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Washington Leads America to Victory on Independence Day

Washington Leads America to Victory on Independence Day

FIBA

The Fourth of July is a great day for Americans named “Washington.”  241 years ago George Washington commanded the Continental Army in New York, but it took him seven years to earn ultimate victory.  Today it only took P.J. Washington one quarter to dominate Italy into submission.

P.J. Washington scored a team-high 20 points to lead Team USA to a 98-65 win over Italy, but their third World Cup victory did not come easy.  Their greatest challenge yet, Team USA’s early 10-0 lead was quickly erased.  Italy took an 18-15 lead until Washington re-entered the game with 2:17 left in the first quarter.

Washington ended the quarter with a personal 6-0 run.  After knocking down a pair of free throws, he stole a pass in the backcourt and finished with a powerful slam.  He finished the next possession with an “and one” off the dribble.

Washington’s momentum was slowed by foul trouble in the second quarter, but not in the second half.  He took one defensive rebound the length of the court, drove through the middle of the lane and finished off the glass.  He spun through the middle of the lane, went up and under, then finished another “and one” through contact.  He knocked down a three.

Washington did everything right for Team USA on the Fourth of July and that’s exactly how it should be.

A few game notes and observations…

—  Romeo Langford returns.  Sidelined in the second game of the tournament with back spasms, Langford returned to the court today.  He played nine minutes and didn’t look too hobbled when he threw down a powerful slam dunk and blocked a shot into the stands on a fast break.

—  Reddish was good, again.  Reddish is essentially a Diet P.J. Washington.  A year younger, they are built similarly, they share a similar skill set and today they both were limited with foul trouble in the first half.  Reddish still found a way to score 15 points in 17 minutes.  The 6’8″ forward was 3-of-4 from behind the three-point line, now 9-of-12 (75%) through three games.

—  Quickley’s improved outside shot.  A question mark entering the summer, Quickley’s shot continues to look better.  The stat sheet from behind the three-point line is very average (1-of-3), but he hit another deep shot with his foot on the line.  Most importantly, he’s shooting with confidence from long range.

—  Diallo’s worst offensive performance.  One of the tournament’s top scorers couldn’t get into a rhythm today.  He scored 5 points and made just 2-of-9 shots.  Calipari limited Diallo’s playing time in the second half to save his legs for the upcoming single-elimination portion of the tournament.


RANKED: The 10 Best Fireworks for your July 4th party

With July 4th only hours away, odds are you’re about to encounter some fireworks. While looking at videos or pictures of fireworks on your friends’ social media accounts is a mind-numbing exercise, there’s no denying that lighting that fuse and getting the first whiff of sulfur is a thrilling experience.

But which fireworks are the best? As an expert in the field after years of bringing my friends and family fireworks from Tennessee, I’m weighing in with my top ten favorites:

10. Firecrackers

Firecrackers are the most basic firework in that they really, really loud, but anyone who has a dog will tell you, that also makes them the worst.

9. Bottle Rockets

Bottle rockets are a staple at any party, but let’s face it: they’re pretty boring. Sure, they’re cheap and easy, but this is a July 4th party, not a Saturday night at Minardi Hall. Shell out a few extra bucks for the mortars.

8. Black Snakes

Snakes are fun for about five seconds. Then it just looks like there’s dog crap all over your driveway.

7. Bang Snaps

Was there anything more awesome as a kid than Bang Snaps? Also known as TNT poppers, they’re one of the few fireworks safe enough to let kids have, therefore are a staple at every family gathering.

6. Smoke Bombs

Smoke bombs may seem a little boring, but here’s one thing they have over most fireworks: because they emit colored smoke, they’re best shot off during the day, meaning they’re awesome for getting the party started and wasting time before it gets dark.

5. Ground Spinners

These are fine unless they’re the ones that are emit that really high-pitched whistle. Those are the worst.

4. Roman Candles

I have a special spot in my heart for roman candles. At my family’s July 4th parties growing up, one of the grown-ups (usually intoxicated) would run laps around the yard with roman candles in their hands. Now, that is obviously not safe (hear that, kids?), but man, it was the pinnacle of cool to a ten-year-old.

3. Sparklers

I can hear you now, “Sparklers in the top three?!”, but hear me out. Sparklers are always a hit and give those who aren’t in charge of the big stuff something to play with. Also, it’s almost impossible to resist spelling your name out with one.

2. Parachutes

I feel like I haven’t seen a lot of parachute fireworks in the past few years, which is a shame because they’re fun. Who doesn’t love shooting off a firework just to see a parachuter come down in its wake? Like smoke bombs, these are also great because they’re best shot off during the day, helping you pass the time until dusk.

1. Mortars

The best way to pull off a professional looking firework show without spending a fortune: line up several tubes, assign a person to each one, pop a mortar in, light the fuse, RUN AWAY!, and reload. If you’ve got some extra money and don’t want to deal with the reload, splurge for some aerial repeaters.

Get on out there and light some fireworks, friends. And above, all, be safe, and remember: you can always watch them on TV:

Rank your favorites below:


DOs and DON’Ts for the 4th of July

DOs and DON’Ts for the 4th of July

Many of you, probably most, will spend tomorrow celebrating America’s birthday on this 2017 edition of the 4th of July. The rest of us will be at work (in our case, the internet takes no days off) but we want to see everyone else live this special holiday to the fullest and to the best of your abilities.

So to get you ready for tomorrow’s festivities, allow me, someone who has to work, coach you up on how to have a happy holiday. Read these DOs and DON’Ts and enjoy your 4th.

