After waiting on pins and needles since the NBA Combine, the first report on Hamidou →
Cats in the NBA
Former Kentucky Players in the NBA
By Drew Franklin on ©May 03rd, 2017 @ 4:00pm
Hershey’s Kit Kat brought on Karl-Anthony Towns to sell its Big Kat bars and the two ads he shared on Twitter today are pretty hilarious.
See for yourself:
— Karl-Anthony Towns (@KarlTowns) May 3, 2017
— Karl-Anthony Towns (@KarlTowns) May 3, 2017
Also, is there a more obvious endorsement than Big Kat and Big Kat?
Former Kentucky sharpshooter Jamal Murray underwent offseason surgery to repair core muscle-related injuries. The surgery, performed last Thursday by Dr. William Meyers at the Vincera Institute in Philadelphia, went well, per a release from the Nuggets organization.
Murray shared a video on Twitter today of what it’s like on Day 6 of the recovery process, and the work appears to be pretty light:
— Jamal Murray (@BeMore27) May 3, 2017
Murray averaged 9.9 points, 2.6 rebounds and 2.1 assists in his rookie season. He was Denver’s only player to appear in all 82 games.
He said his focus this offseason is to get his body right.
By Nick Roush on ©May 02nd, 2017 @ 11:05pm
For the first time in NBA playoff history, two point guards went for more than 40 points. Unfortunately, John Wall didn’t finish on the winning side. The Washington Wizards fell to the Boston Celtics 129-119 in overtime.
Wall had a chance to end the game in regulation. A tie ballgame with 14.4 seconds remaining, Wall tried to replicate the Miami game-winner from his first game at Rupp Arena. He drove left, pulled up from about 12 feet, but it was just short of the rim. Bradley Beal’s putback from about the same distance fell short too, sending the game into overtime.
It was brutal loss, but there were still bright points for Wall. He finished with 40 points and 13 rebounds. Those marks are the best in Wizards’ playoff franchise history and the first time it’s been reached vs. the Celtics in the playoffs since Jerry West (42 points, 12 assists) in the 1969 NBA Finals.
Unfortunately, none of those points came in overtime, while Isaiah Thomas continued to pile on, scoring 29 in the 4th quarter and OT to finish with an astonishing 53 points. The Wizards simply ran out of gas and let one slip away.
To end on a bright note, watch Wall at his best: 19 points and 6 assists in the first quarter.
Welcome to the 1Q show with your headliner, John Wall.
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) May 3, 2017
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©May 02nd, 2017 @ 4:30pm
Been missing Tyler Ulis? I guess the more appropriate question is who hasn’t, right? Good news for everyone, then: Ulis is returning to the Bluegrass this week, and while he’s here, he’s doing an autograph tour. Catch Tyler on the #T8Tour, which starts tomorrow at Towne Mall in Elizabethtown:
Thursday is an extra special event, because Ulis will be joined by his former teammate, Isaiah Briscoe, at Frank Shoop in Georgetown:
I’m hoping this means Ulis will also attend the Derby on Saturday.
Despite gaining a 16 point lead, the Wizards dropped game 1 of the NBA Eastern Conference Semi-Finals to the Celtics 123-111.
John Wall was nothing short of great, dropping a double-double with 20 points and 16 (!!!!) assists and doing a lot of things like this:
— Washington Wizards (@WashWizards) April 30, 2017
— Washington Wizards (@WashWizards) April 30, 2017
Also, Isaiah Thomas lost a tooth?
— Pardon My Take (@PardonMyTake) April 30, 2017
By Kory Henry on ©April 30th, 2017 @ 1:00pm
John Wall and the Washington Wizards are about to tip-off against the Boston Celtics. It’s Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semi-finals, and many expect it to become a great rivalry. The game will be broadcast live on ABC, starting now.
John Wall will have to put in 110%, as he goes one-on-one against the 3rd best scorer this season, Isaiah Thomas. Thomas is undoubtedly an MVP candidate this year, after an amazing performance all season long. Wall is excited to showcase his talent against another elite point guard.
“It’s always great to go against another great point guard,” Wall said. “I just went against another good one, a young player in Dennis Schroder that’s proving himself in this league and trying to get better. The first time ever having the keys to the team, he did a great job running that group.
