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November 16th, 2019

HALF: Kentucky 24, Vanderbilt 14

After 30 minutes of play, your University of Kentucky Wildcats lead the Vanderbilt Commodores 24-14.

In what has to be the stat of the game so far, Kentucky has 279 yards rushing on 32 carries. Kavoisiey Smoke and Chris Rodriguez both have touchdown runs from 3 and 22 yards out respectively, while Josh Ali caught a tipped Lynn Bowden pass in the end zone to put Kentucky up by ten with 11 seconds left. Vanderbilt ran all over the Cats early in the first quarter, but Kentucky’s defense has clamped down, holding the ‘Dores to only 66 yards rushing and 18 yards passing.

More of this in the second half, please.


UK vs. Vanderbilt LIVE BLOG

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What does Isaiah Jackson’s commitment mean for Kentucky?

Photo: Jon Lopez/Nike

This afternoon, 2020 five-star forward Isaiah Jackson announced his commitment to Kentucky, choosing the Wildcats over Alabama and Syracuse, among 22 total scholarship offers.

And during the announcement ceremony at his high school, Jackson also signed his letter of intent, making his addition to Kentucky’s 2020 signing class official.

Jackson, a 6-foot-9, 210-pound forward out of Pontiac, MI, is rated as the No. 26 prospect in the 2020 247Sports Composite rankings. ESPN has Jackson listed at No. 22 overall and fourth at the power position, with Rivals listing the five-star forward at No. 23 overall (No. 3 PF). To round out the major recruiting services, 247Sports has Jackson rated the lowest at No. 32 overall (No. 4 PF).

But what do we need to know about the newest Wildcat? And most importantly, what does his commitment mean for Kentucky?

Who is Isaiah Jackson?

A defensive-minded big man with elite athleticism and a relentless motor, Jackson is ranked as high as No. 22 in the nation and considered a consensus top-35 prospect for a reason.

This summer playing for The Family on the Nike EYBL circuit, Jackson averaged 11.0 points (53.2% shooting), 6.2 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 2.7 blocks, and 0.7 steals per contest during the regular season, and 10.6 points (55.3% shooting), 5.6 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 1.8 steals, and 1.2 blocks per game at Peach Jam.

Throughout the entire AAU season, Jackson managed at least two blocks in 10 total games and seven or more rebounds in eight total games. His best defensive performances came against Indy Heat (eight blocks) and BJ Boston’s AOT Running Rebels (seven blocks). He failed to register a block just three times in 18 total games.

As a junior at Spire Academy, Jackson also averaged 14.9 points, 10.4 rebounds, and a ridiculous 4.6 blocks per contest.

With phenomenal instincts, timing, and patience, Jackson – one of the best defensive bigs in all of high school basketball – projects as an elite shot blocker and rebounder at the college level. Offensively, the five-star forward was once seen as an incredibly raw prospect, but has since expanded his game to 12-15 feet with growing confidence as a shooter from the 3-point line (he took ten shots from deep on the AAU circuit this season).

Jackson’s head coach at Waterford Mott High School told KSR last week that they are comfortable with him bringing the ball up the floor in spot situations and kick-starting the fast break after a rebound or blocked shot. He will not be an offensive force at Kentucky – immediately, at least – but the potential and confidence is there.

In year one, Jackson will be asked to be a force on the defensive end of the floor and be a rim-running, clean-up specialist on offense, a strong complementary piece to Lance Ware and a few of Kentucky’s other recruiting targets in the frontcourt.

The timeline

A Michigan native, schools such as Michigan and Michigan State were seen as the early favorites in Jackson’s recruitment, with the five-star forward taking three unofficial visits to Michigan in late 2017 and early 2018, and one unofficial to Michigan State in late 2017.

After briefly pulling ahead as the heavy favorite, momentum with Michigan State died out this summer, with Alabama, Kentucky, and Syracuse picking up momentum late in the summer and into the fall.

Alabama offered the five-star forward on July 21, 2019, followed by Kentucky scheduling an official visit to close out the month of August. Leaving the visit, Jackson confirmed he received an offer from John Calipari and the UK coaching staff. Two weeks later, Calipari took a trip up to Michigan to visit Jackson at his school.

The five-star forward took his official visit to Syracuse on September 27, naming his final three schools – Kentucky, Alabama, and Syracuse – just three days after the trip.

On October 3, Calipari took yet another trip to Michigan to see Jackson in person.

Jackson then took his official visit to Alabama on October 25, with silence surrounding his recruitment from that point forward.

Down the stretch, Kentucky and Alabama were seen as the co-favorites, though no one seemed to have a firm grip on who was on top.

