By Jack Pilgrim on ©January 22nd, 2019 @ 12:30pm
The main focus for Kentucky has been on closing out the 2019 recruiting class, but the Wildcat coaching staff is laying the ground work for the elite prospects in the class of 2020.
In fact, several of those big-name prospects will be making their way to Lexington for visits in the coming weeks.
Let’s take a look.
|Hunter Dickinson (2020)
Center | 7-2 | 255 lbs.
Hyattsville, MD |DeMatha Catholic
AAU: Team Takeover
|ESPN||No. 20 | 2 C||Top247||No. 23 | 4 C|
|Rivals||No. 18 | 3 C||247 Comp.||No. 19 | 4 C|
Hunter Dickinson, a 7-foot-2 center out of Hyattsville, MD will head to Lexington this Saturday for Kentucky’s matchup with Kansas.
After some back-and-forth on whether or not it would be an official or unofficial visit for the five-star big man, KSR sources have confirmed it will be unofficial.
Back in December, the elite center told Jake Weingarten of Stockrisers.com that Kentucky is one of the schools recruiting him the hardest and he’s certainly open to John Calipari’s pitch.
“Kentucky has one of the best coaches in the country and Coach Cal probably has the best recent track record of getting players in the league,” he said.
In an interview with Irish Sports Daily yesterday, Dickinson said he would likely decide next fall.
“Final decision will probably be around next fall, hopefully. That would probably be a good decision for me. I don’t really want to rush it. I just want to make sure I’m making the best decision possible.”
Check out his highlights:
|B.J. Boston (2020)
Shooting Guard | 6-7 | 183 lbs.
Norcross, GA | Norcross HS
AAU: Athletes of Tomorrow (AOT)
|ESPN||No. 15 | 4 SF||Top247||No. 12 | 3 SG|
|Rivals||No. 8 | 2 SF||247 Comp.||No. 10 | 3 SG|
After a busy recruiting weekend when Kansas comes to town, things will slow down for a few weeks with 2020 prospects until five-star shooting guard B.J. Boston comes to town for Kentucky’s highly-anticipated matchup with Tennessee on February 16.
During his time at the Hoophall Classic this past weekend, Boston said the schools recruiting him the hardest right now are Duke, Auburn, Kentucky, Alabama, and Florida.
His most recent highlight tape:
|Sharife Cooper (2020)
Point Guard | 6-0 | 160 lbs.
Marietta, GA | McEachern
AAU: Athletes of Tomorrow (AOT)
|ESPN||No. 23 | 4 PG||Top247||No. 19 | 2 PG|
|Rivals||No. 24 | 4 PG||247 Comp.||No. 21 | 2 PG|
Just one week after Boston heads to Lexington, five-star point guard Sharife Cooper will unofficially visit Lexington when Auburn comes to town.
In an interview with Adam Zagoria of FloHoops, Cooper said he’ll be in town on February 23.
“I’m visiting Duke soon,” he said. “I think I’m going to go to the Kentucky-Auburn game later in the season [Feb 23].”
In fact, Cooper said the Kentucky coaching staff is actually pushing for a commitment from the 6-foot guard out of Marietta, GA.
“They kind of want to do it now, but I’m just trying to take my time,” he said.
Cooper’s interest in Kentucky really depends on what happens over the course of the next season. He likes the Cats, but he also doesn’t want to join an overly crowded backcourt.
“I really can’t think that far,” he said. “I’m just trying to finish the high school season. Anybody could commit to Kentucky. I don’t want to go somewhere where there’s three point guards, so I’m just really trying to take my time and see what they do.”
Watch him work:
Keion Brooks Jr.
Forward | 6-8 | 185 lbs.
Fort Wayne, IN | North Side
AAU: Spiece Indy Heat
|ESPN||No. 30 | 9 PF||Top247||No. 16 | 5 SF|
|Rivals||No. 35 | 13 PF||247 Comp.||No. 22 | 6 SF|
Beyond 2020 prospects, we also got a small bit of news on 2019 five-star forward Keion Brooks Jr. this morning.
With UCLA firing head coach Steve Alford and the school’s next coach in question, Brooks has decided to remove them from his final list.
The final four schools in contention? Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Michigan State.
Zagoria was the first to break the news:
.@KeionB_12 said yesterday he's effectively down to 4 schools – Indiana, Kentucky, UNC and Michigan State. Said it would be 'difficult' to start a new relationship with the new UCLA coach. @FloHoops https://t.co/ZueE4sXQ1R
— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) January 22, 2019
Brooks has said a decision is coming soon, with Indiana maintaining the majority of momentum right now and Michigan State also picking up steam…
More to come
Sources tell KSR there are more prominent visitors expected for the Kansas game this weekend, and I’m working on getting that official list to you guys in the next day or so.
I’ll also follow up on five-star point guard Anthony Edwards’ official visit to Kentucky, as well.
See you then.
By Adam Luckett on ©January 22nd, 2019 @ 12:00pm
Fresh off their biggest SEC road win of the Calipari era, UK will return home to take on another top 25 team tonight at Rupp Arena. After the ballyhooed hire of Ben Howland, the Mississippi State Bulldogs are finally seeing legitimate results in his fourth season.
With a roster that has a nice mix of upperclassmen to go with young talent, State has spent this entire season in the top 25. It would take a crazy turn of events for this team to not be dancing come March. Behind a senior wing and a tough as nails junior point guard, the Bulldogs have the potential to compete for an SEC championship.
Most people are ready for that huge clash against Kansas on Saturday, but the Cats have a tough challenge tonight. Mississippi State is a tough and skilled basketball team. They will not be intimidated by the stage and UK will have to play well to improve to 5-1 in SEC play.
Nuts and Bolts
After a four-year run at Pittsburgh that included two Big East titles, Ben Howland made the move west to run the program at UCLA. At the end of that tenure he was labeled a bust, but after the mediocre run by Steve Alford it’s hard to look down on Howland’s run in Westwood.
