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Today on KSR: Sellout day for UK

Today on KSR: Sellout day for UK

Good morning, folks! I hope you all had a great Tuesday and your Hump Day is off to a grand start. It’s still finals week at Kentucky and most places across the country, so there’s not much going on with the football or basketball teams, but that won’t stop us from crunching out content here at KSR.

Let’s hop to it.

Tickets! Tickets!:

If you want to sit in the Kentucky section in Orlando you better hurry and get your tickets through UK Athletics. As of Tuesday Kentucky was down to just 300 tickets and will likely sellout its 9,000 ticket allotment today. So, you know, hurry.

I know many folks don’t buy through UK Athletics, and that’s fine and dandy because I’m thinking the Big Blue Nation is going to show up in a big way down in Orlando. Heck, the majority of people will end up not buying through UK so it’s likely UK gets over 20,000 people at the game (which is just 20 days away!).

If you want to try and gobble up some of the remaining 300 tickets, click the link below:

UK’s Citrus Bowl Ticket Allotment is almost Sold Out

Some good recruiting news:

Maybe. Just maybe.

The four-star safety is ranked the 23rd best safety in the class of 2019 and holds offers from nearly all the top programs in the country but seems to be down to UK and South Carolina.

Jammie Robinson is from Leesburg, Ga, and will officially visit Lexington this weekend for the mega-UK football weekend. I can’t confirm he’s actually wearing UK gloves, but I have no reason to doubt Chad. Chad is a good fella.

Speaking of new additions:

No, I don’t know who the transfer is that Matt Jones has been talking about for weeks, but he did give us an update on his radio show on Tuesday. Matt said it could be announced anytime but his guess is next week and he even mentioned that there may be a SECOND TRANSFER! He’s not as certain about the second transfer, but said if both happen and end up at UK it will be a “huge coup.”

No one at KSR besides Matt knows the mystery transfers, but a former UK target is on the market.

Former Kentucky Commit is on the Transfer Market

Trouble at Nova:

Coming off a national championship and two in the last three seasons, Jay Wright is far from the hot seat. He would have to have five straight bad seasons before Nova fans would even be remotely disappointed.

But, this may be one. Villanova fell to Penn last night 78-73. The Wildcats are now 8-3 on the season, which isn’t bad, but with loses to Furman, Penn and a home blowout to Michigan and Kansas looming on Saturday things could be better.

And after the loss freshman Jahvon Quinerly (who played just one minute in the loss) went to Instagram to express his frustration. Obviously the post was deleted (duh), but this will almost certainly be a distraction for Villanova. I’d expect an apology from Quinerly today.

Quinerly initially committed to Arizona but flipped to Villanova after things went down at Arizona with the FBI investigation. Things aren’t great for UK basketball, but at least the locker room is intact.

Will Josh Allen win another award:

I don’t think there’s any for him to win today, but knowing how many he’s racked up over the last few weeks I wouldn’t be surprised if someone made up a new award just to give it to Allen. It’s trophy SZN.

Tuesday he was announced to the ESPN All-American team. Here’s a running list of his rewards/accomplishments:

  • Lott IMPACT Trophy (National Defensive Player of the Year)
  • Chuck Bednarik Award (National Defensive Player of the Year)
  • Bronko Nagurski Trophy (National Defensive Player of the Year)
  • SEC Defensive Player of the Year (AP, Coaches)
  • First Team All-SEC (AP, Coaches, ESPN)
  • First Team All-American (Sports Illustrated, The Athletic, Pro Football Focus, AP, FWAA, CBS, The Sporting News, ESPN)
  • Finalist for the Walter Camp National Player of the Year, the Butkus Award (nation’s best linebacker), and Ted Hendricks Award (defensive end of the year).
  • T.J.’s Favorite Defensive Player 2018 (T.J.)

UK vs. UofL comparison:

Seton Hall has played against Louisville and Kentucky. Despite trailing most of the game, the Cards came out on top against Seton Hall, and despite the Pirates trailing most of the game against UK Seton Hall pulled out a win against the Cats. Sports, man.

