By Jack Pilgrim on ©July 12th, 2019 @ 11:00pm
While the Kentucky coaching staff turns their attention to the top prospects in 2020 and 2021, one potential option for 2019 remains on the board.
2020 five-star center N’Faly Dante has flirted with a jump to 2019 for several months now, going through the proper academic avenues to make a reclassification possible, just in case the perfect opportunity presents itself.
Physically, he knows he’s ready to make the jump. Going into day three of the 2019 Nike Peach Jam, Dante has averaged 18.7 points (74% shooting and 67% from the free throw line), 13.0 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks per game in North Augusta, SC. This comes immediately after averaging 14.5 points, 8.9 rebounds, and 2.3 blocks per game during the 2019 Nike EYBL regular season.
Needless to say, the 6-foot-11 center has been a dominant force on both ends of the floor against some of the best high school competition in the nation.
Academically, though, the hoops he still has to jump through to make a reclassification possible and the clock ticking louder and louder as time moves forward makes the situation an admittedly tough one for him.
“I feel like I can play [in college right now], but it’s all about school, you know?” he said. “But I don’t even think about [my reclassification] right now.”
Personally, he’s not dying to make the jump by any means. In fact, he said himself he’d actually prefer to stay in 2020 to avoid the stress of finishing things up over the next several weeks.
“Nah, [I don’t want to reclassify] really,” he said. “I don’t really know. Not really, though.”
That being said, he understands that he doesn’t have much left to prove at the high school level from a productivity standpoint and it might be best for his basketball future to make the jump now.
That’s why he’s planning on moving forward with it if he can get his academic situation in order.
“I mean, I don’t even think about [reclassifying]. I really don’t,” he told KSR. “I’m just focused on the work we are doing now. Maybe (I make the jump), I don’t really know. It’s not like I’m trying to go, but if I can go, I’ll go.”
But what’s left for Dante academically before he is able to move from 2020 to 2019? There was some speculation that it’s a specific test score his camp waiting on, namely the SAT, before he can even entertain the possibility.
While the five-star center didn’t say anything about a specific score, he did say he has some online coursework he needs to complete before anything else can happen.
“I have some [schoolwork] left,” Dante said. “I have an online class to finish up before I’m done with my junior and senior classes.”
With the “when” cleared up at least a little bit, now comes the “where.”
Kentucky, Oregon, and LSU have been seen as the three strongest contenders to land the 6-foot-11 center over the last several weeks, with the Wildcats picking up a bit of momentum when he decided to take an official visit to UK from June 27-29.
When asked about his trip to Lexington, Dante said he really enjoyed his time and learned a lot from the UK coaching staff.
“It was good,” he told KSR. “It was really good. We talked about a lot of stuff, the stuff I’m trying to know [about Kentucky and playing college basketball.]”
According to Dante, Kentucky says they have reserved a spot for him on the roster no matter when he wants to come. If he can get his academic situation in order and wants to join the 2019 class, they’d love to have him now. If not, they’d be more than happy to see him join the fold for the 2020-21 season.
“It doesn’t matter [when I come], they say whenever I want, whenever I want to come, they’d like to have me,” he said.
Outside of Kentucky, Dante said he likes Oregon because of the team’s chemistry both on and off the floor.
“It’s a school, they’re all good schools to me,” he said. “[But with Oregon], they all play together, work together. Whenever you see them, they are always together.”
He had similar thoughts about the Tigers.
“Same thing [as Oregon], anytime I go there for a visit, it’s always the same, they’re always together every time,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s just because I was taking a visit, but I always saw them together. They all play together and work hard.”
Are there any schools on his mind outside of Kentucky, Oregon, and LSU? Dante says there is one more program he is considering.
“I would say Tennessee,” he said. “I might visit Tennessee, I don’t know when, but I might.”
Do any schools or coaching staffs stand out from the rest?
“Not really, they’re all similar,” he said. “They all try and recruit me hard.”
When asked what was next for Dante after the AAU basketball season, the five-star joked that it’ll be time to go back to school, he just doesn’t know which one or what level it will be.
“I might go back to high school, I don’t really know yet, but I might,” Dante said with a laugh.
KSBar and Grille is the place in Lexington to catch University of Kentucky games (pre and postgame too) as well as other events such as the NBA Playoffs, UFC fights, the World Cup, MLB games, PGA tour events, and more.
KSBar might be known for their smoked wings but don’t miss out on the brisket platter, fried katfish, chicken and waffles, and the great assortment of burgers. Start off with the house chips loaded to the ceiling smothered with pulled pork or chicken straight off the smoker topped with the house BBQ sauce.
Head to the KSBar and Grille website ksbarandgrille.com to see a full menu and drink list.
Be on the look out for different specials and events.
KSBar and Grille is located at: 1030 South Broadway, Lexington, KY 40504
You can be a part of KSR’s Top 10 Tweets by using hashtags like #KSR #BBN or #KSRtop10. You can also nominate tweets by mentioning them with the hashtag. If we like what we see, it could be posted the next day.
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#10 Johnny Versace
— Johnny Versace (@johnnyversace) July 12, 2019
The takeover continues.