Now you got a different matchup in Isaiah, who’s the head of their snake, one of the best scorers in this league.”
Wall’s teammate and backup point guard, Brandon Jennings, thinks this is John’s biggest opportunity he’s had so far.
“It’s definitely exciting,” Wizards backup point guard Brandon Jennings said. “John’s come into his own. I just feel like this series right here is going to put him to where people are going to want to pay attention to him and know who John Wall is. I think this is his opportunity right here to show the world. Because Thomas, you know, he’s like an MVP candidate. And John wants to be an MVP candidate, too. Isaiah averaged 30, he had a great year, their team is No. 1 in the East, so yeah. It’s an opportunity.”
This is definitely a must-see matchup for every basketball fan. We may be a little biased, but here’s hoping Wall puts on a great performance during this series, and solidifies himself as an elite point guard in the NBA.
For more on today’s game and the Eastern Conference semi-finals, follow this link to the Washington Post.
Former Kentucky shooting guard Jamal Murray started slow, but the pure scorer finished the season as one of the best rookies in the NBA.
It took Murray five games to knock down a shot, but he finished his first year in the NBA averaging 9.9 points, 2.1 assists and 2.6 rebounds per game in 21.5 minutes per game to finish third in scoring among all rookies. During NBA All-Star weekend, Murray won MVP honors at the Rising Stars Challenge with 36 points on 9 three-pointers and 11 assists.
In the games that count, he ended the year with one of his best performances, scoring 27 points against the Thunder. His 115 made three-pointers were the second-most by a rookie. He scored more than 20 points eight times, the third-most among all rookies. His best games of the season:
- April 7 vs. NOLA: 30 points (career-high), 10-14 FG, 5 assists and 4 rebounds
- March 13 vs. LAL: 22 points, 8-13 FG, 5-8 3FG
- December 5 vs. PHI: 22 points, 8-12 FG, 3-7 3FG
- November 23 vs. Utah: 23 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists
- November 22 vs. CHI: 24 points, 9-13 FG, 6 rebounds, 2 assists
Murray was named Western Conference Rookie of the Month in October and November. What makes his first season in the NBA even more incredible is that he played all 82 games with a sports hernia. He underwent surgery on Thursday to repair the injury.
While he uses the offseason to get healthy, enjoy highlights from his first season in the league.
If 15 minutes of highlights is too much for you, this 50-second clip will do the trick.
— Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) April 26, 2017
By Drew Franklin on ©April 28th, 2017 @ 10:29pm
John Wall’s a bad, bad man. You can ask Atlanta ’bout him.
Wall scored 42 points tonight on the road in Game 6 to clinch the series and send Washington to the Eastern Conference semis. His backcourt mate, Bradley Beal, added 31 points to set a new high of 73 combined points in a single game for the two Wizards guards.
Wall did some trash talking toward Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones too:
-John Wall to Julio Jones, probably pic.twitter.com/lTOjQKP69d
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) April 29, 2017
The Wizards get the Celtics in the next round.
We are only days away from knowing this year’s NBA Draft Combine attendees.
The deadline for the 30 NBA organizations to vote on their preferred invites was yesterday and those invites will go out today and tomorrow. Once the prospects respond and the full list of 70ish participants is formed, the entire list of attendees will hit the internets for us to frantically scroll through the names to see if Hamidou Diallo made the cut.
If Hamidou Diallo’s name is included, he will go through the process and make a decision at a later date, sometime before the May 24 deadline.
If his name is not included, we will likely get pretty instant news of a return because missing out on a combine spot is a pretty blatant message to return to school. Ask Isaiah Briscoe last year.
So sit tight on those Diallo worries until we see whether or not he gets the invite. I suspect he will, but there are a lot of names trying to get in there.
The NBA has a new awards show this season, appropriately called the NBA Awards, and a couple of former Wildcats earned nominations.
Up first we have Tyler Ulis, who is in the mix for Game Winner of the Year for his buzzer-beater against the Celtics.
You know the one:
He’s up against some tough competition in Russell Westbrook and Kyrie Irving.
Then Ulis’ teammate, Devin Booker, is nominated for Performance of the Year for his 70-point night, also against the Celtics.