Seton Hall head coach Kevin Willard talked about the differences. Basically, UK is stronger and more physical and the Cards are better shooters. That’s a fair assessment.

Whatever. The Seton Hall game still steams me.

Seton Hall coach on the difference between UK and UofL

What’s your favorite Christmas movie?:

This website suggests that Kentuckians enjoy Elf the most during the holiday season. I like Elf. Not my favorite Christmas movie but it’s definitely in the top five. Maybe in the top three. An instant classic.

But my goodness some of these states are ridiculous. Alaska, what the hell is The Apartment? New Mexico with The Nightmare Before Christmas? Creepy but I respect it. Is Batman Returns even a Christmas movie?


TWEAK ALERT: John Calipari says he made “a couple tweaks on offense” to help team

Ask and you shall receive, Big Blue Nation.

After a disappointing loss to Seton Hall on Saturday and momentum temporarily swinging away from the program a bit, Kentucky head coach John Calipari decided to make some changes… and we won’t have to wait until Camp Cal to see them.

On his weekly call-in radio show, Calipari said he has made “a couple tweaks” on offense that he feels that he thinks will help the team moving forward.

It started with a brief discussion about the grieving process following a loss and how he allows just 24 hours of feeling bad before moving on. From there, it’s about realizing these kids are hurting too and you just have to push them through it.

“When you’re me, losing just wipes you out for 24 hours,” he said. “Then you just have to come back and say “Alright, if I feel this bad, how do these kids feel?” Then I’ve got to come back and say, “Alright, what’s there, what can we do?”‘

With the tweaks, he has already told his team the changes are coming and it might be that way for the long haul.

“I made a couple tweaks in a couple of the ways we were playing offensively that I think will help us,” he said. “And I talked them through it, said “This is what we are going to do, I want to try some of this.” So this whole season is going to be that way, my guess, including who we play.”

One of those people included in the tweak? Kentucky guard Jemarl Baker, who played his first minutes as a Wildcat late in the first half on Saturday.

It’ll be a process, but he believes the sharpshooter can work his way into the rotation if he gives it his all.

“Someone was asking about Jemarl Baker,” he said. “I said to Jemarl, “You’re the tenth man. You are. You just started practicing, you’re not moving in front of anyone yet. But here’s what I would tell you, when you get your chance, be the seventh guy, sixth guy, start. But you’re going to have to perform in games. For right now, you’re the tenth man.”

When it came to his first minutes against Seton Hall, Calipari said he thought Baker did a great job in limited time on the floor.

We went down to the bench and just said “Can we play you?” Calipari said. “(Baker) said, “Oh, yeah.” I thought he went in there and did pretty good. But it was his first time. Hopefully he gets that chance and goes in there and does some good stuff for us.”

Beyond Baker getting healthy and earning more reps, any other ideas for what the tweak could be?

Kentucky’s opponents in the ratings: December 10

Nicole Sweet-USA TODAY Sports

Kentucky’s loss to Seton Hall dropped them ten spots in the AP and Coaches Polls, but it didn’t do too much damage to their ratings. The Cats only fell one spot in the KenPom and Sagarin ratings and two in the ESPN BPI. After rising to No. 23 in the NCAA’s NET rankings, they’re back down to No. 33.

  • AP Poll: 19 (Previous: 9)
  • Coaches Poll: 18 (Previous: 8)
  • Ken Pomeroy Ratings: 17 (Previous: 16)
  • Jeff Sagarin Ratings: 26 (Previous: 25)
  • NET Rankings: 33 (Previous: 23)
  • ESPN Basketball Power Index (BPI): 17 (Previous: 15)

How about Kentucky’s opponents? Here’s our weekly look at the Cats’ foes in the rankings and ratings:

