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Matt Winn was quite the ladies' man.

A 16-Year Old Security Guard For Celebrities: My First Derby

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My first Derby story is unlike many first Derby stories. Nearing the first Saturday in May of 2008, I was in the middle of my, let’s call it a “rambunctious” phase.  A 16-year old neighborhood rabble-rouser, I got into so much trouble desperately searching for beer during Spring Break that my parents gave me a grounding like never before – double super secret probation until after Memorial Day Weekend.

It was harsh, but just.  Luckily my parents were kind enough to find things to keep me busy. Plenty of lawns were mowed, stacks of dishes washed and countless carpets cleaned. With Derby around the corner, they weren’t going to miss the festivities to keep a watchful eye on me from home. The solution? Brantley Security Services.

It was my only chance to do anything at all on the sacred first weekend of May. The $13 an hour was just an added bonus.

An Early Start

Before Churchill Downs was picked up by its ankles and shaken full with people on Derby Day, I got a head start on learning how to stand for 12 consecutive hours by logging time on Thursday (Pre “Thurby” era) and Oaks Day.  I knew I wouldn’t get any action on Thursday, and Friday was a disappointment.  Saturday better not suck if I was going to arrive at 6:00 a.m. in my uncomfortable black dress shoes and ill-fitting red vest.

The only good news was my detail. I remained inside throughout my three-day trip, but they saved the best for last. Three years removed from the $121 million expansion, I didn’t mind the hidden spires if I got to “work” as the primary police for entering the Matt Winn Dining Room.  Named after Churchill’s most famous president, its third floor location was right in the middle of the upper class madness.

Matt Winn was quite the ladies' man.

Matt Winn was quite the ladies’ man.

It didn’t take long to learn the politics of the track. During my waiting-around time before the gates opened, I did a little exploring up the escalators. Millionaires’ Row gets all the hype because of the name, but that’s where the new money goes to show off.  People sit in Millionaires’ Row to tell others they are sitting in Millionaires’ Row.  The old money is further upstairs in the Jockey Club Suites, where there are more $100 minimum wager windows than regular windows because they ain’t got time for that. The Matt Winn room lies in between. It’s F-U money that doesn’t like to say F-U loudly and would rather eat a few good meals and place premium wagers, rather than booze their brains out.

The best part about the Matt Winn room is that it’s adjacent to the elevator that takes patrons to the Turf Club. The turf club is THE place to be. It’s where the athletes go to be filthy rich athletes. It’s the kind of place that makes Wes Welker want to make it rain upon exiting. It’s the kind of place where you can see the coolest of the coolest.

I didn’t realize how much money was being thrown around until I met my favorite old man. He was a rather large man that walked with a dip, supported by a cane with a face that was partially hidden by a straw hat, depending on how he was feeling. We’ll call him Mr. Cane. I exchanged pleasantries whenever possible, how else was I going to make extra money on tips? Even though he didn’t get around quickly, he arrived early and never sat still for long.  I thought my kind words would help me earn my first tip.  Then a tip literally fell onto the floor.

Mr. Cane was halfway down the hall, heading toward the Turf Club when I saw the manila envelope fall from his back pocket. “Sir, you dropped this,” as I half-jogged to the slow mover. He was relieved, “Can you imagine what my son would’ve said if I lost his $10,000?” HELL NO I CAN’T IMAGINE BECAUSE I’VE NEVER SEEN $10,000 IN MY LIFE.

Did my generosity earn any of that $10,000? No. Should have I expected a financial reward for a simple act of kindness? No. But damn it, how else was I going to get tips? I continued showing generosity throughout the day, but it often failed to provide the monetary assistance I so yearned for.

(more…)


Friday’s Top 10: Happy Oaks Day!

Friday’s Top 10: Happy Oaks Day!

Happy Friday, everyone, or, rather, Happy Oaks Day. The Kentucky Oaks, aka the locals’ day to play (or is that now Thurby?), is upon us, and a few minutes after 6:12 p.m. ET, we’ll find out which filly gets the lilies. Unfortunately, the forecast looks awful, with highs barely reaching the 50’s and rain all day long, so take a poncho to protect all that pink you’re wearing. Here’s the hourly forecast for Louisville from weather.com:

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So, wear rain boots. Or, stay inside, read KSR, and watch the Oaks on NBC Sports Network. Your choice. Let’s roll through today’s top 10, shall we?

1. Here’s the Oaks field

Paradise Woods is currently the favorite at 5-2, followed by Miss Sky Warrior at 9-2:

# HORSE ODDS
1 Ever So Clever 20-1
2 Lockdown 20-1
3 Mopotism 20-1
4 Paradise Woods 5-2
5 Jordan’s Henny 30-1
6 Vexatious 20-1
7 Farrell 5-1
8 Sailor’s Valentine 30-1
9 Wicked Lick 30-1
10 Miss Sky Warrior 9-2
11 Tequilita 20-1
12 Daddys Lil Darling 20-1
13 Abel Tasman 5-1
14 Salty 6-1
15 Summer Luck 30-1

2. Keep an eye out for Matt’s purple suit

If you missed “Hey Kentucky!” last night, Derby suit expert Chip Cosby took Matt shopping for a suit to wear to the Oaks, and they came up with this purple number. When you think about it, this suit is a pretty wise investment because by day, Matt can attend the Oaks and by night, he can play the Joker in his community theater’s production of Batman.

Here’s the whole clip from last night:

Switching gears to basketball…

3. Kevin Knox is (probably) announcing tomorrow

It looks like there may finally be an end in sight for Kevin Knox’s recruitment. According to Jake Perper of Prep Sports Scouting, Knox will announce his final decision on Saturday. No word on the time yet, but knowing how this always happens, it’ll probably come out right as the Derby begins. Knox is down to Duke, North Carolina, Florida State, Kentucky and Missouri, with Duke continuing to surge as the heavy favorite. Thankfully (hopefully), we’ll know for certain tomorrow.

4. Cam Johnson lists Kentucky as his early favorite

One person who will probably be very interested in Knox’s decision is Cam Johnson, the Pitt grad transfer that visited Kentucky last week. Yesterday, Johnson told Evan Daniels that Kentucky is his early favorite, although that’s mostly because he hasn’t taken many visits yet. This weekend, he visits Arizona, and next week, he’ll go to UCLA and Oregon. TCU and Ohio State are also in the mix. Here’s what he said about Calipari’s pitch:

“His pitch to me was pretty much the fact that the team is young and they need some experience and some age,” Johnson said. “They have a need for a player that can shoot like myself, along with the fact that it’s Kentucky. There are pro scouts at every practice. They compete every day. It’s just a competitive environment to get better in.”

Johnson also said he loved UK’s campus and the few remaining players that will be on next year’s squad. If Knox heads elsewhere (and it’s looking like he will), hopefully Johnson will decide to take advantage of the rare opportunity to be an immediate impact player on a perennial title contender.

5. Vince Marrow and Darin Hinshaw visited Jarren Williams yesterday

The talented dual threat quarterback decommitted from Kentucky last week, but this week, there have been rumblings he may come back on board. Last night, Vince Marrow and Darin Hinshaw traveled to Lawrenceville, Georgia last night to make Kentucky’s case, only hours after Williams picked up an offer from his home state Georgia Bulldogs. No word yet on how that visit went, but interpret this tweet from Williams how you’d like:

6. The baseball team starts its series with Georgia

The Bat Cats got a bit of bad news yesterday when Nick Mingione announced that reliever Zach Pop will miss at least two weeks with a forearm injury, but they’re poised to continue their impressive rise this weekend with a three-game series against the struggling Georgia Bulldogs. Today’s game will start at 2 p.m. (in anticipation of the bad weather tonight), tomorrow’s at 6:30 p.m., and Sunday’s finale begins at 1 p.m. All games will be broadcast on SEC Network+ (streaming), or you can listen on 630 WLAP.

If you go out to the ballpark, you’ll see this new wrap on “Big Blue Wall” in right field:

The wall now features the names of lettermen, coaches and season ticket holders. Neat.

