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Tyrese Maxey hopes to make school/reclassification decision “in the next week”

Jon Lopez | Nike

We could be hearing news on 2019 five-star guard Tyrese Maxey in the very, very near future.

And it sounds like he’ll be joining Kentucky this season.

According to Rivals.com’s David Sisk and other reporters on the scene in Indianapolis for the Nike EYBL event, Maxey said he will be making a decision on both when and where he will be attending college “in the next week or so.”

In fact, Kyle Tucker of SEC Country said Maxey may have let the cat out of the bag this afternoon, calling he and Kentucky commit Ashton Hagans “The Duo” before correcting himself.

“We call ourselves The Duo,” he said, pausing a beat before correction himself: “A possible duo. I’m sorry. Trying not to laugh.”

But he couldn’t help himself. He grinned as if he’d just let the cat out of the bag. That he’s leaning heavily toward picking the Wildcats is no surprise. He’s long raved about UK and its point guard whisperer of a head coach, John Calipari.

And if he does commit to Kentucky, Maxey told Tucker he is not worried about competing for playing time in a potentially loaded backcourt of he, Quade Green, Ashton Hagans, Immanuel Quickley, Tyler Herro, and Jemarl Baker.

“No, sir. Coach Cal is really good at playing multiple guards at multiple positions,” he said. “That’s what he does.”

If you ask college basketball insider Andrew Slater, you can go ahead and chalk him up as a future Wildcat.

Woah.


Photo by USA Basketball

Kentucky offers 2020 forward Scottie Barnes

Photo by USA Basketball

The first player in the 2020 class to land an offer from Kentucky? Five-star forward Scottie Barnes.

The Fort, Lauderdale, Florida native told Ben Roberts that Kenny Payne extended the offer a few days ago after the first weekend of the spring evaluation period. Usually, John Calipari likes to wait until players are juniors to give out scholarship offers, but in the wake of losing Zion Williamson, Cal seems to have changed his tactics.

“When you get an offer from one of those schools, it’s everybody’s dream,” Barnes told Roberts. “It just shows how much work you put in to the game. It just shows what your success is bringing.”

The 6’7” 175 lbs. Barnes is considered the seventh best player and the best small forward in the 2020 class by 247 Sports. He’s already got offers from home state Florida, Kansas, LSU, Miami, Oregon, and Syracuse.

[Herald Leader]

Scottie Barnes (2020)
Forward | 6-7 | 175 lbs.
Fort Lauderdale, FL | University School
AAU: Nike Team Florida
ESPN No. 5 | 2 PF Top247 No. 7 | 1 SF
Rivals No. 2 247 Comp.  No. 7 | 2 SF


Kentucky’s NFL Draft Drought Will End in 2019

When Roger Gooddell is received with boos at the podium of the 2018 NFL Draft, he will probably not call a Kentucky Wildcat’s name.  For the second consecutive year, UK will not have an NFL Draft pick.

Injuries are at fault more than talent.  Jon Toth was projected to fall between the third and fifth round before suffering a back injury that required surgery just weeks before the draft.  Offensive tackle Cole Mosier had similar NFL projections prior to his senior season, until a knee injury ended his UK career.

There’s an outside shot Mosier could hear his name called before the draft concludes on Saturday.  Austin MacGinnis, Juice Johnson, Kyle Meadows and Courtney Love may as well, but they will likely have to wait and sign with teams as free agents.

There’s no shame in that.  As Jacob Tamme once told me, “Whether you’re a first rounder or a free agent, everybody gets a shot.”  However, it will be a shot to the Kentucky football program’s pride if the Cats do have a two-year NFL Draft drought, something that has not happened since 2006-07.

You remember what happened in 2006-07.  That talent hung around and four players were selected in the 2008 NFL Draft.  Kentucky could double that number in the 2019 NFL Draft.

Josh Allen

Kentucky’s All-SEC pass rusher would have been selected as high as the third round in the 2018 NFL Draft, but opted to return for one final year.  He’s now projected as a first round pick (No. 23 overall by Walter Football) in the 2019 draft.

Allen is using the extra year to gain much-needed strength, following a path that’s similar to Bud Dupree’s.  However, Dupree’s story isn’t what convinced him to return for his senior season; it was his son.

Mike Edwards

The Kentucky Badger had similar draft projections in 2018, somewhere between the third and fifth round.  Overshadowed by other elite safeties in the SEC, Edwards can make a statement in his senior season and claim First Team All-SEC Honors.  On pace to become Kentucky’s best tackling defensive back in school history, Edwards can explode into the late stages of the first round with a few big plays from a few different positions in the secondary.

C.J. Conrad

Remember Hayden Hurst?  He’s the tight end from South Carolina that was supposed to be the best in the SEC, until he tried to jump over Chris Westry.

This guy will probably be a first round pick tonight.  If you don’t believe Conrad will be in a similar situation next year, you’re out of your damn mind.

Also, C.J. doesn’t need to catch 50 passes to be a high draft pick.  I know it will anger fans if that doesn’t happen, but Vince Marrow is adamant that whether he catches seven or 70, Conrad will be a hot commodity in 2019.

Benny Snell

Did you really think Benny is coming back for a fourth year?  Folks, enjoy him while you can.

Jordan Jones, Denzil Ware

The previous four players are essentially locks in the first three rounds.  The outlook for Ware and Jones is unclear.

Jones has the production of an NFL linebacker, but not the size.  That’s why he missed much of last season with an injury and will miss the entire summer.  If Jones gets healthy and produces numbers comparable to his 2016 season, NFL teams will take him in a heartbeat.

Ware is the original Blitz Bro, but he does not share Allen’s length and explosiveness.  However, his frame is big enough to tack on weight and potentially become a 4/3 defensive end.  A fringe pick in 2017, he can secure a spot between the fourth and sixth rounds with a consistent senior season.

