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Cats in the NBA
Former Kentucky Players in the NBA
Coach Cal is in Las Vegas for the next few days, working the Team USA Basketball Fantasy Camp. Today he swung by USA practice to catch up with some of his former players: John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis and Derrick Rose.
Andy Glockner snapped this photo of Cal cutting up with Wall and Rose during a break in the action. I bet he’s telling them how good his new crew is in Lexington.
Byron Scott was officially re-introduced to Los Angeles yesterday in a press conference to formally announce his new position as head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, and of the many nice things he had to say about his return to his old franchise, Julius Randle drew some of the highest praise. Scott, like Mitch Kupchak, was surprised L.A. was even able to get the former Wildcat with the seventh pick in the draft in June.
“I think the sky is the limit for him. He’s definitely very talented. To get him at No. 7 is a steal. The kid was probably Top 3,” Scott said. “I love his attitude. I love the way he a attacks the basket. I love the way he rebounds the ball. He brings some things to the table that will definitely help us.”
Randle was here in Lexington at the time of Scott’s press conference, hanging out with fans at Fayette Mall last night.
He will soon return to Hollywood to get to work with his new coach and team.
By Drew Franklin on ©11:45 am
Never mind the fact Kevin Durant will consider teaming up with John Wall in Washington in 2016. I want you to look at his legs in that photo. Those are hockey sticks and I’m fascinated by this shot from USA Basketball camp yesterday.
And about the Wall/Washington thing, Wall and Bradley Beal are already lobbying for Durant to form a ‘Big 3′ with the Wizards when he becomes an unrestricted free agent in two seasons. Durant is from the D.C. area and yesterday he told reporters, “We’re going to put it out on the table. It’s been talked about.”
But before that’s seriously being considered, Wall wants to reach the NBA Finals next season. He told the Washington Post that is his goal for 2014-15.
Seriously, though. Look at Durant’s legs. Hockey sticks.
“I know how good he’s going to be,” Durant said of Davis after today’s USA Basketball practice. “I know how good he is now, but I know how good he’s going to be. He’s an MVP-caliber player. So he’s next. He’s next in line – a guy that has grown so much in just a year. I’m excited to see what he does from here. He’s definitely on pace.”
Davis, who is almost a lock to make the team, said Durant’s comments push him to work even harder.
Maybe someone should push him toward a haircut.
With day one complete of Team USA basketball training, Cousins is feeling good about his chances to stay on the roster.
“I think I’m a lot more prepared this season, and like I said, I came here to work. We’re getting after it every day here. We have to learn the system and prepare fast. Once you get out here and the pace picks up and you have to defend on this end, it’s tough, It will get better as the week goes on.”
According to Steven Wilson, a writer for the Kings, Cousins made an apparent impact on the team by diving for ball, defending the guards, hustling down court and boxing out for rebounds. It isn’t all work for Cousins, however. He also gets to play with his Kentucky friend, Anthony Davis.
After the practice session was over, Cousins stayed behind with Anthony Davis, Klay Thompson, Gordon Hayward and Stephen Curry to see whose shot was the best. Cousins finished third, but told Wilson he was happy with the outcome by saying “Im not going to take it as a negative thing, I’m just going to take it as I’m the third best shooter in the gym.”
You can read the full interview, and watch video interviews from Davis and Cousins, here.
By Drew Franklin on ©10:51 am
James Young is in Lexington for John Calipari’s ProCamp this morning and he took a break from beating kids in Knockout to chat with the local media. He kept his answers short and sweet, as he always does, but Jerry Tipton has some interesting stuff from Young about handling lofty expectations at UK.
Young said he would tell this team to drown out the undefeated hype: “Don’t listen to it. We kind of listened to it last year and it kind of got to us,” he said. “We had an up-and-down season. Leave the media stuff alone and stay focused.”
“It was just so big for everybody; it was just everywhere,” he added.
Speaking of, did you see where Hooter’s Casino in Las Vegas has UK at 50/1 to go undefeated?
I’m holding out for better odds.
By Drew Franklin on ©10:46 am
Julius Randle is in Lexington to help out with 2014 Kroger John Calipari ProCamp (Cal has so many camps this summer) and he took some time out of his busy schedule of being the Lakers’ future for a photo op with Cal, the team and some campers.
As Kyle Tucker pointed out on the Twitter device, that’s 10 McDonald’s All-Americans in one photo, maybe more if some of the younger kids pay attention this week and work hard.
Randle was bouncing around Lexington over the weekend, too.
UK’s annual Alumni Charity Game will take place on August 24 at 6 pm ET, and tickets went on sale to the general public this morning. Now all fans, not just those with the presale code, can purchase tickets to the game. It opened up this morning at 10:00 am.
All seats are reserved and priced at $101 (premium lower level), $31 (lower level), and $16 for premium upper level. Tickets can be purchased at the Rupp Arena box office, online at Ticketmaster.com, at any Ticketmaster Outlet or by phone at 1-800-745-3000. There is an eight-ticket limit per person. All orders will have additional fees attached. All proceeds from the game will go to charity.
The format of this year’s game will be a team of UK pros versus a team of non-UK pros.
