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SEC Country: Immanuel Quickley gives recruiting update on Zion Williamson and Keldon Johnson

It’s no secret Kentucky’s 2018 recruiting class is expected to grow sooner rather than later. As of today, five-star point guard Immanuel Quickley is the lone commitment for the Wildcats, but names like Zion Williamson, Keldon Johnson, and Bol Bol could pop at any moment.

Kyle Tucker of SEC Country caught up with Quickley to ask him his thoughts on UK’s chances with some of his buddies left on the recruiting board and when they may make a decision.

Quickley opened with his thoughts on Zion Williamson and what he felt about his time at Big Blue Madness.

“He said it was even better in person. He liked it a lot,” said Quickley, who has spent months selling Williamson on their connection from the Adidas AAU circuit and as roommates at several international events. “I think in the end it’ll work. I think Kentucky fits him and I know he liked the visit, so I think it’ll work.”

After Big Blue Madness, Quickley tweeted a picture of both he and Williamson in Kentucky jerseys.

According to Quickley, however, it wasn’t an indication of a silent commitment or anything of the sort.

“Nah, nah, nah,” he said, laughing, “just trying to get one of my good friends to come play with me.”

The latest hot rumor, however, is that five-star forward Keldon Johnson is a heavy Kentucky lean, and a commitment is on the horizon.

Quickley agrees.

“I’ve been talking to Keldon a lot. He says he likes Kentucky a lot, too, so hopefully I can get him to come with me,” Quickley said. “I think Kentucky is definitely his leader.”

A few weeks back, Quickley told reporters a few commitments were coming for Kentucky. Tucker asked him to follow up on those comments, and who he’d like to play with as a Wildcat.

“I can’t say when, but I wouldn’t be surprised if some decisions come before basketball season,” he said. “I’m just trying to get all my friends to come play with me. I just want to play with good players.”

You can read Kyle Tucker’s entire article over on SEC Country here.


WATCH: Everything Matt House has to say about Kentucky vs Mississippi State

WATCH: Everything Matt House has to say about Kentucky vs Mississippi State

Following today’s practice, defensive coordinator Matt House spoke with the media. He previewed Saturday’s game against Mississippi State, plus he talked about Jordan Jones’ return and Josh Allen’s success so far this season.

See everything he had to say here:


@MaggieDavisKSR


Photo by Elliott Hess | UK Athletics

Calipari hints Jarred Vanderbilt could be out longer than expected

Photo by Elliott Hess | UK Athletics

A week ago, John Calipari suggested Jarred Vanderbilt could be back sooner than anticipated from his foot injury. Today, he told ESPN that Vanderbilt may miss the entire year.

“If he’s not 100 percent, he won’t play,” Calipari told ESPN’s Jeff Borzello. “If he can’t get ready this year, then he won’t play this year.”

That update came after Calipari told reporters earlier today that Vanderbilt will be evaluated next week.

“If that evaluation says it, then yes [he could miss more time],” Calipari told Borzello. “My hope is, for him, that he’s able to try it, we watch it, we evaluate it and he’s good to go. A lot of this is putting to Jarred, what do you feel capable of doing?”

Welp. I hope that evaluation goes well.

[ESPN]


Denny Crum’s wife claims Jurich tried to get her fired for bargaining leverage

Denny Crum’s wife claims Jurich tried to get her fired for bargaining leverage

Now that Tom Jurich is out at Louisville, you’re going to hear a lot of negative things about how he did business as UofL’s athletics director.

So let’s go ahead and get it started with a comment from Denny Crum’s wife on Facebook, in which she said Jurich tried to get her fired from her job as a bargaining chip for broadcast rights:

And there is this too, which is the mindset all Louisville fans should have right now…

And so it begins!


Roast A Mascot: Mississippi State Bulldogs

Roast A Mascot: Mississippi State Bulldogs

I’d like to preface this post by saying, I love dogs. Dogs of all different shapes and sizes, they’re all great. I’m sure a majority of you reading this would agree. However, this does not mean we can’t make fun of them from time to time. 

The bulldog was ranked as the third most common college mascot in an article posted by Buzzfeed in 2013. A total of 40 schools use the bulldog as their symbol. Not only is it incredibly unoriginal but it begs the bigger question of: why? Have these schools ever been around a bulldog? Of all dog breeds I’ve been around I’ve never encountered one as lethargic and uninspired as the bulldog.

Normally, I like to use the entirety of this post to cut down another school’s cherished symbol but this week there is no point. For the bulldog, it has already been done for me, in a way that I simply could not outdo no matter how hard I may try.

The bulldog was already roasted on the popular HBO series, Silicon Valley, by actor Matt Ross’ character, Gavin Belson. Belson is a billionaire tech entrepreneur who is CEO of Hooli – the show’s fictional equivalent of Google. Belson often uses animal metaphors in his board meetings and in one meeting he shines light on, you guessed it, a bulldog.