The Secondary

Outside of Edwards, the rest of the secondary is filled with wild cards.

Upon seeing Chris Westry the first time, I thought, “that guy is going to be a star in the NFL.”  He’s been inconsistent, but a big senior year could make my initial reaction true.  Derrick Baity and Lonnie Johnson are massive human beings could post surprising numbers and slide into the draft after an excellent year.

There’s a ton of potential, but it all comes down to production.  Kentucky’s secondary underperformed in 2017.  If they play up to their talent in 2018, Edwards could have two or three other UK defensive backs join him in the draft.

The Offensive Line

Kentucky could have two offensive linemen taken in the 2019 draft.  Bunchy Stallings is the line’s top pro prospect.  He has a ton of experience, plenty of nastiness and the measurements to earn a fifth to seventh round selection.  Offensive tackle George Asafo-Adjei may be drafted as well, but as an offensive guard.  He’s too small to be an NFL tackle, the position he has played most of his Kentucky career, but his strength and athleticism could be enough to get drafted.

The biggest problem for Bunchy and Big George: they are interior offensive linemen.  Offensive guard is probably the least-drafted position (aside from specialists).  GMs need good tackles to protect their quarterbacks and solid centers to be the rock of the offensive line, but most GMs believe they can mold a lineman into a great OG, that’s why they don’t need to waste a pick on them.

Kentucky football has not been well-represented in the NFL Draft for a few years.  If the Cats complete the best season of Mark Stoops’ tenure, the number of draft picks could sky-rocket into the double-digits.  Even if that doesn’t happen, there are at least four Wildcats who will hear their name called in the 2019 NFL Draft.


Make the Kentucky Derby Infield Fun Again

Make the Kentucky Derby Infield Fun Again

The Kentucky Derby has many great traditions.  The call to the post, the singing of My Old Kentucky Home, mint juleps, the rose garland and infield debauchery.  Unfortunately, the latter has fallen by the wayside and it’s our job to bring this great tradition back from the grave.

For years, the Infield was a wild west of sorts.  The beer flowed freely from coolers, people wrestled in mud and naked men climbed flagpoles.  The stories of clever smugglers created legendary tales that have been passed down for generations.  Unfortunately, corporate America saw an end to that, but it does not mean the fun has to stop.

In recent years, Infield attire has changed.  Instead of jorts, the suit has become the most popular wardrobe selection.  Not only did camera phones dramatically decrease Infield nudity, it prompted too many people to dress to impress on Instagram.  Folks, that’s not what the Infield is about.

This year I am asking General Admission ticket-holders to leave the suits at home.  No Suit, No Shirt, No Problem.

The Infield needs less of this…

NBC

…and more of this.

See, you can still fit in with a tie and a hat in the Infield.

There are many reasons why you should abandon the formal attire.  Let me explain.

Impractical

The first Saturday of May always brings bad weather.  It’s either 85 degrees or raining.  A nice, heavy suit leads to dehydration and the muddy, rainy mess will ruin the suit forever.  For the ladies who love to wear heels, they’re asking for blisters.  In the many miles that will be walked, a heel is destined to break.  That won’t happen if they are left at home.

Not the Place

When thousands gather at Churchill Downs for the 144th running of the roses, many will claim a seat in the grandstand or on Millionaires’ Row.  That occasion requires a certain dress code, one that involves a collared shirt for men and a colorful hat for women.  It’s a look that works at Keeneland or on that side of the track.

The phrase, “he’s from the other side of the track,” should be taken literally for the Derby.  The other side of the track demands an outlandish attitude.

Alternatives

So you want to wear a suit for Derby?  You can find plenty at the Goodwill, one that will look great with the sleeves torn off.  You think big hats are cool?  Bucket hats do a great job of keeping the sun off your skin on a sweltering day.

You don’t need to rock flip-flops and jorts.  In fact, nothing will grab more attention than a creative costume.  These are outfits that carry an incredible amount of street cred.

Or you could take it one step farther by integrating a Derby horse into your costume.  In 2015, this guy was interviewed by multiple news outlets for his rendition of American Pharoah.

The Kentucky Derby Infield is a majestic place.  Its fame and lore does not grow by being fancy.  Make the most of this wonderful annual experience by living under the motto, “No Suit, No Shirt, No Problem.”  Just don’t fall when you make a run for it atop the pot-o-potties.


Kentucky NBA Mock Draft Tracker: April 26

What’s the latest on the three Kentucky players testing the waters of the NBA Draft? This morning, Jonathan Givony updated his list of the Top 100 NBA Draft prospects, and continues to have PJ Washington, Jarred Vanderbilt, and Wenyen Gabriel well outside the top 30:

  • 12. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
  • 14. Kevin Knox
  • 34. Hamidou Diallo
  • 51. PJ Washington
  • 65. Jarred Vanderbilt

Wenyen didn’t make the list. With draft declarations made, all is quiet on the “Who will stay and who will go” front, but let’s refresh ourselves on each player’s situation:

PJ Washington: Washington continues to track as a late second round pick, but a good performance at the combine (May 16-20) could be enough to convince a team with a late first round pick to take a chance on him, which may be all he needs to stay in the draft. Givony has PJ going 18th in his 2019 NBA Mock Draft, a reminder of how much he could gain by returning to school for another year.

Jarred Vanderbilt: A foot/ankle injury will likely prevent Vanderbilt from participating at the combine and he only played in 14 games this past season, so any feedback he gets will be limited. Vanderbilt clearly needs to show the NBA more, but will he heed that advice should a team promise to take him in the second round?

Wenyen Gabriel: Gabriel hasn’t shown up on any mock drafts or Top 100 rankings, but he may be ready to explore his professional options regardless.