***** 

DO grill up some tasty burgers, dogs, ribs, chicken and other protein you can get your hands on.

The 4th of July is about America first and binge eating second, so don’t be shy when it comes to grilling out. Buy too much meat. Buy too much charcoal. Get that flame going and eat until you pass out.

Some simple rules to remember: calories don’t count if it’s meat; silverware and napkins are unnecessary; and a hot dog is a side item.

DON’T overcook your burgers.

I can’t stand those assholes who overcook burgers at a cookout. Nobody wants your dry, tasteless beef patties. Buy some beef with some fat (at least 20 percent) and don’t leave it on the grill too long. It’s not hard.

DO find a large body of water, preferably one with boat access.

There are plenty of options right here in Kentucky, all across the state. I’m a Barkley guy myself, but I grew up on Lake Beshear and have recently spent some quality time on Cumberland (who up Woodson Bend) and Herrington. You really can’t go wrong anywhere.

DON’T sit inside all weekend.

Can’t find a lake? Surely there is a pool nearby. No pool? Try another outdoor activity like hiking or driving around with the windows down or patio drinking. Just don’t waste a good summer day on the couch. Netflix will be there when you get home.

DO wear sunblock.

“I need a good burn” and “I’ll be in the water the whole time” are some of summer’s most famous last words. Play it safe and wear some sunscreen and save the tough guy attitude for another time.

DON’T attempt this.

Unless you’re certain you can pull it off. Then attempt that.

DO work the Red, the White, and the Blue into your holiday wardrobe.

Whether it’s as simple as a U.S.A. t-shirt or as patriotic as an American flag onesie, be sure to include the colors of our flag into your wardrobe. There is no such thing as too much red, white and blue on the 4th of July.

DON’T use ‘Murica or ‘Merica.

We, as a nation, left that on the internet to die back around 2012.

DO watch fireworks.

Obviously, you’re going to want to watch some fireworks. There are plenty of options wherever you are, but for my fellow Lexingtonians, fireworks will be launched from the Arboretum at 10 pm Tuesday night. Parking is available at Commonwealth Stadium for a front row seat. Everyone else, just look up and you’ll likely find some somewhere.

DON’T share more than one photo/video of said fireworks.

Easy on the social media, people. Fireworks are pretty and all that — we get it — but we don’t need you to share six minutes of fireworks on Instagram or SnapChat or whatever app is hot in the streets this year. One quick photo or video will do, if you must. We’ve all seen fireworks and they all look the same. This year’s fireworks will look like the fireworks you shared last year and they’ll look the fireworks everyone else is sharing from every corner of America.

DO have a Happy 4th of July.


Adebayo was a star in his third summer league game

Bam Adebayo was, for lack of a better a term, a BEAST in his third game in the Orlando summer league Monday night. We use that word too often, but there’s no better way to describe how he played.

The former Wildcat and No. 14 overall draft pick led his Miami Heat with 29 points and 11 rebounds; however, it wasn’t enough to keep his team from dropping yet another game as the Pacers won a tight one, 86-83.

But for Bam, the game was an enormous win for making a statement in the early stages of his young NBA career. He showed versatility we never saw at Kentucky (at one point even bringing the ball up the court) and connected on 13 of his 17 free throw attempts in the game.

Catch a glimpse of some of his action:

I caught most of the game and I swear the announcers talked about him the entire time. “Bam, Bam, Bam, Bam, Bam” all night. He’s off to a great start with the Heat and we couldn’t be happier for him.


YAHTZEE! Tight End Keaton Upshaw Commits to Kentucky

(L to R) Keaton Upshaw (@UpshawKeaton) with Jarren Williams & Brenden Bates at UK camp in early June.

Mark Stoops just got another big, talented tight end from Ohio.

Keaton Upshaw, a 6’7″ 230-pound tight end from Lima, Ohio, has committed to Kentucky over Cincinnati, Louisville, Pittsburgh, West Virginia, Purdue and a plethora of MAC schools.  Upshaw is Vince Marrow’s sixth commitment from the state of Ohio in the 2018 class and his second tight end, joining Cincinnati Moeller’s Brenden Bates.

Now with 14 commits, UK’s 2018 class moves up seven spots to No. 20 in the 247 Composite Rankings.

Upshaw attended Kentucky’s first football camp of the summer.  There he got an opportunity to receive extensive one-on-one instruction from Vince Marrow.  Upshaw’s eagerness to learn was evident; Marrow never had to tell him to do something twice.  His size was the biggest surprise.  In pictures he looks lanky, but that’s because pictures never do his back and shoulders justice.  Built like a traditional tight end with the skills of a spread offense tight end, Upshaw and Bates give the Cats an exceptional one-two punch in the 2018 class.

Rising on the recruiting scene, UK’s Big Dog got ahold of Upshaw before the big dogs of college football could.  A player that continues to improve, Upshaw’s ceiling is the roof.


Diallo Leads Team USA in Scoring (again) After Americans Shake Off Slow

Diallo Leads Team USA in Scoring (again) After Americans Shake Off Slow

USA Basketball

It was an ugly start, but Team USA’s first game at the FIBA U19 World Cup ended beautifully.  The Americans defeated Iran 108-48 with Kentucky Wildcats leading the way.

Even though they played two friendlies in Egypt prior to their opening game of the tournament, Team USA looked lost to start the game.  There were turnovers, whistles and bricks everywhere.  For most of the first quarter it was a 4-0 game.  I don’t know what John Calipari said, but things changed once the team emerged from the locker room at halftime.

