Howdy, folks, and welcome to a new week. It was a huge weekend for the →
On this 4th of July weekend most of the country was captivated by the US Women’s National Team, who destroyed Japan 5-2 to take the World Cup title and bring it back to the good old USA for the first time since 1999. The Women’s Team dominated the Cup defensively and had the offense kick in just in time in the Finals to make the victory a rather easy one and allow for celebration all over the United States. There aren’t enough times in our country when women’s sports are highlighted, but when they do and people can rally around them, it is always a great moment. The 1999 team’s World Cup victory may have been one of the signature moments ever in women’s sports and while this one didn’t seem to quite be on that level in terms of cultural significance, it was nevertheless a huge that garnered big ratings throughout the country. Congrats to the team and I hope everyone celebrated winning it all on our nation’s birthday weekend. What could be more patriotic…:
What to look for in the day ahead:
2016 Recruiting Heats Up
This week marks the start of the key stretch of summer recruiting for high school basketball stars as the July period hits its massive crescendo. The Peach Jam strikes at the end of the week and for John Calipari, his massive travel schedule all around the nation begins. UK is looking at an odd situation in 2016. The class is absolutely loaded, with a ton of top talent but the elite of the elite don’t necessarily have Kentucky as their top choice. The three best players in my view (Jayson Tatum, Harry Giles and Josh Jackson) all played this week for Team USA in the Under-19 World Championships and they were a force to watch. They were the leaders (along with Jalen Brunson who will play this year at Villanova) for the team winning the Gold and they showcased why the could end up one day being all top 5 Draft picks. Unfortunately, Giles will probably stay in his home state (North Carolina with Duke or UNC), Tatum seems to favor Duke and Jackson likes Kansas/Arizona. UK is on all three, but none seem to be favoring the Cats and thus Calipari will have to strike with others in the deep class. He has offered 12-15 kids so far and over the next two weeks, we should get some more indications of just who out of that group will be the most likely future Wildcats to come to Lexington.
If you don’t yet have the KSR iPhone App, get it, because it is probably the best thing we have done. We send out alerts on it to your phone (only for big things) and the app allows you to visit the site in ways you never have seen. We have more features coming this fall, and you can already listen to all the Podcasts by one click of the button. So just do it…download it and if you have an Android phone, trade it in for an iPhone…its worth it.
Kash Daniel picks the Cats
So Kentucky straight Kash homie on Saturday in the shortest Signing ceremony in the history of recruiting. It was over in 4 minutes and Kash picked UK and we were all happy. He also talked a little UL trash right after it (which I loved) and cemented his place with the Wildcats in what should be one of the best classes we have seen in our lifetimes. The class is ranked 13 on Rivals and if they get JUCO OL Tate Leavitt, could move into the Top 10. Either way, there are so many players committed that if they are kept together, the staff will only have a few small holes to fill, a great spot to be in this early in the process. Kudos to Mark Stoops, Vince Marrow, the Coordinators and Assistants for a job well done.
The news late Friday of Aetna’s purchase of Humana made me slightly nervous. As you can see from the chart above, Humana is our biggest company in the state and the worry about the 12,000 jobs leaving the city of Louisville is one that has been discussed throughout the city over the weekend. Early indications are that some of the business will stay and government officials say they are cautiously optimistic…but one thing that is obvious in such situations is that you never know at this stage how things will go when a new company takes over. We just have to hope that one of our state’s best corporate citizens can still remain a key part of the community.
NBA Summer League
I wrote last night about watching Andrew, Aaron and Dakari this weekend in their first NBA Summer League games so I won’t go over that ground again (just scroll down and take a look), but all those guys are back in action over the next two days. They each are playing big minutes for their team and in Aaron’s case, he moved aside the starting PG and is now at that position for the Charlotte Hornets. Even though the other UK guys (and Julius Randle and James Young) will take the court later in the week, the three players with the most at stake are playing crucial games right now…they may be some of the most important they will have and I am hoping they continue the solid level of performance we have seen thus far.
Before you get your week off to a start, check out these two articles on KSR done by the Hopkinsville paper and writer Chris Jung. The first is a good description of the KSR Tour stop in Hopkinsville and goes into some detail about what you could expect if you came to one…and the other is a Q and A with me in which the writer asked me my thoughts on Rick Pitino, Pat Forde, Kyle Tucker and a ton more. Both are worth checking out if you are a KSR fan.