In Los Angeles, Howland recruited and developed multiple pros and led the Bruins to three straight Final Fours from 2006-2008. In 10 seasons, Howland led UCLA to 233 victories, three 30-win seasons, four Pac-12 titles, and seven NCAA Tournaments. After missing the tournament in two of his last four seasons, it was time for a change.
Howland sat out for two years before he jumped back into college coaching. After reeling in five-star recruit Malik Newman in his first recruiting haul, expectations were high. However, State got off to a very slow start. It took until year three before the Bulldogs made the postseason. That was last year when they recorded 25 victories and made it to Madison Square Garden for the NIT Semifinals. Now they’re destined to breakthrough for the program’s first NCAA Tournament since 2009.
The highs have been high and the lows have been low for this basketball program. Since 1996, Mississippi State has reached a Final Four, claimed an SEC regular season title, and won three SEC Tournaments. During that time they’ve also had six losing seasons. You can win big here, but it is very hard to keeping it humming in consecutive seasons.
Tonight will be the 107th meeting between the two programs with Kentucky owning an 88-18 series lead. Mississippi State is the only SEC team that is winless against John Calipari at Kentucky. The Wildcats have won 11 in a row against the Bulldogs. State’s last win occurred in February 2009 in Rupp Arena.
Out in the desert, Kentucky is a 6.5 point favorite with a total of 144.5. That’s a projected final score of 75.5-69. Both Kentucky and Mississippi State are 8-9 against the spread. The over is 5-2 in State’s last seven games. Kentucky is 2-3 against the spread as a single-digit favorite. Each defeat resulted in a straight up loss. The two covers occurred on the road by double-digits. This will be the first time Mississippi State has been a dog all season.
History tells us that Ben Howland’s teams are more known for their hard nosed defense and less for their scoring punch. This team is nearly the opposite. The Dogs can put the ball in the hole and it all starts with a three-headed attack on the perimeter.
Malik Newman got all of the attention in Howland’s first class, but it’s now fair to say that Quinndary Weatherspoon has developed into the better college basketball player. The 6-foot-4 guard plays the three for the Bulldogs and was a second team All-SEC member as both a sophomore and a junior. He started the 100th game of his career in this past weekend’s win over Vanderbilt and he paces this squad.
The senior from the small town of Canton, Mississippi leads the team in minutes (32.9) and points (16.6). He’s second on the team in rebounds (5.8) and assists (2.9). He’s an above average three-point shooter, but what he does best is attack the basket. Weatherspoon is attempting just under five foul shots per game and there he is shooting over 80 percent. He’s a very good basketball player.
With any team with a really good offense, you have to have a point guard that drives the car. Mississippi State has exactly that in junior lefty Lamar Peters. The New Orleans native has been starting since his freshman season and he’s been outstanding this year.
The six-foot lead guard ranks fifth in the SEC in assists (99) and is shooting over 40 percent from behind the arc. He’s a solid defender and is pouring in over 13 points per games.
You need one more guard to have a true small ball lineup and that is where Nick Weatherspoon comes in. The younger brother of Quinddary has become a very quality player in his sophomore season.
The 6-foot-2 combo guard is Mississippi State’s most prolific three-point shooter (19 makes on a 46.3 percent clip) in addition to being very efficient from two-point range. He’s an excellent role player and is the future of this basketball program. Weatherspoon averages 10.3 points per outing and that means that all three of State’s starters in the backcourt average double-digits.
Off the bench, Mississippi State uses combo guard Tyson Carter to fill in at each spot. The 6-foot-4 hometown kid from Starkville is playing over 20 minutes per game and has been one of the most productive bench players in the SEC. Carter is putting up just under 10 points per game and has been this squad’s most efficient offensive player in a somewhat small sample size.
The Dogs may be small in the backcourt, but they are very long at the four and five. In the post, the Bulldogs have experience and rim protection, but they also have a guy that can step away from the bucket.
Aric Holman is a 6-foot-10 senior from Owensboro, Kentucky who will be having a homecoming of sorts tonight at Rupp Arena. The stretch big has had an excellent career in Starkville. This season he is having a career year.
The lengthy forward is averaging over 12 points per game and is shooting 44 percent from three. He’s recording over eight boards per game and leads the team with 38 blocks. This squad is ran by its perimeter players, but Holman is a very integral piece.
Next to him in the starting lineup is sophomore Abdul Ado and the 6-foot-11 big from Nigeria is your more traditional five. Ado will get all of his buckets in the paint and he’s an effective free throw shooter when fouled. He’s a solid shot blocker and is a piece that fits very well in Mississippi State’s scheme.
Off the bench, Ben Howland has the luxury of a five-star freshman at his disposal. Reggie Perry was a huge recruiting win for the Bulldogs and Mississippi State is being able to bring him along slowly. The 6-foot-10 and 245-pound rookie is playing nearly 20 minutes per game and is this team’s best rebounder. With this option off of the bench, State has the length to give UK’s frontcourt a ton of problems.
If Mississippi State wants to play big, they can put freshman Robert Woodard II in the lineup. The 6-foot-7 freshman is another solid young piece for Ben Howland and he’s been productive in limited minutes on the wing. The four-star prospect hasn’t been really good at anything particular yet, but he is a player with a lot of potential.
Keys to Victory
- Mississippi State has done a great job at roster construction and the Bulldogs can play a lot of different ways. They can get big, go small, and play a mix of both at the same time. With a skilled big like Aric Holman, UK will find its defense in a bind. One of UK’s bigs is going to have to consistently play away from the basket. Kentucky is going to see a heavy dose of ball screen actions and how they defend it could determine the game. Reid Travis has struggled with this all season. Add that in with the size State’s frontline presents and this could be a game for E.J. Montgomery and Nick Richards.
