John Higgins is not good at his job. In fact, John Higgins is terrible at →
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!
It is almost that time of year again folks…the KSR Summer Tour will circle the state for eight weeks this summer as we go and visit all of our affiliates and other events around the state. 32 of our 33 affiliates will be hit (Irvine the exception) along big events (the NBA Draft and Peach Jam) and spots around the state with cool things going on (Ky Speedway, Fancy Farm, Frankfort and Shelbyville). It should be a ton of fun. We will announce the specific location of these stops in the coming days, but for now we wanted to make sure that you got the date on the calendar of those stops closest to where you live. We will once again be giving away UK tickets and other prizes so come see us out and about in this state for a fun eight weeks on the road:
June 22: Prestonsburg
June 23: Paintsville
June 24: Columbia
June 25: NBA Draft (NYC)
June 26: NBA Draft (NYC)
June 29: Shelbyville
June 30: Leitchfield
July 1: Madisonville
July 2: Morgantown
July 3: Hopkinsville
July 6: Morganfield
July 7: Grayson
July 8: Pikeville
July 9: Williamson WV
July 10:Kentucky Speedway
July 13: Cynthiana
July 14: Whitley City
July 15: London
July 16: Peach Jam
July 17: Peach Jam
July 20: Whitesburg
July 21: Manchester
July 22: Somerset
July 23: Harlan
July 24: Dickmann’s
July 27: Campbellsville
July 28: Owensboro
July 29: Benton
July 30: Paducah
July 31: Fancy Farm
Aug 3: Bowling Green
Aug 4: McKee
Aug 5: Glasgow
Aug 6: Jamestown
Aug 7: Monticello (Raft Up)
Aug 10: Frankfort
Aug 11: Maysville
Aug 12: Danville
Aug 13: Lexington
Aug 14: Louisville
Please come out and see as many of the shows as you can…they are a lot of fun and it is always a good time around the state. You never know who will show up, what we will give away or how many run-ins with the authorities Ryan Lemond will have. It should be another fun summer on the road…
Tomlin has already written a great piece on here and for Funkhouser today about David Letterman and I will not try and outdo him (it wouldn’t be possible). However I would be remiss if I didn’t at least mention that tonight is not only Letterman’s last show, but for me, the end of an era. It is fair to say that I have probably watched David Letterman on television more than any person in my life. From the age of 14, I found a way to stay up as late as possible to watch Letterman do his thing on talk shows and in the process, he was a big factor in making my sense of humor. I always say that if you want to know what I think is funny, combine the best of Larry David, Howard Stern, Tony Kornheiser and David Letterman and you have it. But of all those, Letterman may have been the strongest influence. His mixture of intellect, sarcasm, wit, irony, probing/occasionally mocking interviews, irreverence and appreciation for the absurd helped me define what I found funny at the age where most people develop their sense of humor (15-21). He is a comedy icon and the last of a generation. I will miss him.
With that in mind, a few videos to watch. He occasionally dipped into sports and recently had a Top Ten list about the kiss between Ashley Judd and Dick Vitale at the UK SEC Tournament game:
An absolutely phenomenal performance of one of my favorite songs by Eddie Vedder and the Late Show Band on Monday night:
And then the best part of the whole farewell so far. Norm McDonald does stand-up on the show last Friday and gets choked up at the end. Very cool:
With that intro done, there are four topics on Kentucky folks’ minds today…let’s get to them quickly:
1. Calipari is Not Going to New Orleans:
I wrote about this yesterday on the site but it is worth repeating. The story on NOLA.com was stupid from the outset and was a mistake by the writer. Someone who claimed to be close to Calipari told the writer that Calipari was interested in the New Orleans job and wanted to take it. That statement was completely false. The person who told the writer this may have just been mistaken, guessing or simply lying, but it was a silly statement to rely on in order to write an article. No one close to Calipari would tell a writer in New Orleans anything…and suggested by the fact that Calipari denied the suggestion minutes after it came out. There might be a job that comes along that Cal will consider, but that wasn’t/isn’t one and the suggestion that it was did nothing but get the writer with the column time on Sportscenter…which might have been his goal at the outset anyway.
