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Making The Case For Drafting Fox Over Ball In L.A.

Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Justin Ford | USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers will take a point guard with the No. 2 pick in the draft and there is only one man for the job.

That man is not the hometown kid, Lonzo Ball.

That man is De’Aaron Fox, point guard, from the University of Kentucky.

Let me tell you why Magic Johnson’s decision is an easy one (in my completely unbiased opinion)…

 

De’Aaron Fox isn’t that bad of a shooter.

Sure, to start his freshman campaign at Kentucky, De’Aaron Fox was one of the worst three-point-shooting guards ever (although not even the worst in his own starting five), which is why he’s not projected above Lonzo Ball. But by the end of the year, Fox’s stroke — which always looked the part without getting the results — improved immensely. By season’s end, he was shooting about as well as anyone could want from a speedy, drive-first point guard. He entered the NCAA tournament having gone 7-for-12 in his last six SEC games, showing a massive improvement from earlier in the year when he couldn’t get his outside shot to fall.

From the foul line, Fox was good at 74 percent on the season and even better in the clutch, while Lonzo Ball shot 67 percent over at UCLA.

The Lakers like to run.

The Lakers like to get it and go in transition, and there isn’t a better guard in the draft who can play at that tempo. No incoming prospect is faster with the ball than De’Aaron Fox and there aren’t many guys who are already in the league that can run with him. If Luke Walton wants to push it, Fox and De’Angelo Russell make a backcourt that can really push it.

To be fair, Lonzo Ball is also very good in transition — it’s his biggest strength — but give me the blazing speed that can’t be taught over Ball’s court vision and unselfishness. Like John Wall, Fox can figure that out as he goes.

Lonzo Ball can’t guard me.

He can’t guard you. He can’t guard the person sitting next to you or anyone else reading this. We know he can’t guard De’Aaron Fox and I’m not sure he can guard anyone else in the NBA on the ball. He will get pick-and-roll’d and ISO’d to death at the next level, where, unlike the college game, you can’t hide your defensive inefficiencies. 99 percent of the guys Ball will be matched up with in the NBA are going to blow right past him. Set a screen and it’s a free basket.

Lonzo Ball’s shot is broke.

It’s tough to criticize Ball’s shot because it goes in, but it’s also tough to see him getting as many off in the NBA with that broke-ass form. If he’s open, yeah, it’s a good shot. But what if there are five seconds on the shot clock and he has to get one off over the longer, quicker, better defenders in the league? Not a prayer. He can’t get that shot over a flat-footed Isaiah Thomas with his hands in his pockets.

Lonzo Ball’s shoes are really broke.

This has nothing to do with Ball vs. Fox; however, it should be mentioned that Ball’s shoes are complete trash and blatant Kobe knock-offs.

I’d pass on him with the 50th pick in the Croatian league draft just to keep those shoes off of my court and out of my locker room.

LaVar Ball is an actual crazy person who is doing much more harm than good.

Above all else, at the end of the day, LaVar Ball is Reason No. 1 why teams should pass on Lonzo Ball. He’ll be complaining about Lonzo’s teammates and coaches the moment something goes wrong, and Lonzo will be the one who is punished in the end. Crazy dad did a great job of getting the family name out there — kudos to his marketing — but it’s time to take a seat and let Lonzo do his thing. That won’t happen, though, and whatever team gets Lonzo will be constantly dealing with LaVar’s nonsense. The NBA is a league of grown men making millions upon millions of dollars; do you think they want some kid’s crazy dad inserting himself into their business? Hell, there’s already a target on Lonzo’s back for the things LaVar’s already said, and it’ll only get worse.

Let the next team take Daddy’s Boy and take the safe bet in De’Aaron Fox as your point guard.


Wednesday’s Top 10: NBA Draft Lottery, Diallo works out for the Nets, and arrivederci!

Wednesday’s Top 10: NBA Draft Lottery, Diallo works out for the Nets, and arrivederci!

Ciao, miei amici. Forgive me if I’m a bit distracted today because tomorrow, I take off for Italy for two weeks, with stops in Rome, Florence, Cinque Terre, and Venice. I studied abroad in Florence my junior year of college, so this will be a homecoming of sorts, and I am beyond excited. In an attempt to pacify my dog, who starts pouting the instant we bring out our suitcases, I put off packing until the last minute, so today will include lots of laundry and careful decisions. Do I bother packing running gear? (No) Are these wedges comfortable enough to navigate the cobblestones? (Probably not, but I’ll take them anyways) How in the world will I be able to watch the Predators in the Western Conference Finals from there? (Looking at you, XFINITY app on the iPad)

In between all of that, I’ll also be bringing you the latest in UK sports. Andiamo!

1. The NBA Draft order is officially set

Last night was the NBA Draft Lottery, and the Boston Celtics drew the first pick, followed by the Lakers and the 76ers. Here’s the complete order of the first round of the draft now that the lottery’s over:

1. Boston Celtics (from Brooklyn)
2. Los Angeles Lakers
3. Philadelphia 76ers (from Sacramento)
4. Phoenix Suns
5. Sacramento Kings (from Philadelphia)
6. Orlando Magic
7. Minnesota Timberwolves
8. New York Knicks
9. Dallas Mavericks
10. Sacramento Kings (from New Orleans)
11. Charlotte Hornets
12. Detroit Pistons
13. Denver Nuggets
14. Miami Heat
15. Portland Trail Blazers
16. Chicago Bulls
17. Milwaukee Bucks
18. Indiana Pacers
19. Atlanta Hawks
20. Portland Trail Blazers (from Memphis, via Denver and Cleveland)
21. Oklahoma City Thunder
22. Brooklyn Nets (from Washington)
23. Toronto Raptors (from Los Angeles Clippers via Milwaukee)
24. Utah Jazz
25. Orlando Magic (from Toronto)
26. Portland Trail Blazers (from Cleveland)
27. Brooklyn Nets (from Boston)
28. Los Angeles Lakers (from Houston)
29. San Antonio Spurs
30. Utah Jazz (from Golden State)

2. Mock Draft season is now in overdrive

NBA pundits went into overdrive last night, pushing out instant reactions to the lottery order. Here’s Jonathan Givony of Draft Express‘ take:

5. De’Aaron Fox — Sacramento Kings
6. Malik Monk — Orlando Magic
32. Bam Adebayo — Phoenix Suns
35. Hamidou Diallo — Orlando Magic

Meanwhile, ESPN’s Chad Ford believes Monk will go off the board first, to Philly at #3:

3. Malik Monk — Philadelphia 76ers
5. De’Aaron Fox — Sacramento Kings
23. Bam Adebayo — Toronto Raptors
27. Hamidou Diallo — Brooklyn Nets

My initial reaction was Fultz first, Ball second, and Fox to the 76ers.

3. Joel Embiid was the real MVP

Embiid had a ball representing the 76ers, showing up to the stage with a Shirley Temple and doing this weird maniacal laughter thing as his squad’s chances of a top pick got better and better:

Embiid is hilarious.

4. Hamidou Diallo works out for the Nets today

Where you going, Hami? I wish I knew, and honestly, that’s the question I look forward to getting away from the most. According to Adam Zagoria, Diallo worked out for the Chicago Bulls on Monday and the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday. The Bulls have the 16th pick in the draft and the Bucks the 17th, and the latter reportedly has “high interest” in Diallo. The Bucks drafted Thon Maker last year, so clearly they don’t have an issue rolling the dice on a prospect who hasn’t played college ball. Tomorrow, Diallo will meet with his hometown Nets, who have the 22nd and 27th picks. That meeting could decide it all.