TeamResultAP PollCoaches PollKenPomSagarinNETESPN BPI
Duke Loss, 118-84221131
Southern IllinoisWin, 71-59NRNR901026290
North DakotaWin, 96-58NRNR280285292246
VMIWin, 92-82NRNR321329320319
WinthropWin, 87-74NRNR167171172172
Tennessee StateWin, 77-62NRNR276256312238
MonmouthWin, 90-44NRNR295322348304
UNC GreensboroWin, 78-61NRNR78848463
Seton HallLoss, 84-83NRNR56638564
UtahDec. 15NRNR128139141168
North CarolinaDec. 22121277153
LouisvilleDec. 29NRNR40211931
AlabamaJan. 5NRNR707110155
Texas A&MJan. 8NRNR83110133118
VanderbiltJan. 12, Jan. 29NRNR63656167
GeorgiaJan. 15NRNR123109109112
AuburnJan. 19, Feb. 238898108
Mississippi StateJan. 22, Feb. 9181723342727
KansasJan. 26112667
FloridaFeb. 2, March 9NRNR22274825
South CarolinaFeb. 5NRNR10311921394
LSUFeb. 12NRNR49493953
TennesseeFeb. 16, March 2341010510
MissouriFeb. 19NRNR958811081
ArkansasFeb. 26NRNR50426095
Ole MissMarch 5NRNR61585496

A few observations:

— How good is Seton Hall? Based on KenPom, Sagarin, and BPI, they should be an NCAA Tournament team. The Pirates even got a vote in the AP Poll this week. That doesn’t do anything to make me feel better about Saturday. It was a bad loss all around.

— Utah is one of the worst teams left on the schedule and couldn’t come at a better time for Kentucky. The Cats will get one last chance to get things back on track before playing North Carolina in Chicago and Louisville at the Yum Center, this team’s first true road game. Hopefully being back at Rupp will help this team hit the reset button before beginning a brutal stretch.

— Saturday’s performance does not bode well for the SEC road schedule. If the Cats can’t keep it together vs. Seton Hall at a neutral site, how will they keep it together vs. tougher competition in a hostile gym? Cal’s teams always drop a random SEC game on the road; unless this group grows up overnight, I expect a handful of them this season.

Insider Notes: UK hits the road for recruiting

Photo via Endless Motor

Happy Monday, folks! I hope you all had a good weekend despite the frustrating loss. There’s no spinning Saturday’s game, but the good news is UK watched a handful of targets over the weekend and has picked up the intensity in a few recruitments.

Here are the notes.

(photo by Adam Zagoria)

Jaden McDaniels:

John Calipari and Kenny Payne were front and center to watch five-star Jaden McDaniels. I don’t have anything new from the kid or anyone close to McDaniels. He’s a quiet kid and things are probably going to be mostly quiet until he commits.

But that doesn’t stop other folks from talking.

I know that UK feels like they’re “closing in” on McDaniels. It’s not unusual for folks close to UK’s staff to feel confident about a recruit (if you’ve followed along long enough you know they generally feel like they have a chance in every recruitment) but things may be aligning for McDaniels:

  • Location doesn’t seem to be an issue. He has said it. Folks that know his recruitment say it won’t be a factor. I’ve always thought if McDaniels doesn’t pick UK it will be because of location, but no one seems overly concerned about that as of today.
  • McDaniels wants to get to the NBA ASAP and no school on his list does it better than UK. The Cats aren’t fighting Duke or Kansas in this recruitment. They have a track record that UCLA, Texas, Washington and San Diego State can’t match.
  • Cal has been more active and persistent in this recruitment than any other coach over the last several months. This should get you excited. We haven’t always heard a lot about it because things are so quiet with McDaniels, but Calipari has basically been the lead guy in this recruitment for months. Kenny Payne has been there, too. When those two guys are spending months recruiting you/building a relationship it helps the Cats’ position. Calipari certainly doesn’t need recruiting advice from me, but I have thought in some recruitments he showed up a little too late. Sure, assistants were there months prior, but he may take things over a little late in the game. That’s not the case for McDaniels.

I still think UK lands McDaniels but it’s an educated guess. He has said he will wait until the spring, so I guess we’ll take him for his word regarding a timeline.

La Lumiere:

Calipari watched Isaiah Stewart and Keion Brooks of La Lumiere on Saturday and things remain intriguing in both recruitments.


