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Dwane Casey and Walter McCarty will coach in UK Alumni Game

Photo by Dr. Michael Huang

The annual UK Alumni Charity Game will be played on Friday night at Rupp Arena, but players are already starting to trickle in to the practice facilities to get a head start on training for the event.

Per NBA rules, UK is unable to confirm any players participating in the game, leaving a bit of surprise for fans in attendance.

What they can confirm, though?

Former Wildcats Dwane Casey and Walter McCarty will be the head coaches of the event.

Casey is currently the head coach of the Toronto Raptors and McCarty is an assistant for the Boston Celtics.

Don’t tell anyone we told you this, but it’s looking like a cast of superstars is set for the Kentucky reunion.

As of today, Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins, John Wall, Eric Bledsoe, Trey Lyles, Rajon Rondo, and Terrence Jones, among several others, are rumored to be participating.

We’ll let you know when an official list is leaked or new players announce they are headed to Lexington.

If you haven’t purchased tickets, head over to Ticketmaster and get those ordered ASAP.

You won’t want to miss out.


LOOK: The New Orleans Pelicans have taken over Kentucky’s practice facility

@KentuckyMBB

Kentucky’s players in the NBA are expected to descend upon Lexington for the Alumni Game later this week, but four former Cats are taking the homecoming to another level. The entire New Orleans Pelicans squad is in Lexington this week to train, which makes sense considering DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis, Rajon Rondo, and Darius Miller are all on the roster. UK sent out pictures of the PeliCATS working out this morning:

@KentuckyMBB

@KentuckyMBB

@KentuckyMBB

Welcome back, fellas. As Dick Vitale just said on Twitter, recruits across the nation should sit up and take notice:

UPDATE: Another pic from Calipari:

 


UK Basketball Recruiting Rewind: Nerlens Noel

UK Basketball Recruiting Rewind: Nerlens Noel

It’s time for another Recruiting Rewind. Want more? Reminisce with me as we look back on the recruitments of John Wall and Terrence Jones.


It’s a funny thing when a big letdown is followed up by a massive victory. Karma, it would seem, is a fan of college basketball recruiting, at least in the case of the BBN and Nerlens Noel.

While The Brow is undoubtedly the most iconic physical feature a Calipari player has had, the Flat-top wasn’t too far behind. And while following in the footsteps of a once-in-a-generation player and a national championship team is no easy task, Nerlens gave it all of the mental strength he had, but in the end, it was his body that crumpled under the weight.

The Recruitment

After the success of Anthony Davis at UK, the market value for tall, lanky shot blockers was at an all-time high. So naturally, when a 6’11” phenom with a flat-top fade comes on the scene, college coaches were salivating.

The Tilton Academy star entertained offers from the likes of Kansas and North Carolina, but would go on to visit Syracuse, Georgetown, and Kentucky.

The Commitment

Before Noel would announce his decision, there was another matter of business to attend to.

Shabazz Muhammad.

The 2012 recruiting gauntlet was dominated by Noel and Muhammad, both of whom were considering Kentucky and both of whom were going to commit on the same night. Was a package deal in the cards?

Not on this night. After Shabazz committed to UCLA, fans started to entertain the idea that maybe Cal wouldn’t snag either of the top two players in the nation.

But fortunately, the big man came through with one of the slickest college commitments of all time.

Now that’s how you promote not only yourself, but your future school.

The Performance

Noel played in 24 games, averaging nearly a double-double per game, with 10.5 points and 9.5 rebounds. He was the anchor of the 2012-2013 team, which only made his eventual injury all the more devastating. Without Nerlens, the team struggled to find a rhythm to ride out the rest of the season.

A premature exit in the NIT ended Cal’s most lackluster year at Kentucky.

“Robert Morris” exists as a painful joke in the Bluegrass.

And a healthy Nerlens Noel is now one of the biggest “what if ” scenarios in UK history.

@JayWinkKSR


Three New Names Added to the Alumni Game Guest List

The rosters for the UK Legends Game were set yesterday on Kentucky Sports Radio.  The list of names is impressive, but that’s just the undercard.

NBA rules prohibit UK from announcing who will play in the main event, but thanks to Twitter and a few sources, we’ve got a good picture of who will playing Friday night.  Trey Lyles, Darius Miller and Eric Bledsoe will play in the Alumni Charity Game.  All three said on Twitter they’re excited to return to Rupp.  Here’s who we know will be joining them:

  • Derek Anderson
  • Keith Bogans
  • Rex Chapman
  • Joe Crawford
  • Tony Delk
  • Jamaal Magloire
  • Antoine Walker
  • Terrence Jones

The game will not be televised.  The only place you can see it is in the Rup Arena stands.  Tickets start at just $5 and you can buy them here.


UK Basketball Recruiting Rewind: Terrence Jones

It’s time for another Recruiting Rewind, and this time, we look back on one of the more convoluted recruitments of Coach Cal’s tenure at UK: Terrence Jones.

Most college commitments are pretty cut and dry. The kid sets a date, decides a few days before, then announces it to the world with complete certainty. The saga that Terrence Jones went through, however, was pretty much everything but cut and dry.