7. You’ve gotta love Dickie V’s response to Lonzo Ball’s new shoe

If you somehow missed it on social media, Lonzo Ball and his dad revealed their new shoe, the ZO2, which retails for a ridiculous $495/pair. By now, everyone’s had a chance to weigh in on the shoe, a blatant ripoff of Kobes and Adidas Boosts, but Dick Vitale may have had the best response:

Get ’em, Dickie V!

8. John Wall went nuts last night

Wall’s stats may not seem that flashy, but he was absolutely incredible last night, scoring 24 points and dishing 8 assists to lead the Wizards to a crucial 116-89 win over the Celtics in Game 3:

Wall was great, but did you see Kelly Oubre???

As you might expect, he got kicked out for that.

9. Congrats to everyone graduating from UK today

Not only is today Oaks and Cinco de Mayo, it’s day one of graduation at UK (the ceremonies continue through Sunday). Congrats to everyone who’s making the walk. Enjoy today and relish in the fact that most of you accomplished something in four years that took Nick Roush seven. (Or was it eight? I lost track.)

If you know someone who’s graduating but can’t make it to Rupp (or if you’re just really bored), you can watch the ceremony on the live stream below:

10. The winner of the KSR Movie Bracket will be crowned

The show will be live from the Oaks today, where the gang will decide the winner of the KSR Movie Bracket, which is down to Pulp Fiction and Forrest Gump. Who ya got??

Finally, what do you do when the betting machines at Churchill Downs break down? Dance it out, of course:

What happens when the betting system goes down at Churchill!

A post shared by Margaret Romine (@mrsromine12) on

Can’t top that on a Friday morning.


How to explain the Derby to people who aren’t from Kentucky

When you ask people who aren’t from Kentucky about Kentucky, they’ll usually mention the following things: Kentucky Fried Chicken, bourbon, basketball, and the Kentucky Derby. The Derby is the Commonwealth’s time to shine, a glimpse into a bygone era when horse racing was king and the only way to spend a spring day was in your finest garb at the racetrack. That tradition still lives on in the Bluegrass, but to an outsider, parts of it can seem pretty strange.

After 10 years of hosting Derby parties for my friends here in Nashville, I’ve heard a lot of the same questions over and over. So, here’s my attempt to explain the Derby to someone who isn’t from Kentucky.

Hey, horse racing! American Pharoah won it all last year, right?

Well, actually, it was two years ago, but yes. Nyquist won the Derby last year.

That’s was pretty big deal, isn’t it?

Yes, it was. American Pharoah was the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978 and only the 12th of all time.

You know you’re spelling “Pharaoh” incorrectly, don’t you?

Yup, but that’s because it was misspelled from the start on his name registration in 2012. Once someone realized the error, it was too late. Now, the name is trademarked and will haunt copy editors for eternity.

What’s up with the hats?

Back when the Derby began in 1875, Col. Meriwether Lewis Clark Jr., the builder of Churchill Downs, modeled the Derby after European races, which mandated full morning dress (daytime formal) for men and women. That meant extravagant hats copied after the latest fashions in Paris. The tradition stuck and became even more popular in the 1950s and 60s when fashion norms loosened up and the race started to be televised, giving women even more incentive to stand out. Now, for many people, going to the Derby is just as much (or more) about the hat than the actual race. From lavish, large-brimmed confections to whimsical fascinators to Breyer horses taped to ball caps in the infield, it’s not the Derby with a fabulous hat.

So yeah, that cowboy hat you’re wearing today is kind of lame.

Do people really like mint juleps? These are disgusting.

I’m with you there. Made of muddled mint, bourbon, water, and sugar, mint juleps are definitely an acquired taste, but each year, 120,000 of them are served at Churchill Downs between the Oaks and the Derby. That’s over 10,000 bottles of Old Forester Mint Julep ready-to-drink cocktail, 1,000 pounds of fresh mint, and 60,000 pounds of ice.

Don’t like mint juleps? There’s always bourbonade.

Churchill Downs must be really beautiful.

Umm, not exactly. While Churchill Downs is steeped in history, it’s not even the prettiest race track in Kentucky; that honor belongs to Keeneland. Whereas Keeneland is settled in the middle of rolling, picturesque horse country, Churchill is in the middle of a random, sketchy neighborhood. Just something to keep in mind for your first trip.

Why do we have to be quiet when they sing that song?

Because it’s “My Old Kentucky Home” and I’ll smack you if you don’t.

But I don’t know the words?

Then hush and sway.

Oh wow, so that’s what Nick Lachey’s up to now. And isn’t that the guy that had a kid with Anna Nicole Smith?

Nothing says Derby like B- and C-List celebrities with the occasional A-Lister sprinkled in. The stars expected at this year’s Derby are actually impressive compared to years past: Larry David, Tracy Morgan, Katie Couric, Harry Connick Jr., Kid Rock, Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Rodgers, Randall Cobb, etc. etc. And, of course, Nick Lachey and Larry Birkhead.

And, if you think the celebrity guest list at the actual Derby is random, just check out the guest lists for all the Derby parties. The biggest of them all is the Barnstable Brown gala, which everyone up there is invited to, along with Jeff Bridges, Maren Morris, and celebrity chef Giada DeLaurentiiis. Expected at the Esquire party tomorrow night at 21C: Adrian Grenier, Bobby Flay, Ray J, and every notable UK and UofL basketball player from the past ten years. There are dozens more parties and hundreds more “celebrities” around town, making random Joey Fatone sightings an actual thing.

Did I see someone running across port-a-potties in the infield?

Yes. Because people like to drink.

Why do people go to the infield?

See above. People like to drink, and with enough alcohol, you can forget what the inside of a port-a-potty looks and smells like.

HOLY CRAP THAT HORSE ONLY HAS ONE EYE

That would be the aptly named Patch, trained by Todd Pletcher, and you’re correct. He had his left eye removed last July after it wouldn’t stop swelling, and will attempt to become the first one-eyed horse to win the Derby.

But stop gawking at him like that. You’re making him self-conscious.

Where’s that guy with the white hair?

You’re talking about Bob Baffert, who trained American Pharoah back in 2015 and is arguably the most famous face (and hair) in the sport. Unbelievably, Baffert doesn’t have a horse in this year’s Derby, so he’s planning to watch it from his couch.

Oh, okay. Who should I bet on?

You’re asking the wrong KSR staffer, but the current favorite is Classic Empire at 4-1, followed by Always Dreaming and McCraken at 5-1. Given the rainy forecast, I’ll probably go with Gormley, who has a pretty good track record in the mud.

His mother was a mudder!

You’re not the first (or last) to make that joke.

Why do people in Louisville obsess over this?

Because between stripper scandals, a morally corrupt university, and a bridge that charges you $4 to drive on, this is all they’ve got. Let them have this.

Besides, it’s pretty awesome.


Had I known that guy was a Duke fan, he would NOT have finished before me.

13.1 Things I Learned In My 2nd Half-Marathon

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On Saturday, I ran the St. Jude Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon here in Nashville, my second half-marathon after attempting it for the first time last year. As someone who hated running so much growing up that I joined the swim team to avoid it, becoming a runner as an adult has been quite the journey for me. I know a lot of people are in the same boat, and after the most challenging athletic endeavor of my life, I thought I’d share some things I learned. 13.1, in fact.

1. Very rarely will race conditions be ideal

Last year, it rained before and during the Rock ‘n’ Roll half in Nashville, and after slogging through 13.1 miles in wet shoes, I didn’t think conditions could get worse. Then, this year happened. Saturday was the hottest, muggiest day of the year here in Nashville, with conditions expected to be so steamy officials moved the race up a half hour to a 6:45 a.m. start time. That was nice, but didn’t help matters much. When the race started, it was 73 degrees with 80% humidity, and after just one mile, I was soaked in sweat. When the sun burned through the clouds halfway through, it just got worse, the temperature climbing to the 80s by the time I finished. Watching runners around me collapse and be surrounded by medics didn’t exactly boost morale, either.

