Part one in an eight part series previewing the 2014 Kentucky Football Wildcats. Barring →
By Matt Jones on ©7:15 pm
Kentucky made the list of five official visits for 2015 big man Stephen Zimmerman. The top player with the longest hair in the 2015 class says he will visit Kentucky, Kansas, North Carolina, Arizona and UCLA before making his college choice. While he didn’t say these were his final five schools, it is a good indication to where he will ultimately end up. In a bit of a surprise, UNLV did not make the list, a school that most believe is one of the two or three leaders for his services. But with it being in his home area, he has probably been many times to the campus as is. Still, an odd omission all things considered.
Calipari really likes this kid and this will be a recruit he fights for.
By Caleb Epley on ©5:35 pm
Some sad news today: UK legend Wallace “Wah Wah” Jones has passed away at the age of 88. Jones was an All-American under both Adolph Rupp and Bear Bryant, an Olympic gold medalist, and is the only University of Kentucky athlete to have his jersey retired for both basketball and football.
Coach Cal shared his condolences on Twitter:
Sad to hear of the passing of arguably the greatest UK athlete, Wah Wah Jones. He was an All-American under Adolph Rupp and Bear Bryant.
— John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) July 27, 2014
— John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) July 27, 2014
Rest in peace, Wah Wah. You will be greatly missed.
In Calipari’s five years at Kentucky, his teams have been known for their vast collections of talent. However, each season has also featured one notable “star” – the obvious best player that the team could lean on when the going got tough. John Wall, Brandon Knight, Anthony Davis, Nerlens Noel, and Julius Randle can all be thought of as the “stars” of their respective squads. However, with a less-heralded recruiting class and a slew of returning talent, it is unclear who will fulfill this role in the upcoming season. A case can be made for several of this year’s players:
Karl Anthony Towns
Towns is the highest-rated signee in this year’s class (#5 prospect according to Scout) and recently won Gatorade’s Male Athlete of the Year award. Karl has a great head on his shoulders and a competitive spirit - traits that, when combined with his talent, could make him a leader on next year’s team. Of course, he will have to win a starting position in Kentucky’s loaded front-court first – which isn’t necessarily a given.
We already know he’s clutch. If Aaron can become a bit more consistent next season, look out. He’s likely to be the team’s leading scorer; will that be enough to make him the “star”?
Willie has been a projected lottery pick for the past two seasons. He’s now got two years of experience under his belt and will be hungry following his early exit from the NCAA tournament. When he’s on, Willie’s shot-blocking presence is comparable to Noel’s or Davis’s. Could he up the ante and become the team’s key player next season?
He took the starting job from Cauley-Stein in the latter part of last season, and at times Dakari has looked unstoppable in the paint. Apparently he’s become a bit leaner, which should help with his quickness. If Johnson can reclaim a starting spot, he could be a force to be reckoned with next year.
Alex has shown beastly potential since his freshman season. He will be a veteran on next year’s squad and could start at the 3 spot. Can he break out of his shell and become the team’s “star”? It would be awesome to watch.
Last season’s “tweak” that precipitated the incredible postseason run revolved around him. Andrew will be Calipari’s first returning point guard at UK. Considering Cal’s history with point guards, the prospects are pretty darn good.
So, there we have it. Six players who could potentially be the “star” of next year’s team, and we didn’t even consider top 10 recruit Trey Lyles or projected first-rounder Marcus Lee. Of course, with all of the talent in Lexington next season, the upcoming team could buck the trend and have a sort of “star-by-committee”. It doesn’t happen often (the 2004 Detroit Pistons would probably be the best example) but neither does the depth of talent that Kentucky will have next season.
What do you think? Who will be next year’s star? Will the team even have one?
By Courtney Sealey on ©2:30 pm
The Packers have signed Aaron Rodgers all the way through the 2019 season and there is one thing left he wants. Randall Cobb.
Cobb is going into the final season of his rookie contract, and despite missing most of last season due to a leg injury, Rodgers said he would like the Packers to re-sign him.