PJ, Jarred, and Wenyen all have until May 30 to decide whether or not to stay in the draft or come back to school, although, with combine invites going out in the next week, we may know something sooner.

An updated look at where each Cat stands in the major mock drafts:

Shai Alexander Kevin Knox Hamidou Diallo PJ Washington Jarred Vanderbilt Wenyen Gabriel
ESPN Top 100 (Updated 4/26) 12 14 34 51 65
ESPN (Updated 4/13) 12. LA Clippers 15. Washington 36. Sacramento
Sports Illustrated (Updated 4/19) 15. Washington 12. LA Clippers 41. Orlando 53. Oklahoma
Sporting News* (Updated 4/26) 12. LA Clippers 13. LA Clippers
Gary Parrish* (Updated 4/16) 13. LA Clippers 14. Denver
Reid Forgrave* (Updated 4/24) 11. Charlotte 16. Phoenix
NBADraft.net (Updated 4/12) 12. LA Clippers 11. Charlotte 45. Brooklyn
Bleacher Report* (Updated 4/25) 11. Charlotte 14. Denver 29. Brooklyn
The Athletic (Updated 4/26) 12. LA Clippers 14. Denver 36. Sacramento

*First round only


KSRVR: Kentucky Football Spring Game

Did you miss the Kentucky Spring Game or just want to relive the beautiful day at Kroger Field? Have you ever wanted to see the Cats play from field level or experience post-game media festivities?

KSRVR is here to bring you highlights from the annual Blue-White scrimmage in full 360-degree HD.

If you have a virtual reality headset, throw them on and enjoy. If not, you can click and drag to view all 360-degrees on a desktop computer. If watching on mobile (iPhone, Android, iPad, etc.) you can move your device around to view or click and drag.

For best overall viewing experience, go to the settings on the YouTube video, click on quality, and select 1080s60.

If you’re having problems loading the video, refresh the page or go to the video page directly here. The YouTube mobile app and desktop viewing modes are the two best options.

While you’re at it, you can subscribe to my YouTube channel here for more Kentucky football, basketball, and recruiting interview/highlight videos.


NBA could end one-and-done rule by 2020 Draft

NBA could end one-and-done rule by 2020 Draft

This morning, the NCAA’s Commission on College Basketball called for the NBA to abolish the one-and-done rule and allow high school seniors to go directly to the NBA. Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting the NBA and Players Association plan to do just that, with change coming as early as the 2020 Draft.

The first recruiting class this could impact would be the 2020 class, making the 2019 class even more important. Yet another reason why John Calipari’s been a madman on the recruiting front, right? In addition to pushing some 2019 players to reclassify to 2018 (Ashton Hagans, Tyrese Maxey), Cal has reclaimed his role as head recruiter, putting in the legwork with James Wiseman, Vernon Carey, Scottie Lewis, Bryan Antoine, Matthew Hurt, etc.

So, what will happen to the players who aren’t elite once the one-and-done rule ends? The NBA has started to expand its G-League, which could end up as a farm system, a concept Calipari spoke out against in March.

“If you send high school kids to the D-League, how many of them will make the NBA? Give me a number. Five percent? You know that’s too high. Probably two or three percent. What do we do with the ones that don’t make it? Tell me.”

An expanded G-League seems inevitable, so Calipari met with the Players Association last week to encourage them to establish a combine for high school juniors to better educate them on who should make the jump to the pros and who should go to school. That’s a noble move by Cal, but with the prospect of finally being able to straight to the league ahead of them, several players will go regardless of whether or not they’re ready.

In the end, you better hope the NBA ends the one-and-done rule because the NCAA’s alternatives are horrible. This morning, the committee recommended reinstating freshmen ineligibility or locking the scholarships so that if a player does go pro after one year, the school can’t use it for three or four years, which are both terrible ideas and would lead to a mass exodus of talent to the G-League or overseas. If the one-and-done rule goes, the best of the best would go straight to the league but you would hopefully see the next tier of talent in college; if the one-and-done rule stays and the NCAA adopts freshmen ineligibility or locks the scholarships, any player with any hopes of a legit NBA career would run for the hills, and who could blame them?

If Woj’s report is correct, the end of the one-and-done era is near; for now, take heart that Calipari is doing everything he can to prepare for it.


NCAA committee calls for end of one-and-done; refuses to pay players

As expected, the NCAA’s Commission on College Basketball’s recommendations included a lot of stern language about the problems facing the sport, but not that many solutions. I can’t say I’m surprised. After a quick glance, here are the major takeaways.

Call for end of one-and-done

Like we thought, the committee called for the end of the one-and-done rule, which was put in place by the NBA in 2006.

One-and-done has played a significant role in corrupting and destabilizing college basketball, restricting the freedom of choice of players, and undermining the relationship of college basketball to the mission of higher education. Elite high school players with NBA prospects and no interest in a college degree should not be “forced” to attend college, often for less than a year.

The commission said they considered, but is not recommending, the baseball rule because it would keep players ready for NBA in school against their will. Once again, this doesn’t mean anything unless the NBA and the Players Association move to end the rule, which NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has hinted will happen in the near future. (UPDATE: Adrian Wojnarowski reports the NBA and NBAPA are planning to end the one-and-done rule as early as the 2020 draft)

But what if it doesn’t? The committee said if the NBA doesn’t abolish the one-and-done rule by the end of 2018, it will consider other measure, such as freshman ineligibility, or locking a scholarship for two years if a player goes pro after one year. Both are horrible ideas.

Allowing undrafted underclassmen to return to school

The best and easiest recommendation the committee made was to allow underclassmen who declare for the draft to go through the draft and retain their eligibility should they not be selected or sign a professional contract. The only restrictions are that the player must return to the same school and request an evaluation from the NBA’s Undergraduate Advisory Committee.

