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists.
P.J. Washington not far behind Diallo for best player on the court tonight. And-one. pic.twitter.com/OdraLC45E7
— Kyle Tucker (@KyleTucker_SEC) June 22, 2017
For more content from Colorado Springs, Kyle Tucker has you covered.
By Drew Franklin on ©June 21st, 2017 @ 9:30pm
The website Bookmaker.eu has a bet that is simply too good to be true.
The bet is on how many Kentucky players will be drafted in the first round of tomorrow night’s draft and the Over/Under is set at 2.5. So, the bet is pretty much asking, “Will Bam Adebayo be drafted in the first round?”
My opinion is a hard yes. Bam will be drafted in the first round. So if you’re like me and believe that to be a lock, throw your kids’ entire college savings on Over 2.5, maybe even the house.
The odds aren’t great, but #FreeMoney is #FreeMoney.
You can also bet the Over/Under on where a player will be drafted. De’Aaron Fox is No. 5 and Malik Monk is No. 8.
(Don’t really bet any more than what’s currently in your wallet. I was kidding. Actually, don’t bet at all.)
By Harold Leeder on ©June 21st, 2017 @ 9:00pm
Editor’s Note: The following was written by Harold Leeder, editor-in-chief of The New Circle Circular, Lexington’s #1 source of fake news you can’t count on.
The ongoing saga of the Governor of Kentucky versus the Courier-Journal continues this week; Matt Bevin used the latest installment of his facebook live web series bashing the Courier-Journal to critique an article penned by none other than former UofL basketball player and john, Russ Smith. Bevin pointed to the open letter as another example of poorly edited writing filled with factual errors.
The letter seems to acknowledge that there was some wrong doing between Katina Powell and Andre McGee but then also suggests that there was no wrong doing and no one should get in trouble. Smith writes “This paints a terrible image of the university and most important my coach, who, for a fact, if he had found out what was at hand or that woman’s business, would have had charges brought upon her, and the people involved would have lost jobs immediately.” This is somewhat ironic since the facts of ‘that woman’s business’ have come out and no one has lost their jobs.
The governor went on to point out other inconsistencies in Smith’s letter printed by the Courier-Journal, “He writes and I quote, ‘We have had plenty of talented kids visit our school, but our coach gives us the decision to choose our teammates.'” After reading the paragraph aloud the governor asked rhetorically, “if Russ Smith was involved with recruiting why didn’t he offer more 5-star recruits? Think of how good they could’ve been.”
For as much as the governor dislikes the Courier-Journal, he openly admits to reading quite a bit of it, “This paper is simply garbage printed on top of garbage, just yesterday I read the entire classified section, and there wasn’t one example of all the jobs I’ve created. And now they’re apparently hiring writers that start sentences with ‘and’ and ‘but’, ridiculous, just ridiculous.”
Smith ended his letter saying, “That’s where I stand. I hope the NCAA reads this and this sheds a brighter light on whatever you may have.” The governor responded by saying, “I speak for all of us when I say, I hope the bright light you shine on this is not a black light, because I don’t want to know what kind of stains you would find.”
Matt Jones stepped aside for five minutes to let Dr. Ricky Jones speak with the Muhammad Ali Center’s CEO Donald E. Lassere. They talk about professional athletes that are following in Ali’s footsteps by speaking out against social injustice, how things have changed since Ali’s death and what’s happening at the Ali Center during the I Am Ali Festival.
Watch the entire episode from the Ali Center after the jump.
On this episode of The OTT Podcast, Fake Barney and I get into the NBA Draft spirit with a different sort of mock draft. Tune in to hear us draft the best NBA cities to live in, regardless of the teams themselves. Highlights include…
— What’s more important in a city: threat of natural disaster or craft beer scene?
— Beach vs. mountains
— What is there to do in Salt Lake City?
— Cleveland vs. Detroit
— Our take on the NCAA’s findings in the Louisville scandal
Click through the jump to see which cities we picked and vote on whose list of cities is the best.
By Nick Roush on ©June 21st, 2017 @ 6:30pm
Two years after the world discovered parties with prostitutes were used to recruit basketball players at Billy Minardi Hall, Rick Pitino is still defending his case. This time it’s in the form of a two-page letter.
The letter was sent to KSR by a little birdie and is addressed to the “Friends of the Ville.” The group is described as “close supporters” of the program, most likely a group of donors. Pitino attempts to use the letter to reassure the close supporters that everything will be alright. He does so by telling his side of the story, or as he puts it, “The truth and the only truth.”
Pitino begins by issuing a New Yorker’s threat to anyone that would do anything to dishonor Billy Minardi’s name. That’s followed by his recollection of the first conversation Pitino had with Andre McGee after the news broke. Still trying to debate the NCAA, he states:
“Did the NCAA enforcement staff believe that Andre would ever tell the truth if we were face to face? Absolutely not. He would have lied and lie some more. He knew what that dorm meant to me.”
Pitino finishes the letter by referencing Bernie Madoff, the Karen Syphor incident and says, “I am not concerned about the outside world and what they think.”