Wouldn’t it be a great surprise if Stewart shocked virtually everyone and picked UK? The Cats once had momentum in this recruitment but that hasn’t been the case for months. There have now been three (by my count) times UK has reached back out after things seemed to cool. I’ve heard that Stewart and his immediate family like UK, maybe even the family more than the kid. Those outside the family aren’t as high on UK because they hadn’t been recruiting him as long as the other schools. At least that’s what I’m told. Every time UK has reached back out or made contact it’s been trying to pitch to the family and to the kid. I’m unsure how those pitches have gone or how receptive the family is to UK, but the fact there isn’t much buzz tells me it may be too big of a hurdle to overcome. Never say never, but I don’t see it happening and I hope I’m wrong because Stewart would ease any frontcourt concerns for next season just like that. I think he’ll land at MSU.


Nothing new on Brooks. He finished with 22 points and nine rebounds in a win with UK watching. I still believe UK is running second but Kentucky’s staff has spent a lot of time building a relationship with Brooks’ family and I wouldn’t be shocked if he picked the Cats. Someone that covers IU to me there’s a lot of pressure for Brooks to pick Indiana. He’s the missing piece, he hears about IU everyday and they keep driving home the idea of representing his state in college. The sense is that will be too much to pass up.

Again, I wouldn’t be shocked if UK upset the Hoosiers for Brooks (it’s not impossible), but no reason to jump off my IU prediction at this point.

Matthew Hurt:

He had a huge game over the weekend in a losing effort (highlights above). I don’t have anything new regarding his recruitment but he’s fun to watch and could be a major difference maker for the Cats next season.

The plan is for him to checkout UNC this weekend (where he’s being told he can play like Luke Maye, how exciting) and then there’s a tentative Duke visit set for the UVA game in January. It’s unclear when/if he will checkout Kansas or Memphis for official visits.

I had Jake Weingarten on my podcast this week and he thinks it could come down to UK or Memphis for Hurt. Click HERE to listen. I’m not as high on Memphis on this recruitment but it seems like most experts think the Cats are right there at or near the top.

Anthony Edwards:

Joel Justus watched Edwards over the weekend as he finished with 27 points and 12 rebounds in a loss. Edwards has officially visited UGA and said FSU, Duke, Kansas and Michigan State will also receive official visits.

So, that means as of today UK’s not landing an official, and I can’t say I’m surprised.

I don’t think UK lands Edwards and the fact he’s not planning an official isn’t’ going to change my mind. UK hopes and thinks they will be able to get him on campus for an unofficial visit in January, but I think it’s somewhat telling that he mentioned those other schools for official visits.

It’s an Occam’s razor situation in my opinion.


2020 guys:

Joel Justus watched plenty of young talent this weekend. Here’s a list of guys I’ve confirmed UK watched:

Jalen Johnson– There were reports that UK missed Johnson. Not the case. They watched him yesterday. One of the best scorers in high school basketball he’s going to be one of UK’s top 2020 targets.

N’Faly Dante– It’s a name I’ve been throwing around for nearly a year and over the last few months the Cats have really been going after him. From a body/talent standpoint he’s one of maybe two 2020 guys that I think could make the 2019 jump and be successful. No indication that he’s planning on doing that, but UK does need frontcourt players for next season. Assuming he stays 2020 he will be UK’s big frontcourt recruit for that class.

Cade Cunningham- His name has been thrown around and UK watched him, but as of right now he doesn’t appear to be a serious Kentucky target. The Cats will continue to watch him as they like his game, but just need to see more of him. Versatile player that’s well coached. My guess is he ends up with an offer at some point, but just a guess as UK still wants to see more.

Hunter Dickinson- Here’s a player that I’ve really liked since watching him go toe-to-toe with Wiseman and Carey over the summer. Talent wise he’s not going to blow you away with his moves or jumper, but he plays incredibly hard and doesn’t make a lot of mistakes. He’ll be a fun piece for whoever lands him and should be a two year college player. UK’s interested.

