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October 13th, 2017

Big Blue Madness LIVE BLOG

Live Blog Big Blue Madness LIVE BLOG

Pre-Madness look from Rupp Arena

It’s almost time!

WATCH: Players tease Madness intros and reveal worst dancers

As we count down the hours until Big Blue Madness, take a moment to watch a video from UK Basketball Media Day in which I asked each player to share their plans for their grand introductions.

Many of them would not reveal their big secret, but I did find out who the players believe is the worst dancer on the team.

Check it out:

UK Freshmen Scout UK Freshmen: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

Photo: UK Athletics

Way back in August I was able to sit down with each member of the Kentucky Wildcats to talk about the college basketball season ahead, and part of my discussion with the new class of freshmen included a brief scouting report on each of their classmates.

Due to time constraints I was unable to get a complete report from all seven of the new Cats, but here’s what I heard about Shai Gilgeous-Alexander when I asked his fellow freshmen to describe his game.

On Shai Gilgeous-Alexander…

Quade Green: “He’s a very good player. He’s shifty, long, tall. He can shoot the three. He can shoot the midrange. He can get to the rim because he’s so tall. Shai’s a great player to play against.”

Kevin Knox: “Shai, I think is the sleeper of the team. He’s going to have a really good year for us. He can really handle it and make some good, tough layups.”

P.J. Washington: “Shai is like 6-6 — 6-7 with his hair — and athletic. He can shoot. He gets everybody involved and I just love playing with a guy like him.”

Jemarl Baker: “Long. Huge hands. He looks about 6-9, even though he’s like 6-6. He can play. He can handle — good feel for the game.”

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander: “I see things a lot of short guys can’t see. Make passes and stuff like that; get my shot off over smaller guards.”

Check out KSR’s full preview story on Gilgeous-Alexander as part of our player-by-player interview series here.

GUEST LIST: Which recruits will be at Big Blue Madness

Several high-profile recruits will be in Rupp Arena tonight for Big Blue Madness, none more famous than Zion Williamson, arguably the most sensational high school recruit since John Wall. Here’s a rundown of the guest list as we know it.


Zion Williamson ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Forward 6-7 | 230 lbs. Spartanburg, SC Spartanburg/SC Supreme
ESPN: 2 | 1 PF Top 247: 1 | 1 PF Rivals: 2 Scout: 3 | 2 SF

Williamson is in Lexington with a UK cookie cake to prove it. Immanuel Quickley wasn’t able to make the trip to join his friend on the visit, but Williamson won’t be hurting for attention. After a quiet spell, buzz for Kentucky has picked up in recent weeks. With Drake (who owns Williamson’s high school jersey) expected to be in the house tonight, I expect a lot of winking and nodding in Zion’s direction.

Bol Bol ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Center 7-2 | 220 lbs. Santa Ana, CA Mater Dei/Cal Supreme
ESPN: 4 | 1 C Top 247: 4 | 1 C Rivals: 3 Scout: 2 | 1 C

Seemingly over his snub from John Calipari’s U19 National Team, Bol will take his official visit this weekend. He’s down to Kentucky and Oregon with a decision expected soon.

Darius Garland ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Point Guard 6-2 | 170 lbs. Brentwood, TN Brentwood Academy/Bradley Beal Elite
ESPN: 11 | 2 PG Top 247: 15 | 4 PG Rivals: 15 Scout: 7 | 2 PG

Vanderbilt and Indiana are the favorites for the Nashville native, who is also considering UCLA, but if he likes Kentucky enough to share the backcourt with Immanuel Quickley and whoever comes back next season, Calipari’s shown he’s just fine taking more guards than needed. Between Garland, Quentin Grimes, and Keldon Johnson, UK will take another guard in 2018. My money’s on Johnson.


 James Wiseman ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Power Forward 6-11 | 216 lbs. Memphis, TN East High/Team Penny
ESPN: 1 | 1 PF Top 247: 4 | 2 PF Rivals: 2 Scout: 2 | 2 PF

Wiseman was the first 2019 player to get an offer from Kentucky and has been compared to Anthony Davis. That’s all I need to hear.

