“Sources have told Rivals.com that Blackshear seems to be leaning toward keeping his name in the NBA Draft,” he said. “While he may go undrafted, the feeling is that he would be OK spending a year in the G-League instead of spending next year at a new college program.”
With prison on the line, Ryan Lemond did not bring his A-game.
Kentucky’s favorite sidekick had five high-stakes five-foot putts at the University Club. For each make, he earned a cool $1,000. For each miss, he earned two days in KSJail. Watch the unprecedented drama unfold on live television.
Kentucky is on the verge of landing a commitment from Justin Rogers. Before the star from Detroit, Michigan makes a decision at approximately 4:00 p.m. Monday afternoon, get to know one of the nation’s top football prospects.
1. Rogers is a five-star recruit.
The future Under Armour All-American is the No. 10 prospect in America according to Rivals. Last year the top-ranked offensive guard was one of a handful of rising juniors invited to the Five-Star Challenge, an elite prep football camp typically reserved for the best rising seniors.
Not every recruiting service agrees on Rogers’ ranking or even his position. He’s the No. 9 defensive tackle in the class and No. 91 player in the ESPN 150. Rogers was 247’s No. 14 player in America prior to his senior season. He fell all the way to No. 44 and the No. 2 offensive guard at its conclusion.
Regardless of which rankings system you use, Rogers is a bonafide baller. If he selects UK, he will be the fourth top 15 player to commit to UK in 20 years. Landon Young was 247’s No. 12 player in the 2016 class and Micah Johnson was ESPN’s ninth-ranked player in 2006. Antonio Hall is the only out-of-state commitment ranked so high, falling at No. 13 overall in 2000.
2. Every school wants Rogers.
Maybe not technically every school. He only has offers from 47 of the nation’s 130 (36%) FBS schools. Alabama, LSU, Michigan and Georgia are the biggest names in the mix, but Tennessee is probably UK’s top competition. Even though there’s not an offer from every school, every school in the country would gladly take him on their team for the next four years.
3. UK has a longstanding relationship with Rogers.
How did UK enter the picture with such a sought-after recruit? They started recruiting him before anyone else. Steve Clinkscale extended a UK scholarship offer to Rogers when he was just an eighth grader. The early investment may have a high rate of return.
4. He teamed up with Marquan McCall.
When Clinkscale offered Rogers, he also offered his teammates, 2020 four-star cornerback Enzo Jennings and current Kentucky Wildcat Marquan McCall. The top-ranked player from Michigan in 2018 opted to leave the state to play on the defensive side of the line of scrimmage, rather than play offensive line for the Wolverines. UK is providing Rogers the same opportunity. Can lightning strike twice?
5. Rogers bulldozes opponents.
When the ball is snapped, it looks like Rogers is shot out of a catapult from a three-point stance. It’s not just pure power, it’s how he uses his size to gain leverage on defenders. When he isn’t providing pancakes on run blocks, he’s putting the defender on his heels and taking him on a ride.
Rogers is at his best out of a three-point stance, but he’s also athletic enough to stand up on defense and play on the edge. He’s not at his best when he loses leverage as the low-man, however, it’s impressive to see the big fellow move that well from sideline to sideline. See for yourself.
Heading into today’s action, Kentucky was locked in a three-way tie with Alabama and South Carolina. One of the two scenarios Kentucky needed to avoid was an Alabama loss and a South Carolina win.
Unfortunately, that scenario has happened as both games have just gone final. South Carolina beats Mississippi State 10-8 and Alabama losses to Georiga 9-1.
Kentucky finishes the season with a record of 26-29 (7-23) which was good for next to last in the SEC.
Despite the rebuilding season, with 18 newcomers to this year’s roster, Nick Mingione has the most wins of any Kentucky coach through three seasons with 104 victories.
Kentucky will for sure lose four seniors from this year’s roster: Ryan Shinn, Ryan Johnson, Alex Rodriguez, and Marshall Gei. With the fantastic career Zack Thompson has had at UK, he will undoubtedly be out the door as well as he heads for the MLB Draft this offseason.
The game recap from the final regular season game against No. 2 Vanderbilt from Kentucky Proud Park will be up shortly.
By Adam Luckett on ©May 17th, 2019 @ 4:00pm
Since the hiring of Eddie Gran and placing Stephen Johnson behind center, the Kentucky football program has been on a remarkable run. The Wildcats have won 24 games in this time, have been to three consecutive bowl games, and have four top 25 victories. All of a sudden the results are starting to show up for Mark Stoops and we’re starting to see the national media take notice.
Regular-season conference records for SEC football teams last three years:
Texas A&M 13-11
South Carolina 12-12
Miss. State 11-13
Ole Miss 6-18
— Chris Low (@ClowESPN) May 15, 2019
Fresh off their first double-digit win season in over four decades, the Wildcats now appear to be in a great position moving forward. UK has solid roster balance with proven depth at most spots. The coaching staff has a wave of momentum on the recruiting trail with eight home games looming for this upcoming season. It would be hard for things to be in much better shape for the program, but getting to this point has taken some consistent victories over division opponents.
It’s clear that UK still has a ton of ground to makeup to catch what Kirby Smart is cooking in Georgia. Even with the win in The Swamp to end the streak under their belts, the Wildcats are still behind Florida. Despite their struggles this decade, UK has only been able to claim two victories against Tennessee with zero coming away from Lexington. Where the Wildcats have made their hay is against the rest of the division.
Since 2016, Kentucky is an impressive 9-0 against Missouri, South Carolina, and Vanderbilt. However, this process has not come easy. Kentucky has won six of these nine football games by one possession and seven of these nine squads have been bowl teams at the end of the season. This is an incredible run that has been filled with some very dramatic moments.
One last drive. @UKFootball came through in the clutch with the season on the line.
Terry Wilson and C.J. Conrad take us through their game-winning touchdown against Missouri. pic.twitter.com/x1QVR82L3Q
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) November 2, 2018
Kentucky is 13-11 in league play in the last three seasons with nine victories (69.2%) coming against their division foes they have so much in common with. For the Wildcats to get to bowl eligibility, the recipe has always been the same. Take care of business in the non-conference, pick up an upset or two, and beat your common conference opponents. The Wildcats have done this and more during this recent run.
Entering the 2019 season, however, the task will be tall to continue this dominance. Missouri is fresh off a top 15 S&P+ finish with Clemson grad transfer Kelly Bryant in CoMo ready to take over for second round pick Drew Lock. The Tigers will be on nearly every preseason top 25 poll and could very well be undefeated when they roll into The Kroge on October 26th. South Carolina returns fourth-year starter Jake Bentley at quarterback with a defense that should be the best of the Will Muschamp era in Columbia. Vanderbilt loses four-year starting quarterback Kyle Shurmur, but has three NFL talents in running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn, receiver Kalija Lipscomb, and tight end Jared Pinkney. Sooner or later that close game success could start to go the other way.
This run has been impressive, but Kentucky has to start winning consistently against the big three in the SEC East. After going winless against the trio of Florida, Georgia, and Tennessee in his first four years, Mark Stoops finally got on the board and recorded a win in each of the last two seasons. However, he’s currently 2-16 against the trio in his coaching career.
Kentucky’s program is in a very good place. The Wildcats are fresh off three a top 15 finish highlighted by a win in The Swamp and a Citrus Bowl trophy due to the New Year’s Day victory over Penn State. Kentucky just had the best NFL Draft in program history and it’s starting to feel like Mark Stoops and Vince Marrow are putting together a top 2o class for the 2020 recruiting hall. Now the next step is to start consistently collecting victories against the historic divisional blue bloods.