#9 Austin Rogers
— Austin Rogers (@Rogers0011) July 12, 2019
You people are crazy!
#8 Jack Pilgrim
Kentucky assistant Joel Justus is courtside for Jalen Green and Devin Askew (Team WhyNot) vs. Josh Christopher (Vegas Elite). Three five-star guards. pic.twitter.com/PQxFPfvDL2
— Jack Pilgrim (@JackPilgrimKSR) July 12, 2019
Make sure you’re following Jack while he’s at the Peach Jam.
#7 Derek Willis
Ya love to see it
— Derek Willis (@derekxwillis) July 13, 2019
Yes. Yes, you do love to see it.
#6 Super Saiyan D
Thank you so much @KySportsRadio @ryanlemond @ShannonTheDude @DrewFranklinKSR for coming to Murray today for the KSR remote. It was a blast. Can’t wait to have you back again pic.twitter.com/I2LHH45ZzW
— Super Saiyan D (@DThurman09) July 12, 2019
#5 Kentucky Football
Oh man, we can’t wait. #50Days
— Kentucky Football (@UKFootball) July 12, 2019
#4 Kentucky Football
— Kentucky Football (@UKFootball) July 12, 2019
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander would be proud.
#3 John Calipari
— John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) July 12, 2019
I’ll never forget the Duke “Indefinite Suspension” that lasted 1 game.
— mister (@HeHateUK) July 12, 2019
Someone cancel Grayson Allen.
#1 JD Motorsports
— JD Motorsports w/ Gary Keller (@JDMotorsports01) July 12, 2019
By Zack Geoghegan on ©July 12th, 2019 @ 10:00pm
It looks like Anthony Davis will finally have to wear a number on the back of his jersey that isn’t No. 23.
According to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, Davis and LeBron James – the current owner of the Lakers No. 23 – will have to wait until the 2020-21 season before the number exchange can become official.
Yahoo Sources: LeBron James’ plan to gift Anthony Davis his No. 23 jersey will be postponed for a season. https://t.co/bHf2suANyn
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) July 12, 2019
After it was initially reported that James would gift the jersey number to Davis for the upcoming season, that is no longer the case.
Davis has worn the No. 23 during his entire NBA career with the New Orleans Pelicans and it was expected that James would switch to No. 6 – the number he wore as a member of the Heat – for Davis. The former Wildcat also wore No. 23 during his lone season at Kentucky and even in this now-famous picture of a glasses-wearing middle schooler.
In the report by Haynes, he cites issues from a business standpoint that has delayed the process. After missing the initial deadline of March 15, the Lakers had to try and work out a deal with the jersey manufacturer, Nike.
“Due to production issues and the massive financial hit Nike would have absorbed from the No. 23 James inventory that’s already been produced,” Haynes said. “Nike could not accommodate the request for this season, sources said.
As we know, Davis has a player option on his contract for next summer that he can opt out of and become a free agent. With the way everything has unfolded this summer, I wouldn’t be shocked to see Davis wearing No. 23 again next season, but in a different uniform. Or maybe he’ll wear it for 10 more years in Laker Land. But either way, he’ll have to find a new number for this season.
Any number suggestions for the Brow?
By Zack Geoghegan on ©July 12th, 2019 @ 9:30pm
The man known best for his bowel movements is officially a free agent. Former Kentucky defensive lineman Cory “Poop” Johnson was released on Wednesday after he signed a deal with the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football league back in February.
We have released the following players: American DB Crezdon Butler, American DT Poop Johnson and American RB Tyrell Sutton.
— Toronto Argonauts Media Relations (@ArgonautsMR) July 10, 2019
Gotta admire the nonchalant-ness of the Argonauts’ social team casually tweeting out the word poop without mentioning his actual first name at all.
After playing a total of 25 games in the CFL with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers during the 2017 and 2018 seasons and posting five sacks, Johnson appeared in only one game for the Argonauts, recording two tackles.
But here’s what you all really want to see. The now infamous video about how Johnson was gifted the brilliant nickname “Poop”.
Good luck to Johnson in the future. Hopefully, we’ll get to say the word poop on this site again very soon.
By Zack Geoghegan on ©July 12th, 2019 @ 9:00pm
The new face of the Oklahoma City Thunder and the King of Drip, point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, turned 21 today!
The former Kentucky Wildcat was recently traded from the Los Angeles Clippers after an incredibly hopeful rookie season to the Oklahoma City Thunder as the main piece of the Paul George trade. Chris Paul was (even more) recently traded to the Thunder in a deal that sent Russell Westbrook to the Houston Rockets (If I read that statement two weeks ago I would have thought I was reading The Onion).
In his first NBA season, Gilgeous-Alexander averaged 10.8 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 3.3 assists per game as the starting point guard for the 48-win Clippers. He was named to the NBA All-Rookie team for his performances this past year. Most importantly, he was a member of the All-Drip first team.
Maybe Paul can buy SGA a shot while the two are still teammates. Does Chris Paul even look the kinda guy who knows how to take a shot?
— John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) July 12, 2019
— NBA Canada (@NBACanada) July 12, 2019
— NBA (@NBA) July 12, 2019
Happy Birthday to the Drip Lord!
