By Jack Pilgrim on ©June 08th, 2019 @ 12:30pm
The NBA Draft deadline has come and gone, and for Kentucky, it went about as well as the program could have possibly hoped.
While PJ Washington, Tyler Herro, and Keldon Johnson were all locks going into the process, EJ Montgomery and Nick Richards were up in the air. Based entirely on individual production this past year, the latter two seemed to have easy decisions to make on the surface level, but they each had various reasons to at least consider the possibility of making the jump.
After going through the process, the Kentucky players that needed to go to the NBA did just that, while the guys that needed to return did, as well.
Factor in Montgomery and Richards withdrawing from the NBA Draft with Ashton Hagans and Immanuel Quickley already back in the fold, and Kentucky now has four legitimate returnees going into the 2019-20.
In our very first media opportunity with the four returning Wildcats on Friday afternoon, they each made a point to address the one common goal they have amongst themselves: be a leader.
With a star-studded recruiting class of Tyrese Maxey, Kahlil Whitney, Johnny Juzang, Keion Brooks Jr., and Dontaie Allen, along with the addition of graduate transfer Nate Sestina, Kentucky’s four returnees understand that they need to set an example for the newcomers.
They might still be young in age, but coming off an Elite Eight in the NCAA Tournament, they all know what it takes to make a deep run during the postseason.
“It feels good [to be one of the experienced players on the team],” Quickley said on Friday. “I wouldn’t say I’m old, but definitely one of the veterans on the team now, so I’m ready to take on that leadership role.”
For EJ Montgomery, while he had the toughest decision to make among the four returning players, he’s happy he can be one of the “old guys” on the team to help teach the younger players, all while developing as a player himself.
“I just wanted to come back and get better everyday with my guys,” he said. ” I’m one of the older guys now on this team and to just be a leader and go out there and compete. It’s definitely weird [that I’m considered an “old guy” now] because you have to learn fast here. It’s different but you just have to take that role.”
As for Hagans, he’s comfortable with taking over a leadership role on the 2019-20 team since he’s done it countless times in the past for other teams he has been a part of. Only this time, it’s magnified because Kentucky is put under a national spotlight like nothing he’s ever experienced.
“I’ve been a leader on all the teams I’ve been on growing up, that I’ve played on. Any type of sports,” Hagans said. “Just knowing that this is a different type of environment. The fanbase is crazy. There are just things you’ve got to handle to know how to be a leader for this team and the coaching staff.”
Nonetheless, he’s ready for the challenge.
“Yeah, I’m ready. If anything comes my way and Cal puts anything on me, I’m going to have to own up and take that. Like I said, this year, I want to be the main focus of the team. I want to be the leader of the team and show that people can rely on me, things like that. Like I said, I’m just ready to get back to work and ready for the season to get started.”
For Nick Richards, he’s excited to see what kind of growth Hagans can make as a sophomore being the leader of this team. He already proved he can be a high-impact player on both ends of the floor in short spurts. If he can find that consistency this season, look out.
“It’s just going to be easier, especially for him,” Richards said. “Just to know what Cal wants from him. He wants defense and wants him to push the ball up the court and try to get other people involved but he also wants to see improvement from a shooting aspect. So, I guess little things like that will be easier for him.”
As for Richards himself, the junior center said he’s planning on following in PJ Washington’s footsteps from last season as a veteran leader both on and off the floor.
“Just following by PJ’s example last year of how he took over the whole entire team,” he said. “Just try to make guys better in practice and help guys be the best person that they can be on the court.”
On Tuesday, Kentucky head coach John Calipari said that while he’s known for coaching one-and-dones, he absolutely loves coaching players for multiple years and seeing how they grow both as players and people.
With four key pieces back, it reminds him of another pretty special year Kentucky had just a few years back.
“It’s nice to have players back. We have four really quality players back,” Calipari said. “The last time we had four players back who were quality players like that was 2014-15.”
Another historic run doesn’t sound too shabby at all.
Tonight the Kentucky football program kicked off the summer recruiting circuit by hosting their first Friday Night Lights camp of the year. In both Kroger Field and the Nutter Field House, perspective high school football players were out and about showing their skills off to the UK coaching staff. To no one’s surprise, Mark Stoops was able to pickup another quality addition to the 2020 recruiting class.
Torrance Davis is a top-500 prospect and a high three-star recruit according to the 247 composite rankings. The Cleveland native attends Ohio powerhouse Glenville High School and has been courted by Kentucky recruiting ace Vince Marrow. The prospect had some big time college interest with a listed offers from Penn State and Tennessee. During the recruiting process, Davis visited Michigan State and Pittsburgh in addition to seriously considering Cincinnati. Despite all of the suitors, he decided to pledge to Kentucky on his official visit this weekend.
The running back prospect is listed between 6-foot-1 and 6-foot-2 and between 210-220 pounds. When popping on the tape, it’s easy to see that Davis has some major league tools in his game. He’s a north/south runner with burst, but also has the ability to split out wide and play receiver. Kentucky landed a very versatile football player that some would tag as positionless.
When running the football, Torrance Davis does not play with his food. The long strider is a one-cut tailback who can turn a short gain into a splash play with the right crease. The tape shows that Davis is tall for a back and has a tendency to run with a high pad level. In the college ranks, he’s going to prove he can run behind his pads and churn out yards when there is a stalemate or penetration at the line of scrimmage. However, his ability to get north/south quickly and hit the gas is a great attribute to have. Kentucky’s staff has proven they like to have one-cut backs with burst who can provide a big play. Boom Williams, A.J. Rose, and Kavosiey Smoke all fit this mold.
The most intriguing thing about Davis is his ability to split out wide and play receiver. In his highlight package, Glenville gets the ball to him in both running back and wide receiver screens. He is used on bubbles, but they also give him the opportunity to run real routes. He has a great plant step on an out route and possesses the physicality/speed combo to be a weapon vertically on 9 routes. Either Eddie Gran or Michael Smith is going to gain a nice piece to their position room.
Torrance Davis becomes the fifth top-500 prospect in the class of 2020 pledged to Kentucky and the Ohio native is right on the precipice of a four-star ranking. He fits the mold for what both Mark Stoops and Eddie Gran like in running backs. Physical, downhill runner who makes quick decisions and can produce a chunk play when finding an alley. What separates him is on the outside.
At his his height and 200-plus pounds, it’s hard to imagine Davis being a slot receiver at the next level. That means his best position with be an outside the hash receiver or a tailback in UK’s rotation. He can certainly play running back, but his higher ceiling is at wide receiver. He has the body type you want in your prototypical alpha outside receiver and he’s proven to be able to run routes in a limited sample size. Give him some coaching at the college level and he could develop into one really tempting receiver prospect.
By Nick Roush on ©June 07th, 2019 @ 10:23pm
An Ohio running back is rolling the dice on his official visit.
Torrance Davis announced on Twitter he has committed to the University of Kentucky.
— Torrance Davis (@TorranceDavis8) June 8, 2019
A three-star athlete from Glenville High School in Cleveland, Ohio, Rivals ranks Davis as the No. 25 running back in America. He also held offers from Penn State, Michigan State, Tennessee and Pitt.
To put it bluntly, Davis is a monster. His measurables are impressive — 6’2″ 220 pounds — but they do not do him justice. A spectator at Friday night’s showcase camp, he looked more like a linebacker than a tailback.
505lb not my max? pic.twitter.com/QC2YE3pyTb
— Torrance Davis (@TorranceDavis8) April 19, 2019
Davis is the sixth commitment in Kentucky’s 2020 recruiting class, moving UK up ten spots to No. 31 in the 247 Composite Rankings. Joining Justin Rogers, Lamar Goods, Andru Phillips, Beau Allen and John Young, Davis spent time with the latter three after tonight’s camp.
Just over two weeks from UK’s last commitment, Kentucky is still riding high on an immaculate wave of momentum. Even so, it’s just the first day of the Cats’ showcase camps. More commitments could be just around the corner.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©June 07th, 2019 @ 6:00pm
From the time he first announced his return to Kentucky this offseason, the Big Blue Nation has been downright giddy about what we might see out of Wildcat point guard Ashton Hagans in his second year.
And this afternoon, the 6-foot-3 sophomore didn’t do much to temper those expectations.
In our first media opportunity with Kentucky’s four key returning players today, Hagans was asked about his early thoughts on his new partner in the backcourt, Tyrese Maxey, and just how good they can be together this season.
Not only does Hagans believe they can be good together, he actually believes that the Kentucky backcourt this year just might be the best of the John Calipari era in Lexington.
“[Tyrese Maxey] is a really good guard,” he said. “He’s going to be a nice guard to play with. We’re going to have some great memories on the court. Might be one of the best backcourts you all ever see, but we’re going to have to see.”
Maxey, a consensus five-star, top-15 prospect out of high school, certainly comes to Lexington with high expectations, as well. The 6-foot-4 freshman is considered one of the best shooters in the class of 2020, scores the ball with ease, and takes pride in being an elite defender.
While there is a ton to look forward to when it comes to Maxey, that last aspect of his game is what excites Hagans the most. If his new teammate loves playing defense just as much as he does, Hagans believes it’s going to be a “scary sight” for the opposition this season.
“Tyrese does a lot with his game and I feel like I can do the same,” he said. “He plays defense so that’s something that’s going to be a scary sight for other teams. We’re just ready to go out there and play with each other.”
But does Hagans really believe they’ll be one of the best backcourt pairings not only in the nation, but the most impressive we’ve seen in the 11 years John Calipari has been in Lexington? One potentially better than John Wall and Eric Bledsoe in 2009-10, Tyler Ulis and Jamal Murray in 2015-16, and De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk in 2016-17?
But it won’t be just because of him and Maxey. With Immanuel Quickley back for a sophomore season and Johnny Juzang making his way from California in the coming weeks, Hagans is extremely confident that the Wildcats have four elite pieces making up the backcourt.
“We’re going to see,” Hagans said with a laugh. “We’re just going to have to see. Tyrese, he’s a really nice guard. We’ve got Immanuel back. We’ve got some other guards. Johnny, hopefully, we’ll get him in a couple of weeks.”
Outside of the backcourt, the Kentucky sophomore says that with Nick Richards and EJ Montgomery both withdrawing from the NBA Draft, along with all of the other strong pieces they have lining the roster, this team has the opportunity to be “special.”
“Nick’s a lot better. Same thing with EJ,” he said. “I think talent wise, I think we’ve just got pieces so I think we’re going to do something real special.”