“I’d love for Randall to be next. “He’s a guy, again, who’s done it the right way. He’s been a great leader for us. He’s had some injury issues last year that hurt him that was out of his control. But he’s a consistent performer for us and a great guy in the locker room as well.”
With less than $13 million in salary-cap space and three other Packer players going into free agency next off season, it will be interesting to see what happens after this season with Cobb. It does look good though because head coach Mike McCarthy said he wants him back as well.
“Every coach wants his core guys, no doubt about it,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. “You want to sign them all. Like I said before, if I was in charge of the player checkbook, we would have been way over the budget a long time ago. Yes, Randall’s an excellent football player and you always want to see your guys get paid and you continue to grow with them.”
Cobb will be one of the top five free-agent wide receivers for 2015, according to ESPN’s Mike Sando.
By Courtney Sealey on ©1:30 pm
After Emmanuel Mudiay signed his $1.2 million deal in China, there was worry it might become a trend. That worry was escalated when recruit Skal Labissiere said going overseas was an option for him. Rob Dauster took a stand against players going overseas for a year with an opinion piece on why the chances are slim for it to become a habit.
“There simply isn’t all that much of a market for these guys abroad, particularly in Europe. When we’re talking about guys who can go pro overseas and make seven-figures, we’re talking about the elite of the elite. Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, Jahlil Okafor, Mudiay. In a strong class, you’re looking at maybe five to seven guys who are worth consideration.”
He also makes a valid argument on how unfair it is the overseas teams are used and get nothing in return for accepting the players. A player fresh out of high school is not ready to contribute major minutes, they would just be overpowered by the good teams.
A smart European team could start to flip American players for profit, signing them to $200,000-$300,000 contracts with $600,000 buyouts, the max an NBA team is allowed to pay. In theory, that makes sense.In practice, it doesn’t.If we’re going to be honest here, we need to acknowledge that any incoming freshman talented enough to garner that kind of deal from a European team has the avenues to get paid just as much, if not more, while he’s in college, and I say that without a shred of sarcasm.
You can read the full article and his views on Labissiere going overseas to play here.
By Courtney Sealey on ©12:30 pm
Jayson Tatum, a five-star recruit in the 2016 class, has offers from the most elite programs in the country, but hadn’t made any moves until recently showing which team is the early front runner. However, recently Larry Vaught sat down with him and heard some promising things about Kentucky.
“Recruiting, it really never stops. I am almost always talking to coaches every day. I will probably narrow my list going into my junior year. Kentucky, I have a very high interest in Kentucky. Great program and coach Cal (John Calipari) is a great guy and great coach. I really liked what they did in the (NCAA) tournament last year.”
(Thank you Aaron Harrison)
You can read the full article, including Tatum’s feelings on trying out for the USA under 17 team, here.
By Courtney Sealey on ©11:30 am
After an amazing performance last night, the Astros announced that AJ Reed was promoted to their Class-A affiliate, the Quad Cities River Bandits. Reed went 9-20 with three doubles, a home run and five runs batted over the six away games.
— Tri-City ValleyCats (@ValleyCats) July 27, 2014
Reed was promoted after he hit a moon shot grand slam to help the Tri-City ValleyCats win their game. Congrats AJ!
By Courtney Sealey on ©10:00 am
It has only been a short few months since we last saw our Olympic games, but I am already going through withdrawals. What brings so many fans of so many different sports together like the Olympics? What is better than staying up until 4 a.m. watching long jump or rhythmic gymnastics with your closest friends? Probably the ridiculous American flag clothing we get an excuse to wear, but that’s not the point. Nothing says ‘Merica like the Olympics.
On this day in 2012, Queen Elizabeth opened the London Olympics and we witnessed an amazing opening ceremony (and the reunion of the Spice girls), reminding us all why we love the UK so much. Knowing we still have two years before we will get to witness our next Olympic games is depressing.
Here is a four hour video of the opening ceremony to help us through this day. I know you will watch every minute of it, like I will.
Anyways. Here are some morning links to start your day:
— The parents of Trent DiGiuro, a UK Football player who was shot to death two decades ago, held a fundraising event in his honor yesterday.The event was held to raise money for scholarships in Trent’s name. The event was the third annual polo event the family has held.