By Zack Geoghegan on ©July 12th, 2019 @ 8:30pm
Former Kentucky forward Kevin Knox is about to enter his second NBA season with the New York Knicks, however, under completely different circumstances from his rookie year.
No, he won’t be playing behind Kevin Durant or setting screens for Kyrie Irving. He won’t be contending for an NBA championship like many Knicks fans had (naively) hoped. But he is going to play with a much, much-improved roster.
The Knicks can fight for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference this season after several two-year contracts doled out to Bobby Portis (forward), Elfrid Payton (guard), Wayne Ellington (guard), Taj Gibson (forward), Reggie Bullock (guard), and a three-year deal with Julius Randle, another forward.
Most recently, forward Marcus Morris backed out of a two-year deal with the San Antonio Spurs to accept a one-year deal with the Knicks for more money. Morris is a productive role player and it will be hard to justify playing Knox over guys like Morris, Randle, Portis, and Gibson. Knox has the most potential among the group of Knick forwards, but he’s the furthest behind.
In an article by Marc Berman of the New York Post, Knox acknowledged that fighting for minutes this season will be a real thing.
“We’re going to have to earn our minutes and fight for playing time on the court,” Knox said. “Training camp is going to be brutal. I know I got to earn my minutes this year because we brought in a lot of great guys.”
Knox’s struggles as a rookie have been well-documented. He shot 37 percent from the field while playing nearly 29 minutes per game.
Heading into the NBA Summer League, Knox said he feels more confident going into his second season. He repeated that sentiment again.
“I felt different,’’ Knox said in the same article with the New York Post. “I probably didn’t put up the numbers I did last year or have all the highlights. But I was feeling more comfortable, confident, dribbling the basketball, shooting the ball. I feel a lot stronger out there. I feel I had a really good summer and feel better going into the season this year.’’
Knox’s Summer League ended after four games, where he averaged 17.3 points per game, but on 41 percent shooting from the field. Minutes aren’t going to come easy for Knox next season. He’ll have to earn every one of them against players that have the edge over him right now.
By Zack Geoghegan on ©July 12th, 2019 @ 8:00pm
Russell Westbrook had long been linked to the Miami Heat before the blockbuster trade that ultimately sent him to the Houston Rockets in exchange for Chris Paul. A duo of Westbrook and Jimmy Butler in South Beach working under Pat Riley actually didn’t sound all that bad. In fact, they could have easily been a top contender in the Eastern Conference next season.
But there were some difficulties executing any trade that would have brought Westbrook to Florida. Mainly, the undeniable faith that the Heat front office has in its young core; Bam Adebayo, Tyler Herro, and Justise Winslow.
According to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, the Thunder asked the Heat if they would be willing to include two of those three players in a potential Westbrook deal. But Miami declined.
“OKC has asked the Heat to include impressive rookie guard Tyler Herro in the proposed trade,” Jackson wrote. “But the Heat has been reluctant to do that. Because Herro signed with the Heat on Wednesday, he cannot be included in any trade for 30 days, but that isn’t viewed as an obstacle.”
“At another point in the discussions this week, the Thunder asked the Heat to include two among Herro, Bam Adebayo and Justise Winslow, according to a source in touch with one of the two teams. The Heat also is opposed to including Adebayo, whom coach Erik Spoelstra ranked among the best centers in the league in the final months of last season.”
The trade that did end up happening – Westbrook joining James Harden once again while Chris Paul and endless first-round picks end up in OKC – was just as shocking as the Paul George-to-the-Clippers news, if not more so. The fact that a major reason it had to happen was because of the faith the Heat have in its young players is telling. Herro hasn’t even played in an NBA game yet and Adebayo is only about to turn 22. Yet the organization passed on the chance at a superstar to keep them around.
Can we pleaseeee just start the season already??
By Zack Geoghegan on ©July 12th, 2019 @ 7:30pm
Despite being selected in the 33rd round of the MLB Draft by the Tampa Bay Rays, Kentucky pitcher Carson Coleman will forgo the professional ranks and stay in Lexington for his junior season.
So excited to have @Carson_Coleman back!!! Carson, we can’t wait to get you back in the blue and white! We are proud of what you’ve accomplished so far and know your future has BIG things in it, including graduating next spring! #WelcomeHome #WeAreUK pic.twitter.com/RE3wNniF4N
— Nick Mingione (@Coach_Mingione) July 12, 2019
The right-handed reliever led the Wildcats with five saves last season, appearing in 23 games. Through two seasons, Coleman has held batters to a .214 hitting percentage.
Joining the former Lexington Catholic product next season with the Cats will be four others who elected to stay in college despite being drafted. Outfielder Oraj Anu (16th round), infielder Jaden Brown (40th round), and pitcher Sam Wibbels (36th round) will all join Coleman in wearing the blue and white next season.
“Playing professional baseball has been a dream of mine since I was a kid and I can’t thank the Tampa Bay Rays enough for giving me the opportunity to make that a reality,” Coleman said, according to the University of Kentucky. “However, I believe there is more for me to accomplish and more growth to experience before I begin that journey. As such, I’m excited to say that I’ll be returning to the University of Kentucky for my junior season. Our job is not finished in Lexington, and I can’t wait to get back to work with the boys. Go Cats!”
