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April 20th, 2018

Florida Takes Series With 9-4 Win Over Kentucky On Friday

UK Athletics

For the second consecutive night, the BatCats were blown out at home. #1 Florida (34-7, 14-3) dominated #6 Kentucky (25-14, 7-10) 9-4 on Friday night to win the series after winning 11-2 last night. The Gators hung four runs on Sean Hjelle as they improved their SEC record to 14-3 in 2018.

Will Dalton drove in six runs for the Gators, including a three-run triple and a three-run home run. UK’s offense had no response for Dalton and the powerful Florida offense. The Cats hit 2/10 with runners on and hit 1/10 with runners in scoring position in tonight’s loss.

The woeful performance at the plate meant that Hjelle had no run support on the mound. Hjelle allowed four early runs but bounced back to retire 14 of the next 15 batters he faced. Hjelle exited after allowing four runs on four hits and three walks in seven innings of work. Tonight marked the fifth time in six SEC games that Hjelle had allowed four runs in a start.

Hjelle gave way to reliever Jimmy Ramsey to start the eighth inning. Ramsey’s struggles from Tuesday’s loss at Louisville continued as Dalton drove a three-run home run out of the Cliff against the freshman reliever.

Kentucky scored one in the bottom of the eighth before UF went to Michael Byrne to close out the game. Byrne had allowed only three runs all season, but the Cats rallied against him late. Behind a two-run home run by Kole Cottam, UK cut into the Gators’ lead in the ninth inning. But it was too little, too late. Byrne was able to get Luke Heyer to pop out to end the game and give Florida a series win with a 9-4 victory tonight.


Kentucky is four-deep at the Nike EYBL in Dallas to watch Wiseman, Jeffries, and more

PHOTO CREDIT: The Cats Pause/247 Sports

The April Evaluation Period for college basketball recruiting has officially begun, and to no one’s surprise, the Kentucky coaching staff is going all in.

At Nike’s EYBL event in Dallas, John Calipari, Joel Justus, Kenny Payne, and Tony Barbee are all in attendance to watch several top Wildcat recruits in action today.

Both UK target James Wiseman and commitment DJ Jeffries’ Bluff City Legends and Jalen Lecque’s Renaissance NY team tipped off (on different courts) at 7:30 p.m. ET.

According to Mark Giannotto, both Penny Hardaway and Bill Self are in attendance to check out Wiseman open the event.

Chris Fisher of The Cats Pause snapped a picture of the new Memphis head coach in attendance:

According to Rivals’ Jeff Drummond, Adair County guard and 2021 phenom Zion Harmon is playing for the Bluff City Legends, as well.

Fort Wayne’s Keion Brooks (Indy Heat) will play at 9, and Vernon Carey Jr.’s Nike Team Florida will tip at 10:30 p.m. ET.

Tomorrow, Kentucky 2019 target and possible reclassification option Tyrese Maxey will play for D Nation.

The Under Armour Association and Adidas Gauntlet both start today in Dallas, as well, where the Kentucky staff will almost certainly check out players such as Ashton Hagans, Kyky Tandy, Matthew Hurt, and more.

While in Texas, Coach Cal also checked out the TCU basketball clinic, where he gave some hands-on instruction to those in attendance.

#NoDaysOff


Stanley "Boom" Williams signs with Toronto Argonauts

UK Athletics

Former Kentucky running back Stanley “Boom” Williams has a new home.

It slid under the radar when it was announced a few days ago, but we now know that Williams has officially signed with the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League.

After going pro in 2017, Williams went undrafted, but latched on with the Cincinnati Bengals for a brief stint. He then signed on with the Denver Broncos, but never earned any reps in a real game.

With the Argonauts, Williams now has the chance to continue his professional football journey with hopes of eventually making it back in the NFL.

Congratulations to Boom!


UK’s 2018-19 Basketball Schedule As We Know It

As more and more key dates leak out on Kentucky’s 2018-19 basketball schedule, it’s time we put it all together for a glimpse at how next season will look on our calendars.