(click to enlarge)
When this scandal started two years ago, Rick was advised to keep his mouth shut. Two years later he still can’t help himself.
By Nick Roush on ©June 21st, 2017 @ 5:30pm
Malik Monk wrapped up his pre-NBA Draft media blitz by making an appearance on The Paul Finebaum Show. Monk’s already dished out a few compliments for the Cats today, but he saved the best for last.
“I don’t think there is a better place than Kentucky,” Monk said. “The experience was great. The best experience of my life so far, of course. I learned a lot there. I learned a lot about the NBA. We basically were the NBA of college, the NBA team of college basketball.”
A quote that can be used as a recruiting pitch for John Calipari, he also shared Cal’s recruiting pitch. It’s pretty simple; Cal tells it like it is.
“Whatever he tells you when he comes to your house for in-home visits, or however he recruits you, that’s exactly how it’s going to be.”
The appeal of Kentucky drew him away from his home state of Arkansas. The younger brother of a Razorback legend, Marcus Monk, Arkansas fans did not hide their hate for Monk once he committed to Kentucky. The criticism does not bother him.
“If they stay mad their whole life I can’t do nothin about that. I’m going to continue to be Malik Monk and focus on my future,” Monk said. “I know the Arkansas fans are being loyal to Arkansas so there’s no hard feelings.”
There were a few other noteworthy media appearances throughout the day. For The Crossover, Monk selected a starting five of former Wildcats to take on the Golden State Warriors. You’ll be surprised to see who he initially left off his list.
Malik Monk puts together a squad of former UK studs to take on the Dubs pic.twitter.com/GKPBAvK2xp
— The Crossover (@TheCrossover) June 21, 2017
If you want to hear more from Monk, he previewed the NBA Draft for 30 minutes on the Hang Time Podcast.
By Drew Franklin on ©June 21st, 2017 @ 4:30pm
A Lexington man allegedly stole $5,000 worth of hair products from Fayette Mall and I’m a little curious as to what he planned to do with all of it.
Seen in his mugshot with a fresh buzzcut, Joshua Campbell has been charged with two counts of third-degree burglary after he was caught on camera pulling off the heist, according to our friends at LEX 18. Cameras caught him take over $2,000 worth of flat irons on Sunday, June 4 after the mall had closed; then he was seen doing it all again a week later at the same kiosk.
As someone who believes in having salon quality hair, I get it. Hair gets results. But maybe don’t steal $5K in hair products from the mall, especially when you’re rocking a $4 haircut. Maybe don’t steal anything, ever.
For quite some time the SEC East has been considered the lesser of the league’s two divisions. Some go as far as labeling it the SEC LEast. Week one matchups offer several opportunities to improve upon or maintain its reputation within the conference and all of college football.
Two neutral site games vs. Power 5 opponents are accompanied by one home matchup against a 1AA foe as well as two road games and two at home vs. Group of 5 opponents.
Let’s take a look:
Florida vs. Michigan, Arlington TX | September 2nd
Michigan is favored by 3. The Gators must find a resemblance of an offense with a new quarterback while replacing 8 defensive starters. Florida’s kicker and punter are excellent; that should make Steve Spurrier proud. Redshirt freshman QB Feleipe Franks or incoming grad-transfer Malik Zaire will compete for the starting job in fall camp. Zaire makes three grad-transfer quarterbacks to call Gainesville home in a very short period of time. At some point in time continually bringing in mercenaries at the team’s most vital position could cause friction.
Michigan was also hurt by attrition. It lost 17 starters, 10 from the defense. This will be a contest of the unknowns in both personnel and team quality. Both teams are talented and extremely well coached. Annually Florida reloads defensively. New coordinator Randy Shannon may not have an overabundance of experience, but his unit will possess elite talent across the board. The Wolverines should be refreshed and bonded from its Italy vacation but may lack the athletes to keep up with the speedy Gators.
Florida Loss Probability: Low
Kentucky at Southern Miss | September 2nd
Kentucky is favored by 12. Former Wildcat offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson put it to his former team a year ago. In a game that was defined by two distinct halves, Southern Miss won the contest by dominating momentum, tempo, and the scoreboard in the 3rd and 4th quarters. Last year’s game was no fluke. Southern Miss out-played, out-toughed, and out-ran the home team.
USM will be without the services of longtime starting quarterback Nick Mullens. But, it returns RB Ito Smith. You’ll read this many more times this summer; Ito Smith is a bad, bad man that must be taken seriously. Reminder, he rushed for 173 on the Cats in 2016. Don’t be logo fooled, Smith will be one of the better running backs that UK will face all year.
The Wildcats are nearly a two-touchdown favorite for the 4:00pm kickoff in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. It’s going to be nasty hot which could benefit the team with the most line-of-scrimmage depth. Kentucky’s offensive line has a dominant advantage in this category. Defensively, not so much which could be a cause for concern; see the Ito Smith and 2016 outcome reference above.
Golden Eagle fans have this game circled on the scheduled as it marks a shot to knock off a SEC team at home. Mark Stoops should have no problem motivating his team after last year’s second half meltdown. September 2nd will be a heated game, and I’m not talking about the 100-degree temperature.