After finishing 26-29 last season with a conference record of 7-23, the Bat Cats will look to rebound with several high-level prospects in the mix.
By Zack Geoghegan on ©July 12th, 2019 @ 7:00pm
Former Kentucky center DeMarcus Cousins is about to enter the most important season of his career. After recently signing a one-year deal worth $3.5 million with the Los Angeles Lakers, Cousins is working his way back into shape.
A torn Achilles in Jan. 2018 and a torn quad during last season’s playoff run with the Golden State Warriors have hampered Cousins’ abilities on the court. His market value in free agency this summer was at an all-time low before he ultimately agreed to join Anthony Davis and LeBron James in L.A.
Despite all that, according to Ryan Ward of Clutch Points, Cousins is working his way into the best physical shape of his life.
DeMarcus Cousins on his health right now: “I’m working my tail off every single day. My quad is 100% healed. I’m building it up every day…I’m getting stronger. Getting in better shape. My plan is to come into camp in tiptop shape. My goal is to play 82 gms this season.” #Lakers
— Ryan Ward (@RyanWardLA) July 11, 2019
Cousins appeared in 81 games during his rookie season in 2010-11, but has not played in more than 75 games during a season since then. He’s played in only 78 games over the last two seasons. But if you’ve seen the video making its rounds on the Internet of Cousins speaking with the media, you can see he’s already slimmed down.
— Lakers Outsiders (@LakersOutsiders) July 11, 2019
Is #SkinnyBoogie going to be a thing now? If it means we get the best version of Cousins that we’ve seen in years, then I am here for it.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©July 12th, 2019 @ 6:30pm
The KSR Blue Lights Across the Bluegrass Summer Tour got off to a great start in Western Kentucky thanks to our friends at GenCanna. Next week, the group heads to the eastern part of the state before returning to Lexington for The Basketball Tournament (TBT).
Here’s the schedule:
Week 1 – presented by GenCanna
7/8 – Munfordville @ Hart County High School
7/9 – Russellville @ Roy’s BBQ
7/10 – Central City @ Stellian’s
7/11 – Fort Thomas @ Highlands High School (Jared Lorenzen Tribute)
7/12 – Murray @ Tap 216
7/15 – Barbourville @ Appalachian Children’s Home
7/16 – Middlesboro @ JR Hoe and Sons
7/17 – Pikeville @ Buffalo Wild Wings
7/18 – Ashland @ Blazer’s Restaurant and Bakery
7/19 – Lexington @ Douglass HS for The Tournament
7/22 – Somerset Golf Outing @ Woodson Bend Resort
7/23 – Somerset @ Associates in Eye Care
7/24 – Monticello @ Conley Bottom Resort
7/25 – Campbellsville @ Mr. Gatti’s Pizza
7/26 – Lexington @ Lexington Legends
8/5 – Bowling Green @ Overtime Sports Bar and Grill
8/6 – Hopkinsville @ Hopkinsville Sportsplex
8/7 – Benton @ CFSB Bank
8/8 – Paducah @ Royal Oaks Chevrolet
8/9 – Louisville Golf Outing @ Glen Oaks Country Club
8/12 – Elizabethtown @ Kentucky Jeep and Truck
8/13 – Danville @ The Discount House 2.0
8/14 – Fort Wright @ Dickmann’s
8/15 – Lexington @ Kentucky Branded
8/16 – Louisville @ TBA
See you along the way!
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©July 12th, 2019 @ 6:00pm
We know Matthew Mitchell’s got pipes, and this summer, he’s using them on the recruiting trail.
On Sunday, we wrote about how the Kentucky Women’s Basketball coach is promoting the program as only he can — by uploading videos of himself singing in the car in between recruiting visits. On Saturday, he shared his rendition of “I’m So Excited” on the way to Indianapolis and on the way back, busted out some Lee Roy Parnell’s “On the Road.” What other tunes did he sing on the Big Blue Road Trip this week?
Monday, he serenaded a poster of Makayla Epps with Men at Work’s “Who Can It Be Now”:
Hey #bbn ! Day 3 of the #bigblueroadtrip is going great! I hope everyone’s had an awesome Monday! Ran into one of the all time greats! Well, sort of. #ukwbb #weareuk @ThatEppsKidd25 pic.twitter.com/C4dtAvWKBj
— Matthew Mitchell (@UKCoachMitchell) July 8, 2019
Tuesday, he dedicated Elvis Presley’s “Burnin’ Love” to Jaida Roper after she tweeted that somebody needed to hide his phone from him:
Hey #bbn ! #bigblueroadtrip Day 4! Responses have been positive! Dealt with a tiny bit of hate y’day from an unexpected source! @jaida_roper wants me SHUT DOWN! She said “someone hide his phone”! It will NEVER happen! Learn to ? it!#weareuk #ukwbb #memphis #thekingofrockandroll pic.twitter.com/YHUhQJ0LjV
— Matthew Mitchell (@UKCoachMitchell) July 9, 2019
On Hump Day, he sang about Chicago on his way out of Chicago:
— Matthew Mitchell (@UKCoachMitchell) July 11, 2019
It wouldn’t be a trip to Indiana without a tribute to John Cougar Mellencamp:
Hey #bbn ! Day 6 of the #bigblueroadtrip had us in the #circlecity Indianapolis, IN the home of the great @Goss_theBoss13 one of the greatest people to ever put on a jersey for the Wildcats! Spectacular day!! #lifegoeson #jackanddiane #weareuk #ukwbb pic.twitter.com/Wo5SQdwMeQ
— Matthew Mitchell (@UKCoachMitchell) July 11, 2019
Today, he wrapped it up with, what else, the UK fight song:
— Matthew Mitchell (@UKCoachMitchell) July 12, 2019
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©July 12th, 2019 @ 4:30pm
Former University of Kentucky track star Sydney McLaughlin continues to dominate the Diamond League. Today, Sydney won the 400m hurdles at the Herculis meet in Monaco, finishing in 53.32 seconds, the fastest time in the event this season.