- With the personnel Mississippi State has in the frontcourt, it’s going to be important for UK to take advantage of its strengths on the perimeter. After scoring just six points in the win over Auburn, UK will need Ashton Hagans to take on more of a scoring role tonight. Mississippi State doesn’t have a guard physical enough to stay with Hagans and he should do a lot of damage when he’s playing downhill. His drives to the basket should result in some easy lay-ups and good looks for teammates. Getting Mississippi State’s shot blockers constantly moving will be key. This is what Hagans can provide with the dribble drive.
- Feels like we mention it every game, but it will once again be important tonight. As a team, Mississippi State is shooting over 38 percent from behind the arc. This ranks 26th in the country. Due to the stretch ability of Aric Holman, this will be a unique challenge for UK to take on. Every guard Mississippi State plays can shoot and the multi-dimensional ability of Holman will put UK in a bind. The Wildcats must be ready to close out on shooters.
- Basketball is a team sport and I believe that a lot of time individual matchups are way overstated. They’re good talking points, but rarely does an isolation contest between two players win a game. However, that could be different tonight. It’s hard to imagine UK winning without Keldon Johnson playing well. Going against one of the best wings in the SEC, Johnson needs to build off his 20-point outing in the win over Auburn.
By Brett Bibbins on ©January 22nd, 2019 @ 11:30am
- In case you missed it over the weekend, Anthony Davis sustained a finger injury that is going to keep him out of action for a week or two. In the meantime, Julius Randle gets a chance to lead the Pelicans, and last night he took advantage of the opportunity. Randle scored 20 points, grabbed 12 rebounds, dished out 5 assists, and had 2 steals. The big-lefty did rack up seven turnovers, as the ball was in his hands much more often than normal to create on his own, but New Orleans was able to knock off the Grizzlies, 105-85.
- The Milwaukee Bucks continue to tear up through the first half of the season, sitting atop the standings in the Eastern Conference. Last night, they earned a 10-point victory over the Dallas Mavericks, despite rookie phenom Luka Doncic recording his first career triple-double. Former Cat Eric Bledsoe was the second-leading scorer for Milwaukee last night, finishing with 21 points, 5 assists, 4 rebounds, and 2 steals.
- Klay Thompson started off hot in last night’s game between the Golden State Warriors and the Los Angeles Lakers, making his first 10 three point attempts, which is an NBA record. The game was in hand for almost the entirety of the second half, but DeMarcus Cousins did get to start and play in his second game of the season. From watching the game, you could tell that Cousins definitely has some rust to shake off, on top of getting his conditioning back to top level. Big Cuz left a lot of jump shots just short, which tells me that he was running out of gas with the frantic pace the Warriors were playing at throughout the game. Regardless, Boogie had 8 points on 2-9 shooting, 9 rebounds, and 5 assists.
|Julius Randle||105-85 win over Grizzlies||20||6-9 (0-1)||12||5||2||0||7||+10||27|
|Darius Miller||105-85 win over Grizzlies||3||1-4 (1-4)||1||0||0||2||2||+15||28|
|Eric Bledsoe||116-106 win over Mavericks||21||8-16 (1-7)||4||5||2||0||2||+19||33|
|DeMarcus Cousins||130-111 win over Lakers||8||2-9 (0-2)||9||5||0||0||1||+24||21|
|De'Aaron Fox||123-94 loss to Nets||9||4-14 (1-2)||3||6||1||0||3||-16||29|
|Willie Cauley-Stein||123-94 loss to Nets||12||6-8 (0-0)||6||2||0||0||0||-20||27|
|Bam Adebayo||107-99 loss to Celtics||13||4-6 (0-0)||7||2||1||2||3||+0||28|
|Patrick Patterson||127-109 win over Knicks||2||1-2 (0-1)||0||0||0||0||0||+5||9|
|Nerlens Noel||127-109 win over Knicks||6||3-5 (0-0)||8||0||2||0||2||+0||20|
|Hamidou Diallo||127-109 win over Knicks||3||1-2 (0-0)||3||1||0||0||1||-1||17|
|Kevin Knox||127-109 loss to Thunder||8||3-8 (2-3)||4||2||0||1||0||-22||27|
|Enes Kanter||127-109 loss to Thunder||11||5-11 (0-1)||3||1||0||0||0||+0||19|
|Isaiah Briscoe||122-103 win over Hawks||2||1-5 (0-0)||2||3||0||0||0||+12||20|
— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) January 21, 2019
DOUBLE. ZERO. pic.twitter.com/X0K4g4ww74
— Sacramento Kings (@SacramentoKings) January 21, 2019
Shot Blocka Bam! ?? pic.twitter.com/lkeXla7eNc
— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) January 21, 2019
- Sacramento Kings (De’Aaron Fox, Willie Cauley-Stein, Skal Labissiere) at Toronto Raptors, 7pm ET
- Portland Trail Blazers at Oklahoma City Thunder (Nerlens Noel, Patrick Patterson, Hamidou Diallo), 8pm ET on NBATV
- Los Angeles Clippers (Shai Gilgeous-Alexander) at Dallas Mavericks, 8:30pm ET
- Minnesota Timberwolves (Karl-Anthony Towns) at Phoenix Suns (Devin Booker), 9pm ET
By Jack Pilgrim on ©January 22nd, 2019 @ 10:30am
When you rake in young talent every year like Kentucky does, you learn to accept the good that comes with the bad. We see the highs with explosive highlights, big wins, and impressive tournament runs late in the year.
When it comes to the lows, we tend to see young teams overlook and play down to lesser competition, panic on the big stage when the lights are at their brightest. We’ve seen both scenarios play out this year.
With the national spotlight on them, the Wildcats got destroyed to open the season against Duke. They later played down to their competition against Seton Hall and came away with a loss. Kentucky then managed two dominant performances against North Carolina and Louisville away from home, but then came out flat on the road against Alabama and ended up heading back to Lexington with a 77-75 loss.