2. When conditions aren’t ideal, ADJUST YOUR GOALS

This is a lesson I learned the hard way. Starting in January, I trained with a two-hour pace group with every intention of beating my time from last year. After 17 weeks of training, I was confident I would hit the two-hour mark. I should have taken a hint from the giant heat advisory sign at the race expo the day before that that wasn’t going to happen. The sign read, “With record heat anticipated, adjust your goals. You will not set a PR (personal record).” Well, after staying on pace for the first three miles, it became very clear that I wasn’t. I finished a solid fourteen minutes off my goal, two minutes off last year’s time. Honestly, considering I wanted to quit after mile three, just finishing was an accomplishment. As a fiercely competitive person, that’s been hard to grapple with this week, but when I remember how bad things got in the final stretch, I can accept it.

3. Start SLOW

This is one of the biggest rules in half/full marathons, but one I failed at this year. My pace group went out way too fast, failing to adjust for the conditions, and after three miles, I lost them. The first few miles of any race are chaotic as you try to weave around others, temper your adrenaline, and find your pace, but do yourself a favor and go about 30 seconds slower than your ultimate goal pace for at least the first two miles before picking up speed. You’ll make up that time at the end because you’ll have energy left, unlike I did.

4. Listen to your body

Another cliche, but it’s true, especially on days when the conditions suck. If it’s hot, do yourself a favor and walk through the water stops, each one if you need to, and utilize cooling stations. The organizers at my race did all they could to help us in the heat, setting up hoses to run through and handing out cold, soaking wet sponges along the way. If you feel like you need to walk, walk. Even just a small break can get you through another mile.

5. A good training plan is key

Most half-marathon training plans are for 12 weeks, but my running group (shoutout, East Nasty!) uses a 17-week plan with organized long runs on Saturdays, speed workouts on Tuesday nights, and 3-4 mile runs on Wednesdays. The rest is on your own. Personally, I run 20-30 miles a week during training, but it’s different for everyone.

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6. Find fun races and make it social

The actual running part isn’t always fun, so find fun races in cool cities. A group of my college friends did the Nashville half with me this year, and having them in town made it all worth it. We’re already looking for our next half somewhere fun. I hear the Disney half marathon is great, and I want to try the Las Vegas half at some point down the line. Even locally there are some fantastic races, like the Bourbon Chase, which I really want to do, but it always conflicts with Big Blue Madness. From color runs to zoo runs to beer runs and mud runs, the business of making running fun is booming, so if you’re even just contemplating giving it a try, grab your friends and give it a shot.

7. Training with a group will keep you going

Most running clubs organize training groups for big races in their area, and a good training group will keep you going when the times get tough. East Nasty is one of many running clubs in the Nashville area, and I know Bluegrass Runners is a popular one in Lexington. A lot of local breweries are also organizing running groups because ending a long run with a cold beer is one of the best things in life. Next time I’m in Lexington, I’m coming to run with you West Sixth Running Club!

8. The right shoe makes all the difference

Why there are so many running shoes? Because everybody’s feet are different. It took me four different running shoes to finally find the right one and I’m never switching, even if it means I have to buy three pairs of the current model. In my case, I’ve got a wide toe box, so Altras are pretty much the only shoe I can wear. The Escalante model that came out a few months back is by far the most comfortable shoe I’ve run in. If you’re thinking of starting running, start by going to your local running store and getting fitted for a proper shoe and get some good socks (I like Swiftwicks). It makes all the difference.

9. Epsom salts are bae

I often joke about being an old lady, but between my early bedtime and my affinity for soaking my feet, it’s kind of true. Nothing is better than soaking your feet in warm espom salt water after a long run. I started doing it last year when I had major issues with blisters and it’s become one of my favorite rituals on Saturday mornings. Don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it.

Had I known that guy was a Duke fan, he would NOT have finished before me.

Had I known that guy was a Duke fan, he would NOT have finished before me.

10. Accept that illness and injuries happen

Between a cold and traveling to Indy and Memphis for the NCAA Tournament, I missed a decent chunk of training and was worried that would set me way back. Thankfully, I had a whole month left until the race, so I didn’t let it. There’s nothing worse than trying to run while you’re sick or injured, so if it feels bad, don’t do it. As I said earlier, listen to your body. Once you’re healthy, you can pour yourself back into training.

Speaking of Memphis, also don’t run an hour after eating chorizo tacos. By far the worst three-mile run of my life.

11. At some point, you’re going to want to quit

For me, that happened at mile three. And mile six. And mile nine. And even mile eleven. After losing my pace group, I seriously contemplated giving up because it just wasn’t fun anymore and I was miserable. But mama didn’t raise no quitter, so I made myself go one more mile. Then another. And another. When I hit a wall at mile eight, it became just about making it to the next water stop. The last two miles, it became about walking ten strides then running twenty.

When that happens…

12. Focus on something else

Big races are fun because of all the people that come out to cheer you on. There were countless hilarious signs on the course Saturday, ranging from “Run like United’s after you!” to “You know you want to use your best swear word, so do it!” to countless doughnut puns, booze jokes, and “Touch this for a power boost!”s. As my legs began to fail me, I was super grateful for each high five, cheer, and “You got this!” from the Kentucky fans on the course. You guys were the real MVPs.

13. Reward yourself in every way

What’s the greatest thing about a race besides crossing the finishing line and knowing it’s over? Treating yo’self afterwards. From the free, watery Michelob Ultra at the finish to your first big meal and massage, you have every excuse to be a pampered lazy slug in the days after. For me and my husband, the half marathon ends with garlic knots, a slice, and a pint of Good People IPA at Five Points Pizza. While we’re regulars at Five Points on Sundays, the garlic knots are a special treat reserved for big races because, you know, fat.

13.1 Never say “Never again”

Multiple times on Saturday, I vowed to never run another half again. Yet, after I caught my breath, cooled down, and began to resemble a normal human being, I was already contemplating when I could go after my goal again. Here’s the great thing about running: it’s always a challenge. On days like Saturday, it can be downright humbling. But that’s what keeps us coming back for more.


The Ten Best Derby Week Traditions

The Ten Best Derby Week Traditions

10. Unpredictable Weather

During Derby Week, the television at my house is turned to either TVG or the Weather Channel.  My Dad memorizes the forecast better than the post positions, yet Mother Nature is always prepared to throw a curveball.  In the middle of a sunny afternoon last year, it decided to pour during the National Anthem.  There’s only one solution: prepare for everything and remain indifferent when the weather decides to change its mind.

9. The Steamboat Race is Rigged

Apparently The Great Steamboat race used to be one of the Derby Festival’s biggest draws.  Now it’s just something that appears on your local evening news.  It all changed when it was discovered that the race was rigged.  It shouldn’t surprise anybody, but nothing gets Tony Vanetti more fired up than the phrase “Steamboat Race.”  Just send him a few Tweets and watch the outrage flow from his fingers.

8. Ohio Valley Wrestling at the Chow Wagon

Once I outgrew the free concerts on the Waterfront, I thought the Chow Wagon was no longer the place from me…until I ran into a wrestling ring.  Unfortunately, the OVW’s annual match on the Waterfront has already passed, but it’s still one of the most interesting Derby events I’ve ever witnessed.

7.  Celebrity Sightings

You don’t have to watch Inside Edition to geek out when you spot a celebrity in Louisville.  Something just looks out of place, which makes it even so remarkable.  Dr. J is probably the best of the best, frequently seen in the paddock, never hesitant to speak with common folk.  If your friend has a celebrity story, no matter how unbelievable it is, it’s a story worth hearing.

There’s also the “Infield Story.” Much like the celebrity story, a handful of friends will start a story with “You’ll never believe this!”  The story will probably involve someone who is over-served, a fight, a half-naked person and the cops.  Just like the celebrity story, believe it.  This is one place where you do not have to subscribe to the mantra, “pics or it didn’t happen.”