On Saturday morning, though, Kentucky buzz began growing louder, with Crystal Ball picks and FutureCast predictions coming in in favor of the Wildcats.

And then on Saturday afternoon, Jackson made it official, choosing Kentucky and joining the school’s top-ranked 2020 recruiting class.

Kentucky makes it official

Not long after the commitment went public, the Kentucky basketball program was ready to let the world know that the signing was official.

On Twitter, Kentucky gave Jackson his introductory post, with former Wildcat big man Bam Adebayo officially welcoming him to the family.

Rich get richer

When you woke up on Friday, Kentucky was sitting at No. 3 in the 2020 recruiting rankings behind both Duke and North Carolina.

Later in the morning, 2021 five-star guard and UK commitment Devin Askew reclassified to the class of 2020 and submitted his letter of intent, allowing the Wildcats to jump all the way up to the No. 1 spot in the rankings.

Today, Jackson announced his commitment to Kentucky, strengthening the program’s top-ranked recruiting class even further.

Now, Kentucky’s 2020 recruiting class consists of five-star guards Terrence Clarke, BJ Boston, and Devin Askew, five-star forward Isaiah Jackson, and four-star forwards Lance Ware and Cam’Ron Fletcher. For those keeping track at home, that is six consensus top-50 prospects, four consensus top-35 prospects, and two consensus top-15 prospects.

John Calipari has been an elite recruiter since he first set foot on campus at Kentucky, but he has never had a start to a recruiting class like this. In fact, the most players Kentucky has had signed by the early signing period during the Calipari era was four in 2011, when Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Marquis Teague, and Kyle Wiltjer became Wildcats.

That team ended up being pretty solid, eh?

Kentucky secures a much-needed frontcourt commitment

No matter how the season plays out, Kentucky is expected to lose EJ Montgomery, Nick Richards, and Nate Sestina to the NBA Draft or graduation at the end of the season. Montgomery was on the cusp of leaving this past season, and Richards didn’t necessarily rush his decision, either. Next offseason will be no different.

Already short on numbers going into this season – Kentucky tried to add the likes of N’Faly Dante, Kerry Blackshear, and Jaden McDaniels this spring alone – the Wildcats will likely have to completely reload the frontcourt for 2020-21. If all three leave, they will need to replace them all, and then some.

With just one signee in the frontcourt going into the day – Lance Ware – the Wildcats were in desperate need of more quality big men. They certainly got one in the high-flying, defensive-minded forward out of Pontiac, MI.

But it doesn’t stop here. Kentucky will continue to recruit the likes of Greg Brown and Cliff Omoruyi in the class of 2020, Jonathan Kuminga and Paolo Banchero as reclassification candidates in 2021, and the transfer/graduate transfer market in hopes of securing at least two more signatures in the frontcourt.

The options are out there, but Jackson’s commitment means the staff doesn’t necessarily need to cast a huge net in the spring. With two guys now on board, they can take their time and (hopefully) reel in some top-notch talent in the frontcourt to complement the pieces already in place.

Highlights

Welcome home, Mr. Jackson.


5 Things You Need to Know About Vanderbilt

 

It’s GAMEDAY!!!  As a whole, Big Blue Nation needs this game today.  It has been a pretty tough last 7 days for Kentucky fans dealing with some brutal losses.  Today is the day that turns around.  Let’s just dive right in to the Commodores.  As always, for a much more in-depth look, check out Adam Luckett’s Scouting Report.

1)  Poor Offensive Production

  • I really tried to make the headline as nice as possible, but the truth is Vanderbilt’s offensive is just bad.  The proof is in the numbers.  Vandy ranks outside the Top 100 in the nation in most major categories including scoring (106th), yards per play (121st), and third down efficiency (last).  Even their rushing attack, which has been their lone bright spot, comes in last in the Southeastern Conference with just over 1000 total yards on the ground.  Following their upset win over Missouri on October 19th, the Commodores have only mustered 7 points in the last two weeks combined at the hands of South Carolina and Florida.  In those losses, Vanderbilt has thrown for a pitiful 76 and 77 yards respectively while using 3 different quarterbacks.  If Kentucky can keep Ke’Shawn Vaughn from absolutely running all over the field, this is an offense that should really struggle to score this afternoon.

    Photo Credit: 247 Sports

2)  Ke’Shawn Vaughn is Really Good

  • Speaking of Vaughn, he does deserve a shout out for what he has been able to accomplish for an otherwise inept offense.  Despite Vandy having the fewest rushing yards in the SEC as a team, Vaughn is actually 4th in the conference in rushing with 818 yards on 166 carriers.  He has also found the end zone 6 times.  He will be a primary target when they pass the ball as well so expect to see a lot of him throughout the game.  Without much of a threat through the air though, the Kentucky defense should be able to key on Vaughn and contain him enough to not let him keep the Commodores in the game single-handily.

