By Nick Roush on ©March 27th, 2019 @ 3:14pm
John Calipari made a surprise appearance this afternoon on The Jim Rome Show. Speaking for the first time since P.J. Washington published a video of himself walking without a cast, Calipari said he still does not know Washington’s status this weekend.
“Don’t know. He didn’t practice today, but he’s out of the cast,” Calipari said. “He’s moving around, but will he play? It’s day to day. I’m hoping that he gets some time so we see where he is.”
WKYT captured this image of Washington leaving Lexington this afternoon.
FOOT WATCH 2019: PJ Washington was seen in a walking boot before Kentucky leaves for Kansas City. This comes as John Calipari just released new details on his status.
— WKYT (@WKYT) March 27, 2019
Washington’s status is of course the most pressing matter at hand. Rome also asked him about surviving in the wilderness with Mark Few and the Sweet 16 matchup with Houston, among other topics. In closing, Rome asked Calipari what it’s like to coach his son.
“Unbelievable. Everyday I see him. I give him a hug. I give him a kiss. He redshirted because he’s going to have two years to play if he chooses to. He can go to another school, a smaller school where he’ll play more. I think he’ll stay here,” Calipari said before going to his line about sleeping with that kid’s mother.
When Brad announced his intention to redshirt just before the start of the season, John Calipari explained they made the move to give his son a chance to play for two years during grad school. Many people (including my radio partner and former KSR writer, T.J. Walker) did not buy that explanation, positing the younger Calipari wanted to become a grad transfer. Today’s statement certainly seems to give that theory legs.
You can listen to Calipari address P.J. near the beginning and Brad near the end of the 12-minute interview on CBS Sports Radio.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©March 27th, 2019 @ 1:30pm
On day one of the McDonald’s All-American Game festivities, the players participated in an open practice, a brief media opportunity, and then the annual Powerade Jam Fest. To catch up on Monday’s happenings, you can see the rundown here.
On Tuesday, we had another competitive practice followed by Media Day and the official McDAAG Scrimmage in the afternoon.
We had a few interviews up on the site yesterday with Matthew Hurt and Jaden McDaniels updating their recruitments, and we’ll have more today from future Kentucky Wildcats Tyrese Maxey and Kahlil Whitney, along with a few other features you guys will be interested in.
For my day two notes post, I’ll be breaking down what I saw on a player-by-player basis in both the practice and the afternoon scrimmage.
Let’s take a look:
In my honest opinion, the conversation starts and stops with Kentucky signee Tyrese Maxey. I’ve seen him play several times in the past and have analyzed his film, but I was curious how that would translate on the basketball floor surrounded by the top 25 players in the class.
Not only did he succeed, he looked like one of the best players in the entire gym.
For starters, Maxey easily has the purest jumper in the class, and I really don’t think it’s debatable. Every time he lifted for a jumper, everyone around me (including NBA scouts) assumed it was going in. And if it didn’t fall, he’d get the ball back and never miss the follow-up.
Coming off screens, off the dribble, dribble hand-offs, isolation, and catch-and-shoot opportunities, the future Wildcat thrived at every level from a shooting perspective.
You can see below just how silky-smooth his release and follow-through is.
— Jack Pilgrim (@JackPilgrimKSR) March 26, 2019
Outside of shooting, the future Wildcat is highly underrated defensively, picking up the opposition at 3/4 court on nearly every possession. He’s active with his hands, relentless on pressure, and attentive to the passing lanes. In terms of on-court presence, he’s extremely charismatic, a fantastic teammate, and a vocal leader. I never caught him without a smile on his face, lifting the spirits of his teammates or trash-talking the competition.
From everything I’ve seen out of Maxey, I will be utterly shocked if he’s not a 20-plus point per game scorer at Kentucky. He simply does everything. I get strong Brandon Knight vibes from him, with better potential on defense.
I had been hearing from a few people on the recruiting scene that Kentucky commit Kahlil Whitney had taken a significant step up in his game, specifically on the offensive end of the floor. He has always been an athletic freak with exceptional transition abilities, but his inconsistent jump shot has always limited what he could bring to the table. With a consistent perimeter game, he could be an unstoppable force.
In the time I saw him on Tuesday morning, at times, he looked like the star I had been told to look out for. At others, he looked like the raw athlete we saw last summer. The inconsistency was still there.
Overall, he had an average to below-average shooting day from three, but did impress in the mid-range game. His mechanics are there and he’s getting solid lift on his shot, so it’s entirely possible it was just a bad day. One thing I will note is that he tried to shoot himself out of his slump at times instead of finding easy shots at the rim or facilitating for his teammates, which is a habit he’ll have to toss aside at the college level.
He said in his media opportunity afterward that he was happy with where he was able to get on the floor and the space he created for his jump shot, certainly in high spirits about his performance and not worried about the misses. Confidence is there, which is a good sign.
As we’ve known for well over a year now, Whitney has great instincts in transition and continues to be a strong finisher at the rim. Yesterday, he usually made the correct decision on the break in terms of passing it off or going for the basket himself.