 D.J. Jeffries ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Small Forward 6-7 | 185 lbs. Olive Branch, MS Olive Branch/Team Penny
ESPN: 9 | 2 SF Top 247: 16 | 4 SF Rivals: 37 Scout: 15 | 6 SF

UK offered Jeffries, Wiseman’s EYBL teammate, last month.

 Keion Brooks ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Small Forward 6-8 | 185 lbs. Fort Wayne, IN North Side
ESPN: 21 | 5 SF Top 247: 35 | 8 SF Rivals: 35 Scout: 14 | 4 SF

Brooks picked up a scholarship offer from Kentucky a few weeks back on an unofficial visit. He enjoyed himself so much he’s back for the second time in a month for Madness.

 Tyrese Maxey ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Point Guard 6-3 | 185 lbs. Garland, Texas South Garland
ESPN: 17 | 3 PG Top 247: 12 | 2 PG Rivals: 14 Scout: 20 | 3 PG

Calipari and Kenny Payne visited Maxey on Tuesday, but SMU is the favorite, especially since they just hired his dad, Tyrone Maxey, as their director of recruiting. The fact that this is still allowed makes the NCAA even more of a joke.


 Jaemyn Brakefield, PF (2020)

The Huntington Prep star already lists Kentucky as one of his favorites.

 Jalen Johnson, SF (2020)

Home state Wisconsin is an early leader for Johnson, who attended the Team USA minicamp last weekend.

 Zion Harmon, PG (2021)

Harmon, a Bowling Green, Kentucky native, may only be a freshman, but his recruitment is already one to watch. Only the second freshman to attend Madness in the Calipari era, Harmon looked right at home when he visited UK for the Florida football game a few weeks back:

Any recruit that poses with the Joe B. statue gets an automatic bump up in my book.

WATCH: Who would Kentucky players pick to take game-winning shot: Drake or Calipari?

Drake’s airball at Big Blue Madness three years ago is the stuff of internet lore. With rumors floating around that he’ll once again attend the event tonight, I asked the Kentucky basketball players a very difficult question:

If you were a coach and your team is down by one, who would you choose to take the game-winning shot: Drake, or John Calipari?

Their response?


UK Freshmen Scout UK Freshmen: Jarred Vanderbilt

Mark Zerof | USA Today

Way back in August I was able to sit down with each member of the Kentucky Wildcats to talk about the college basketball season ahead, and part of my discussion with the new class of freshmen included a brief scouting report on each of their classmates.

Due to time constraints I was unable to get a complete report from all seven of the new Cats, but here’s what I heard about Jarred Vanderbilt when I asked his fellow freshmen to describe his game.

On Jarred Vanderbilt…

Quade Green: “Jarred, he’s versatile so he’s little Lamar Odom — he can do everything.”

Kevin Knox: “He’s real skilled for his size… 6’9. He’s able to pass it, shoot it, dribble — really good dribbling, handling; so a really good year for him. I can see him having a couple double-doubles and even a triple-double every now and then.”

P.J. Washington: “Jarred’s a funny guy. He can dribble. He can shoot. He can run. He can dunk. He’s athletic. He’s a really great player too.”

Jemarl Baker: “Lefty — that says a lot about people. Competitor. Strong. Quick. Good.”

Jarred Vanderbilt: “Beast.”

Check out KSR’s full preview story on Vanderbilt as part of our player-by-player interview series here.

Immanuel Quickley not able to make it to Madness

Photo by adidas

Kentucky’s lone commitment in the 2018 class won’t be able to make it to Big Blue Madness after all. According to Kyle Tucker, Immanuel Quickley can’t make it to tonight’s event because of a team conflict.

I’m sure no one’s more disappointed about that than Quickley, especially since his buddy Zion Williamson is on his official visit (and really excited about that cookie cake). Hopefully, Kentucky can make a big enough impression without Quickley, who is already asking the Big Blue Nation to show Zion love this weekend:

I think we can do that.