Hamidou Diallo and P.J. Washington had seven points in the first 2:30 of the second half and the Americans were off and running.  Diallo had a team-high 17 points and 4 rebounds, with almost all of it coming in the second half.  Washington added 13 points and 4 rebounds.  One of the two has led Team USA in scoring every time the team has kept stats.

Even though Diallo led the team in scoring, the best player on the floor for Team USA was Cameron Reddish, a top target for John Calipari in the 2018 class.  A 6’8″ power forward, he spent a lot of time on the perimeter as a wing.  It worked well.  Reddish had 14 points and didn’t miss a three-pointer, sinking all three attempts.  Immanuel Quickley added 6 points, Romeo Langford had 5 and Louis King scored 9 points.

More to come from Cairo.


Saturday’s Top 10: Basketball is Back

Saturday’s Top 10: Basketball is Back

USA Basketball

Congratulations.  You made it to the fourth of July holiday weekend.  Enjoy it while you can, because once it’s over, summer is halfway over.  That saddens some, but it gives me joy knowing football is just around the corner.  In eight short days, Freddie and I are taking off for SEC Media Days (Don’t Geek).  Until then, there’s basketball to be played.

Team USA Tips Off in Cairo

In Team USA’s two exhibition victories in Egypt, Hamidou Diallo and P.J. Washington were the best players on the floor.  This morning we get to see them dominate with our own eyes when they take the floor against Iran at 11:30 ET in their first game of the group phase at the FIBA U19 World Cup.

Every game in Egypt is streamed on Youtube, which we will have for your viewing pleasure here on KSR.  We’ll also have coverage on the ground in Cairo from KSR correspondent Sofie Tapia.  A recent UK journalism school graduate who lives in Cairo, she’ll bring you pictures, videos and more from the tournament you can’t get anywhere else.

Tai Wynyard Starts the Tourney with a Win

People forget there’s another UK player in Egypt who is not playing for Team USA.  Playing in the first game of the tournament, Tai Wynyard led New Zealand to an 88-81 victory over South Korea.  Wynyard could not be contained, leading all scorers with 22 points (10/11 FGs), he also grabbed 6 rebounds and blocked 2 shots.

Wynyard will return to the court tomorrow morning at 9:30 ET when New Zealand takes on France.

Cats on Camels

I know these photos have been shared endlessly since yesterday morning, but I still can’t get enough.  Seeing Hamidou Diallo on a camel is a mad libs made into reality.  I just don’t know what picture is better.

The Orlando Summer League Begins

Today a few former Wildcats begin their NBA careers in the Orlando Summer League.  The games begin at 11:00 a.m. on NBATV with the Heat’s Bam Adebayo taking on the Charlotte Hornets.  The final game of the day is at 5:00, pitting Derek Willis’ Pistons against Dakari Johnson’s Oklahoma City Thunder.

Two Cats Added to Summer League Rosters

Mychal Mulder will get his NBA chance with the Toronto Raptors, a perfect fit for the Canadian.  James Young, a free agent after the Celtics declined to pick up his fourth year team option, is searching for his second NBA contract with the New Orleans Pelicans.  The two will not play today; they’ll be in the Vegas Summer League that starts July 7.

Wenyen is Doing Work

Wenyen Gabriel’s offseason has involved lifting, working out, and lifting some more.  We’ve seen him box, we’ve seen him on a football field, now he’s throwing around some giant ropes.


Don’t sleep on Wenyen.

Yahtzee! Watch

In an appearance with Mrs. Tyler Thompson and Jennifer Palumbo on KSR’s Ladies Day, Vince Marrow revealed a few important pieces of information.

1. His favorite drink is a Strawberry Daiquiri.
2. Be Prepared for a Yahtzee!

More specifically, Marrow said, “Get your dice ready, Yahtzees are on the way this weekend.”

Jarren Williams is at The Opening

The future UK dual-threat quarterback is spending his week at Nike headquarters in Oregon for the shoe company’s premier football camp.  Featuring the nation’s best football prospects, Williams has had an impressive start.  247’s Barton Simmons said Williams is a “top-tier” QB and proclaimed him as the third-best QB at the second day of the camp.

It’s the little things that jump out with Kentucky’s prized commit. He can throw really well with anticipation, his ball placement is precise, and he is unflappable through two days. Williams has had a really good spring and summer but if he plays the rest of this event like he has the first two days, he’s in for another rankings bump.

Williams has spent a lot of time with L’Christian “Blue” Smith, the nation’s top-ranked athlete that Vince Marrow is trying to pull away from Ohio State to Kentucky.  An elite outside wide receiver, maybe Smith will learn to love the way Williams throws the ball this weekend…

Jack Pilgrim has Made It

In one short year, Young Jack Pilgrim has grown from a boy into a man.  Ever since he started on KSR he’s made bold statements, but no shots have been better than the one he took at Michael Rapaport.  Shooters shoot and Pilgrim nailed it, causing the actor/podcaster to respond in a profane tirade targeted directly at Mr. Pilgrim.

I’ve never been more proud 😢.

KTR Returns

Normally we release our Game of Thrones podcasts on Mondays, but we thought it’d be nice to give our listeners a treat as they travel during the holiday weekend.  Come to hear us connect the dots, stay for the hilarious story about one former basketball player’s table manners.