There were obviously several other players that played in games UK watched this weekend, but I think those were the bulk of the players Kentucky was really intrigued in seeing. UK’s doing a really nice job getting out and seeing a lot of these 2020 kids and I’m guessing that cycle goes better for UK (although the 2019 class could still be really good).

Some news:

This will be my last Monday Insider Notes as it’s my last week at KSR. Covering UK recruiting for the last six years has been a blast and talking with you all about the future of Kentucky basketball here at KSR for the last 8/9 months was the best part of the gig.

Two years ago I started taking real estate appraising classes. It started off just about 2-4 hours a day for the first year but now it’s about eight hours daily and a full-time job. It’s a long process but I’m eligible to become certified early in 2019. There’s sadly just not enough time in the day for me to work towards that goal while also being full-time at KSR.

I told Matt when I accepted the position that I was doing appraising on the side and I would be eligible to be certified in 2019.  In October I notified him that I was still planning on making the transition and he has been nothing but great and helpful throughout the process. Everyone at KSR has been amazing. But the readers deserve someone that can keep an eye on recruiting 247 while traveling to the best events throughout the year and sadly I won’t have the time, but KSR has a great plan in place and I’m confident that the recruiting news will only continue to improve.

I’ll still be doing radio and will follow UK recruiting, so I look forward to continued discussions. Heck, find me in the KSR comment section.

I’ll be here working away the rest of the week before saying a final goodbye, but thanks for reading.

Josh Allen wins Lott IMPACT Trophy for National Defensive Player of the Year

Josh Allen wins Lott IMPACT Trophy for National Defensive Player of the Year

Kentucky linebacker Josh Allen has won the Lott IMPACT Trophy for National Defensive Player of the Year.

The four finalists for the Lott IMPACT Trophy were Allen, Ben Burr-Kirven of Washington, Ben Humphreys of Duke, and Christian Wilkins of Clemson.

The award, named after USC All-American and College Football Hall of Fame inductee Ronnie Lott, recognizes the best defensive player in the nation who best exemplifies the IMPACT acronym: Integrity, Maturity, Performance, Academics, Community and Tenacity.

Past winners of the award, which was announced during the 15th Annual Lott IMPACT Trophy Award Show this evening in Newport Beach, California, include Luke Keuchly, JJ Watt, and Jabrill Peppers.

With the award, the University of Kentucky will receive $25,000 for its general scholarship fund, while Washington, Duke, and Clemson will receive $5,000 for finishing as runner-ups.

Also winning the Bronko Nagurski Trophy and Chuck Bednarik Award, Allen is now considered the consensus National Defensive Player of the Year.

The Kentucky linebacker was also named SEC Defensive Player of the Year and was a unanimous AP All-SEC first-team selection.

Here is the list of Allen’s career statistics:

  • 28.5 career sacks (Kentucky record)
  • 14 sacks this season (Kentucky record)
  • 11 career forced fumbles (Ties Danny Trevathan for UK record)
  • Leads the SEC in sacks, tackles for loss (18.5) and forced fumbles (5)
  • Team-high 84 tackles

And his list of accolades:

  • Lott IMPACT Trophy (National Defensive Player of the Year)
  • Chuck Bednarik Award (National Defensive Player of the Year)
  • Bronko Nagurski Trophy (National Defensive Player of the Year)
  • SEC Defensive Player of the Year (AP, Coaches)
  • First Team All-SEC (AP, Coaches)
  • First Team All-American (Sports Illustrated, The Athletic, Pro Football Focus)
  • Finalist for the Walter Camp National Player of the Year, the Butkus Award (nation’s best linebacker), and Ted Hendricks Award (defensive end of the year).

Kentucky commit JJ Weaver visits Louisville

Kentucky commit JJ Weaver visits Louisville

Despite committing to Kentucky just nine days ago, four-star defensive end commitment JJ Weaver took a visit to Louisville this afternoon.

The Moore High School product posted the following picture on his Instagram story:

He followed it up by saying “it’s a business decision,” only adding to the suspense:

According to Rivals’ Dave Lackford, however, Weaver is “100% committed to Kentucky” and only visited as a favor to Louisville athletic director Vince Tyra.