Kentucky has emerged as the best middle tier program in the SEC East by their ability to consistently win close football games against common foes. This has given them a chance to compete for a divisional crown into November and reach two bowl games in the Sunshine State. But for the program to take the next step, the Wildcats have to start consistently collecting wins versus the big three. The streaks against Florida and Tennessee have been snapped, but now the Wildcats must start collecting wins more consistently. Ending the nine-game losing streak against Georgia would help the cause. So would beating Missouri, South Carolina, and Vanderbilt every season.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©May 17th, 2019 @ 2:30pm
Over the course of the Mark Stoops era at Kentucky, the coaching staff’s recruiting philosophy has changed quite a bit. At the beginning, they tried to sign any and all of the the top three and four-star prospects they could get their hands on, no matter where they came from.
As they’ve established themselves on the recruiting trail and wins are coming at a more consistent rate, the staff has been able to be a bit more selective with high-level prospects and their focus has shifted a bit.
Among many other areas of focus, keeping Kentucky’s top high school talents in-state has become one of the staff’s biggest priorities as of late.
After signing five in-state talents in 2019, they’ve already got two of the top 2020 prospects in the state committed to Kentucky in John Young and Beau Allen for 2020. And it doesn’t look like it’s slowing down anytime soon.
In an interview with KSR this morning, Kentucky recruiting coordinator Vince Marrow said that Mark Stoops told him specifically that he needed to recruit the state of Kentucky harder and keep them from going to other local schools.
“When Mark Stoops came to me last year, he was like, “We need your presence more in Kentucky.” We were losing a lot of the top guys, they were going other places.”
According to Marrow, that momentum shift happened back in 2016 when Kentucky defeated Louisville on the road with Heisman trophy-winning quarterback Lamar Jackson leading the Cardinals.
Ever since, recruiting in-state talent has come easy for the UK coaching staff.
“I think when we beat Louisville two years ago with Lamar [Jackson] down there, it showed people we were on the right track,” he said. “But still, we had to really get down and recruit harder in Louisville. I think in the past, we were recruiting kids [from there], and they were using negative stuff against us. I’m not going to go into what they were saying, but once I went down there and cleaned that up, it improved.”
Marrow said that in the past, Louisville negatively recruited against Kentucky, which hurt them with some of the local talents. Now, he has found a way to combat that.
“Louisville, being a city school, they were getting a lot of inner-city kids,” he said. “I don’t know what they were telling them, but I tell them now, “Look, we had the first African-American players in this league. We have a very diverse culture.”‘
A big part of that, he says, was Bobby Petrino’s old coaching staff at Louisville and what he was feeding some of the in-state kids on the recruiting trail.
“And that was the old staff, not the new staff,” he said. “I don’t mind some of the guys on the new staff.”
To put it simply, he wasn’t a fan of Petrino and his assistants.
Not in the slightest.
“No, [I wasn’t a fan of the old staff at UofL],” Marrow said. “No. Not at all. Not at all.”
We couldn’t agree more, Vince.
Vince Marrow compares Xavier Peters to Josh Allen, says there is a “very strong possibility” he is eligible this season
By Jack Pilgrim on ©May 17th, 2019 @ 11:48am
On Wednesday, the Kentucky football team received a commitment from Florida State transfer and former four-star pass-rushing target Xavier Peters.
Just two days later, Kentucky recruiting coordinator Vince Marrow came on KSR to discuss the newest Wildcat and what he’ll bring to the table during his time in Lexington.
To get things started, Marrow said that the transfer actually just became official earlier this morning, meaning this is the first time he was able to talk about Peters publicly.
“It actually just went legal about 10 minutes ago,” he said.
Out of high school, Peters was committed to Kentucky from July of 2017 through January of 2018, but then flipped his commitment to Florida State right before National Signing Day.
When asked about what changed from his original recruitment to now, Marrow said the newest Wildcat simply got caught up in the hype and didn’t follow through with where his heart truly was.
“I mean, when you get Deion Sanders to recruit him personally, that just tells you how (big of a prospect he is),” he said. “He received negative feedback from fans after his decommitment. He got caught up in it all, (Florida State) was just where he wanted to go. Reality set in that he wanted to be with his family, he missed his son.”
At the time of his announcement, we all knew it was a massive get and that he’d end up being a star for the Wildcats eventually. When he’d be eligible to play due to NCAA transfer rules, however, was the only question at hand.
According to Marrow, though, fans should expect to see Peters on the field this fall.
“There is a very, very strong possibility that he’ll be eligible this season,” he said. “He’ll be a freshman.”
And he didn’t even attempt to slow down the hype train, either. When asked about his potential impact at Kentucky, Marrow said he sees a lot of Josh Allen in his game.
“Oh, he’s going to get minutes this season,” he said. “He’s probably the closest thing to Josh Allen, at least physically, right now. Xavier has that ability. He has the potential (to be like Allen).”
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©May 16th, 2019 @ 11:00pm
Earlier today, we found out the measurements for Kentucky’s three participants in the NBA Draft Combine, PJ Washington, Tyler Herro, and Keldon Johnson. Drew already went through the ins and outs of the numbers, which include body fat percentage, weight, hand size, height, reach and wingspan, so I thought it might be interesting to compare them to the rest of the combine participants in the Calipari Era.
Here’s an impressive stat: since John Calipari took over ten years ago, 38 Kentucky players have participated in the NBA Draft Combine. That number doesn’t include players who chose not participate, such as Jarred Vanderbilt, Malik Monk, and Karl Towns, or players that did participate in the Combine but did not get measured, such as Jamal Murray. It also doesn’t include Kyle Wiltjer, who was invited to the Combine after finishing up his career at Gonzaga.