Calipari went on Mike & Mike to further deny Knicks rumors

John Calipari took a break from riding camels and climbing pyramids in Egypt on Friday to place a call into Mike & Mike to dispel rumors and reports that he reached out to the Knicks.

Calipari told the show:

“I can tell you my phone blew up at 4:45 (am) here and I had to tweet out — that’s the thing about social media, you can cut things off when it’s not true — but there’s no one on my behalf that called the Knicks. There may be a college coach who has inquired about it, but it wasn’t me. I called my wife and I said, ‘Was it you?'”

“I’m in Egypt and it’s funny that I get thrown into stuff, even when I am out of the country.”

He then went on to say:

“The reality of it is, I’m coaching at Kentucky. Come on. In my mind I’ve got the best job in the country. It’s been a great opportunity for young people to come in and better themselves and better their lives. It’s an unbelievable stage to challenge them in so many ways. I just can’t see anything out there that I would want to leave for.

Listen to the entire interview with Calipari below via the Mike & Mike podcast.


Friday’s Top 10: Calipari interested in camels, not Knicks

Friday’s Top 10: Calipari interested in camels, not Knicks

Sometimes we get a photo that we store in a special lockbox with a six-digit key code for use throughout the rest of eternity. This photo of John Calipari riding a camel on the day after he was falsely reported as contacting the Knicks is one of those photos. You will see it on many Hump Days and other special Calipari events from now until the end of KSR time.

Now about that interest in the Knicks job…

 

1. John Calipari denied the reports of his interest in the Knicks job.

Early Thursday evening, reports spread saying Calipari had contacted the New York Knicks about the franchise’s open president position. The reports went as high as ESPN, but didn’t reach Calipari’s radar because he was sound asleep in Egypt while his name was being thrown all around the college basketball and NBA newswires. Then when Calipari woke up around midnight eastern time, he quickly got word of what was being said and he adamantly denied any contact with the Knicks.

“NO ONE has contacted the Knicks on my behalf,” he tweeted. “I am the coach at Kentucky and will be for a long time!”

“Even in Egypt I can’t escape the rumors. Are you kidding me?! It’s 5 in the morning here and this is what I wake up to?”

So we’ll just file this one with all of the other Calipari-to-the-NBA rumors we hear each and every summer. We’re getting pretty immune to them now, although it is nice to get the annual summertime confirmation that he plans to stay at Kentucky for a long time.

2. Calipari and Team USA rode camels today.

How did Coach Cal get his mind off the inaccurate reports back in America? He took his USA U19 team out to ride camels and see the pyramids.

It looks hot there.

3.  Diallo and Washington led the way in scoring in second exhibition game.

The two Wildcats shined once again in the U.S.’s second and final exhibition game in Cairo. Hamidou Diallo led the way in scoring with 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting; PJ Washington added 13 points, four rebounds and four assists; and the Americans claimed an 82-60 victory over France.

The actual FIBA World Cup competition will begin tomorrow.

4. Four-star basketball prospect visiting today.

According to T.J. Walker of Cats Illustrated fame and fortune, Kentucky will host Marcedus Leech, a four-star wing in the 2019 class, on an unofficial visit today.

He’s been quoted as saying, “I haven’t been offered by Kentucky but they’ve shown a lot of interest and hopefully I’ll get that offer. That’s been my dream since I was a kid. If I get that offer, they’ll be on the top of my list.”

5. Mark your calendar for UK Football Fan Day.

This year’s Fan Day is set for Saturday, August 5, so save that date if you want to attend. More details will follow. I do not have said details at this moment.

6. Lynn Bowden still expected to arrive in Lexington.

Football die hards have been slightly concerned about the status of Lynn Bowden, arguably the best incoming recruit from the Class of 2017. Bowden still hasn’t arrived on campus when all of his teammates are already enrolled, by the strikingly handsome Joe Mussatto over at SEC Country has an update that will make you feel a little bit better about Bowden’s future:

Bowden, unlike his fellow 2017 signees, still hasn’t arrived to campus. A UK spokesperson confirmed two weeks ago that he was still on track to enroll, but the timeline was unclear. Steve Arnold, who coached Bowden at Warren G. Harding High School, provided an updated timeline.

“I talked to Lynn about a week or so ago, and he told me he was gonna leave right after the Fourth of July to head down,” Arnold told SEC Country. [SECCountry.com]

Get in here, Lynn.

7. Rex Chapman played some of the UK freshmen in HORSE.

Be on the lookout for a new video from UK basketball of Rex Chapman playing a friendly yet competitive game of HORSE against guys like Jemarl Baker and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. We got a sneak peek of the video yesterday and the full thing should be hitting the internets soon, maybe today.

8. I finally started The Keepers on Netflix last night.

I’m two episodes into Netflix’s The Keepers and I’m already hooked. For those unfamiliar with the seven-part documentary, it explores the unsolved murder of a Baltimore nun in the 1960s. I have no idea which direction the next five episodes will go, but the second episode got me emotionally attached (sad + angry) and I can’t wait to see what’s ahead. Good show so far. I recommend it (so far).

9. Matt Jones is still alive and well, somewhere in Croatia.

This photo was taken yesterday:

Do we think he’s checked the website or Twitter in the six days he has been gone?

10. It’s Ladies’ Day on KSR.

Mrs. Tyler Thompson and Jennifer Palumbo are up in the KSR guest host chair(s) today with special guests Erin and Ellen Calipari, Chantel Stoops, and maybe more. Plus it is #AskAnythingFriday, so tune in.