This was just one of those instances:
Kahlil Whitney with the punch! pic.twitter.com/DqDvY86NKY
— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) March 26, 2019
If he missed a shot, he was great at following up his shot for the offensive rebound or quick to make up for it on the glass and on defense. He didn’t sulk after misses, he tried to impact the game in another way, which stood out to me.
Outside of shooting and scoring, Whitney was disruptive on the glass, though he needs to strengthen his hands when it comes to rebounding the ball. He’d put himself in fantastic position and out-jump everyone on the floor for the board, but would often fumble it out of his grasp. He also admittedly struggles a bit with dribbling in tight spaces, something he says he will work on before he gets to Lexington.
Defensively, he’s intense and is great at contesting longer offensive players. Energy is always high and stays that way throughout his time on the floor.
I’m excited to see how he plays tonight at the McDonald’s All-American Game and then again at the Jordan Brand Classic here in a few weeks.
With uncommitted 6-foot-9 power forward Matthew Hurt, he’s much different than he appears on film and in highlights. Online, he looks tall and lanky and relies on his jumper to fall to make an impact on the floor. Again, that’s no knock on his game, as he’s easily one of the best scorers in high school basketball, but I was waiting to see what else he can do.
In person, you can see the work he puts in off the ball, banging inside for tough rebounds and baskets, using his lower body strength to maintain position against stronger players. He’s skinny, but he certainly doesn’t play like it limits him at all.
From a shooting perspective, it took a while for him to find his groove, but he was able to find open looks and utilize his solid stroke time and time again. He’s impressive as a shooter from the perimeter, but his in-between game is just as fascinating. Hurt told me that Duke is recruiting him to play like Jayson Tatum, and I think he has the tools to bring a similar skillset to the table.
Hurt is an elite scorer and a strong rebounder, specifically with timing and spacing. He’s an above-average athlete and above-average to good defender. His game will translate extremely well to the college game for the (likely) one season he’s there… wherever he goes.
The Kentucky forward target is a true 6-foot-10, and he knows how to utilize it well from a length perspective.
With versatility to play anywhere from the three to the five, McDaniels thrives with the ball in his hands and in catch-and-shoot opportunities. His shooting stroke is very impressive for his size, using a unique combination of his ballhandling and length to create space for open jumpers. He draws Kevin Durant comparisons, and it’s obvious why.
He’s also much more explosive than I expected him to be, thriving on backdoor lobs and rising over shorter defenders for strong finishes at the rim.
In terms of weaknesses, he is extremely thin and gets overpowered in the post against most stronger opponents. If his team isn’t playing in transition and utilizing his strengths, he tends to disappear at times, especially if he gets off to a slow start shooting the ball. This proved to be a problem in scrimmages and other live drills, which isn’t necessarily a good sign for the college game. While he looked good in simple shooting drills and teamwork opportunities, he was overshadowed in game settings.
Goodness, gracious. This might be rubbing salt in the wounds of Kentucky fans, but James Wiseman proved yet again he is one of the most dominant players in the class of 2019. In fact, I strongly believe that he has the No. 1 pick locked up, and he hasn’t played a minute of college basketball yet.
While he didn’t have the best performance in the scrimmage on Tuesday afternoon, his morning practice appearance was one that left all scouts and recruiting analysts absolutely in awe at one point or another. At 7-foot-1, his length is just absurd, disrupting shots on defense and finishing on tough baskets inside with ease. He can catch lobs that seem impossible and bring the ball up the floor when he wants to. Oh, and he can shoot jumpers at a high rate.
He relies on the fadeaway jump shot far too often, but his ability to fight his way into the paint for easy inside baskets is second-to-none.
Stuff you can’t teach. Simple as that.
Though it was out of his control, James Wiseman is the one that got away for John Calipari.
Despite being a bit undersized, Washington commit Isaiah Stewart has been destructive in the paint all week long. He’s great at using his body to his advantage to create space and work his way inside for easy baskets. He was easily the most impressive player on the floor in the scrimmage on Tuesday afternoon.
Big fan of his game and think he’ll fit in well at Washington.
Former Kentucky target Oscar Tshiebwe was always a fascinating prospect to me, and for a while, I wanted Calipari to make a strong push for him.
After watching him in person, though, I actually think it might have been a blessing in disguise that the 6-foot-8 forward opted for West Virginia, at least from an immediate standpoint.
While he is a high-character guy and works hard, he is still an extremely raw basketball player. Tshiebwe has elite athleticism, but he’s undersized, has poor instincts on both ends of the floor, and he’s simply not the dominant brute I expected him to be. He gets lost at times and takes unnecessary contested shots in the paint right now.
While I think he will develop into an incredible talent at West Virginia in a few years, I just don’t see him being an instant-impact player in college, and that’s something Kentucky will need next year with PJ Washington and Reid Travis gone.
That being said, he’s a fantastic kid and I will be cheering hard for him in Morgantown.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©March 27th, 2019 @ 12:15pm
As John Calipari predicted on his radio show Monday night, Kentucky forward PJ Washington did, in fact, get his cast off on Tuesday.
According to Dave Baker of WKYT, the Wildcat sophomore was in Wisconsin yesterday to see a specialist, where they took the hard cast off of his sprained foot.
His status for Kentucky’s game against Houston on Friday night, however, remains in question.
