Cats in the NBA
Former Kentucky Players in the NBA
By Zack Geoghegan on ©August 05th, 2018 @ 9:00pm
The ratings for Karl-Anthony Towns and DeMarcus Cousins have already been released, but now we know what the developers over at NBA 2K think of New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis.
— NBA 2K19 (@NBA2K) July 24, 2018
Davis was rated a 94 overall and is the second-highest rated player that has been announced thus far, behind only LeBron James (98 overall). While players such as Kevin Durant, Steph Curry, and James Harden have yet to see their official ratings released to the public (all three were rated above a 94 in NBA 2K18), Davis is still expected to be one of the best overall players in the game.
Last season for the New Orleans Pelicans, Davis averaged 28.1 points, 11.1 rebounds, and a league-leading 2.6 blocks per game while shooting 53.4 percent from the field on his way to fifth consecutive All-Star appearance. Davis’ highest ranked attributes will most likely be his blocking, dunking, and eyebrow sculpting.
Davis is currently tied with superstars Giannis Antetokounmpo and Kawhi Leonard for a 94 overall rating.
The ratings for other former Kentucky stars such as John Wall and Devin Booker have still yet to be announced ahead of the Sep. 11 release date, but odds are those will begin to trickle out with only a little over a month remaining before gamers can get their hands on the best-selling basketball video game.
Washington Wizards guard John Wall hosted his 5th annual backpack giveaway on Saturday at the Goodman League basketball court in Washington D.C., giving away 1,000 backpacks to local students.
In association with his organization, the John Wall Family Foundation, Wall was able to partner with Under Armour, EA Sports, the Washington Wizards, and others in order to giveaway backpacks to kids in grades ranging from kindergarten to 12th grade.
Wall hosted the event in Southeast D.C., giving away not only backpacks but also basic school supplies such as pencils, paper, folders along with Adidas t-shirts.
“No matter what part [of the city] I’m in it’s just an opportunity to give back to the community, kind of bless these people with the opportunity to have stuff to go back to school with,” Wall said at the event. “It’s just fun for me and something I’d like to do. I’m not forced to be here. I just do it because I want to and to see the smiles on these kids’ faces is what I do it all for.”
John Wall and the kids. pic.twitter.com/YYoDuJCdE9
— Candace Buckner (@CandaceDBuckner) August 4, 2018
Wall grew up with his mother working multiple jobs to support him and ever since he entered the NBA he’s done whatever he can to make sure that his community has the support it needs to thrive just as he has. Wall is and always has been a sterling example of what it means to be a role model to the younger generation. He’s one of those players that Kentucky fans should constantly be proud of.
John Wall explains that giving back is fun for him just to see the smile on hundreds of kid’s faces. He wants the youth to know that whatever they want to do in life they just have to put forth 110% effort. pic.twitter.com/l90sgAOTxe
— HoopDistrict (@HoopDistrictDC) August 4, 2018
By Zack Geoghegan on ©August 05th, 2018 @ 7:00pm
John Calipari came to Kentucky as a known recruiting savant. Year after year, Cal has abused the one-and-done system to his advantage and in the process has produced constant Elite Eight appearances, an NCAA Championship, and more NBA players than any other coach since his arrival.
There may not be a more influential person on the planet when it comes to taking 18-year olds and molding them into NBA players in a matter of months. His impact on the entirety of the NBA is slowly beginning to show in considerable fashion as his first batch of freshman from way back in 2009 are in the midst of their primes. Players such as John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, and Anthony Davis are now multiple time All-Stars and dominant figures in the NBA. As Cal continues to pump out young prizes such as Karl-Anthony Towns, Devin Booker, and several others, it made me wonder what type of impact Calipari has had on the NBA compared to past Kentucky coaches. Let’s dive a little deeper into exactly what I’m talking about.
Since the NBA was brought to life in 1946 (although the draft wasn’t installed until the 1947 season), the University of Kentucky has employed a total of seven coaches (which is still incredible to think about when discussing the consistency the school has had, considering one of those was Billy Gillispie). In that time span, Kentucky has had 111 players that were selected in the NBA Draft and played at least one NBA game (A total of 121 have been drafted, but 10 of them did not play in an NBA game). Not players that eventually made it into the NBA, but solely players that were drafted. So guys such as Isaiah Briscoe and Wenyen Gabriel are left off this list, even though they’ve recently signed with NBA teams but weren’t drafted. Old school players such as Dale Barnstable and Jim Line were drafted, but ultimately never played in an NBA game.
It should be noted that statistics from the American Basketball Association are not being counted. However, I will also note that Louie Dampier (7x ABA All-Star) and Dan Issel (6x ABA All-Star) were dominant ABA figures before playing the back-end of their careers in the NBA. The ABA only existed from 1967 until 1976 before merging with the NBA.