— #TokyoOlympics (@NBCOlympics) July 12, 2019
Fellow former Cat Kendra Harrison also won her event, the 100m hurdles, in a season-best 12.43 seconds. I haven’t found a video of the race yet, but her smile as she crosses the finish line is priceless:
Kendra Harrison hurdled her way to victory with a remarkable time of 12.43, season’s best! 2nd place went to Danielle Williams with 12.52, another season’s best. Christina Clemons came in third with 12.62 #HerculisEBS #DiamondLeague #MonacoDL pic.twitter.com/fW9ZJsy2Xm
— Herculis (@MeetingHerculis) July 12, 2019
Tokyo 2020 is going to feature a lot of Kentucky Blue.
By Adam Luckett on ©July 12th, 2019 @ 3:30pm
Just a few days ago we touched on what Kentucky will face at the beginning of the season, now it’s time to look ahead to October to see what lies ahead for the Wildcats.
Kentucky will have five games before their first open week and will then follow it up with three league games before the last bye of the season. The second segment of games will determine what bowl tier the Wildcats will be in. With two on the road and two at home, it will be important to defend their backyard.
South Carolina Gamecocks
Will Muschamp enters his fourth season in Columbia and the results have been mixed. Despite having a contract that will pay him over $4 million every season and over $5 million in 2024, some believe he is on the hot seat. The Gamecocks enter 2019 with perhaps the toughest schedule in college football. They could play at a top-30 level and finish 5-7.
Jake Bentley returns and the four-year starter has been in Columbia for a long time. The pocket passer is coming off a career year where he put up 8.2 yards per attempt and threw for 27 touchdowns in the new hurry-up scheme. If he takes another step forward he will be one of the best passers in college football.
Carolina is still having issues establishing the running game shown by not having one 1,o00-yard rusher in the Muschamp era. On the perimeter, the Gamecocks lose star Deebo Samuel, but Bryan Edwards is poised to be one of the best receivers in the SEC after recording 55 grabs and collecting over 15 yards per grab. Expect for Shi Smith to take a big jump forward (71.4 percent catch rate, 15 yards per catch) to replace the production lost by Samuel.
After sluggish offensive results, the Gamecocks took a big step forward in 2018 under first-year play-caller Bryan McClendon, but it sacrificed the defense. The Gamecocks went as fast as they can on offense, but it effected Muschamp’s defense. The Gamecocks ranked 11th in the SEC in scoring defense and the Gamecocks were horrible on a down-to-down basis (120th in success rate). If Carolina has any shot at making some noise this fall, this group must make a significant jump.
Due to some big recruiting wins, Carolina has some intriguing pieces. Javon Kinlaw recorded 10 tackles for loss from his tackle spot, T.J. Brunson ranked seventh in the SEC in tackles, and sophomores Jaycee Horn and R.J. Roderick both look like future stars in the secondary.
It was a brutal first season for Chad Morris in Fayetteville with many calling it the worst year in Arkansas history. The Razorbacks went winless in the SEC, lost to two Group of Five teams, and had a bunch of players transfer out of the program. It’s clear there is a culture change taking place in Woo Pig Sooie land. Morris is doing a great job on the recruiting trail, but classes in the twenties can only get you so far in the SEC West. The former Clemson offensive coordinator has to find a quarterback of the future.
To replace the two quarterbacks who started and transferred out of the program last year, Chad Morris hit the transfer portal to find some answers. SMU’s Ben Hicks and Texas A&M’s Nick Starkel are both grad transfers added to the roster. Both players are prototypical pocket passers that Morris seems to prefer and Hicks played well for Morris at SMU. He has the inside track, but Starkel is the more talented of the duo.
Quarterback isn’t the only place where Arkansas is swimming for answers. The Hogs lost their best receiver to Iowa State via grad transfer and it appears that they will be heavily leaning on tight end Cheyenne O’Grady and blue-chip wideout Trey Knox. At running back, Arkansas has three proven entities but no stars. The offensive line is a mess at the moment and it’s clear Chad Morris has his work cut out for him.
John Chavis has been a defensive coordinator a long time in the SEC and last season he was dealt a tough deck. Arkansas was at a severe talent disadvantage on defense, but there are some intriguing player returning. De’Jon Harris figured to be one of the league’s best inside linebackers after receiving second-team All-SEC honors last year. Bumper Pool flashed as a true freshman playing next to Harris. McTelvin Agim has NFL potential playing inside. This group should take a forward in year two.