We go this week to these 5 places with the KSR Radio Tour. Come see us:
Monday: Morganfield Southern States
Tuesday: Grayson Simply the Best Restaurant
Wednesday: Pikeville Bank 523
Thursday: Williamson Appalachian Wireless in the Williamson Mall
Friday: Kentucky Speedway
I am a sucker for the NBA Summer League and have been for the past couple of years. It comes at that time of the year when nothing else important is on television sports-wise (I love watching the Tour de France, but more for its nap-inducing qualities and the announcers’ voices). This year KSR will be making a trek to the Vegas Summer League, but play has already begun in Orlando, with a few teams kicking off their play. Thus, I spent a few hours this weekend watching the games involving the UK guys and I must say, I thoroughly enjoyed them. It turns out that the Orlando league includes the three players from UK in the most precarious position (Andrew, Aaron and Dakari), and since it is likely you spent the weekend oding something besides watching Summer League basketball, I decided to give you a review of what you missed:
Of the three, Andrew looked the most NBA-ready and based solely on what I saw in Orlando, the most likely to make the team. The Memphis Grizzlies had Andrew in their starting lineup and played him a ton of minutes, although surprisingly most of it was at the Shooting Guard position. This may have been due to the fact that the Grizzlies also have Russ Smith and his height requires him to play the point, but regardless Andrew spent most of his two games at the two guard. He played both games consistently and his stats reflected it. Andrew had 10 points in the first game, 9 in the second, but most importantly fit into the flow of the play well. He attacked the basket when it was available, made a number of good passes, was serviceable on defense and limited his turnovers while averaging around 24 of the 40 minutes a game. His team plays up tempo (at least in the Summer League) and that served him well, allowing him lanes to attack and he did a great job making decisions both games as to when to go to the rim and when to pass. I divide Summer League players into two categories…those that look like they belong in the NBA (about 20% of them) and those that don’t (the rest). Andrew was in the first group and seems likely to me to find a way onto the roster.
It was a tale of two games for me for Aaron Harrison as my opinion changed dramatically between Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday Aaron scored 10 points, and started strong. But then as the game went on, he seemed a bit out of sorts, lost on defense and never totally in the game flow. Part of this was due to his team, as Frank Kaminsky was dominant for most of the game (he was the best player I saw over the two days worth of games…much to my surprise actually) and PJ Hairston shot the ball constantly (and poorly) thus dominating most of the action. However whatever concerns I might have had on Day One dissipated on day 2, was Aaron was great in the game against his brother for the Charlotte Hornets. He had 16 points, 8 assists, started the game at Point Guard (on Day One, he came off the bench playing Shooting Guard) and truly found his rhythm. He shot the ball poorly from outside both days (he only made one three pointer, calling to mind Jay Bilas’s Draft Day comments that Aaron is a shooter who isn’t making shots), but he attacked the rim perfectly and totally dominated Russ Smith (who guarded him) on the offensive end. Reporters who cover the Hornets were tweeting about how Aaron looked like he belonged in preseason camp and he was probably the story of Day Two. It was a much needed good performance from a kid who wants to shake off the disappointment of Draft night. Through two days, Aaron seems to be on track to take the next step.
Dakari only played one game over the last two days and it was starting at Center for the Oklahoma City thunder team. He was solid, 7 points and 11 Rebounds, and if you watched the game, you saw a lot of what he did at Kentucky. He took up space down low, played solid defense and rebounded well when the ball was in his area. He struggled quite a bit on the pick and roll, and really had difficulty the couple of times he had to guard Kaminsky. However he was solid and looked to be in good shape after the Draft. He fared better than the other former Cat on the Thunder, Marquis Teague (who didn’t play and wasn’t even wearing the same shorts as the rest of the team) and the fact that he started was a good sign. But the best player on his team was Mitch McGary and Dakari simply blended in with a good performance. I have no idea what his future holds and I want to see him play a couple of more games…but if you believe his likely role in the NBA is a long-term backup Center in the league, he did nothing to suggest that couldn’t be achieved through his first game in the Summer League.
All three players have a number of more games and will each have to make more strides to make their teams. But for all three, especially Aaron, the weekend seems to have been a success, which is very good news.
The 2016 High School recruiting class is one of the best in the last 10 years. At the top of the class are five guys of tremendous talent and three of those (Harry Giles, Jayson Tatum and Josh Jackson) would potentially be the top three picks in next year’s NBA Draft if they were eligible. All three are playing for Team USA in the Under-19 World Championships and all three are starting because of their tremendous talent. The Cats are recruiting all three and would love any to end up in Lexington, including Jayson Tatum. His explosiveness is unbelievable and he has had a tremendous week dunking on everyone…well except until today’s finals. Tatum went to the basket against Croatia and…well he ended up on the receiving end of the block of the year.