— Byron Scott has confirmed he will be the next Lakers coach. As reported last night, the former Cavaliers coach has agreed to a four-year, $17 million contract with the Lakers, who also hold the option of keeping him for the final year.
— Jim Irsay is slowly winning back his fans after his arrest a few months ago in which he was charged with two misdemeanors. How is he doing this you ask? By showing up to events with $29,000 and passing out $100 bills. I wonder if he is looking to adopt?
— In the shortest video interview ever released, Eric Bledsoe recently talked about his contract negotiations with the Suns. Bledsoe had been offered a 4-year, $46 million deal, but the two sides are still way off, apparently.
— Mark Story thinks it is time to ‘reset’ attitudes on both sides of the UK-UL rivalry, saying the ‘rivalry dynamic’ of the two teams competitiveness against each other is off. He also says there is no longer a ‘big brother’/ ‘little brother’ thing going on, but they will always be little brother to me.
— Cleveland is apparently ‘stunned’ Johnny Manziel likes to party, leaving the question of if they actually do background checks on their players for anything off the field. Deadspin did an awesome open letter to the Browns, asking all the questions we want to know. No word back yet though on if they responded.
— A kid with an awesome name and an awesome build is starting to get on the radar of a few teams. At the AAU National Championships this past week, 7 feet 5 and 290 [pound Tacko Fall stood out among his peers. The Senegal native stood out among the other players who just stood in the area of 6-foot-7. Sounds like Drew’s kind of dude.
—What does being the ‘Baddest Dude’ on the offensive line mean? Larry Vaught lets us know what Jordan Swindle thinks after being called that by Neal Brown.
It seems like so long ago that she stole our hearts in the heart racing movie Speed, and when she reminded us that stalking is okay if you are nice to the family of the person you stalk in While You were Sleeping. If you look up classy in the dictionary, her name would be in the sentence explaining it. The actress is an entrepreneur (who designed her own brand of seat belts for dogs) and a humanitarian who has donated millions to fight terrorism. That doesn’t even include her personally fighting against terrorism in Miss Congeniality.
Although she has started to move on to being a ‘movie mom’, she still reminds us we should not mess with her, because she most likely has a gun on her person somewhere (Seriously…is there a movie where she doesn’t have a gun?) Saturday we celebrated the 50th birthday of America’s sweetheart, Sandra Bullock. Happy Birthday, Sandy. I’m glad you made it back from space.
On to today’s news and views:
Mike Edwards makes a smart choice to wait to enroll
It’s never a good feeling when a recruit can’t play, but Edwards seems to be making the right decision to have surgery on a separated shoulder and letting it heal properly before coming to Kentucky. The four star recruit separated the shoulder his senior season and played with the injury.
“I played with it last year (a separated shoulder). It bothered me somewhat, but I played through it. I just need to get it taken care of because this is the next level. Bigger guys and stuff. It could happen again, and I’m not trying to risk that at all.”
Very grown up decision to make, Mike.
Some of the KSR crew attended the “Coaches for the Kids” event with the UK Football staff. Who let Ryan near coach Stoops?
CJ Conrad dissed by his own state
The Ohio native participated in Ohio State’s Friday Night Lights camp last night and the UK commit left without an offer from his home school. Conrad said he did not go to the for an offer, he just wanted to learn. You still have to feel bad for him to be offer-less from his home state. Nonetheless, you’ll always have home with us, CJ.
John Wall shared another childhood picture with us
Well, technically. It was really a portrait tattoo, but he was still adorable as a child nonetheless.
— John Wall (@John_Wall) July 27, 2014
Boogie has a chance to join Team USA
Now don’t get too excited, but Kevin Love withdrew from participation in Team USA basketball activities and has left a slot open for the taking. Several names have been brought up for the open big man position, including: Andre Drummond, Kenneth Faried and our very own Boogie Cousins. I wonder how Coach K would like having that many UK players on his team?
Let there be light!