5. Dominique Hawkins has gotten interest from NFL teams

Dominique Hawkins is determined to continue his basketball career, but yesterday we found out that he’s garnered some interest from some professional football teams as well. Jonathan Givony told Ben Roberts that NFL teams have reached out to Hawkins to see if he’d be interested in switching careers to play defensive back, but for now, Dom is sticking with basketball. So, if you’ve ever said, “Man, Dom would make one hell of a safety,” pat yourself on the back because the NFL agrees.

6. Maria Taylor will replace Samantha Ponder on “College Gameday”

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Shoutout to one of my favorite women in the business, Maria Taylor, on her promotion to “College Gameday.” Taylor hosted “SEC Nation,” the SEC Network’s version of “College Gameday,” last year, and will replace Samantha Ponder, who will host “Sunday NFL Countdown” this fall. I’m very happy about the news because Taylor has the brains and wit to match her beauty, and should be a great fit for one of the last few things ESPN does well.

Speaking of badass ladies…

7. Kendra Harrison is back running hurdles five days after surgery

The former UK track star and current world record holder broke her hand before a race earlier this month, and not only did she run that race anyways and win it, she’s back on the track running hurdles five days after her surgery. Rock star.

8. The Titans gave every offensive line squad goals last night

The Nashville Predators rallied to beat the Anaheim Ducks in a thriller last night to take a 2-1 lead in the series. Before the game, Marcus Mariota and the Titans offensive line served as the hype guys, throwing catfish on the ice and chugging Bud Light tallboys:

Talk about squad goals.

9. Would you rock a “romphim”?

If you answered yes, please get off this website.

10. Radio in an hour

You know the drill.


A Look at Stoops’ 2018 Class and Who’s Next

The last two weeks on the recruiting front have been two of the best during Mark Stoops’ tenure.  Since April 30, the class of 2018 has added four impact recruits: a trio of offensive linemen and quarterback Jarren Williams.

Now the 21st ranked recruiting class in the nation, third in the SEC, here’s what Stoops has in the eight-man class, along with his top remaining targets.

Elite Offensive Linemen

Before April 30, Kentucky had zero offensive linemen in the class.  Since then John Schlarman has had plenty to smile about.

The first piece to fall was Darian Kinnard.  The lowest-ranked of the offensive line recruits as the No. 32 offensive tackle, he has the desired measurables at 6’7″ 335 pounds.  From St. Ignatius High School in Cleveland, he’s already gained valuable experience playing for Chuck Kyle, a coach who’s won three national titles.

Michigan’s Marquan McCall was an important addition to the offensive line and to Kentucky’s recruiting strategy.  The first Michigan commit for Mark Stoops, Steve Clinkscale convinced the best player in the state of Michigan to turn down Jim Harbaugh and leave home for Lexington.  The No. 4 offensive guard in the class and Top 100 player overall has exceptional size (6’4′ 320 pounds) for an agile interior lineman.

McCall via 247

Marquan McCall via 247

Pass Rushers with Great Teammates

Kentucky’s first commitment in the class came from a Florida defensive end who excels with his hand in the dirt.  Mark Stoops has groomed some phenomenal outside linebackers but has struggled to find five and three-technique defensive ends who are tasked to play with the big dogs in the trenches.  At 6’4″ 250 pounds, Davoan Hawkins has what it takes to play inside with the big dogs.  From Chaminade-Madonna Prep in Hollywood, Florida, he also brought a teammate to Kentucky, wide receiver Marvin Alexander.

Alex Reigelsperger tends to trend more to the outside linebacker mold.  The most vocal member of the 2018 class, he quickly emerged as a leader.  His next and most important task: convince L’Christian “Blue” Smith, his Wayne High School teammate, to join him in Lexington.

A Program-Changing Quarterback

I don’t care how many great recruiting classes Mark Stoops has, it’s hard to do anything without above-average quarterback play.  Of all the things that made last season two wins better than the previous two, consistent quarterback play deserves most of the credit.  Kentucky has found some consistency; Jarren Williams is the dynamic playmaker that can take Kentucky to places never before seen.

For the people who prefer rankings, the dual-threat quarterback is just a three-star, but that won’t last long.  An Elite 11 finalist, he’ll be a four-star, Top 150 recruit when it’s all said and done.

Williams currently has three passing targets to choose from in the class: tight end Brenden Bates and wide receivers Marvin Alexander and Shockey Jacques-Louis.  There will be a few more offensive weapons needed at running back and one special wide receiver.

Who’s Next?

L’Christian “Blue” Smith

They don’t make outside wide receivers much better than Blue Smith.  The Top Five wide receiver does everything well — catches jump balls, creates separation at the line of scrimmage, gets yards after catch.  You name it, he does it  He also is/was Wayne High School teammates with two UK guys, Alex Reigelsperger and Tobias Gilliam.  Kentucky is in a good position with Blue, but Ohio State looms.

Tyler Bentley and Xavier Peters

If Kentucky could land the dynamic duo from Lakota West High School (Cincinnati), it would bring superstar power to two positions of need, inside linebacker and defensive tackle.

The recruitment of Bentley, a Top 50 defensive tackle, was initially a two-horse race between Kentucky and Louisville.  He decided to push a summer decision back once the big dogs got involved: Alabama, LSU, Tennessee, Florida and LSU.  Still, the Cats are the 247 Crystal Ball favorites.

As Jordan Jones and Courtney Love’s time at Kentucky nears a conclusion, Stoops turns to Xavier Peters.  A consensus four-star Top 250 prospect and an Opening Finalist, Penn State is Kentucky’s toughest competition for the elite linebacker, even though he has an Alabama offer.

Tyreke Smith

A defensive end from Cleveland Heights High School, the home of Dorian Baker, he’s one of the ten best pass rushers in the country and a Top 150 player overall.  Today he trimmed his list to 12 and the Cats made the cut.  Ohio State, Notre Dame, Penn State and USC are the early leaders, but he told Rivals, “I am definitely going to go see Kentucky.”

A Running Back

Benny Snell and Sihiem King will be finished at UK after the 2018 season, leaving just three running backs on the roster.  This position of need will likely be filled by a late-emerging target who surfaces in the middle of the season.

Another Michigan Kid

When Steve Clinckscale first went to Michigan, McCall wasn’t the only player to see on his agenda.  Many of the elite athletes he offered were younger, following Kentucky’s “Find ’em First” approach, but there will likely be one or two more from the Great Lake State to follow in McCall’s footsteps in the class of ’18.  One name to keep an eye on: DeAndre Square, a Top 25 safety in the class.


Jarren Williams RECOMMITS to Kentucky in live interview on KSR

Jarren Williams RECOMMITS to Kentucky in live interview on KSR

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If you’re listening to Kentucky Sports Radio, then you just heard the exciting news: four-star dual threat quarterback Jarren Williams just recommitted to Kentucky live on air.

“I’m recommitting to Kentucky,” Williams said on KSR. “I prayed about it and my heart has always been with Kentucky, so I’m making that move.”

After receiving offers from schools like Alabama, Florida, and LSU, the 6’2″ Georgia native reopened his recruitment on April 24, a decision he said he actually made out of respect to Kentucky, not wanting to give the program or staff a bad look while he took additional visits.

“The reason I decommitted was because talking to the coaches and stuff and my parents, we had decided to take some more visits and do camps. Being the face of the class, out of respect for the university, I thought it would be best to go ahead and decommit. That was that and talking to Coach Hinshaw and Coach Stoops and praying about it a lot, I just really got that feeling that this was the spot for me and we just decided to shut it all down and come back home.”