It was a fun weekend in Lexington with a couple of major events going on, including the Red, White and Boom concert that has become such a major festival in the city. I however spent most of the weekend participating in one of my favorite events of the year, the Children’s Charity Classic Golf Tournament and the Greenbriar and Andover Country Clubs. The Children’s Charity Classic raised $670,000 for various charities benefitting children in Kentucky and finished its 35th year in the Bluegrass. It is a two-day tournament that sees various celebrities come to Lexington to play golf and help raise money for a great cause. The picture above came from the musical cabaret that featured Matthew Mitchell and a number of other great musicians entertaining the crowd. If you ever get a chance to be a part of the event, I would wholeheartedly recommend doing it and even if you don’t, hopefully we can do another “LIVE” radio show from the course as we did on Friday (an all-timer in terms of random KSR Radio shows).
With that, it is Monday so let’s get going:
— This is a little bit of the calm before the storm as we head to a week that should be relatively news free. The football coaches are getting their last bit of time off before they start the massive push towards the season and the start of football practice. Most of the coaches and players have been given one last break before the grind begins and thus football news should be relatively sparse. For Kentucky, most of the focus this week is on recruiting as Kash Daniel will make his final decision on Saturday, July 4th. Most people believe it will be Kentucky and if it isn’t, I will be shocked. But it is also worth watching what happens with Offensive Lineman Tate Leavitt, a JUCO player who has offers from Alabama, Auburn and others, but one who many believe has Kentucky as his leader. He will visit in a couple of weeks and if the Cats can get him to commit, it will be the greatest offensive lineman haul in the history of the school (it probably already is, but this would just solidify).
— From the basketball perspective, most of the UK team has arrived or will arrive on campus this week to get going on the season preparation. Tyler Ulis, Isaiah Briscoe, Charles Matthews, Alex Poythress and others are all already on campus and Skal Labissiere and others should be very soon. We should start getting the leaks about pickup games and how the guys are doing over the coming days and we will also hear about their games with former Cats who will be around Lexington over the next few weeks. This is the time of year of unbridled optimism (Josh Carrier doesn’t miss!; Jules Camara has put on weight!; You cannot stop Stacey Poole in the open court!) and is always one of my favorite times.
— It is good to be Devin Booker. This Draft night picture makes me laugh for a number of reasons, not least of all is the state of his tie after what I am sure was a long night
— Wimbledon starts today, which probably matters to you very little but should matter to you much more as it is one of the three best sporting spectacles I have ever attended (the first two are Final Fours and the Ryder Cup in 2008). I sat courtside and watched a young Venus Williams and a then-popular Anna Kournikova after staying up all night and “queing” up outside the hallowed grounds. This year the story is if Serena can win the slam and Federer could somehow take one more before he retires. But even if you don’t watch (and most of you will not), take a second to read this David Foster Wallace (simultaneously one of the greatest and most overrated writers of our time, and unfortunately now deceased) piece on Federer…probably the best article ever written on the sport of tennis.
— Last week was one of the biggest news weeks in many years…the Confederate flag, gay marriage, Obamacare, the two guys who escaped from prison getting caught, etc. But it might have been easy to skip over the funeral of Cincinnati Police Officer Sonny Kim. Kim was killed in the line of duty 10 days ago and his funeral last week was according to those that attended, a special event. You can read more about the proceedings here and the pictures, videos and scenes from the memorial, funeral procession and day’s events in the city are extremely powerful. Citizens of Cincinnati and the surrounding area have raised over $180,000 in the memory of Officer Kim since his killing (and you can donate to the fund here) and that act alone is enough to make one have confidence of our basic common good when so much of media attention is spent seeming to show our difficulties and divisions. In a time when there is so much disagreement, it is worth celebrating those that every day go out of their way to try and protect and serve, especially when that service leads to the ultimate sacrifice. The city of Cincinnati rallied around the family of one such individual in our area last week and we shouldn’t let the larger news around the nation overlook that important act.
— Finally, KSR sponsors a little league All Star team and they are making some noise. The South Lexington Blue All-Stars just finished in 1st Place in the Battle of the Heartland Fireball Classic in Adair County this weekend after a clutch 10-3 victory in the final game. Like KSR, the South Lexington Blue All-Stars save their best work for the big moments and as they continue this summer, we hope they keep getting victories and representing KSR on the field with gusto. Congrats on your victory and keep the victories coming! Ice cream is on Drew….