You will find the games we know as of today in the list below. Plan your winter accordingly.

The Bahamas
Paradise Island, Bahamas | The Atlantis 
August 6-12 (Unofficial)
Big Blue Madness
Lexington, KY | Rupp Arena
TBD
Blue-White Game
Lexington, KY | Rupp Arena
TBD
Kentucky vs. Duke
Indianapolis, IN | Bankers Life Fieldhouse
Champions Clasic
Tuesday, November 6
Monmouth
Lexington, KY | Rupp Arena
Wednesday, November 28
Kentucky vs. Seton Hall
New York, NY | Madison Square Garden
Citi Hoops Classic
Saturday, December 8
Kentucky vs. North Carolina 
Chicago, IL | United Center
CBS Sports Classic
Saturday, December 22
Kentucky @ Louisville
Louisville, KY | KFC Yum! Center
TBD
Kentucky vs. Big 12 Opponent
Lexington, KY | Rupp Arena
Big 12/SEC Challenge
TBD

You’ll have to wait until late summer/early fall for the full schedule in its entirety.


Freddie Maggard Hired by UK as Director of Player Development

Photo Credit: WYMT

It is with a mix of sadness and excitement that KSR is breaking this “scoop” about one of our favorite people. KSR Football writer and former UK Quarterback Freddie Maggard has been hired by UK Football as the Director of Player Development. In his new job, he will be charged with helping UK players with life off the field, both while they are in college and beyond. He will help UK players find internships, jobs after football, build career skills and overall become better men. It is a job that Freddie is perfect for and I am sure he will come along soon and explain more about it. We are thrilled for Freddie and know that the University is about to get a tremendous asset.

On a personal level, I want to take a minute and express what Freddie has meant to me and KSR. A few years back I called Freddie and asked if he would join us in the KSR family. I knew he would be a good addition due to his football mind and his propensity to be nerdy about the sport. He filled a void for us and did it at a level I could have never imagined. What I didn’t know is how important Freddie would become to this site and me as a human being. Simply put, I don’t know of any better person than Freddie Maggard. He is one of the kindest, most thoughtful human beings that I have ever met and his friendship has been one of the most genuinely positive things to happen to me since we began KSR. Freddie has taught me more than I could have dreamed, showcasing his love of the military and America through countless discussions that have expanded my mind and helped me develop my thoughts. There are very few people whose advice I count on more and whose guidance has been more helpful to me than Freddie Maggard. He is truly a great human being.

We here at KSR will miss his football knowledge, but I know he will move it into the UK Football realm, and in so doing, make the program we love better. I am happy for him and I know he will succeed at this new challenge. More importantly for me, he will remain a true friend and someone that will still get a call from me whenever I need his wisdom and he has a permanent spot at the KSR table whenever he so chooses.

Join me in congratulating the newest Director of Player Development for UK Football, Freddie Maggard!


Zion Williamson officially signed with Duke

Ken Ruinard/Independent Mail

Zion Williamson officially signed his Letter of Intent to play for Duke University today, putting to bed any internet chatter going around that he might reconsider his choice. Williamson is the seventh-ranked prospect in the class, according to the final Top247 rankings, and we’re ready for him and the “Brotherhood.”

November 6.

Duke.

Kentucky.

Indianapolis.

Bring it.


Jeopardy contestants set basketball back 50 years

Jeopardy contestants were born to play Jeopardy. Basketball players were born to play basketball. They are not interchangeable, as we learned in this painfully awkward video of three Jeopardy contestants playing invisible basketball.

(Warning: It will make you cringe.)

James Naismith rolled over in his grave after this guy’s crossover.

And whatever this is.

As bad as they are, all three will likely test the NBA waters with everyone else.