6. A Ringer Wins a Lot of Money

I don’t care if you’ve been handicapping the races for weeks, some rookie will blindly place a bet based on a horse’s name or color and win more than you.  Don’t get jealous; help them enjoy the experience.  If you’re nice enough they’ll buy you a $12 drink, even though they only won six bucks.

5. People-Watching

Arguably more entertaining than seeing the horses, from the infield hooligans to the dapper dudes in homemade hats, the people-watching during Derby Week is second to only the State Fair.

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4.  Sneaking in Booze

Purchasing all of your alcohol at the track will cost more than a ticket.  If you don’t have a good way to sneak in booze, just ask your parents.  They’re probably really good at it and have done it for years.  Along with advice, they will have a good story or two about their greatest scheme.  So far, the best of the best is the guys who buried a keg in the infield during the week and only needed to sneak in a tap on Derby day.

3.  My Old Kentucky Home

There are a few people who hate on “My Old Kentucky Home” and I’m prepared to fight every single on of them.

2. Dawn at the Downs

There’s a buzz in the crisp morning air at Churchill Downs.  Few sights are more beautiful than seeing the sun rise over the Twin Spires.  I can’t pick a Derby horse until I’ve seen them trot around the track.

If you’re lucky enough to get into the backside, you cannot miss the opportunity.  It’s not just because of the free Krispy Kremes.  Rows of morning shows line the backside, but the real show is in the small elevated stages and bleachers.  Bob Baffert is in his element as he puts on quite the show for the gathered crowd.

No visit to Dawn at the Downs is complete until you’ve enjoyed a breakfast at Wagner’s Pharmacy.  Seeing famous horse people dining is kind of cool, but my greatest Derby moment came while waiting in line.  One person pulled out their harmonica to play “My Old Kentucky Home,” a moment I’ll cherish forever.

1.  A Family Reunion

As you get older, it becomes more difficult to keep up with your friends from the past.  It’s probably my least favorite part about growing old, just behind my receding hairline.  Yet every year at Derby I see my old friends at parties and tailgates.  We may not have seen each other since the year before, but we have not missed a beat, picking up exactly where things left off.  The bond we share at Derby is what makes it special and is why I’ll make sure I never miss a Kentucky Derby.


TMZ asked John Calipari about LaVar Ball

TMZ asked John Calipari about LaVar Ball

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The hard-hitting journalists over at TMZ chased down John Calipari outside a charity event in New York City on Tuesday to ask him about the craziest dad in sports, LaVar Ball.

Calipari did not give the sound bite TMZ likely wanted, though, when TMZ asked if he’s ever had to “deal with” a parent like Ball. No, Cal instead said, “I was so far removed, I don’t even know what that means. I know he’s involved. But fathers being involved aren’t always bad for these kids.”

He also had nice things to say about Lonzo Ball’s game. See for yourself:


Kentucky’s 2018 Recruiting Board: Confirmed Offers and Key Targets

Kentucky’s 2018 Recruiting Board: Confirmed Offers and Key Targets

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Kentucky’s 2017 recruiting class is still one or two prospects shy of completion, but that hasn’t stopped John Calipari and his staff from directing their efforts toward evaluating and building relationship for the next great group of Kentucky Wildcats in the 2018 class.

This year’s AAU schedule is in full swing with two weekends in the books, showcasing all of the best high school juniors as they enter the biggest summer of their basketball lives. Of those 2018 prospects, seven have confirmed offers from Kentucky and plenty more are waiting to join that list.

Take a look at how UK’s big board stands today as summer ball just gets going…

 


PROSPECTS WITH OFFERS


Marvin Bagley
Power Forward | 6-10 | 200 lbs.
Tempe, AZ | Sierra Canyon
AAU: Phoenix Phamily
★★★★★
ESPN No. 1 | 1 PF Top247 No. 2 | 1 PF
Rivals No. 1 | 1 PF Scout No. 1 | 1 PF

Received UK offer: May 4, 2015

Marvin Bagley is the No. 1 overall player in the 2018 class and he was the first to get a scholarship offer from Kentucky, way back after his freshman year of high school. That’s early for Calipari to reach out to a player, but it also tells you how good Bagley is and how good everyone expects him to be.

Bagley recently listed Kentucky, Arizona, UCLA, Duke, Kansas and USC as the schools he is considering in this fancy video on Twitter. He maintains it is an even race between those six schools, but whoever gets him in the end is getting one of the rare mega-star talents we only see every few years, if that.

 

Bol Bol
Power Forward/Center | 7-1 | 225 lbs.
Santa Ana, CA | Mater Dei
AAU: Cal Supreme
★★★★★
ESPN No. 41 | 13 PF Top247 No. 5 | 2 PF
Rivals No. 7 | 3 PF Scout No. 13 | 3 C

Received UK offer: May 1, 2017

Bol Bol, the son of late NBA great Manute Bol, is the newest name on this list after receiving his offer from Kentucky on Monday. Bol is ranked as high as fifth overall among the major services, and he will continue to climb up the charts if his outstanding play continues this summer. He’s currently averaging 25.4 points, nine rebounds and three blocks per game on the Nike EYBL circuit, which earned him Offensive Player of the Session honors this past weekend.

There are already six votes for Kentucky on Bol’s Crystal Ball predictions, making up 75 percent of the votes. He also has offers from Kansas, UCLA, Oregon and USC.

 

Quentin Grimes
Point Guard | 6-4 | 175 lbs.
The Woodlands, TX | College Park
AAU: Basketball University
★★★★★
ESPN No. 14 | 2 SG Top247 No. 8 | 1 PG
Rivals No. 12 | 3 PG Scout No. 24 | 6 PG

Received UK offer: March 29, 2017

Grimes is one of the later additions to the mix with a spring UK offer and he is only one of two point guards on this list, along with Immanuel Quickley.

One of the top guards in the country going into his senior season, Grimes is considering several schools right now and plans to narrow that list down this summer. Count on Kentucky to be squarely in the mix when that happens.

 

Romeo Langford 
Shooting Guard| 6-5 | 190 lbs.
New Albany, IN | New Albany High School
AAU: 22 Vision
★★★★★
ESPN No. 3 | 1 SG Top247 No. 3 | 1 SG
Rivals No. 3 | — SG Scout No. 3 | 1 SG

Received UK offer: April 20, 2016

Romeo Langford, the consensus No. 1 shooting guard in 2018, plays his high school ball about 82 miles away from Rupp Arena in New Albany, Indiana. He’s even closer to Louisville, which is why he has the Cats and Cards among his favorites, as well as Indiana and Duke.

Langford is the consensus No. 3 overall player in the class, behind two other insanely elite talents in Marvin Bagley and Zion Williamson. It would be a huge get to pull him across the river and down I-64 to Lexington for his one season of college basketball.

 

Immanuel Quickley
Point Guard (2018) | 6-3 | 175 lbs.
Bel Air, MD | John Carroll School
AAU: Team BBC
★★★★★
ESPN No. 12 | 1 PG Top247 No. 5 | 1 PG
Rivals No. 15 | 4 PG Scout No. 10 | 2 PG

Received UK offer: October 3, 2016

Immanuel Quickley was the first point guard to receive the coveted UK offer in the 2018 class when John Calipari offered him last fall. Two weeks later he was in Lexington for an unofficial visit to Big Blue Madness.

Most recently, Calipari was in to visit Quickley in Maryland on April 18. He recently trimmed his list to include the Cats, as well as Kansas, Duke, Miami, Maryland, Virginia and Providence.

 

Cameron Reddish
Small Forward | 6-8 | 196 lbs.
Norristown, PA | Westtown
AAU: Team Final
★★★★★
ESPN No. 4 | 1 SF Top247 No. 4 | 2 SF
Rivals No. 5 | 2 SF Scout No. 4 | 1 SF

Received UK offer: April 29, 2016

Cameron Reddish is a guard in a forward’s body, which is a rare find and an impossible mismatch at the college level. He’s been among the best in his class for years and he was one of the first to catch Calipari’s eye.