You have probably been hearing a good deal recently about drones. I admit that I know little about them except that I hope one day to use them as a way to not have to go to the grocery store or mall. But until that day comes, we will have to settle with this use of commercial drones. Triple Crown Drones (a company in Kentucky) used a drone to showcase the state of the new Commonwealth Stadium renovations. They sent the drone over Commonwealth and filmed what it saw, creating the You Tube video below. The video shows the stadium is gorgeous, but also not yet done (and I am told some parts won’t be done yet by the Opening Game). Still it looks great and it is going to be a fun year…and as far as the drone…well, It is a brave new world we live in.
By Matt Jones on ©June 28th, 2015 @ 8:31pm
I heard some good scuttlebutt this weekend that is worth sharing. A couple of sources tell me that the NBA is close to finalizing a deal that would make the Sacramento Kings and New Orleans Pelicans play an exhibition game in Rupp Arena the night after Big Blue Madness. The game would of course bring Anthony Davis, Willie Cauley-Stein and Demarcus Cousins (if he is still on the team) back to Rupp and likely allow them to be in town for Big Blue Madness the night before. It would then be part of a mega-weekend that would make Lexington the place to be…Kentucky vs Auburn on Thursday night (Oct 14) at Commonwealth…Big Blue Madness on Friday night…Keeneland on Saturday during the day…and then Saturday night with the Kings vs the Pelicans.
That is a massive sports weekend and if it finalizes, get your hotel room now.
By Matt Jones on ©June 27th, 2015 @ 10:19pm
Chad Ford is the ESPN.com NBA Draft guru and spends his life getting ready for the day when the Draftees step to the stage and find out their NBA fates. I have always found Chad to be intelligent and have strong insights (except when he said James Young was a good passer), and there is probably no person who knows more about the Draft than he. On Friday, Ford recorded a podcast with Ryan Russillo (who I also like quite a bit) reviewing the Draft and he talked about the UK players and Calipari. While discussing Booker, Ford said, “If I had a kid who was a NBA level player, I would definitely send him to Calipari.” He was agreeing with a point made by Russillo, who had said that Booker would be ready for his NBA role as a shooter since he had a similar role at Kentucky, and noted that no coach better prepared his players to get to the next level and succeed than Calipari.
While some people like to try and ignite BBN in a debate of “Win titles vs the Pros” (I am looking at you Patty Forde), the reality is that both are not mutually exclusive. And no matter where you stand on the issue, comments such as those by Chad Ford don’t hurt as Calipari seeks to get the next generation of future NBA Draft superstars to make their way to Lexington. I would suggest you listen to the comments and the podcast as a whole as it is a good breakdown of the UK guys and the Draft in general.
By Matt Jones on ©June 24th, 2015 @ 8:28pm
It has become a busy June night all of a sudden from the UK news perspective. Tonight KSR has learned that Rock Oliver will no longer be the UK Men’s Basketball Strength and Conditioning Coach and has decided to move to an Administrative role working with all UK sports. The move comes after a number of years in the role with John Calipari and the UK Basketball program is currently now looking for his replacement (they have the job opening posted on their site). Rock will remain with the University in an undisclosed administrative role but will no longer be handling the day-to-day conditioning of the UK Basketball team.
I am a huge fan of Rock and he is a great guy who has done wonderful things for the University going back to the early days of Rick Pitino. We wish him the best in his new gig with UK and I personally hope that the new role will mean he can’t embarrass me anymore during the conditioning drills at the Calipari Fantasy Camp.
Welcome to the first of these…our morning posts telling Big Blue Nation to wake up and get ready for the day ahead. Last night we saw Dustin Johnson choke as very few have ever choked before, three putting from 12 feet to miss the US Open playoff by one stroke. Johnson played the best of anyone all day except for short putting, where he was truly awful on the greens in the last 12 holes. It reminded me of my golfing prowess where the inability to make a five footer consistently has rendered me incapable of ever getting really good at golf. For Dustin, this could be the kind of ending that sticks with him as few golfers get the Scott Hoch-esque choke on a short putt that takes away a major trophy. But before we all feel too sorry for Dustin, one reminder that this is his wife, she is Wayne Gretzky’s daughter and he is rich. He will be ok.
Five Things to Start Your Day:
1. Jamal Murray:
We are all waiting on Jamal Murray to make his decision and most of the signs aren’t pointing well for the Cats. In addition to all the Oregon scuttlebutt of last night, I haven’t heard much confidence in UK coming from any recruiting experts or folks in Lexington. But there is still time…generally speaking when Kentucky is going to get a recruit, you will start to see confidence building from Lexington sources and I begin to get a good feeling about the ultimate decision. If that doesn’t happen today, I sense that Tuesday at 6 pm will be a bummer for Big Blue Nation.