Here’s the entire chart before we break it down by category:
|Player||Body Fat %||Hand Length||Hand Width||Height w/o Shoes||Height w/ Shoes||Standing Reach||Weight (lbs)||Wingspan|
|Tyler Herro||7.10%||8.00||8.75||6′ 4.5”||6′ 6”||8′, 4.5”||192.4||6′ 3.25”|
|Keldon Johnson||5.60%||8.00||9.25||6′ 4.75”||6′ 6”||8′, 8”||216.4||6′ 9.25”|
|PJ Washington||8.60%||9.00||10.25||6′ 6.5”||6′ 8”||8′, 10.5”||230.4||7′ 2.25”|
|Hamidou Diallo||4.45%||8.75||9.00||6′ 4.25”||6′ 6”||8′ 7”||197.0||6′ 11.5”|
|Shai Gilgeous-Alexander||3.00%||9.00||9.00||6′ 4.5”||6′ 6”||8′ 8”||180.0||6′ 11.5”|
|Kevin Knox||4.95%||8.75||9.25||6′ 7.75”||6′ 9”||9′ 0”||212.6||6′ 11.75”|
|PJ Washington (2018)||6.85%||9.00||10.25||6′ 6.5”||6′ 8”||8′ 11”||223.0||7′ 2.5”|
|Bam Adebayo||5.20%||9.50||8.75||6′ 8.75”||6′ 9.75”||9′ 0”||242.6||7′ 2.75”|
|Isaiah Briscoe||11.00%||9.00||9.25||6′ 1.25”||6′ 2.75”||8′ 3.5”||222.4||6′ 9”|
|Hamidou Diallo (2017)||5.20%||8.50||9.50||6′ 3.75”||6′ 5”||8′ 5.5”||197.4||6′ 11.25”|
|De’Aaron Fox||4.50%||8.50||8.50||6′ 2”||6′ 3.25”||8′ 4”||169.6||6′ 6.5”|
|Skal Labissiere||5.70%||8.75||9.00||6′ 10.5”||6′ 11.75”||8′ 9.5”||215.8||7′ 2.5”|
|Marcus Lee||5.35%||9.00||9.00||6′ 9”||6′ 10.25”||8′ 11.5”||211.0||7′ 3”|
|Tyler Ulis||5.20%||7.50||7.50||5′ 8.75”||5′ 10”||7′ 4.5”||149.2||6′ 2”|
|Devin Booker||8.30%||8.75||9.00||6′ 4.5”||6′ 5.75”||8′ 6.5”||205.8||6′ 8.25”|
|Willie Cauley-Stein||6.30%||9.50||9.00||6′ 11.25”||7′ 0.5”||9′ 3”||242.4||7′ 3”|
|Aaron Harrison||6.00%||8.75||10.00||6′ 4.5”||6′ 6”||8′ 4.5”||209.2||6′ 8.25”|
|Andrew Harrison||5.90%||8.25||9.25||6′ 4.5”||6′ 5.5”||8′ 4”||213.2||6′ 9”|
|Dakari Johnson||14.90%||9.25||10.50||6′ 11”||6′ 11.75”||9′ 4”||264.6||7′ 2”|
|Trey Lyles||12.10%||9.25||10.25||6′ 9”||6′ 10.25”||9′ 0”||241.2||7′ 1.5”|
|Julius Randle||9.40%||8.75||8.25||6′ 7.75”||6′ 9”||8′ 9.5”||249.7||7′ 0”|
|James Young||5.10%||9.00||9.50||6′ 5.25”||6′ 6.75”||8′ 8”||213.3||7′ 0”|
|Archie Goodwin||4.55%||8.50||9.00||6′ 3.75”||6′ 5.25”||8′ 6”||189.0||6′ 9.5”|
|Nerlens Noel||4.15%||9.50||10.00||6′ 10”||6′ 11.75”||9′ 2”||206.4||7′ 3.75”|
|Anthony Davis||7.90%||9.00||8.50||6′ 9.25”||6′ 10.5”||9′ 0”||221.8||7′ 5.5”|
|Terrence Jones||7.70%||9.00||10.00||6′ 8.25”||6′ 9.5”||8′ 11”||252.0||7′ 2.25”|
|Michael Kidd-Gilchrist||7.00%||9.00||10.25||6′ 5.75”||6′ 7.5”||8′ 8.5”||232.8||7′ 0”|
|Doron Lamb||6.70%||8.50||8.75||6′ 3.25”||6′ 4.75”||8′ 2.5”||199.4||6′ 6.75”|
|Darius Miller||7.50%||8.50||8.75||6′ 6”||6′ 7.5”||8′ 5”||233.4||6′ 9”|
|Marquis Teague||6.30%||8.25||7.75||6′ 1”||6′ 2”||8′ 0.5”||179.8||6′ 7.25”|
|Enes Kanter||5.90%||9.50||10.75||6′ 9.75”||6′ 11.25”||9′ 1.5”||259.2||7′ 1.5”|
|Brandon Knight||4.20%||8.25||9.50||6′ 1.5”||6′ 3.25”||8′ 2.5”||176.8||6′ 6.75”|
|DeAndre Liggins||5.00%||8.75||10.00||6′ 5”||6′ 6.25”||8′ 7.5”||202.2||6′ 11”|
|Eric Bledsoe||5.60%||8.50||9.75||6′ 0.25”||6′ 1.5”||8′ 2”||191.6||6′ 7.5”|
|DeMarcus Cousins||16.40%||9.25||10.00||6′ 9.5”||6′ 10.75”||9′ 5”||291.8||7′ 5.75”|
|Daniel Orton||13.80%||8.50||9.75||6′ 8.75”||6′ 9.5”||9′ 2.5”||269.2||7′ 4.25”|
|Patrick Patterson||5.30%||9.25||10.25||6′ 8”||6′ 9.25”||8′ 11”||239.6||7′ 1.25”|
|John Wall||5.60%||8.25||9.50||6′ 2.75”||6′ 4”||8′ 5.5”||195.6||6′ 9.25”|
Lowest Body Fat
- Shai Gilegeous-Alexander: 3.00%
- Nerlens Noel: 4.15%
- Brandon Knight: 4.20%
- Hamidou Diallo: 4.45%
- De’Aaron Fox: 4.50%
Highest Body Fat (no shame!)
- DeMarcus Cousins: 16.40%
- Dakari Johnson: 14.90%
- Daniel Orton: 13.80%
- Trey Lyles: 12.10%
- Isaiah Briscoe: 11.00%
Heaviest (no shame!)
- DeMarcus Cousins: 291.8 lbs.
- Daniel Orton: 269.2 lbs.
- Dakari Johnson: 264.6 lbs.
- Enes Kanter: 259.2 lbs.
- Terrence Jones: 252 lbs.
- Tyler Ulis: 149.2 lbs.
- De’Aaron Fox: 169.6 lbs.
- Brandon Knight: 176.8 lbs.
- Marquis Teague: 179.8 lbs.
- Shai Gilgeous-Alexander: 180 lbs.
Shortest (Without Shoes)
- Tyler Ulis: 5’8.75″
- Eric Bledsoe: 6’0.25″
- Isaiah Briscoe: 6’1.25″
- Brandon Knight: 6’1.5″
- Marquis Teague: 6’1″
Tallest (Without Shoes)
- Willie Cauley-Stein: 6’11.25″
- Dakari Johnson: 6’11”
- Skal Labissiere: 6’10.5″
- Nerlens Noel: 6’10”
- Enes Kanter: 6’9.75″
Best Standing Reach
- DeMarcus Cousins: 9’5″
- Dakari Johnson: 9’4″
- Willie Cauley-Stein: 9’3″
- Daniel Orton: 9’2.5″
- Nerlens Noel: 9’2″
- DeMarcus Cousins: 7’5.75″
- Anthony Davis: 7’5.5″
- Daniel Orton: 7’4.25″
- Willie Cauley-Stein: 7’3″
- Marcus Lee: 7’3″
- Tyler Ulis: 6’2″
- Tyler Herro: 6’3.25″
- De’Aaron Fox: 6’6.5″
- Brandon Knight: 6’6.75″
- Doron Lamb: 6’6.75″
This was fun. Let’s do it tomorrow when the Strength & Agility numbers drop.
By Drew Franklin on ©May 16th, 2019 @ 2:53pm
We now know the official measurements of the three former Kentucky Wildcats at the NBA Combine in Chicago.
The numbers include body fat percentage, weight, hand size, height, reach and wingspan. At a quick glance at the complete list it appears Tyler Herro and Keldon Johnson are among the shortest hand lengths, while PJ Washington has the fourth-highest body fat percentage. Herro also won the award for worst wingspan with a negative 1.25 differential in his height and wingspan.