Reporter tells Kevin Knox he needs a better agent

As expected, the FBI’s investigation into shoe companies’ involvement in college basketball was a hot topic at Kentucky’s Media Day. By now you’ve heard about the tense moment between John Calipari and Jerry Tipton when Tipton asked Cal about the FBI investigation:

It may surprise a lot of you, but I’m Team Jerry on this one. Yes, by that point, Calipari had been asked three questions about the FBI investigation and only one about his team; however, it’s clearly the biggest topic in the sport right now and, as Jerry said, the media has every right to ask the questions they want to ask on Media — not Coach! — Day. I understand Cal’s frustration as well; Kentucky’s not involved in the investigation, so why continue to address it when he could be talking about his own team? Yet, honestly, in the wake of the scandal down the road, yesterday’s kerfuffle was a refreshing reminder that, unlike Louisville, Kentucky has reporters that will press the hard issues, even if it makes the head coach throw up his hands in frustration.

All of that being said, some reporters took it a bit too far. I was in a pool of media surrounding Kevin Knox, the highest ranked freshman on Kentucky’s roster. Knox was asked several times about his involvement with shoe companies and whether or not he was offered anything to come to Kentucky, to which he said no.

“I came to Kentucky because I knew Cal would push me,” Knox said. “I knew I would get the treatment I wanted. I knew [Kenny Payne] would push me to my hardest. I knew the practices would be really competitive and that’s something I need. I grew up with a disciplined family, a hard-working family. I knew Cal was a hard worker, so I came here because of that. I came here because I wanted to play with other guys. I didn’t come here for no money or nothing like that.”

Tim Sullivan of the Courier-Journal asked Knox if he could have gotten money somewhere else, which is when it got a little awkward.

“No, nothing like that,” Knox said. “I was a real clear guy. Nothing was — not my family. We came here because we wanted to come here, none of the schools offered me nothing.”

“You need a better agent,” Sullivan quipped, and when Knox looked at him, he repeated it. “You need a better agent. Some guys seem to be cashing in.” 

Kudos to Knox for regrouping to deliver a professional, thoughtful answer.

“I guess those other schools had a lot of problems but not at Kentucky. Cal is really big about not giving out money because a lot of people came here because they want to get to the next level. That’s the reason a lot of us came here, because we want that. Kentucky has nothing to do with no money.”


Shocker: NCAA letting UNC off the hook

The least surprising news you’ll hear today: the NCAA is letting North Carolina off the hook. After a three-and-a-half year investigation into fraudulent classes at UNC, the NCAA says the infractions committee “could not conclude that the University of North Carolina violated NCAA academic rules.” Of course!

“While student-athletes likely benefited from the so-called ‘paper courses’ offered by North Carolina, the information available in the record did not establish that the courses were solely created, offered and maintained as an orchestrated effort to benefit student-athletes,” said Greg Sankey, the panel’s chief hearing officer and commissioner of the Southeastern Conference. “The panel is troubled by the university’s shifting positions about whether academic fraud occurred on its campus and the credibility of the Cadwalader report, which it distanced itself from after initially supporting the findings. However, NCAA policy is clear. The NCAA defers to its member schools to determine whether academic fraud occurred and, ultimately, the panel is bound to making decisions within the rules set by the membership.”

Basically, because students that weren’t athletes also took the fraudulent classes, the NCAA can’t do anything about it. Eighteen years of fake classes and nada. The only person who was punished? Dr. Julius Nyang’oro, the chair of the department of African and Afro-American Studies, who was given a five-year show cause penalty.

If you’re surprised by this, you don’t know the NCAA well enough. Read the entire report below:

[Infractions panel could not conclude academic violations in North Carolina case]

BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: How We Stack Up Against 2nd Half Opponents

Most teams have or will have played 6 games in this college football season by the time Kentucky travels to Starkville next weekend for a key SEC matchup.  The performance in that game will completely set the tone for what kind of season this will ultimately be for the Cats.  All along, many felt that the 2nd half of the season would be the tougher stretch of games, and it still is.  But with Ole Miss, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, and Louisville all playing below expectations, the path is there for a 9 win season “easily”.  At the same time, nobody can say the Cats have been impressive so far this year themselves.