Common sense.

No movement towards paying players

Unfortunately, the committee did not recommend allowing players to profit off their likeness, defending its amateurism model and justifying pushing this issue off until the NCAA finds a way to legislate it.

“The goal should not be to turn college basketball into another professional league.”

Boooooooooooo.

Certified Agents

The one piece of news that could make an actual change would be allowing players to have contact with certified agents through their high school and college careers. This would help players make educated choices about their future while eliminating a lot of the secret meetings that already take place, as we found out via leaked documents a few weeks ago.

Elite high school and college players need earlier professional advice, including whether to declare for the draft or whether college basketball offers a superior pathway. If NCAA rules do not allow them to receive that advice openly, they will often seek it illicitly. The NCAA rules should provide that student-athletes may meet and contract with NCAA-certified agents and that they will not lose their eligibility by doing so.

USA Basketball alternative to Summer Leagues

The commission recommended partnering with USA Basketball and the NBA to create a viable alternative to summer leagues funded by shoe companies such as Nike’s EYBL, Adidas Gauntlet, and the Under Armour Association. That’s a no-brainer but will require a huge investment.

As far as all the under-the-table payments from those shoe companies, such as adidas, to recruits? The committee called for greater financial transparency from the companies and called upon university presidents to do more compliance checks. Given how much colleges make from the shoe companies, expecting anything more than stern language was naive.

Harsher penalties for Level 1 violations

In the wake of UNC getting off scot free for 18 years of academic fraud, the commission called for changes in the penalty structure, including a five-year postseason ban for Level I violations.

Easier paths to graduation for players that leave

The committee did recommend making the path to graduation for those who leave early easier, calling for all colleges to establish a degree completion program to support those who want to come back and finish their degrees. Kentucky already does this.

There’s a lot more, but these are the basic nuts and bolts. If you’d like to read the entire 60-page report for yourself, it’s now available on the NCAA’s website. We’ll continue to have coverage throughout the morning.

Correction: I misinterpreted the committee’s recommendations should the NBA keep the one-and-done rule. Instead of locking a player in for three or four years, if a player goes pro after one year, the school would lose the scholarship the next two years. Either way, it’s dumb.


Thank You

Thank You

In April of 2015 I was loading suitcases preparing to depart on a Disney cruise when I received a phone call from an unknown number. Normally, I don’t answer anonymous calls. But, for some reason I did on this occasion. The caller identified himself as Matt Jones. I have to admit that I kinda laughed when I heard the name. My first response was to ask the dude on the other end of the phone if Elvis was with him and fully expected a comeback about a no-interest credit card with an accompanying free vacation to Nantucket for Shark Week. I had listened to Matt on the radio, but even though we are both hillbillies, we’d never spoken or met. I surely didn’t have his phone number.

After finally being convinced that the caller actually was The Matt Jones, he asked if I’d be interested in writing for Kentucky Sports Radio. His inquiry was totally out of the blue. I wanted to say yes on the spot and I all of a sudden experienced that same butterfly-gut feeling that I had felt many years prior when running into an opposing SEC stadium. But, I had a ship to catch and an unlimited amount of hamburgers to eat at the pool-side Burger Bar. I told him I’d call him back after returning from our sea journey with The Mouse.

Jen and I talked it over while on a snorkeling adventure (I hated snorkeling by the way; way too scared of sharks). I also requested advice from my boss, Major General Tonini. In typical Chief Warrant Officer Jennifer Maggard fashion; she told me that she’d unconditionally support me in whatever endeavors I wanted to pursue. She’s the absolute best. I’m so blessed and much like Ryan Lemond; totally outkicked my coverage with that one. We called the KSR founder a week later and agreed to give this writing thing a try. My first article was posted on May 11th, 2015. I re-read that post today. It was God awful; dreadful actually.

One never knows when life-changing opportunities can or will occur. I soon left Frankfort and a career with the Kentucky National Guard for an uncertain media career based off a hunch that I’d enjoy that unsteady racket. Normally a calculated thinker and not known as a risk taker, this decision was atypical for me. I’d been associated with the military in some form or fashion for a couple decades. I was regimented; institutionalized in organizational vocabulary, procedure, and routine. In other words, I was good at my job and content. However, Matt Jones has an inherent capability to bring folks out of their comfort zones in order to challenge them to do more. In this case he did so with me. Like so many others in the media that you’ll likely never know their names, he gave me a chance in the industry. I could never-ever thank him enough for that.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time with KSR. We had abundant adventures, laughs, and a few cries. From the KSR Football Podcasts and the madness that ensued, radio remotes, writing, and the Depth Chart Podcast; we had an absolute blast. I’m going to miss it. But more so I’m really going to miss the people I’ve grown to love and respect.

If you’re reading this post, then you are certainly familiar with Ryan “Scoop” Lemond. Here are some KSR scoops for you that I learned over the years:

— I was never given the keys to the website which means that all my posts had to run through the editorial staff before going public. This was not a result from mistrust but based off my genuine inability to figure out the software and computer stuff. So, my posts were written on a Word document and emailed to Tyler Thompson, Drew Franklin, and Nick Roush. They’d review the page, upgrade content, and add pictures (with proper credits—I routinely screwed this portion up) prior to moving the finished product over to the site. So, my posts were actually “Our” posts. Those three folks are beautiful, selfless, caring, wonderful human beings.

— At times I became overly protective of Tyler Thompson on social media. For that, I do not nor will I ever apologize. She’s so incredibly smart and a 5-star editor. The world needs more Tyler Thompsons. We’re better for her being in our lives for four years.