2. NBA Draft Lottery is Intriguing for UK Guys
Going into the lottery, it was assumed by many pundits that every team at the top would take Karl Towns first except possibly the Timberwolves of Minnesota. And lo and behold, the Timberwolves got the first pick. So now the question is whether the follow through with those predictions and take Jahlil Okafor or go with the more obvious Towns pick. For my purposes, I would rather see Karl drop to #2 and end up with the Lakers…if LA had Karl and Randle, then the Lake show would become the Kentucky show quickly and this state would fall in love. As the order settled, many are now projecting Willie Cauley-Stein to the Kings at #6 (Willie and Boogie together??? Talk about awesome fireworks)…Devin Booker to the Hornets at #9 (MKG and Booker) and Trey Lyles to Utah at #12 (I haven’t watched a Jazz game since Stockton and Malone retired). This will clearly change in the weeks to come, but for now provides a good start and some interesting homes for the former Cats.
3. Close Election Makes the State Go Nuts
If you didn’t watch the shenanigans on KET last night as the election returns came in, you only have yourself to blame. Train wreck television at its finest as no one had any clue as to what was happening in the closest election in this state that anyone can remember. Matt Bevin is the Republican nominee (as of now) after winning by 83 votes over Jamie Comer and more over Hal Heiner and our man Will Trill Scott. The election definitely felt a “KSR Effect” as most believe that Heiner had a lead going into the KSR Debate and after a performance that wasn’t his best and some fireworks between he and Comer, Bevin snuck through to get the small victory. This will mean the first Kentucky governor from Louisville in many ages and a chance for another debate of fireworks this October on KSR. With higher than expected turnout throughout the state, this election had more people interested than in years past and I would assume that is a good thing.
4. Jamal Murray finishing up his visit
Kentucky got a surprising visit from Jamal Murray Monday night and he is scheduled to be in Lexington through at least today. The Five star guard might just be the best perimeter recruit in North America and if Calipari can get him on board at the last minute, all the recruiting “woe are we” screams that have perpetuated Big Blue Nation will have been shown to be for naught. Murray would be perfect for UK…giving the team three quick guards and the chance to play crazy fast and with insane athleticism. A starting lineup of Ulis-Briscoe-Murray-Poythress-Skal would be a force to be reckoned with and having Lee/Mulder/Matthews/Willis/Hawkins off the bench would give this team a lot of explosive pop. I have always felt like the team was one guy short…if Murray is that guy, all the other recruiting losses can be forgotten as the best player in the Spring would still have magically found his way to Lexington.
Finally two quick things:
1. We have had one affiliate cancel its spot on the KSR Tour and thus have an opening. IF you own a business and are in a town where KSR does not have an affiliate and you are interested in hosting a spot on the Tour, please email me at Matt.Jones@kentuckysportsradio.com. We would like to fill out all eight weeks and with this opening, a new place can be added.
2. My two-week June vacation begins on June 1 and we will have 2 weeks of guest hosts (so far commitments from Sklar Brothers, Seth Greenberg, Matthew Mitchell, the UK Football coaches…and calls out to Jay Bilas, Paul Finebaum and yes, Christian Laettner). If you now host or have ever hosted a sports radio show or major podcast, and would like to try to fill in one day while we are gone, please email Shannon at firstname.lastname@example.org with your interest and a short demo. We would like to have a “FILL IN FOR KSR DAY” contest on the show and have one day to give new talent a chance if we can find a couple of worthy sets of hosts. If you are interested, give it a shot.
And with that, I am out
Here is the deal on Calipari and NBA Rumors…they won’t go away until Calipari gets to a time that no NBA team could possibly want him (aka where Rick Pitino is now). John Calipari is an attractive NBA candidate and no matter what he says, people will link him to NBA jobs. Some of that is natural…with so many players in the league and with a reputation as a coach that can get elite players motivated to the highest level, NBA teams will always look like an attractive option. Plus, when Calipari was at Memphis he famously said that he wasn’t interested in any other jobs before taking the UK job very soon after. That is the price of coach speak. Even as Calipari denied publicly today that he was interested in the New Orleans job (or any other job), there will be those that he nevertheless cannot convince.