Nick Mingione Explains Choice To Pull Zach Haake

UK Athletics

Fans and commentators across the state were mystified and confused when Nick Mingione pulled junior starter Zach Haake after two innings last night against Florida. Haake had pitched two perfect innings with three strikeouts before exiting before the third inning. After Haake was replaced, the bullpen surrendered six runs in the third inning and 11 overall in the 11-2 loss to UF.

The move to pull Haake, a guy that has struggled as of late, after his best two innings of the season was highly questionable.

Following the game, Nick Mingione stood up for his decision to go to the bullpen early in the series opener.

“We’ve obviously really struggled in that spot with Thompson out. So we basically decided that ‘hey look, here’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to tell our guys that we’re going to run a relay race and we’re going to pass off the baton’. I think Zach has shown that he’s been really good in short stints. Besides the one outing, his best stuff has come at the very beginning. We basically wanted to give him a finish line so he would have an idea of where that would be. Obviously, he threw great. I think he got better tonight. There’s no question the guy got better tonight.”

The plan was to use the committee style of finishing this game. UK wanted to use a variety of pitchers out of the bullpen to keep Florida guessing at the plate. The only problem with this style was that Haake was pitching lights out against the top team in the nation. The fact that Haake was perfect through two innings did not change Mingione’s mind on whether or not to keep him on the mound entering the third inning.

“Once I tell a player something ahead of time, I don’t deviate. There’s times where you have to adjust the plan like we didn’t throw everybody we decided we were going to throw before the game.”

It was an interesting choice to pull a guy that was dealing so early. For those that choose to look at the glass half full, Haake was dynamite. The junior showed UK fans what he can be in those two innings. He looked like the top-tier JUCO talent with a good fastball/slider combo that we had heard so much about this fall. But in a much more realistic view, the choice to not let Haake make it one time through the order was questionable. Haake does struggle in the third inning and beyond, but he looked like a different pitcher in his two innings. And for the bullpen, it was an interesting night to use so many arms, especially since UK’s three best relievers had pitched so much over the last three games.

The whole scenario was mind-boggling. But with baseball, teams have a chance to cover their sins with a win the next day. The BatCats will take on Florida tonight at the Cliff at 7:30. If you can’t make it out, watch on SEC Network.

@TreyHuntsmanKSR


Diallo talks decision, fan support and how paperwork almost cost him the season

Hamidou Diallo is busy getting ready for the upcoming NBA draft but he isn’t too busy to take time out of his day to call in to Kentucky Sports Radio. Diallo made a special guest appearance on Friday’s show to tell the fans what went into the decision to leave after his only full season in Lexington and how much Big Blue Nations means to him.

“It was a well-thought decision,” Diallo explained of the move to leave. “I had to go back home to speak to my family, speak to my old high school coaches, and I just felt like this is what’s best for me and my family at this point. Last year I went through the process and I feel like I made a great decision when I decided to come back to Kentucky to get to play in front of the fans. I just felt like it was finally the time to go on and chase my dreams.”

Playing in front of the UK fans meant a lot to Diallo, more than many even realized. He acknowledged his season had its ups and downs, but the fans were always there for him through the good and the bad.

“I feel like the fans always had my back throughout the whole year, no matter what, no matter how I was playing,” he said. “I had some terrible games and I had some great games, but the fans were always there. They always supported me and never gave up on me. That’s why I feel like I have a special place for BBN in my heart and I feel like that will never go away, it will never be taken away from me.”

Diallo also told the previously untold story of how he almost didn’t get his paperwork turned in to the NBA in time to return to Kentucky last May. He admitted he submitted it two minutes too late at around 12:02 am the day of the deadline, but he was still allowed to remove his name from the draft and return to UK thanks to a little leniency and the fact he had already tweeted the news.

Hear it all in the full interview with Diallo below:


Kentucky to host Monmouth next November

UK added another game to its home basketball schedule on Friday.

The Cats will host Monmouth in Rupp Arena on Wednesday, November 28 in a rematch of last year’s barnburner in the Citi Hoops Classic in Madison Square Garden. The Hawks return all but one contributor from last season, including its top two scorers; although one, Micah Seaborn, is testing the NBA waters this spring.