— UKSTOOPSTROOPS (@ukstoopstroops) July 25, 2014
Lighting is currently being installed on the North and South sides of Commonwealth stadium, and not a moment too soon with Football season starting in a month.
AJ Reed hit his first grand slam as a professional player
It looks like AJ Reed is doing just finnnnnnne in his new minor league gig. (Not surprisingly.)
And AJ REED (@ajreed18UK) with a moonshot for a GRAND SLAM!!! His first professional slam puts the 'Cats up 8-3 with no one out in the 2nd
— Tri-City ValleyCats (@ValleyCats) July 26, 2014
Kentucky likes to fly
Jet-lagged would be putting it lightly. According to Kyle Tucker of the Courier-Journal, UK spent more than $450,000 on chartered flights just for recruiting alone. While that is a big number, I thought it would be in the millions for as much recruiting as Cal and Stoops staff put in for the 2013-14 fiscal year.
The Women’s Clinic was a success
According to news coming out from the annual UK Women’s Clinic, Coach Brown says Towles is the most improved offensive player on the team. The clinic was full of coach presentations and question and answer sessions, giving the women an inside look of the football program. Like every year, this year was a success.
Apparently they also get to do cool stuff like this, too. (Rene gets to have all the fun =[ )
Put me in Coach. I'm ready to play!!! pic.twitter.com/DhQqpRsTfq
— Rene' Cornette (@Rene81) July 26, 2014
Stoops really seems to have had a good time at the clinic, too. (I wonder what they’re laughing at?)
— Regina Lexi Rickert (@acrphoto) July 26, 2014
Now. In case I did not make enough cheesy 1990 movie references, here is the trailer for Speed to start your day.
By Courtney Sealey on ©10:15 pm
After several months, the search is finally over. According to ESPN, the Lakers have reached an agreement with Byron Scott for a 4-years, $17 million contract.
He first interviewed for the job months ago and has been at the top of Kobe Bryant’s list, so it is not surprising they picked him to please him. Scott was the head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers from 2010 to 2013 where he struggled with a young roster.
Now the waiting game begins to see where Randle will fit into his game plan.
By Courtney Sealey on ©9:30 pm
Yeah. That was my face when I saw the pictures of these former players smiling big for the camera. They do say that a smile is contagious. I suggest you put on some of this smooth Happy background music before you look at them.
Kyle Wiltjer and MKG
— Kyle Wiltjer (@kwiltj) July 26, 2014
By Brennan English on ©8:30 pm
Four of your favorite, historic Kentucky football wins of the past decade are going to be airing on the SEC Network on August 21.
Yes, that’s a long time from now, but you need to be prepared.
2007 Kentucky 43 – LSU 37
2010 Kentucky 31 – South Carolina 28
2009 Kentucky 34 – Georgia 27
2007 Kentucky 40 – Louisville 34
Gear up for football and soak up these great moments just before the season kicks off (in glorious HD).
By Brennan English on ©7:00 pm
Kyle Tucker of the Courier-Journal has a fascinating article, complete with interactive maps, on how the use of private jets was utilized in reeling in their respective recruiting classes.
How much does success cost might you ask? A. Lot.
According to flight records obtained by The Courier-Journal, Calipari and football coach Mark Stoops combined to take $450,000 worth of chartered flights just for recruiting purposes during the 2013-14 fiscal year.
But is this all necessary? Calipari thinks so:
Coaching at Kentucky allows certain opportunities, one of which is to be able to coordinate our busy recruiting schedule and team practices. Because of access to private planes, I am able to get out and see the kids I need to see but make it back in time to be with my team.
I won’t share anymore details so that you can read Kyle’s article for yourself, but it’s filled with all sorts of cool tidbits on when and where Calipari and Stoops have been flying, who they may have been seeing, and some jet and recruiting-centric quotes from Coach Mark Stoops and Deputy Athletic Director DeWayne Peevy.
— UKSTOOPSTROOPS (@ukstoopstroops) July 25, 2014
Looks like the brand new stadium lighting is being installed on the North and South sides. Renovations will continue throughout the upcoming season, and I can’t wait to see the finished product next year.