111 players over the course of 71 years isn’t too shabby. According to the NCAA, Kentucky has had 47 first round draft picks in that span, the second most among all schools and only one behind North Carolina. Kentucky is also tied with Duke for most number one overall picks (three). Wall, Davis, and Towns were all number one picks. They also all came during the Calipari era. Think about that. Up until 2010, Kentucky had never produced a number one overall pick. Sam Bowie was selected number two overall back in 1984, sandwiched between Hakeem Olajuwon and Michael Jordan, although injuries quickly derailed his career. Alex Groza was the number two overall pick in 1949 and won the unofficial Rookie of the Year award before being named an All-Star one year later. Unfortunately, Groza was banned from the NBA after only two seasons for his inclusion in the infamous point-shaving scandal of the 1948-49 season.
Since Cal took over, Kentucky has produced three number one picks in nine years. 33 percent of the time, Calipari is bound to coach the best prospect in the draft. That’s an unheard of trend.
This isn’t to say Kentucky has never seen success in the NBA before Calipari. Players such as Rajon Rondo, Antoine Walker, Rex Chapman, Issel, Cliff Hagan, and plenty of others tell us otherwise. But Calipari pumps out NBA players better than Oak Hill Academy pumps out championships.
Consider this, Adolph Rupp coached Kentucky for 25 seasons while the NBA Draft was in place. In his span, he produced 30 draft picks of whom played a total of 6,692 games in the NBA and collected nine total All-Star selections spread across five players. That’s without counting the ABA numbers. Hagan was easily his most successful NBA player. A five-time All-Star and NBA Champion in 1958, Hagan was a third-round draft pick in 1953. *The NBA didn’t switch to a strictly two-round draft system until 1989.*
Calipari, in his nine seasons (15 fewer than Rupp), has produced 38 NBA draft picks. That’s an average of over four players per draft. Despite most of his players still being in the early stages of their careers, Calipari’s draftees have already played a total of 7,147 games in the NBA, and that doesn’t even include the four that have yet to play a game (Kevin Knox, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Jarred Vanderbilt, and Hamidou Diallo). Four of those players have already gathered a total of 15 All-Star selections and that number should expect to double within the next 5-7 years.
There have been three former Kentucky coaches who never saw any of their players selected to an NBA All-Star game; Billy Gillispie (surprise, surprise), Eddie Sutton (who coached only four seasons), and Joe B. Hall (which is a bit of a surprise).
In terms of longevity, Tubby Smith might actually lead that category (at least until Cal’s players are given another 10 seasons). He’s the only former Kentucky coach whose had a player play at least 1,000 NBA games. And he had two of them; Tayshaun Prince and Nazr Mohammed. Although neither were ever named to an All-Star team.
Here are some other notes regarding Calipari’s dominance in the NBA compared to past Kentucky coaches. There have been 30 former Kentucky players that either currently average or finished their careers averaging at least 10 points per game. 12 of them are Calipari products. There have been 13 players that currently average or finished their careers averaging at least six rebounds per game. Six of them are Calipari products. Finally, there have been seven players that currently average of finished their careers averaging at least four assists per game. Five of them are Calipari products.
If you’re interested in knowing exactly how many games each Kentucky draftee has played and who they were coached by, here’s a Google Sheet that quickly outlines that plus the All-Star selections.
Even if Calipari only coaches another five seasons at Kentucky, he would still be the most influential college coach the NBA has ever seen in terms of impact. There is a non-zero chance that Kentucky has at least 50 NBA players playing in the NBA at the same time during some point in the future, whether he’s the coach at Kentucky or not. Having at least one player on all 30 NBA teams would be a monumental accomplishment. As long as Cal is bringing in blue-chip prospects, Kentucky blue is only going to continue to flood the professional ranks.
Follow me on Twitter: @ZackGeoghegan
By Brent Wainscott on ©August 05th, 2018 @ 12:00pm
Breaking a language barrier can be a challenging task, especially in English. For most people, I’m sure it takes hours of studying and learning the language to grasp it sincerely, but Enes Kanter’s method is a fascinating one.
Kanter couldn’t play his freshman year for the Cats, so what did he do when he wasn’t busy being the Undertaker? He was busy learning English, and how did he learn English? Rosetta Stone? Try again.
In an interview with D.J. Sixsmith of CBS Local Kanter said he learned his English from watching two shows that belong in the annals of Amercian Television. Spongebob Squarepants and Jersey Shore.
Kanter said, ” In college, I couldn’t play, I was just sitting down and watching two shows: Spongebob and Jersey Shore. Because you have to learn the street language, not the normal language.”
— Enes Kanter (@Enes_Kanter) August 1, 2018
Moments like these are why Enes Kanter is starting to become a fan favorite, not just in New York, but the entire NBA. He makes for an excellent follow on twitter as it seems he has taken pages out of Joel Embiid’s book of twitter trolling. You can follow him on twitter @Enes_Kanter.
You can follow me as well: @BrentW_KSR
Kentucky’s highest profiled fan, Drake, has rapped about Kentucky once again. This time it’s Devin Booker who gets the shoutout.