Vince Marrow and Darin Hinshaw visited Williams at his high school as recently as this weekend to see him play in his spring game. Coaches from the University of Georgia were also there after offering Williams on May 4, but Williams’ loyalty to the UK coaching staff was stronger than the pull to play for his home state school.

“I knew that I’d always be surrounded by great people,” Williams said of Kentucky. “They’ve always been up front about everything and I know I could trust them. They’ve always supported me, even the fans, they’ve been very supportive. That’s the kind of stuff that stands out to me. All the glamour and all that stuff, that doesn’t make my decision. It’s about the little stuff, being able to trust in the Lord Jesus. When I go up there, I just get that feeling. This is where I belong. There’s no other feeling like it.”

There’s a long ways to go until Signing Day, but the fact that Williams recommitted in spite of offers from the best programs in the country — including his home state Bulldogs — is a very good sign this pledge will stick. From here, Williams will resume his role as one of the lead recruiters in Kentucky’s 2018 class, which he will represent in the Elite 11 Finals June 2-4 in Los Angeles.

“Oh yeah, this is it,” Williams said when asked if this was his final decision. “I’m shutting it down. This is it now. I know where my heart belongs. I’m committed 100%. I’m shutting it all down.”

Stay tuned for more on Williams’ commitment as the day goes on.

 


YAHTZEE! 2018 Offensive Lineman Quintin Wilson Commits to Kentucky

@Q_wil42

@Q_wil42

Cincinnati center Quintin Wilson has committed to Kentucky.  The 6’3″ 290-pound three-star recruit used his commitment as a gift to his mom on Mother’s Day.

@q_wil42

@q_wil42

Considered the No. 8 center in the country, the Walnut Hills High School star chose Kentucky over Duke, Virginia, Cincinnati and Minnesota.  Wilson becomes the third offensive lineman in the eight-man 2018 class and the fourth from the state of Ohio.  247 Sports hasn’t bumped UK’s ’18 class to No. 22, third in the SEC.

John Schlarman will get to work with the nation’s No. 32 offensive tackle, Darian Kinnard, the nation’s No. 4 offensive guard, Marquan McCall, and the nation’s No. 8 center, Quintin Wilson.  Watch Wilson do work:


Kentucky Football Notes of the Week

Kentucky Football Notes of the Week

benny-snell

Kentucky secured a commitment from the top rated prospect in Michigan as secondary coach Steve Clinkscale traveled north to land four-star offensive lineman Marquan McCall. McCall is rated as a top 5 guard nationally. His recruitment proves that Stoops’ out-of-state reach can go well beyond Ohio and Florida.

I’m taking some time off and this is my last post for a while. So, let’s check out all the recent goings on surrounding Kentucky Football…

3 Players With The Most to Gain in the Offseason  

 Linebacker Jamin Davis

The early enrollee was one of the spring game’s standouts after recording 7 tackles and 1 tackle for loss. Davis’ instincts, physicality, and character supersede his lack of experience. Summertime weight and strength gains are vital for the rookie from Ludowici, Georgia. Currently listed at 212-pounds, Davis may push for immediate playing time if he can surpass the 220 mark.

 Running Back Bryant Koback

Bryan Koback suffered a season-ending injury after posting a 375-yard rushing performance early in his senior year of high school. Prior to the injury, Koback rushed 93 times for 1,096 yards and 21 touchdowns in a shortened season. The early enrollee didn’t participate in spring practice while he focused on rehabilitation.

History tells us that Eddie Gran will need more than 3 running backs for 2017. Currently Gran is counting on Benny Snell, Sihiem King, and AJ Rose to carry the mail. The Wildcats need the true freshman to heal and regenerate in the offseason in order to provide a 4th option. Hopes are that he regains the speed and elusiveness that attracted Vince Marrow’s eye during his days at Springfield High School.

 Linebacker Eli Brown

Brown stepped up and showed out during spring practice as his play was singled out by defensive coordinator Matt House as well as Mark Stoops. The sophomore from Bowling Green is listed at 215-pounds which is 5-10 lb’s shy of a desirable weight for an inside linebacker. He’s shown explosive play and sideline-to-sideline capability. But, an increase in his between-the-tackle fist fight prowess will only come with additional strength and weight gains. Brown should see a significant upsurge in playing time in 2017 and has all the tools to be special.


Early Signing Period

Beginning with this recruiting cycle, prospects can sign their National Letter of Intent (NLI) during an early signing period that ranges from December 20th through the 22nd. Will this 72-hour window be the end-all solution for programs such as Kentucky? I’m yet to be convinced. While in no way can it hurt, let’s wait to see at least one recruiting rotation filter through the new system prior to passing judgement.

UK’s Class of 2017 pledged early and stayed committed all the way through National Signing Day. Only Lynn Bowden, Yusuf Corker, and Abule Abadi-Fitzgerald came into the fold after December 22nd. The Class of 2015 was quite the opposite. It lost a portion of players from decommitment but gained eventual starters late in the process.

Will a high percentage of players sign early or will they drag out the process until February? Are 48 days between the first and final signing days enough to make a substantial difference? There’s no way to accurately answer those questions. We’ll see how it plays out. You can listen to three UK has-beens discuss this and more topics on the Depth Chart Podcast here.


KHSAA State Football Championships Moving to Kroger Field

Kroger Field will host the KHSAA state football championships beginning this December. This includes all classifications: A, 2A, 3A, 4A, 5A, and 6A. Excellent news for the University of Kentucky as well as traditional powerhouse football programs in eastern and central Kentucky.

I’ve either played in or attended title games at the old Cardinal Stadium, Papa John’s, and those hosted by WKU. All have been hospitable sites and provided travel ease for programs within their immediate vicinities. It’s now UK’s time to showcase its new shiny facilities.


Service Trip to the Dominican Republic

CJ Conrad, Jordan Bonner, and Denzil Ware are spending a portion of their offseason on a service trip to the Dominican Republic. Not much more to say other than take a look at these inspiring and heartwarming pictures. Really proud of these guys.

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@UKFootball

This picture of Denzil Ware is priceless:

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@UKFootball

OLB Jordan Bonner’s selfie game is strong:

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@UKFootball

I’ll be completely off the grid starting Saturday. But, if you’re in the area stop by the 6th Annual Passing for a Purpose football camp that will be held at Harlan County High School’s Coal Miner Memorial Stadium. The camp starts on Saturday morning and runs from 8:00 a.m. through 3:00 p.m. Cost is $10.00 with 100% of proceeds going to Cumberland Hope Community Rehab Center.

Have a great week.


Friday’s Top 10: Kentucky takes over the NBA Combine

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Shoutout to these fine fellas, who repped the Cats on a recent golf outing. Talk about a scenic spot. It’s been a really long week, so why don’t we all just give up on this work thing and hit the links? Yeah? Nah? Okay, fine. Read over today’s top 10 instead, because it’s a busy day here in the land of UK sports.

1. A LOT of stuff happened at the NBA Combine yesterday

You know, there was actually a point early on yesterday in which I was searching for news to post. And then ESPN2’s coverage of the Combine began. First, the measurements were released, and we saw that Hamidou Diallo’s 6’10” wingspan has grown to 6’11.25″, making the 6’4″ guard even more of an athletic specimen. Then, Diallo recorded a 44.5″ vertical jump, the second highest in NBA Combine history, and if you look at stats beyond the Combine, the eighth highest in league history:

While we knew Hami was a great athlete going into the Combine, that measurement is eye-opening, passing Andrew Wiggins’ 44″ vertical we all drooled over a few years back.