UK also announced the December 8 game against Seton Hall in the Garden, but we already knew about that one.

Plan accordingly.


A reminder of important NBA Draft dates/deadlines

Currently, six Kentucky players have declared for the draft. Kevin Knox, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and Hamidou Diallo all plan to sign with agents, while PJ Washington, Wenyen Gabriel, and Jarred Vanderbilt do not, leaving the door open to return to Kentucky for another season.

With that in mind, here’s a refresher of some important dates and deadlines to look out for.

April 22, 11:59 p.m.: Early Entry Eligibility Deadline

That’s Sunday night. Unless Quade Green or Jonny David decide to declare at the last minute, we’ve probably heard the last of the draft declarations from Kentucky.

April 24: NBA workouts begin

Starting on Tuesday, NBA teams can schedule individual and group workouts with prospects.

May 15: NBA Draft Lottery, Chicago

The full draft order will officially be set on May 15, giving the top players a clearer picture on where they may go.

May 16-20: NBA Draft Combine, Chicago

According to Jonathan Givony, over 175 players have declared for this year’s draft (not including seniors), 60 of which who have hired or will hire agents. Only 60-70 players will be invited to the NBA Draft Combine. Shai, Kevin, and Hami are sure to get an invite and I could see PJ scoring one as well, but Jarred Vanderbilt’s injury will likely prevent him from participating or working out for teams, so he really is relying just on feedback from teams or someone promising to take a chance on him.

After turning in the second highest max vertical in Draft Combine history last year, Hamidou Diallo has the most to gain from the combine, but Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and PJ Washington’s measurements will also impress (Shai’s wingspan is 7′; PJ’s is 7’3 and his vertical 43″). Kevin Knox’s measurements aren’t quite as eye-popping, but an impressive performance could boost him into the top ten.

May 30: NCAA’s withdrawal deadline

This is the big one. Ten days after the combine, players who wish to return to school must withdraw their names from the draft to retain their eligibility.

June 11, 5 p.m.: NBA Draft Early Entry Entrant Withdrawal Deadline

June 21: NBA Draft, New York City

 

We’ve got a long 40 days ahead of us.


Jarred Vanderbilt declares for the NBA Draft, won’t hire agent

Jarred Vanderbilt just announced he will test the waters of the NBA Draft, meaning he is declaring without hiring an agent.

“This season wasn’t easy for me,” Vanderbilt said in a statement from UK. “God works in mysterious ways and presented me with a number of challenges to overcome. I believe I became a better man and player because of them, but it’s also made me think about my future and what’s best for me. At the end of the day, my goal has always been to make it to the NBA. I knew Coach Cal and the staff would challenge me and prepare me to make that step better than anyone else.

“I know I have more to my game to show, but now I’ve got to figure out if the time is right for me to do it at the next level or if I would be better to return to school. With that said, I’m entering my name in the 2018 NBA Draft and testing the waters. This wasn’t an easy decision, but I want to use this process to get an evaluation from the NBA and see where I’m at. I appreciate the support of the staff and the Big Blue Nation while I work through this.”

Due to injury, Vanderbilt played in only 14 games, averaging 5.9 points and 7.9 rebounds. He grabbed 10 or more rebounds in five of his last six games; in fact, he was Kentucky’s leading rebounder.

“Jarred is in a unique situation because of the time he missed on the court this season,” John Calipari said. “I truly believe we only saw a small part of Jarred’s game because he had to figure out how to play with us and we had to figure out how to play with him. What we did see was a player with an unbelievable motor who will grab every ball, get his teammates involved and fight like heck. We would certainly welcome Jarred back with open arms and I would love the opportunity to coach him for a full season, but I know he needs to go through this process and see where he’s at. He has the type of skills and talent that NBA teams love; now we have to figure out if now is the time or if he needs another season. Either way, Jarred’s best days are ahead of him and I can’t wait to see him back on the court.”