2. Draft Chatter:
Karl Towns is clearly going first but for the rest of the UK guys, the roller coaster will really take off in the next two days. There are signs that Willie is slipping (some believe if Sacramento doesn’t take him at #6, he could fall to 11). Devin Booker is rising (hard to see him going past Charlotte at #9) and the take on Trey Lyles is all over the board. It is usually around this time in the process when players get their “wink, wink” guarantees from teams that they won’t let them slip past a certain point. It will be interesting to see if Dakari in particular gets such an assurance as it could be the difference in him staying in the first round.
3. UK-South Florida Tickets Released
The tickets for UK’s game in Miami versus South Florida are on sale and we will have the link to buy them later this morning. While I think UK’s other non-conference games in Chicago, New York and LA will be packed, I wonder about what will happen in Miami for a game that is Thanksgiving weekend, right before the UL football game. My guess is that if you want to see Kentucky up close and personal, you have a chance to get some very good seats today for a doubleheader with the Cats in a place they rarely play.
4. Something to Read
You think referees are crooked? Well then take a minute to read this article from the weekend about former NBA Ref Tim Donaghy. You might remember he was the official who bet on games and went to prison, but in the article he talks about how he has become a savant in Vegas, as he knows what actually goes on that changes outcomes in NBA games. This “insight” includes what referees favor what players, lineup issues and other outside factors that are often overlooked. You may think its a bunch of nonsense, but some of what he says may have a slight bit of merit and it is interesting that in Las Vegas, where money talks, his words are not being ignored.
5. KSR Tour Begins in Prestonsburg:
We start 8 weeks on the road this morning in Prestonsburg at the Stonecrest Golf Course. If you don’t know where we are going on the tour, just scroll down a couple of posts. This is the best time of the year on the radio as these tour shows are always fun and you never really know what will happen. We start in Prestonsburg, where their mayor used to MMA fight and locals argue over whether Johnny Depp’s aunt lives there (I hear the argument every time we visit). It is one of the friendliest places on our tour and we always love going…plus the golf course is great. So listen up at 10 am and if you would like go to KentuckyBranded.com and get a KSR Tour shirt…they are mighty fine. And remember All American recruit Kash Daniel will join us live tomorrow in Paintsville at our second stop…should be very interesting.
That is all…enjoy the morning my friends
On October 24, 2006, I sat down to do a post on KSR about the news of the day. It was late at night and I thought it might be good to summarize what happened in a succinct manner for those that hadn’t been on the website all day. It then occurred to me that with the varied interests that I had, it might also be cool to dedicate a lead-in for those news tidbits, in this case to one of my favorite tag teams in WWF history, the Bushwhackers. And thus the first ever KSR night post was written, “Luke and Butch’s Tuesday News and Views”. The post is worth your click, if for no other reason than to see what we were talking about at that time on this site (Scotty Hopson and Jai Lucas were two of the topics) but to show how far and how little the site has come. That narrative form…the end of the night summarized with the news of the day and the first paragraph on something besides sports, has basically been with us ever since. However this will be the last KSR Night post as we have known it. Because of the change in how we get information, summarizing the days events isn’t quite as important…but because this post was the centerpiece of the site, it took quite a bit of time. So rather than do that, Drew and Tyler will be able to focus on other posts and a new edition to the site, a yet unnamed morning post that will set the issues of the day at 8 am every morning (the first will be tomorrow). It is a small change but one that is meant to better serve the readers and the changing internet. But after nearly 2,000 KSR night posts in its history, I admit to being a little sad to see it go. We go out like we came in…with Luke and Butch and the Bushwhackers. Tomorrow a new era of “morning posts” will begin.
With that said a couple of quick things:
— Many of you are asking me about what Jamal Murray is going to do when he announces on Tuesday. The short answer is, I don’t know. All the scuttlebutt right now comes from Canada and Oregon and it all points to the Ducks. However I haven’t heard that from the folks in Lexington and until I do, I won’t say the deal is done. But I admit that it doesn’t look great at this moment. My guess is that we will find out a lot more tomorrow. IF the Cats lose Murray, it is yet another Spring recruiting second place, a position that Kentucky simply has not been in during the Calipari era. The reasons why vary from being attacked on the platoon system to an odd class of kids to potentially some choices backfiring by the coaching staff. Either way, Murray would be a huge get and if the Cats lose him, it will be disappointing. I do believe however there is another potential addition that could be on the horizon before the season starts…however Murray is the big fish and Tuesday will be an important day for UK.