Here are the numbers:
|TYLER HERRO||KELDON JOHNSON||PJ WASHINGTON|
|BODY FAT %||7.10%||5.60%||8.60%|
|HAND LENGTH (INCHES)||8.00||8.00||9.00|
|HAND WIDTH (INCHES)||8.75||9.25||10.25|
|HEIGHT W/O SHOES||6′ 4.5”||6′ 4.75”||6′ 6.5”|
|HEIGHT W/ SHOES||6′ 6”||6′ 6”||6′ 8”|
|STANDING REACH||8′, 4.5”||8′, 8”||8′, 10.5”|
|WINGSPAN||6′ 3.25”||6′ 9.25”||7′ 2.25”|
The entire list can be found here.
The combine will be televised today on ESPN 2 from 3-7 pm and Mrs. Tyler will be by soon with a more in-depth look at UK’s combine numbers.
By Drew Franklin on ©May 16th, 2019 @ 1:40pm
With the NCAA reconsidering its restrictions on student-athletes using their own name and likeness, fans of the old NCAA Football video game series are beginning to dream dreams of a comeback.
It has been 2,137 days since EA Sports last released a new edition of the game, back in July of 2013. Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson was the cover athlete back then and your University of Kentucky Wildcats were the 48th-best team on the game with an 84 overall rating.
NCAA Football 14 is still played today with updated rosters that are available for download, but it is way past time for an update. Even Kirk Herbstreit is pushing for NCAA Football 20; he tweeted, “So [Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith] if all goes well is there a chance we get our NCAA Football video game back?!? Just asking for a few 100k friends that have missed the game desperately for 5 years—including former and current players. Haha!! Be a hero!”
In a new story on ESPN.com, Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said a new NCAA Football is not inconceivable, “but we’d have to look at it in light of modern circumstances and in light of what this task force recommends.”
A spokesperson from EA Sports had no comment, but it seems like the game may have life again with this new NCAA working group revisiting the issue that killed it.
Xavier Peters is going to end up in the Bluegrass after all. 247 Sports’ Steve Wiltfong is reporting that the former Florida State linebacker is transferring to Kentucky. The one-time Kentucky commit and four-star recruit entered the transfer portal two days ago.
Peters, a 6-foot-4, 235-pound freshman out of West Chester, Ohio, played in two games as a Seminole last fall, registering one tackle and one pass breakup. After putting his name in the portal back in December, Peters told Wiltfong he finally made the decision to leave Tallahassee to be closer to his one-year-old son at home.
“I had a lot to think about,” Peters said earlier this week. “I knew I wanted to be closer to home. This is a family move. I told Coach Taggart this had nothing to do with his program or Florida State. This is all because of family issues.”
Peters just made the news official on Twitter:
— ?xavier peters? (@xavierpeters22) May 15, 2019
Back in December, Jack Pilgrim broke down what Peters’ transfer would mean to the Kentucky Football program. Check it out below:
Big, big get for Mark Stoops and Vince Marrow.
UPDATE: KSR is hearing Peters will appeal to the NCAA for immediate eligibility, but regardless, will have four years to play in Lexington. Based on this picture a little birdie sent us, Kentucky blue looks good on him.
By Brent Wainscott on ©May 15th, 2019 @ 12:45pm
On the diamond, this is a HUGE weekend for Kentucky. The softball Cats begin their path to the Women’s College World Series when they host the Regionals at John Cropp Stadium and just a few feet away, the baseball team will play in a massive weekend series against No. 2 Vanderbilt with the postseason on the line. Here’s what the baseball team has to do to get into the SEC Tournament.
Heading into the last weekend of the year, the Cats are currently in a three-way tie for the last spot in the SEC Tournament with Alabama and South Carolina. Despite Kentucky dropping two of three to South Carolina just last week, most scenarios do favor the Cats getting into the SEC Tournament. This weekend, Kentucky will face No. 2 Vanderbilt, South Carolina will see No. 5 Mississippi State, and Alabama will take on No. 7 Georgia. This can get confusing, so just stay with me here.
Kentucky gets in the tournament IF…
They win more games than South Carolina and Alabama this weekend
Despite South Carolina beating Kentucky two out of three this weekend, if Kentucky takes more games this weekend than the other teams, they will outright have the better record than both Alabama and South Carolina. In my opinion, it is most likely that Bama and USC get swept this weekend, and Kentucky can steal one with their ace Zack Thompson on the mound.
This is the clearest path to Hoover. Just win, and you’re in essentially, but the Cats will need to be fans of both Georgia and Mississippi State this weekend.
They get in a two-way tie with Alabama
Because Kentucky and Alabama did not play each other this season, there is no head-to-head record. So how can Kentucky get in if they tie with Alabama since Alabama has a better non-conference record? Well, it’s simple, kind of. In the SEC Tournament, when two teams are tied who haven’t played each other, the tiebreaker is their record against common opponents against the highest seed. So, in this case, Vanderbilt is the highest seed in the SEC Tournament, and luckily for the Cats, Alabama got swept by Vandy nearly a month ago. Therefore, if South Carolina gets swept and Kentucky can match what Alabama does this weekend, Kentucky will get in.
They get into a three-way tie
Now for many obvious reasons, you want to avoid the scenario of getting swept because no one wants to lose, and you would then have to bank on South Carolina and Alabama getting swept as well. However, in the case that all three teams get swept this weekend, that bodes well for Kentucky. By the end of this weekend, all three teams would have played Vanderbilt (the top seed in the SEC Tournament) this season. So, if Kentucky DOES get swept this weekend, they can still survive because the next common opponent for all three teams will be Georgia, who swept South Carolina earlier this season. In the scenario that Georgia sweeps Alabama and South Carolina gets swept to force this three-way tie, Kentucky will own the tiebreaker on South Carolina and Alabama with their victory against Georgia back in March when Zack Thompson went the distance.
However, if things go well and Kentucky wins one this weekend, they are in great shape as long as South Carolina doesn’t win one. If South Carolina does win one along with Kentucky this weekend, Kentucky will really need Alabama to win one too because Kentucky needs to avoid a two-way tie with South Carolina.
Kentucky will NOT get into the tournament IF…
They get into a two-way tie with South Carolina
This is why Kentucky needs to cheer hard for Mississippi State this weekend. Kentucky MUST avoid a two-way tie with South Carolina. Last weekend hurt Kentucky with this scenario, so now South Carolina owns the tiebreaker over the Cats. If South Carolina gets swept this weekend, the path becomes a lot easier for Kentucky to get to Hoover. Kentucky really needs to outplay or match South Carolina and hope Alabama can do the same to get in this weekend.
They don’t win as many as South Carolina or Alabama
This scenario is just as clear cut as winning more than the other two teams. If Kentucky can’t win as many or more games than both teams, they will be out of the tournament because they will have a worse record which will knock them out of the tiebreaker.
In short, be HUGE Mississippi State fans this weekend, hope Alabama doesn’t win more than Kentucky, and just beat Vanderbilt.
This massive weekend against Vandy kicks off Thursday at 6:30 p.m. ET at Kentucky Proud Park.
Go Cats. @BrentW_KSR
By Jack Pilgrim on ©May 14th, 2019 @ 9:30pm
After taking the week off last week, we’re back for another edition of Pilgrim’s Insider Notes. I graduated from the University of Kentucky last weekend, and as a graduation present, my dad took me on a surprise trip to the Bahamas for the week. After a hectic end to basketball season and a strenuous last couple of weeks finishing up my degree, it was a much-needed break and I certainly appreciated the patience while I took some time off to rejuvenate.