PJ Washington’s cast on his foot was removed yesterday, according to a source familiar with the situation.
Washington’s status for Friday night’s Sweet 16 game with 3-seed Houston is still in doubt as of Wednesday morning. Washington was back in Wisconsin for the second time in a week to see a specialist.
It is unknown whether Washington had another cast on, if he is in a walking boot or if he is cleared to practice.
Kentucky will head to Kansas City this afternoon and then have practice and media sessions on Thursday.
PJ Washington just sent out a video of him walking without a boot or cast… in basketball shoes and Kentucky practice gear….
— Paul Washington Jr (@PJWashington) March 27, 2019
And now, John Calipari has a response…
Uh oh … https://t.co/laI5k6m1QY
— John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) March 27, 2019
Houston… you have a problem.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©March 26th, 2019 @ 10:32pm
Last night on his weekly radio show, Kentucky head coach John Calipari said bringing in Reid Travis this season has changed his mind on graduate transfers.
While he did say he was hesitant to recruit from mid-majors, he admitted that he was open to bringing in transfers moving forward.
“I see what this did for Reid in what he was trying to do,” he said. “I would absolutely consider under the right circumstances.”
Now, Evan Daniels of 247 Sports is reporting that Kentucky is set to host Bucknell graduate transfer Nate Sestina next week.
Bucknell transfer Nathan Sestina is taking a visit to Kentucky on Monday, he tells @247Sports. Averaged 15.8 PPG. Would be eligible immediately.
— Evan Daniels (@EvanDaniels) March 26, 2019
The 6-foot-9, 245-pound forward out of Emporium, Pa. averaged 15.8 points (53.6 percent shooting, 38 percent from three, 80.8 percent from the free throw), 8.7 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks per game last year for the Bison. Sestina was named Second Team All-Patriot League and was a Patriot League All-Tournament selection.
The graduate transfer scored in double figures in 27 of his 31 games last season and had 11 double-doubles overall.
Here are just a few of his highlights from last season:
While Jaden McDaniels remains mum on recruitment, Tyrese Maxey and Kahlil Whitney are making their presence known
By Jack Pilgrim on ©March 26th, 2019 @ 9:00pm
It’s no secret 2019 five-star forward Jaden McDaniels is different from his peers. He has never been extremely outgoing, he’s not a fan of social media, and he really doesn’t like to participate in interviews.
While other prominent high school basketball recruits eat up the national spotlight and the celebrity life that comes with being an athlete, McDaniels actually shies away from it. It’s not that he’s arrogant and/or thinks too highly of himself, it’s just simply not his scene.
Despite being a consensus top-ten prospect, standing 6-foot-10 with elite guard skills, and drawing regular comparisons to NBA superstar Kevin Durant, McDaniels just likes being a “normal” kid.
And at the McDonald’s All-American Game festivities this week, he’s putting that on full display.
At practices, he laces up his sneakers and just goes to work. At the Powerade Jam Fest on Monday night, McDaniel cheered on his teammates, but always hung around the back of the crowd, never dancing or goofing off. During media opportunities, specifically at Media Day today, the Federal Way, Washington native was tucked away in a corner seat with an event staff member trying to keep traffic down to a minimum. He’s an extremely kind and genuine kid, but he’d rather have a basketball in his hands and show what he can do on the floor than talk about it.
Bombarded with questions on his eerily quiet recruitment this afternoon, McDaniels continued to add to the mystery by saying he had absolutely no update on where things stand. He has no timeframe on a decision, and really has no idea when he might come up with one.
“Just whenever I’m ready,” he said.
The final schools involved, as announced several months ago, remain the same.
“Kentucky, UCLA, Texas, San Diego State, and Washington,” McDaniels added.
When I asked about the Wildcats and why he’s so high on them, the 6-foot-10 forward said he would certainly love to play for a legendary program like Kentucky, but values his relationships with the coaching staff even more.
“Kentucky, I feel like it’s a big deal talking to them. It’s one of the best college programs,” he said. “Coach Cal and Kenny Payne, they keep it real with you. They don’t just tell you what you want to hear. Kenny Payne is always telling me “If this is what you wanna do, you’ve got to work for it.” So I feel that they are two dudes that people trust a lot.”
Part of the intrigue has to do with the fact that they are recruiting him exactly how he wants to be recruited. They’re not constantly showering him with calls and texts, asking the same questions over and over again.
“I keep in touch with Kenny Payne and Cal(ipari) every once and a while because they know how I am,” he said. “So they’ll check in or come to Seattle to see how I’m doing. … I like that they’re not overwhelming.”
No matter how much he favors the idea of sticking in the background and keeping to himself, he understands that it won’t always happen that way, especially at a social event like this.
He says that players down in Atlanta with him, specifically Tyrese Maxey (Kentucky), Kahlil Whitney (Kentucky), and Isaiah Stewart (Washington), are making their points known that he’s wanted at their respective schools, but they are making sure they’re being respectful about it.
“Every once and a while (they’re recruiting me to their schools) just for the fun of it,” he said. “But at the same time, everybody lets people have their space, being respectful, stuff like that.”