There is no point in trying to reinvent the wheel, so I’ll let Gavin Belson take the reigns and roast this week’s mascot: the Mississippi State Bulldog

Consider the bulldog before the Cat’s take on Mississippi State this Saturday.

“A kindly pet or humanity’s cruelest mistake?”


Calipari: No matter changes to the sport, “You’re helping Kentucky”

Calipari: No matter changes to the sport, “You’re helping Kentucky”

Earlier this week, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said the one-and-done rule’s days are numbered, but regardless what happens, John Calipari says Kentucky will be just fine.

What could take the one-and-done rule’s place? A likely solution would allow players to go to the NBA or the D-League directly from high school or to college for two years. In a lengthy rant, Calipari outlined several issues with that scenario: 1) it would lead to NBA scouts preying on high school players; 2) it would devalue high school academics; and 3) most high school kids aren’t cut out for the D-League.

“I believe these kids should be able to go out of high school,” Cal said. “The problem with that is, the NBA then has to go back into putting scouts in high school gyms when kids are juniors. Then I ask you, how healthy is that for these young kids?”

Calipari actually praised the NCAA for raising academic standards a few years back, which forced recruits to get their academics up to come to college. If the rule changes to where players can go directly to the D-League/NBA, he fears all of that progress will go out the window, and 98% of the players that would go to the D-League wouldn’t make it.

“If you send high school kids to the D-League, how many of them will make the NBA? Give me a number. Five percent? You know that’s too high. Probably two or three percent. What do we do with the ones that don’t make it? Tell me.” 

“We just had the highest graduation rate of basketball players in the history of our sport, the highest African-American graduation rate in the history of our sport. Let’s not throw all this out. Let’s figure out how we tweak this. If there are issues we want to deal with, let’s deal with them.”

Calipari said the D-League should remain a training ground for players who want to get back into the league, not kids who are fresh out of high school.

“My thing is, there’s going to be unintended consequences if we don’t think of these kids. The D-League is unbelievable. I have five or six kids in it right now fighting to get back in the NBA. That’s what it should be for. To have a kid out of high school, on his own, getting up on his own, when mom was waking him up every single day. I don’t know if they’re built for that.”

Back to the one-and-done rule. Calipari wondered who it is actually failing: the players or the coaches who can’t land them?

“Who is this not working for? Is it individual schools? Then don’t recruit these kids. If it’s not working for you, don’t recruit them. Recruit who you want to recruit. You have a choice. If it’s not working for the NBA, tell me what’s not working for the NBA. If it’s not working for universities, tell me what’s not working for the universities. I just need to know. You can’t say it’s not working. Tell me what’s not working. Why, for ten or twelve kids, would we change this whole thing? Just throw it out? Now, I’m saying there are things we can do if we come together.”

One suggestion Calipari had is giving the top 15-18 players every year a loan so that their families could travel to see them play.

“The NBA cares about these kids. So there’s 15, 18 of them, meet with them and their families, and let them have a loan. Let those families have a loan for expenses for families to travel back and forth to games. Let them have a loan. Let the loan go through the university. We can do this kind of stuff.”

No matter what happens, Calipari said Kentucky will eat first.

“I’m going to make everybody mad, so listen closely. If they say, either go to the D-League/NBA or to college, we’re benefitting. [Players] are going to say, do I go to the D-League, am I ready to be on my own? Or do I go to Kentucky for two years and build my brand and win and be a part of this? I’m going to Kentucky.”

He even fit in a dig at Jerry Tipton.

“We’re benefitting. So, you want to go that route? And — Jerry, you won’t be here by then — I will have teams for two years now. I wouldn’t know what to do. I would be whistling and skipping in every practice. I’d have teams for two years. Are you kidding me? The unintended consequence of doing some of this, you’re helping Kentucky. That will change it, so that ain’t happening now.”

Swag.


My view of today's circus.

Calipari: “Behaviors will change” in college basketball following FBI investigation

My view of today’s circus.

As expected, John Calipari was asked a lot of questions today about the FBI investigation into shoe companies and financial advisors funneling money to recruits. Calipari, who said last week Kentucky has not been contacted by the FBI, said he believes the investigation will rid the sport of bad “behaviors” and force the powers that be to reevaluate how to make the sport better for the players.

“Behaviors are going to change now,” Cal said. “You’re not going to go do something because, ‘Am I going to jail?’ That’s the difference. Behaviors will change. The question is, going forward, are we going to make this better for these kids? That’s the question that’s out there.”

When asked if it should be left to the NCAA or law enforcement to monitor agents, runners, and advisors in the sport, Cal once again suggested fear will stop all of that in its tracks.