Side note: If you’re ever planning an exotic trip, specifically to the Bahamas, avoid Nassau and go straight to one of the smaller islands. I spent two days in Nassau, explored the city, did the Atlantis thing (waterpark, casino, “private” beach), etc., and while I enjoyed my time there, it just didn’t compare to our next stop, Crooked Island. With only a few hundred people on the island, it was a complete disconnect from the world. No stress, no traffic, flawless scenery, incredible food, tight-knit community of locals, etc.
Can’t recommend it enough. Absolute paradise.
Now onto the good stuff, and goodness there is plenty of it.
We’ll break down the latest rumblings with Jaden McDaniels, the status of Kerry Blackshear Jr., where RJ Hampton stands in his recruitment, and the NBA decisions of Nick Richards and EJ Montgomery.
Let’s dive right in.
Last time I did my insider notes, it was a two-parter with closing out the class of 2019 on May 1, and looking ahead to 2020 on May 2. In both of those posts, I added brief tidbits on 2019 five-star forward Jaden McDaniels and the latest on his recruitment (If you want to go back and catch up on both, I linked each post above).
To give you a quick SparkNotes, though, I essentially said that McDaniels was finally ready to get into the nitty-gritty of his recruitment and we should expect to see some movement in the coming days/weeks. In terms of a decision, while no one is certain of a final date set, what we do know (and did know even back then) is that it will come in the form of a post on either Twitter or Instagram and nothing more. And when that time comes, the general thought was that the hometown Washington Huskies would win out in the end based entirely on his quiet demeanor and tendency to shy away from the spotlight. He has always loved Kentucky, even called them his dream school at one point, but after talking with him at several different events, I just never got the vibe from him that he’d ever leave the comfort of his own home.
Just a day later, though, word leaked out that Kentucky was picking up momentum and may actually end up being the choice. In fact, I had heard at the time that the UK coaching staff not only felt confident in their position, but genuinely felt they had done enough in this recruitment to come out on top.
From there, the momentum has been all Kentucky, with nearly all major recruiting analyst (Evan Daniels, Jerry Meyer, Andrew Slater, etc.) picking the Cats to be the final choice. Daniels went as far as to say that he would be “shocked” if McDaniels ended up anywhere but Lexington this weekend. After talking to some people on both sides of the equation, while I’m not sure if there was ever an actual commitment from McDaniels behind the scenes as rumored, the UK coaching staff felt late last week that they were the pick. Whether that is why the recruiting experts flocked to make UK predictions, I’m not certain, but what I am very confident about is that the Kentucky buzz was legitimate.
Moving on to the next aspect of those rumors circling around social media that McDaniels had submitted his National Letter of Intent to Kentucky, I was told from the jump that while the smoke surrounding UK’s status was real, the signing talks were bogus. Daniels then confirmed that with the five-star prospect himself late last night.
Jaden McDaniels tells @247Sports he has NOT signed a Letter of Intent, despite rumors that he has.
Washington & Kentucky battling for the five-star talent.
— Evan Daniels (@EvanDaniels) May 14, 2019
Those in his inner circle, namely Cartiea French-Toney, his trainer, have actually pushed recently for McDaniels to not sign a LOI and only sign financial aid paperwork. As a side note, with the deadline being tomorrow to submit a letter of intent, this means that he could ultimately opt to wait a bit longer before making his announcement.
Around the same time of Daniels’ aforementioned tweet, he also made headlines by changing his Crystal Ball pick from Kentucky to “undecided,” which usually isn’t a good sign when it comes from arguably the best source of recruiting news (93.51% all-time prediction success rate) in the game. To put the cherry on top, 247 Sports’ Josh Gershon, another plus-90% predictor, also changed his pick to “undecided.”
So where did this change of heart come from?
“New information would probably be the best way to put it,” he told Matt Jones on KSR this morning.
After trying to work the phones today, I genuinely think this is nothing more than a high school kid being torn between staying home and being the hometown hero or making the first legitimate leap of faith in his basketball career. It’s down to Washington and Kentucky, without question. Those close to him want him to stay home one more year before heading to the NBA, though I’ve also been told that his parents have opened up to the idea of him landing in Lexington. As for McDaniels himself, I genuinely believe he knows Kentucky is the best move for his future, but doesn’t know if he’s ready for the spotlight that comes with being a UK basketball player. The former part of the argument is why the Cats gained so much steam recently, and I think the latter is why it has since cooled off.
I’ve also heard a theory that this could be McDaniels and his camp telling recruiting folks to back off their UK predictions to add intrigue to the decision, but I seriously don’t think that carries much weight, if any at all. This is a group of people that try to stay as tight-lipped and low-key as possible, so I just don’t see a benefit in that method of thinking at all. Maybe they simply just want to let McDaniels have his moment? While that may true, I don’t see a correlation there.
At the same time, we’ve also seen situations like Julius Randle, the Harrison Twins, and Trey Lyles in the past, where Kentucky was seen as the consensus favorite, we saw some last-minute rumors and momentum shifts, only to find out it was UK all along. That could come into play here, as well.
At this point, while I do not believe he will sign a letter of intent and will only sign financial aid paperwork, I still anticipate a decision this week, with Wednesday still being a legitimate option. His high school coach, who says he talked to McDaniels last night, also feels an announcement could come tomorrow.
Before yesterday, I planned on writing an incredibly optimistic post about how I would be surprised if it’s anything but Kentucky and it was time to pencil McDaniels in as a future Wildcat. Now, I’m genuinely conflicted and feel it could go either way. Unlike the Keion Brooks Jr. decision where it became apparent the Indiana native thrived under pressure and loved the spotlight, I don’t know if I can say the same for McDaniels. I keep going back to my conversation with him at the Jordan Brand Classic, where he said, “There’s nothing like playing at home.”
While I’m not certain where McDaniels is going, I do know that he is now in the process of coming up with a final destination. As we’ve seen throughout his entire recruitment, it could go back and forth over the course of the next few hours, let alone days, and neither Kentucky nor Washington would shock me at this point.
I’ll stick with the Cats based on just how much pro-UK smoke there was over the last several days, but it’s nothing more than a gut feeling.
Above all else, I’ll be happy when this recruitment is finally over.
Kerry Blackshear Jr.
The other major frontcourt prospect Kentucky is rumored with right now is Virginia Tech graduate transfer Kerry Blackshear Jr.
When word leaked out originally that the 6-foot-10 forward was putting his name in the transfer portal, Kentucky was immediately associated, with the UK coaching staff even making a trip down to Florida to meet with Blackshear’s family. Texas A&M and Florida were the two other schools that seemed to be the strongest contenders to land the former Hokie big man.
But the biggest question right now isn’t which school he’ll be transferring to, but whether or not he’ll be going back to school at all.
Right now, I’m told that the hope for Blackshear is that he works his way into NBA Draft contention or at least feels he can find the right fit as an undrafted free agent. If that’s the case, I think he says goodbye to college basketball and begins his professional journey.
Corey Evans of Rivals.com also added this morning that while his camp is relatively quiet right now, the general thought right now is that he keeps his name in the NBA Draft.
If he doesn’t receive the feedback he’s looking for (and he only has two more weeks to figure that out), sources tell KSR that Kentucky is in a great position to land Blackshear this offseason. In fact, before the recent developments of McDaniels, there was serious momentum that the Wildcats could have landed all three of McDaniels, Blackshear Jr., and Johnny Juzang to close out the class of 2019.