— While the Murray news could be not the best for UK basketball, UK football got huge news this weekend with the commitment of Marcelys Jones from Ohio State. Jones nearly came to UK the first time out of high school and decided to make the same decision a little later by coming this time after spending one season with the Buckeyes. It can’t be overemphasized how big a get this is. He will join the class of next season and will be the third Offensive Lineman to commit who is an All American…think about that…UK will have THREE ALL AMERICANS joining the team on the offensive line. As best as we can tell, you have to go back to 1979 to get the last three offensive linemen All Americans to commit to Kentucky COMBINED…and now three in one year. It is a massive commitment and will pay dividends in 2-3 years that are huge.
We start the KSR Tour Monday morning but we will have more on that in the new Morning post at 8 am. While the end of the night post really means nothing, I spent hundreds of nights (especially in the early years) writing these as the last thing I did before I went to bed. This being the last one does make me slightly sad but those that have done them for years (me, Drew, Tyler and Beisner before that) it is probably a blessing. See you guys in the morning and at 10 am from Prestonsburg, the first stop of the KSR Blue Lights Across the Bluegrass Tour!
By Matt Jones on ©June 21st, 2015 @ 4:00pm
Well of course he does. In Pikeville a man went to Wal Mart (which is the start to a lot of our stories here on KSR), took milk out of the cooler and poured it over his head, while running around the store naked and screaming that he was on fire. The video is below (and is what you would think) and looks to be a prank that was filmed for fun. But it has led to both men’s arrest and due to the embarrassing publicity coming from the incident, will lead to charges for both of them.
I do love two parts of the WYMT video below…the beginning that opens with “A Shocking Night at Wal Mart….” and later when the police officer was asked about the incident and said, “the first question I have is why…why would anyone do that?” A very philosophical question indeed.
By Matt Jones on ©June 18th, 2015 @ 10:51pm
Don’t say we do not do important things on KSR Radio. Tomorrow on the show, we will be talking UK sports but also having our KSR CEREAL CHAMPIONSHIP. This evening I created our bracket and it is worth noting that my seeds are based more on sales and name brand than taste…the actual voting will go tomorrow on the show. Here it is:
1. Frosted Flakes
4. Corn Pops
5. Cocoa Krispies
6. Golden Grahams
2. Rice Krispies
7. Nut N Honey
8. Cracklin Oat Bran
4. Apple Jacks
5. Cookie Crisp
3. Frosted Mini Wheats
6. Honey Combs
2. Captain Crunch
1. Raisin Bran
8. Grape Nuts
4. Fruity Pebbles
5. Golden Crisp
2. Honey Nut Cheerios
1. Corn Flakes
8. Honey Bunches of Oats
4. Cinnamon Toast Crunch
5. Count Chocula
3. Froot Loops
6. Special K
2. Lucky Charms
7. Shredded Wheat
Get your picks in now…One Shining Moment is tomorrow
UK got some very positive recruiting news today when Marcelys Jones officially decided to transfer from Ohio State. Jones just completed his Freshman year there and after being a High School All American, decided his time in Buckeye land should come to a close. As part of the transfer, he has been given permission to talk to Kentucky and will likely take a visit to Lexington this weekend. I am told by a source that if all goes well, that it is likely Jones will join the Wildcats after the visit and could be a major get here in June for the program. You may remember that Kentucky nearly stole Jones from Ohio State before he became a Buckeye, but the payoff for that recruiting may come slightly later than we had previously thought.
For Kentucky this would be a major pull…this is a High School All-American level Offensive Line talent. He was recruited by all the major schools and decided to stay home and play in Ohio. If the Cats are able to finish this off and make the transfer occur to Lexington, it would be as big of a commitment as Kentucky has had in the 2015 class (even though he is technically from 2014) and major good news here in the dog days of June.
The KSR Summer Tour begins on Monday and it will be a wonderful eight weeks. We are going across the state to our 33 affiliates, the Nascar race at Kentucky Speedway, the Governor’s Mansion and Fancy Farm, with stops all along the way. Because of a last minute schedule change however, KSR needs two interns for the trip. We are looking for college students who have eight weeks to travel, help us with the show, KSR merchandise and just have fun on the road across this state. The internship will be paid and will include some learning (although not a lot), a little selling (we have to push the merchandise) and a great deal of fun. IF you are a young woman or man who has a love of sports and is interested and have eight weeks to spare, please email me at
Include a resume of some sort and why you are interested. Do it quickly however as we must pick a couple of folks very quickly.