With a standout performance on the road against No. 14 Auburn on Saturday, followed by Kansas coming to town this weekend, “trap game” is easily the first thought that comes to mind with Kentucky’s matchup with Mississippi State this evening at Rupp Arena.
During his afternoon press conference yesterday afternoon, Kentucky assistant coach Tony Barbee said with the Bulldogs ranked in the top 25 (No. 22), there’s no reason to believe this is a trap game for the Wildcats. They’ve got Kentucky’s “full attention.”
“You would say that if they weren’t ranked in the top 25 and as good and as talented and as experienced as any team in our league,” he said. “If those three factors weren’t there, yeah, maybe you could say trap game. Not with this Mississippi State team.
“They’re as good as any team in our league,” Barbee added. “Their depth. Their experience. They’ve got size. They’ve got guard play. They’re not deficient in any one area. So, for that reason, no, not a trap game at all. These guys got our full attention.”
Kentucky forward EJ Montgomery said Kansas hasn’t even crossed the team’s mind as of yet. They are focused on Mississippi State, and Mississippi State only.
“We haven’t even talked about Kansas yet, just working on Mississippi State,” he said. “We’re just trying to get that win first.”
For Kentucky sophomore PJ Washington, the Bulldogs are just as impressive as some of the other big-name opponents the Wildcats have played this season. As a result, they’re guaranteed to get their best shot when they hit the floor this evening.
“In the bigger games, we want it more,” he said. “We want to go out there and play tougher opponents. I feel like everybody is more excited when we play better teams, we just like playing good people.”
Why does this team enjoy matchups with elite competition so much? Washington said it’s a great indicator of where the team is compared to the other impressive teams throughout the nation. The idea that your opponent can come onto your floor and win forces Kentucky to play to the best of their abilities.
“It’s always great going against competitive teams, you get to see where you are,” he said. “On both ends of the floor, all 40 minutes, you’ve got to fight, so it’s great to have a group of guys that’s willing to do that. It’s always fun playing against someone that can beat you.”
One of the ways to defeat a top-25 opponent like Mississippi State? The infamous “kill” system John Calipari discussed at the start of the season. With a sample size of half a season to work with, the coaches and players have realized there is a specific number of kills that correlates with margin of victory.
“We have this thing, it’s called getting ‘kills’ where getting three stops in a row equals one kill,” Washington said. “We try to get eight a game, because the games we’ve done that, we’ve beaten teams by 20 points [or more]. So that’s our goal each game, get eight kills, so we’ve just got to step is up and lock down on defense.”
By Bryan the Intern on ©January 22nd, 2019 @ 10:00am
Kentucky faces a very important week of games this week with visits from Mississippi State and Kansas on the schedule. After last weekend’s win over Auburn, it seems the Cats are close to righting the ship and their NCAA Tournament resume has started to build. But UK needs a few more marquee wins to really try and lock down a 2-seed and this week provides a great opportunity.
It also will mark a rare occurrence for UK fans. This will mark the first time in 13 years that UK will play three consecutive regular season games against ranked opponents. Since 1992, it has only happened SIX times, and only in 2 of those instances did UK finish undefeated in that stretch:
#11 UMASS (Win), #3 Arkansas (Loss), at #14 Syracuse (Loss)
#16 Utah (Win), #22 Maryland (Win), #8 Arizona (Loss)
#25 Notre Dame (Win), #4 Tennessee (Win), at #21 Ole Miss (Loss), at #18 Alabama (Loss)
#10 Notre Dame (Win), #24 Auburn (Win), at #15 Alabama (Win)
#9 North Carolina (Win), #20 Vanderbilt (Win), at #20 Mississippi State (Win)
at #21 LSU (Loss), at #11 Tennessee (Win), #17 Florida (Loss)
UK is faced with a unique situation this week. Not only a chance to face three straight high level opponents but the chance to beat them all. Most UK teams have not been able to. The ones who were? Two #1 seeds in the NCAA Tournament. Just sayin.
By Nick Roush on ©January 22nd, 2019 @ 9:55am
A day after celebrating the win over Auburn, the Kentucky Sports Radio crew is prepared to get you ready for the game against Mississippi State. I’m sure there won’t be any Starkville jokes made. Zero.
Join in on the fun by calling (502) 571-1080 or send a text to the KSR Texting Machine at (859) 300-3264.
|Ashland||WCMI||93.3 FM T||LIVE|
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|Lancaster||WZXI||1280 AM||5-7 PM|
|Lancaster/Stanford||WZXI||95.5 FM T||5-7 PM|
|Leitchfield||WMTL||870 AM||10A-12N CST|
|London||WFTG||106.9 FM T||LIVE|
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|McKee-Booneville||Peoples Rural Telephone||Cable TV Channel 209||LIVE|
|Morganfield||WUCO||98.5 FM T||LIVE|
|Paducah||WPAD||99.5 FM T||LIVE|
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|Prestonsburg||WPRT||104.5 FM T||LIVE|
|Whitesburg||WTCW||95.1 FM T||LIVE|
|Whitley City||WHAY||98.3 FM||LIVE|
|Williamson, WV||WBTH||1400 AM||LIVE|
|Williamson, WV||WBTH||102.5 FM T||LIVE|
|50 Radio Affiliates|
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*Affiliates subject to change without notice
The KSR Shop and Kentucky Branded are having a special one day offer. Do you like FREE UK gear?! Well, head to ShopKSR.com, spend at least $40, and you will receive a FREE UK hat!
Go pick out a KSR sweatshirt, long sleeve tee, UK apparel, and more. Receive that FREE UK hat while supplies last. Offer ends at midnight!