Calipari denies Knicks rumors, says he’ll coach at Kentucky for a long time

John Calipari just issued a response to the report that he reached out to the New York Knicks about its open president position. It was a full denial of contact with the Knicks organization by him or anyone around him.

“NO ONE has contacted the Knicks on my behalf,” Calipari said in a tweet. “I am the coach at Kentucky and will be for a long time!”

If you’re wondering why it took so long for Calipari to respond and deny what has been said, consider that he has been sound asleep in Cairo, Egypt ever since the report came out. He has been snug as a bug in a rug without the slightest clue he’s been the talk of college basketball for the last 5-6 hours, and then he wakes up to this bombshell to start his busy day.

So there ya go. Just another case of someone throwing Calipari’s name into the mix for an NBA job, likely someone with an agenda. It happens every summer, often more than once. We’re used to it by now.

So rest easy, BBN. Cal likes his team.


Recruiting Bullets Dodged: Has John Calipari done it again?

Recruiting Bullets Dodged: Has John Calipari done it again?

Whether true or not, there are some strong accusations out there about Mohamed Bamba, an incoming college freshman and projected top-five draft pick next summer, who came very close to signing with the University of Kentucky this past spring.

As you’ve probably heard by now, Bamba’s older brother, Ibrahim Johnson, recorded a 22-minute long video on Facebook Live, essentially saying Bamba had received impermissible benefits before enrolling in college. Johnson alleged the benefits, mostly in the form of cash and gifts, came from a financial advisor who has long been considered Bamba’s mentor.

“He’s not going to play this year in the NCAA because I already reported him to the NCAA and I’m already going to meet with the NCAA,” said Johnson. “He’s not going to play this year. I’m not going to lie to you. I exposed that kid.”

Reports have since said the relationship between Bamba and the financial advisor in question, Greer Love, was already cleared and vetted by the NCAA. A Wednesday statement from the University of Texas read, “The NCAA has not informed us of any pending issues or eligibility concerns at this time regarding Mo.”

Only time will tell if Johnson’s allegations will amount to anything or have any effect on Bamba’s eligibility this fall. Maybe the NCAA will take a closer look at the relationship with Greer, maybe it won’t. But one thing I think Kentucky fans agree on right now is that, substantial or not, the allegations are a headache we are happy to avoid. If this story goes on into the summer and that black cloud floats over the top of Bamba’s head, we’ll look back at his May 18th announcement as a blessing in disguise.

And it’s not Calipari’s first blessing in disguise. He has dodged several bullets in recruiting at UK, whether intentional or not (and mostly not), going all the way back to his second class.

Back in 2009, Calipari and his staff had eyes on the No. 1 overall player in America, a point guard named Josh Selby. Jeff Goodman reported Kentucky was the favorite for Selby after Selby backed out of his commitment to Tennessee in the summer before his senior season of high school. Kentucky recruited him hard that fall, but in the end, Calipari signed Brandon Knight, the nation’s third-ranked point guard behind Selby and Kyrie Irving.

Selby went on to sign with Kansas, and shortly after he became a Jayhawk, a report surfaced stating the NCAA had been investigating him for months and his amateur status was in question. He eventually received a nine-game suspension to start his college career and was ordered to pay $4,607.58, the total of his “improper benefits,” to charity.

Then immediately after his freshman season ended with a loss to No. 11 seed VCU in the NCAA tournament, Selby left Kansas for Las Vegas to prepare for the NBA draft without attending classes in the spring semester. Meanwhile, Knight became one of the most beloved and successful players of the Calipari era at Kentucky.

Bullet dodged.

Bullet No. 2 came in 2012 when Calipari lost the No. 1 overall recruit, Shabazz Muhammad, to UCLA. Muhammad was exactly what Calipari wanted: a young scoring machine with a veteran physique and all of the tools to be a superstar on the wing. Cal wanted him badly and the fans did, too; but the chips didn’t fall in Big Blue Nation’s favor, so we thought at the time.

Muhammad’s recruitment would later prove to be a crisis averted when the NCAA ruled Muhammad ineligible right before the Bruins’ 2012–13 season opener due to alleged violations involving the NCAA’s amateurism rules. It was discovered Muhammad had received benefits for travel expenses and lodging from a family friend, which kept him out of his first three college games, until UCLA’s appeal of the decision got him reinstated.

Then toward the end of Muhammad’s freshman season, news broke that he and his family had been lying about his age to gain a competitive edge on his classmates. Muhammad’s second off-the-court scandal in one season likely played a role in his horrible performance in his final college game, a 20-point loss to No. 11 seed Minnesota in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Thus Muhammad’s one season of college basketball, one that was supposed to rival that of Anthony Davis the year before, never met expectations.

Bullet dodged.

The biggest of bullets, however, was dodged in August of 2013 when Calipari lost out on his top point guard target, Emmanuel Mudiay. Mudiay was the No. 1 point guard in the Class of 2014 and Calipari was enamored with his game. Cal put the full-court press on him throughout his recruitment and based Kentucky’s whole recruiting strategy around the assumption he would pick UK in the end, but Mudiay shocked the world with a surprise decision to attend SMU, of all places. SMU hadn’t made an NCAA tournament since three years before Mudiay was born.