2. At some point, Calipari showed up

Screen Shot 2017-05-11 at 3.40.19 PM

Since Diallo declared, we haven’t heard much from him or Calipari on the matter, so Cal did as Cal does and got ahead of the situation by coming to the Combine to support his guys and address reporters. How would Cal deal with a none-and-done? Basically, he said if Hami is projected to go in the first round, particularly before pick 22, it would be hard to tell him to come back to school. If Hami’s projected to go in the lottery? Cal joked he might as well retire.

“Hami, he practiced with us. The last guy to do that was Enes Kanter. He practiced for the year and he was the fourth pick in the draft. Hami practiced four months. If he’s a lottery pick, I’m retiring, I’m done. There’s nothing more I can do. He has a chance of being drafted and doing all this stuff. That’s what we’re supposed to be doing. People are mad, ‘He didn’t play!’ This is what this is for. And if at the end of the day, if someone going to draft him in the first round, 21, 25, lottery pick, it’s hard for me to tell him to come back.”

3. Hami said both doors are still open

We finally got to hear from Hami, both on ESPN and in an interview session attended by reporters in Chicago. In both settings, Diallo insisted he hasn’t made his mind up and is keeping his options open. He spoke a lot about his close ties with Kentucky’s 2017 class, a “brotherhood,” but “if now is the time, then so be it.”

With more meetings with teams coming up next week, Hami’s decision probably won’t come soon. We’ll know for sure on May 24, the withdrawal deadline.

4. Here are all the Combine Measurements

Full name Height Height w/shoes Weight Wingspan Body Fat % Hand Length Hand Width
Bam Adebayo 6’8.75″ 6’9.75“ 242.6 7’2.75“ 5.2 9.5“ 8.75“
Isaiah Briscoe 6’1.25“ 6’2.75“ 222.4 6’9“ 11 9“ 9.25“
Hamidou Diallo 6’3.75“ 6’5“ 197.4 6’11.25“ 5.2 8.5“ 9.5“
De’Aaron Fox 6’2“ 6’3.25“ 169.6 6’6.5“ 4.5 8.5“ 8.5“

Basically, Fox and Bam lost weight, and Briscoe gained.

5. Speaking of Briscoe, he did well yesterday

Hami stole the headlines, but Isaiah Briscoe turned in a great performance in both the shuttle drill and the 5-on-5 scrimmages. Briscoe ran the fastest shuttle at 2.85 seconds and in the scrimmage, scored 15 points on 6-of-10 shooting, while leading all players with 7 assists. All in all, it was a good day for Briscoe, who needs momentum to boost him into the second round.

6. Today, we’ll hear from Bam and Briscoe

Diallo spoke to reporters yesterday, and today, we’ll hear from Isaiah Briscoe and Bam Adebayo. (De’Aaron Fox was scheduled to speak to reporters Thursday, but declined.) Last night, Calipari took Bam (and probably all of his guys) out to dinner and posted a tweet saying how proud he was of the big man:

It appears they’re at Rosebud on Rush, which makes me very jealous because it’s one of my favorite restaurants in Chicago.

7. UK Baseball hosts Tennessee

It’s a big weekend for Nick Mingione’s squad, who will host Tennessee for a three game series. It’s Senior Weekend for the Cats, and senior outfielder Storm Wilson admitted that the fact that they’re playing Tennessee has special meaning.

“That rivalry kind of hits home with me,” Wilson said of the Kentucky-Tennessee rivalry. “I was a Tennessee fan growing up (because of) my dad.”

Do Wilson and his fellow Bat Cats a favor and get on down to The Cliff this weekend. Tonight’s game starts at 6:30 p.m., tomorrow’s at 2 p.m. and Sunday’s finale at 1 p.m.

8. UK Softball lost to Auburn

Unfortunately, UK’s run in the SEC Softball Tournament ended with a 2-0 loss to Auburn in the quarterfinals last night. With a 36-17 overall record, all the Cats can do now is await their fate on the 2017 NCAA Softball Selection Show, which airs Sunday night at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN2

9. It’s Game 1 for Preds/Ducks, Game 6 for Wizards/Celtics

Yes, more hockey! Tonight, the Preds take on the Anaheim Ducks in the Western Conference Finals, which means any spare time I have today will be spent honing my skills in Duck Hunt:

In the NBA playoffs, it’s do or die for John Wall and the Wizards, who will host the Celtics tonight in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. The Celtics lead the series 3-2. Cheer on Wall at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN.

10. Seth Davis out at Sports Illustrated

After the massive layoffs at ESPN, it appears no one is safe in sports media, not even Seth Davis, who was laid off by Sports Illustrated yesterday. Davis, who is also an analyst for CBS Sports, has worked for SI since 1995. Judging by his tweets, he’d rather have a job in politics anyways:

Radio in an hour…


Hamidou Diallo: “If now is the time, then so be it…I’m still leaving both doors open”

Hamidou Diallo: “If now is the time, then so be it…I’m still leaving both doors open”

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Hamidou Diallo had an incredible day at the NBA Combine, turning in the second best vertical jump in combine history at 44.5″. This has to be an overwhelming time for Hami, who arrived in Lexington in January, and since declaring for the draft, we haven’t really heard from him…until now. Diallo spoke to ESPN about the draft process, telling Jeff Goodman that it hasn’t always been an easy one.

“It’s just been a difficult process. I ended up trying to do this because the coaching staff at Kentucky guided me through this process. I thought this was the best thing for me to do, test the waters and see where I stand. If now is the time, then so be it. But I wouldn’t mind going back to the University of Kentucky. I’m still leaving both doors open.

Diallo said his game improved immensely thanks to his four months at UK, which included going against De’Aaron Fox, Malik Monk, Isaiah Briscoe, and Dominique Hawkins in practice, during which, interestingly, he said he mostly played point. What does Hami have to hear to decide to stay in the draft?

“I would say it’s all about feel. No certain info. Just all about feel and feeling it out and trusting those around me and making an educated decision.”

Watch the interview below, thanks to Jen Palumbo, and a montage of Hami’s performance today:


Hamidou Diallo’s 6’11.25″ wingspan is insane and other UK NBA Combine measurements

Chet White | UK Athletics

Chet White | UK Athletics

The picture you’re looking at was the first inkling we had of Hamidou Diallo’s impressive wingspan, which was measured at 6’10” last year. Well, it’s gotten even more impressive. The NBA Combine measurements just came out, and Diallo’s wingspan measured at an incredible 6’11.25″, the longest of any guard. Here are all the measurements for UK’s participating prospects:

Full name Height Height w/shoes Weight Wingspan Body Fat % Hand Length Hand Width
Bam Adebayo 6’8.75″ 6’9.75 242.6 7’2.75 5.2 9.5 8.75
Isaiah Briscoe 6’1.25 6’2.75 222.4 6’9 11 9 9.25
Hamidou Diallo 6’3.75 6’5 197.4 6’11.25 5.2 8.5 9.5
De’Aaron Fox 6’2 6’3.25 169.6 6’6.5 4.5 8.5 8.5

Here’s how those compare to their previous measurements from UK, taken at Pro Day in September:

adebayo_bam_2016-17-cmyk Bam Adebayo

Height Height w/shoes Weight Wingspan Body Fat % Hand Length Hand Width
2016 UK 6‘9.0 6‘10.0 258 7‘1.5 7.23 9 9
NBA Combine 6’8.75 6’9.75 242.6 7’2.75 5.2 9.5 8.75

briscoe_isaiah_2016-17-cmyk Isaiah Briscoe

Height Height w/shoes Weight Wingspan Body Fat % Hand Length Hand Width
2016 UK 6‘1.5 6‘2.5 216 6‘8 8.71 9.25 10
NBA Combine 6’1.25 6’2.75 222.4 6’9 11 9 9.25

 Hamidou Diallo

Diallo wasn’t at UK when they had their Pro Day, so I included his measurements from the 2016 Elite 24:

Height Height w/shoes Weight Wingspan Body Fat % Hand Length Hand Width
2016 Elite 24 6.5 188 6’10”
NBA Combine 6’3.75 6’5 197.4 6’11.25 5.2 8.5 9.5

fox_deaaron_2016-17-cmyk De’Aaron Fox

Height Height w/shoes Weight Wingspan Body Fat % Hand Length Hand Width
2016 UK 6‘2.25 6‘3.25 185 6‘4.5 3.8 8 9.25
NBA Combine 6’2 6‘3.25 169.6 6’6.5 4.5 8.5 8.5

Thoughts?