So just how do the Cats stack up against the final 6 opponents statistically.  I chose what I felt were the 7 key statistical categories: Pass and Run Yardage, Pass and Run Defense, Scoring Offense and Defense, and Turnover Margin.  Rankings shows are NATIONALLY out of 129 teams:

25. Louisville: 37.5 ppg
39. Georgia: 35.0 ppg
59. Mississippi St: 31.2 ppg
78. Kentucky: 27.5 ppg
86. Ole Miss: 26.8 ppg
98. Tennessee: 24.8 ppg
111. Vanderbilt: 20.3 ppg

2. Georgia: 10.0 ppg
40. Kentucky: 21.3 ppg
41. Mississippi St: 21.6 ppg
59. Tennessee: 25.6 ppg
61. Vanderbilt: 25.8 ppg
74. Louisville: 27.0 ppg
118. Ole Miss: 37.4 ppg

7. Louisville: 363.3 ypg
8. Ole Miss: 358.4 ypg
81. Kentucky: 211.2 ypg
88. Vanderbilt: 200.3 ypg
91. Tennessee: 195.8 ypg
110. Mississippi St: 169.2 ypg
119. Georgia: 145.7 ypg

11. Georgia: 268.3 ypg
17. Mississippi St: 252.8 ypg
42. Louisville: 194.5 ypg
90. Kentucky: 138.3 ypg
92. Tennessee: 137.6 ypg
127. Vanderbilt: 76.7 ypg
128. Ole Miss: 76.0 ypg

3. Tennessee: 129.2 ypg
4. Vanderbilt: 140.3 ypg
9. Mississippi St: 156.6 ypg
10. Georgia: 156.8 ypg
46. Ole Miss: 207.6 ypg
88. Louisville: 238.7 ypg
119. Kentucky: 288.7 ypg

5. Georgia: 86.0 ypg
11. Kentucky: 97.2 ypg
24. Louisville: 112.7 ypg
64. Mississippi St: 150.2 ypg
121. Vanderbilt: 241.0 ypg
123. Ole Miss: 248.6 ypg
124. Tennessee: 252.6 ypg

Kentucky: +8
Vanderbilt: +3
Mississippi St: +1
Georgia: +1
Louisville: -2
Ole Miss: -4
Tennessee: -4

So, when combining these stats, where does UK rank against these opponents in these 7 categories:

MISSISSIPPI STATE: Better in 4 out of 7 categories
TENNESSEE: Better in 6 out of 7 categories
OLE MISS: Better in 5 out of 7 categories
VANDERBILT: Better in 6 out of 7 categories
GEORGIA: Better in 2 out of 7 categories
LOUISVILLE: Better in 3 out of 7 categories

Here’s the point: UK better beat Tennessee this year. 

KSR is at Kentucky Branded! (Friday Show Thread)

Get on out to Kentucky Branded to hear today’s show and maybe you’ll walk away with Big Blue Madness tickets or UK merchandise.

Pauly Shore will also be there, so you should too.

Join in on the fun by calling (502) 571-1080 or send a text to the KSR Texting Machine at (859) 300-3264.

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Big Blue Friday: 20% off Everything!

The KSR Shop and Kentucky Branded have an exciting sale to get your weekend started right. Head to and you’ll receive 20% off everything. Come pick some new KSR and UK sweatshirts to prepare for the Fall temperatures. We also have a great selection of hats, t-shirts, UK jewelry, and more to get game day ready. This Big Blue Friday sale is today only at!


[Big Blue Friday: 20% off Everything!]

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Welcome to a special Friday the 13th edition of KSR. Let’s go…

Big Blue Madness is tonight.