Reddish visited Lexington in the fall for Big Blue Madness. He recently told Kyle Tucker, “We know what they do best: get players to the [NBA]… and that’s the ultimate goal, to get me to the league. So that’s a great place to be.”

 

Zion Williamson
Forward | 6-7 | 220 lbs.
Spartanburg, SC | Spartanburg
AAU: SC Supreme
★★★★★
ESPN No. 2 | 2 PF Top247 No. 1 | 1 SF
Rivals No. 2 | 1 SF Scout No. 2 | 2 PF

Received UK offer: March 28, 2017

Zion Williamson is not human. The small forward out of South Carolina, ranked second overall in the class, is a fan favorite on Twitter for his highlight reel dunks that are too insane to believe. He is so popular, Drake shared a photo of himself wearing Williamson’s Spartanburg jersey on Instagram.

As for the Kentucky relationship, the Wildcats are the early leader for the high-flyer. He is also considering offers from Duke, North Carolina, Kansas and nearby Clemson, among many others.


THREE MORE TO WATCH


Moses Brown | PF/C |  7-0 | 210 lbs. | Jamaica, NY | No. 8 overall (247 Composite)

Calipari is selling the top center in the class on comparisons to Willie Cauley-Stein and Anthony Davis.

Ja’Vonte Smart | PG |  6-4 | 185 lbs. | Baton Rouge, LA | No. 11 overall

Smart took an unofficial visit to Lexington in February and Cal loves him as a potential point guard addition from this class.

Naz Reid | PF |  6-9 | 220 lbs. | Roselle, NJ | No. 12 overall

An absolute beast of a prospect who Calipari saw in New Jersey earlier in February and then returned for an in-home visit last month.


 


Tuesday’s Top 10: Put your Ls down and let’s go Krogering

Tuesday’s Top 10: Put your Ls down and let’s go Krogering

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Good morning, everyone, and shoutout to this brave Kentucky fan for not only riding a camel, but putting down his L after encountering a Louisville fan in Morocco. You’re doing the Big Blue Nation’s work, sir.

Let’s jump into today’s Top 10, shall we?

1. Kentucky offered Bol Bol last night

We’ve had some great names come through this program over the years, but should Bol Bol come to Kentucky, it might rank up there with the best. The 7-1 son of former NBA giant Manute Bol received an offer from John Calipari last night after two impressive weekends on the EYBL circuit. Kentucky now has eight offers out in the 2018 class, including Marvin Bagley, the 6-10 power forward who’s considered the top player in the class. Could Bol and Bagley play together? Talk about a couple of twin towers.

2. Here’s who has offers in 2018 so far:

  • PG Immanuel Quickley
  • PG Quentin Grimes
  • SG Romeo Langford
  • SF Zion Williamson
  • SF Cameron REddish
  • SF Jaedon LeDee
  • PF Marvin Bagley
  • PF Bol Bol

It’s super early, but give me Quickley (or Javonte Smart), Langford, Zion, Bagley, and Bol and let’s go win the 2019 championship. (This is a post for another time, but the more I think about it, the more 2019 feels like “the year”)

3. 2019 stars Bryan Antoine and Scottie Lewis will be on campus later this week

Not only are Antoine and Lewis two of the best wings in the 2019 class, they’re best friends and teammates. AND, they’ll be on Kentucky’s campus later this week. If you see them, be sure to say hello.

4. Commonwealth Stadium is now Kroger Field

UK Athletics

UK Athletics

Yesterday, we found out that Commonwealth Stadium is now Kroger Field as a result of JMI Sports and Kroger’s 12-year, $1.85 million/year deal. Calling it Kroger Field will take some getting used to, but in this day and age, selling naming rights to stadiums/arenas is becoming the norm, so be grateful it wasn’t something worse. If you missed out on all the excitement, we covered it from just about every angle possible:

5. Everyone’s got a joke about it

From Kroger Plus cards to the self-checkout lanes, everyone who’s ever been to a Kroger has made the same jokes about the new name, so keep that in mind as you go about your Tuesday.

Personally, I’ve been fascinated by all the old Kroger commercials on YouTube, such as this one from 1989 featuring human scissors:

6. Don’t worry, Rupp Arena’s name is safe for now

With change comes fear of more change, but according to Mitch Barnhart, Rupp Arena’s name is safe…sort of. Yesterday, Mitch Barnhart said Rupp’s name is “too iconic” to sell, and in UK’s latest lease with the Lexington Center Corporation, both sides agreed to keep the name “Rupp Arena” intact; however, odds are the naming rights to the adjacent convention center WILL be sold to help pay for renovations, to one day, it could be “Rupp Arena at the Alltech Center,” or “Rupp Arena at the Big Ass Center,” my personal favorite.

7. No new info on Bamba, Knox, or Cam Johnson

If you haven’t yet, be sure to check out Matt’s post from yesterday with the latest on UK’s chances with Mohamed Bamba, Kevin Knox, and Cam Johnson, as well as the latest rumblings on whether or not Hamidou Diallo will stay in the draft. Basically, no new info on recruiting stuff as Cam Johnson continues to take visits and we wait for Kevin Knox’s decision, which is allegedly happening this week. Meanwhile, NBA folks continue to be intrigued by Diallo, who wants a first round guarantee to stay in. Next week’s combine is huge.

8. It’s Game 2 for Wizards/Celtics

The Celtics got the best of John Wall and the Wizards in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals on Sunday, but hell hath no fury like a John Wall scorned, right? Boston hit a whopping 19-39 threes on Sunday, so if Washington wants to avoid a 0-2 start to the series, they should, you know, start defending the perimeter. Tune in to TNT at 8 p.m. for Game 2, and stick around for Game 1 of Jazz/Warriors at 10:30 p.m.

Meanwhile, LeBron James feels so confident about the Cav’s chances vs. the Raptors that he almost helped himself to a cold beverage during last night’s game:

9. It’s Game 4 for the Preds/Blues

I hope you’re not tired of hockey updates yet because you’re going to keep getting them until the Preds lose. Game four between the Preds and the St. Louis Blues is tonight at Bridgestone Arena and I’ll be in the house wearing my new PK Subban jersey. The Preds have a 2-1 lead in the series so far, and taking a 3-1 lead to St. Louis for Game 5 on Friday would be HUGE. So, catch Preds fever and join me in cheering them on when the puck drops at 9:30 PM on NBC Sports Network.

10. We’re now on the Elite Eight of the KSR Movie Bracket

Let us hear your picks for the following matchups:

  • Shawshank Redemption vs Wolf of Wall Street
  • Pulp Fiction vs Rocky
  • Star Wars vs Goodfellas
  • Saving Private Ryan vs Forrest Gump

Go Rocky!


Major Changes To Expect At Kroger Field

Get your Plus Cards ready because we’re going Krogering!

Today the University of Kentucky announced a partnership with Kroger that includes the renaming of Commonwealth Stadium to Kroger Field. The change is effective IMMEDIATELY so throw out any of those old Commonwealth t-shirts and posters because those days are dead. This is Kroger’s world now, Big Blue Nation.

Many of the details of the deal and the rename were made public during the Monday afternoon press conference in Lexington, but tonight I’m going to share with you a couple of the changes that were not mentioned.

Expect these major changes to your Kentucky football experience beginning this fall…

 

Aprons and name tags for the coaching staff

Stoops-kroger

As is the case with all Kroger employees, Mark Stoops and his staff will be written up each time they come to work without their aprons and name tags. Two aprons and two name tags will be provided in orientation; any additional aprons and name tags must be purchased and the cost will be taken out of their paycheck.

 

Coinstar kiosks at every gate

coinstar

Kroger’s fancy coin-counting machines will be conveniently located at the ramp of each gate throughout Kroger Field. Fans who dump their jars of loose change into the Coinstar kiosks can either (a) donate their coins to the K-Fund or (b) convert their coins to cash tickets, redeemable at any concession stand.

An 11.9% fee applies to all cash conversions.