Vanderbilt is the sixth Kentucky player to declare for the draft, joining Kevin Knox, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Hamidou Diallo, PJ Washington, and Wenyen Gabriel. Like PJ and Wenyen, he will have until May 30, 10 days after the NBA Draft Combine, to decide whether or not to return to school.


Charles Matthews declares for NBA Draft, won’t hire agent

(Source: Harry How/Getty Images North America)

While we wait on NBA decisions from our current Cats, how about an NBA decision from a former Cat? Charles Matthews just declared for the NBA Draft, but won’t hire an agent, leaving the door open to return for his senior year at Michigan.

“After careful consideration with my parents and coaching staff, I am excited to announce that I will be declaring for the 2018 NBA Draft without hiring an agent,” Matthews said in a statement via Michigan. “I give thanks to the Lord for this amazing opportunity, as well as the entire University of Michigan for their support. Go Blue!”

After transferring from Kentucky and sitting out a year, Matthews shined this season for Michigan, averaging 13 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 2.4 assists. He was named the NCAA West Regional’s Most Outstanding Player and was an integral part of the Wolverines’ run to the National Championship game.

Like PJ Washington and Wenyen Gabriel, Matthews will have until May 30 (10 days after the NBA Draft Combine) to decide whether or not he will return to school. In case you’re curious, according to Jonathan Givony, over 175 players have declared for the draft thus far, 60 of which have or plan to hire agents. That number doesn’t include seniors. As you know, only 60 will be drafted.


Which undecided player is most important to Kentucky’s 2018-2019 season?

Yes, it’s that time of year again. Those stressful few weeks where everyone tries to sit back and figure out who will leave Kentucky’s basketball program, who will stay and what the next roster will look like. Every year there is drama. Every year there is intrigue. And every year there are a few surprises.

Yet despite this process always being wacky, doesn’t it feel like this year is especially bonkers?

Rarely have we entered the home-stretch of the declaration period with this much uncertainty at what the roster will look like. We know that Kevin Knox, Hamidou Diallo and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander will be going pro and not looking back, and we also know that Nick Richards and Jemarl Baker will definitely be returning.

What we don’t know however is what the heck the future holds for P.J. Washington, Wenyen Gabriel, Quade Green and Jarred Vanderbilt. The first two have declared for the draft but haven’t hired an agent, Vanderbilt is still pondering his decision, and Green, well, he’s got one of the most confusing futures of anyone in college basketball. Although Green hasn’t said anything publicly, there continues to be rampant, RAMPANT speculation that he will transfer at some point this off-season, with the latest news coming that LaSalle could be a potential landing spot (REALLY!?!??!) if he decides to leave. The rumors simply don’t stop, even as Green remains quiet.

But in looking at these four players, it’s time to ask: Which player is the most important for Kentucky’s success next season? Here is this writer’s list:

(more…)


PJ Washington a first rounder in 2019 Mock Draft

If PJ Washington’s looking for a reason to stay at Kentucky for a sophomore season, we’ve got it. This morning, Jonathan Givony released his 2019 Mock Draft and has PJ going 18th, whereas he didn’t include him at all in the 2018 Mock Draft that came out last week. Givony also has incoming freshman Keldon Johnson going in the lottery and Jarred Vanderbilt going early in the second round:

  • 12. New Orleans Pelicans: Keldon Johnson
  • 18. Oklahoma City Thunder: PJ Washington
  • 33. Atlanta Hawks: Jarred Vanderbilt

Obviously, a lot can happen between between now and next summer, but this is further proof that another year at Kentucky and a weaker draft could do both Washington and Vanderbilt a lot of good.

If you missed it last week, here’s where Givony predicts Kentucky’s guys will go in this year’s draft:

  • 12. LA Clippers (via Pistons): Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
  • 15. Washington Wizards: Kevin Knox
  • 36. Sacramento Kings: Hamidou Diallo

[ESPN 2019 Mock Draft, ESPN 2018 Mock Draft]