“Behaviors will change. ‘Who am I talking to?’” Cal joked, pretending to pat down a reporter for a wire. “Behaviors will change. Believe me. Some of the stuff we’re talking about, some of this stuff — look guys. Behaviors are gonna change. How do we make it right for these kids without saying, these 12, we’re going to change this all because of 12 kids. What? That I don’t get.”

How does Calipari make sure his “house is in order” re: compliance?

“Through the hiring process. One of the things is, the guys you’re hiring are basketball coaches that are are into what we’re doing, that are into the kids. That also know our culture and how we do things and it is different. From managers on up, you meet with them, you talk to them about it. I have good people around me and I feel good about how we do what we do.”

 


He Gone: Tom Jurich fired by Louisville

Tom Jurich has been fired.

The UofL board of trustees deliberated for several hours Wednesday afternoon before coming to a 10-3 vote to permanently remove him as the university’s athletics director. The firing came three days shy of the 20th anniversary of his hiring; thus ending a long, scandalous era of UofL athletics.

Vince Tyra, a UK grad and former Wildcat baseball player, is the new AD in the Ville.

Sports radio will be electric in the coming days.


WATCH: Calipari tells Finebaum about his young team

WATCH: Calipari tells Finebaum about his young team

John Calipari did a brief interview with Paul Finebaum before jumping into the SEC Basketball Tipoff media room Wednesday afternoon.

His message to Finebaum: Kentucky is a young team.

“My hands aren’t on the panic button,” he said on the show. “Both feet are on the panic button, but my hands aren’t there yet. We are really young.”

Cal also reminded us his program isn’t for everybody; it’s a hard process with so much youth; and they’ll eat together if the team wins, but if some guys play for themselves, they’ll starve.

See the entire interview:


PGA Tour coming to Lexington area next summer

The Lexington area will welcome a PGA Tour golf tournament next summer when the Barbasol Championship comes to town. Keene Trace Golf Club will host the tournament, which will move to the Bluegrass from Alabama, and will be played opposite the Open Championship.

The event was announced Wednesday afternoon at Keene Trace in a press conference that included Governor Matt Bevin, who said, “Being selected as the latest PGA TOUR stop is a significant development, and we are excited to showcase the greatness of Kentucky to golf fans from around the world. It will be an incredible honor for Kentucky to host these individual and corporate guests each summer. From this day forward, the PGA TOUR can join us in saying: ‘We are Kentucky!’”

The 2018 Barbasol will be played July 16-22 on the Arthur Hills-designed Champions course in Nicholasville, approximately 10 miles from downtown Lexington. It had previously been played at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail Grand National course in Opelika, Alabama.

The tournament will carry a purse of $3.5 million and award 300 FedExCup points to the champion. Officials are looking to make the 2018 Barbasol Championship a regional celebration that showcases the Bluegrass State and area attractions, including its famous horse farms and distilleries.

The tournament is expected to have an economic impact in excess of $20 million.


Knox named to Julius Erving Award Preseason Watch List

Knox named to Julius Erving Award Preseason Watch List

Kentucky’s Kevin Knox is one of 20 college basketball players in the early mix for the Julius Erving Award, presented annually to the top small forward in the country. Knox hopes to become the first Wildcat to win the award; although, it has only been around for three years, so there are lots of schools that have never won it. The three previous winners are Villanova’s Josh Hart (2017), Michigan State’s Denzel Valentine (2016) and Arizona’s Stanley Johnson (2015).

Here’s the entire list of early contenders for 2018:

Rawle Alkins Arizona
Kelan Martin, Butler
Jacob Evans, Cincinnati
Gary Trent Jr., Duke
Zach Norvell Jr., Gonzaga
Kevin Knox, Kentucky
Deng Adel, Louisville
Justin Jackson, Maryland
Bruce Brown Jr., Miami
Miles Bridges, Michigan St.
Michael Porter Jr., Missouri
Tyler Hall, Montana St
Jeffrey Carroll, Oklahoma St.
Troy Brown Jr., Oregon
Vincent Edwards, Purdue
De’Monte Buckingham, Richmond
DJ Hogg, Texas A&M
Kris Wilkes, UCLA
Mikal Bridges, Villanova
Markis McDuffie, Wichita St.
Trevon Bluiett, Xavier

The list will be cut in half in mid-February and then trimmed down to five finalists in March. The winner will be presented at the ESPN College Basketball Awards Show in Los Angeles on April 6. Players do not have to be on the watch list to win the award until the five finalists are announced.

Go Knox.


The Cats are on their way to SEC Media Day

@KentuckyMBB

It’s lunchtime here at SEC Basketball Tipoff, and while reporters shove free food in their faces and complain about the lack of space, Hamidou Diallo and Wenyen Gabriel are somewhere in the air between Lexington and Nashville. Both players are expected to address the media around 4 p.m. ET before making the rounds with the SEC Network and ESPN. Judging by all of the players thus far, they’ll be wearing their warm-ups with jerseys underneath. It’s a little strange.