 

U-Scan concession stands

concessions

Kroger’s U-Scan self-checkout process will be available throughout Kroger Field for all food and drink purchases; although, fans can expect to miss entire possessions of the football game while waiting for the one U-Scan attendant to address any of those frustrating malfunctions with the scale and/or product barcodes.

High school kids will still be available behind the counters for those fans who prefer face-to-face transactions and human interaction.

 

Kroger Fuel parking lot stations

fuel

There will be a decline in parking spaces in the lots surrounding Kroger Field as Kroger plans to open three news Kroger Fuel stations. Plans are in place to install pumps in the Red, Blue and Green lots.

UK season ticket holders will receive a 30 cent discount on each game day fill-up up to 25 gallons.

 

Full grocery integration

aisle

By the time of full completion in Fall 2018, the new Kroger Field will be a fully functional grocery store and football stadium, the first of its kind. The final layout is still in the design phase, but imagine the players taking the field through the frozen food aisle, beneath the Kroger Field Pharmacy.

Change the game!


The Evolution of Kentucky Football Facilities

The Evolution of Kentucky Football Facilities

kroger-field

This week marks my two-year anniversary as a Kentucky Sports Radio blogger. It’s been a blast. Full disclosure, I also work for the UK Sports Network which is a part of JMI Sports. UK, JMI, and Kroger came to terms to rename the home of the football Cats to Kroger Field. By now many have declared their position on the matter; both for and against. I was given the freedom to speak my mind with no restrictions when reacting to and discussing Monday’s announcement. Here’s my take:

First, I’ll provide some background. UK Football has trained at three facilities in my lifetime: Shively Center, E.J. Nutter Center, and the Joe Craft Football Training Facility. Many moons ago my freshman class moved into the Shively Center upon reporting to campus. The accommodations were modest but it was home. Summer workouts at the old training facility were hot. Weights were moved onto the astro-turf for lifting and space purposes.

Team meals were served in Donovan Hall which is now the new location of the science building in which UK Athletics donated money for construction. Coaches and players had to walk across the street to the Biology Building for team meetings because Shively didn’t have space to fit the entire gathering. We soon moved into the palatial E.J. Nutter Center with AC in the weight room, spacious lockers, and adequate team meeting space. Major upgrades. Progress.

The Cats now call the Joe Craft Football Training Center home where players are provided the most modern amenities imaginable. That building came at a price. We’ll get to that later. Smoothies can be ordered by text after players leave the center’s in-house barber shop. Coming full circle, corporate partnerships were a vital piece of the equation that provided UK Athletics with its shiny new toys. Thus, Kroger Field.

joe-craft-center

Tradition is a subject that can justifiably raise emotion within a fan base. In my lifetime, UK has played its games at two stadiums: Stoll Field and Commonwealth Stadium. The program’s two best teams played in different locations. Bear’s teams at Stoll Field, Derrick Ramsey’s crew at Commonwealth Stadium. While I’m a traditionalist at heart, the modernization of facilities and improvements for students and student-athletes are far more important.

Remember, recruiting is the lifeblood of all programs. Antiquated facilities can be a deal breaker. Can you imagine Vince Marrow hosting recruits while players pumped iron in the parking lot? Or maybe have recruiting dinners like the old days that can be seen in the below picture.

The old Kentucky football recruiting room corner.

The old Kentucky football recruiting room corner.

Several non-football incentives also comprise the JMI-Kroger association as the agreement entails much more than just a name on a stadium. Remember the monetary donation to the new science building? Select community fields throughout the state will receive funds for upgrades. Other features include campus initiatives, pharmacy, nutrition, and health conscience activities which are all tied to naming rights.

I’ve tried to sustain my stance that media types should never tell fans how to fan. Fandom is personal in nature. I don’t like to be told how to be a fan either. So, I won’t try to persuade others to go along with my thoughts about Kroger Field nor will I denounce detractors. I will try to understand the opinions of those that support and criticize Monday’s proclamation. Varying sentiments are ok. I have mine, you have yours. We don’t have to agree.

I’m excited about the baseball team’s success and pending new stadium. Will be quite the improvement from the Cliff. Softball now plays at John Cropp Stadium. UK’s track and field teams host meets on enhanced grounds. I’m happy that today’s football players can train in one of the most extraordinary and lavish facilities in all of college football. The stadium looks great after all the improvements and additions. Again, progress has an associated price tag. Money was paid upfront. See below.

“UK’s multimedia rights agreement with JMI Sports – signed in June 2014 – grants naming rights to athletic facilities and expanded opportunities to market campus media rights like those included in this partnership with Kroger. The multimedia rights agreement pays UK Athletics $210 million over 15 years, including a signing bonus of $29.4 million built in to help fund important capital projects like the baseball stadium currently under construction.”

Thus, I’m perfectly fine with Kroger Field. No, I like Kroger Field.

In the end, the scoreboard is the only signage at Kroger Field that really matters.


It’s official: Commonwealth Stadium is now Kroger Field

Photo via UK Athletics

Photo via UK Athletics

It’s official: Commonwealth Stadium is now Kroger Field. The deal, which is actually between JMI Sports and Kroger, is for 12 years, $1.85 million per year. UK President Eli Capilouto just announced the news at a press conference at the Don and Cathy Jacobs Science Building.

“This is an unprecedented partnership that pairs two iconic brands – UK and Kroger – whose reach extends throughout the Commonwealth and far beyond our borders,” UK President Eli Capilouto said. “Kroger shares our mission to serve Kentucky. And this partnership tangibly advances that mission, as evidenced by what it will allow us to do on our campus, but also as Kroger embarks on an ambitious effort to enhance health and wellness throughout Kentucky.”

The new name will be reflected on interior, external, and directional signage, as well as collateral materials related to the stadium. The playing field will be renamed to C.M. Newton Grounds at Kroger Field to avoid confusion.

Kroger is now the Official Fuel Partner of the University of Kentucky, the Official Grocery Partner of Move-In at UK, and the Official Nutrition and Pharmacy Partner of UK Athletics. Kroger and UK will also work together to improve community fields across the Commonwealth as part of the Kroger Fields Community Program and a community 5K race – the Simple Truth 5K – will finish at the 50-yard line at the newly renamed Kroger Field.

In June 2014, UK signed a multimedia rights agreement with JMI Sports, which included the right to sell naming rights to the stadium. UK is the first SEC school to have a corporate sponsorship for its football stadium, although several SEC school have sold naming rights to their basketball arenas.

Jack Pilgrim’s at the presser and will have more in a little bit.


Report: Commonwealth Stadium will be renamed “Kroger Field”

About an hour ago, UK sent out a notice about a press conference at 1 p.m. to announce a major corporate partnership, and since then, rumors have started to spread on Twitter about what it could be. By now, it’s common knowledge that the press conference will be related to the naming rights of Commonwealth Stadium, and according to Patrick Loney — who first broke news of corporate naming rights a few weeks back — says the stadium will be renamed Kroger Field:

Well, alright. Let’s go Krogering.


Monday’s Top 10: It’s Gonna be May

Good morning, everyone, and happy May Day. While the first day of May is traditionally celebrated with people dancing around a Maypole, nowadays, it’s usually greeted by one of your friends texting or tweeting you a picture of Justin Timberlake in his NSYNC days because you know, it’s gonna be May. I’m going to celebrate by attempting to stay in my chair all day because it hurts too much to walk. Saturday’s Rock ‘N Roll half marathon was brutal, guys. Thankfully, this chair’s got wheels.

Lots going on today, so let’s get to it.

1. UK landed a four-star football commitment last night

Mark Stoops and company got some big news late last night when four-star offensive tackle Darian Kinnard committed, becoming the seventh member of UK’s 2018 class. Kinnard is a massive get — literally. At 6’7″ 336 lbs., he’s a monster, and ranked the 17th best offensive tackle in his class by 247 Sports. The Cleveland, Ohio native picked the Cats over West Virginia, Penn State, Maryland, Missouri, Pittsburgh and Purdue, and he was also drawing interest from Ohio State.