By Nick Roush on ©January 22nd, 2019 @ 9:00am
Tonight Kentucky will play a ranked opponent in consecutive games for just the fourth time in the Calipari era when Ben Howland’s Mississippi State team travels to Rupp Arena. Tip-off is set for 7:00 pm between the eighth-ranked Wildcats and No. 22 Bulldogs.
The matchup with Miss. State comes after a galvanizing victory at Auburn and ahead of a Top 10 battle with Kansas. The middle leg of Calipari’s first three-game stretch against ranked teams at Kentucky is the perfect position for a trap game.
This isn’t the same ole Mississippi State. The Bulldogs are 14-3 with solid wins over Dayton, Clemson, Saint Mary’s and Cincinnati. The Weatherspoon brothers, Quinndary (16.6 ppg) and Nick (10.2 ppg.), provide the Bulldogs’ one-two punch, with Owensboro product Aric Holman (12.4 ppg., 8.1 rpg.) holding down the fort in the paint.
Saturday’s win was spectacular, but the Cats can not dwell on it for long. However, you can and you should relive all of the best moments at least one more time.
— John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) January 22, 2019
They say there’s a first time for everything. If Howland’s Bulldogs pull off the upset, it will be the first time John Calipari has lost to Mississippi State as Kentucky’s head coach. Even though the two teams produced fireworks in Cal’s first year, State is the last team in the SEC without a win over the UK head coach.
How to Watch and Listen
Enjoy Dick Vitale’s call of the Auburn game? Then you’re in for a treat. Dickie V is coming to Lexington along with Laura Rutledge and Karl Ravech for the 7:00 pm tip on ESPN. Tonight Tom Leach will be accompanied by a familiar voice as Mike Pratt rejoins the radio broadcast. Here’s how you can listen:
- AM: 840 WHAS, 630 WLAP
- FM: 98.1 WBUL
- Satellite: XM-190 and Sirius-121
- Online: iHeart Radio
The Cats opened as 6.5-point favorites over the Bulldogs. The total has been set at 144.5. Wager responsibly.
Prepare on the KSR Pregame Show
Before the Cats take the court, listen to Matt Jones and the KSR crew preview the matchup between the UK and Miss. State. All of the action begins on 630 WLAP or online at 4:30 pm.
Bring the Kiss Cam Back to Rupp
For incredible moments like this.
I've watched this a thousand times and it just keeps getting funnier. pic.twitter.com/83imPv1lS1
— Mike Primavera (@primawesome) January 21, 2019
A Talented Visitor
John Calipari is expected to have a special guest in the stands this evening. Anthony Edwards, the No. 1 player in the 2019 class, is on an official visit in Lexington. Even though it’s cold outside, hopefully he’ll watch the Cats heat up against a Top 25 team inside Rupp Arena.
Before Mark Stoops brings a slew underclassmen to Rupp Arena for Saturday’s Junior Day, he got some good news about the 2019 class. Yesterday four-star cornerback Jammie Robinson announced he will choose between UK, Tennessee, Auburn and South Carolina on National Signing Day. Later today I’ll have more on who Kentucky has in their crosshairs down the stretch.
If you think it’s too cold to venture out into the snow, it wasn’t too tough for Kash Daniel and his new pup.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©January 21st, 2019 @ 11:00pm
As expected, Kentucky’s win at Auburn gave them a nice boost in the rankings and ratings. The Cats are now No. 8 in the AP Poll and the NCAA’s NET rankings, which become more and more important as we inch closer to the tournament.
After each game, we’ll take a look at Kentucky’s NCAA Tournament team sheet, which the Selection Committee uses to pick and seed teams. Each team’s wins are sorted into four quadrants using their opponent’s NET rankings:
- Quadrant 1: Home 1-30; Neutral 1-50; Away 1-75
- Quadrant 2: Home 31-75; Neutral 51-100; Away 76-135
- Quadrant 3: Home 76-160; Neutral 101-200; Away 136-240
- Quadrant 4: Home 161-plus; Neutral 201-plus; Away 241-plus
Here’s Kentucky’s team sheet through January 20:
As you can see, Kentucky is now 3-2 in Quadrant 1 games with nine more on the schedule, two this week. Win both of those and that Quadrant starts to look really good. So, let’s do it.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©January 21st, 2019 @ 10:45pm
Good evening and happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day, BBN! Another week has passed, which means it’s time for another edition of Pilgrim’s Monday Insider Notes.
For as “quiet” as things were two weeks ago, we’re reached complete chaos over the course of the last few days.
Let’s dive right in.
Before we get into anything else, we have to discuss the biggest storyline of the day:
Kentucky is hosting the No. 1 player in the class of 2019 in point guard Anthony Edwards on an official visit starting today, with sources telling KSR the 6-foot-6 athlete arrived on campus earlier this afternoon and he will stay through the Mississippi State game tomorrow evening.
Evan Daniels of 247 Sports originally broke the news on Saturday about Edwards visiting Kentucky this week and then Kansas on Feb. 9.
The timing of the visit is interesting, but it’s absolutely massive for the program for obvious reasons. As one of the best scorers and complete players in all of high school basketball, Edwards has a chance to dominate the college basketball scene and end up as the No. 1 overall pick when the 2020 NBA Draft rolls around. Getting him on campus automatically improves Kentucky’s chances of reeling him in, even when the Wildcats’ chances seemed slim when he originally reclassified from the class of 2020.
As far as those chances specifically and why the timing is so interesting, I heard a bit of information from a source a few weeks ago that we needed to watch Ashton Hagans’ situation and his development as an NBA prospect in relation to Edwards’ recruitment. And that exact scenario is playing out.
Hagans quickly becomes a menace on both ends of the floor for the Wildcats, starts finding his way onto NBA mock drafts, and Kentucky gets Edwards in on an official visit out of the blue. I just don’t think that’s a coincidence. In short, I believe the UK staff knows Hagans is trending toward the NBA and they are looking for the No. 1 prospect in the nation to replace him next season (not too shabby of a replacement candidate, I might add).