Kentucky signee Tyrese Maxey said that he maintains a solid balance of space and pressure with McDaniels. He limits the recruiting as much as he can out of respect, but when he does come, he makes sure to let the elite prospect know they can do special things in Lexington together.
“I know when someone has been annoying to me, so that’s why I only hit him up every now and then. Like if there’s a tweet that comes out or something that I see, when I see him in person I’ll just tap him and say “Big Blue Nation.” I try not to be overly annoying because I wouldn’t like that.”
Kentucky commit Kahlil Whitney said that while he understands both McDaniels and five-star forward target Matthew Hurt are quiet about their recruitments, he’s letting them both know that they can team up and win a national title in Lexington.
“I’m recruiting both Matthew Hurt and Jaden McDaniels,” Whitney said. “Those guys are pretty chill with their recruitments. But they’ll give me a couple chuckles, you know, I’ll tell them, “Hey, we can team up and win a national championship” and stuff like that. But they definitely tell me that Kentucky is a top option and we’re just waiting to see their decision.”
For Maxey, he knows that while adding both would be special, just one of those two options can take Kentucky’s recruiting class to the next level.
“Matthew Hurt or Jaden McDaniels. One of those two,” he said. “We’re gonna see what happens.”
Check out KSR’s entire interview with McDaniels below:
Follow me on Twitter: @JackPilgrimKSR
Kentucky Sports Radio’s regular radio listeners know all about our ongoing debate on ghosts. Shannon The Dude believes there are ghosts among us; Ryan Lemond is on the fence, although he leans toward the ghost side; while Matt Jones cannot be convinced ghosts exist.
I once sided with Matt in the belief that ghosts are complete nonsense, but I recently opened up to the idea of ghosts after seeing one, a young girl, many times in my own living room.
Now, though, I am all the way in on ghosts with Shannon. After seeing some new evidence that is pretty convincing, I have done a complete 180 in the debate and flipped my ghost thinking. Until today I was still a little hesitant, but a video out of Michigan has me 100 percent convinced, and slightly terrified if we are being honest with each other.
The new video, uploaded online by a young couple with a newborn baby, captures a ghost on the couple’s nanny cam near their baby’s crib. The couple became suspicious when they found three deep “purple scratches” on the baby’s face.
Watch what they saw when they reviewed the cam’s footage:
The new footage isn’t the first sign of ghosts in the house, according to the story on the Daily Mail:
The seemingly creepy sighting on their baby camera is far from the first for Ms Brough, who claims she experienced months of ghostly goings-on prior to the incident.
She claims to have heard screaming, stomping, and laughing, while home alone and was even woken from her sleep by the sound of a male shouting.
‘There have been times where me and my fiance would wake up in the morning and I would hear an angry male voice – like someone had stubbed their toe,’ she explained.
The Daily Mail also notes the house’s former owner died from a fall down the stairs, leaving behind a schizophrenic brother, who later died.
The couple says they no longer leave their baby alone and they are looking to move out as quickly as possible.
Does this do anything for you in the ongoing ghost debate?
Big Blue Nation will soon make its way to the BBQ Capital of the World, Paris of the Plains, the Jazz Capital of the World, KCMO, the Gateway to the Southwest, the City of Fountains, the great Kansas City, Missouri.
The University of Kentucky will play its Sweet 16 and (hopefully) Elite 8 games in Kansas City this coming weekend, and fans will be coming in hot to root on the Cats as they compete for a place in the Final Four. If you’re one of the many who are planning to make the trip, allow me to help you plan your stay in the host city of the Midwest regional tournament games.
Fun Kansas City Facts!
Kansas City has more BBQ restaurants per capita than any other US city.
Nicknamed “The City of Fountains,” Kansas City has over 200 fountains, more than any city other than Rome. Kansas City also has more boulevards than Paris.
Walt Disney opened Laugh-O-Gram Studios, his first animation studio, in Kansas City. Mickey Mouse was inspired by a real mouse in the Laugh-O-Gram building.
Possum Trot and Rabbitville were early name suggestions for the city, before it was named Town of Kansas then City of Kansas and then Kansas City.
Kansas City has a unique way of welcoming its visitors… if you’re into that kind of stuff.
I think I’ll pass, but no judgment if you accept the Kansas City welcome when you arrive.
Places To See!
Nation World War I Museum – Kansas City is home to the United States’ official museum dedicated to World War I. One of the museum’s main attractions is its poppy field — visitors walk across a glass bridge over 9,000 red poppies, each representing 1,000 deaths.
Negro Leagues Baseball Museum – The NLBM preserves the world of baseball when it was racially segregated.
Country Club Plaza – The Plaza was the first shopping center in the world designed to accommodate shoppers arriving by automobile, which was unique at the time. Today it is still one of the city’s main attractions.
National Museum of Toys and Miniatures – Located on the campus of the University of Missouri Kansas City, the National Museum of Toys and Miniatures has collection of over 70,000 toys and miniatures, making for one of the largest collections in the entire world.
Leila’s Hair Museum – Do you have a hair obsession like a weirdo? If you do, go see Leila Cohoon at Leila’s Hair Museum to see hair dating back to the 17th century. Ryan Lemond will probably be there, too.