Welcome aboard, Darian. Stay a while, won’t you?

2. Maybe that’s why Vince Marrow was so swaggy

Kentucky’s recruiting guru was a tweeting machine yesterday, putting a good spin on Kentucky’s disappointing NFL Draft (more on that in a minute). Marrow said Kentucky’s days of not having a player go in the draft are over:

Gotta love the big dawg’s confidence.

3. Cats in the NFL update

Saturday was a surprising day for the program as Kentucky’s two best NFL Draft prospects, Jon Toth and Boom Williams, went undrafted. Boom signed with the Bengals afterwards, but Toth still doesn’t have a home, which is truly bizarre given that he was projected to be a fourth or fifth round pick. Yesterday, rumors circulated that Toth signed with the 49ers, but ESPN’s Field Yates shot that down, tweeting that Toth “will soon be fully healthy” and should sign with a team then. Wait, what? He was injured? That’s the first we’re hearing of that.

Meanwhile, Ryan Timmons signed with the Bears and JD Harmon with the Browns. Here’s hoping Toth finds a home soon. Whichever team lands him is getting a heck of a steal.

4. UK Baseball won their series with South Carolina

Nick Mingione’s squad continues its impressive rise, winning the series at South Carolina this weekend, the first time the Bat Cats have beaten the Gamecocks in Columbia since 1999. UK improves to 31-14, leading the SEC East with a 14-7 league mark and tying Western Division co-leaders Mississippi State and Auburn for the overall league lead. On Friday, they got their first win in the series in dominating fashion, beating South Carolina by an astounding score of 19-1, Kentucky’s largest margin of victory against an SEC opponent in school history. Do yourself a favor and watch the highlights below:

They’re getting it done, folks.

5. It was a big weekend for basketball recruiting

The spring live period continues, which means John Calipari was on the road to watch targets at Nike and Under Armour events in Indianapolis. Cal watched pretty much all of his 2018 and 2019 targets, including Marvin Bagley, Cameron Reddish, Javonte Smart, Romeo Langford, Immanuel Quickley, Moses Brown, and 2019 stars Bryan Antoine and Scottie Lewis, who will visit UK later this week. I’ll have a more detailed rundown on the recruiting weekend for you later this morning.

6. Calipari found a home for his Air Jordan 8 Calipari Pack

Something tells me he’ll still sport a pair on the road on recruiting trips.

7. ICYMI, Hamidou Diallo got an NBA Combine invitation

On Saturday, five Cats received invitations to next week’s NBA Combine: Malik Monk, De’Aaron Fox, Bam Adebayo, Isaiah Briscoe, and, yes, Hamidou Diallo. Diallo is the only Cat left who declared for the draft but didn’t sign with an agent. The Combine takes place in Chicago May 9-14 and while Diallo has until May 24 to decide whether or not to stay in the draft, A LOT of that decision could weigh on his performance next week.

8. It’s Derby Week

Can you believe it’s already Derby week? I can’t, but it’s here, which means the city of Louisville will put its best foot (hoof?) forward this week. The draw is Wednesday morning at 11 a.m., and I’ll be honest, I haven’t done a bit of research on this year’s contenders. Thankfully, Chad Lashbrook and the folks at Twin Spires will be by this week to get us ready.

9. Rich Brooks is having a heck of a time on vacation

Nobody does retirement like Rich Brooks, who is currently fishing in the Bahamas:

Is there anyone cooler than Brooks in this picture?

The answer is no. Man is having the time of his life, and I’m super jealous.

10. The KSR Movie Bracket rolls on

The gang will wrap up the KSR movie bracket on today’s show, which means you’ve got an hour to mull over your picks:

— Shawshank Redemption vs. Top Gun
— Wolf of Wall Street vs. Titanic
— Pulp Fiction vs. Silence of the Lambs
— Rocky vs. Lord of the Rings
— Star Wars vs. Batman
— Goodfellas vs. Schindler’s List
— Saving Private Ryan vs. Jurassic Park
— Se7en vs. Forrest Gump

My Final 4: Shawshank Redemption, Rocky, Star Wars, and Saving Private Ryan. Gimme Rocky in an upset.


Kentucky lands commitment from four-star offensive lineman

Mark Stoops has another big-time commit in Kentucky’s 2018 class with the addition of Darian Kinnard, a 6-foot-7, 336-pound offensive tackle out of Cleveland.

Kinnard pledged his commitment to the Wildcat via this tweet Sunday night.

Kinnard is a four-star prospect in the Top247 rankings, considered to be the No. 17 tackle in the entire nation.

He chose Kentucky over several offers, including West Virginia, Penn State, Maryland, Missouri, Pittsburgh and Purdue, as well as interest from Ohio State.


The Ones That Got Away: Checking In On The Recruits Calipari’s Missed On Over The Years

The Ones That Got Away: Checking In On The Recruits Calipari’s Missed On Over The Years

onesthatgotaway

Earlier this week, a KSR caller gave us a great research topic: the recruits that John Calipari wanted but didn’t get. I spent the past few days making a list of the top recruits Cal’s coveted and missed on, and what they’re doing now. Join me as we take a stroll down memory lane…

2009: Xavier Henry

xavierhenry

Then: Chose Kansas over Kentucky and Memphis

Calipari brought most of his Memphis recruits with him to Kentucky in 2009, but not Xavier Henry, the second best shooting guard in the 2009 class that was committed to Cal at Memphis but reopened his recruitment once he left. After a lot of drama (including a potential last minute change of heart), Henry decided to follow in his father’s footsteps at Kansas.

KSR headlines at the time included:

Now: Plays for the Oklahoma City Blue in the D-League

Henry left Kansas after one season, during which he averaged 13.4 points. He was drafted 12th in the 2010 Draft by the Memphis Grizzlies. Since then, he’s spent time on the New Orleans Hornets, the Los Angeles Lakers, and their respective D-League squads. A torn Achilles set him back in 2014, and since then, he’s struggled to find a spot on an NBA roster. He spent this past season playing alongside Dakari Johnson for the Oklahoma City Blue in the D-League.


2010: Josh Selby

joshselby

Then: Chose Kansas over Kentucky, Arizona, UConn, and Tennessee

Selby decommitted from Tennessee in July 2009 and became one of Calipari’s top targets at point guard along with Brandon Knight. In what would be a blessing in disguise, Selby picked Kansas while Knight chose Kentucky.

KSR headlines at the time included:

Now: Plays overseas in Israel 

The NCAA suspended Selby for the first nine games of the season due to his relationship with Carmelo Anthony’s business manager, Robert “Bay” Frazier. Selby struggled in his one year at Kansas, and apparently, stopped going to class after the season was over, moving to Vegas to prepare for the draft. He was drafted 49th by the Grizzlies and was assigned to the D-League after a few months. He stayed in the D-League until taking his game overseas in 2013. He’s now with Maccabi Kiryat Gat in Israel.


2010: CJ Leslie

cjleslie

Then: Chose NC State over Kentucky and UConn

Power forward and aspiring poet CJ Leslie played alongside John Wall at Word of God Christian Academy in Raleigh, but unlike Wall, Calipari was unable to persuade him to leave his home state.

KSR headlines at the time included:

Now: Plays for the Raptors 905 in the D-League

Leslie played for NC State for three years before going undrafted in the 2013 NBA Draft. Since then, he’s been in and out of the D-League and played overseas for a few years before landing with the Raptors’ D-League team, the Raptors 905.


2011: Andre Drummond

andredrummond

Then: Chose UConn over Kentucky, Georgetown, Louisville, and West Virginia

Drummond could have been the best big man in the 2012 class and gone straight to the NBA because of his age, but stunned everyone at the last minute by reclassifying to 2011 and enrolling at UConn. In the 2011 class, he was considered the best player behind Anthony Davis.

KSR headlines at the time included:

Now: Plays for the Detroit Pistons

After a year at UConn, Drummond was drafted 9th overall by the Detroit Pistons and has been there ever since. He was voted an All-Star in 2016 and played for the US in the 2014 FIBA World Cup.