For me, the future of Calipari at Kentucky is very simply. I think Calipari is very happy here and is content being the coach at UK in a way that may not have even been the case two years ago. Whereas a couple of years ago the idea of going to the NBA one last time was appealing to Calipari, now I think he would be happy finishing out his time in Lexington. But, I won’t say it is certain Calipari retires at Kentucky. If the perfect job in the perfect situation came about, then Calipari would listen. If (a) a contender for the title wanted to (b) give Calipari total player control and (c) pay him more than he is paid at Kentucky in (d) a location that Calipari desires, then it would not surprise me if he took that job. But that situation would be very rare and grows even rarer by the year.
You will constantly read and hear from “sources close to Calipari” what he is going to do or what he is thinking. I trust almost none of them. In your own life there are probably only a couple of people who really know what you are thinking but many more who believe they are “close” to you. Coaching is no different. Last year Calipari considered the Cleveland job for 10 days and it never leaked until he had already turned it down. His circle is small and those that know don’t say and those that say don’t know. This season, I will only be watching the Chicago and Cleveland jobs for Calipari. If those two jobs come open AND they have interest in Calipari, I think he would consider it. But it isn’t clear that either will come open (yet) or that he would decide to take either at this point. If Calipari gets through this summer, I like the chances of him being at Kentucky for the rest of his career. But there will be nothing that will stop us from going around this coaching rumor merry-go-round again and again for some time to come.
Big news late tonight as Canadian recruiting analyst (yes they have those) Elias Sbiet tweeted the following:
— Elias Sbiet (@Elias_NPH) May 19, 2015
If true, this would be a big visit for one of the best players in North America. Kentucky has been hoping to get Jamal Murray on campus and if that has happened, it will only increase UK’s chances of getting him to Lexington. We will hopefully find out more tomorrow morning about this alleged visit, but cross your fingers that our guy Elias Sbiet is on point with what could be big news.
It was a great weekend around the Bluegrass as the first real hint of summer took over the state. Most of you probably spent a bit of time outdoors, maybe watched the monsoon at the Preakness or headed to a movie theater to see either Mad Max (which I hear is amazing) or Pitch Perfect 2 (which I hear was awful). For my part, I played in the Glasgow Country Club Member-Guest for the third year in a row and this time was able to get through without getting into any type of fight with a UL fan (something I could not say the first two times around). My partner and I came in second in our flight, losing the last match due to a combination of fatigue, sun burn and faulty handicapping. Still a good time was had by all and for the first time all year, it felt like summer and the creeping onset of football was right around the corner. For the Harrison Twins, the summer is giving mixed results. Andrew is having a strong start to his NBA Draft campaign, producing one of the better showings at the NBA Combine and creeping into the top of the 2nd Round in mock drafts. His attitude (Saying he will take on anyone any time in the Draft pre-workout process) has been a hit with NBA scouts and he is seeing his stock rise. Aaron on the other hand has had some adversity. He didn’t play well at the Combine (onlookers said he seemed to be trying too hard) and he has fallen off many Mock Drafts as onlookers try to figure out how to slot him. There is still plenty of time for both guys and I will be shocked if both players aren’t drafted. But for now, their early fortunes are heading in different directions.
Some other notes:
RECRUITING: The big news of the day was the decision by LeGerald Vick (Spanish for “The Gerald”) to attend Kansas next year. It was not a surprising choice, especially after his visit to Kentucky ended up not happening this weekend. For UK, Vick was somewhat of a backup option behind the twosome of Caleb Swanigan and Jamal Murray, both of whom UK would love to add this year. Chances are UK will only take one player and the folks I have talked to feel good about where UK stands with both guys. This has been a tough Spring for UK from the recruiting standpoint as the order of selection often hasn’t worked in UK’s favor. The backup options have often chosen before players that UK coveted more could decide (the way that Thomas Bryant picked while UK still waited on Zimmerman and Diallo). This has put UK in an odd position and has exacerbated the difficulty in finding the right player for the Spring. Still, I think UK is one player short from being a REALLY good team next year and if either Swanigan or Murray fills the class, the Cats are in very good shape. I am told that it will be Purdue or Kentucky for Swanigan (California has been mentioned by others and could be in play, but I have been told the Boilermaker/Wildcat duo is out front), and if UK gets him, they get a force for next season. If instead it is Murray, you see a lot of Alex at the “4” and a small ball team that is explosive athletically. We shall see…but I don’t sweat the Vick loss. Of all the guys UK has missed on this recruiting year, he was the one that excited me the least.