To vote for the former Cats, you can do it online here or by tweeting “#PerformanceoftheYear Devin Booker” and “#GameWinneroftheYear Tyler Ulis.”
Get it done, BBN.
Two more NBA Playoff series came to an end last night. Patrick Patterson and the Toronto Raptors gave up a 25 point lead but managed to squeak out a game 6 win over the Bucks to advance to the next round. Andrew Harrison and the Memphis Grizzlies came up just short of forcing a game 7 against the 2-seeded San Antonio Spurs. Let’s take a look at how the two former Cats did last night.
Patrick Patterson, Toronto Raptors (92-89 win over Bucks)
Throw up the goggles P-Pat!
— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) April 28, 2017
Patterson had the game clinching steal as well. Catch Patterson’s post-game comments here:
Andrew Harrison, Memphis Grizzlies (103-96 loss to Spurs)
One of two back-to-back 3s for Harrison.
Andrew Harrison knocks down the 3 pointer right off the bench. pic.twitter.com/zkomWQf8mr
— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) April 28, 2017
Hustle plays are what non-starters need to do in the Playoffs.
Good defense and hustle play by Andrew Harrison. pic.twitter.com/W8AqR1ShCw
— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) April 28, 2017
Tonight we see some more former Cats take the floor in the NBA Playoffs:
- Washington Wizards (John Wall) at Atlanta Hawks, 7:30pm ET on ESPNU/TNT
- Washington leads series 3-2
- Boston Celtics (James Young) at Chicago Bulls (Rajon Rondo), 8pm ET on ESPN
- Boston leads series 3-2
- Los Angeles Clippers at Utah Jazz (Trey Lyles), 10:30pm ET on ESPN
- Utah leads series 3-2
By Nick Roush on ©April 26th, 2017 @ 9:00pm
Now injury-free, John Wall’s resurgence in the 2016-17 season has received plenty of hype since the start of the playoffs, and for good reason. He’s doing everything for the Wizards.
Tonight’s pull-up jumper with 47.5 seconds remaining stopped an Atlanta run and gave the Zards a 103-99 lead, the game’s final score. Washington now has a 3-2 advantage, on the precipice of reaching the second round. Before you see highlights from Wall’s 20-point, 14-assist and 6-rebound performance, learn how Brooks’ coaching-style has taken Wall to new heights in this Sports Illustrated feature.
Wall has flourished under Brooks for some of the same reasons Westbrook did. As a player, Brooks was loyal to coaches like Jim Lynam in Philadelphia and Rudy Tomjanovich in Houston, who made him their cause. “They had a chip on their shoulder for me,” Brooks recalls. “It was like, ‘Oh, you don’t think Scott should be out there? Well, watch this.’” He was the same way with Westbrook. You think he’s a shooting guard? Watch this. And now, with Wall. You don’t think he’s one of the best point guards in the league? Watch this.
Wall is averaging 31.0 points and 10.0 assists in the playoffs, plus he provided the highlight of the first round in Game 3, a coast-to-coast sprint in which he covered the court with four dribbles, bypassed five Hawks and shuttled the ball behind his back for a dunk (going from left to right and back to left). Brooks is demanding in practice and film sessions, but come tip-off, he lets his floor generals loose. Under Brooks’s predecessor, Randy Wittman, Wall reflexively looked to the sideline for play calls. Brooks makes him run the team. “I’ve learned how to talk to people,” Wall says. “Some you can yell at. Some you have to baby.” Asked how he tells the difference, Wall replies, “Cuss at everybody once and see how they react.”
Online SI articles can be annoying, and long, so if you prefer videos, Watch Wall throw lobs:
John Wall sees everything 👀 pic.twitter.com/bgcjETrJ99
— SLAM Magazine (@SLAMonline) April 26, 2017
Watch Wall run the fast break:
John Wall is TOO FAST. pic.twitter.com/VOcf74RS4B
— SLAM Magazine (@SLAMonline) April 26, 2017
Watch Wall dunk on this dude’s face:
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) April 27, 2017
By Drew Franklin on ©April 25th, 2017 @ 5:24pm
Two former Wildcats received some pretty good news on Tuesday when they were named All-NBA D-League for the 2016-17 season.
Up first, Dakari Johnson was named to the first team after averaging 18.5 points, 7.9 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.3 blocks for the Oklahoma City Blue, the Thunder’s development team.