But it was too good to be true for SMU and another blessing in disguise for Calipari and Kentucky, because Mudiay backed out of his commitment and bolted overseas to play professionally. The sudden change of heart came when concerns over his two years at Prime Prep Academy in Texas put his college basketball status in question, and there were reports that the NCAA was about to drop the hammer on his eligibility. We never found out either way because Mudiay signed a one-year, $1.2 million contract with the Guangdong Southern Tigers of the Chinese Basketball Association. The same scenario would’ve happened had he picked Kentucky instead of SMU.

That brings us to the silver lining in the Mudiay bullet. When Mudiay dropped Kentucky for SMU, Calipari fell back on his backup plan: a 5-foot-8 point guard out of Chicago named Tyler Ulis. I don’t think I need to tell you how he panned out in Lexington.

So going back to where we started with this week’s Bamba allegations, maybe Bamba’s commitment to Texas was a blessing in disguise. For his sake, I hope this blows over and he has a great season as a Longhorn and goes on to make millions in the NBA. But if the Bamba ship sinks and the story gets messy, John Calipari will have, once again, dodged a bullet.


Louisville police’s high-speed chase ends in Indiana after almost an hour

It took dozens of Louisville Metro Police vehicles to chase down a red pickup truck and bring the suspect into custody Thursday afternoon. The chase began in Louisville and ended in a field in Floyd County, Indiana after 40 minutes of pursuit.

I don’t know what happened that led to the chase, nor am I an expert on the matter, but I do know the LMP should invest in some sort of training for things like this moving forward. Maybe invest in a video game console with Grand Theft Auto or have the entire force over for action movie night.

Timothy Burke of @bubbaprog captured the video from WLKY:

The chase wasn’t a great performance, but they sure did put a whoopin’ on that suspect as they took him into custody.

And Twitter was there for reaction:

UPDATE

WDRB reporting the suspect was wanted for stealing purses. [WDRB]


Thursday’s Top 10: iPhones, Team USA, Trades, and Aaron Torres

Thursday’s Top 10: iPhones, Team USA, Trades, and Aaron Torres

Ten years ago today, our lives changed, although I doubt any of us realized it at the time. On June 29, 2007, the first iPhone was released, an itty bitty thing with a 3.5″ display, 128MB of RAM, and a 2MP camera. It’s amazing how much the smartphone has improved over 10 years, but the iPhone put the internet in everyone’s pocket for the first time, and as a result, most of us are addicted to it now. I can easily say that my iPhone is one of the things I probably can’t live without; however, it’s also the thing I look forward to putting down the most. So, cheers to the iPhone, the most influential invention of the last decade, for better and worse.

Now on to today’s top 10 (which half of you are probably reading on your iPhone/smartphone)…

1. PJ Washington and Hamidou Diallo starred in Team USA’s exhibition win

Last night, Team USA played Lithuania in a scrimmage and won 89-66. Leading the way were two Wildcats, PJ Washington and Hamidou Diallo. Washington led all scorers with 18 points and Diallo close behind with 17 points. In his first real game since high school, Diallo said he was just happy to knock off the rust.

“It felt good to get out there and get back on my feet after the flights. I feel like we played well, but there are a bunch of things that we can get better at,” said Diallo. “I felt good. That’s the first time in an official game in a long time, and I felt good. I think I played well, but I’ve got to get better on a bunch of things, I’m still a little rusty, but I felt like I played well and helped my team come up with a W.”

Watch a portion of the scrimmage below. Diallo is No. 47, Washington No. 88:

2. Today, the team will scrimmage France

Team USA will get another taste of competition with a friendly vs. France this afternoon, and if Calipari’s comments after last night’s exhibition are any indication, they need to start talking on defense.

“We were a little sluggish in the first half, and I thought in the second half our pressure and our athleticism kind of wore them down,” said Calipari. “But, our execution is not great. Our biggest issue right now is defensively we don’t talk enough, and they haven’t been together long enough to really know how we wanted to play. I’ve got 10 days to get these guys talking more, playing off one another more. I’m happy were doing a couple scrimmages, so we understand how it is.”

I can hear Calipari screaming and stomping from here.

3. Immanuel Quickley said Kentucky is “definitely” his leader

Evan Daniels set the bar high with his KSR appearance yesterday thanks to an interview with Quickley, one of Calipari’s most coveted prospects. It wasn’t really a secret, but the 6’3″ guard confirmed that Kentucky is his favorite right now.

“I think right now Kentucky is definitely the favorite. I think it’s an advantage because I’m getting to know Coach Calipari right now.”

Quickley is also considering Kansas, Maryland, and Miami, but it sounds to me like he’s ready to come on down and be a Wildcat.

4. Mohamed Bamba’s brother made some serious allegations last night

If you missed it last night, Ibrahim Johnson, the brother of former UK target Mohamed Bamba, made news last night in the worst way possible. In a long and rambling Facebook video, Johnson accused his brother of accepting illegal benefits from a booster. You can read details in Nick’s post about it, but I, for one, very much hope those allegations are false because Bamba seems like an awesome kid. Texas responded to Johnson’s claims late last night, issuing a statement to Yahoo Sports acknowledging it was aware of the allegations while also noting it had not yet been contacted by the NCAA about any potential eligibility issues regarding the prized 2017 recruit.

Here’s hoping Bamba’s brother is just bitter.

5. Both DeAndre Liggins and Kyle Wiltjer got traded to the Clippers

Two former Cats were part of the massive trade to send Chris Paul from the Clippers to the Rockets. It started early yesterday when DeAndre Liggins was traded from Dallas to Houston for cash considerations and later in the day, Liggins, Wiltjer, Sam Dekker, Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams, Darrun Hilliard, and Montrezl Harrell were all shipped from the Rockets to the Clippers in exchange for Paul. If that wasn’t enough, Houston is reportedly also trying to acquire Paul George from the Pacers, which would make them the latest “super team” in the league.