College Basketball Experience – Connected to the Sprint Center in downtown Kansas City, the College Basketball Experience has everything for college basketball fans, including the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame.
Places To Eat!
Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que – If you don’t mind a wait, go to Joe’s, considered one of the best BBQ joints in Kansas City.
Arthur Bryant’s Barbeque – Arthur Bryant’s is an iconic downtown institution in KC, located a little more than a mile from the arena.
Town Topic – In the mood for a burger? If you have $2.75, you can get a greasy burger at Town Topic, a popular diner that opened its doors in 1937. Add a side of onion rings.
The Distrikt Biscuit House – I want this:
LISTEN: Wilbert Harrison’s “Kansas City”
Know The Arena
The Sprint Center
Kentucky’s Sprint Center record: 0-0
Things To Know About The Tournament Games
Friday, March 29
Game 1: (1) North Carolina vs. (5) Auburn, 7:29 p.m. (TBS)
Game 2: (2) Kentucky vs. (3) Houston, 9:59 p.m. (TBS)
North Carolina (-5.5) vs. Auburn | Total: 160
Kentucky (-2.5) vs. Houston | Total: 135.5
By Drew Franklin on ©March 26th, 2019 @ 12:35pm
You can now wager real life money on what Brad Calipari will wear on Kentucky’s bench Friday night in Kansas City.
What a time to be alive.
Over at Bovada, there are three Brad Calipari wardrobe prop bets available for the Sweet 16. You can get 4/1 odds on the turtleneck and sports jacket look, 6/1 odds on a white suit, or 6/1 odds on a suit with a bolo tie. Any other outfit is the other option at very low odds.
|What Type Of Outfit Will Brad Calipari Wear For Friday Night’s Sweet Sixteen Game Against Houston?|
|Turtleneck With A Sports Jacket +400||Any Other Outfit -600|
|What Type Of Outfit Will Brad Calipari Wear For Friday Night’s Sweet Sixteen Game Against Houston?|
|White Suit +600||Any Other Outfit -1000|
|What Type Of Outfit Will Brad Calipari Wear For Friday Night’s Sweet Sixteen Game Against Houston?|
|Suit With A Bolo Tie +600||Any Other Outfit -1000|
This is great.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©March 26th, 2019 @ 8:30am
McDonald’s All-American Game festivities tipped off yesterday, and future Kentucky Wildcats Tyrese Maxey and Kahlil Whitney made sure their presence was known from the jump.
The Wildcat duo, both suiting up for the West squad this week, got things started on Monday morning with their first practice, followed by a brief media opportunity. Yesterday evening, Maxey and Whitney each participated in the Powerade Jam Fest event, where they both turned heads.
Let’s dive right in.
With over 90 NBA scouts in Atlanta watching the top high school basketball players in America compete, both Wildcats participating this week let those watching know that they are two of the most impressive players in high school basketball.
For Maxey, it was his elite shooting ability and competitive nature that had onlookers fascinated.
Here are just a few of the reactions:
I’d say Kentucky commit SG Tyrese Maxey (@TyreseMaxey) caught all the NBA scouts eye’s this morning. A pure stroke in his shot, brings great energy on the floor, and is able to knock down jumpers from basically anywhere on the floor #MCDAAG. Potential one-and-done.
— Samad H. (@Mod_Hines) March 25, 2019
I love watching Tyrese Maxey. Kentucky fans are going to have so much fun watching him and his consistent energy on the floor. Just an infectious positive dude to be around.
— Sam Vecenie (@Sam_Vecenie) March 25, 2019
Here is Maxey’s entire highlight tape from this morning, where his ridiculous shooting stroke separated himself from his peers:
As for Whitney, while his athleticism and defensive intensity is always the center of attention, his improved jump shot was also quite impressive.
Here is one look at it:
Stay tuned for our upcoming documentary on him called ‘The Year of the Dragon’ dropping after the Dance. pic.twitter.com/GT1869PU8U
— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) March 25, 2019
And another look:
Kahlil Whitney from deep at McDonald’s practice… pic.twitter.com/RpqKcsvSGM
— Ben Roberts (@BenRobertsHL) March 25, 2019
As early as last year, Whitney had a Hamidou Diallo-like hitch in his shot that really hurt his ability to find consistency as a shooter. He has always been able to drive and finish in the paint, but opponents could neutralize him a bit on the floor by sagging off of him and forcing him to work from the outside.
Now that he has tweaked his form and has developed that muscle memory, he has truly become a threat on all three levels of the floor. Every time I watch him play (especially now) I see a more-advanced Jaylen Brown at this stage. Going into college, Brown was a low-30s 3-point shooter, and he followed it up with a “meh” 29.4 percent clip in his lone season at Cal-Berkeley.
In the NBA, though, Brown has shot 36.3 percent from three over the course of his career and has become just enough of a consistent threat to keep defenders.
If he’s even an above-average perimeter shooter at Kentucky, the rest of his game will more than make up for it.
As far as media availability is concerned, we only got about ten minutes or so for quick interviews after practice, so it’s slim-pickings with news (from yesterday, at least).
The biggest updates of the day, though, are as follows:
- 2019 five-star forward Matthew Hurt will make a decision on April 19, down to Kentucky, Duke, Kansas, North Carolina, Memphis, and Minnesota. He’s still working on visits to Memphis and Minnesota, and he claims all six schools are on equal ground.