If McDaniels does opt for Washington, I fully expect the Kentucky coaching staff to go all-in on Blackshear and will ultimately find themselves as the favorites (if they aren’t already) to land the talented graduate transfer if he decides to head back to college for one final season.
Two weeks ago, five-star combo guard RJ Hampton announced he would be reclassifying from 2020 to 2019 and was down to four schools: Kansas, Kentucky, Memphis, and Texas Tech.
From the start, most major recruiting analysts felt the local Texas Tech Red Raiders weren’t serious contenders, leaving just the Jayhawks, Wildcats, and Tigers.
From there, former Duke commit Boogie Ellis and graduate transfer Rayjon Tucker (who may end up keeping his name in the NBA Draft) both committed to Memphis over the last week, leaving just one scholarship spot for the Tigers. If five-star forward Precious Achiuwa commits to Memphis this weekend, as expected, they’re out of roster spots. The way things are looking now, there just isn’t room for Hampton to sign with Memphis, ultimately leaving just Kansas and Kentucky, right?
Well, not exactly.
Last night, Evan Daniels added that he doesn’t believe it will be Kentucky, either.
Don’t think he’s going to Kentucky
— Evan Daniels (@EvanDaniels) May 13, 2019
Interestingly enough, I’ve heard over the last two weeks or so that Kentucky was in a better position than most believed, and that Hampton’s inner circle actually prefers the Wildcats over all the schools involved. The reality of the situation is that UK’s backcourt is simply too loaded and while Hampton feels he could start no matter who is currently on the roster (he has said as much), the logjam would make things just a bit too complicated. In fact, if Ashton Hagans had decided to put his name in the NBA Draft, I genuinely believe Hampton would be a Wildcat.
Using process of elimination, and that leaves Kansas as the winner, the school most believe has been either the No. 1 or No. 2 school on Hampton’s list for several months now. As of today, I would be shocked if he ends up anywhere other than Lawrence, KS next season.
One thing I will say to watch out for, however, is Hampton heading overseas for a year before turning pro. While I still strongly believe he ends up at Kansas, I’ve been told that the overseas route is intriguing for the five-star combo guard, and there’s an outside chance that he considers it.
In terms of when we’ll hear a final decision, Hampton told his followers on Twitter yesterday to check his profile bio, which says “Your question will be answered soon.”
Expect him to announce for Kansas sooner rather than later.
Nick Richards/EJ Montgomery
The last two current pieces on the Kentucky basketball roster with NBA decisions to make are former five-star forward prospects Nick Richards and EJ Montgomery.
For the former, the situation is a bit more simple. He is going through the NBA process simply learning from professional scouts and personnel about what he needs to work on next season in college. The expectation is that Nick Richards returns to Kentucky for a junior season, just as it has been since he originally put his name in the draft back in April.
As for Montgomery, it’s not as simple.
From the start, the working assumption was that while they may test the waters, UK would eventually return both Richards and Montgomery. That being said, there is growing concern that while the latter isn’t necessarily looking for a reason to leave, he’d jump on the opportunity in a heartbeat if one presented itself. To take it a step further, KSR’s Matt Jones said last night that a team guaranteeing a two-year deal in the second round would likely sway him to leave.
While Montgomery’s draft stock is extremely low right now and most teams are likely telling him he needs to return to school, it only takes one. We’ve seen it plenty of times before in the past, including last year with Jarred Vanderbilt, that teams take chances on players based solely on potential alone. Montgomery would likely, unfortunately, fit in that category.
I still think it’s more likely than not that Montgomery returns for a sophomore season at Kentucky, but it’s certainly not a clear-cut decision and we’ll likely have to wait at least another week before we hear anything.
No matter what happens with the key targets in the immediate future, the UK coaching staff has a backup plan in place. If the “nightmare” scenario happens where McDaniels goes to Washington, Blackshear Jr. stays in the NBA Draft, and Montgomery leaves his name in to explore his professional options, look for Kentucky to push for a reclassification from 2020 prospects N’Faly Dante and/or Makur Maker. And though Isaiah Todd has said on multiple occasions he wasn’t making the jump, he also said at the Nike EYBL event in Atlanta that he wouldn’t rule anything out if a team came calling at the last minute needing immediate help.
In short, Kentucky will be fine.
By Drew Franklin on ©May 14th, 2019 @ 9:03pm
The No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft belongs to the New Orleans Pelicans.
New Orleans won the Zion Sweepstakes by moving up six places to take the draft’s top pick after holding only a six percent chance going into the night. The Grizzlies, Knicks and Lakers were also in the hunt after the commercial break and finished in that order behind the Pelicans. (Sorry, Knicks fans.)
1. New Orleans Pelicans
2. Memphis Grizzlies
3. New York Knicks
4. Los Angeles Lakers
5. Cleveland Cavaliers
6. Phoenix Suns
7. Chicago Bulls
8. Atlanta Hawks
9. Washington Wizards
10. Atlanta Hawks (via Dallas Mavericks)
11. Minnesota Timberwolves
12. Charlotte Hornets
13. Miami Heat
14. Boston Celtics (via Sacramento Kings)
What does this mean for Anthony Davis’ future? After a tumultuous season in New Orleans, it looked like Davis had worn a Pelicans uniform for the final time. There was even talk of the Knicks trading Zion Williamson for Davis if the Knicks had won the lottery Tuesday night. But with Williamson heading to New Orleans by way of the draft, could Davis have a change of heart? Or is the relationship broken beyond repair (That’s all, folks!)?
It is going to be a wild offseason in the Association.
At least the Pelicans front office seems happy:
— New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) May 15, 2019
Technically, it’s the offseason, but UK Sports never really stop; in fact, when you look at the calendar, there’s a ton of stuff happening over the next three and a half months to keep the news train churning.
Here’s what you can look forward to this summer.
May 14: NBA Draft Lottery
Which team gets Zion? We’ll find out tonight. We may also get a better picture of which team will draft PJ Washington, currently the only Kentucky player expected to go in the lottery.
May 14-19: NBA Draft Combine
PJ Washington, Tyler Herro, and Keldon Johnson are in Chicago until Sunday to be tested, measured, and interviewed by NBA executives alongside other top draft prospects.
May 15: End of the Spring Signing Period
That’s tomorrow! Will Jaden McDaniels announce his decision? His high school coach thinks so, which could be bad news for Kentucky considering recent buzz, but he could also drag this decision into the summer and sign financial aid papers at the school of his choice this fall.
May 17: UK Softball hosts NCAA Regional
The Hittin’ Kittens are the No. 14 seed in the NCAA Tournament and will host a regional at John Cropp Stadium this weekend. On Friday at 2:30 p.m., they’ll play Toledo to face the winner of Illinois vs. Virginia Tech on Saturday. Each regional follows a double-elimination format with at least three wins required to get to the NCAA Super Regionals, which take place May 23-26 at eight different sites.
May 18: The Preakness
With neither Country House nor Maximum Security running, does anyone care?
May 20: KSR Lexington Golf Scramble
AKA Ryan’s Putt for Prison. For each five-foot putt he misses, he has to stay in KSBar jail for two days.
May 29, 11:59 p.m.: Deadline to withdraw from the NBA Draft
Two weeks from tomorrow night, we’ll know for certain whether or not EJ Montgomery and Nick Richards are coming back to Kentucky and if Kerry Blackshear Jr. will go to the NBA or return to college for another season.