With all of the talent coming back and just how deep they are across the board, Hagans wants fans to prepare themselves for the 2019-20 season.
“We’re back here for year two and I just want y’all to see what’s coming up in year two,” he said.
And what might that be?
“You’re just going to have to wait and see…”
By Drew Franklin on ©June 07th, 2019 @ 4:00pm
Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, children of all ages, the “Ask Anything Mailbox” is back like it never left for Summer ’19.
Many of you answered the bell by sending in your questions and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your participation. We did this last year to make it through the slower months here on KSR and I hope it’s just as fun and informative and self-deprecating as it was the first time around. I know I had a blast doing it.
But enough with the pleasantries. Let’s get right to the meat and potatoes. Here are the questions you asked followed by my 100 percent honest and authentic answers.
I’m planning a bachelor party around the UK-Florida football game (Sept 14). It will be taking place that Fri-Sun. Other than KSBar & the game, what other places & restaurants would you take them? What hotel would you recommend? Anything goes and their wives will know nothing… I hope… If so, I’ll deal with it later. 3 of the guys are UK fans & 3 are Florida fans but not sure if that matters.
Sent from my iPhone
GREAT first question to kick things off here. It’d be helpful if I knew your age, but we’ll make it work. Let’s operate under the assumption you’re in the same ballpark as me. Here’s how I’d do it:
Friday… I’m going to tell you a little secret here. DO NOT PUBLICIZE IT. You ready? Lean in real close. K that’s too close. Back up. Alright that’s good. Our annual KSR remote at Country Boy is that Friday morning. It’s one of the biggest shows of the year. Tons of fun. The craft beer will be flowing early, food trucks will be serving up good grub, there will be giveaways and Ryan Lemond will probably end up shirtless. Now forget I told you that because I don’t think I’m supposed to tell anyone. We never talked. Anyway, Friday, do that thing we never talked about, hang around after for a little bit and then check in to wherever you’re staying (I’d stay downtown somewhere). Freshen up and then go downtown if you’re not already downtown for some happy hour beers at any of the many fine establishments down there. When you’re hungry, go to Jeff Ruby’s or Tony’s (you’ll need a reservation) if money doesn’t matter to you, or for more bang for your buck I suggest Carson’s. Other good downtown options are Saul Good, Pies & Pints, The Village Idiot… hell I could go all day. You can handle that on your own. After dinner go have a couple on the Belle’s rooftop and see some of the places you didn’t go before dinner. If you want to act like you’re in college again, go up Limestone to Tin Roof and Two Keys. After midnight, you know what to do. Stay away from the ones with Camelot in the name.
Saturday… The game is at 7 p.m. so your plan is quite simple: Start with an early and heavy KSBar lunch to build up a good base. Then head over to the stadium via the shuttle or a vehicle if you have a parking pass, then get to work on those parking lot beers. By the time kickoff rolls around, you will be feeling good and ready to watch Kentucky beat the Gators for a second year in a row. Once the game is over, head downtown (leave the car overnight) and follow the celebration wherever it takes you. Again, stay away from the Camelots.
Sunday… Gatorade. Lots of Gatorade. If you have time, the best brunch spot in town is Bear and the Butcher, although I have a feeling the wives will be demanding you get your asses home early. Good luck.
In the Derby pictures of the UK players on KSR, why does Tyler Herro appear to be as tall as Keldon Johnson and almost as tall as PJ Wahington?
This one is simple, considering we learned their precise heights via the combine measurements a couple weeks ago. Tyler Herro is only a quarter inch shorter than Johnson and about two inches shorter than Washington.
Tyler Herro: 6’4.5”
Keldon Johnson: 6’4.75”
PJ Washington: 6’6.5”
Great question though. If it is important enough to you that you feel the need to ask me, it is important enough to get an answer. Thanks for playing.
Make a convincing argument one way or the other:
Who would win in a fight, a grilled cheese or a taco?
Include research, peer-reviewed studies, or journal articles in your response.
Taco and it’s not even a fair fight. No need for research, peer-reviewed studies or journal articles. I know tacos better than anyone. I eat them on the reg. A taco of any shape or size, hard or soft, would destroy a grilled cheese because a grilled cheese is child’s play. Plus tacos have way more versatility and combinations to throw out there, while a grilled cheese is limited to bread and cheese (and six tablespoons of butter when I make it).
My money’s on the taco.
Long time podcast listener currently living in Nashville.
A couple of years ago you were on the show and referenced an odd deleted tweet sent out by Tyler Ullis in the early morning hours. You guys got a chuckle out of it but never revealed the nature of the tweet. Has enough time passed that you call can elaborate??
Oh boy. This is a delicate subject. Matter of fact, I addressed it in a previous edition of the Ask Anything Mailbox. Here is how I explained it in Vol. 2: “Ah, I thought this one might come up. My memory is a little fuzzy as to exactly how it happened, but I vaguely remember him accidentally tweeting a screenshot of his phone’s photo gallery. How one would accidentally tweet that, I don’t know. But some of the photos were not meant for the public eye.”
Me and my family are going to be in Lexington for a boys basketball tournament this summer. Obviously we are going to KSBar. What do you recommend?
Wings. You have to get the wings. I eat them so often that my go-to style varies (and my shirts don’t fit anymore), but I think the traditional smoked wings with dry rub are the best option. I leave them dry but you can add sauce as you please. KSBar sauce is very popular. I’ve been going with the Tangy Carolina a lot lately. They’re all good honestly. The boneless wings are cut up, breaded by hand and cooked to order too. None of that frozen crap.
If you’re looking for a non-chicken wing recommendation, the cheese log appetizer is great. The club sandwich and the catfish are sneaky good too. Shrimp and grits. Hell I’m just rambling now. You’ll enjoy whatever you get because it’s all good.
Why are you a Game of Thrones hater?
I am not a Game of Thrones hater. I love Game of Thrones. I did not love the final season. Too many storylines were dropped, others were rushed and all I keep hearing is “they didn’t have enough time.” You’re Game of Thrones. Find time. You have an endless budget. There were almost two years between seasons. Why did you waste so much time with Arya and the Waif and Jaqen H’ghar in the sixth season then leave six episodes to wrap up the entire show? Do better. You want to be the best show ever? Don’t cram everything you’ve built up for seven seasons into six episodes. And don’t be lazy and leave coffee cups and water bottles laying around. The final season was an enormous letdown. The books and the rest of the show — great.
Your life and the life of your immediate family members depends on it… Over/under 7.5 wins for UK football next year. If you’re wrong, your dead.
This seems a little dark. Also, you’re*.
Given the gravity of the situation you painted, I will go under. I think seven is the most likely (I assume we’re not counting bowl games here) and I’m not willing to put my life on the line for eight. However, I can see Kentucky winning as many as nine again with the way the schedule lines up. The Georgia game is the only one I’ll write down as a loss right now, leaving seven that can go either way and the four cupcakes (thanks, Louisville!). Ugh, this is hard. Great line. I’m sticking with the under and predicting seven wins.
Drew… love you man but last year you had me convinced Sophmore Nick Richards would be a star and he was worthless. Now I cant trust your basketball takes ever again. Why did you think butterfingers would be good
First of all, Sophomore Nick Richards was not worthless. He fell short of my high expectations, yes, but he still made a jump from his freshman year. Richards’ biggest problem is he was stuck behind an All-American and a fifth-year grad transfer/two-time First Team All-Pac 12 player. Richards simply didn’t have the minutes and opportunities to play through his mistakes and gain some experience (don’t forget he never touched a basketball until 14). Same goes for EJ Montgomery. Their time was very limited throughout most of the season. So shut up. I think they both make a big jump next season when they can play with a little more freedom. Now put some respect on Nick Richards’ name.
Love you too.
Submit your question(s) for an upcoming edition of the “Ask Anything Mailbox”…
E-Mail: [email protected]
Until next time…
By Nick Roush on ©June 07th, 2019 @ 3:00pm
It’s the biggest weekend of the summer for the Kentucky football program.
Over the next week, prospects will converge at Kroger Field to participate in a variety of camps, starting with three days of evening showcases. For some, it will be the first time they’ve performed in front of SEC coaches. For others, it’s their chance to prove they’re worth a scholarship offer.
There will be a few that will not be doing much at all. Kentucky commits John Young and Andru Phillips already revealed they will be on campus (likely joined by Beau Allen). The commitments typically spend their time away from the drills, saving themselves to make pitches to uncommitted prospects, like a few of the official visitors who just arrived on campus.
Prior to today’s camp, a couple of talented junior college targets made it to campus. Outside linebacker Jesse Smith and wide receiver Dominick Watt tried on Kentucky blue for the first time yesterday. Watt brings plenty of star power from Garden City CC. A former four-star recruit and Nebraska signee, the South Florida native could be an immediate impact player in the SEC.
— Dominick Watt (@1Way_Dom) June 6, 2019
There are a few talented Kentucky kids trying to catch the eyes of coaches this weekend.
Ballard defensive back Josh Minkins asserted his skills at the Nashville Opening camp, earning MVP honors in his position group. Last week the Louisville legacy recruit picked up an offer from the Cards after his camp performance. From the south side of the city, Butler defensive end Hosea Knifely will try to earn an offer.
One player from Pikeville probably has the most potential for a big weekend. After clocking incredible 40-yard dash times (4.48) in previous camps, if wide receiver Jackson Hensley makes the most of this opportunity, he’ll leave with a scholarship offer.
Hensley will have competition at the wide receiver position. Fresh off a trip to Louisville’s camp, Alabama slot receiver Jayson Jones will be in Lexington. Jon Sumrall has made plenty of headway for the Rivals’ four-star prospect. He’ll be running alongside Karaun St. Louis, a three-star prospect from Ft. Lauderdale who also holds offers from Baylor and Syracuse.
Arguably the most talented player competing this weekend is Devon Betty. A four-star recruit and top 15 defensive end according to Rivals, Betty comes from Ft. Lauderdale perennial powerhouse St. Thomas Aquinas. He holds offers from Miami, Florida State and Michigan, but most recruiting analysts believes the Cats are the prohibitive favorites.
While most of your attention is likely on the previous 2020 prospects, the underclassmen have the most to gain this weekend. After evaluating film, coaches will use their firsthand experience this weekend to determine if the prospect is good enough to play in the SEC.
A couple of rising sophomore quarterbacks will get to throw in front of Darin Hinshaw. Gunnar Smith is a pocket-passer from Orlando and Te’Sean Smoot is a dual-threat quarterback from Springfield, Ohio. One of Smoot’s best targets at Fairfield high School, JuTahn McClain, is officially visiting this weekend.