Arkansas is still a major work in progress, but a soft non-conference schedule will give them a shot at six wins.
Kirby Smart is building a monster in Athens and after consecutive SEC East titles, it’s clear who is second to Alabama in the league. Smart is 32-10 through four seasons and is 8-0 with eight double-digit victories over every divisional foe the last two seasons. The Bulldogs flat out own the East until someone proves they can even make them sweat in the fourth quarter.
In a bit of a surprise, play-caller Jim Chaney left for Rocky Top in the offseason leaving UGA in a bind. After kicking the tires of Eddie Gran, Kirby Smart promoted former Miami offensive coordinator James Coley to the big chair. He’s got a lot of tools to play with.
Jake Fromm is back at quarterback and the junior will one of the first quarterbacks taken in the upcoming NFL Draft. He’s about as cool as they come. D’Andre Swift seems poised for a monster season at tailback and there’s a chance he could be the best runner in the country. The offensive line is a legit 10-deep with pros everywhere. They’ll be a problem for every defensive front they face.
On the perimeter, he Dawgs lost three pass catchers to the NFL Draft and leading returning wideout Jeremiah Holloman was just kicked off the team. There’s still talent on the roster, but it’s inexperienced and that’s a concern for a team that is in the College Football Playoff hunt.
On defense, UGA lost another coordinator and replaced new Colorado head coach Mel Tucker with another staff promotion. Dan Lanning is only 33 years old but it’ss clear Kirby Smart thinks very highly of him. The Bulldogs return seven starters on defense and there is talent all over the field. The two big weaknesses for this group last year were consistently stopping the run and creating a pass rush. If they can find some young guys to help eliminate these weaknesses the sky is the limit for this defense.
Barry Odom is entering year four in CoMo and he may have his best team in 2019. Unfortunately, the Tigers were hit with a postseason ban due some type of tutor fiasco so any damage from Mizzou must be done in the regular season. Drew Lock is off to the NFL, but Mizzou appears to be one of the biggest winners of the transfer portal.
Once the keys were handed to Trevor Lawrence, Kelly Bryant decided to call it quits at Clemson and sat out the majority of 2018. He was highly sought after in the transfer market and many believed that North Carolina and Auburn were the favorites. In a bit of a surprise, the former high three-star recruit pledged to the Tigers. Second year offensive coordinator Derek Dooley sold him on his NFL background and what Mizzou did for Drew Lock. Bryant will enter 2019 as one of the most intriguing players in the SEC.
The best thing going for Bryant is that Mizzou will be surrounding him with a lot of quality football players. Larry Rountree III rushed for 1,216 yards last season and figures to be one of the best backs in the SEC. He will be running behind an offensive line that has three returning starters including right guard Tre’vour Wallace-Simms who was first-team All-SEC last season. Trystan Colon-Castillo is one of the best centers in the country. Albert Okwuegbunam is one of the best receiving tight ends and Mizzou gets back two of their top three receivers plus adds Arkansas grad transfer Jonathan Nance. Dooley has a ton of pieces.
Defense was a major issue in Barry Odom’s first two seasons, but the Tigers appear to have found an answer in defensive coordinator Ryan Walters. The young coach has been with Odom since 2014 and after being promoted, the Tigers took off. Mizzou ranked 25th in S&P+’s defensive rankings after ranking 85th and 61st the previous two seasons. With three-all conference caliber players returning (one at each level), expectations are high entering the season.
Texas transfer Jordan Elliott was excellent at defensive tackle in his first season in Columbia and now he steps into a starting role. Inside linebacker Cale Garrett recorded over 10o tackles and collected 10.5 run stuffs on his way to second-team All-SEC honors. Corner DeMarkus Acy and Christian Holmes combined for five interceptions and 22 pass break-ups. Mizzou has the roster makeup to have a special season.
These part of the schedule will determine UK’s season. Georgia is most likely a loss and Arkansas better be a win or Kentucky is in trouble. The other two could go either way. The Wildcats are a combined 9-1 against both Mizzou and South Carolina since 2014. The only loss occurred to team that went on to win the SEC East. Pull off that sweep again and it sets up to be another special season.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©July 12th, 2019 @ 3:00pm
How dominant were University of Kentucky sports teams last season? The Cats finished second in CBS Sports’ 2018-19 Best in College Sports rankings, which were released yesterday.
But Tyler, I can hear you saying, UK finished No. 14 in the Learfield IMG Directors’ Cup standings last month, right? How is this different? I’m glad you asked. The Directors’ Cup ranks Division I athletics departments on performance across all sports, while CBS Sports gives more weight to sports with broader fan and media interest. CBS Sports rates every FBS school in football, men’s basketball and women’s basketball and adds in two “wild cards” from among baseball, softball, volleyball, soccer, gymnastics, lacrosse, hockey and wrestling. More emphasis is placed on football and men’s basketball due to their popularity.