The Recruitment

In a class topped off by Jared Sullinger, Harrison Barnes, and one flat-earther Kyrie Irving, it would’ve been easy to dismiss a lot of players outside the top 5 of the 2010 recruiting rankings.

But T-Jones did his best to stand out.

At the high school level, Jones was athletic enough to dominate at pretty much every position on the court. His skillset was worthy of a player with the right to choose between Kansas, Oklahoma, Oregon, UCLA, Washington and Kentucky.

By commitment time, the race would pretty much come down to UK, with Cal about to have 5 players drafted in the 1st round, or Washington, where Jones could stay close to home and join his high school teammate Terrence Ross.

The Commitment

Ah, a twist!

I’ve personally never seen a commit less confident in their own choice. The Seattle Times’ Percy Allen knew Jones wasn’t exactly euphoric after his decision:

The news conference is over, but the drama may just be starting.

Almost everyone has left the Jefferson High gymnasium, however, Terrence Jones is huddled with his parents in the corner of the gymnasium and folks are keeping their distance. Seems like a major pow-wow.

I spoke to Jones and I can tell this recruiting stuff hasn’t been fun for him. On what is supposed to be a joyous occasion, he sighed heavily and said he was happy that it was over.

Unlike Terrence Ross, who was decked out in Husky purple and said he made his choice a month ago, Jones didn’t know where he was going until the moment he picked the UW hat.

[Seattle Times]

From there, Jones was still in talks with Coach Cal, and based on an interview Calipari did with Seattle’s 95.5 The Fan, Terrence immediately regretted choosing the Huskies:

Well, we thought that he was coming with us and when he said ‘Washington’ we were like ‘what just happened?’ That was the first thing. Then he called about an hour later and said ‘Cal, I made a mistake. I don’t know what I was doing.’ That is when the thing went like ‘You what?’ So we talked to him and said that we are going to do whatever you want. I am holding your scholarship.”

[ESPN]

It’s a good thing Cal left the door open, as Jones would flip the script and commit to the Wildcats just 3 weeks later.

The Performance

Jones’ freshman year at UK saw him average 15.7 points and 8.8 boards per game. He was named the SEC Rookie of the Year, and was a 1st Team All-SEC selection in 2011.

His sophomore year saw his statistical performance drop, averaging only 12.3 points and 7.2 rebounds per game. Of course, with the additions of AD and MKG, Terrence no longer had to be the only dominant forward on the floor at times for Kentucky.

Jones’ and Doron Lambs’ decisions to stay at Kentucky for their sophomore seasons bolstered the maturity of the 2012 squad. Many fans cite this maturity as the missing link in Calipari’s teams since then.

Of course, we know what their leadership did for this team.

@JayWinkKSR


Three former Cats in town for autograph signings

Three former Cats in town for autograph signings

Former Kentucky players are beginning to arrive in Lexington for next weekend’s Alumni Game, and many are expected to do autograph signings while in town. Dakari Johnson and Dominique Hawkins will get things started with a signing tomorrow from 11 a.m. to noon at All Sports in Fayette Mall:

On Thursday, Keith Bogans will also be at All Sports at Fayette Mall from 6 – 7:30 p.m. to sign autographs and hang out with fans:

If one of you doesn’t take this picture for Bogans to sign, you’re not doing it right:

 


DeMarcus Cousins: Take all the Confederate statues down

DeMarcus Cousins: Take all the Confederate statues down

With all of the talk about taking down Confederate statues and a white nationalist group potentially planning a rally in Lexington the same weekend as the UK Alumni Game, it was only a matter of time before a former Kentucky player was asked about it. TMZ caught up with DeMarcus Cousins this morning, and he made it clear — in language I can’t repeat on this site — that he believes the statues should come down:

“Hell yeah,” Boogie said. “Take all those ************* down. Take them all down.”

He also shares some thoughts on Trump. (LANGUAGE NSFW)

Well, there you go.


WATCH: Could you pass the John Wall Challenge?

Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

We’ve always known John Wall to be a star, but in the past few years, he has separated himself as one of the top point guards in the NBA.

After signing a $207 million extension with the Wizards last month, the former Wildcat is getting paid like one, as well.

Most people know him for his ridiculous speed and scoring ability, but his knack for finding open teammates is second to none.

As you can see in the video below, Wall’s court vision is jaw-dropping:

Could you pass the #JohnWallChallenge?

(I’m going to vote no.)


TMZ tracked down Karl-Anthony Towns in Los Angeles

TMZ tracked down Karl-Anthony Towns in Los Angeles

Karl-Anthony Towns is all grown up and reaching peak superstardom, which is why he had to wade through paparazzi madness in Los Angeles recently.

The invasive staff over at TMZ caught Towns leaving a trendy L.A. restaurant to ask him about 2K ratings and Minnesota’s Christmas Day game later this year.

Towns was as polite as one can be in that situation, but he didn’t have a lot to say as he climbed into a vehicle. However, he did say he and his fellow Timberwolves are going to “have some fun” this season.