Thursday’s Top 10: What will happen at the NBA Combine today?

Thursday’s Top 10: What will happen at the NBA Combine today?

Pitino Pics May 2017 001

Earlier this week, I encouraged our readers in Coral Springs, Florida to go watch Rick Pitino play in a masters basketball tournament, and of course, one of you responded. Major shoutout to UK fan and alum Marvin, who went to the Coral Springs gymnasium to check out Rick’s game and rep the Cats. According to Marvin, Pitino was “very friendly and accommodating, however, his basketball prowess and team leave a lot to be desired.” Pitino’s Redbirds lost to the Indy All Stars 100-53, but afterwards, Rick was nice enough to pose with the Indy All Stars and Marvin, who will be back in the stands today.

Pitino Pics May 2017 004
Pitino Pics May 2017 006

Never thought I’d say it again, but good for Rick. This is the most likable he’s been in years.

1. The NBA Combine rolls on

The Combine started on Tuesday, but today, it really gets going as the 67 players go through athletic testing and scrimmages. Yesterday, players were measured, but those measurements have yet to be released. This picture of De’Aaron Fox having his standing reach measured shows you just how odd and creepy this process can be:

2. You can watch it on ESPN2

ESPN2 will televise the combine from 3-7 p.m. ET today and tomorrow, so clear some space on the DVR. Frank Kaminsky (grr) will be a guest analyst alongside Rece Davis, Jay Williams, Fran Fraschille, Tom Penn, and Jeff Goodman.

Freaking Kaminsky.

3. Everyone’s talking about Hamidou Diallo

Every NBA scout, analyst, and fan in the world has an opinion about what Hamidou Diallo should do, and yesterday, we saw the whole gamut. While one NBA executive said that Diallo is “without question the best athlete at the combine,” as yesterday went on, more and more scouts came out and suggested he may be better off returning to school. One told Kyle Tucker that he believes Diallo is a D-League player, but could be worth the investment for a team with several first round picks, like the Brooklyn Nets. Is Diallo willing to spend a year or so in the D-League or would he rather come back to school even if it means risking injury/damaging his stock?

4. How many articles will I write about Diallo today?

Great question. My hope is only one, but I have a feeling it’ll be more like four or five as news continues to trickle out. Is it May 24th yet? (That’s the day by which Diallo has to decide if he’s staying in the draft or not.)

5. De’Aaron Fox met with the Knicks

Part of the Combine process is teams interviewing the players they’re most interested in, and according to Knicks beat writer Ian Begley, De’Aaron Fox is one of those for New York. Fox met with the Knicks yesterday, and apparently some in the front office are very big fans of his. Fox in NYC? I can totally see it.

6. Tyler Ulis had minor surgery on his right ankle

Ulis finished his rookie year on a high note, winning the Western Conference Rookie of the Month for the month of April, but yesterday, he had minor surgery on his right ankle. His anticipated recovery time is about 12 weeks, which probably means he’ll miss playing in the Summer League, which starts in July.

7. UK Softball in the quarterfinals of the SEC Tournament

Shoutout to the UK Softball team, which won its first game in the SEC Softball Tournament by beating 10-seed South Carolina 7-3. Today, they’ll play 2-seed Auburn in the quarterfinals at 5 p.m. on the SEC Network.

8. John Wall and the Wizards dropped another one to the Celtics last night

The Celtics beat the Wizards last night 123-101 to take a 3-2 lead in the series, meaning it’s do or die for the Wizards Friday night in Washington. Wall had 21 points and only 4 assists last night for the Wizards, who haven’t won a playoff game in Boston since 1982. Hopefully they can bounce back to stay alive in Washington Friday night.

9. Results of the Calipari Era Mock Draft

Last night, I shared my mock draft of Calipari era Kentucky players and at the end, asked you guys to weigh in with your thoughts. Here are your results:

Screen Shot 2017-05-11 at 7.33.13 AM

10. The Preds will face the Ducks in the Western Conference Finals

On Sunday, the Preds knocked out the Blues to advance to the Western Conference Finals and last night, we finally found out who they’ll play: the Anaheim Ducks. The Preds played the Ducks in the first round of the playoffs last year, and this year’s series starts Friday night in Anaheim:

  • Friday: at Anaheim, 9 p.m. (NBC SN)
  • Sunday: at Anaheim, 7:30 p.m. (NBC SN)
  • Tuesday: at Nashville, 8 p.m. (NBC SN)
  • May 18: at Nashville, 8 p.m. (NBC SN)
  • x — May 20: at Anaheim, 7:15 p.m. (NBC)
  • x— May 22: at Nashville, 8 p.m. (NBC SN)
  • x — May 24: at Anaheim, 0 p.m. (NBC SN)

x — if necessary

I leave for Italy a week from today, so unless the Preds pull off another sweep, I see a lot of late night hockey in my future. Hopefully the bars in Rome have NBC Sports Network.

Radio in an hour…


A Mock Draft of Kentucky players in the Calipari Era

A Mock Draft of Kentucky players in the Calipari Era

cal-mock

With the NBA Draft a month and a half away, it’s officially mock draft season, which means it’s our job to bring you the latest predictions from the nation’s pundits on where Kentucky’s guys will go in the draft. While this is admittedly easy content for us, it’s sometimes an exhausting process because these days, mock drafts are like podcasts — everybody’s got one. And, how do you determine which one is the best? You can’t, because it’s all speculation.

So, instead of regurgitating Chad Ford or Jonathan Givony’s latest take on Hamidou Diallo, I thought I’d try something different. (Besides, what would I post tomorrow?) I thought it’d be fun to take all of the 28 players drafted in the Calipari era at Kentucky and do a mock draft of my own, adding in Aaron Harrison and Alex Poythress to make it a cool 30. Now, given that some players have been in the league seven seasons now and some are just wrapping up their rookie seasons, it’s not exactly a fair exercise, but it’s a fun one nonetheless. Get ready to disagree with me!