- 2019 five-star forward Jaden McDaniels still has no idea where he wants to go and has no timeline for a decision.
- Kahlil Whitney talked about how excited he is to get pushed to the limit by John Calipari in Lexington, says the elite competition makes him want to get on campus as soon as possible.
- Tyrese Maxey believes Kentucky is going to win the national title this year, says he thinks his group can make another run next year. Still recruiting a piece or two to close out the 2019 class.
As far as light-hearted content is concerned, Jake Rosen of JakeInThePaint.com sat down with Maxey and asked him about his favorite food, movies, music, and more.
You can check that out here:
Caught up with Tyrese Maxey (@TyreseMaxey) after the early morning practice. The future Kentucky Wildcat is a killer on the court and has a personality that leads people to gravitate towards him. He brings an elite package of energy, skill and leadership to the hardwood. pic.twitter.com/030w9Mqa4p
— Jake Rosen (@JakeInThePaint) March 25, 2019
With Media Day taking place this afternoon, we’ll have more time to talk with the players, where I’ll be able to ask more Kentucky-specific questions to those in attendance. Be on the lookout for that in a bit.
Powerade Jam Fest
After practice and media opportunities, we packed into buses and drove to Wheeler High School (EJ Montgomery’s former school) in Marietta, GA for the Powerade Jam Fest.
There, Maxey competed in the Legends and Stars Shootout, where he absolutely dominated the event.
After going 1/2 from the 3-point line (both shots looked good, if we’re being honest), the future Wildcat jogged over to the half-court line and drilled it in one attempt.
Take a look:
— HoopFocus (@TheHoopFocus) March 26, 2019
No one else came close. Maxey ran away with the easy victory in this one.
From there, Kahlil participated in the Slam Dunk Contest, where he unleashed his ridiculous athleticism.
On his first attempt, Superman cape and all, Whitney got Maxey to toss him an alley-oop off the backboard:
Kahlil Whitney gets help from future Kentucky teammate Tyrese Maxey on his first dunk attempt: pic.twitter.com/JdFWneeNUy
— Jack Pilgrim (@JackPilgrimKSR) March 26, 2019
On his second attempt, Whitney went with the self-oop back-scratcher, where his entire head was above the rim.
On his second attempt, Kahlil Whitney gets his whole head above the rim: pic.twitter.com/5igqmHLt31
— Jack Pilgrim (@JackPilgrimKSR) March 26, 2019
Maxey also helped out future Florida Gator Scottie Lewis in his insane dunk attempt:
— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) March 26, 2019
This was the contest-winning dunk from Stanford women’s basketball commit Francesca Belibi:
Only the 2nd woman to EVER win the dunk contest ?
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) March 26, 2019
Overall, it was a fun event and the Cats looked impressive in the national spotlight.
Evening Media Opportunity
After the Powerade Jam Fest, Maxey, along with Belibi, five-star recruit Cole Anthony, and Notre Dame women’s basketball signee Samantha Brunelle, each talked to the media about their performance.
Maxey, in particular, talked about his Lewis jumping over him in the Dunk Contest, his favorite dunk from the night, and practicing specifically for the half-court attempt in the Legends and Stars Shootout.
Take a look:
Practice will be from 9:15 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. this morning followed by Media Day from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
I’ll have several updates with all the footage, interviews, and analysis you could ever need throughout the day.
See you then.
By Nick Roush on ©March 25th, 2019 @ 10:45pm
While many of you were busy fretting over P.J. Washington’s injured foot, Kentucky football players were making money. Personnel from all 32 NFL teams were in attendance for UK Pro Day 2019, and now that I’ve had some time to digest what went down at the Joe Craft Football Training Facility Friday morning, I can safely say it was one of my favorite experiences on the job.
On New Year’s Day we saw the culmination of the players’ hard work in the form of a Citrus Bowl win. For some, Friday morning gave them a chance to prove to NFL officials how much they are worth. For everybody else, it was a comic-con for football nerds. Before I nerd out, here’s who made serious money.
There Goes Lonnie
Not many of the players who attended the NFL Combine attempted to improve their numbers at UK Pro Day. Benny Snell retried the vertical leap, Darius West ran the 3 cone drill and Derrick Baity and Lonnie Johnson Jr. ran the 40-yard dash.
Johnson captured every scouts’ attention at the Senior Bowl. His size and physicality set him apart from the rest of the pack. The only question mark on Lonnie’s rap-sheet was his speed. Confident he could post a 4.4 40-yard dash, he failed to meet that mark at the NFL Combine, coming in at 4.52. Unlike the laser-timed combine, pro day times are all clocked by hand. The slowest time was 4.45, with his best cracking a new milestone at 4.39.
When I saw the time on my stopwatch, my jaw dropped. I turned to Freddie Maggard who was wide-eyed in disbelief. NFL scouts shared that sentiment. The once quiet bleachers were buzzing with conversation until the next participant went to the line. Days later they’re still talking about it.