I have been told that Edwards likes Kentucky “a whole lot, probably more than the general public realizes” and the UK coaching staff is extremely excited for the opportunity to sell him on being a Wildcat. The narrative out there is that Florida State is the team to beat with Georgia knocking on the door, but the staff feels they can swing major momentum their way while Edwards is on campus.
In an interview with Eric Bossi of Rivals.com, Edwards said he’s looking to build relationships and chemistry with the coaching staff during his visit.
“I’m looking at bonding, the relationship with the coach and staying there and seeing if I have chemistry with them,” he said. “They say come to UK and get a national championship.”
Memphis made some buzz with Edwards this last week, specifically with former Kentucky target James Wiseman reaching out to him, but I’m under the impression the elite point guard prospect is officially down to Florida State, Georgia, Kentucky, Kansas, and North Carolina, with the first four schools being the most likely options.
He’ll likely make a decision after the McDonald’s All-American Game in late March.
I will have an update on the site on how things went/specifics when Edwards’ visit concludes.
Last night, five-star power forward Isaiah Stewart committed to Washington over Duke, Michigan State, Kentucky, and Syracuse, a decision that really shocked no one in the recruiting circles.
If you’ve been following along with the notes over the past few weeks, you’d know Stewart has been leaning toward the Huskies and Kentucky was most likely out of the running. Sources told KSR that Kentucky was running fourth behind Washington, Duke, and Michigan State (in that order), and yesterday Stewart himself confirmed that.
The elite prospect out of La Porte, IN told Evan Daniels of 247 Sports that he actually decided on Washington two weeks ago, with the Blue Devils and Spartans also receiving consideration during the home stretch of his recruitment.
“I really decided that I wanted to go to Washington two weeks ago,” Stewart said. “I was bouncing around from school to school. I was strong with Duke at one point and Michigan State at one point.”
The fact of the matter is that while we usually hear of butterflies and rainbows after visits, I’ve been told Stewart’s official visit to Kentucky just didn’t click with the five-star power forward. The Wildcat coaching staff emphasized how difficult things would be in Lexington, how hard he’d have to work, minutes and shots aren’t guaranteed or promised, etc., and Stewart was more interested in going to a school where he could be the superstar in the frontcourt.
In Daniels’ interview with the elite big man, Stewart confirmed that he was looking to be “the guy” in college.
“Come out here and be the guy,” Stewart said. “39 or 36 touches is what Noah Dickerson got one game. Just getting the ball. I’m an unselfish player and I know how to play with other guys. I want to change the culture out there. When I went out there they were just bursting for someone and I just felt it.”
He’s a talented prospect, and I genuinely feel that he would have been a fantastic player in Lexington, but things just didn’t work out. While I’ve gotten optimistic feedback on the other remaining available frontcourt prospects for Kentucky, the responses I got on Stewart during the home stretch of his recruitment were mixed (at best).
On to the next…
Over the course of the last week or so, rumors have been floating around that once Isaiah Stewart officially committed to Washington, five-star forward Jaden McDaniels would soon spurn his hometown Huskies and commit to Kentucky. I don’t know where they came from or why they’re out there, but I can say with 100 percent certainty they are not true.
In fact, it’s just the opposite. Sources tell KSR that Stewart’s commitment to Washington only strengthened the team’s chances of securing a commitment from McDaniels, not force his hand to look elsewhere.
After Stewart committed to Washington on Sunday evening, he told 247 Sports his first job as a Husky will be to convince McDaniels to join him in Seattle.
“I feel like I’m special and I feel like I deserve to go out there and I feel like they deserve a top recruit,” he said. “I’m going after Jaden McDaniels and we are trying to build something out there.”
Adam Zagoria of FloHoops interviewed McDaniels at the Hoophall Classic this afternoon, asking him of his thoughts on Stewart’s pitch and the Huskies in general.
“When [Stewart] recruits me, everything sounds good,” he said. “I feel like it would be crazy because they have Quade [Green] too, so I feel it would be something people haven’t seen before.
“[I’d be] super comfortable there,” he added. “Because everybody there I know. I’m just around them all the time so I feel that would be a good situation.”
As for Kentucky, the perceived co-favorite in his recruitment, McDaniels says he’s in contact with the Wildcat coaching staff “all the time.”
“Yeah, I talk to the all the time,” he said. “They’re shooting me texts like ‘we’re watching’ and ‘we’d love to have you,’ and stuff like that. They just tell me if you come it’s not going to be given to you, you just gotta work for everything.”
As far as a decision and his overall recruitment goes, McDaniels says he’s going to wait until the end of his season to make a decision, as KSR reported last week.
“I haven’t really been paying attention to [recruiting], honestly,” he said. “I’m just worred about my high school team and doing what we’re doing. I don’t even know [when I’ll make a decision] right now, probably toward the end of our season.”
I believe that while Kentucky feels great about their position, Washington is a legitimate threat to land the 6-foot-11 forward. The fact that McDaniels is in no rush to make a decision plays in Kentucky’s favor.
Keion Brooks Jr.
Last week in the notes, I wrote about five-star forward Keion Brooks coming close to a decision, with sources telling KSR that it would likely come down to Indiana and Kentucky in the end.
Over the last few days, however, two prominent recruiting analysts reported Brooks’ decision would likely come down to two schools, but they each had different finalists (with neither including Kentucky).
“[North Carolina’s] best chances lay with Keion Brooks and Matthew Hurt,” he said. “Brooks is much closer to his decision, and it looks to be a battle between Indiana and UNC for him.”
Brian Snow of 247 Sports, however, wrote in a recent post that he felt the decision was between Indiana and Michigan State for Brooks.