After 17 days on the road, I am back from my yearly June swoon and ready for the Summer of KSR. While it may never be quite as good as my time playing youth basketball above (this picture is one of my favorite things of all time for a variety of reasons…I am the handsome guy in the goggles), I expect this to be a big summer. The KSR Tour will be awesome (40 days and 36 locations), the inaugural KSR Scramble will end the summer (more on that later) and we have some exciting things coming to the site in August. All in all, a big time around here. But we can’t act like the time when I was gone didn’t happen. We had some great guest hosts on the radio and this site was ably run, one week by Drew and Tyler and the next week by Tyler herself. They weren’t huge news weeks, but they were important so lets take a quick look back at the 10 most important stories on the UK Landscape these past two weeks:
10: Kentucky signs Football Series with Southern Miss
One of the more talked about football issues of the past couple of months ended with a whimper early in June when it was announced that Kentucky would play a home and home with Southern Miss beginning next season in Commonwealth. This was a long process for UK that began when UAB disbanded their football team and left a hole on the Cats’ schedule for 2016 that the Blazers filled. Mitch Barnhart and UK were left with a difficult decision…wait out UAB and see if they could get their program back going for what would surely be an uncompetitive game, play a second FCS team (in a game that would not count towards bowl eligibility) or schedule a different FBS team. The latter made the most sense but was a tough sell because virtually every team had already completed their schedule. The Cats nearly had a two game deal with Army set, but Ohio State swooped in at the last minute and took the game. UK considered a series with Buffalo and Akron, but both teams were requiring a trip to their place to do it, prospects UK didn’t love. So instead the Cats got a home and home with Southern Miss, traditionally a good program but not necessarily a road game that the Cats would have preferred to play. For UK, they get a home game next year that they can win, and they lose the eight game home season for 2017 but play an opponent that is close enough for UK fans to travel and see. Hattiesburg, Mississippi is not fun, but Brett Favre did go there so it might be a cool trip. Not a perfect ending to the problem, but probably the best UK could do.
9. Jamal Murray Still Undecided:
The Jamal Murray saga creeped along for the past two weeks with little in the way of news. Murray visited Oregon and most now believe he is choosing between three scenarios…Kentucky, Oregon and remaining in prep school. The latter can make sense for Murray since some believe it would be the best option for his Draft stock (since it is so high now and there is no risk of it lowering in college). That strikes me however as a weak way to look at it and I hope/assume Murray ends up choosing to go to a college. When I left for vacation, the folks in Lexington felt very good about where they stand. I have yet to hear if that feeling has changed but hopefully we will know more early this week. Either way, nearly everyone expects a decision by Murray by July 4.
8. Calipari and Dan Patrick are Awkward together
I have to admit, I didn’t get this. While I generally stayed unplugged during my travels, I did see this clip while resting by the pool. It made me uneasy. Calipari went on the Dan Patrick Show and seemed to get defensive when asked about the platoon system. He made an awkward joke about Patrick’s basketball playing ability, said no one liked him and seemed at least slightly miffed. It was odd for me because I rarely see or hear Calipari in anything that doesn’t seem like complete control. But for that minute, something was slightly off. Now Calipari insisted it was nothing, he went on the show the next day and all was well. But I still consider it one of the stranger Calipari media interactions I have ever seen and odd at best. If it is illustrative of any larger point it is this…the word “platoon” has hurt UK on the recruiting trail. Calipari wants it buried in the past and when it is brought up, he likely won’t be the most joyous form of himself.
7. UK Sets Records and finishes 2nd in Womens’ Track
We don’t cover a lot of Track here on KSR but maybe now we should because Kentucky is officially a player in the sport. UK produced the greatest performance in the history of its Track program this weekend at the NCAA Championships, finishing 2nd overall on the womens’ side to Oregon. It was the highest finish in school history and part of the revamping of the program by Edrick Floreal, the coach (and father of EJ) who has taken it to new heights. Kendra Harrison won the 100 m Hurdles for the Cats and Dezerea Bryant won the 200 m, with a time of 22.18 seconds, the third fastest time in the world this year. The UK women also saw success in the 400m hurdles, shot put and other individual events, culminating in a point total that far outranked where pundits believed they would finish. It was a great moment for a rising program at UK and one that will almost surely be a springboard to bigger and better things.