2011: Quincy Miller

quincymiller

Then: Chose Baylor over Kentucky, Duke, Louisville, and Oklahoma

Miller was a top 10 player in the 2011 class and even though he enjoyed doing the John Wall dance, passed on an offer from Kentucky in part because they wouldn’t offer his close friend, Deuce Bello. Also courted by Louisville, Miller was so bitter that Bello didn’t get an offer that he flashed the Louisville “L” at the UK Football team and stared down Calipari while on a recruiting visit to the UK/UofL football game at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium in September 2010. Ultimately, both Miller and Bello ended up at Baylor.

KSR headlines at the time included:

Now: Plays overseas in Israel

After one year at Baylor, Miller was drafted 38th by the Denver Nuggets and was in and out of the D-League until he was waived in 2014. After stints with the Reno Bighorns, the Sacramento Kings, and Detroit Pistons, he moved overseas, where he now plays for Maccabi Tel Aviv in Israel.


2012: Shabazz Muhammed

shabazzmuhammed

Then: Chose UCLA over Kentucky and Duke

Shabazz and Nerlens Noel were considered the best two players in the 2012 class and buzz was that both would land at Kentucky; however, Shabazz elected to stay on the west coast and chose UCLA over Kentucky and Duke.

KSR headlines at the time included:

Now: Plays for the Timberwolves

Oh boy, where to begin with Shabazz? Muhammed’s year at UCLA was mired in scandal, from his suspension for the first three games of the season for receiving illegal benefits during his recruitment to his father lying about how old he was to pouting when his teammate hit a game-winning shot. Shabazz was drafted 14th by the Utah Jazz and quickly traded to the Timberwolves. After being sent home from the NBA rookie transition program, Muhammed spent time in the D-League before returning to Minnesota, where he’s been ever since.


2012: Alex Oriakhi (transfer)

oriakhi3

Then: Chose to transfer from UConn to Missouri over Kentucky

With UConn facing a postseason ban in the 2012-13 season, Alex Oriakhi decided to transfer for his senior season to be able to play in the 2013 NCAA Tournament. With most of the 2012 National Championship team out the door, Calipari was in hot pursuit, but the day before he was scheduled to visit Lexington, Oriakhi decided to go to Missouri instead.

KSR headlines at the time included:

Now: Playing overseas in Spain

Oriakhi did get to play in the NCAA Tournament, but the Tigers lost in the first round to Colorado State. He was drafted 57th in the 2013 Draft by the Phoenix Suns, fizzled on their Summer League team and rotated between overseas pro teams and the D-League. He’s now with Vaqueros de Bayamón in Spain.


2013: Andrew Wiggins

wiggins

Then: Chose Kansas over Kentucky, Florida State, and North Carolina

Ah, the recruiting saga to end all recruiting sagas. Kentucky was considered the favorite for Wiggins for most of his recruitment along with Florida State, but he surprised us all by picking Kansas. Did landing Julius Randle scare him off?

KSR headlines at the time included:

If you’re curious, 812 posts have been written about Andrew Wiggins on KSR, which has to be a record. Bamba’s recruitment is nothing compared to his.

Now: Plays for the Timberwolves

After a year at Kansas, Wiggins was drafted first in the 2014 Draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers and traded two months later to the Minnesota Timberwolves. He’s one of the Timberwolves’ young stars alongside our own Karl Towns, with whom he actually shared a room at the Nike Hoop Summit back in 2013.


2013: Aaron Gordon

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Then: Chose Arizona over Kentucky, Washington, and Oregon

Gordon was one of Kentucky’s top targets in the 2013 class along with Wiggins, but like many West Coast recruits, couldn’t tear himself away from that side of the country, not even for Calipari.

KSR headlines at the time included:

Now: Plays for the Orlando Magic

After a season at Arizona, Gordon was drafted fourth in the 2014 Draft by the Orlando Magic, whom he’s been with ever since.


2014: Emmanuel Mudiay

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Then: Chose SMU over Kentucky, Kansas, Baylor, and Oklahoma State.

Emmanuel Mudiay was poised to be the next great Calipari point guard, but surprised everyone when he picked SMU.

KSR headlines at the time included:

Then: Chose China because of eligibility problems

In many ways, not getting Mudiay was a blessing in surprise. Eligibility problems forced him to forgo his college career and play in China for a season. Meanwhile, Kentucky went after Tyler Ulis, now considered one of the greatest point guards in school history.

Now: Plays for the Denver Nuggets

After earning over a million dollars playing for the Guangdong Southern Tigers in China, Mudiay was drafted seventh in the 2015 NBA Draft by the Denver Nuggets. Now, he’s the backup behind Jameer Nelson, and is losing minutes to another Wildcat, Jamal Murray.


2014: Cliff Alexander

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Then: Chose Kansas over Illinois and DePaul

Kentucky was high on Alexander early on, but backed off once they got a commitment from Trey Lyles. From there, Alexander cut the Cats from his list and committed to Kansas, making his dad the happiest person in the world:

Confession: That video is the only reason I kept Alexander on the list.

KSR headlines at the time included:

Now: Plays in the D-League

Alexander averaged 7.1 points and 5.3 rebounds in his freshman year at Kansas until he was suspended in late February over an NCAA investigation. After claiming he “got dealt a bad deck of cards” at Kansas, Alexander entered the 2015 NBA Draft and was undrafted. He signed a training camp deal with the Portland Trail Blazers, but struggled due to injury and was waived. Since then, he’s been in the D-League.


2015: Stephen Zimmerman

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Then: Chose UNLV over Kentucky, Kansas, UCLA, and Arizona

2015 was a tough recruiting year for Calipari because many of the players he wanted most decided to stay home instead of coming to Lexington. Stephen Zimmerman was one of those players. Calipari made it clear Zimmerman was one his top targets, but Zimmerman couldn’t bring himself to leave Las Vegas, choosing UNLV instead.

KSR headlines at the time included:

Now: Plays for the Orlando Magic

After one year at UNLV, Zimmerman was drafted 41st by the Orlando Magic in the 2016 NBA Draft. He was in and out of the D-League in his rookie season.


2015: Malik Newman

maliknewman

Then: Chose Mississippi State over Kentucky and Kansas

Kentucky was considered the favorite for the top point guard in the 2015 class for most of his recruitment, but Newman shocked everyone by choosing to stay home and play for Mississippi State instead.

KSR headlines at the time included:

Then: Transferred to Kansas

Newman’s decision to stay home and play for Mississippi State came back to bite him. After averaging 11.3 points in his freshman year, he tried to go pro but discovered his stock wasn’t high enough, so he withdrew his name and returned to school. Unfortunately, he had a bad habit of skipping classes, so he wasn’t exactly welcomed back with open arms, so he decided to transfer.

Now: Plays for Kansas

Newman had to sit out the 2016-17 season, but will suit up for the Jayhawks this fall.


2015: Antonio Blakeney

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Then: Chose LSU over Kentucky and Missouri

Blakeney was one of the top shooting guards in the 2015 class and in September 2014, committed to Louisville only to decommit eleven days later. We didn’t know it at the time, but that’s because UofL tried to woo him with prostitutes, which you know, is pretty disgusting, so after the grossness of it all sunk in, he got the heck outta there. From there, it looked like he would come to Kentucky, but he elected to join Ben Simmons at LSU instead.

KSR headlines at the time included:

Now: Preparing for the 2017 Draft

Blakeney’s freshman year at LSU with Ben Simmons didn’t exactly go as planned (JUST LIKE THAT RECRUITING VISIT TO LOUISVILLE, AMIRITE), with the Tigers failing to make the NCAA Tournament and turning down the NIT. It didn’t get any better in his sophomore year, with the Tigers finishing 13th in the SEC behind Missouri. Now, he’s signed with an agent for the 2017 Draft even though he’s barely in Draft Express’ ranking of Top 100 prospects.

…However, he did help expose the Louisville sex scandal and for that reason, will forever be in our hearts.

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