Get to it.
Good news for fans of Demarcus Cousins/America out of FIBA today. Kevin Love withdrew from participation in Team USA Basketball activities (he is having a pretty busy offseason…) and has opened the door for another big–Andre Drummond, Kenneth Faried, or Boogie Cousins, to fill that void.
So shortly after the withdrawal of Blake Griffin from the team two days ago, USA Basketball Chairman Jerry Colangelo has some big decisions to make in the coming weeks regarding his bigs.
Asked if Kevin Love’s sudden withdrawal Saturday, so soon after Blake Griffin’s pullout, gives DeMarcus Cousins and Andre Drummond real hope of making the 12-man roster of players bound for the inaugural FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain, Colangelo told ESPN.com: “Absolutely.”
With no Kevin Love, Blake Griffin, LaMarcus Aldridge and Kawhi Leonard offering their services for Team USA, and Kevin Durant and Anthony Davis as the only frontcourt players currently ready and willing–I’m optimistic about Boogie’s chances. Despite the fact that ESPN called him “mercurial”… The squad needs a big body on a team filled with lanky guys like KD and AD, especially against the newly threaded Spanish national team. They have those Gasol hermanos.
Good luck Big Cuz. We’re rooting for you, even if it is to play for Coach K…
After being snubbed by Team USA earlier this summer, it looks like John Wall will participate in Team USA’s camp in Las Vegas starting on Monday. ESPN’s Marc Stein is reporting that Wall was a “natural invite” for USA Basketball, and joins Chandler Parsons and DeMar DeRozan as additions to the initial Team USA roster, which also includes fellow former Cats DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis. After the camp, the roster will be cut down to 12 players for the 2014 World Cup of Basketball in Spain.
Yiggy yes y’allin, we be John Wallin’…
The shooting guard and small forward positions in Boston are getting crowded, making it even tougher on James Young to work his way up the rotation. The Celtics re-signed starting shooting guard Avery Bradley last week and, today, added free agent Evan Turner, the No. 2 overall pick in 2010. To make matters worse for Young, Marcus Smart, the C’s first pick in this year’s draft, is expected to see significant time at the 2-guard spot as well. Brad Stevens tried him there in the summer league and plans to continue using him off the ball.
Young won’t have any more luck at small forward, where Turner and Jeff Green will see most of the minutes. 13-year veteran Gerald Wallace, the team’s second-highest paid player, will also be in the mix.
There is also the option of trading Young in a deal for Kevin Love, although there are several other teams competing in the Love Sweepstakes. Boston believes it is still in the mix to pull the big man away from Minnesota and the former Cat would look good with Jared Sullinger in a trade.
But no matter where or how he is used, Young will have to put in a lot of work if he hopes to see significant time on the court in his rookie season. Missing the summer league certainly didn’t help his chances, either.
For NBA basketball junkies like myself, the Summer League is an awesome 15 days of action. When the games are in Orlando from July 5-11 fans can only watch on NBA TV, but the “awesomeness” goes to a whole other level in Las Vegas when fans are able to watch up to 8 games a day for just $25.
This was my second straight summer coming out to Vegas and catching a little Summer League action. I was in the gym on Friday and had the opportunity to see the three former UK players who were still active. One of the neatest parts of attending NBA Summer League in Las Vegas is how close to the action you can get and how all of the coaches, scouts, front office guys, and even the players just walk the hallways right along with the fans. Having the ability to interact with some of them is a really neat opportunity that you really can’t get, especially for just $25, anywhere but Summer League.
Nerlens Noel: 2 games, 13 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 2 bpg
Nerlens played in just a couple of Las Vegas Summer League games because the 76ers also were a part of the Orlando Summer League; they had him playing every other game for the most part. Overall, Nerlens showcased why he was a top pick last season despite having to sit out the entire year. He is so bouncy around the basket and simply has a knack for making things happen. I think he can give you 10 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 blocks a game from day 1.
Archie Goodwin: 5 games, 12.8 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 1.2 spg
Archie showed off some serious aggression offensively this summer. He really attacked the basket and did a good job of getting to the foul line. One thing that always stands out to me when I see Archie in person is how big he is. He is a legit 6’5′ but seems taller because of his long arms. I think he has a chance to have a good season off the bench for the Suns.
In the game that I watched on Friday Julius struggled, but he put up good numbers in his few games with the Lakers out in Vegas. He is strong and athletic, even compared to veteran NBA players, and plays very, very hard. He will go through some growing pains and some of the issues that drove UK fans crazy sometimes (I am talking about you, spin move) will similarly annoy Lakers fans. However, at #7, I think Julius could be one of the best value picks in the 2014 draft.
DeAndre Liggins: 5 games, 7.2 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 1.2 spg
The Summer League is more important for DeAndre than any of the former ‘Cats outlined above. He is playing for more than just some extra minutes, he is playing to earn a roster spot and prove he belongs in the league. In my opinion, he did just that. DeAndre is a very good perimeter defender capable of containing some of the very best players in the league for stretches. Also, he plays so hard and can contribute in a variety of ways. I see him developing in to an important bench player on a championship contender in the coming years.