The Biggest Spectacle In Basketball Practice is coming to you at 7 pm on the SEC Network.

Several top recruits in town.

Someone bought Zion Williamson a UK cookie cake to celebrate his trip to Lexington:

Bol Bol, Darius Garland, Immanuel Quickley and several recruits in the 2019 class and beyond will also be in attendance.

The NCAA is expected to release its UNC infractions report in one hour.

Today is to be a special day in Chapel Hill. The UNC basketball program will raise its national championship banner at Late Night With Roy (what a stupid name), and the NCAA will release its report of infractions at 10 am.

The report was originally supposed to be released last Friday, but the university asked to postpone it due to a big fundraiser on campus. I can’t imagine why they would want it to come out today, but whatever — it probably won’t happen anyway because it has been over three years since the investigation began. I think we’ll all die wondering.

This week’s Free Money Podcast is out.

Please excuse the part where it takes Matt 10 minutes to find a pencil. Other than that it is a pretty good show:

Free Money with Matt and Drew: Episode 7

Did you enjoy our UK Basketball Media Day coverage?

If not, get to scrolling. We have a ton of stuff from yesterday. I’ll link a few below but you can browse the site for a lot more:

WATCH: Kentucky basketball players describe their teammates’ weirdest habits

Transcript: Everything John Calipari said at Media Day

There is a competition for Kentucky’s starting point guard spot

Doctors to take another look at Jarred Vanderbilt

LIVE UPDATES: John Calipari’s Media Day Press Conference

Pauly Shore will be at this morning’s remote show at Kentucky Branded.

Matt, Ryan and I will be at Kentucky Branded for this morning’s show, and Pauly Shore will be stopping by to help us out. The four of us will give away Big Blue Madness tickets to one lucky listener in the crowd and we’ll have lots of fun looking back at media day and ahead to Madness. See you there?

Friday the 13th at Keeneland, presented by Pocket Aces Racing

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The second week of Keeneland’s fall meet kicked off on Wednesday with a card that featured the last ‘Win and You’re In’ race for this year’s Breeders’ Cup.  Rushing Fall put on a dominant performance in the Grade 3 Jessamine Stakes, making up nearly 10 lengths on her rivals in the latter stages to win going away.  After galloping along near the rear of the field early on, Rushing Fall began picking up the pace significantly around the clubhouse turn moving from 9th, 6 lengths back of the leader after 3/4 of a mile, to finish more than 3 lengths ahead of runner-up Stainless.  She will certainly be amongst the favorites in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies’ Turf off that powerful performance.

Friday’s 10 race card includes plenty of overflow fields with nice wagering opportunities.  The 5th race features a full field of 2yo maiden fillies with four of the primary contenders exiting the same race at Churchill Downs.  That September 16th event took place over 6 furlongs, and the fillies from that race will try to stretch their stamina an extra sixteenth of a mile today.  The runner-up finisher from that race, Classy Act, came back with another strong effort here on Wednesday when she led every step but the last when going a mile on the main track.  That effort makes Flash n’ Dance look pretty formidable in here as she finished 3rd in that race at Churchill, just a head adrift of Classy Act on the wire.  She was drawn wide that day, as she is in here, but used her speed to beat Trust to the lead and then put that rival away through the stretch before being collared by the top two late.  The two swap gate positions this time, with Trust just inside of Flash n’ Dance, but one would certainly expect both fillies to be sent hard to gain position early, where they are likely to vie for the lead with Dagney’s Warrior who is drawn on the rail and showed ample speed from the far outside in her debut run.  A 3 horse speed duel in front should set things up quite nicely for Pinot and Tell Your Mama, the 7th and 4th place finishers from that September 16th heat in Louisville.  Both made off-the-pace runs in that debut spot, with Tell Your Mama emerging as the more impressive of the two on that occasion.  However, Pinot could offer significant value at twice the morning line of Tell Your Mama.  Kellyn Gorder horses often show significant improvement in their second starts, and the filly put in a very impressive work over the local track when her :47 and 3 half-mile drill was the 8th fastest of 123 works at the distance last Saturday.