Might have been a record number of top NFL personnel men for a @UKFootball pro day last week. And they saw CB Lonnie Johnson (6-2, 210) put on a show. I think he has chance now to go Round 1 with teammate Josh Allen. Tall corner with speed (4.45 40).
— Gil Brandt (@Gil_Brandt) March 25, 2019
If you thought people were shocked at Johnson’s time, they were floored when Westry crossed the finish line. The undeniable MVP of UK Pro Day, as soon as Westry exploded out of his stance, you know something crazy was happening. Vince Marrow’s reaction sums it up best:
— Kentucky Football (@UKFootball) March 22, 2019
On Westry’s second attempt he ran a 4.37, no big deal. His vertical leap may have been more impressive than either run. The cornerback nearly cleared the entire rack on his second jump. His teammates could not have been happier.
Chris Westry’s teammates went nuts when he jumped 38 inches in the vertical leap. pic.twitter.com/9RWtMGQYnZ
— Nick Roush (@RoushKSR) March 22, 2019
After an excellent start to his Kentucky career, Westry failed to finish with a bang. Even so, his athleticism is undeniably amazing, especially for a 6’4″ cornerback. His raw numbers will get him a shot at playing for an NFL team, whether it’s as a late round draft pick or a free agent, somebody is going to take a chance on Westry.
Eli Capilouto, Cheerleader
Before Kentucky’s president departed for the NCAA women’s basketball tournament in Raleigh, Eli Capilouto stopped by the Nutter Field House to supports UK’s outgoing seniors. Capilouto wasn’t just making an appearance, he was cheering on the Wildcats.
Seated on the turf near the finish line, I heard somebody behind me say under their breath, “Come on George. Beat five seconds. Come on!”
When I turned around, I was surprised to see Capilouto was the person cheering on “Big” George Asafo-Adjei. I wasn’t surprised to hear Capilouto cheering on the players. I was surprised he knew what George needed to surpass. After posting a 5.03 in his first 40-yard dash, a sub-five second 40 would make him one of the fastest offensive linemen in the draft.
With a little help from President Capilouto, Big George ran a 4.93. Compared to those who were invited to the NFL Combine, he would have been the fourth-fastest offensive lineman.
Big George’s 40-yard dash wasn’t even his best drill. The offensive tackle logged 34 benchpress reps, rather easily too, which would have tied him for second at the NFL Combine. He also had a 30-inch vertical leap. That’s a half-inch higher than Benny Snell, and George is a hair shy of 6’5″ 300 pounds. Incredible.
Right Where C.J. Conrad Belongs
It’s difficult to articulate how great it was to see C.J. Conrad back on the football field with a smile on his face. A consummate professional and an excellent teammate, even though he was limited to just route running, his energy was infectious. Just watch him while Big George hits the bench.
That enthusiasm is the perfect reflection of Conrad’s character. When I spoke to Conrad after he picked up a sweat on the football field, he spoke about the tumultuous two and a half weeks where his football future was up in the air. He was distraught not because of what could potentially be lost. He was heartbroken for his parents. Thinking of others first, that’s the kind of guy C.J. Conrad is.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©March 25th, 2019 @ 3:00pm
We’ve said it all season, but today, we got another reminder of what a great group of kids this Kentucky Basketball team is. Earlier today, Ashton Hagans and some of his teammates took two pizzas to a homeless man in Lexington, a moment captured on Instagram Live.
“Hey, how you doing, sir?” Ashton said as he handed the pizzas over. “Just got some pizza. Just enjoy. Have a nice day.”
After thanking Ashton and the group (which looks to include Tyler Herro, EJ Montgomery, Immanuel Quickley, and Keldon Johnson), the man complimented him on a good game and said, “Go Cats.”
Good on ya, boys. If you want to hear the group discuss Friday night’s game time and the weather, you can see the rest of Ashton’s Instagram account (a surprisingly good source for information lately).
Stormy Daniels’ lawyer claims to have uncovered a Nike college basketball scandal (UPDATE: Avenatti immediately arrested for trying to extort Nike)
By Drew Franklin on ©March 25th, 2019 @ 12:50pm
Michael Avenatti claims to have uncovered a major college basketball scandal involving Nike and some of the biggest names in the sport.
Avenatti, who you may recognize as porn star Stormy Daniels’ former attorney, tweeted that he will hold a press conference Tuesday morning to disclose his findings.
“This criminal conduct reaches the highest levels of Nike and involves some of the biggest names in college basketball,” he said.
Tmrw at 11 am ET, we will be holding a press conference to disclose a major high school/college basketball scandal perpetrated by @Nike that we have uncovered. This criminal conduct reaches the highest levels of Nike and involves some of the biggest names in college basketball.
— Michael Avenatti (@MichaelAvenatti) March 25, 2019
Is this a publicity stunt for Avenatti to get his name back in the news or does he really have something? I guess we will find out tomorrow.
If he does have something…
Please involve Duke and not Kentucky. Please involve Duke and not Kentucky. Please involve Duke and not Kentucky. Please involve Duke and not Kentucky. Please involve Duke and not Kentucky. Please involve Duke and not Kentucky. Please involve Duke and not Kentucky. Please involve Duke and not Kentucky. Please involve Duke and not Kentucky. Please involve Duke and not Kentucky. Please involve Duke and not Kentucky. Please involve Duke and not Kentucky.