West Orange High School gave Kentucky Juice Johnson. Last year it provided the Cats a place to practice before winning the Citrus Bowl. This weekend one of the school’s star running backs, Shakhi Carson, will be on UK’s campus.
One of the biggest prospects at camp is just getting his football career started. After playing one season of football, defensive tackle Jaydon Wannstedt has made significant early impressions on the recruiting front. Hailing from the St. Louis suburb of St. Peters, if he shows enough explosiveness, I expect UK will be his first scholarship offer.
The previous prospects are only a small sample size of what’s to come this weekend. Jack Pilgrim and I will be on the ground to let you know who stands out and how the events unfold.
By Nick Roush on ©June 07th, 2019 @ 11:30am
Isaac Humphries is bringing his beautiful pipes back to Lexington.
The former Wildcat center and sensational singer will headline a performance at the Lexington Opera House. All proceeds from “Isaac Humphries: Songs of My Life” will benefit the Ronald McDonald House of the Bluegrass. Tickets for the June 23 concert are on sale now at Ticketmaster.
“I’m so excited to share this experience with my Kentucky family,” Humphries said. “While I was a player at UK, Coach (John) Calipari always stressed servant leadership and impacting the lives of others. It’s no secret that I have a love for music and I have spent years developing this very idea. I have always wanted to share this side of myself with this particular community and help this specific organization that I respect so much.
“The Ronald McDonald House is a prevalent presence on Kentucky’s campus and I have always admired what the House does for families. It was important to me to return to a community that I consider my second home and impact this organization and city that I love so much.”
Humphries was named NBL Rookie of the Year in 2018 before accepting a spot with the Atlanta Hawks G-League team. After averaging 11.3 points and 6.9 rebounds in 46 G-League games, Humphries earned a roster spot with the Hawks for the final month of the 2019 season.
This summer Humphries will try to secure another NBA contract on the L.A. Clippers’ summer league team, which begins just a little more than a week after his Lexington performance. He once thought music had to be sidelined to make way for basketball, but he’s learned that it’s in his best interest to do both.
“I love basketball, and it’s my career, but I also love music,” he told The Athletic’s Kyle Tucker. “For so long, I’ve tried not to let it get in the way of basketball, tried not to let it distract me, but there comes a point where I can’t fight that anymore and I need to do both. And that’s completely fine. I’ve learned that it’s completely fine to balance the two, and I’m doing that right now. I fought to make an NBA roster, now I’m headlining my own show and then I’ll go fight for another NBA roster. It’s just my absolute perfect dream life.”
As you’ve seen before, Humphries has always been talented. He told Tucker now he’s working with a coach from The Voice to improve his pipes. You can learn more about his journey by reading the article in The Athletic or by purchasing tickets to his June 23rd show.
— Tod Lanter (@tod_lanterIII) August 4, 2018
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©June 06th, 2019 @ 11:00pm
Since John Calipari took over at Kentucky ten years ago, “experience” has become a tricky term. With freshmen flocking to the league after only one season, sophomores become veterans, juniors become restless, and seniors become practically unheard of. We’ve seen teams with little to no experience and teams with the perfect blend of experience and talent, a recipe that’s almost impossible to replicate.
With four players returning from last year’s Elite Eight squad, how does this Kentucky team compare to the rest? I combed through the archives and crunched the numbers to measure each Calipari team’s “experience” in terms of returning minutes and production. Not surprisingly, Cal’s best teams are towards the top.
|Team||Returning Minutes||Returning Scoring|
The 2011-12 national championship team, which paired elite freshmen with core veterans, rounds out the top three. Behind that is a cluster of teams in the 30s, including last year’s Elite Eight team, the 2013-14 national runners up, the 2016-17 Elite Eight team, and, interestingly, this year’s team; in fact, if you rank the seasons by returning minutes, this year’s team ranks fourth behind the 2011-12 squad. As John Calipari told the media earlier this week, having guys come back — especially your starting point guard — is a luxury these days.As you can see, the 2014-15 team whips all others, returning 12 players from the 2013-14 squad that went to the national championship game and 59% of its scoring. No wonder they almost went 40-0. The 2009-10 team is a bit of an anomaly because it was Calipari’s first season, but the numbers show how valuable Patrick Patterson was and make you dream (for probably the millionth time) of what could have been had Jodie Meeks stayed for another season.
“It’s nice to have players back. We have four really quality players back. The last time we had four players back who were quality players like that was 2014-15.”
He’s right. For the first time since 2014-15, Kentucky will return four players who averaged double digits in minutes and 3.8 points or more per game. And that’s not counting grad transfer Nate Sestina and Kerry Blackshear, should he join the fold.
On the flip side, it’s also not surprising that Cal’s least experienced teams have been the least successful. We all know what happened with the 2012-13 team, which ranks last. The leading returning scorer on the 2017-18 team was Wenyen Gabriel, who averaged only 4.6 points per game the season prior. It’s odd to see the 2010-11 team so low on this list, but the fact that they made it to the Final Four shows you just how talented Brandon Knight was and what a jump Josh Harrellson, DeAndre Liggins, and Darius Miller made with another season under Calipari.
Here’s the team-by-team breakdown:
Calipari Era Teams Ranked By Experience (Returning Scoring)
1. 2014-15 – Final Four
Returning players: 12 – Tod Lanter, Brian Long, Sam Malone, Willie Cauley-Stein, Alex Poythress, EJ Floreal, Aaron Harrison, Andrew Harrison, Dakari Johnson, Dominique Hawkins, Marcus Lee, Derek Willis
- Aaron Harrison, Sophomore – 13.7 ppg, 32.6 mpg (3rd leading scorer in 2013-14)
- Andrew Harrison, Sophomore – 10.9 ppg, 31.7 mpg (4th leading scorer in 2013-14)
- Willie Cauley-Stein, Junior – 6.8 ppg, 23.8 mpg (5th leading scorer in 2013-14)
Returning minutes: 5,218/8,075 minutes (65%)
Returning scoring: 1,773/2,992 points (59%)
2. 2009-10 – Elite Eight
Returning players (in order of class): 7 – Perry Stevenson, Mark Krebs, Ramon Harris, Josh Harrellson, Patrick Patterson, DeAndre Liggins, Darius Miller
- Patrick Patterson, Junior – 17.9 ppg, 33.7 mpg (2nd leading scorer in 2008-09)
- Perry Stevenson, Senior – 7.8 ppg, 28.1 mpg (3rd leading scorer in 2008-09)
Returning minutes: 4,491/7,200 minutes (62%)
Returning scoring: 1,513/2,669 points (57%)
3. 2011-12 – National Championship
Returning players: 7 – Darius Miller, Eloy Vargas, Terrence Jones, Doron Lamb, Jarrod Polson, Stacey Poole, Jon Hood (redshirted 2011-12 season)
- Terrence Jones, Sophomore – 15.7 ppg, 31.5 mpg (2nd leading scorer in 2010-11)
- Doron Lamb, Sophomore – 12.3 ppg, 28.4 mpg (3rd leading scorer in 2010-11)
- Darius Miller, Senior – 10.9 ppg, 31.0 mpg (4th leading scorer in 2010-11)
Returning minutes: 3,820/7,625 minutes (50%)
Returning scoring: 1,545/2,845 points (54%)
4. 2018-19 – Elite Eight
Returning players: 6 – Jonny David, Brad Calipari (redshirted 2018-19 season), Jemarl Baker (redshirted 2017-18 season), Quade Green, Nick Richards, PJ Washington
- PJ Washington, Sophomore – 10.8 ppg, 27.4 mpg (3rd leading scorer in 2017-18)
- Quade Green, Sophomore – 9.3 ppg, 25.6 mpg (5th leading scorer in 2017-18)
Returning minutes: 2,456/7,425 minutes (33%)
Returning scoring: 908/2,840 points (32%)
5. 2013-14 – National Runner-Up
Returning players: 7 – Jon Hood, Jarrod Polson, Tod Lanter, Brian Long, Sam Malone, Willie Cauley-Stein, Alex Poythress
- Alex Poythress, Sophomore – 11.2 ppg, 25.8 mpg (2nd leading scorer in 2012-13)
- Willie Cauley-Stein, Sophomore – 8.3 ppg, 23.6 mpg (7th leading scorer in 2012-13)
Returning minutes: 2,159/6,650 minutes (32%)
Returning scoring: 748/2,396 points (31%)
6. 2019-20 – ?
Returning players: 5 – Ashton Hagans, EJ Montgomery, Zan Payne (redshirted 2018-19), Immanuel Quickley, Nick Richards
- Ashton Hagans, Sophomore – 7.7 ppg, 28.5 mpg (6th leading scorer in 2018-19)
- Immanuel Quickley, Sophomore – 5.2 ppg, 18.5 mpg (7th leading scorer in 2018-19)
Returning minutes: 2,742/7,450 minutes (37%)
Returning scoring: 763/2,806 points (27%)
7. 2016-17 – Elite Eight
Returning players: 7 – Dominique Hawkins, Derek Willis, Mychal Mulder, Isaiah Briscoe, Jonny David, Isaac Humphries, Dillon Pulliam (redshirted 2015-16 season)
- Isaiah Briscoe, Sophomore – 9.6 ppg, 32.2 mpg (4th leading scorer in 2015-16)
- Derek Willis, Senior – 7.7 ppg, 18.6 mpg (5th leading scorer in 2015-16)
Returning minutes: 2,250/7,275 minutes (31%)
Returning scoring: 691/2,861 points (24%)
8. 2015-16 – Second Round
Returning players: 6 – Alex Poythress, EJ Floreal, Dominique Hawkins, Marcus Lee, Derek Willis, Tyler Ulis
- Tyler Ulis, Sophomore – 5.6 ppg, 23.8 mpg (8th leading scorer in 2014-15)
- Alex Poythress, Senior – 5.5 ppg, 20.3 mpg (9th leading scorer in 2014-15, but only played 8 games due to injury)
Returning minutes: 1,727/7,785 minutes (22%)
Returning scoring: 410/2,900 points (14%)
9. 2010-11 – Final Four
Returning players: 4 – Josh Harrellson, DeAndre Liggins, Darius Miller, Jon Hood
- Darius Miller, Junior – 6.5 ppg, 21.2 mpg (5th leading scorer in 2009-10)
- DeAndre Liggins, Junior – 3.8 ppg, 15.2 mpg (7th leading scorer in 2009-10)
Returning minutes: 1,411/7,675 minutes (18%)
Returning scoring: 403/3,012 points (13%)
10. 2017-18 – Sweet 16
Returning players: 7 – Jonny David, Dillon Pulliam, Brad Calipari, Wenyen Gabriel, Sacha Killeya-Jones, Tai Wynyard, Hamidou Diallo (redshirted 2016-17 season)
Top returner: Wenyen Gabriel, Sophomore – 4.6 ppg, 17.8 mpg (8th leading scorer in 2016-17)
Returning minutes: 890/7,625 minutes (12%)
Returning scoring: 238/3,225 points (7%)
11. 2012-13 – NIT
Returning players: 5 – Twany Beckham, Jarrod Polson, Jon Hood, Kyle Wiltjer, Sam Malone, Brian Long
Top returner: Kyle Wiltjer, Sophomore – 5.0 ppg, 11.6 mpg (7th leading scorer in 2011-12)
Returning minutes: 567/8,000 minutes (7%)
Returning Scoring: 208/3,095 points (7%)
Moral of the story? We like to measure Calipari’s teams by the talent level of the freshmen, but these numbers show the veterans are equally important.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©June 06th, 2019 @ 3:05pm
Get out your calendars because Kentucky just released the exhibition schedule for the 2019-20 season.