Image result for keeneland(Image courtesy of Keeneland)

The 6th race at a mile and a sixteenth on the grass for older fillies and mares features a significant class dropper that seems like a pretty logical single in the pick 5, the lowest priced bet on Keeneland’s wagering menu with only a 15% takeout.  Linda spent most of this year in graded stakes company, knocking heads with some of the best filly and mare turf runners in the country including Celestine, Roca Rojo, Dona Bruja, and Miss Temple City.  Trainer Ian Wilkes gave her a brief freshening after a 2nd place finish at Indiana Downs in July, and she returned in a Grade 3 at Kentucky Downs last month where she filled the show slot behind Miss Temple City and ZipessaZipessa came back to win the Grade 1 First Lady here on Saturday.  Linda is a graded stakes winner herself as she took the Grade 2 Mrs. Revere at Churchill last November following a nice runner-up effort in the Grade 3 Valley View here at Keeneland.  In a race without much pace, she has enough tactical speed to insure herself of good positioning and a clean trip under Brian Hernandez Jr.

The 7th is a 7 furlong allowance for juvenile colts and geldings.  Trappezoid is only eligible for this race because he ran for a $75k claiming tag when defeating similar company three weeks ago at Churchill.  He gets the nod in here as the only horse in the field with two wins, both of which were fairly professional off-the-pace efforts.  That style should work well for him again today as Promises Fulfilled and Nickie’s Papa both look poised to set a fast pace.  Promises Fulfilled could be something special for trainer Dale Romans.  He won by a comfortable 4 lengths going gate-to-wire in his debut, and the runner-up finisher from that race, Rubus, broke his maiden here on Saturday.  The Shackleford colt also posted a strong :59 and 4 bullet work at Churchill on Tuesday in preparation for this.  Dreamer’s Point is another that might benefit if a testy speed duel develops up front.  He came from near the back of the pack to take his debut at Ellis last month.  Psychoanalyze looked to be in over his head against graded stakes company at Saratoga.  He could certainly show improvement with the addition of Lasix, as the running line makes it look like he may have bled in the Hopeful.

The Grade 3 Franklin County, a 5 1/2 furlong turf sprint for fillies and mares, goes as the featured 9th raceMiss Ella, the defending champion, drew the rail.  She has obviously shown an affinity for the Keeneland lawn, and she is a very consistent performer at the 5 1/2 furlong distance with 5 top 2 finishes in 6 attempts.  There should be enough speed signed on here to set up her late rally.  Kasuga will certainly make her presence felt early, and she merits considerable respect coming from the Bill Mott barn.  She spent most of the year at Woodbine, where she nearly took the Grade 3 Royal North field gate-to-wire.  The cut-back in distance and rider change to Julien Leparoux are both in her favor as well.  Pressuring her near the front will be Ruby Notion and MorticiaRuby Notion was less than three lengths behind the brilliant Lady Aurelia in the Giant’s Causeway over this same course in April.  Morticia is a perfect 4 for 4 on the grass at distances less than 6 furlongs.  Always Thinking will also benefit from a torrid pace up front.  She exits a stakes win at Laurel Park where she finished in a blazing fast 1:07 and 3 for 6 furlongs.  Nobody’s Fault is capable of upsetting these from off-the-pace as well.  She owns some nice finishes against several of the top contenders, most notably splitting Lady Aurelia and Ruby Notion here in April.  Lull tops the plethora of contenders in this spot.  While the distance could be a tad short for her, she did break her maiden going 3/4 of a mile and she enters this off a 2-length victory in the Kentucky Downs Ladies Sprint going 6 1/2 – beating Morticia in the process.  She has the perfect stalking style for this pace scenario as she possesses enough speed for Hernandez to keep her settled just behind the top 3 where she can get first run on the deep closers.

Best of luck on Friday and don’t forget to check back tomorrow for a look at Saturday’s card featuring the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth Challenge Cup.