— KSR’s reputation of being organized chaos is completely untrue. “Hubby” (Yes he’s a real person and I’m not sure if I can reveal his real name) and Maria Taustine run a tight ship. Maria is KSR’s business manager and is doing a wonderful job. Matt and Hubby are the owners but Maria is the backbone to recent KSR growth and a delightful person.

(SHAMELESS PLUG-Maria is the point of contact for those interested in advertising with Kentucky Sports Radio.)

— I sincerely love the Versailles’ Kroger and visit my favorite store on a daily basis. I was never a paid advertiser. The daily bubble bath jokes were legit. There’s an art form to selecting the right bath products by the way and they were all purchased at the Versailles Krogers. And, I am a huge fan of old-school rap (no music produced prior to 1990 please). Jared Lorenzen and the gang made fun of me for all these truths. It made for some good laughs. I was blessed to becoming closer with Jared. He’s a true friend and an awesome guy. Love that dude. Much like with Tyler, I’m a little protective of J-Lo. There’s something about throwing a multitude of interceptions that brings former quarterbacks together. Record books are forever. His INT totals will always surpass mine.

— Nick Roush’s podcast intros are as bad in person as they must have sounded when listening to the KSR Football Podcast. They were also unscripted and kept a secret to Drew, Jared, and I until the recording machine turned red. Eye rolls normally followed. Nick is a great kid. Well, not a kid really. He spent 19 years as a UK college student is actually 51 years old. Joking. Love that guy. Nick has a solid football mind. He’ll keep you covered with all things UK Football.

— Kentucky Sports Radio is similar to a military organization. I bet you thought you’d never read those words right? One of a zillion things I loved about the military was the close bonds and family environment that resonated throughout the ranks. Much like the Kentucky National Guard or the United States Army, there is sincere care for all involved within the KSR Brand from the top down. Let me rephrase that, from Matt Jones down. Matt’s heart is as huge as his on-air personality. This trait was on display with his passion towards clean water for Kentucky citizens, supporting teachers, and tornado relief efforts. But these initiatives were public. He’s equally as compassionate in private. On many occasions he and Ryan Lemond would pull me to the side and ask how KSR could be more easily attainable for deployed Kentucky Soldiers and Airmen. They’d often nervously ask me if any of “Our Men and Women” were overseas and if so what could KSR do to make their deployments more bearable. That’s real; not on-air personalities.

This was on full display when my dad was sick and eventually after his death. I called Matt and told him my pops was not doing so well and I needed a week off to take care of him and my momma. Somewhat new to the company, I wasn’t comfortable asking for time off. He said, “take two weeks, or however much time you need.” He continued, “Family is first, never forget that.” And, he meant it. I was with Big Fred when he went Home to be with the Lord. I was with him. The man that taught me how to walk and to throw a curve ball. KSR was not concerned about me previewing the Kentucky defensive backs during that time. They were insistent that I was with my family. Tears…….

The entire Kentucky Sports Radio family made the trip to Corbin to show their respects and to support me and mine. Matt donated $500.00 to the church in my dad’s name. This is hard to type and he’ll probably not be happy I’m sharing this. But what’s he going to do? Fire me? Too late for that Boss. KSR “Gets It.” Nick Roush had a picture of my dad from the 1956 state tournament framed and presented it to the family during the visitation. Drew was in tears as he consoled my sister who is a faithful show listener. That’s family folks. That’s the real KSR.

That same compassionate support came when my college roomie Joey Couch passed away. Drew Franklin, Nick Roush, Tyler Thompson, and Maria Taustine called me about every hour on the hour on the day of the funeral. They didn’t need anything; just checking on me because he understood I was nervous about delivering the eulogy. I can’t tell you how much that meant to me. Kentucky Sports Radio may not be constructed with “Blood Kin” (Hillbilly term) but it is a true family.

To KSR Readers and Listeners: THANK YOU

I also want to express our sincere appreciation and love to all those that read our articles and listened to the podcasts. So many KSR fans have been incredibly nice to my family. I hope that you realize how much thought that KSR places on entertaining its audience. Lengthy meetings are held in order to ensure that your needs are met first. You are always their foremost priority. I know you were mine.

From the positive and negative Twitter/website responders; I appreciate both of your thoughts equally. There were continual supporters and those that really didn’t care for me at all (That’s being nice). Again, I appreciated both types and they provided a constant reminder that public opinion is a pendulum shaped by personal opinion. At least I hope that you were entertained. It was never personal; it was always personnel.

But…………………..

Bear Bryant took over the Alabama football team in 1958. When asked why he came to Alabama, he replied, Momma called. And when Momma calls, you just have to come runnin’.” When Mark Stoops offered this opportunity, I automatically said “yes sir,” and sprinted to the Joe Craft Football Training Center.

I love the University of Kentucky Football Program more than I can properly communicate via an internet post. I believe in the Cats and Mark Stoops all the way down to my bones. This is not a goodbye, but more of a see ya on the other side of sorts. I hope we meet again at Kroger Field.

From me and mine to you and yours….. thank you. Go Cats.


Kentucky Basketball announces 2018 Bahamas Trip

Kentucky Basketball announces 2018 Bahamas Trip

You’ve been asking, and we finally have the details for the Bahamas trip.

Kentucky just announced the details for this summer’s foreign tour, which will once again take place at the Atlantis resort in the Bahamas from August 6-13, 2018. The Cats will play four games vs. professional teams at the Atlantis Imperial Arena, which is on-site, unlike the previous trip.