First week: Basketball players return to campus
It’s now customary for players to return to campus in early June to start summer classes and offseason workouts. Since the NCAA’s withdrawal deadline will have passed, the players who decided to come back to school will be back in Lexington with the rest of the team, including incoming freshmen.
June 4-21: John Calipari Satellite Camps
With the players back on campus, the satellite camps will also begin, giving fans across the state the chance to meet the new team. Calipari usually does a few media opps at the camps, so we’ll get to hear his first impressions of the squad.
June 7-9: Kentucky Football Camps
In early June, some of the top high school football players in the country will make their way to Kroger Field for UK’s Friday Night Lights Camp, the Saturday Night Prime Time Camp, and the Sunday Night Showcase Camp. Given the roll Vince Marrow and Mark Stoops are on right now, this could be another important week for the future of the program.
June 8: Belmont Stakes
June 20: NBA Draft
As always, Calipari will be front and center to see PJ Washington, Tyler Herro, and Keldon Johnson achieve their dreams.
TBD: KSR Summer Tour
The dates and locations are still being finalized, but the 2019 KSR Summer Tour will begin in early July. Once the schedule is final, we will post it on the site ad nauseam.
July 1-15: NBA Summer League
The NBA Summer League is bigger than ever. Utah and Sacramento will host leagues July 1-3, but the main draw is the Vegas Summer League, which takes place July 5-15 and will feature teams from China and Croatia. Expect to see plenty of former Cats in the mix.
July 10-14: Peach Jam & Under Armour Association Finals
Jack Pilgrim will split his time between the Peach Jam in North Augusta, South Carolina and the UAA Finals in Atlanta, Georgia to bring you the latest on Kentucky’s top prospects in the 2020 and 2021 classes.
July 15-18: SEC Media Days
SEC Media Days is back in Hoover and Kentucky will be up on the final day, Thursday, July 18. As always, Nick Roush will be there to cover the sights and sounds of the kickoff to talking season.
July 19-21: The Basketball Tournament (TBT) Regional in Lexington
The Bluegrass Boys, Kentucky’s Alumni Team, is hosting a regional of this year’s TBT at Frederick Douglass High School in Lexington. So far, the team consists of Dominique Hawkins, Derek Willis, Marcus Lee, Josh Harrellson and Ramon Harris, with Mark Krebs serving as team director. DeMarcus Cousins also has a team in the TBT Lexington Regional, Loyalty is Love. The winners of each region will meet for the semifinals and $2 million championship game in Chicago August 1-6.
July 22: Somerset Golf Scramble
TBD: Football Women’s Clinic
The date hasn’t been set for the annual football women’s clinic, but it typically takes place in late July. As someone who’s been to both, I can tell you it’s twice as fun as the basketball one.
Late July/Early August: Media Day
Talking season continues a few weeks later as the local media gets their turn to grill Mark Stoops, Eddie Gran, Brad White, Vince Marrow, and the players.
Early August: Football Fan Day, Fall Camp begins
Prepare yourself for practice reports.
August 31: Kentucky vs. Toledo
It’s finally football time in the Bluegrass.
By Nick Roush on ©May 13th, 2019 @ 11:00pm
A top 25 wide receiver in America has spent quite a bit of time in Lexington over the last month. Each time he’s returned home to Columbus, Ohio, he’s left impressed.
“I like everything about UK, the facilities, dorms, the people, fans. I like everything,” Kalil Branham told KSR Monday evening.
A four-star prospect ranked by 247 Sports as the No. 22 wide receiver in America, Branham first entered the BBN’s radar at the Blue/White Game. Not long after Branham watched the exhibition from the Kroger Field stands, the Michigan commit reopened his recruitment. Three weeks later he returned to Lexington for an official visit.
“It was nice,” he said. “It really opened my eyes to how nice the school is and what’s around it. We went through the whole school facilities and we got to eat at some of the finest restaurants there, like Tony’s, KSBar and Jeff Ruby’s.”
KSBar is in good company.
At one stop Branham ran into Tim Couch, also known as “the guy on the wall.”
That wasn’t the only big Kentucky football name to share a moment with Branham. Josh Allen posed for a picture with the four-star athlete just a week after he was drafted seventh overall by the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Primarily recruited by Vince Marrow and wide receivers coach Michael Smith, their pitch to Branham is simple.
“They’re saying that I’m going to come in and replace Lynn Bowden. I’ll be the No. 1 guy. They say I’m a five-star recruit in their eyes.”
If Kentucky can convince Branham to commit to the Cats, the 2020 class will have an incredibly fast, hard-working athlete whose stock continues to rise. A few more things you should know about Branham and his relationship with UK:
Allen and Young are in Touch
Once they committed to Kentucky, John Young and Beau Allen vowed they would be two of UK’s staunchest recruiters. So far, they’re living up to that promise.
“I talk to John Young and Beau Allen a lot.” Branham has never thrown around the pigskin with Allen but, “His film is very nice. I think we could work together good.”
You People are Crazy
During Branham’s visits to Lexington, fans are making the most significant impressions. The Big Blue Nation is unlike any other fanbase, for better or worse.
“The fans are — they’re huggers. I’m not used to that, but I like it though.”
I don’t know how well hugs from strangers will go over with every recruit, but it isn’t scaring off Branham.
Not a One-Trick Pony
When he isn’t running through ladders or catching balls from the gun on the football field, Branham picks up the boxing gloves.
“It’s a training thing. I always kind of liked boxing. I figured it could make my hands quicker and my reactions, so I just kind of got into it.”
He’s never stepped into a ring for a formal fight, exclusively using pads and light sparring, but I would not mess with this man.
It aint grinding if you love it. while you at somebody's draft party watching their dreams come true . We with Coach Ron AKA The Champ working on quick hands
— Kalil Branham 2020 (@kbug_dash) April 26, 2019
Outside of boxing, Branham’s first love was lacrosse. As a high school freshman he lettered in football, baseball, basketball and track and field, a sport where he continues to completely crush the competition. Branham won the 2017 200m Ohio state championship and it wasn’t even close. In the following relay, his team was in dead last until he took over for the final leg. Watching him catch up with the competition is absolutely incredible.
Never question my effort or desire to win. im not a Ra Ra guy never have been. Dont take my quietness as a weakness. Its just why talk trash if you cant finish. #branhamboys pic.twitter.com/A2n81VBx0g
— Kalil Branham 2020 (@kbug_dash) April 16, 2019
He’s not just an athlete. Branham’s mind is incredibly sharp. To exercise his artistic side he plays piano.
“I just started, I’d say about three years ago; just taught myself and kept going with it.”
He learned to play like this simply by listening? Incredible.
— Kalil Branham 2020 (@kbug_dash) February 18, 2019
It might not be a rivalry per se, but Kalil does not deny that the competition between him and his older brother, John, has helped him grow.
“Me going against, or going with my brother, has always pushed me to go a little further, work a little harder and it’s made me better as a person and a football player,” Branham said. “He always stepped it up a little bit and taken it a little bit further than somebody my age would normally do. Since my brother is two years older than me, I’m working at a higher level than normal people are.”
Last season Kalil’s big brother John rushed for 2,013 yards and 22 touchdowns. A first team all-state selection, John Branham played in the annual Ohio North-South Classic. Next season the running back will suit up for Eastern Michigan.
Despite all the honors, if the two lined up to race, Kalil would leave him in the dust. “It’s not normally a competition, but when something like that comes up, always I dominate.”