Kentucky finished No. 2 with 494.25 points behind Michigan, which finished with 501.75 points. Here’s the point breakdown:
- 161.25 – Football (12th in final AP Poll)
- 146 – Men’s basketball (Elite Eight)
- 50 – Women’s basketball (second round)
- 73 – Men’s soccer (Elite Eight)
- 64 – Softball/volleyball (both advanced to round of 16)
Oklahoma, LSU, and Ohio State rounded out the top five. The University of Louisville? All the way down at No. 42.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©July 12th, 2019 @ 2:00pm
Preparations are underway at the Kentucky Speedway for tonight’s Alsco 300, and man, does Jared Lorenzen look great on the hood of BJ McLeod’s No. 4 Chevrolet.
McLeod and JD Motorsports with Gary Keller (JDM) agreed to put the decal on the hood of the Camaro to bring awareness to the Jared Lorenzen Memorial Fund, which we launched yesterday to raise money for his children’s education. So far, we’ve raised over $45,000 in online donations, and hope to raise much more this weekend at KSBar and Grille, where 22% of our sales will go directly to the fund.
You know it’s bringing Jared so much joy to break up all that red with some Kentucky Blue.
— Whitney Harding (@WHAS11Whitney) July 12, 2019
. @JDMotorsports01 agreed this week to promote the Jared Lorenzen Memorial Fund for his kids’ college fund. The Kentucky QB from the early 2000s died last week and the fund has already raised tens of thousands. No. 4 BJ McCleod runs this in NXS race tonight. #NASCAR pic.twitter.com/z7mAn2JeXb
— ?Fireball Turnbull ? (@DougTurnbull) July 12, 2019
The Alsco 300 is a NASCAR XFinity Series race and will air live on NBC Sports Network tonight at 7:30 p.m. ET.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©July 12th, 2019 @ 1:30pm
After a banner year for UK Athletics, Mitch Barnhart’s stock continues to rise. UK’s athletic director was just named the chair of the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Committee for the 2020-21 season.
“Being asked to serve in this role by my wonderful colleagues on this committee is one of the highest honors I’ve ever received,” Barnhart said. “The 10 of us carry a huge responsibility, not just with the selection, seeding and bracketing of teams each year, which draws the greatest amount of attention, but also as a group charged with working with other constituents to manage the health of the sport of college basketball. It’s an incredible challenge and one we will continue to take very seriously.”
Barnhart will serve as vice chair this season, working with committee chair Kevin White – who is the Vice President and Director of Athletics at Duke University. This season will be his fourth on the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Committee, which is responsible for selecting, seeding and bracketing teams for the NCAA Tournament. Each term lasts five years.
Barnhart, who was named Athletic Director of the Year by Sports Business Journal in May, is UK’s third athletic director to serve as chair of the men’s basketball committee, joining Bernie Shively and C.M. Newton. He’s now the longest-tenured athletics director in the SEC.
Let’s quickly run through what was a banner year for UK Athletics. The rifle team won the 2018 national championship; the volleyball and men’s soccer team won their conference championships; the men’s basketball team finished in the Elite Eight; and, oh yeah, the football team capped off its most successful season in four decades with a win in the Citrus Bowl. Plus, the baseball team just opened a beautiful new stadium and the department’s streak of semesters with a cumulative grade-point average above 3.0 is now 14. UK finished No. 14 in the Learfield IMG College Directors’ Cup standings, their third highest finish ever.
Congrats, Mitch! I know you’re a by-the-rules kind of guy and have to be out of the room when Kentucky is discussed, but any way we can make sure Duke and Louisville are perpetually screwed in the bracket from now on? Thanks.
By Nick Roush on ©July 12th, 2019 @ 1:00pm
While Tyler Herro has grabbed all of the summer League headlines, another former Wildcat is consistently putting up impressive numbers.
Thursday night Wenyen Gabriel knocked down 4-of-8 three-pointers to score a team-high 18 points. He wasn’t just standing behind the three-point line prepared to take open looks. Gabriel also grabbed eight rebounds and blocked four shots in the 83-80 loss to the Clippers.
Through four games in Las Vegas Gabriel is the King’s second-highest scorer, averaging 13.5 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2 blocks per game on 47% shooting from the field.
Gabriel’s former UK teammate, Isaac Humphries, scored three points in eight minutes of action. A few other numbers from former Cats last night:
— Hami Diallo shot 50% from the field to finish with 14 points. He also threw in seven boards and a pair of assists in the Thunder’s five-point win.
— Aaron Harrison was just 1-of-4 for the Boston Celtics last night, finishing with five points, his average through four Summer League games.
— In 13 minutes of action, Reid Travis only took three shots for the Atlanta Hawks. He finished with two points, two assists and six rebounds.
Today marks the beginning of the Vegas Summer League tournament. Ten former Wildcats advanced to play this weekend. Here’s who’s playing tonight:
- 6:00: Croatia vs. Thunder (Diallo) on ESPNU
- 6:30: China vs. Suns (Derek Willis) on NBATV
- 8:00: Kings (Gabriel) vs. Cavs on ESPNU
- 8:30: Pacers vs. Clippers (Humphries) on NBATV
- 10:30: Hawks (Travis) vs. Spurs (Keldon Johnson) on NBATV
By Aaron Torres on ©July 12th, 2019 @ 12:00pm
While most of the high school and college basketball world is centered at Peach Jam this week, one of the top players in America – and one of Kentucky’s top targets – was playing in a small high school gym, in front of a small contingent of big-time college coaches Thursday night right outside Los Angeles.