The Cats will host Georgetown College on Sunday, October 27 at 5 p.m. and Kentucky State on Friday, November 1 at 7 p.m. Both games will take place at Rupp Arena and be televised on the SEC Network. Additionally, UK announced that Big Blue Madness will take place Friday, October 11 at 7 p.m. on the SEC Network and the Blue-White Game will be Friday, October 18 at 7 p.m. on the SEC Network.
Here’s the schedule as we know it:
|Friday, October 11||Big Blue Madness||Rupp Arena||Lexington, KY||SEC Network|
|Friday, October 18||Blue-White Game||Rupp Arena||Lexington, KY||SEC Network|
|Sunday, October 27||Georgetown College||Rupp Arena||Lexington, KY||SEC Network|
|Friday, November 1||Kentucky State||Rupp Arena||Lexington, KY||SEC Network|
|Tuesday, November 5||Michigan State (Champions Classic)||Madison Square Garden||New York, NY||ESPN|
|Friday, November 8||Eastern Kentucky||Rupp Arena||Lexington, KY||TBD|
|Tuesday, November 12||Evansville||Rupp Arena||Lexington, KY||TBD|
|Wednesday, December 18||Utah||T-Mobile Arena||Las Vegas, NV||TBD|
|Saturday, December 21||Ohio State (CBS Sports Classic)||T-Mobile Arena||Las Vegas, NV||CBS|
Kentucky has played both Georgetown College and Kentucky State before. The Cats are 2-0 in exhibition games vs. Georgetown College with the most recent meeting taking place Nov. 9, 2014. Kentucky beat Kentucky State in their lone exhibition meeting on Nov. 6, 2015 and played them once in the regular season back in Dec. 15, 2001, winning 118-63.
Of course, Georgetown College is coming off its third NAIA Division I national championship last season. The Tigers have appeared in three NAIA national championship games under current head coach and two-time NAIA Coach of the Year Chris Briggs, who is a former student manager of the Wildcat program from 2001-04 and a graduate assistant from 2004-06.
Go Cats. Go in-state exhibitions.
By Adam Luckett on ©June 06th, 2019 @ 12:00pm
One of the most pleasant surprises of the 2018 season for Kentucky wasn’t Benny Snell recording over 1,400 yards and 16 touchdowns because that was expected. This time last year, we knew Snell was the best running back in program history but what we didn’t know if there was anyone capable to be a quality secondary option to No. 26 in the backfield.
After logging just 15 carries and averaging less than 2.5 yards per pop in his redshirt freshman season, expectations were split on A.J. Rose. The former high school quarterback turned college tailback, the Cleveland native, was ranked a low three-star recruit in the class of 2016 but was suppose to bring a home run factor to the backfield. After losing Boom Williams to the NFL Draft unexpectedly following the 2016 season, the hope was that Rose who could replace that big pop in the lineup.
The entire 2017 season was a struggle for the young back and despite a huge performance in the 2018 spring game, expectations were skeptical for the slashing runner. It didn’t take long for him to catch everyone by surprise.
The tailback scored UK’s first touchdown of the season on a 55-yard sprint at the end of the first quarter against Central Michigan and he seemingly provided explosive runs just like that all season long. With Snell plowing away and providing efficiency all season, Rose provided some burst to the offense.
Rose collected 442 yards on 71 carries and averaged more that six yards per attempt. In opportunity rate (amount of carries that gain at least four yards), Rose posted a very solid 57.8 percent number. In a much larger sample size, Snell had an opportunity rate of 50.9 percent. Where the young tailback separated himself was in the big play department. Nearly 15 percent of Rose’s carries went for at least 10 yards with four attempts going for over 20 yards. When given opportunities, Rose was able to provide the chunk play.
There’s no question that without Snell the offensive strategy must alter. UK no longer has the workhorse back that can log nearly 300 carries in a season and remain effective through 13 games. With a seasoned quarterback and some quality depth in the backfield, the ball is going to be spread around. However, there is still a big need for a reliable RB1.
A.J. Rose is entering his fourth year in the program and after a few years of development he bursted onto the scene in his redshirt sophomore season. It’s now his time to step into a starting role and see if he can become the fourth running back of the Stoops era to join the single season 1,000 yard club. He should get the ample amount of carries to get it done, but his success will be determined on his consistency in short yardage situations.
Snell was remarkable in short distance offense and when UK needed to churn out first downs to run out clock to save a lead there were not many backs better in college football. In these situations, we did not see much of Rose so the book is still out on the redshirt junior. It’s going to be hard for him to be as good as Snell. Rose has to prove he can be a consistent yard churner on third and short in addition to being an effective red zone back.
He will not be alone and unlike the last two seasons, you should see at least three UK running backs receive at least 50 carries. You add that in with the running attempts from Terry Wilson and UK’s ground game will have a committee approach in 2019. Even with the stable of ball carriers, you need a big dog to emerge and lead the herd. A.J. Rose has proven to have the potential and now he needs to show everyone that he can be a reliable number one back in Kentucky’s run first offense.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©June 05th, 2019 @ 11:00pm
Good evening and welcome back to another edition of Pilgrim’s Insider Notes! The NBA Draft deadline has come and gone, the 2019-20 roster is nearly set, and summer AAU ball is now in full-swing for all of the top high school prospects in the nation.
With the constant stream of news slowing down a bit, I decided to try something a bit different this week. Instead of me picking the topics to discuss, I asked the Big Blue Nation to send me whatever questions they wanted answered on Twitter (if you’re not following me yet, you can find me at @JackPilgrimKSR).
After getting about 20 questions or so, I narrowed it down to seven topics to discuss this week.
Let’s jump right in.
“Any news on Kerry Blackshear? And where do you think he ends up?” [email protected]_Hagerman_11
Any news on Kerry Blackshear ? And where you think he ends up ?
— ®ex Hage®man (@R_Hagerman_11) June 4, 2019
There were about three questions about Virginia Tech graduate transfer Kerry Blackshear Jr., so I definitely wanted to get to this one first.
Today, Corey Evans of Rivals.com said in his latest recruiting notebook that the 6-foot-11 forward will begin scheduling and taking official visits in the coming weeks, with Florida, Kentucky, Texas A&M, and Michigan State all being potential options.
Where his final year of college ball takes place remains to be seen. First-year Virginia Tech head coach Mike Young would love to have him back, but that might be difficult. Instead, Florida, Kentucky and Texas A&M have the best shot. Michigan State is also a dark horse, and while visits have yet to be set look for Blackshear to schedule two or three official visits to be taken in the coming weeks and a decision to be made shortly thereafter.
Sources tell KSR that while the new Virginia Tech coaching staff is going all-in on recruiting the star forward back to Blacksburg, they are slowly starting to believe he ends up elsewhere. I have said on multiple occasions that Kentucky had a serious shot at landing Blackshear, and if they can get him on campus first, I think the UK coaching staff can get him to stay for good, a la Reid Travis last summer. Texas A&M feels confident with Blackshear’s former coach Buzz Williams, and they may get a visit out of pure respect alone, but I don’t see him playing in College Station for his final year of eligibility. I talked to a few people from down in Florida both in Gainesville and Orlando (Blackshear’s hometown), and while they both feel we’re still early in the process, they think Florida will have a legitimate shot, as well.
I still believe this comes down to the Wildcats and the Gators, with both schools almost certainly getting visits in the coming weeks. Things will start heating up with the 6-foot-11 graduate transfer very soon, but my gut still leans Kentucky.
“Who are we in the best position for in the 2020-21 season as of today?” [email protected]
Who are we in the best position for 2020-21 season as of today? #BBN basketball
— Alan Clark (@RealAlanClark) June 3, 2019
As of today, while I don’t think they’ll land everyone on this list, I believe Kentucky has the best shot right now with the following prospects:
- Isaiah Todd
- Cade Cunningham
- B.J. Boston
- Sharife Cooper
- Jalen Johnson
- Joshua Christopher
- Cliff Omoruyi
- JT Thor (will likely reclassify to 2020)
With Todd, I think it will end up being a three-team race between Kentucky, Oklahoma State, and North Carolina. While the Cowboys are feeling sassy about their chances right now with both Todd and Cade Cunningham (we’ll touch on that next), I think Coach Cal will do whatever it takes to make sure the five-star big man ends up in UK’s recruiting class.
With Cunningham, Oklahoma State has been surging in his recruitment lately, and for good reason. They were the first school to offer him a scholarship, he has a fantastic relationship with their coaching staff, and he could go there and be a superstar as the go-to option and primary ball-handler. While they are considered the early favorite, Cunningham also wants to go to a place where he can develop into an NBA star, and he has told KSR on multiple occasions now that he is highly interested in Kentucky for that reason. If a decision was made today, I’d expect it to be Oklahoma State. If it goes the distance, and I expect it will, I think John Calipari can make up ground and eventually come out on top.
While they are not considering themselves a package deal, I believe both BJ Boston and Sharife Cooper will either be at Kentucky or Auburn. Oddly enough, I think the Wildcats lead for Boston and the Tigers lead for Cooper. One source told me down at the Nike EYBL event in Atlanta this summer that while there is a ton of smoke in favor of Auburn for Cooper right now, his interest in UK should not be discounted, and actually felt the Cats would eventually land him. The longer his recruitment lasts, the better I feel about Kentucky’s chances. I actually believe Boston could be UK’s first commitment for 2020, which would certainly help their chances with his AAU teammate.