 

bbnba-davis 1. Anthony Davis, PF, Pelicans

Actual draft position: #1, 2012 NBA Draft

Davis was the MVP of the All-Star Game this year and — when he’s healthy — continues to do things with the basketball that human beings shouldn’t be able to. The top four Kentucky guys in the league are superstars, but based on freakishness alone, Davis shines the brightest right now.

bbnba-towns2. Karl Towns, C, Timberwolves

Actual draft position: #1, 2015 NBA Draft

Karl followed up his Rookie of the Year season with an impressive sophomore outing, becoming the only player in NBA history with 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds and 100 three pointers in one season AND the youngest player (the 15th overall and first since Tim Duncan in 2001-02) to tally 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds in a season. Right now, some may take Wall or Boogie over Karl, but I’m looking ahead to the future.

bbnba-wall3. John Wall, PG, Wizards

Actual draft position: #1, 2010 NBA Draft

Wall’s proving a lot of his doubters wrong this postseason as he leads the Wizards through the playoffs. Finally, Wall has a decent supporting cast, which means people are finally seeing just how talented he is. In a line of great Calipari point guards, he’s still #1 to me.

bbnba-cousins4. DeMarcus Cousins, C, Pelicans

Actual draft position: #5, 2010 NBA Draft

Now out of dysfunctional Sacramento, Cousins finds himself alongside Anthony Davis. The fact that a star like Boogie is fourth on this list speaks to how many great big men have come through the program. Really, you can’t go wrong with any of the top four.

bbnba-bled5. Eric Bledsoe, PG, Suns

Actual draft position: #18, 2010 NBA Draft

Man, that 2010 draft was loaded, wasn’t it? The combination of Bledsoe and Devin Booker was a great one this season for Phoenix, and as long as he stays healthy, Bledsoe will remain one of the best guards in the league, especially defensively.

bbnba-book6. Devin Booker, SG, Suns

Actual draft position: #13, 2015 NBA Draft

Booker had the most points in a game in the league this year with 70 and continues to be one of the rising stars in the league, earning praise from Kobe, LeBron, and everyone else who realizes how far he can go given the NBA’s trend toward small ball. Given his talent, drive, and charm, he’s the future of the Suns organization. If you’re looking for a young star to build around, he’s it.

bbnba-knight7. Brandon Knight, G, Suns

Actual draft position: #8, 2011 NBA Draft

Unfortunately, Booker’s success has come at the expense of Brandon Knight, who is now the team’s sixth man. This season, Knight averaged career lows in scoring (11 ppg), assists (2.4 apg), and minutes (21.1 mpg), and in March, refused to join the rotation when Bledsoe shut down for the season, citing back spasms. Knight is better than a backup, so he’s still high on my list.

bbnba-kanter8. Enes Kanter, F, Thunder

Actual draft position: #3, 2011 NBA Draft

Kanter may come off the bench, but he’s a solid role player for the Thunder, averaging 14.2 points and 6.7 rebounds in 21.3 minutes. He’s got a long career ahead of him, and therefore, is a hot commodity on this board.

bbnba-randle9. Julius Randle, PF, Lakers

Actual draft position: #7, 2014 NBA Draft

Randle’s coming off his best season yet, averaging 13.2 points and 8.6 rebounds for the Lakers. Unfortunately for Randle, he may be improving, but his team still sucks. If he improves his outside shooting, he can move even higher on this list.

nerlens-noel10. Nerlens Noel, C, Mavericks

Actual draft position: #6, 2013 NBA Draft

After being buried in a crowded frontcourt in Philly, Nerlens finally got traded near the end of the season and in 22 games with the Mavericks, seemed to rediscover himself a bit, averaging 8.5 points and 6.8 rebounds in 22 minutes per game. At 23, Nerlens is still young and has ridiculous upside. Dallas would be smart to keep him once he becomes a free agent in July.

bbnba-kidd-gilchrist11. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF, Hornets

Actual draft position: #2, 2012 NBA Draft

Poor MKG. Due to various injuries, he’s yet to live up to his potential in the league. He’s worked on his odd shooting form a lot, but he must continue to improve offensively if he wants to take the next step with his game (the defense is already there). The flashes of brilliance we saw early on this season must become the norm, not the exception. Sadly, I worry I have him too high on here, but I love him too much to drop him any lower.

bbnba-murray12. Jamal Murray, G, Nuggets

Actual draft position: #7, 2016 NBA Draft

After an uncharacteristically cold start to his rookie season, Murray warmed back up, and by the time the All-Star break rolled around, won MVP honors at the Rising Stars Challenge. The sharpshooter finished the season averaging 9.9 points and 33.4% shooting from the outside, all the while playing with an injury to his core muscles. He’s had surgery to repair that, and should be ready to roll by training camp. If you believe in small ball, Murray is a steal at #12.

bbnba-labissiere13. Skal Labissiere, C, Kings

Actual draft position: #28, 2016 NBA Draft

Before Boogie left Sacramento, there’s no way you could convince me that Skal should be 13th on this list; however, with Boogie gone, Skal flourished, blossoming into the player we all expected him to be at Kentucky and on the next level. With that sweet jump hook and a solid outside shot, Skal could be the type of big the NBA is trending towards. He certainly looked like it in the month of April.

bbnba-ulis14. Tyler Ulis, PG, Suns

Actual draft position: #34, 2016 NBA Draft 

With Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight sitting out the end of the season, Ulis stepped up and stole the spotlight, earning Western Conference Rookie of the Month in April. As he’s done his entire career, Ulis is proving people wrong, and it’s no longer safe to assume his ceiling in the league is being a backup guard.

bbnba-patterson15. Patrick Patterson, F, Raptors

Actual draft position: #14, 2010 NBA Draft

Patterson is coming up on free agency and has been a useful role player for Toronto the past four years, averaging 6.8 points and 4.5 rebounds this season. Unfortunately, Patterson was hampered by knee injuries, which led to a disappointing end to the year. That being said, this is a guy I want in my locker room.

bbnba-cauley-stein-wcs16. Willie Cauley-Stein, C, Kings

Actual draft position: #6, 2015 NBA Draft

Like Skal, Willie profited from Boogie going to New Orleans, averaging 12.9 points and 8.1 rebounds since the All-Star break. His improvement is remarkable, but I would draft him based on quotes alone.

bbnba-lyles17. Trey Lyles, SF, Jazz

Actual draft position: #12, 2015 NBA Draft

Man, what happened to Trey Lyles? Before the season began, I would have been tempted to slide him into the top 10 of this mock draft, but he very much underwhelmed in his sophomore season. Whereas Lyles averaged 12.9 points and 5.4 rebounds in the month of April in his rookie year, he barely got off the bench during the Jazz’s recent playoff run, scoring 7 points in only 10 minutes through 11 games. Woof. Let’s hope it was only a sophomore slump.

(more…)


UK Basketball Player Power Rankings: Who are you most interested to see?

KSR-1351

Let’s have a little fun on this Taco Tuesday evening and get your opinion on how you’re feeling about the upcoming basketball season. We’d like to know which of the Wildcats you’re excited to see when basketball picks up in the fall, based not on how good you think they will be, but on your interest in seeing their abilities. We’ll save the “Who do you think will be best player on the team?” topic for another time. Tonight we want you to rank everyone by how interested you are in seeing what they can and will (or won’t) contribute. (I hope that makes sense.)

I’ll go first with mine and then you can submit yours at the bottom. I left Hamidou Diallo and Mohamed Bamba off for now, but they’d be my 1a and 1b if they were currently on the roster.


12. Dillon Pulliam/Jonny David

With all due respect to Dillon and Jonny, who I am sure are fine young men both on and off the court, I don’t have a lot of interest in seeing what kind of jump they each make from their sophomore to junior seasons. I hope to see them get a ton of playing time in 2017-18, because that means Kentucky is winning, but they’re the last two people I’m concerned about on the team. Sorry, guys. I still like you.

11. Brad Calipari

I don’t know if there is anyone in the world who puts in more late-night work than Brad Calipari. And if there is, they sure don’t post it as often as he does on Instagram. For those of you who follow Brad on his various social media apps, you know he hasn’t taken a day off since joining the team. Whenever he’s not posing in the latest pair of shoes or with some backpack I can’t afford with two paychecks, he is getting shots up and relentlessly working on his game. He takes the “earned not given” mantra to heart and he is trying to earn all of the opportunities he can get. Go Brad.