*** UPDATE ***
Minutes, literally minutes, after Avenatti tweeted about his Tuesday press conference to bring down Nike and some of college basketball’s big shots, Avenatti was arrested for wire fraud and bank fraud. The Southern District of New York will charge him with attempting to extort Nike Inc. by threatening to release damaging information about the company, says Bloomberg.
NEW: SDNY is charging Michael Avenatti for "attempting to extract more than $20M in payments from a publicly traded company by threatening to use his ability to garner publicity to inflict substantial financial & reputational harm on the company if his demands were not met."
— erica orden (@eorden) March 25, 2019
What a wild turn of events.
I assume that Tuesday morning press conference about Nike is on hold.
Friday night the Cats will take on the Houston Cougars in Kansas City for the final spot in the Elite 8. Houston has an impressive 33-3 record and won both its opening rounds games by a double-digit margin.
Here’s the group that will tip off with the Cats in the Sweet 16 this weekend:
Houston’s starters average 50.6 points a game, with Davis Jr. and Brooks leading the charge. The Cougars average 76.2 points per game (half a point less than UK, which averages 76.5), meaning the 3-seed’s bench accounts for nearly 25.6 points a game (for reference, UK’s averages 15). Given that number, it’s reasonable to assume we will see Houston coach Kelvin Sampson rotate players in and out with great frequency. Here’s the numbers for the Cougars’ bench, listed in descending order of minutes averaged:
A name (or two) you’ll hear Friday
Corey Davis Jr. — The senior shooting guard and leading scorer set an American Athletic Conference record for three-pointers made in an NCAA Tournament game by draining seven in the Cougars’ opening round against Georgia State. He followed that outing up by dropping 21 on Ohio State in the Round of 32. Davis Jr. loves to let the triples fly; throughout the month of March (eight games) he shot an average of 10 threes and connected on 33 percent. With the rate the Davis Jr. shoots, that percentage can and has been very effective.
Armoni Brooks — The 6-foot-3 junior guard is second on the team in scoring, but leads the Cougars in rebounds with 6.6. Brooks has nabbed 226 boards this season, 71 more than the next Houston player.
Some things to note
Houston’s backcourt rebounds better than its frontcourt — The Cougars’ starting bigs only average 8.1 rebounds. Brooks is first on the team with 226 rebounds for the year, and second is sixth man Nate Hinton with 155. Starting forward Breaon Brady is next with 145, and fellow big man Fabian White is not far behind with 119. How are these numbers possible? Well…
Houston’s frontcourt is run by committee — The Cougars have no PJ Washington or Reid Travis (both of whom average nearly 30 minutes a game). Without a superstar, Sampson keeps a constant rotation of bigs. While the 6-foot-5 Cedrick Alley Jr. may come off the bench, the freshman leads all forwards in minutes per game (18.7). White Jr. and Brady both start, but neither play more than 18 minutes. Center Chris Harris Jr. rounds the group out and averages nearly 11 minutes per game. Keeping such a balance of frontcourt minutes means each player’s averages are low, but the unit is solid when looked at as a whole. Interestingly enough, Houston averages 41.2 boards a game — 2.8 more than Kentucky.
The Cougars shoot like Wofford — If you thought the three-point party ended in Jacksonville with the Terriers, think again. Houston has attempted 838 threes this season (Wofford’s number was 874), and has connected on 305 for a mark of 36.4 percent. To put that number in perspective, UK is 199/547 from behind the arc this year. Expect the shots to be flying yet again.
The Cougars play fast — Part of the reason Houston launches so many threes is Sampson’s coaching strategy. He wants his team to average over 70 possessions a game and maintain spacing on offense so that they are always one pass away from a corner three.
Houston is a good defensive team – The Cougars allow only 60.8 points per game, a mark that is sixth best in the nation. That statistic has sustained in the NCAA Tournament, too — neither Ohio State nor Georgia State (both teams that score 69 and 76.5 points a game, respectively) surpassed 60 points. It’s fair to say UK’s offensive attack has more firepower than either of the Cougar’s first two opponents, but the Cats only managed an uncharacteristic 62 points against Wofford.
UK finished the season ranked 7th in the AP poll. Houston was 11th.
The Cats opened up as a 2.5-point favorite over the Cougars, but that line could shift in a big way when more news on PJ Washington’s availability comes out later in the week.
It seems as though UK’s defense will be tested again by another boom-or-bust offense. Herro stepped up in a big way against Wofford, and a similar defensive effort from him or another Wildcat could go a long way in helping UK make its 38th Elite 8 appearance.
This marks Houston’s first Sweet 16 appearance since 1984. The Cougars won’t go down easy, but neither will the Wildcats.
It’ll be a cat-fight in Kansas City Friday night. Tip is set for approximately 10 p.m. on TBS.
May the better feline win.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©March 25th, 2019 @ 11:11am
What do you do if your wedding is at the same time as Kentucky’s NCAA Tournament second round game? If you’re this couple from Somerset, you let your guests watch it during the ceremony.
Scheduling your wedding during the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament is still frowned upon, but shoutout to Devan and Randall Smith for making the most of the situation.