Jalen Johnson will either be at Duke or Kentucky, with the Blue Devils likely being the slight favorite. It’s still early in the recruitment of Joshua Christopher, but like Johnson, he once called Kentucky his “dream school,” which certainly means something. We’ll have to see how that one goes.
As of today, I think Omoruyi is a strong Kentucky lean and would be shocked if he didn’t end up in Lexington.
And finally with Thor, there have been numerous reports over the last 24 hours that the 2021 five-star prospect would reclassify to 2020. The 6-foot-8 big man has already visited Kentucky twice, the only school he has been to on multiple occasions. He doesn’t have an offer quite yet, but when he does, I think UK will jump out front.
“Who wins in a game of One-on-One?” [email protected]
Who wins in a game of One-on-One?
Isaiah Todd vs. N’Faly Dante
B.J. Boston vs. Sharife Cooper
Jack Pilgrim vs. Michael Rappoport
— Nick Roush (@RoushKSR) June 3, 2019
Great question, Nick.
In the Isaiah Todd vs. N’Faly Dante matchup, I’ll take the former all day, every day, and twice on Sunday. With a ridiculous face-up game, great athleticism, and upper-tier instincts defensively, Todd is one of my favorite players in the class of 2020, and I think John Calipari agrees. When I saw Todd down in Atlanta at Nike EYBL Session One, the Kentucky head coach sat and watched every second of every one of the 6-foot-11 power forward’s games throughout the weekend. I believe Dante is the best shot blocker in all of high school basketball, and his offensive game has improved tremendously over the past several months, but Todd’s ability to scorch the nets on the perimeter and in the mid-range gives him the advantage in a game of one-on-one.
When it comes to AOT Running Rebel teammates B.J Boston and Sharife Cooper, this one is very interesting. Boston is the better athlete and he’s longer, but Cooper is shiftier and has a better outside jumper. Every time I’ve seen Cooper play, he has been phenomenal, but he tends to struggle at finishing against taller, stronger players at the basket. Boston has an impressive mid-range game and can finish over the 6-foot (and that’s a stretch) guard both outside the paint and at the rim. In a very tight matchup, I’m taking the 6-foot-6 shooting guard based on length and diverse scoring ability alone.
As for me vs. Michael Rapaport, the answer is quite easy: ME. In fact, I would put $100 down that not only would I destroy him, but he wouldn’t score a single point on me.
I mean, look at his jumper and tell me you’d be worried about him:
If you don’t know the beef I have with the C-list celebrity, it started back in June of 2017 when Rapaport said on Twitter during the NBA Draft that he’d have to check if he still had his wallet on him if he ever shook hands with Coach Cal. In response, I wrote a post on KSR about it and called him a “not really, but somewhat “famous” actor.”
After searching his name on Twitter and finding my article, he went off on a profane tirade about me toward the end of his I Am Rapaport podcast.
“Jack Pilgrim, KSR, f— you,“ Rapaport said, along with many other NSFW things. “I challenge you to a game of 1-on-1 when I’m in Lexington, you f—.”
Oddly enough, Rapaport came to Lexington for the Big 3 Tournament just a few months later, where I reached out to him so we could play. No response.
When I covered the Big 3 event at Rupp Arena, I brought clothes and basketball shoes so we could play either before or afterward. When I went to go find him, he wouldn’t come out of the locker room until it was time for the event and quickly went to the back when it concluded.
To this day, I’m still waiting. But I’ll be ready for it whenever the time comes.
“Where is @bradcalipari going?” [email protected]
Where is @bradcalipari going?
— Megan Calipari (@MeganteCalipari) June 3, 2019
As much as I’d love to know where your brother is going (I could actually make some pretty solid money if I did), I genuinely have no idea, Megan. I genuinely don’t think he knows what he wants to do yet, but you probably know that already.
Yesterday, John Calipari told the media that Brad was “still walking through it,” but it’s no secret he wants more playing time.
“He’s still walking through it,” he said. “Do you blame him? All the work — he was in here three times yesterday working out. Do you blame him for wanting to play more and knowing who’s here?”
In terms of specific schools, Calipari mentioned that he recommended his son take a look at the Division II level. If not, he has plenty of other options, including a potential return to Kentucky.
“I even told him, look at Division II. What’s wrong with that?” he said. “Where you’re well-coached, where you get a chance, a good league. Division II basketball, they’re just a little smaller but you’ve got talented guys. He may end up coming back. He’s in the lodge and all the stuff and in classes. He may come back.”
While I have no idea where to even begin when it comes to specific schools of interest, sources tell KSR that Calipari was contemplating a transfer as early as the middle of the 2017-18 season, and definitely had that in mind when he made the decision to redshirt this past year. That didn’t change as the season progressed.
As much as Coach Cal hopes he returns, I definitely feel he’ll wind up elsewhere next season.
“What’s your prediction for the starting lineup? And what needs to happen for a national championship?” [email protected]
What’s your prediction for the staring lineup? And what needs to happen for a national championship?
— Paul Wilkerson (@PaulWilkerson3) June 3, 2019
As of right now, I think Ashton Hagans and Tyrese Maxey are the only two locks to start from day one. Outside of that backcourt pairing, I wouldn’t be surprised to see John Calipari mix-and-match his lineups by the game out of pure versatility alone.
As I mentioned last week, Kentucky has a lineup option for just about every scenario. Traditional lineup (and the one I believe he’ll use to start the season)? Hagans, Maxey, Whitney, Montgomery, and Richards. Pure shooting? Quickley, Maxey, Juzang, Brooks, and Sestina. Athletic/versatility lineup? Hagans, Maxey, Whitney, Brooks, and Montgomery. Go down the list, and he has several intriguing lineups to work with. Add Blackshear into the mix, and the options expand even further.
We’ll know more about the standout players as the pickup games get going in the coming months, which will help in determining who might start.
As for what needs to happen to win a championship next year, I think Kentucky needs four players to shoot over 35% from three and at least two to shoot over 40% from deep. One player has to separate themselves as the go-to option on the offense (Maxey is my early favorite), with three or four other players contributing ten or more points per game. If Blackshear ends up elsewhere, one or both of EJ Montgomery and Nick Richards have to make a major step forward on both ends of the floor, preferably with Montgomery on offense and Richards on defense.
Also, if Hagans plays like he did on both ends of the floor from late December to mid-January this past year, I’m convinced Kentucky can contend for a title. I felt he was the team’s most valuable player during that stretch, and if he can play at that level at a consistent rate again this season, I’m confident with everything else falling into place for a special season.
“Which school is the leader for Nevada transfer Jordan Brown, and why has he fallen off of Kentucky’s radar?” -HuffnPuffn
Which school is the leader for Nevada transfer Jordan Brown, and why has he fallen off of Kentucky’s radar?
— Chris Huffines (@HuffnPuffn) June 3, 2019
While things have been a bit quiet regarding Jordan Brown, I actually don’t think the former McDonald’s All-American and current Nevada transfer has fallen off of Kentucky’s radar at all. On UK’s end of things, I just don’t think they are in any rush to seal the deal with him and get him on campus when they are still worried about closing out the 2019-20 roster.
I was told back in mid-April that Kentucky was one of the first schools to get in contact with Brown, but at the time, we were still in the very early stages of his transfer. Since then, sources tell KSR that while the 6-foot-11 big man continues to take visits – he has been to Arizona, Arizona State, and Saint Mary’s – and still may take two more to Kentucky and Texas A&M, he is in no rush to make a decision. One source told KSR that Brown is still on campus at Nevada, but the coaching staff still has no idea what is going to happen with the former five-star prospect. There is optimism that they can get him to return to school, but they have been “completely in the dark” on his decision-making process.
A visit to Lexington is still a possibility, but we’re still going to have to wait a little while longer before we hear of a final decision.
Is UK a realistic landing spot for Quentin Grimes?” [email protected]
Former Kansas guard Quentin Grimes is a very interesting situation. Widely considered a 50/50 decision going into the NBA Draft, the 6-foot-5 guard decided to ultimately withdraw his name from consideration, but explore his options on the transfer market.
Back in high school, sources told KSR that Grimes loved Kentucky and strongly considered committing to the school, but felt the UK backcourt would end up being too crowded. He seemed interested in playing with Immanuel Quickley, but at the time, it looked like UK would also be returning Quade Green, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and Jemarl Baker. Now that he’s transferring from Kansas, many assumed that Kentucky would jump back in the picture and there would be mutual interest between both sides. Some even included the Wildcats in Grimes’ initial list of possible destinations.
Unfortunately, I just don’t see the former five-star ending up in Lexington when it comes time for a decision. I was told that there was a slight chance the Kentucky coaching staff would send out feelers to Grimes to potentially gauge interest, but I don’t believe that is the case anymore. I have been told that if the NCAA begins to start handing out notices of allegations (as they said they would) following the FBI scandal, the former Jayhawk could try to get a waiver to play college basketball this season, using Kansas’ potential involvement as his reason for immediate eligibility. If that is the case, it would make sense why Kentucky is not seen as a legitimate option for Grimes, as there would be little-to-no playing time available for him this season.
In terms of realistic landing spots, I believe he’ll end up going home and playing somewhere in Texas. Corey Evans said that Texas, Texas A&M, Houston are three schools to keep an eye on, so I’ll take his word for it on those being the likely options. All I know is that it is highly unlikely he winds up in Lexington.
By Drew Franklin on ©June 05th, 2019 @ 10:45pm
College basketball will scoot its shooters back almost a foot and a half for that extra point. Beginning this upcoming season, the college 3-point line will match that of international basketball, moving from 20 feet, nine inches, to 22 feet, 1¾ inches.
Yesterday, Coach Cal had this to say about the potential change: “The 3-point line going back, well, it’ll open up the lane maybe. I mean, I don’t know. The idea may be that they want everybody on the same plane from FIBA to whatever. That may be the reason. Either way it doesn’t matter to me, but there are other things that I think would be important.”
The NCAA also approved a change to the shot clock on Wednesday. It will now reset to 20 seconds after an offensive rebound, in hopes of speeding up pace of play.
Coaches will be excited to know they can call live-ball timeouts in the final two minutes of games too.