Then Alex Poythress earned second team honors with his 18.5 points, 7.1 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.4 blocks per game. Poythress’ strong regular season got him called up to Philadelphia, where he scored 10.7 points per game in six games for the Sixers.
Congrats to both guys.
Bam Adebayo is gone.
Kentucky’s lovable big man reportedly hired an agent after initially leaving open the option to return when he declared for the draft two weeks ago. The hiring of the agent ends his amateur status and college eligibility, thus ending his time as a Kentucky Wildcat. Your hopes and prayers for a sophomore season went unanswered.
In my opinion the move was the right one, although others will say different. That’s a conversation we can have some other time. For now let’s just look back on Adebayo’s one season in Lexington as he looks ahead to the next phase of his basketball life.
Bam Adebayo made a special guest appearance on Mike & Mike in November of his senior season to announce his college decision.
That decision was, of course, to attend the University of Kentucky:
Adebayo chose Kentucky over North Carolina and Auburn, as well as interest and offers from many other schools.
The fifth-ranked player in his class, Adebayo cited John Calipari’s ability to get players to the next level as one of the main reasons he picked the Cats.
That Story About The Coffee Table
It wouldn’t be a tribute to Bam Adebayo without regurgitating the story of how he became Bam in the first place. As legend has it, Adebayo picked up the family coffee table while watching The Flintstones with his mother when he was only one year old. The nickname was born from there and the story was told way too many times throughout this past season.
The Dwight Howard Comparisons
Though he absolutely hated it, Adebayo was often compared to Dwight Howard when he first got to campus. However, we quickly learned to never, ever, ever compare him to Dwight Howard to his face, unless you had a death wish.
The good people over at KSTV had some preseason fun with Adebayo’s teammates and the uncanny resemblance:
I guess being compared to Dwight Howard isn’t a good thing these days, at least not as good as it was 10 years ago.
The Preseason Hype/Early NBA Projections
Adebayo was the fifth overall pick to the Los Angeles Lakers in CBSSports.com’s first NBA mock draft for the 2017 draft, while Chad Ford over at ESPN.com projected Adebayo would go 12th overall, still in the lottery.
“Bam Adebayo already has the NBA body and athleticism that teams crave in their power forwards,” Ford wrote last fall. “He’s an explosive athlete who plays with a great motor. He’s going to be a rebounding and shot-blocking machine for Kentucky.”
Meanwhile, college basketball media types (us included) threw around that “beast” word to describe what we expected to see out of the freshman.
John Calipari also called him a beast when he said, “We have to buy a couple more backboards down at Rupp, because we only have three and I’m afraid if he breaks one or breaks two … like, this kid, he’s a beast.”
Calipari even hinted at the possibility of Adebayo developing at the rate of Karl-Anthony Towns or Anthony Davis by the end of his first season.
The Underwhelming Start
It was obvious out of the gate that Adebayo would need some time to find his footing in college basketball. The look test he passed with flying colors over the summer didn’t translate to the college game right away. Sure, he bullied some of the inferior competition on Kentucky’s early schedule, but Adebayo struggled when he ran into players who would push back. Foul trouble was also an early criticism and focal point for the coaching staff.
Above all, Adebayo’s rebounding was the most underwhelming aspect of his game. Once predicted to be a double-double machine for the Wildcats, the big man had only three double-doubles in his first 27 games in college, and scoring was never the problem.
The Dunks (Bam Slams)
There was no shortage of dunks (or Bam Slams) from Adebayo in his one season at Kentucky. He set a new record for the Calipari era with 101 dunks on the year, surpassing Anthony Davis’ record of 92 dunks in the 2011-12 season.
Here is one of the those 101 dunks:
And here is another:
The Late Emergence
While the double-doubles were hard to come by through the first four months of the season, Adebayo had no problem getting them by the end. Once that switch flipped and the light came on in mid-SEC play, Adebayo closed the season with an average of 14.3 points and 10.2 rebounds in the nine games leading into the NCAA tournament. The late emergence led Matt Norlander to write a piece titled “Why Kentucky’s NCAA Tournament prospects rest on Bam Adebayo’s shoulders” and predict Adebayo would become a breakout star in March.