6. Rex Chapman is up to something…

A follow-up tweet from @KentuckyMBB confirms that Rex is shooting another edition of “Horse with the Cats” with Shai and Jemarl. So, something to look forward to.

7. I watched “Hidden Figures” last night

I made the trek up to my old stomping grounds of Danville yesterday to prepare for Friday’s show in Lexington, which meant movie night at mom and dad’s house. We watched last year’s hit “Hidden Figures,” and I am giving it two big thumbs up. The 60’s was one of the most turbulent decades in our country’s history for many reasons — civil rights, women’s rights, war — but the space race brought everyone together, and it was fun to ask my parents where they were when Alan Shepard first went into space, or when John Glenn orbited the Earth. If you’re looking for a patriotic movie to get into the July 4 spirit, I highly recommend it, if only for Octavia Spencer’s sass.

8. Another reminder to update your KSR app to get the new podcast feed and ad-free version

The latest update for our mobile app is an important one as it includes the new podcast feed and the option to sign up for an uninterrupted, ad-free version of the app. You can find the KSR app in the iTunes store here and you can subscribe to the new podcast feed here. Reminder: Subscribers of the old podcast feed will not find any new shows until they make the switch.

Speaking of…

9. Do yourself a favor and listen to yesterday’s podcast

We already covered Evan Daniels’ interview with Immanuel Quickley, but I really enjoyed the rest of the show, which featured interviews with Patrick Patterson, Bruce Pearl, and Tom Crean. I never thought I’d say it, but I was especially impressed with Crean, who opened up about his life post-Indiana and answered some tough questions about his future. Crean will always be an easy figure to mock, but I have a newfound respect for him after yesterday’s show. Kudos to Evan for a job well done.

10. Aaron Torres will host today’s show

Evan won’t be an easy act to follow, but if there’s a person to do it, it’s Aaron Torres, author of “One and Fun,” a book chronicling Calipari’s first year at Kentucky. Aaron is one of our favorites here at KSR and gave us a great show last year, so tune in an hour from now to have some fun.


What to watch for with UK’s players and targets in the FIBA World Cup

What to watch for with UK’s players and targets in the FIBA World Cup

Photo: USA Basketball

Team USA’s run in the FIBA World Cup isn’t just summer basketball, it’s a glimpse into what Kentucky basketball could be this season and beyond. On Saturday, John Calipari’s U19 National Team will open play vs. Iran, giving us our first look at freshmen Hamidou Diallo and PJ Washington, along with 2018 targets Immanuel Quickley, Romeo Langford, and Cameron Reddish. After listening to bits and pieces about each player during last week’s training camp, here’s a guide to what we know and what we hope to see starting Saturday.

 

 Hamidou Diallo

What we know:

Because he sat out the spring semester, Diallo has largely remained a mystery. Aside from some crazy dunks during shootarounds, we don’t know a ton about Diallo other than he’s a freak athlete. Diallo turned in the second-highest vertical in NBA Combine history at 44.5 inches, which may have been enough for NBA teams to take a chance on him, but he decided to come back to school for a year instead. Reports out of Colorado Springs suggest that was a wise move; Diallo’s athleticism still leaps off the page and his jump shot has improved, but his game needs refinement. Three weeks of training under Calipari and his first real game action since high school should help that.

What we’d like to see:

We all know Diallo can dunk, but Calipari wants to see him handle the ball more in hopes of cutting down turnovers and improving his decision making.

“I want his hands on the ball,” Cal said on KSR last week. “Now, that’s going to force him to make better decisions, throw better passes, because going right to the rim, he’s really good. He’s shooting the ball better, but got a ways to go. And he has a winner’s mentality. He’s okay defensively, but I’m different, I want guys that really lock people down and he’s not quite there yet.”

A very promising sign? Diallo has reportedly been the first player in the gym before workouts and the last to leave, showing that he’s taking this opportunity to learn very seriously.

Sneak peek:


 PJ Washington

What we know:

Washington came to Kentucky with a reputation for versatility and rebounding. At training camp last week, he proved to be one of the most positionless players on the court, a hybrid forward with a mean streak in the lane and an impressive shooting range all the way to the three-point line.

What we’d like to see:

Calipari admitted on KSR last week that Washington is so versatile he’s still trying to figure out how best to use him.

“I’m still trying to figure him out. I want some people to tell me, professional people, what they want him to look like. I’ll need some help because I’m still — like, I’m going to ask him this question today, ‘Alright PJ, the game is on the line and we need a game winner. Where do I give you the ball? You tell me. Where do I give you the ball where you’re getting fouled or scored. How are we doing it?’”

Sneak peek:


 Immanuel Quickley

What we know:

Quickley is one of two point guards Calipari has offered in the 2018 class and, judging by his interview with Evan Daniels this morning, could be the first 2018 player to commit. Down to Kentucky, Kansas, Maryland, and Miami, Quickley confirmed to Daniels that Kentucky is “definitely” his leader, which is a good thing because he would be an excellent player to build the class around. At 6’3″, Quickley uses his speed and length to burn teams in transition, while keeping them honest from the outside.