Kentucky Loss Probability: Low-Medium
Georgia vs. Appalachian State, September 2nd
Georgia is a 14-point favorite. The game is between the hedges and the Dawgs have a potent offensive that should be able to score touchdowns in bunches. Only question on that side of the football is offensive coordinator Jim Chaney’s ability to effectively utilize the plethora of talent under his control. Chaney’s play calling a year ago baffled fans, media, and players alike. Here’s a foolproof game plan; hand the football off to RB’s Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. Then, use future NFL QB Jacob Eason to throw play action passes to elite TE’s Isaac Nauta and Jeb Blazevich. Game over. UGA is arguably the most talented team in the East and returns 10 defensive starters off a Top 20 unit a year ago.
Appalachian State is favored to win the Sun Belt Conference. It put a scare into Tennessee a year ago as the Volunteers required an overtime period to win 20-13 in Knoxville. Expect the fearless Mountaineers to put up a valiant fight.
Georgia Loss Probability: Low
Missouri State at Missouri | September 2nd
Spread not available. Missouri State (1AA) went 4-7 in 2016. The Tigers may score 80 in this one with South Carolina coming to town the next week.
Missouri Loss Probability: Extremely Low
South Carolina vs. North Carolina State, Charlotte | September 2nd
North Carolina State is favored by 4. South Carolina is the trendy pick to contend for a division title. The Gamecocks will have their collective hands full in Charlotte. NC State returns 11 starters, 8 of which are on defense. The Wolfpack also sports one of the better defensive lines in college football.
Sophomore quarterback Jake Bentley impressed as a true freshman. He’ll be surrounded by 8 returning starters that include talented and fast skill players that have the potential to light up a scoreboard. Unlike the vast majority of media types, I’m yet to be completely sold on USC. But, I will become a complete believer in the Fighting Muschamps if Carolina consistently blocks the Wolfpack defensive line that’s led by Bradley Chubb (22 TFL, 10.5 QB sacks).
South Carolina Loss Probability: High
Vanderbilt at Middle Tennessee State | September 2nd
Vanderbilt is favored by 9 against a dangerous MTSU team. Two questions surround this neighborly grudge match: 1. How will the Vanderbilt defense cope without the services of All American LB Zach Cunningham? 2. Will MTSU QB Brent Stockstill be fully recovered from a February shoulder surgery?
MTSU beat Missouri 51-45 in Columbia a year ago. Ironically it now has former Mizzou Tiger Walter Brady leading its pass rush. Vanderbilt has 17 players on its depth chart that saw extensive action in 2016. QB Kyle Shurmer and RB Ralph Webb led the Commodore offense to a strong finish to the 2016 regular season before falling flat in a 41-17 loss to NC State in the Independence Bowl. I’d be more confident in the Blue Raiders if Stockstill was completely healthy.
Vanderbilt Loss Probability: Medium
Tennessee vs. Georgia Tech, Atlanta | September 4th
Tennessee is a 4-point favorite. The Champions of Life trophy wasn’t exactly the prize that Volunteer fans coveted going into 2016. Head coach Butch Jones has many sets of shoes to fill after several of his building block stars moved on. For beginners, he has to find a new starting quarterback to fill a void vacated by Josh Dobbs. Furthermore, the program’s all-time leading sacker Derek Barnett now plays his football on Sundays.
Georgia Tech finished last fall much like as senior led team should. The Yellow Jackets beat its archrival (Georgia) then went on to win the Taxslayer Bowl with a victory over Kentucky. Coach Paul Johnson must also find a replacement for his starting quarterback as Justin Thomas finally graduated. Seems as if he’d led that option attack for a decade. But, don’t fret my cut blocking friends, several key offensive pieces are coming back to Atlanta including Clinton Lynch and Dedrick Mills.
Butch Jones will be joined by six new assistant coaches and a bus load of new non-coaching coaches (aka support staff) to prepare for Johnson’s perplexing rushing attack in the offseason. A Tech win would give it three consecutive victories over SEC East opponents (Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee).
Tennessee Loss Probability: Medium
It’s June. Suspension and Dismissal Season hasn’t gotten into full swing just yet. Fall camp injuries will also play a factor in projections changing from now until September. Mizzou is the only team that will be serving dessert in its opener. The other six programs best be on their toes in order to quiet the SEC Least detractors.
By Drew Franklin on ©June 21st, 2017 @ 3:00pm
Anthony Davis took a break from riding roller coasters at Disneyland to grade some of the prospects in tomorrow night’s NBA draft.
And by the looks of his notes, Davis is very high on five very familiar players:
That looks like a perfect A+ for De’Aaron Fox, Malik Monk, Bam Adebayo, Isaiah Briscoe and Isaac Humphries. If he had gone top six, the safe money is on Dominique Hawkins or Derek Willis taking that next spot with another A+ report.
Ya gotta love Davis repping Kentucky any chance he can get. Not only is he the best player, he’s one of the best ambassadors, too.