At Midnight on Thursday, Travis Scott released his highly anticipated album, ASTROWORLD, which had a song called “Sicko Mode” that featured Drake. In the song, Drake raps, “See the shots that I took, wet like I’m Book.” This line was about Booker’s ability to splash threes, and it relates to Drake success when he slides in the DMs (Shooters shoot), according to him, at least.
This line adds to the long list of love Drake has shown Kentucky. A list that includes Calipari Flows, Louisville Hush Money, going crazy out in public like Demarcus Cousins, rocking Kentucky blue, and needing a girl from Kentucky. Then, of course, there are the multiple Big Blue Madness appearances, Shoe collaborations honoring coach Cal, and wearing former Kentucky Player jerseys as he was recently wearing Demarcus Cousins’ high school jersey in the “In My Feelings” video.
Drake gets knocked for being a bandwagon fan, but I feel as if he will ride with the Cats.
To listen to Astroworld and the song Sicko Mode, you can stream it here. *NSFW lyrics*
Drake’s highly-anticipated music video for “In My Feelings” was released Thursday night and fans of DeMarcus Cousins may recognize the jersey Drake is wearing in the video’s opening scene.
Drake hops out of a black SUV wearing Cousins’ No. 15 jersey from LeFlore High School, where Cousins was a five-star prospect and First Team Parade All-American, in Mobile, Alabama.
If you want to get “KiKi, do you love me?” stuck in your head for the rest of the day, you can see Drake’s new music video below:
By Drew Franklin on ©July 30th, 2018 @ 3:00pm
Two former Wildcats from last season will be back in Kentucky this week to sign autographs for fans throughout the Bluegrass. Both Jarred Vanderbilt and Wenyen Gabriel will travel around Kentucky on separate autograph tours. Vanderbilt will begin his at Towne Mall in Elizabethtown today, while Gabriel will start his tomorrow at Barleycorn’s in Cold Spring.
Their full schedules can be seen below:
Dwight Howard joined John Wall in Washington this summer with hopes of making a run in the LeBron-less Eastern Conference next season. It’s Howard’s fourth team in four years and the sixth in his career, and all it took was a direct message from Wall to make it happen.
In speaking to NBC Sports Washington, Howard said a message from Wall on Instagram got him excited about the potential of becoming a Wizard. He had been in talks with the Warriors, but Wall’s invitation got opened him up to the possibilities in D.C.
“Shoutout to John for reaching out to me and asking me about joining this team,” Howard said.
Howard, in fact, hadn’t really thought about the Wizards much at all when he began contemplating his next step as he processed a trade by the Hornets and a looming buyout by the Nets. It was while he was considering his options that he received a message on Instagram from Wall.
“No lie, when I saw the message on Instagram, I really got so happy. I was like ‘John just DM’d me, oh man this is crazy!’ After that, I really just started to put on my thinking cap,” Howard said. “I just thought about all the possibilities. I was like ‘man, this could be the best spot for me.'”
With rumored turmoil on the Wizards’ roster the past couple of years, it sounds like Wall and Howard are a duo that are ready to get along. Maybe they can get Washington over the hump in the East.
And it’s not surprising Howard was considering the Warriors first.
By Brett Bibbins on ©July 29th, 2018 @ 10:00pm
Former Cat one and done forward Kevin Knox posted the below picture on Twitter this weekend showing that he’s been working out at UNLV with former Kentucky special assistant coach Rod Strickland.
— Kev (@KevKnox) July 28, 2018
After coaching at Kentucky, Strickland moved down to the University of South Florida where he coached as a part of Orlando Antigua’s staff from 2014-2017.
Strickland was obviously never a part of the recruitment or coaching of Kevin Knox for Kentucky, but you know the way Coach Cal has preached #LaFamilia in his time at Lexington. Once you are a member of the program, you are a member for life.
It is always cool to see the different generations of Kentucky basketball interacting away from campus. Hopefully, the workouts will come to fruition, as Knox begins his first season in the NBA under some of the brightest lights in the league at Madison Square Garden for the Knicks.
By Nick Roush on ©July 28th, 2018 @ 3:23pm
Wenyen Gabriel has found an NBA home.
The former Kentucky small forward went undrafted after two years in Lexington, but worked his way onto an NBA Summer League roster. After averaging 6.8 points and 5.6 rebounds through five games, David Aldridge reports the Sacramento Kings will sign him to a two-way deal.
In two years at Kentucky, Gabriel averaged 5.7 points, 5.1 rebounds and one block per game. Gabriel was selected to the All-SEC Tournament Team after he made a record seven three-pointers in the tournament semifinal against Alabama. He is now the fourth Kentucky Wildcat in the Kings’ organization, joining Willie Cauley-Stein, De’Aaron Fox and Skal Labissiere.
When Gabriel initially decided to keep his name in the NBA Draft, few believed he could make it in the NBA. Everyone at KSR is happy to see Gabriel the doubters wrong.