Watch:


Tayshaun Prince joining Grizzlies’ front office

Tayshaun Prince’s playing days appear to be over, but that doesn’t mean he is leaving the NBA.

The Memphis Grizzlies are reportedly eyeing Prince for a front office gig, per the Memphis Commercial Appeal. The plan is to hire Prince as a special assistant to general manager Chris Wallace.

Prince played for the Grizzlies from January 2013 to January 2015. He last suited up for the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2015-16 and spent all of last season as a free agent.

While we’re on the subject of Tayshaun Prince, remember that time he hit five three-pointers against North Carolina?


Kyle Wiltjer signs with the Raptors

Kyle Wiltjer signs with the Raptors

Looks like that Goonies reunion with Willie Cauley-Stein brought Kyle Wiltjer some good luck. Wiltjer signed a one-year deal with the Toronto Raptors today, and will compete for a final roster spot at training camp in September.

Last year, Wiltjer signed with the Houston Rockets as an undrafted rookie and spent most of his time in the D-League with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, averaging 20.5 points (including 37.9% shooting) and 6.4 rebounds per game. He and fellow former Cat DeAndre Liggins were sent to the Los Angeles Clippers in the Chris Paul deal, but the Clippers parted ways with Wiltjer last month. Now, he’ll battle Kennedy Meeks and Alfonzo McKinnie for one of the final two roster spots at the Raptors’ training camp.

Good luck, Kyle. Hopefully you and Willie can team up for a Goonies Christmas Special when the Sacramento Kings host the Raptors in December.

The Goonies are back! Willie Cauley-Stein & Kyle Wiltjer take over Hong Kong

 


WATCH: Take an inside look at John Wall’s ridiculous offseason training regimen

BallIsLife.com has been rooming with John Wall this summer, filming a documentary on the former Kentucky star’s ridiculous offseason training regimen.

(The term “offseason” is certainly used loosely here.)

BallIsLife caught up with some of the trainers, Washington team personnel, and Wall himself on how he prepares for the NBA season.

See what it’s like to be John Wall for a summer in part one of the documentary:

Basketball, cardio, boxing, repeat.

Could you keep up with Wall’s schedule?


Derek Willis invited to Team USA AmeriCup Training Camp

Derek Willis invited to Team USA AmeriCup Training Camp

Congratulations to Derek Willis, who was one of 16 players invited to Team USA’s training camp for the FIBA AmeriCup 2017 tournament, as announced by USA Basketball this afternoon.

Willis will attend training camp at the University of Houston August 17-24 in hopes of making the 12-man roster for the AmeriCup, which will take place August 28-30 in Montevideo, Uruguay. Earlier this summer, Willis signed a one-year deal with the Detroit Pistons, who intend on making him an affiliate player with their D-League team in Grand Rapids.

Former NBA head coach Jeff Van Gundy will serve as head coach of Team USA alongside assistant coaches Ty Ellis and Mo McHone. The training camp roster is made up of mostly D-League players:

Don’t worry; this will have zero impact on Willis’ deal with the Pistons since training camp doesn’t begin until late September. If anything, it’s a huge opportunity for Derek to work on his game against fellow pros and represent his country. The final roster should be announced sometime before August 24. From there, the AmeriCup squad will head to Uruguay to begin preliminary play.

You got this, Derek.


IG: JohnWall

John Wall works out with LeBron James

IG: JohnWall

With his new four-year $170 million contract extension in place, John Wall is now wholly focused on next season, spending the past week in Miami to train with the best of the best. Over the weekend, Wall worked out with LeBron James and Rob McClanaghan, one of the best skill trainers in the NBA:

Great work in South Beach with @kingjames and @johnwall Game like intensity. No reps off!

A post shared by Rob McClanaghan (@robmac24) on

Coincidentally, earlier in the week, Wall played pickup against Kyrie Irving, who has famously requested to be traded from the Cavaliers because he’s (reportedly) tired of being in LeBron’s shadow. Wall had no problem pulling up and nailing this three in Irving’s face:

This dunk’s not bad either (language NSFW):

Who will Wall work out with next?


Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Eric Bledsoe holds backpack giveaway, celebrity game in Birmingham

Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Former Kentucky and current Suns guard Eric Bledsoe continues to give back to his hometown. For the third consecutive year The Eric Bledsoe Foundation held a backpack giveaway in Birmingham at Regions Field, more than 1,000 backpacks filled with school supplies were given out to kids from the area.

This is more than just a giveaway though, Bledsoe dedicated his entire weekend to the kids as he hopes to make an impact on as many of them as he can.

Bledsoe told the WBRC, “I grew up here, I can’t say that enough. I know what it takes and I know how hard it can be.”

The event continues today as the third annual Eric Bledsoe Foundation Celebrity Basketball Game begins at 4 PM at Lawson State Community College in Birmingham. Alabama native and former Kentucky great DeMarcus Cousins will play alongside Bledsoe in the game. Nets guard K.J. Daniels is also playing in the game.

“I’m just trying to get these kids off the streets and come have fun with me for a weekend.”

All proceeds from the event benefit The Eric Bledsoe Foundation.