— Matt Charboneau (@mattcharboneau) January 21, 2019
Indiana has been the go-to pick for most recruiting analysts, as he has openly discussed his satisfaction with staying home and playing in front of friends and family every night. There’s no doubt the Hoosiers will be in the conversation right up until the final announcement.
Though I have been told the Kentucky coaching staff feels good about their chances with the versatile forward, the fact that there might not be a clear-cut team up there with the Hoosiers makes me think Archie Miller and the IU coaching staff will win out in the end.
Brooks participated in the Hoophall Classic this afternoon, so quotes from his postgame interview should begin to trickle out in just a bit. He has said he is nearing a decision, and I was told that with his teammate Isaiah Stewart committing on ESPN at the event this weekend, fans should watch out for him pulling the trigger, as well.
Obviously that hasn’t happened, but we’ll see if we get a decision date sooner rather than later.
Five-star forward Matthew Hurt completed his official visit to Duke this weekend, the third of his five anticipated officials before making a decision this spring. He started with Kentucky at the beginning of December and followed it up with a trip to North Carolina on December 14.
He’s also scheduled to visit Kansas in February and take a fifth to either Memphis or Minnesota to close things out, though nothing has been determined as of yet.
As far as his visit to Duke goes, 2019 five-star Blue Devil commit Wendell Moore joined him, where he tried to sell the elite scorer on joining him in Durham throughout the weekend.
I’ve been told that Hurt is the last target on the board (barring a reclassification) for Duke, so they sold him on being the final piece to the puzzle to close out their recruiting class that includes five-star center Vernon Carey, Moore, and four-star combo guard Boogie Ellis. Things unsurprisingly went well, though I will add that his trip didn’t change his mindset on his recruitment (i.e. he didn’t want to jump on a commitment, cut list, etc.). That’s obviously good news for Kentucky, who still feels great about their chances.
Like I said last week, this thing is going to go the distance, so nothing monumental was expected during this visit. Hurt wants to close out his senior season before focusing on cutting his list and making a final decision.
I’ll be back with more when Anthony Edwards’ visit concludes.
By Brent Wainscott on ©January 21st, 2019 @ 10:30pm
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#10 Baseball Mom
— Baseball_Mom08 (@Mom08Baseball) January 21, 2019
Seeing this just has me more amped to see the Bat Cats play next month…and to see warm weather.
#9 Brett Swift
UK ranked #8 which is the number of championships they have. Saturday they will beat #9 Kansas, which is the number of championships they will have after this season. #bbn
— Brett Swift (@brett_swift) January 21, 2019
It’s simple math.
#8 Pat Horton
— Pat Horton (@Pat_Horton15) January 21, 2019
This is true. Eat it, everyone else.
— Braden (@Braden24460965) January 21, 2019
We’re living in a simulation.
#6 Jeremy Tackett
— Jeremy Tackett (@tackett_bo) January 21, 2019
I expect to see this kid under center for the five-time college football champion Kentucky Wildcats.
#5 Danny Tewes
— danny tewes (@dtewness) January 21, 2019
WHY YOU GOTTA DO ‘EM LIKE THAT ERIC????
#4 Mason Miles
Lexington is pretty nice ????? https://t.co/Ds17mLIGUC
— ??ason Miles (@masonm1234) January 21, 2019
The best recruiting pitch of them all. Who wouldn’t want to live/play here?
#3 John Robic’s Hair
— John Robic’s Hair (@JohnRobicsHair) January 21, 2019
I found this very relatable. Still amazing content though.
#2 Patrick Daniels
#8 Kentucky hosts #23 Mississippi State (Tuesday) and #9 Kansas (Saturday)!
Rupp needs to be sold out and rocking for both! Let’s go #BBN !!!
— Patrick Daniels (@BBNsportsTalk) January 21, 2019
YOU HEARD THE MAN.
#1 Johnny Versace
?@KySportsRadio? ?@DrewFranklinKSR? Thanks for having me on ?@hey_kentucky?! The best thing these guys do is make their audience feel a part of the show. I had a great time. pic.twitter.com/AWOCB7ZF0P
— Johnny Versace (@johnnyversace) January 22, 2019
*Jim Ross voice* What?? It can’t be…that…that’s gotta be Johnny Versace!!!
Follow and/or tag me on Twitter and you might see one of your tweets make KSR’s top ten tweets: @BrentW_KSR
By Aaron Torres on ©January 21st, 2019 @ 10:00pm
The rollercoaster that is the 2018-2019 Kentucky Wildcats season took another wild spin this weekend, when the Wildcats picked up a massive road win at Auburn on Saturday night.
The victory was everything that any Kentucky fan could have hoped for when the season began. Ashton Hagans was the fiery (and at times, potty-mouthed) leader that this team needs. Tyler Herro and Keldon Johnson made clutch shot after clutch shot, and PJ Washington did all the little things needed down low to help the team win. Most importantly, Kentucky was a team that showed no fear. Auburn didn’t get back in the game because of some Kentucky meltdown, but instead because they are a big-time team that made big-time plays. But to Kentucky’s credit, every time the Tigers threw a punch, the Wildcats took it on the chin. Then they threw their own counterpunch until they knocked Auburn out for good and emerged with a massive victory.
Ultimately that was a gutty performance, and one that showed just how far this team has come. It also showed that when this club is locked in, there really aren’t any teams in college basketball they should fear. Kentucky already has a resume that includes wins at Auburn, at Louisville and against UNC on a neutral court, and by the way, that early win against UNC-Greensboro is better than most realize (Greensboro is currently sitting at 17-3 overall this season and in second place in their league standings). And with games this week against two more ranked foes, Mississippi State and Kansas, it isn’t inconceivable that the Wildcats could look up at this time next week and have just about the best resume in all of college basketball. Seriously, wins against Mississippi State and Kansas to go along with at Auburn, at Louisville and North Carolina would give the Wildcats just about the best resume in college hoops.
Of course to get that resume, they need to win both of those games.