For more on the changes, check out the NCAA’s release here.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©June 05th, 2019 @ 11:21am
Cole Cubelic, SEC Network analyst and object of Freddie Maggard’s affection, was a guest on this morning’s Kentucky Sports Radio hosted by Myron Medcalf, and, as you might expect, had plenty of praise for the job Mark Stoops has done in Lexington; however, Cubelic also made a point to credit the UK administration for giving Stoops the time and resources he needed to turn the program around.
“I think Coach Stoops has done an excellent job of having an understanding of what he’s capable of doing, what he needs to do in recruiting as far as kind of the guys he needs to recruit coming in from a developmental perspective, and on top of that, the understanding that this is how we’re going to have to win football games. It’s going to be running the football, it’s going to be playing great defense. Stylistically and from a mentality perspective, he’s brought exactly what he needs to Lexington in order to be competitive in football games.
“I want to say this about Coach Stoops. I think he’s done an excellent job. I love his staff. I think he’s got one of the better offensive line coaches in the SEC [in John Schlarman]. I love Eddie Gran. I think losing Matt House as defensive coordinator is going to sting a little bit more than people are talking about but that administration needs to be credited as well because they were patient with Coach Stoops. They gave him time to be able to get to where he got last year, to be able to get that win against Florida, to be able to get to a New Year’s Day bowl, to be able to get a double-digit win season, to be able to get a first round draft pick off the board. That doesn’t happen in a lot of places. Because the first couple of years were a little rocky. You kind of saw early in the season things were trending right and they just couldn’t keep up late.
“That was kind of the mantra for Kentucky for two or three years and then the administration was patient. They gave him a good contract, they helped him pay his assistants, they did the things from a facility standpoint — not just with the stadium but a beautiful new football complex and it paid off. It paid big dividends last year. Coach Stoops deserves a ton of credit but I think people need to look at what Kentucky accomplished last year and give the administration some credit as well because the things they did behind the scenes and the patience they had with their staff was a big reason they were able to pull that off.”
Preach. Speaking of facilities, Cubelic said Kentucky’s renovations to Kroger Field could serve as a blueprint for what Vanderbilt should do with their stadium, which is in dire need of an overhaul.
“That gameday atmosphere [at Kentucky] has completely morphed. They did something totally different. I look at what Vanderbilt needs to do and I think the Kroger Field model would be exactly what for what Vandy needs to do. Don’t go try and raise a billion dollars for a new stadium, don’t put your stadium off campus. Just go in and do a massive renovation, put lipstick on that thing and make it much better and much more comfortable. They did that there in Lexington. That gameday experience has gotten a lot better.”
Shoutout to Stoops, Mitch Barnhart, and Eli Capilouto for making it happen.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©June 04th, 2019 @ 10:45pm
For the first and only time in June, Kentucky head coach John Calipari spoke to the media today for well over 30 minutes long, breaking down just about anything and everything you’d want to know about the current state of the UK basketball program.
Among those topics? Whether or not the 2019-20 roster is complete, what he thinks about the team, Brad Calipari’s transfer status, and his thoughts on various proposed rule changes, among several others.
Here are some of the key takeaways from Calipari’s presser today:
Potential addition? It’s possible
The biggest story of the day had to do with Coach Cal’s thoughts on his current roster and whether or not he felt another addition was possible before the season starts.
In short, he’d be content with rolling into the year with what he has now, but if another opportunity presented itself, he’d certainly consider it.
“I’m really happy with where we are right now,” he said. “If there is anything that can help us, and also help the player, then I would consider that.”
Part of the reason another addition is on the table? Injury insurance. While likes the pieces he has up front, they are just one injury away from only having two available big men. And though he’s flirted with small ball lineups and he could probably work in four-guard sets, he’d rather not have to risk it.
“You’ve got [three] guys, but what if one of them gets hurt? Now you’re playing four guards, which I haven’t done before, but I can figure it out,” he said.
Another reason why he’d be open to going all-in on the roster he has now for 2019-19? He’s expecting breakout performances from all four of his key returning players next season.
In fact, he used the term “breakout year” in reference to three of them.
The first two he pointed out? Ashton Hagans and Nick Richards.
“This group, the three guys that obviously considered leaving to go to the NBA, Ashton [Hagans] who I think will have a breakthrough year based on the fact that he gets it now. He’s going to be much more focused on things,” Calipari said. “You talk about Nick [Richards], I fully expect this to be his breakout year. The opportunity, the minutes, and where he is maturity wise and physically.”
For sophomore point guard Immanuel Quickley, though Calipari believes he shot well last year and did “some really good stuff,” he’s expecting a completely different player next season.
“He played well, shot the ball well. He’s gotten better,” he said. “Again, I expect him to have a breakout year. He did some really good stuff last year. … But he’s one of the great teammates, terrific. Got so much better defensively, like so much better defensively. And he’s getting a better feel for this.”
While he didn’t use the term “breakout” specifically for Montgomery, the sophomore forward got arguably the biggest praise of all the returning players.
Calipari said that he expects Montgomery to be a “difference maker” on this team and that there are only four or five players he has coached in the past with as much upside as he has.
“You know, he will be a difference maker on both ends because he can block shots, he’s quick to the ball. He’s got to get physically stronger and mentally a little tougher. He’s got to be in some wars, all of those kinds of things. The upside for him is ridiculous,” he said. “I think his upside is as much as (anyone). I’ve had about four or five guys maybe I would say were beyond where he is, but there’s not many that have the upside that he has.”
In fact, Calipari pointed out that the last time he had this much talent return was during the 2014-15 season when the Harrison twins, Dakari Johnson, Willie Cauley-Stein, and Alex Poythress all decided to come back.
And we all know how that season went.
“We have four really quality players back,” Calipari said. “The last time we had four players back who were quality players like that was 2014-15. I enjoy coaching guys two, three and four years. In this, what I do, you just want people when they leave to be prepared and ready for success. That’s the whole thing. We’ve had some guys leave too early, but it wasn’t my choice. They were counseled, ‘It might be too early. You might want to think about this.’ But, when they decide to do it, you’re all over it to help them. But, it’s nice to have guys back.”
When discussing how he wants his players to prepare over the offseason, Calipari was quick to say he wants individual workouts to be kept to a minimum and group efforts being the focus for the team.
In his eyes, dribbling around cones by yourself does nothing for your development. He wants to see pickup basketball and legitimate competition in the Joe Craft Center.
“In a pickup game where there are no real rules or officiating and a guy plays so loose and calm, you look at him and say, ‘Wow.’ My point is that’s the mindset you have to be in when you’re playing,” he said. “If [playing without structure] takes away from you as a player, it’s your responsibility to figure, ‘How do I get back in that mode where I’m swinging freely? How do I get back in that? Every time I make a mistake I’ve got to come out, I’ve got to quit.’ Stop. Those are excuses.
“How do you get into that mindset? Playing freely. That’s why I want them to play pickup. I watch you in a pickup game, you’re unbelievable. I hate to tell you, but I’m going to be watching every game. You better figure out how you play with me watching, because I watch.”
Calipari then referred to an email he received recently about avoiding excuses and complaining at all costs. He’s implementing that in his own life as a coach, and he wants his players to do the same.
“I just read a great email of a minor league baseball coach. No excuses, no complaining [was the message],” he said. “How could I ever complain about anything? What’s happened for me in my life, I’m coaching at Kentucky. I say to my players, ‘You’re playing at Kentucky. You have an opportunity for the rest of your life. What would you complain about? What would you make excuses about?’ You have that habit. It’s always somebody else and I’m making an excuse why I’m not what I’m supposed to be, whether it’s the coach, whether it’s another player, whether it’s the officials, whether you’re tired. It’s an excuse.”
At Kentucky, the proof is in the pudding. If you work hard enough, you can become one of the 35 players that have gotten drafted and part of the $2 billion players from Kentucky have earned in the NBA.
“You’re at Kentucky. (Thirty-five) guys have gotten drafted, (19) in the lottery, $2 billion in contracts, take what you want. No one holds you back,” Calipari said. “You’ve got a coaching staff that promotes everybody, not one or two guys. … This is different. Think of any of our players. If they’re making excuses or complaining, stop. We don’t do that here. How do I get better? What’s the next step? My staff and me, we should be the same way. We’re at Kentucky. Are you kidding me?”
Speaking of Calipari coaching at Kentucky, he also addressed the offer he received from UCLA this offseason and the “lifetime contract” UK responded with not long after.
In short, Coach Cal said that while he owes it to himself and his profession to keep an open mind, he has no reason to ever leave Lexington. Everything he would ever need is right here.
“Everybody would say, ‘Why would he ever leave Kentucky for anywhere?’ You’re right. Why would I?” the Kentucky head coach said. “What would lead me, a better situation more committed to basketball? Money? Staff? Tell me why I would do this?”
Calipari said that he worked his entire career to get to Kentucky, and he is certainly in no rush to ever leave it.
“‘He’s tired of being here. He’s tired of the fans.’ Really? This is, your whole career you’re trying to get to a point where you’re at a program where it really matters and fans are engaged, you never have to sell a ticket, your son does something small and it trends nationally,” he said. “If I speak, it’s like what did I say that they went crazy about? This is the place, and where else can you prepare young people for the rest of their lives the way we do here?”
Back in May, the NCAA announced a proposal that would push the 3-point line back to the distance FIBA uses, 22 feet and 1.75 inches, from its original distance of 20 feet and nine inches. If approved this week, the rule would be effective for the upcoming 2019-20 season.
In short, the NCAA Men’s Basketball Rules Committee said the change would create more space available in the lane for more dribble-drive plays from the perimeter.
When asked about the proposed rule change, Calipari said he isn’t sure how he feels about it quite yet, but he’d be open to the possibility.
“The 3-point line going back, well, it’ll open up the lane maybe,” he said. “I mean, I don’t know. The idea may be that they want everybody on the same plane from FIBA to whatever. That may be the reason. Either way it doesn’t matter to me, but there are other things that I think would be important.”
Some of the other ideas he was a fan of? Shortening the shot clock after an offensive rebound and having the ability to challenge calls late in the game.
“I like that [on shorter shot clock time after offensive rebound],” he said. “I think there should be challenged calls late in the game. You should be able to challenge a call, a made call or a non-made call. I challenge that. They go to the monitor and look at it. ‘Oh, it will extend the game.’ Are we worried about time or getting it right – who wins, who loses? Wouldn’t you want to get it right?”
The 3-point rule will be voted on tomorrow by the Playing Rules Oversight Panel.
Terrence Jones is returning to Lexington
One little nugget Calipari tossed into his press conference was the fact that former Kentucky forward Terrence Jones would be returning to school so he could work toward getting his degree.
Coach Cal says that Jones, who currently plays for TNT KaTropa of the Philippine Basketball Association, is hoping to get back to the states and earn a roster spot with an NBA team in the near future. During that time, he’ll be taking classes at UK.
“I just talked to Terrence Jones, who is coming back to campus to start academics,” he said. “He was here two years, so now what’s great, he’s going through this process of trying to get back into the NBA. You always have a backstop. You can come back. Your education is paid for.”
Before hundreds of high school football players flock to Kroger Field Friday night for a weekend filled of evening camps, Mark Stoops is hosting more than a handful of official visitors in the 2020 recruiting class. Here’s who’s expected to use one of their five official visits in Lexington this week.
As I mentioned earlier on KSR, two of the top defensive backs in America are from Detroit. This week they’ll officially visit UK.
Four-star cornerback Enzo Jennings is the eighth-ranked cornerback in America according to Rivals. Pursued by every top program in America, following his visit to UK he’ll officially visit Pitt and Penn State. UK has extensive ties to Jennings. Steve Clinkscale gave Jennings, and his teammate Justin Rogers, scholarship offers when they were eighth graders.
Makari Paige, a four-star safety that’s considered one of the 20 best at his position, will make the trip from Detroit as well. Most believe it’s a three-horse race between Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State for Paige’s services. His most recent top seven includes UK, Notre Dame and five Big Ten programs: Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan, Purdue and Michigan State. If Rogers has his way, Paige will be a Kentucky Wildcat.
He coming with me https://t.co/Pw3CM4yI4t
— Justin Rogers (@AllAmerican52JR) June 4, 2019
At 6’1″ 210 pounds, Cleveland’s Torrance Davis is a big running back. Cut from the same cloth as A.J. Rose, Davis is considered one of the ten best players in the state of Ohio. Penn State, Pitt and Michigan State are also heavily pursuing Davis.
From the southwest part of the state, JuTahn (Juh-Tohn) McClain will make the trip to Lexington from the Cincinnati suburb of Fairfield. Like a handful of other UK targets, McClain is a small (5’9″), speedy running back that can make plays on the edge.
Leading into this weekend’s visit, McClain released a top seven that includes UK, Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan State, Nebraska and Purdue. McClain plans on announcing his college decision July 4. Even though he’ll wait a few more weeks to announce a decision, this weekend could seal the deal for McClain to UK.
Kentucky has found itself in the middle of an Iron Bowl recruiting battle. Outside linebacker Quandarrius Robinson is the No. 28 player in America according to Rivals. The 6’5″ 220-pound athlete from Birmingham was committed to Auburn for six months…until he attended Alabama’s Junior Day this spring.
While the two Alabama powers fought over Robinson, UK slid into the picture. He’ll start his summer official visit tour in Lexington, followed by trips to Auburn, Tennessee and Nebraska.
Kentucky will try to get another former commit back in the fold this weekend. John Young will be on campus Friday to try and convince Richie Leonard to re-commit to UK. One of the Sunshine State’s top interior offensive linemen, Leonard is coming to UK off visits to Georgia Tech and Florida. Two weeks from now he’ll visit Tennessee before he announces his final college decision on his mother’s birthday, July 5.
Leonard is bringing one of his talented friends with him to UK. Ranked as the No. 135 player in America, athlete Caziah Holmes will make his first trip to Lexington alongside his teammate. Florida State is the team to beat, but in the coming weeks he plans on visiting Penn State and Tennessee (the same weekend Leonard will be in Knoxville).
Arguably the most difficult task at hand this weekend is convincing Miami commit Samuel Anaele to reconsider his options. At least the defensive end’s second trip to Lexington, Anaele has remained committed to The U despite significant coaching changes. Considered the No. 96 player in America by Rivals, this official visit could ultimately make Anaele have a change of heart.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©June 04th, 2019 @ 11:43am
Last week, Brad Calipari turned the college basketball world on its head when he put his name in the transfer portal. This morning, his dad told reporters that Brad’s career at Kentucky may not necessarily be over, but he’ll support whatever decision he makes.
“He’s still walking through it,” Coach Cal said. “Do you blame him? All the work — he was in here three times yesterday working out. Do you blame him for wanting to play more and knowing who’s here? Has he gotten better? Absolutely he’s gotten better. But he’s, you know. So now he can look around.
“I even told him, look at Division II. What’s wrong with that? Where you’re well-coached, where you get a chance, a good league. Division II basketball, they’re just a little smaller but you’ve got talented guys. He may end up coming back. He’s in the lodge and all the stuff and in classes. He may come back.”
Because Brad graduated in three years, he’ll have two years of immediate eligibility remaining, which Cal made sure to brag about.
“I’m proud he graduated in three years. It took me six. I mean, he graduates in three years and is playing every day against guys like this and survives and thrives and gets better. What he’s taking from this, his commitment to how he trains, how he eats, what he does is going to help him with anything especially after basketball when it’s done. Take that and do what your sister did, which was the same thing and shift it over to here and you’re going to be unique and special at whatever you want to do.”
Calipari said that the only thing that’s bothered him about the process is how the media found out Brad’s name was in the transfer portal so quickly.
“I didn’t know all the stuff went crazy. He puts his name in the portal. How does the media get it in a minute? That’s supposed to be for colleges not for the media. I’m researching that. How does the media know all this? It was out within 30 seconds that he put his name in. The night before he said, ‘Dad, if I want to do this, how do I do this?’ I said, ‘You’ve got to put your name in the portal to get started.’ It was a two-minute conversation. The next morning, he put his name in without telling me, his mom, his sisters. He didn’t think anything but the media got it within 30 seconds and all of a sudden, it’s trending nationally and ‘Cal and his son are having a fistfight and he’s leaving.’ What?”
The other big question: how is Mrs. Cal coping with her son potentially leaving Lexington?
“Mom said if he leaves she’s going with him so I don’t know if that’s a good thing. I hope she was kidding. Maybe she wasn’t. But the ideal thing would be for him to have more of an opportunity here. I just — I’d love to do it but that’s my own son. Has to be earned and you have to deserve it.”
Forever earned, not given.
By Nick Roush on ©June 03rd, 2019 @ 11:00pm
Riding a wave of recruiting momentum, Kentucky is trying to capitalize with one of the Commonwealth’s top-ranked athletes.
In 2018 wide receiver Izayah Cummings earned all-state honors after helping Louisville Male High School win the 6A State Championship. Even though he missed five games with a knee injury, Cummings finished the season with 41 receptions for 597 yards and 11 touchdowns, including three catches in the 37-20 victory over Scott County at Kroger Field.
“It was unbelievable. It was crazy. There was nothing like it. I loved the experience. I can’t wait to do it again,” Cummings described the state championship victory to KSR. “It was awesome playing on that turf on the Kentucky field.”
Cummings plans on playing at Kroger Field in this year’s state final. If Mark Stoops, Vince Marrow and Beau Allen have their way, it will not be Cummings’ last appearance on the stadium’s turf.
Considered the No. 6 player in the state of Kentucky by the 247 Composite Rankings, the lengthy 6’3″200-pound three-star wide receiver has narrowed his list to six: Louisville, Virginia, Wake Forest, Purdue West Virginia and Kentucky. Who’s recruiting him the hardest?
“I would say Kentucky is coming the hardest. Coach Marrow and them are just trying to make the 2020 class big,” he said.
Kentucky’s recruiting efforts have intensified following a rash of commitments in the month of April. Most of the heat is coming from his peers.
“It’s crazy because those people I actually know. They’ll contact me like, ‘Hey, you trying to come over and join the Kentucky class and make it great?’ Beau Allen texts me like everyday trying to see when I’m coming up [for a visit].”
A pair of Louisville natives, offensive tackle John Young and defensive back Andru Phillips, are also in constant contact with Cummings. Before his family moved to South Carolina, Phillips and Cummings used to compete against each other quite a bit in middle school. As for Allen, Cummings has caught a few passes from the future UK quarterback.
“I camped with him, he threw me a couple balls,” Cummings said. “He’s good, he’s really good.”
Unfortunately, a hamstring injury will prevent Cummings from catching more passes from Allen at this weekend’s Kentucky football camps. He has not yet given Allen or the coaching staff a specific date for an official visit, but that will happen later this summer. Once Cummings is healthy enough to play, he’s not shy about his ability.
“When I’m healthy, I’m unstoppable. No one can guard me at all. I’m just a big threat, whether it’s route-running, deep balls — when the ball goes up there, I come down with it.”
Year 4 Coming Soon….? pic.twitter.com/NLCg1ddEM1
— IC8? (@IzayahCummings) June 1, 2019
The receiver’s mentality is not so different from the Big Dog’s “boss-man” mentality. Cummings could not quite put a finger on specifically what makes him such a good recruiter, but he did have a decent impression of Marrow.
“He’s like, ‘Come down here man, I’m telling you,'” Cummings said with a deep, gruff voice and a smile. “I know coach. I’m just trying to process everything to make sure it’s the best decision for me and my family.”
What will make Marrow’s job slightly more difficult is the school in Cummings’ backyard. His parents both attended the University of Louisville and Izayah grew up cheering for the Cards when the Bush-Brohm show was steamrolling through the Big East. Fast forward a decade, and things are completely different around the Commonwealth. Kentucky’s success last fall opened Cummings’ eyes.
“I don’t think anyone thought it would happen like that. People always expect UK to be a basketball school, not like a football school. Watching what happened this year, man, it could be something special.”
Kentucky’s ten wins were won on the shoulders of an excellent defense and a powerful rushing attack. Jeff Brohm and Neal Brown’s offenses typically provide more aerial firepower, but that will not remove UK from contention as long as Beau Allen is in Kentucky blue and white.
“It can worry you a little bit because I might not get the ball as much as I want, but if you have great quarterbacks for the class…I might take a shot for it. You never know, I might be able to make some plays for the team.”
If Cummings takes a shot and picks Kentucky, it will not likely happen in the immediate future. The talented wide receiver is eyeing a decision later this summer just ahead of his senior season. Until then, the Big Dog and Beau will continually remind Cummings that he can be a part of something special in Lexington.
By Drew Franklin on ©June 03rd, 2019 @ 10:45pm
Terrence Jones got caught up in some unnecessary roughness during a recent game with his new team in the Philippine Basketball Association.