10. Tai Wynyard

The Lumberjack could find himself anywhere in the rotation inside. If Kentucky gets Mohamed Bamba, Tai Wynyard is probably going to be doing a lot of watching from the sidelines. But if the big man options are only Sacha Killeya-Jones, Nick Richards and Wynyard, he’ll be in the hunt for playing time with those two, likely as the backup option at best. But he’ll be in the hunt nonetheless, especially if Calipari needs someone to get in there and bully it up with some physicality, which he can do. Unfortunately I think his playing time is ultimately up to if Killeya-Jones and Richards live up to expectations, and whether or not Bamba is on the team.

9. Jemarl Baker

Jemarl Baker was a need when he committed to Kentucky in early April. The UK backcourt saw five departures (maybe six with Hamidou Diallo) since the season ended and there simply weren’t enough bodies moving forward. Above that, Calipari desperately needed a shooter on the team, which, though still important, isn’t quite as important now that Kevin Knox is on the team. Baker may prove to be a great scorer from outside, but I question how much they will really need him in a serious role, especially if Diallo returns to take the shooting guard job or Cam Johnson commits.

8. Quade Green

Here’s the first of many times you will question my rankings. I have Quade Green at No. 8 because I’m pretty sure I already know what he is going to bring, having traveled all the way to see him in Philadelphia and followed him in all of the high school all-star games. Green is going to be a poor man’s Tyler Ulis — an undersized, pass-first guard who is the loudest guy on the floor. He will command the offense with his vocal leadership and get the four guys around him the best looks. Defensively he will be a mismatch, but that same mismatch earned Tyler Ulis the SEC Defensive Player of the Year award in his sophomore season. I’m not saying Green will be anywhere near that, but I do see lots of similarities in the two and expect Green to be a lot like Ulis was in his first season, although he doesn’t have an Andrew Harrison in front of him to lead the way.

7. Nick Richards

Coming in at No. 7 on my list, I have Nick Richards, the long and athletic center out of New Jersey. It’s presumed Richards will be the starting center if the season started today, and while I agree, I do have several concerns regarding Richards’ game. The time I flew to New Jersey to watch him go up against Moses Brown, the top center in the 2018 class, Richards was in constant foul trouble and eventually fouled out. I saw flashes of his athleticism in what little time he played, but I also saw a lot of work to be done offensively. Defensively, he’ll probably be pretty good right away, if the foul trouble isn’t an ongoing problem. Everything else, we’ll see. His combo of size and athleticism is pretty rare, though. Tons of potential and definitely a player you want on your side.

6. P.J. Washington

Like many of his future teammates, P.J. Washington looked good in the spring all-star games, highlighted by his MVP honors in the inaugural classic. I’m looking forward to seeing how that adapts at the next level when he’s going against bigger and stronger competition inside.

5. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

Is he ready to go? Is he a long-term project? Can he challenge Quade Green for the point guard spot? I don’t know what Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is, to be honest with you. When he first signed, I assumed he would be more of a long-termer, but he had quite the spring in which he earned the Derby Classic MVP, defended the USA guys well in the Nike Hoop Summit, and got bumped up to a five-star prospect. Once an afterthought in talking about Cal’s next great class, now there’s potential he’s an immediate star. Can’t wait to see what he does.

4. Wenyen Gabriel

Wenyen Gabriel disappeared toward the end of last season and I’m of the belief it was mostly mental due to some, um, off-the-court things going around. From what I’ve seen, he has been living in the gym since the season ended and I expect him to be twice as good as he was during his best games last year. So consider me on Team Wenyen in 2017-18 and put me down for a prediction for a big season from the sophomore forward. After all, he is the team’s leading returning scorer and rebounder and assister and shot blocker and stealer and three-point shooter and everything else.

3. Sacha Killeya-Jones

Curveball! I’m sure many of you, if not all of you, will have Sacha Killeya-Jones much further back than No. 3 in your Power Rankings. But let me explain myself here for the surprise pick: I’m interested to see the jump Killeya-Jones makes from his freshman to his sophomore season. I’m interested to see if he puts in the work this spring and summer to become a good player. The physical tools are there, but he’s gotta work to make that next step. I don’t know what happened to him last year. Nobody does. The Killeya-Jones I saw in the early fall practice looked like a guy who was going to contribute a lot. Obviously that didn’t happen and now I’m ready to see what Year 2 Sacha Killeya-Jones looks like. Can he progress like Willie Cauley-Stein? They’re of the same mold. If he can really makes waves this summer, he could be playing over Nick Richards. Or he could also remain the same and disappear to the end of the bench for yet another season. Either way, my eyes are on what’s next for Sacha Killeya-Jones.

2. Jarred Vanderbilt

Jarred Vanderbilt is No. 2 on my list because I have no idea if he has a serious foot injury or no foot injury or if they amputated his entire right leg or if he has any legs at all. If he is good to go when he gets to UK this summer, where will he fit in now that Knox is in the mix for the small forward spot? They’re the two best small forwards in the class and it will be a battle in practice each and every day. I’m excited to see how good Vanderbilt really is (assuming he has a healthy right food) and what it will do to the makeup of the team if he and Knox are comparable pieces.

1. Kevin Knox

I still can’t believe he committed. LETSGOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!

 

Now give us your Power Rankings. Remember, it’s not who you think will be best and worst; it’s who you are excited and interested to see, whether it be how they perform at the college level or how they improve from the year before.


The 10 Best Things About Kevin Knox’s Commitment

The 10 Best Things About Kevin Knox’s Commitment

@kevin_knox23

@kevin_knox23

On Saturday, Kevin Knox took Derby Day to another level when he shocked the world by picking Kentucky over Duke, North Carolina, Florida State, and Missouri. I was hosting a Derby party when the news broke and didn’t see it until I picked up my phone about a half hour later, at which point all of my friends learned who Kevin Knox was and were forced to watch the video of John Calipari riding his hover board around his kitchen. It’s been a few days since then, but I’m still basking in Knox’s decision; here are my ten favorite things about it.

1. No one saw it coming

Between the AAU circuits, Crystal Ball predictions, countless all-star games, and social media, basketball recruiting gets almost as much coverage as the sport itself, to the point that 90% of the time, you know where a kid’s going by the time he announces. Not so with Knox. Heading into Knox’s announcement, 87% of the predictions in his Crystal Ball were for Duke and only 13% for North Carolina. Not one of the 23 experts thought Knox would end up at Kentucky, and after the news broke, recruiting messiah Evan Daniels said that while he is very rarely shocked by college commitments, Knox’s pretty much stunned him. In recent weeks, we heard the folks at UK still thought they had a shot with Knox, hence Calipari’s trip to Tampa last month, but none of us actually predicted he would end up a Cat, which is why Saturday’s news was especially sweet.

2. It came at Duke and North Carolina’s expense

Remember this time last year when Duke was putting together a mega class that had people whispering about 40-0 and pundits gleefully pounding out articles about how Coach K had stolen Calipari’s thunder in recruiting? What a difference a year makes. Not only did Duke fail to live up to expectations during a roller coaster season, they’ve only got two five-star commitments so far in the 2017 class in Gary Trent Jr. and Wendell Carter…AND they had to steal a three-star recruit from Eastern Kentucky. Knox would have been a game-changing addition to Duke’s class; instead, Coach K struck out and Calipari got a home run.

Meanwhile, if there was ever a time for Roy Williams to land a superstar like Knox, it was now. Coming off a national championship, Roy brought his box of rings to Tampa to impress Knox last month. It didn’t work, and the Tar Heels have zero five-star players in the 2017 class. Luckily, their fan base is pretty used to that these days.