TONY BARBEE — Speaking of recruiting, every day that Tony Barbee is not announced as the new Assistant Coach at UK becomes even more of a mystery. When Slice took the St Johns job, we all assumed Barbee would be the pick, since he was already on staff and got a waiver to help with recruiting while the job was posted. But as of now, nothing has yet been said about him and the long wait is curious as an onlooker. I haven’t heard anything concrete to say he isn’t getting the job and the delay may be much ado about nothing. But considering just how much of an obvious hire Barbee seemed to be just a few weeks ago, the delay is certainly odd if nothing else.
FOOTBALL SUMMER — The addition to KSR of Freddie Maggard has been great for this site and if you missed his columns last week, I would suggest that you check them out. He has mentioned a variety of needs and issues for UK next season, but one to be on the lookout for is the start of UK’s schedule. The Cats open the season with a four game stretch that I believe will be season-defining. They have:
South Carolina Away
Those are four huge games right out of the block. Louisiana has been to four straight bowl games and is a much better team than most folks realize. South Carolina is a tough road game, but a team UK beat last year. Florida and Missouri are two SEC East opponents that have eaten UK’s lunch either historically (Florida) or recently (Missouri), but are beatable at home. In my view for UK to have the season it wants, it needs to go at least 2-2 in these games. Two wins (plus the likely gimmes versus EKU and Charlotte), would put the Cats in a position to where they could go to a Bowl game with a win over Vandy and either UT/Louisville at home. Three wins and UK is sitting pretty for a Bowl and a very strong season…four wins and we are dancing in the street. However if UK comes out with only one of these four, and doesn’t pull an upset over Florida or Missouri…well the road looks much more difficult. UK can’t afford any let downs with the way the schedule is set up early. The magic 3rd season for Mark Stoops needs momentum right out of the gate in Commonwealth.
DEREK WILLIS — There is no player on UK’s team that I ever get asked about more than Derek Willis. People want to know will he play and whether he will make it at UK. I have always said the same thing about Derek…it is up to him. I did speak this weekend to someone close to Willis who said this to me. “Derek knows this is his year to shine and this summer will make the difference. I hope he works for it but if he doesn’t, he has no one to blame but himself.” I said on radio Friday that someone close to the program told me, “if I could combine Dominique Hawkins’ work ethic with Derek Willis’s skills, I would have an All American.” If UK doesn’t get another player in recruiting (which they still may), Willis to me has to be good next year. As with those around him who know him, I am still skeptical, but hopeful.
With that, a fun week is ahead. One more until Memorial Day…two more until my vacation (and the KSR Guest Host extravaganza)…and five more until the KSR Tour begins. It all finishes so fast… (that’s what she said)
Get out your frequent flyer miles because next season’s UK Basketball schedule is going to be quite a haul. The Cats have completed the marquee part of their slate with the announcement today that they will play at Kansas on January 30 as part of the SEC/Big 12 Challenge. The event is mixed right in the middle of conference play and will see UK head to Lawrence for the first time since Jared Carter was roaming the sidelines to play in what I believe is the best venue for college basketball in America. It is the marquee game of the Challenge and will surely be a Saturday night affair with all of college basketball watching.
The game joins the schedule that already included a game vs Duke (in Chicago), Ohio State (in Brooklyn), UCLA (in Los Angeles), Louisville (in Rupp), Arizona State (in Rupp) and South Florida (in Miami). It should be a heck of a ride for a young team and now also includes a chance for fans to go to one of the great venues in all of sports to watch the Cats spank on Bill Self once again.
Here is the rest of the Challenge: