It was an exciting afternoon at John Hardin High School in Elizabethtown for Matt Elam’s long-awaited (LONGGGGG-awaited) announcement, one that ended well for the Cayts. Elam sat in front of a large media contingent in the school’s Performing Arts Center — it was closed to the public — and picked the UK football helmet over the Alabama hat to officially announce his verbal commitment to the University of Kentucky. Elam’s commitment locks up the final scholarship in UK’s 2014 recruiting class, sealing the group’s spot in the top 20 of the class rankings.
Elam said he chose Kentucky to stay at home and help build the program with fellow Kentuckian and good friend Drew Barker. “I just want to help them out,” he said of the program. “I feel like UK never had those great players and I feel like it’s finally going to start coming, just them having the players they need to get the program started.”
He called Alabama the mecca of football programs, and admitted that he is in a very small group of recruits to ever tell Nick Saban no, but at the end of the day, UK felt like home and that’s what matters most.
Let’s hit some notes from his announcement ceremony and a little bit more in tonight’s News and Views.
He expects to play right away.
“I definitely anticipate to go in and play,” Elam said, when asked if he expects to see the field as a freshman. “I feel like I am bigger and strong enough that I can play in the SEC, but it’s going to take a lot of hard work to get there.”
Elam said the first order of business is shedding a lot of weight this offseason. He doesn’t have a specific desired weight, but he wants to get down to where he is feeling better about his body, whatever that number is.
Mark Stoops and Drew Barker were two of the first to know.
Stoops got the first phone call on Tuesday and Elam told Barker a day later. He said he felt obligated to tell Barker because Barker told him prior to his commitment to UK, but he said he originally told Drew he was committing to Alabama to see how he would react.
“I was like, ‘I’m going to Bama. Please don’t be mad.’” He was like, ‘I’m not mad. I’m going to support you wherever.’ But I was like, ‘I’m just kidding. I’m going to UK.’ He got excited and said we’ve got to change this thing. I told him we’ve definitely got to change this thing.”
He described Stoops’ initial reaction too… “He told me that he went crazy. He said, ‘I can’t really say anything but I just want to tell the whole world.’ His wife came in and he was like, ‘Honey …’ I can’t really tell you what he said but he just went crazy. It was kind of funny. I was like, ‘Coach Stoops, you can just wait two more days.’ He was like, ‘I’ve been waiting too long. You better hurry up and commit.’ I was like, ‘Yes sir, but you have to wait just a little bit more.’ I love Coach Stoops. He’s a great head coach.”
Elam’s mother dreamt about this moment years ago.
Darrell Bird from The Cats Pause has a great story on a dream Matt Elam’s mother had a long time ago. She said she dreamt her son would commit to UK long before Mark Stoops came to town.
“No faces in my dream, they just had UK on them,” she said. “Hey, I didn’t know coach Stoops was coming. I’m not a psychic.”
Thursday morning’s KSR was fun and, somehow, went well.
It’s rare we make it through a remote without something going terribly wrong, but somehow, someway, Thursday’s show was a great success with only a few hiccups from the unexpected helicopter landings (show reference) and Ryan’s poorly-timed coughing. The good people at John Hardin invited us to do the show from the Performing Arts Center and they had us set up on stage within 10 or so feet of where Elam announced his decision. It made for great radio, I’m told, as Matt and Ryan tried to narrate the scene by whispering to keep from disrupting Elam’s big moment. We also enjoyed the almost two hours of sitting alone, awkwardly, on the stage before Elam came out, as seen on the Courier-Journal’s live stream.
It was a lot of fun with great news, so thank you to John Hardin High School and Matt Elam for letting us be a part of such a special day. (Another shout-out to Jeremy Hall and his students for letting KSR crash class after lunch.)
To the non-Elam goodies…
UK Hoops loses another one.
I don’t know what’s going on with Kentucky’s women’s basketball team, but Matthew Mitchell better get it figured out soon. The Cats lost by two at Georgia (2-5 in SEC entering the game) Thursday night to fall to 4-4 in conference play. After starting the season 13-1 with the lone loss coming against a higher ranked Duke squad, UK has lost four of seven, two of those coming at home.
That’s not the record we expected for the team that was picked to finish second in the SEC in the preseason poll.
Jason King talked to three NBA scouts about five Wildcats.
King, now at Bleacher Report, spoke to three NBA scouts about the group of players he calls “The Other Guys,” the NBA prospects not named Wiggins, Randle, Smart, Embiid or Parker. Included in that discussion: Andrew Harrison, Aaron Harrison, Willie Cauley-Stein, Alex Poythress and James Young.
The Harrison Twins
They believed too much of the hype about themselves, and I think that made their attitudes bad. They play too emotional sometimes. If things aren’t going their way, they start making bad decisions based on emotions. They start pressing instead of letting the game come to them. They need to come back to school for another year, without a doubt. I don’t think they’re ready for the NBA.
I’m just not sure how hard he plays. That was an issue when he was a freshman last season, and it’s the same thing this year. He’s a very good shot-blocker. If he gets beat, he recovers quickly and can come from behind for a block, too. But from a rebounding standpoint, he’s not great. And offensively, what does he do well? He disappears in a lot of games.
I don’t know what he does consistently other than block shots. Offensively, he’s non-existent. Someone will take him, though, because people see young kids like him and think, ‘He’s got a huge upside. We’ll put him in the D-League for a few years and turn him into a good player.’ That’s what happened with guys like Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe. I’m not convinced this guy is on that level.
He’s good at everything and not great at anything. One minute he’s flying through the air and making a play that makes you say, ‘Wow.’ Then he goes two games without making a peep. He seems like a nice kid. But I just don’t know where you put him.
I like him. He brings so many things to the table. He can hurt you in so many ways. Even though he’s not shooting it great lately, I think it’s pretty obvious that he’s got a smooth stroke. I like his ability to control the ball. He’s not loose with the ball.
He’s got good change of direction and a nice first step that makes him an excellent slasher. One of his weaknesses when he first got to Lexington was playing through contact, but he’s shored that up. I love his demeanor on the court, too—never too high or low. I’d take him between 10 and 20. I can’t see him dropping out of the first round.
John Calipari reportedly telling people the Harrison twins will return.
According to Sean Deveney of The Sporting News, John Calipari has been telling people around the NBA that Andrew and Aaron Harrison will be back in Lexington next fall as sophomores at UK. Another of Deveney’s sources believes they could still enter this summer’s draft, as the decision is ultimately up to the family and they’re still considering the league.
The Harrisons are currently nowhere to be found in any of the mock first rounds for the 2014 NBA Draft.
With that said, there are more pressing issues surrounding the Harrisons right now, like that upcoming rebound game against the Missouri Tigers. We’ll talk NBA when they show us they can win in a hostile SEC road environment.
This photo of Anthony Bennett really makes me smile.
Bennett, on his way to having the worst rookie season for a No. 1 draft pick ever, scored a career-high 15 points earlier this week. This remake of the iconic Wilt Chamberlain photo is hilarious.
Louisville lost at home to Cincinnati.
The Bearcats are traveling from Louisville to Cincinnati (a drive Pitino has been known to pay people to make) tonight with a win over the Cardinals in the Yum! Center. Cincy led by as many as 15 points before an ugly stretch of turnovers with a technical foul allowed UofL back in it. A Russ Smith three-pointer with five minutes remaining gave Louisville its first lead since the game’s first bucket, but the Cards scored only two more points, two free throws, before the final whistle.
I really hate that.
Premature court storming is apparently a thing.
A technical foul should’ve been issued, yes, but St. Bonaventure was up by double digits on No. 21 UMass Wednesday night so the Bonnies’ premature celebration was excused.
“Amateurs,” said one Indiana basketball fan.
John Wall is Calipari’s first NBA All-Star from UK; Cousins and Davis not making it is BULL****.
The excitement for John Wall is somewhat overshadowed by DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis not earning an invite. They are the only two players with a Player Efficiency Rating of 26 or higher to be snubbed since Kareem Abdul-Jabar in 1978 . Think about that… THE ONLY TWO PLAYERS SINCE KAREEM ABDUL-JABAR IN 1978. Cousins and Davis in 2014, three and a half decades later. They currently have the fifth and sixth best PERs in the NBA this season.
That’ll do it for now. Ryan Lemond has tomorrow off so I’ll be filling in on Kentucky Sports Radio radio. Talk to you then.