Here’s the schedule:

  • August 8 – vs. Bahamas national team (Made up of several Bahamian players competing for the World Cup Qualifying Team)
  • August 9 – vs. San Lorenzo de Almagro (FIBA Liga de las Americas champions based out of Buenos Aires, Argentina)
  • August 11 – vs. Mega Bemax (Serbian team coined the “European Kentucky” for its ability to put players in the NBA)
  • August 12 – vs. Team Toronto (Group of top select Canadian players put together by head coach Roy Rana, who led the 2019 U19 Canadian team to the gold medal at the FIBA World Championships)

According to UK, rates start at:

  • Beach at Atlantis: $173
  • Coral at Atlantis: $229
  • Royal at Atlantis “Official UK Team Tower”: $269
  • Reef at Atlantis: $349
  • The Cove at Atlantis: $479

For more information and to book, visit AtlantisBahamas.com/UK. Tickets can only be purchased if you have a room reservation at the Atlantis. You may purchase tickets online through the UK Ticket Office via the exclusive link at AtlantisBahamas.com/UK once you have booked your room reservation in the Kentucky block.

Tickets are not included with hotel packages and must be purchased separately. Ticket books are priced at $400 each and will include entry into all four games. Children under the age of 2 will not require a ticket for admission. Tickets will be mailed in late June. All seating is general admission, except those held for team guests. K Fund members interested in the exclusive travel package, including charter flight from Lexington, may call (859) 257-6300 for more information.

“If you know me, you know I’ve talked a lot about college basketball taking over the month of August,” UK head coach John Calipari said. “It’s a perfect time – when we have nothing else going on – to get with our kids, practice and give our fans a chance to see our team before school starts. The current rules only allow us to do it every four years and this one comes at a great time. We’re going to have another young team and will have a tough schedule early. Getting these games in against professional competition and allowing us to practice will give our guys an early idea of how hard this is going to be.”

Big Blue Bahamas, Part II? LET’S GOOOOOOOO.


How The NCAA Can Actually Fix College Basketball

Tomorrow morning, the NCAA’s Commission on College Basketball, chaired by Condoleezza Rice, will share its recommendations on how to fix the problems facing the sport. What should you expect? Given the organization’s track record, probably not much, but let’s talk about it anyways.

Formed in the wake of the FBI’s report last fall, the committee focused on three key areas: the relationship of the NCAA, its member institutions, players, and coaches with shoe companies, summer leagues, and agents/advisors; the NCAA’s relationship with the NBA, i.e. the one-and-done rule; and transparency and accountability. Since the NBA is responsible for the one-and-done rule, don’t expect any changes there; in fact, it’s important to remember that all these suggestions are just that — suggestions. Whether or not they lead to actual change is a whole other story. NCAA officials won’t vote on the recommendations until August, leading to a long summer of speculation.

In that spirit, here are my suggestions on how to fix college basketball. Condi, if you’re reading, feel free to use them.

Adopt the Olympic model/Allow players to profit off their likeness

The NCAA topped $1 billion in revenue for the first time in 2017, thanks in large part to the NCAA Tournament. How much of that money do the players see? I bet you can guess. It’s beyond time for the hypocrisy to end and, as John Calipari said a few months ago, this is one of the easiest changes the NCAA can make.

“I think these kids should be able to use their likeness, make money from their signatures,” Cal said in February. “It’s their name and likeness. It’s not ours. It’s theirs. They should be able to make money. Maybe the school manages it, maybe the money goes to their parents for travel, eliminates all the — maybe there’s a limit on what they can do, maybe they get it when they leave here. It’s all stuff that can be done easily.”

NCAA President Mark Emmert did say at the Final Four that he’s open to the Olympic model, which would allow players to earn money for endorsements while retaining their amateur status; however, even if the committee recommends it, an organization that’s raking in this much money won’t give it away willingly.

Allow underclassmen who aren’t drafted to return to school

From his recent comments and the growth of the G-League, it appears NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is prepared to do away with the one-and-done rule; that won’t happen tomorrow, but look for the committee to present some kind of alternative, whether it be a version of two-and-through, the baseball/hockey model (see below), or getting rid of the one-and-done rule completely. The end of the one-and-done era is certainly coming, and tomorrow’s recommendation could provide a blueprint for when it arrives.

In the meantime, the easiest, most common-sense solution would be allowing underclassmen who declare for the draft to go through the draft and retain their eligibility if they’re not picked. Whether or not those players come back to school would be their decision, but kicking them out the door because they decide to chase their dreams goes against what the organization should be about.

Explore the hockey model

Similar to baseball, high school hockey players can now sign with an agent, go through the draft, and decide whether or not to sign with that team and play in a junior league (like the G-League) or play in college. The only restriction is that the representation must end before the player enrolls in school. The system will probably impact only 50 or so hockey players a year, but why can’t something like it work in college hoops? Only the top 10-15 high schoolers in each class should consider going pro straight out of college, so why not allow them to sign with an agent, explore their options, then make the decision?

I doubt the committee will say anything about this tomorrow because it’s pretty radical, but it’s food for thought, especially in light of Calipari’s recent meeting with the NBA Players Association about hosting a junior combine for the nation’s top prospects. Cal recently came out against the baseball model, arguing it wouldn’t work in basketball because the minor league system is much more extensive than the G-League, but there is something to be said for allowing players to have representation and be evaluated in high school to determine whether or not they’re able to make the leap straight to the pros.

Something — anything — about agents/summer league/shoe companies

This committee was formed after the FBI report about the influence of shoe companies and agents on the sport, so expect to hear some stern language about it tomorrow. While the corruption in the summer leagues is beyond the NCAA’s control, I’ll be interested to see if they have any answers on how to address it.

For instance, when financial documents were leaked a few months ago suggesting top college players met with or had meals with agents, Emmert seemed to brush it off as no big deal (likely because it’s so widespread punishment isn’t possible). Is that actually going to become no big deal? Is there a way players can meet with agents to discuss their options without risking their eligibility? Or are we just going to continue talking about how it’s a major problem and do nothing about it?