Sources tell KSR that Kentucky isn’t concerned with the visit and still feel “very good” about Weaver signing with the Cats.

If he’s making a “business decision,” he might want to look at what Mark Stoops has done with former two-star recruit Josh Allen. As a top-ten draft pick, the senior pass-rusher is going to be a very, very rich man this spring.

John Calipari in Late Game Situations at Kentucky

Yesterday’s loss to Seton Hall brought a wave emotions across me. When the Pirates took the three point lead in the closing seconds, I prepared myself for the worst. Knowing that the chances of making a shot were slim. We all know what happened next in what will go down as one of the more improbable shots in recent Kentucky history.

That brought us to overtime. Seton Hall hit, another, three pointer to take the one point lead in the closing seconds of the game. John Calipari decided to not use one of his two timeouts and instead play through with a play that was supposedly drawn up earlier.

Obviously, it didn’t work and in the now infamous words of Shannon Dawson, “if it would have worked, you would have loved it.”

This isn’t the first time that Calipari has decided against using a timeout in late game situations. In fact, in a lot of ways, he is against the principle altogether. I definitely disagree, but then again there is a reason I am sitting on my couch typing instead of on the sidelines coaching.

All of this led me to look into Cal’s theory of taking timeouts in late game situations. During his time at Kentucky, his teams have been in 26 situations where they could have taken the lead or tied the game in regulation or in overtime. He has called a timeout in 11 of them.

In fact, here is an entire chart I put together that shows just that.

DateGameTimeout?Player Who Took ShotDid He Make It?Result
November 16, 2009Miami OhioNoJohn WallYesWin
December 6, 2009North CarolinaNoJohn WallYes (FTs)Win
January 19, 2011AlabamaYesTerrance JonesNoLoss
February 2, 2011Ole MissYesDoron LambNoLoss
February 6, 2011FloridaNoBrandon KnightNoLoss
February 23, 2011ArkansasNoBrandon KnightNoOvertime
February 23, 2011ArkansasYesBrandon KnightNoLoss
March 17, 2011PrincetonYesBrandon KnightYesWin
March 25, 2011Ohio StateNoBrandon KnightYesWin
March 9, 2013Robert MorrisNoKyle WiltjerNoLoss
January 14, 2014ArkansasNoAndrew HarrisonYesOvertime
January 14, 2014ArkansasNoN/A (Turnover)N/ALoss
February 22, 2014LSUNoJulius RandleYesWin
February 27, 2014ArkansasNoAndrew HarrisonNoOvertime
March 18, 2014FloridaYesNo ShotN/ALoss
March 30, 2014MichiganYesAaron HarrisonYesWin
April 6, 2014WisconsinNoAaron HarrisonYesWin
January 10, 2015Texas A&MYesAaron HarrisonNoOvertime
March 13, 2016Texas A&MYesTyler UlisNoOvertime
January 31, 2018VanderbiltYesShai Gilgeous-AlexanderYes (FTs)Overtime
January 31, 2018VanderbiltNoQuade GreenYesWin
February 6, 2018TennesseeNoShai Gilgeous-AlexanderNoLoss
March 23, 2018Kansas StateNoQuade GreenNoLoss
March 23, 2018Kansas StateYesShai Gilgeous-AlexanderNoLoss
December 8, 2018Seton HallYesKeldon JohnsonYesOvertime
December 8, 2018Seton HallNoKeldon JohnsonNoLoss

As you can see, in the 11 situations where Cal has called a timeout, his players have only made the shot 4 times.

In the 15 situations that he hasn’t called a timeout, a player has made the shot 7 times.

What does all of this mean? Well, it shows that Cal’s theory on letting players go does at least have some stats to back it up. In most of these situations, I was probably, like many people, yelling at him to call the timeout and in some instances I was proven wrong.

The common thread that I see though, is that during almost all of the seven times where Cal’s theory was proven, he had an elite college player to take the shot. Whether it was John Wall, Brandon Knight, Julius Randle or even the Harrison twins, that is the common point that I see. It is hard to tell whether this team has that or not.