What we’d like to see:

A commitment? That may sound obvious, but Quickley wants to announce his decision before his senior season, and two more weeks under Calipari may seal the deal for the Cats. Jerry Meyer recently called Quickley a hybrid of John Wall and Brandon Knight in terms of Wall’s frame and speed and Knight’s scoring ability. As a 2018 player, I’ll be curious to see how he leads college players against international competition.

Sneak peek:


 Romeo Langford

What we know:

Kentucky is one of many blue chip programs in the hunt for the New Albany native, the best shooting guard in the 2018 class. Langford is an exceptional scorer, able to put it in the basket from anywhere on the court.

What we’d like to see:

Duke, Louisville, and Kentucky are early leaders for Langford, which makes the next few weeks absolutely huge for the Cats’ chances. Not only will Langford have a chance to experience Calipari’s coaching firsthand, he’ll be playing alongside two Kentucky players and two other potential commits. Langford told Ben Roberts Calipari is already making a good impression.

“I like the way he coaches,” he said. “He doesn’t let you slide on anything. Little things like catching the ball with two hands. Little things like that — that’s what makes you better as a player.

“It kind of gives him a head start. I get to see how he coaches, and I get to see if I like the way that he teaches his kids.”

Regardless, don’t expect a decision from Langford anytime soon; he says he’ll cut his list of schools to seven at the end of the summer, but doesn’t seem in a rush to do anything past that.

Sneak peek:


 Cameron Reddish

What we know:

Reddish recently cut his list to Kentucky, Duke, Villanova, Arizona, Maryland, Miami, UCLA, and UConn. Reddish is a lot like Kevin Knox in terms of versatility, a guard’s game in a forward’s body. Like Knox, he’s smooth, and according to ESPN’s scouts in Colorado Springs, naturally unselfish, with an instinct for sharing the ball and creating for others. So far, Calipari has been impressed.

“The one kid can play one, two, three, four, five. I’m like, ‘Oh, my gosh,’” Calipari told reporters last week, via Kyle Tucker. “The kid can play every position. I mean, he’s skilled and sees it. He’s good.

What we’d like to see:

I’m looking forward to seeing how Reddish’s game contrasts with Kentucky’s other primary target at small forward, Zion Williamson. As he’s proved in countless YouTube mixtapes, Williamson is not afraid to dominate the lane, whereas Reddish may be more of a pass-first forward. It’ll be interesting to see how his game develops over the next few weeks and to what extent he credits Calipari for the improvement. Duke’s considered the favorite so far, so Calipari’s influence could help the Cats make up some major ground.

Sneak peek:

How to watch the FIBA World Cup

Team USA’s schedule during the preliminary rounds:

  • Saturday, July 1: USA vs. Iran, 11:30 AM ET
  • Sunday, July 2: USA vs. Angola, 12:15 PM ET
  • Tuesday, July 4: USA vs. Italy, 10:30 AM ET

From there, the round of 16 begins. All games will be streamed on YouTube and, if possible, embedded on KSR. Stay tuned for more FIBA World Cup coverage, including reports from our very own correspondent, Sofie Tapia.


Louisville’s Bobby Petrino Does Not Recruit Top 50 Players from Louisville

Getty Images

Louisville football fans sold their soul to a man they consider a college football coaching mastermind, yet this genius isn’t wise enough to recruit the best kids in his own city.

Rondale Moore and Stephen Herron aren’t just the best kids in the city of Louisville, they’re a pair of Top 50 players and future high school All-Americans.  Moore is a 2018 slot receiver and Herron is a 2019 defensive end, but their finalists share one thing in common: Louisville was not there, but Kentucky was.  Why?

“Louisville is 10 minutes away and they never even showed up at school,” Herron told Jon Hale of The Courier-Journal. “They never did anything. I don’t know if it was just the fact they thought they were so close they didn’t have to work as hard, but whatever it is, UK came up a few times and I went down for the spring game.”

The best football program in the state, who is just six years removed from a national championship, is ten minutes away from Petrino’s office, and he won’t even stop by the school to show his face.

It gets better.

“For me, my position coach (at Louisville) and I just didn’t have that relationship,” Moore said before committing to Texas on Sunday. “I camped twice, and I just felt like I hadn’t got that respect that I believed I deserved. … I felt like they just recruited out-of-state guys more than the guys 10 minutes away from their home. That was just kind of disrespectful to me. Louisville was always kind of like a dream school of mine, you’d say, if I had one.”

When a four-star receiver who runs a legitimate 4.3 and squats more than 500-pounds calls your school his “dream school,” you turn that dream into a reality.  Charlie Strong made it happen for All-American and Kentucky Mr. Football James Quick when he was Louisville’s head coach, but Bobby does not seem to care much about local talent.

“I feel like Louisville right now is very focused on these Florida boys and these Southern dudes and are not really even giving in-state a look unless you’re a top dog,” Herron said. “Right now, I don’t really understand it, but that was Louisville’s problem: Just the fact that Grantham left and they didn’t really even make an effort to come see me, any contact. … They never came out to the school. It just seemed like they were recruiting out-of-state dudes better than they were recruiting me and Rondale, two big athletes, 10 minutes away.”

Not only does Petrino not care, his coaching staff is so disorganized, they forget to keep recruiting players once other assistants leave.

The statements from Moore and Herron should be music to Kentucky fans’ ears.  Since Petrino returned to Louisville, only his first class was ranked higher than UK’s.  We’ll see if his new bold strategy to surpass UK on the recruiting trail — ignore all of the best players that live close to your school — will produce results on National Signing Day.

[The Courier-Journal]