6. Willie’s Outfit
I am going to miss Willie. He is one of the most unique kids we have ever had at UK and his personality will be hard to replace. Plus he wears things like this, a shirt and pant combo that he rocked at the LA Airport today when two UK fans ran into him. Not sure which is more baffling, the shirt or the pants but as I always say, Do your thing WCS…
5. Landon Young Reaffirms His UK Commitment
UK Football recruiting was a nonexistent topic in Kentucky until Mark Stoops and Vince Marrow arrived here, turning this into an attractive target for talent that in the past would have never considered the Cats. While UK has still moved mountains, the loss of some players last year (including Damien Harris) has put some pressure on the 2016 class, one in which coincidentally the state of Kentucky has collectively its best high school players ever. Two of those are on the offensive line and in the past three weeks Drake Jackson and Landon Young have both confirmed that not only are they committed to UK, they are not wavering. These two young men are both nationally ranked and have offers from some of the best schools in America. To keep them, both potentially as offensive line anchors for years to come, is massive and sets the precedent for the rest of this class. With UK already having commitments from five in state kids and hoping for a sixth (Kash Daniel will decide on July 4th), the decision by Young to turn down the other top schools who have offered (including Florida and Auburn) was huge.
4. Demarcus and Willie Love Each Other
The next week and a half will be heavy with NBA Draft talk as the Cats are on the precipice of putting a record number of players in the league at one time. However the chatter that is the most exciting to me has been the mutual love affair from Demarcus Cousins and Willie Cauley-Stein about the possibility of them playing together in Sacramento. Willie and Demarcus compliment each other well in terms of skills and would immediately make the Kings the favorite team of virtually all of the Bluegrass (and at that point why not just move the whole operation to Louisville). However with those two personalities, anything is also possible from total combustion to potentially the best reality show in the history of modern entertainment. I am not sure if the world is ready for Boogie/Willie in the same place at the same time, especially when that place is tiny Sacramento. But I do know if that happens, KSR will be in Sacramento next season to watch a couple of games and the League Pass sales in this state will skyrocket.
3. Charles Matthews Getting Work Done Early
It is a realization that we all must come to at some point that the team from last season is not coming back. 38-1 was amazing, but its over and at we all are going to have to move on. That is easier said than done and the hangover from the end of some a magical ride has lasted a solid 2 1/2 months. This goes even for me, whose job it is to sit and talk about the team next year. I don’t wanna…I want last season to continue. But sorry, that isn’t happening and we must move forward. With that in mind, it was great to see last week that not only has Charles Matthews arrived, but that he is putting in late night work. That is the thing we often forget…the new batch will be eager, talented and ready to roll and as soon as the season starts, we will be into it. We didn’t think we could replace Wall/Cousins/Patterson..but we did. No one thought any year would be better than the 2012 title…but we moved on. And as great as last season was, this one will be exciting as well. Matthews’ work on campus just reminded me of this fact and has helped snap my mind back into place. Kentucky basketball is coming back relatively soon and it will be a crazy amount of fun, as always.
2. Commonwealth Stadium Construction Almost Complete
If UK football is going to hit a next level (and we all hope that is the case), then the next 2-3 years are crucial. And if you believe all of those around the program, the first requirement for that happening was the upgrade of facilities around Lexington. We are now in the midst of that being close to reality. The new practice facility is being built and the upgrades to Commonwealth Stadium are nearly complete. There is now a live Construction cam at the place for all of us to follow along on the updates and count down the days until what will be one of the great home schedules we have ever had. Louisville, Tennessee, Florida, Auburn (on a Thursday), Missouri and three other games will all be in the newly revamped model and the excitement should be amazing. We may look back at this summer down the road and say that the changes made to the stadium during it were the final step needed to finally make a leap in football in the hardest conference in America…or maybe we won’t. But I can tell you this, without them the dream would be close to impossible.
1. Kentucky and the rest of the SEC get rich
In my view, the most important story that occurred in the past two weeks was the news that the SEC paid each of its schools $31.9 million from last year’s conference payout, an increase of $10 million from last season. This is massive and is the first step in what will continue to be a reshaping of college athletics. By creating the SEC Network and making what is arguably the most successful launch of a television network ever, the SEC has now become the leader in all of college sports from a revenue perspective and the effect on all playing fields is sure to follow. By making $10 million more than last season and significantly more than every other school in the nation, the SEC becomes the rich brother that everyone will have to try and catch up with in every sport. Texas with its own deal and the Big Ten (who make strong money due to the Big 10 Network) are in the ballpark, but every other conference will be scrambling. Take the ACC payout this year, $19 million, a lot of money to be sure but with a $12 million deficit every year to every SEC school, the effect on recruiting of coaches, facilities, etc is sure to manifest itself even more. The SEC revenue will only grow…the Network will get in more homes, the rights fees will expand and the money is only going to flow greater and greater. In fact, it is fair to say the financial discrepancy is lower now than it will be in any year in the future. The days of the SEC as financial king are here and the announcement this week only confirms that even more.
We get back to radio tomorrow and the tour starts next week. I am glad to be back and will see everyone in the morning!