The NCAA Tournament
Adebayo went on to score 28 points and grab 28 rebounds in Kentucky’s first two games in the tournament. The second of those games, against Wichita State, came with some extra motivation thanks to Wichita’s Darral Willis Jr. saying he would shut Adebayo down.
Bam’s mom was pretty excited about Kentucky’s win and her son’s double-double response to Willis Jr.’s comment:
Bam Adebayo’s mother, Marilyn Blount, after UK’s victory over Wichita State. “He didn’t shut (Bam) down, did he?! Bam went at him!” pic.twitter.com/uRkR8B1vhD
— Tanner Hesterberg (@TannerWKYT) March 19, 2017
Back on April 5, Adebayo said goodbye to Big Blue Nation:
“This process we went through at Kentucky was a tough but a rewarding one,” Adebayo said. “It was everything I wanted when I decided to come to Kentucky. It taught me a lot. It taught me how to be a better man on and off the court. I have improved so much since the beginning of the season thanks to the hard work of the coaching staff. They helped me with every step of the process along the way and they never gave up on me.
“I want to thank my teammates. I couldn’t have asked for a better group to grow with. We were all like brothers. I also want to thank the fans for their support and everything they do for us. Their passion is like nothing I’ve ever seen before.
“I feel I’m making the right step in declaring for the draft, but I want to be absolutely sure that I’m making the right decision for me and my mom. I’m looking forward to the process and I appreciate the support of the coaches, my teammates and the fans. No matter what happens, it’s been an unbelievable ride.”
An unbelievable ride indeed.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©April 24th, 2017 @ 5:30pm
It’s been quite a Monday for UK Sports, but you know what usually makes everything better? Listening to Karl Towns talk. Thankfully, we’ve got a great opportunity to do just that thanks to Karl’s appearance on The Vertical Podcast with Adrian Wojnarowski. Karl opens up about his entire career, from interviewing Kevin Durant in high school to playing for the Dominican Republic National Team under John Calipari, his year at Kentucky, and now, his remarkable first two years in the NBA. It’s chock full of “Oh, Karl” moments, such as this wonderful reflection on playing for his father growing up.
“I look back at my career and that’s probably the best time, when you’re able to have quality time with your father. Again, I’m more blessed, not for the talents I have in basketball, not for the success I’ve found in the game, but more for the time I’ve had with two loving parents being together for so long.”
And we’re not even to the UK stuff yet…
It just got better when Karl Towns explained his decision to play for the Dominican Republic National Team knowing it meant he could never play for Team USA, a sacrifice he says he made to make his mother proud.
“I knew what I had done when I made that decision. I had all the facts before. There’s no better way than to honor your mother, the person that’s given you life than by playing for her. Every time I go out on the court wearing a Dominican Republic jersey, I know that I’m doing everything I can to make my mother proud. It’s one of those things I understood and wanted to go with regardless of the repercussions it had later in life.”
Of course, playing for the DR National Team also meant playing for its new coach, John Calipari, which Karl claims was a pure coincidence. Karl couldn’t mention Cal and Kentucky without mentioning the loss to Wisconsin in the 2015 Final Four, which he says he will carry with him for the rest of his career.
“We had a chance to really solidify ourselves. Now we have that ‘What if?’ next to our name. ‘They had the talent, they were the best team ever assembled in basketball history, but what if they would have won, would we really have crowned them that?’ Now it’s like a discussion. We never wanted a discussion. We wanted to go out and win. It’s one of those things you remember for the rest of your life. I’ve never let it go. I never will. I will take that as the biggest defeat of my life. I lost the chance to go to the Olympics. I’ve lost the TOC Championship in New Jersey, I’ve lost a lot of games in my life but that definitely will always hold up as the pinnacle and it’s something that you just never want to deal with again.”
“We understood after the game that it wasn’t more of being sad or crying or anything. It was a shock realizing one, the season is over and two, coming to the realization that we’ll never be in the same locker room ever again. And it hurt us. It hurt us, not even from an emotional crying standpoint, but more just mentally understanding that you won’t be looking across the locker room and seeing a Willie Cauley-Stein or a Devin Booker or Tyler Ulis. This is it.”
Dang it, Karl. This was supposed to make me feel better.