When it comes to summer leagues, which are funded by shoe companies, perhaps the NCAA could partner with USA Basketball to provide a viable alternative? Both the Pac-12 and the Big East recommended this recently, but taking down giants like the EYBL, adidas Gauntlet, and the UAA will require a major investment.

Reform bylaws for academic fraud

The NCAA really proved that academics mean nothing when they let North Carolina off the hook for 18 years of fake classes. Say all you want about Brian Bowen, Rick Pitino, adidas, etc., but the UNC case is by far the biggest black mark on the NCAA’s reputation and if the committee really means business, they’ll close that loophole and reform the bylaws. Considering how embarrassing that entire episode must have been for the organization, I would think this is priority number one.

Will Condi’s committee take any of my advice? Probably not, but find out tomorrow morning by watching their presentation, which we’ll stream live on KSR. The fun begins at 8 a.m. ET.


Andy Lyons | Getty Images

Why Kentucky Football Needs In-State Talent

Andy Lyons | Getty Images

The state of Kentucky rarely produces elite football players.  The 2019 class is one of the most talented in decades, but on Sunday Tanner Bowles became the latest four-star prospect to announce he will leave the Commonwealth to play college football.

There are five Top 300 football players from the state of Kentucky in the 2019 recruiting class.  Four of them have already committed to perennial powerhouses outside of the state.  A rare recruiting opportunity, Mark Stoops has missed out on the best of the bunch.  History tells us the Cats are in trouble.

Stoops’ recruiting excellence at Kentucky is undeniable.  He’s created an unprecedented pipeline in the state of Ohio, cultivated relationships in Florida pulled players from new areas like Michigan and Washington D.C.  Kentucky has never had more recruiting success, but it’s hard to be successful at UK without building blocks from Kentucky.

The greatest Kentucky football teams all had deep roots from the state, dating back to Madisonville’s Sonny Collins.  Kentucky won nine games, including the Hall of Fame Game, in 1984 with Elizabethtown’s Bill Ransdell under center.  Before Ransdell’s three running backs had successful NFL careers, they started in Kentucky; George Adams (Lexington), Mark Higgs (Owensboro) and Marc Logan (Lexington).

The best quarterbacks to ever wear a Kentucky uniform all hailed from the Commonwealth.  Andre Woodson receives much of the credit for Rich Brooks’ two-year run, but the Radcliff native was surrounded by homegrown talent.  Louisville’s Keenan Burton and Danville’s Jacob Tamme were two of his top targets, and four of his offensive linemen were from the state of Kentucky.  On the 2007 defense, Kentucky natives filled up half of the starting secondary and defensive line.

The previous two Kentucky bowl teams proved you don’t need your best players from the state of Kentucky to be successful.  Stephen Johnson, Benny Snell, Boom Williams, C.J. Conrad and Juice Johnson never played a down of football in the Bluegrass before arriving at UK.

The stars of the 2018 team all started their football careers elsewhere, but the team’s foundation is made up of three high school All-Americans from Kentucky.  Paintsville’s Kash Daniel will lead the defense as the starting middle linebacker, Lexington’s Landon Young will protect the quarterback’s blindside at left tackle and Versailles’ Drake Jackson will call the offensive line’s shifts as the center.

UK cashed in on the state’s top recruits in 2016, but is losing out in 2019.

There’s still time to salvage the loss.  The 2019 class is as deep as it is talented.  Kentucky is in the hunt for Milton Wright and TaeTae Crumes, two talented wide receivers from Louisville.  Two others from Louisville, defensive linemen Shankel Knight-Goff and J.J. Weaver, could end up in blue.  Western Hills’ Wandale Robinson is a Mr. Football frontrunner and has frequently visited Kentucky’s campus. Yesterday Kentucky became the fourth SEC school to extend a scholarship offer to Louisville Manual running back Aidan Robbins, a 2019 athlete who already has 19 offers.

For Kentucky to make up lost ground, Stoops has to make changes.  According to Justin Rowland, that’s already happened. Vince Marrow is now taking the lead on in-state recruiting.

Mark Stoops has recruited better than his predecessors by being unconventional.  So far it’s worked, but if the state’s top talent continues to leave, the Cats will not have history on their side.


Penny Hardaway claims he’s the best coach for one-and-done players

Penny Hardaway claims he’s the best coach for one-and-done players

When you think one-and-dones, you think John Calipari, which is why I have to both laugh at and applaud this bold statement by Penny Hardaway, the new coach at Memphis. On Jon Rothstein’s College Hoops Today Podcast, Hardaway claimed that he and assistant coach Mike Miller are the best option to get top players get to the league because they played in it.

Who better to get you to the next level if you’re a one-and-done kid than me and Mike Miller?” Hardaway said. “There’s no two coaches better in the country to be able to do that [than me and Miller].”

Shots fired! Hardaway claimed his statement wasn’t a slight to any certain coach, but directly referenced Kentucky a few minutes later, which is certainly not a coincidence since he and Calipari are currently going toe-to-toe for five-star big man James Wiseman.

“That’s my thing with the top guys: if Kentucky’s a one-and-done school, then we’re a one-and-done school with the help of you getting to the point to where you want to get to with your game because we understand the game and we played the game. That’s just our pitch.”

While it’s true Penny and Miller have experience playing in the league, Calipari has experience getting players to the league, a distinct difference. Cal has more than proved himself as the best coach to help top prospects achieve their NBA dreams, whereas Hardaway’s only coaching experience has taken place at the high school and EYBL levels.