And that my friends, brings me to the point of this article: To me, the Mississippi State game tomorrow night at Rupp Arena might just go down as the most important regular season game the Wildcats play all season long. That game will show us “who” this team. And what their ceiling truly is.
Now before we go further, I already know what some of you are thinking: “Torres, you so crazy!” Mississippi State isn’t even close to the biggest game on Kentucky’s schedule. The Wildcats have already played Duke, UNC and Louisville. They still have Kansas and two games left with Tennessee. How in the world is Mississippi State more important than those?
Well, the answer is simple really. No, Mississippi State isn’t Duke, UNC or Louisville. They certainly aren’t Tennessee or Kansas either. But what they are, is a good, veteran team that isn’t afraid to come into Rupp Arena and won’t be afraid of the “Kentucky” across the front of the Wildcats jerseys. The Bulldogs are a veteran, battle-tested team, with a senior point guard and four starters who are juniors or seniors. More importantly, at just 2-2 in the SEC with a gauntlet of games ahead, they absolutely have to win this game.
And to me, that’s why this game is so important for Kentucky, and why it will teach us so much about this team’s psyche and makeup: Will the Wildcats come out tough and hungry to pick up a win? Or coming off a massive road victory, will they come out with a sense of accomplishment and be too busy looking ahead to the weekend game against Kansas? Because I’ll tell you this: If Kentucky doesn’t come out focused tomorrow night, Mississippi State is good enough to pull off the upset.
That’s also why this game carries so much weight for the rest of the season. It isn’t about any one individual game, but instead, showing what the identity of this team is.
The bottom line is at this point, we already know Kentucky is a big game team. In their last three major games, against major teams, in major hostile environments, the Wildcats proved to be fearless. Wins at Louisville and Auburn are no joke, nor is a victory over North Carolina in Chicago. As we’ve learned, when the lights are bright, Kentucky comes out ready to go.
On the flip side, what we’ve also seen is that when it isn’t a major game and when the opponent isn’t quite so marquee, the Wildcats can also come out a little… meh. Remember, for all the excitement about the win at Auburn, this is also a team which fell behind 10-0 to Texas A&M before rallying back to win. This is the same team that fell behind to Vanderbilt as well. The Wildcats are also the same team that came out completely flat at Alabama and lost. Again, Mississippi State is not the kind of team you want to come out flat against, or fall behind by 10 or 12 points to. Do that and you will walk out of the arena with a loss.
And by the way, that doesn’t just go for Mississippi State, but just about everyone in the SEC. Sure, the focus right now is on Tennessee at the top of the standings. But make no mistake, there are plenty of others who will hand you a loss if you don’t come out ready to go, whether it’s LSU or Ole Miss, Florida, LSU, you name it. It also means that just as quickly as the good vibes of a win over Auburn or North Carolina can come, they can go with a two or a three game-losing streak. This Kentucky team is really good. But they aren’t invincible.
So who are the 2018-2019 Kentucky Wildcats?
A group who gets up for big games but can look past the lesser opponents?
Or a group full of dogs, who come out focused and ready to do whatever it takes to win every single time they take the court?
We’ll begin to find out on Tuesday night against Mississippi State.
(By the way, we spoke quite a bit about the Auburn game and what lies ahead for Kentucky on Monday’s Aaron Torres Sports Podcast. Click here to download today’s episode, and go back and listen to Episode 104 when Mississippi State coach Ben Howland joined the show)
By Hey Kentucky! on ©January 21st, 2019 @ 9:30pm
You’ve heard his voice on KSR. Now see Johnny Versace on Hey Kentucky!
One of KSR’s most famous callers joined the program to help Matt and Drew play a game of
“Big Deal or No Deal.” The two talked about Ja Morant, Calipari vs. Barkley and much more.
Click here to see the rest of tonight’s episode of Hey Kentucky!
By Nick Roush on ©January 21st, 2019 @ 9:00pm
While you were watching the Kentucky basketball team defeat Auburn, Derrick Baity and Bunchy Stallings were representing the University of Kentucky in the 94th East-West Shrine Game. Here’s what you missed from the East’s 21-17 win.
1. Baity Balled
Playing in his hometown, the 6’2″ cornerback started for the East and recorded four tackles, the fifth most on his team. Baity had to get involved against the run because they rarely threw the ball his way. He made most of his highlights during the week of practice.
— Orlando Alzugaray (@BigOShow) January 16, 2019
Jamal Custis v Derrick Baity pic.twitter.com/o05Bm4Vq87
— Joe Marino (@TheJoeMarino) January 16, 2019
2. Bunchy one of the Best
Kentucky’s All-American did not start for the East, but that doesn’t mean he did not capture the attention of scouts in the stands. One noted that offensive line play at the Shrine Game is typically rough, yet Stallings was still one of the four best at the game.
A solid days work at the Shrine game for Bunchy Stallings. pic.twitter.com/iLo9AmYCiM
— Lawrence McGivney (@LMcGivney) January 20, 2019
3. Meetings with NFL Personnel
The Shrine Game is an excellent preliminary NFL Draft tryout. Scouts get a chance to reinforce what they’ve seen on film, while front office personnel can sit down for one-on-one interviews with players.
Ten NFL general managers were at Tropicana Field throughout the week. Baity reportedly met with Tampa Bay, Kansas City, Minnesota and Cincinnati, while Bunchy had discussions with the Bills and the Vikings.
4. No C.J.
Kentucky’s 1,000-yard tight end did not finish the week in Tampa after suffering a minor injury in practice. From what I understand, he would have played if it was a real game. His absence should not hurt his draft stock. In fact, it tells me that he’s in such good shape, he did not have to push it to play.
Three more Cats — Darius West, Mike Edwards and Lonnie Johnson — arrived in Mobile, Alabama today to prepare for Saturday’s Senior Bowl. We’ll keep you updated on their progress throughout the week.