It all got going when Calvin Abueva of the Phoenix Pulse Fuel Masters (that’s a real team) gave Jones a hard shove to the ground, to which Jones responded with a direct shot to Abueva’s groin area on his way back up to his feet. Play was stopped for Abueva to recover, while Jones danced to the in-house music in front of his team’s bench.
Abueva would get revenge on the other end with a vicious clothesline to Jones’ throat while chasing down a long rebound.
The two had to be separated and Abueva earned an ejection from the game.
See all of it here:
Jones went on to finish the game with 40 points, 10 rebounds, and six assists for the TNT KaTropa (that’s a real team).
By Jack Pilgrim on ©June 03rd, 2019 @ 5:15pm
When Kentucky signee Tyrese Maxey committed to the school back in May of 2020, many penciled the 6-foot-3 dynamic scorer in as a guaranteed starter for the 2019-20 roster. And then when starting point guard Ashton Hagans made the surprisingly-quick decision to return for his sophomore season in April, he locked himself in as a starter, as well.
With most of the (admittedly-deserved) attention on Maxey and Hagans for the backcourt next season, where does former five-star point guard Immanuel Quickley fit into the equation?
Averaging 5.2 points on 37.2% shooting and 34.5% from three to go with 1.8 rebounds and 1.2 assists per contest last season, the 6-foot-3 guard’s numbers certainly don’t jump off the page on first glance. In fact, in 15 of his 37 total games the Havre De Grace, MD native finished with three points or less for the Wildcats.
On the flip side, Quickley also managed scoring totals of 15, 12 (four times), 10, 9, and 8 (three times) throughout his freshman season, along with several clutch moments at the end of games at the free throw line and from beyond the arc. Some would even argue that between Hagans and Quickley, the latter was the better all-around player toward the end of the season.
Unless you’re one of the few elite prospects we see year after year (and even sometimes if you are), there are growing pains and inconsistencies for true freshmen at the college level. Quickley fell right in line with that common theme.
Now that we’re on to year two for the former five-star prospect, how can he find his groove consistently this season and shine as the consensus top-25 recruit he came to Lexington as last season?
Keep developing confidence as a shooter
While he certainly hit some big shots from three on occasion last season, Quickley has the potential and ability to be a consistent knockdown shooter in the Kentucky backcourt moving forward.
Next to Tyrese Maxey, who is also expected to be an elite shooter next season, the Wildcats can put out lineups that absolutely torch opposing teams from deep in 2019-20. Quickley would certainly be included in that.
In fact, Calipari can roll out a pure-shooting group of Maxey, Quickley, Johnny Juzang, Nate Sestina, and EJ Montgomery at times, where each participant has the ability to knock down open jumpers at a consistent rate from three. In fact, one could argue every one those individuals has the potential to shoot at least 30% from three next year, with Maxey, Quickley, and Juzang all capable of shooting 38% or higher.
Quickley has already had eight games with two or more 3-pointers on 50% shooting (or higher), but his per-game ceiling is far greater than that. 34.5% certainly keeps defenders honest, but he has the ability to push upwards of 40% at a consistent clip. Confidence is the only thing limiting him from reaching that point.
When he finds his shot, he’s money on open opportunities both off the dribble and in catch-and-shoot situations. When that confidence slips, we see poor shooting displays such as Auburn (1-6), Abilene Christian (0-3), LSU (1-4), and at Florida (1-5).
The potential is there, he just needs to keep building his confidence to get to that point.
Look to be a facilitator
Back at the adidas Gauntlet Finale in Spartanburg, SC in 2017, Quickley was easily one of the most impressive prospects in attendance. In fact, his head-to-head matchup with Zion Williamson at the time was one of the most highly-anticipated games of the entire weekend, where Quickley’s Team BBC squad defeated Williamson’s SC Supreme 68-64. The Wildcat guard posted 20 points, 10 rebounds, and nine assists, while Williamson finished with 28 points and 16 rebounds in the loss.
While Quickley stuffed the stat sheet in that event and throughout his entire AAU career, the most impressive aspect of his game had nothing to do with his impressive shooting stroke or his ability to finish in the lane. It was the ridiculous court vision and passing ability he possessed that really turned heads. In fact, I would contend that if he had more talent around him on Team BBC, he could have averaged upwards of 12 or 13 assists per contest on the AAU circuit. One of the most frustrating parts of watching the Wildcat guard play was that he would pull off tremendous passes and find his teammates open time and time again, they would just miss the shots.
At Kentucky, Quickley mostly relied on catch-and-shoot opportunities to assert himself in the offense, completely ignoring one of his most impressive attributes. In year two, the UK point guard needs to continue to find his shot, but he can truly be a difference-maker from game one as a facilitator.
With ridiculous depth from top to bottom of the roster, opportunities for assists are there this season. He never finished with more than four assists in a single game last year, but I expect that to change this season.
Continue to get to the line
Quickley was inconsistent at times from a shooting perspective last year, but one thing that never changed was his ridiculous ability to knock down shots at the free throw line at an elite rate.
Shooting 83% from the line last year, Quickley was easily one of the most reliable players on the team, specifically when games went down to the wire. With the 6-foot-3 point guard in the lineup in the closing seconds, you could always rely on him to come through in the clutch in high-pressure moments. In fact, the only reason why his elite ability at the line wasn’t more publicized was because Kentucky just-so-happened to have the greatest free throw shooter in Kentucky history, Tyler Herro, on the roster and in the game down the stretch last year.
In 37 games last year, Quickley only missed 11 total free throws. In his sophomore season, he needs to continue to force the situation and get to the line more often. With Herro off to the NBA, they’ll likely need him on multiple occasions in 2019-20.
227 years ago in 1792, the Commonwealth of Kentucky became the 15th state in the union.
One might argue it is the greatest state in the union, but arguing is no way to celebrate a birthday. Instead, I’ve compiled a list of 27 destinations to see across the Bluegrass that will help you appreciate everything our wonderful state has to offer.
1. Churchill Downs — The iconic Twin Spires look over the home of the Kentucky Derby. Whether it’s Derby week, Downs after Dark or Thursday dollar beers, you can’t go wrong.
2. Keeneland — Where Churchill is the track in the middle of the city, Keeneland lies in the heart of Bluegrass horse country. The only racecourse where you can walk through the horse barns, if you take the scenic route down Old Frankfort Pike, you will see sights made for postcards.
3. Gray’s Arch — The 3.4-mile loop through Red River Gorge provides one of the most rewarding views of the area. A little more hidden than the Natural Bridge, it’s worth going off the beaten path to see this beauty.
4. Miguel’s Pizza — After your hike through the gorge, you need to refuel. Miguel is here to help.
5. Chain Rock — Ecology at its best, this rock that sits atop Pine Mountain is attached to enormous chain links. The chain was forged to prevent the rock from falling onto the town of Pineville (but was the rock really going to fall?).
6. Mammoth Cave — The state’s only National Park is the longest cave system known in the world.
7. The Corvette Museum — Kentuckians make the coolest American cars on the planet, no big deal.
8. The Louisville Slugger Museum — And we create the best baseball bats too.
9. Maker’s Mark Distillery — I could live without baseball bats and sports cars, but not bourbon. You can’t go wrong at any of the many distilleries throughout the state, but few are as beautiful as Maker’s Mark. Snuggled in between the Loretto, Kentucky hills, the smell of the sour mash and the sound of birds chirping makes this place feel like home.
10. Lake Cumberland — Unlike many of the manmade lakes around the state, Lake Cumberland has a rocky bottom that makes the green water clear. You can skip rocks on the shore, jump off a cliff or float in paradise.
11. Cumberland Falls — Before the river turns into a reservoir, there’s a 68-foot waterfall not far from Corbin, Kentucky. It’s the only waterfall in the Western Hemisphere where a Moonbow is regularly visible. The only other one in the world is Africa’s Victoria Falls. You can see the lunar rainbow coming off the falls during a full moon. Here’s when you can see it again this year.
12. Kentucky Fried Chicken — Before you check out the Moonbow, you can grab a bucket of the Colonel’s Original Recipe from the original location in Corbin.
13. Cumberland Gap — While I’m mentioning the Cumberlands, might as well throw this one in there. Even if you aren’t a kid, it’s kind of cool to stand in three states at once.
14. Newport on the Levee — With views of the Cincinnati skyline, the northern Kentucky Levee has excellent food and drink options near one of the best aquariums in the region.
15. The Big Four Bridge — Developed into a walking bridge in 2014, the recreational area is settled in-between Louisville Slugger Field and the new Louisville City FC Stadium. Of all the nice areas in Louisville’s Waterfront Park, this one is the best.
16. Muhammad Ali Center — Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee, this center dedicated to the World’s Greatest is something you have to see.
17. Dinosaur World — Jurrasic Park ain’t got nothing on this Western Kentucky landmark.
18. Wigwam Village — Can you think of a better place to stay the night in Western Kentucky? I think not. (If you don’t enjoy your stay, blame this recommendation all on Coach Keith Madison.)
19. Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill — Turn back in time by visiting the country’s largest collection of 19th century buildings.
20. Boon Tavern — The Berea, Kentucky landmark is the only place you can enjoy world famous Spoon Bread.
21. Moonlite Bar-B-Q Inn — Some will argue which Owensboro locale has the best mutton BBQ, but Moonlite has earned the “world famous” distinction. The flavor of Owensboro BBQ is unrivaled. You can’t find it anywhere else. And now my mouth is watering.
22. KSBar — While I’m shouting out restaurants, go to ours. Trust me, the wings are excellent.
23. Abraham Lincoln’s Birthplace — Illinois likes to take credit for molding Lincoln into the man who led the Union through the Civil War, but it all got started in Hodgenville.
24. Iroquois Park Amphitheater — In the heart of Louisville’s largest Olmsted Park (the same Olmsted that designed New York City’s Central Park), the 2,300-seat amphitheater is one of region’s best outdoor music venues. Even if you don’t attend a concert, they host free movie nights, the Jack O’Lantern Spectacular and much more.
25. The Louisville Palace — The classic architecture is stunning. It is difficult to describe the interior, so I’ll just say this: the Palace is the kind of place you see in a movie in a big city. We are lucky to have such an incredible environment for performances in the Commonwealth.
26. Land Between the Lakes — The largest inland peninsula in the United States, the National Recreational Area in Western Kentucky is surrounded by Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley. If you love the outdoors, you can do pretty much anything, even see elk and bison, at Land Between the Lakes.
27. My Old Kentucky Home — Birthdays are best celebrated at home.