A refresher of Calipari’s NBA Draft success, in case a certain recruit is reading:

  • 42 NBA Draft picks, 31 at Kentucky, including 24 first-rounders
  • Four No. 1 draft picks (Derrick Rose, John Wall, Anthony Davis, Karl-Anthony Towns)
  • At least one player taken in the top seven of the draft in eight consecutive seasons
  • The only coach to have five first round selections in the same NBA Draft (2010)
  • The only coach to have six players taken in one NBA Draft in the modern two-round era (2012 and 2015)
  • The first coach in any of the three major American sports to have the No. 1 and No. 2 pick in the same draft (Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, 2012)
  • Two or more players selected in 10 consecutive NBA drafts dating back to 2008 with Memphis

And the most important…

  • All 21 one-and-dones drafted in the first round

Nice try, Penny, but you can’t argue with those results.

If you’d like to listen to Penny’s comments about one-and-dones and Kentucky, they start around the 19:30 mark:


Four reasons why Quade Green’s decision to return was crucial for Kentucky

After mulling his professional and transfer options, Quade Green has reportedly decided to return to Kentucky for his sophomore season. And that news is massive for the Wildcats and their national championship hopes next year.

Here are four reasons why Green’s decision to return was crucial for the 2018-19 basketball season, and why that could lead to No. 9:

He’s going to be really, really good

To start things out, let’s just point out that Green has the potential to have a massive sophomore year as the lead man of the Wildcats. In 26 minutes per game last season, Green averaged 9.3 points and 2.7 assists on 45-percent shooting, 38-percent from three, and nearly 81-percent from the line. He had a hard time adjusting to Shai Gilgeous-Alexander being the lead man, but when the ball ran through him, good things usually followed.

His advanced numbers are impressive, averaging 14.5 points, 4.2 assists, and three rebounds PER-40 minutes. His effective field goal percentage of 53.1-percent was also solid.

He finished the year scoring fewer than ten points in five of six of Kentucky’s final games, but as the team’s leader and likely starting point guard, he’ll be able to put points on the board in a hurry.

Green is already an outstanding catch-and-shoot player, but with a full offseason to work on creating his own shot, defense, cutting down on turnovers, and fighting through contact, he can be special.

Guarantees a loaded backcourt

Before this decision, Immanuel Quickley, Tyler Herro, Jemarl Baker, and Brad Calipari were the only guards locked in for next season. Ashton Hagans committed to Kentucky, and will likely reclassify to the class of 2018, but he has said on multiple occasions it isn’t a certainty. If for whatever reason the top point guard in 2019 wasn’t able to reclassify and Green transferred, Calipari would have been scrambling at the last minute to find depth at the guard position. And it’s slim pickings at this point.

Now with Green back, the sophomore point guard can take over the lead role with Quickley playing off-ball. If Hagans reclassifies as expected, he would be a stud option to give Green a breather, while star shooters Herro and Baker can come in to replace Quickley. Perfect combination of depth, facilitating, shooting, and pure scoring.

There is also talk that Tyrese Maxey could still reclassify to 2018 and commit to Kentucky, which would easily give the Cats the most dominant backcourt in America.

When you go down the list of the last 11 national championship winners, each of them had a standout point guard to lead the way.

Mario Chalmers (Kansas), Ty Lawson (UNC), Jon Scheyer (Duke), Kemba Walker (UCONN), Marquis Teague (Kentucky), Peyton Siva (UofLOL), Shabazz Napier (UCONN), Tyus Jones (Duke), Josh Hart/Jalen Brunson (Villanova), Joel Berry (UNC), and Brunson again this past season.

With a backcourt of Green, Quickley, Hagans, Herro, and Baker, with the possibility of Maxey sprinkled on top, you better believe the Cats will be locked and loaded for next season.

Experience/Leadership

According to KSR’s Matt Jones, John Calipari met with Green last week about returning to Kentucky as the team’s veteran leader. Apparently the pitch worked.

Coming out of high school, Green was seen as a guy recruits wanted to play with, especially compared to Oklahoma freshman sensation Trae Young. He was a vocal leader on the court and built chemistry off of it, with analysts and other top recruits describing him as the perfect teammate.

When Gilgeous-Alexander took over, however, that leadership got lost in the shuffle.

Even if Green left, Kentucky’s backcourt would’ve been talented with Hagans, Maxey, Quickley, Herro, and Baker. But none of them have played a minute of college basketball.

With Green, the Cats have a proven guard that was a big part of a Sweet 16 team and knows the grind of a full season. He knows what he has to work on for next season, and can show the newcomers some of the things he has learned. As mentioned above, national championship teams usually have a veteran point guard to lead the way. We saw it with Villanova specificially this past season.

Green has the potential to be that guy next season.

Allows incoming guards to find their footing

To build off of the previous section, Green’s return will allow for the newcomers to find their footing at the college level before being thrown in with the sharks.

This past season, Green, Gilgeous-Alexander, and Hamidou Diallo had never played on the big stage, and it was obvious at times. They were inconsistent, and it showed all the way through their season-ending loss to Kansas State. When one or two of the Kentucky guards struggled, the team usually struggled as a result.

Green is a sure-thing. We know he’s going to be able to come in and put points on the board next year for the Cats. While the other freshmen guards find their footing and acclimate to life as a college basketball player, Green can right the ship and keep things afloat. It could help avoid unnecessary losses early in the year, along with keeping the team alive in March.

Welcome back, Quade!


Quade Green’s Mother says he will return to Kentucky

Quade Green will be back in the Bluegrass for the 2018-19 season.

Green’s mother, Tamika Johnson, told Jerry Tipton that her son will return to Kentucky for his sophomore season.  The point guard contemplated entering the NBA Draft or transferring after an up and down first year in Lexington.

John Calipari is bringing a loaded backcourt to Kentucky for the 2019 season.  The Philadelphia native will give the Cats something nobody else can — experience.

[Herald-Leader]