Meanwhile, John Calipari will begin his 30-minute chat with reporters at approximately 3:35 p.m. ET. In true Calipari fashion, he released a blog post on CoachCal.com earlier today describing how “painful” practice is right now due to his team’s youth:

I’m loving my team’s attitude, willingness to be coached, and its attention and focus throughout practice. When you’re trying to develop new habits it really takes time, and we’re trying to create both team and individual habits that will help us in March. But right now, it’s painful.

My anxiety is always twofold: Knowing where individuals are now and where they must go to be the best version of themselves on and off the court, which includes practice, is one anxiety I always have – and I do with this group too.

The other anxiety I have is playing as a team, building the team, and trying to do both at the highest of high levels. That’s what makes Kentucky what it is.

This should be an interesting chat. While we stake our claim on breathing room around his table, caption this picture of him with Rick Barnes and Billy Kennedy:

@KentuckyMBB


Kentucky has Experience in Close Games, Miss. State Does Not

Kentucky is going on the road as ten-point underdogs to face one of the best quarterbacks in the SEC.  The Cats’ backs are against the wall, but they still have one advantage over Mississippi State: experience in close games.

Last week Mississippi State beat BYU by 25 points and it was the closest game they’ve played all year.  They’ve won games by 49, but also lost by 39 and 28 points.  Each Miss. State game has been decided by an average of 34.5 points.

On the other hand, Kentucky’s games have all been close.  An average of only 6.5 points have separated UK from each opponent.  The widest margin of victory was only 11 over EKU.  If Saturday’s game is close, Kentucky can say something State can’t, “play like you’ve been there before.”

What decides those close games?  Offensive lineman Nick Haynes says it all comes down to details.

“The details of certain things in close games are all that matters,” Haynes said. “It can literally be a step, it can be an extra step on a route, it can be anything that causes you to lose a game.  One play.  We don’t know which play it is, so every play you gotta be detailed and focused and know what you’re doing, especially in close games because not many yards separate us, not many points separate us.”

Against Florida, it came down to one point and one slip of the hand that resulted in a holding call on Haynes that pushed Kentucky out of field goal range (a hold Haynes still insists is BS).  Even though it looked like the game was over, Stephen Johnson did not panic.  He completed one more pass to give Austin MacGinnis a shot to win the game.  When the pressure is on, Johnson always remains clam.

“He calms himself down first and then does have that confidence around him that we feel like we’ll be alright,” Haynes said.  “It doesn’t really matter what just happened.  We do it a lot.  We overcome adversity all the time.”

Being in those situations frequently has grayed the hair of many Kentucky fans, but it’s beneficial for the players and play-callers.  Familiarity in high-pressured situations takes the pressure off, according to offensive coordinator Eddie Gran.

“At the end of the day, it’s about what we do out here every single Wednesday [in practice].  It’s live,” he said. “We’re trying to put them in those pressure situations so when you do get to that moment, it’s not so much pressure.  Now you let your fundamentals take over, your technique and you can do your job.”

The pressure increases in hostile road environments, but that’s not necessarily the case with this Kentucky team.  They’ve won five of their last six on the road since they traveled to Tuscaloosa last year.  For a lack of a better term, the team brings an “F U” mentality on the road that starts at the top.

“That stems from the head coach,” Gran said.  “It’s really all you’ve got.  You go, you get on that bus, you get on that plane, it’s going down there, it’s a hostile environment and that’s why you play in this league.  That’s why you play football, for the opportunities to go on the road and come out with a victory.”

If the Cats keep it close in Starkville, they can seize another opportunity and stake their claim as one of the best teams in the SEC.


Five Fun Things To Do In Starkville

Five Fun Things To Do In Starkville

Going to Starkville to watch the Cats this weekend? If so, you’re a better person than I am. I’ve made three trips to lovely Stark Vegas and that is three more times than anyone should.

But don’t let me talk you out of going because Kentucky needs your support in the sea of cowbells on Saturday; I will instead tell you five fun things to do in Starkville when you’re not at the game.

 

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

I got nothing.

Good luck, I guess.


Learn about the many benefits of Anthem Medicaid

Now is the time to find the health insurance plan that is just right for you. Anthem has been around for nearly 80 years in Kentucky.

Anthem Medicaid serves members in all 120 counties in Kentucky. The benefits of Anthem Medicaid are endless: coverage for all ages, no copays, free eyeglasses for children and adults, the only Medicaid plan offering adults both glasses or contacts every year, free over the counter medicines with a prescription, and so many other benefits. Open enrollment runs from October 16 to December 15. To choose Anthem Medicaid call 855-306-8959 or visit benefind.ky.gov.