3. It eases the shooting concerns

Knox may be 6-9, 205 lbs., but he’s also a good shooter, so much so that Calipari plans to use him at the two or three spot to fill the void left by Malik Monk. The main concern with next year’s team is a lack of shooters, and while Knox won’t be the scorer that Monk was from the outside, having a 6-9 wing that can punish you in the lane and hit a consistent jump shot will be HUGE for the Cats. His size, ball handling skills, and jump shot make him the perfect example of the positionless player Calipari so often covets.

4. It takes pressure of the Hamidou Diallo decision

With the NBA Combine starting tomorrow, we’re going to hear a lot about Hamidou Diallo’s pro potential and whether or not he’ll stay in the draft, a debate that’s embroiled the BBN since Diallo declared a few weeks ago. If Diallo does stay in the draft (and I’m starting to think he will), it will be a difficult pill for most Kentucky fans to swallow; landing Knox makes that a little easier. People will still grumble, but at least we’ve got one of the top ten players in the country coming in to distract us.

5. It opens up a whole world of combinations

Say Kentucky gets Bamba and Diallo stays in the draft…what will the roster look like? Thanks to Knox, there are tons of options, specifically at the two/three spot, Kentucky’s biggest weakness before his commitment:

  • PG: Quade Green/Shai Alexander
  • G: Kevin Knox/Jemarl Baker
  • G/F: Kevin Knox/Jarred Vanderbilt/PJ Washington
  • F: PJ Washington/Jarred Vanderbilt/Wenyen Gabriel
  • F/C: Mohamed Bamba/Nick Richards/Sacha Killeya-Jones/Tai Wynyard

If Diallo comes back, he’ll start as the two guard, shifting Knox to the three spot; if he doesn’t, I’d expect Cam Johnson to commit and help out at the two, giving Knox more time at the three.

Or, Calipari could say screw it and just platoon again.

6. It might help with Bamba

Knox’s dad told SEC Country that his son and Mohamed Bamba talk five days a week, and while Knox’s decision has no impact on Bamba’s roster wise, the fact that he’s joining Bamba’s other friends on UK’s roster (notably Quade Green) has to help the Cats’ chances, right? Knox’s dad seems downright giddy at the thought of the two teaming up next season.

“I just know Bamba really likes Kevin; Kevin likes Bamba. I think it would be really great for them to play together. So we just gotta see how that conversation goes over the next couple of weeks.”

Come on down and join the super team, Mo.

7. It means that the U19 National Team might actually have a Kentucky starting five

Next year’s team will be John Calipari’s youngest, and therefore, most challenging; however, it does help that the core of that team will also play for Cal this summer in the FIBA U19 World Championships in Egypt. Quade Green, Kevin Knox, Jarred Vanderbilt (if his foot injury isn’t serious), PJ Washington, Hamidou Diallo, and Mohamed Bamba will all likely be on that squad, meaning that if Bamba comes to Kentucky, Vanderbilt’s able to play and Diallo doesn’t stay in the draft, Cal could have an all-Kentucky lineup. Nick Richards (Jamaican native), Wenyen Gabriel (too old), and Shai Alexander (Team Canada) can’t be on the roster, but what’s stopping Cal from bringing Sacha Killeya-Jones and Jemarl Baker along with him?

Kentucky can’t go on an overseas trip until 2018, but the ten days in Egypt (July 1-9) and the week of training camp in Colorado (June 18-25) will be a great head start for a team that desperately needs it.

8. It came with a football assist

The hidden hero in getting Knox to Kentucky? UK Football recruiting guru Vince Marrow, who played professional football with Knox’s father, Kevin Sr. The elder Knox played wide receiver at Florida State and was drafted in the sixth round by the Buffalo Bills, where he met Marrow. The two are still great friends and met up when Knox visited for Big Blue Madness. Knox Sr. also knows Lamar Thomas, who played at Miami from 1989-92, the same time Knox was at Florida State.

Marrow was especially happy to hear the news Saturday night:

Thanks for the assist, big dawg.

9. It instantly makes Kentucky a Final Four contender next season

Even if Diallo came back to school, without Knox, UK still had some issues at the two/three spot. With the body of a small forward and the handle/stroke of a guard, Knox instantly vaults Kentucky from a team with some weak spots to a team that, once they gel and grow up a bit, can contend for a title on talent alone. By now, we’ve learned the pitfalls of overhyping a recruit, but Knox’s athleticism and versatility changes the game for Kentucky next season.

10. It gave us one of the greatest Calipari videos of all time

Knox’s commitment reportedly moved Kenny Payne to tears, but Calipari? Well, Cal was so happy he risked his life by jumping on his hover board and spinning around his family’s kitchen.

“This is a celebration,” Cal said. “That’s right, I had to do it.”

That will never ever get old.

Uh oh, uh oh, uh oh…

cal-spinning

cal-peaceout


Top 100 Offensive Lineman Commits to Kentucky

Scout

Scout

Kentucky just got a lot better in the trenches.  The No. 3 offensive guard in the 2018 recruiting class, Marquan McCall of Oak Park, Michigan just announced his decision to be a Wildcat on Twitter.

@Mccallmarquan

@Mccallmarquan

The best player in the state of Michigan picked Kentucky over Michigan, Michigan State, Tennessee and many others.  Ranked as the No. 94 prospect in America by Rivals, McCall is the second four-star offensive lineman in UK’s 2018 class, joining Ohio’s Darian Kinnard.  After this morning’s decommitment, Kentucky now has seven members in the Class of 2018, ranked No. 25 in the 247 Composite Rankings.

Mark Stoops made a living recruiting some of the best in Ohio away from Michigan.  Now, Stoops has sent Steve Clinkscale to take some of Michigan’s best talent south to Lexington.  To start with McCall is an impressive achievement for Clinckscale, one that cannot be oversold.  See for yourself:


@kevin_knox23

Kevin Knox Lets the World Know Why He Chose UK

@kevin_knox23

@kevin_knox23

One of the more shocking commits in recent memory, Kevin Knox has decided to bring his skills to Lexington this fall. Knox took to USA Today’s online blog to elaborate on his decision:

There were a lot of reasons why I chose Kentucky; first the coaching staff is phenomenal! They know how to get players to the league and get them outside of their comfort zone and push players to the limit. Then I’ll be playing with a lot of great players every day in practice getting better against the best competition and, lastly, they know how to win.

The program knows how to win and I’ll have a lot of players around me that know how to win and want to learn how to win even more.

Knox’s dad, Kevin Knox Sr., gave even more insight on his son’s recruitment to MADE Hoops:

“We really felt that Kentucky was the best collegiate and holistic experience for him as far as his development as a basketball player,” said Knox. “We really feel that Coach John Calipari, his assistant Kenny Payne and the rest of his staff are going to really help him become a man and help him prepare for his goal, which is to be a top five NBA draft pick in the near future.”

Not only that, Knox Sr. gave up some details on his son’s friendship with none other than Mohamed Bamba:

“Mohamed Bamba and my son Kevin have become close friends,” he told MADEHoops. “They talk every other day through social media or on the phone. I would imagine just through their own conversation and their relationship they will talk about Kevin’s decision. Bamba may ask why he decided on Kentucky and they’ll have that talk.”

Here’s the link to the piece from MADE Hoops.

Even Coach Cal himself shared in the excitement:

Man, this one feels good. But after reading about the ties between Knox and Bamba, it’s hard not to look ahead to the last piece of the puzzle.

@JayWinkKSR