His name is Daishen Nix, a player believed – by most major recruiting services – to be the top-ranked point guard in America. Rivals.com and 247 Sports both have Nix ranked as a Top 15 player nationally as well.
And the 6’4 Nix was the center of attention at the Pangos Elite 80 event on Thursday, with a handful of college basketball’s biggest name coaches standing courtside for his game. Among them were UCLA’s Mick Cronin, Alabama’s Nate Oats and Washington’s Mike Hopkins, as well an assistant coach from Maryland. The University of Kentucky, a school which Nix has spoken highly of in the past, was not represented, although they are actively recruiting Nix as one of their top point guard targets in the 2020 class.
If you’re not totally familiar with Nix’s name it’s completely understandable, as to date, his recruitment has been relatively quiet. As previously documented by KSR, Nix’s recruitment has blown up over the last year or so after a big summer in 2018, and Kentucky first reached out to express interest in April when they visited him in his new home of Las Vegas (he is originally from Alaska). To date, he has yet to take an official visit, and has only taken two unofficial visits, to West Coast schools UCLA and Arizona State.
That will likely change though in the coming months, as Nix said that the plan is to ramp up the visit schedule around the start of the school year. The expectation is that Lexington will be one of the stops on the 6’4 guard’s itinerary.
“I plan on visiting the four schools that were here tonight [UCLA, Alabama, Washington and Maryland],” Nix said Thursday. “Plus, Kentucky and maybe Kansas.”
Yet even with the visit, don’t expect an announcement from Nix any time soon. Like so many elite high school players these days, Nix plans to wait until the spring (or possibly even the end of his senior year) to announce his college decision, to see what everyone’s roster looks like heading into his freshman season. In other words, the success of Ashton Hagans and Tyrese Maxey could play a role in whether Nix ends up in Lexington or not. If it looks like both could be gone from Lexington in 2020-2021, that could be advantage Kentucky. If one (or in a shocking turn of events, both) look like they’ll be back, it could be a hinderance.
Talked to Daishen Nix last night, and asked him if distance from the West Coast would be a factor in his recruitment. His answer: "My mom wants me to go wherever I'm happy." One, that was a totally refreshing answer. Two, that's good news for Alabama, Kentucky + Maryland
— Aaron Torres (@Aaron_Torres) July 12, 2019
So that could be a disadvantage, but there two things working in Kentucky’s favor when it comes to Nix’s recruitment.
The first, is that he said that one of the keys in his decision (beyond what the roster looks like) is how the school develops point guards, and it’s something he’s certainly noticed at Kentucky. “There are a lot of guards coming from there,” Nix said of Kentucky and John Calipari’s program.
The other thing which could be advantage Kentucky (or Alabama or Maryland): Nix said that the location of a school won’t be a factor. Despite growing up in Alaska and moving to Las Vegas, he isn’t limiting his choices to only West Coast schools. But instead, what’s the best fit.
“My mom just wants me to play wherever it’s going to make me happy,” Nix said.
That could be a good sign for Kentucky as they pursue the top-ranked point guard in the 2020 recruiting class.
By Nick Roush on ©July 12th, 2019 @ 11:00am
One Kentuckian is returning home from Spain with a scar and a story to tell.
Aaron Froelicher, a 23-year old from Florence, and his brother Andrew attended the annual festival of San Fermin to run with bulls through the streets of Pamplona, Spain. One beast took Aaron by surprise. He thought the group of bulls had passed him by, but he was wrong.
“I ain’t never been hit by a 2,000-pound bull so I guess I learned my lesson there,” Froelicher told the Cincinnati Enquirer.
The bull’s horn dug six inches into Aaron’s hamstring, lifted him off his feet and threw him into the air. He landed on his head and was immediately knocked unconscious. Aaron’s wounds are not life-threatening. The trip to the hospital only delayed their return back to the states for two days.
Aaron dropped another line to the Enquirer that is an all-timer: “You never you really plan for something like this to happen.” Well, when you’re running alongside a bunch of 2,000-pound bulls, that’s a likely outcome.
By Nick Roush on ©July 12th, 2019 @ 10:30am
The most electric golfer in the world is officially coming to the Bluegrass.
Daly initially planned on playing in The Open at Royal Torbrush. His osteoarthritis has forced him to play in a golf cart on the PGA Tour, but the R&A isn’t so lenient. Once they ruled the winner of the 1995 Open Championship could not bring cart onto the Northern Ireland course, and after he suffered another medical setback, Daly withdrew from the tournament.
Daly can use the golf cart at Keene Trace. Golf.com reports he’s been granted a sponsor’s exemption to play in Barbasol Championship next weekend in Nicholasville, Ky. The colorful two-time major champion swings a big stick and packs some powerful pipes.
Daly has a tradition unlike any other at The Masters. Each year he sets up at the Hooters’ parking lot to sell merchandise. Let’s bring that party to the parking lot outside of KSBar and Grille next weekend.