— Kalil Branham 2020 (@kbug_dash) April 18, 2019
If you didn’t think athleticism runs in the family, his cousin Malaki Branham is a top 50 shooting guard in the 2021 class, playing for LeBron James’ alma mater St. Vincent-St. Mary’s.
When will Branham Decide?
It appears that Kentucky has all of the momentum in Branham’s recruitment, but there’s no end in sight.
“I’m taking my time, going through all my options,” Branham told KSR.
Branham has 14 reported offers but he does not have a list of finalists. When the time comes, Kentucky should be in position to contend. We’ll see if Smith and Marrow can seal the deal for “the next Lynn Bowden.”
By Nick Roush on ©May 13th, 2019 @ 1:03pm
Mark Stoops’ search for quarterback depth on the grad transfer market has come to a close. Former Troy pocket-passer Sawyer Smith has committed to Kentucky.
Excited to announce that I'm going to spend my last seasons as a Graduate Transfer at THE University of Kentucky!! Words can't begin to explain how proud my family and I are to be apart of the #BBN @UKFootball pic.twitter.com/b223Ixk3td
— Sawyer Smith (@smittyyy22) May 13, 2019
Smith will be tasked to immediately challenge UK’s starter, Terry Wilson, a familiar situation for the Florida native.
Last year Smith played a significant role for Troy following an injury to starting quarterback Kaleb Barker. In 13 games Smith completed 62.9 percent of his passes for 1,669 yards, 14 touchdowns and six interceptions to lead Neal Brown’s Trojans to a 10-win season. Smith can also use his legs. In 2018 rushed for 191 yards and a touchdown on 74 attempts.
Along with a year of experience in the Sun Belt, Smith brings two years of eligibility with him to Lexington.
By Zack Geoghegan on ©May 11th, 2019 @ 10:30pm
John Calipari and the Kentucky coaching staff have been working hard to stabilize the future of their favorite position – the point guard.
The target they’re currently locked in on? 2020 point guard Sharife Cooper.
Cooper is participating in the Nike EYBL in Indianapolis this weekend and I got a chance to meet up with him after he posted 29 points, five rebounds, and 11 assists for his squad, the AOT Running Rebels, based out of Georgia.
The five-star guard and 19th overall prospect according to ESPN said that Kentucky has been in constant contact with him.
“They’ve [Kentucky] been coming a lot. They show their face a lot,” Cooper said. “They’ve been to all the games. It’s really picking up with them. They show a lot of interest.”
Along with the Cats, a familiar face is also chasing the sought after lead guard – Bruce Pearl. Cooper described Kentucky and the Auburn Tigers as the two teams who have been on him the most.
There had been some chatter that Cooper was considering reclassifying to 2019 in order to replace Tigers guard Jared Harper, who left for the NBA, but that has been disproved.
Cooper noted that a couple of blue bloods – North Carolina and Duke – haven’t had much, if any, contact with him directly. Which should be noteworthy considering Cooper said he and his AOT teammate B.J. Boston have had discussions about potentially joining forces at the next level.
“We talk about that [teaming up] all the time,” Cooper said. “It’s really the best fit. You know, he’s gotta make the best decision for himself. And if that’s playing where I go, then I feel like we’re gonna be good.”
Boston is considered the sixth best player in the 2020 class according to ESPN and has been widely considered a Duke lean.
Bringing in Cooper alone would be a massive get. Packaging him and Boston together would be unfair.
Cooper even said that he is willing to play alongside other stars, even ones that play the same position as him.
“It doesn’t matter,” Cooper said about playing next to another high profile guard. “If we have chemistry and we play together, we’ll all be good.”
*Check out this 37-point performance from his trip to Atlanta.*
Standing at an even 6-feet, Cooper isn’t as big as a typical Calipari point guard, but he has the quickness and vision to make up for that.
He might already be one of the best instinctual passers in his class but he can also score on anyone. And when I say anyone, I mean anyone. Through six EYBL games (two in Indianapolis and four in Atlanta), Cooper is averaging over 28 points along with right at eight assists per game. He led the EYBL in scoring after the four games in Atlanta a couple of weeks ago with over 31 points per game.
His defense shouldn’t be ignored, either. He’s been a brick wall in Indianapolis whenever he digs deep into his stance.
But he’s a playmaker first and foremost, although you wouldn’t know from talking to him. He constantly repeated the phrase “make the right play” and he takes that to heart. It’s how he styles his game.
“Just naturally wanting to make the right play,” Cooper said. “Whatever is open, that’s what you take.”
Come on down.
By Nick Roush on ©May 11th, 2019 @ 3:30pm
The Big Blue Nation’s favorite news breaker is back at it again.
Kentucky point guard Ashton Hagans is a big fan of Instagram. Throughout the NCAA Tournament, his Instagram usage gave fans a sneak peek into the P.J. Washington saga, shedding light on an otherwise unclear situation. Last night he revealed some news that will pique the interest of conspiracy theorists.
In the middle of a Q&A on his Instagram story, Hagans posed this multiple choice question to his followers:
Those who are proficient at connecting the dots, like friend of the program KY_Clips, noted that one other potential future Wildcat is a big fan of the deuce, Jaden McDaniels.
Maybe Hagans isn’t ditching his number for Jaden McDaniels. Maybe Hagans just wants to wear the same number he wore at Newton High School. After all, Quade Green had No. 0 claimed prior to the start of last season.
Maybe the No. 2 isn’t for Jaden McDaniels. Maybe it’s for another incoming Wildcat, Kahlil Whitney. The Dragon wore the deuce on the AAU Circuit and at Roselle Catholic. Well, he’s not taking it to Kentucky.
If you need to connect more dots on social media, you may have also noticed that McDaniels started following Dontaie Allen on Instagram today. You know who else started following Allen the day before he committed? Johnny Juzang.
Speculation aside, we still do not definitively know when McDaniels will make a college announcement. Reports circulated yesterday that McDaniels would chose on May 20, only for the report to be quickly refuted by his trainer. 247’s Evan Daniels does not know exactly when McDaniels will decide, but it will be soon.
The final day of the spring signing period is May 15. Until Wednesday, enjoy reading all of the social media tea leaves.
By Nick Roush on ©May 11th, 2019 @ 11:00am
It’s good to see money has not changed Kentucky’s all-time leading rusher. Benny Snell is gonna Benny Snell.
Following his first NFL workout with the Pittsburgh Steelers at rookie mini-camp, reporters asked Snell about how he closed out games for the Wildcats, even though everyone in the stadium knew he was getting the ball.
“That’s just Benny Snell football,” the running back said as one reporter cracked a smile in the background. When asked to explain what exactly is Benny Snell football, Snell replied:
“Benny Snell football is — it could be second and three, third and three; it could be fourth and two, fourth and goal, third and goal or four-minute offense. It’s just feeding him, feeding him, let him run it up. He’s going to get up. He’s having fun. He might dance a little bit, but he’s gonna run back, he’s gonna do it again and everybody in the stadium, both teams know what’s happening.”
Snell is prepared to do whatever it takes to make a difference for the Steelers as a rookie. “I’m willing to fill my role in whether it’s on special teams, offense, defense, whatever they need me for, Benny Snell’s going to do it at his best.”
Benny Snell talks about nerves, his possible role, and explains what 'Benny Snell football' is. pic.twitter.com/3mYlqBHXft
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 10, 2019
Never change, Benny. Never change.