3)  Quarterback Questions

  • I promise I don’t just copy and paste this week-to-week.  As has been a theme for Kentucky opponents this season, we don’t know exactly what to expect from this position.  Riley Neal, the Ball State grad transfer, is expected to start and he is the most reliable of the Commodore quarterbacks even though that isn’t a very high bar.  Neal has started 7 games this season and completed 58.6% of his passes for just under 150 yards per game.  He has thrown 6 touchdowns to 4 interceptions.  Neal did not play at all last week against Florida though after suffering a leg injury following the opening drive against South Carolina (where Vandy actually scored).  In his absence, Redshirt Junior Deuce Wallace and Redshirt Freshman Allan Waiters took all of the snaps against Florida and each threw an interception.  If Neal is able to stay healthy and move the ball at all he will probably remain under center for the entire game, however don’t be surprised to see at least one other QB get some time this afternoon in Nashville.

4)  Holes in the Defense     

(Photo: © Frederick Breedon | Getty Images)

  • Much like the offense, the Vanderbilt defense simply isn’t very good.  Their scoring offense is ranked 106th in the country, but the defense is actually worse at 116th in terms of points given up.  They are also 124th in passing defense and 116th in rush defense.  As you would expect from a defense with those numbers, this unit hasn’t put any pressure on opposing offenses as seen by their 13 sacks and 9 forced turnovers on the season.  Even if the Commodores stack the box to try and slow the running game as many UK opponents have done recently, they have shown that it will still be a struggle to contain Lynn Bowden and company on the ground.

5) Struggles Against a Running Quarterback

  • After a tough football and basketball loss last week, Big Blue Nation is in desperate need of something to cheer for.  One of the biggest bright spots going into this afternoon’s game is that Vanderbilt got demolished by Ole Miss on the ground, led by QB John Rhys Plumlee who ran for 165 yards.  Vandy gave up a total of 413 rushing yards in that game including 9.4 yards per carry. There should be some opportunities for big plays today for the ‘Cats.

@BRamseyKSR


REMINDER: 2020 five-star forward Isaiah Jackson announces his decision in an hour

@MooreEdits_

As you prepare for Kentucky football’s matchup against Vanderbilt this afternoon, keep in mind that some UK basketball recruiting news is on the horizon.

At 2:30 p.m. ET – an hour from right now – 2020 five-star forward Isaiah Jackson is set to make his college decision, choosing between a final three of Kentucky, Alabama, and Syracuse.

After several weeks of silence surrounding his recruitment, Kentucky picked up significant buzz this morning, with Andrew Slater, Jerry Meyer, Chad Lykins, and Dylan Prezkop submitting four consecutive Crystal Ball picks for the Wildcats this morning. Over at Rivals.com, Corey Evans, Travis Graf, David Sisk, Eric Bossi, and Michael Langston have also submitted pro-Kentucky FutureCast predictions.

Ranked as high as No. 22 in the nation (Rivals), the Wildcats could be picking up a good one this afternoon…

Stay tuned.


WATCH: Wesley Woodyard Speaks to the Wildcats ahead of Vanderbilt Game

@UKFootball

Wesley Woodyard has been a team captain for almost his entire life. An experienced leader, he shared a message Mark Stoops’ team needed to hear before the final three games of the season.

After Kentucky ran through a practice at the Tennessee Titans’ indoor facility, the former UK linebacker told the Cats to visualize their goals. It was not some sort of vague imagery. Woodyard asked the players to picture themselves making the play that matters most in the fourth quarter. He also asked them to do it for their friend, Terry Wilson.

“I’m sorry you got hurt this year. You’re a baller,” Woodyard told Wilson. “Let’s ride for him.”

Watch what Woodyard had to say and try not to get fired up for some football. I dare you.


GAMEDAY: Can Kentucky Bounce Back vs. Vanderbilt?

Since Kentucky fell two yards short to Tennessee, it’s been a rough week for the Big Blue Nation. Mark Stoops’ football team has a chance to eliminate all of the bad vibes this afternoon against Vanderbilt.

Stoops has a 4-1 record vs. Derek Mason, but he’s only won once in Nashville, a 44-21 victory in 2017. It was the last time a Stoops team has scored more than 40 against an SEC opponent. Despite UK’s recent offensive struggles, that could happen this afternoon in Nashville.

Without a senior starter on Vandy’s defense, this will be the worst defensive line Kentucky has faced since Eastern Michigan. Vanderbilt ranks 103rd nationally in rush defense, surrendering 196.7 yards per game. The last time they faced a rushing quarterback, Ole Miss picked up 9.3 yards per carry for 413 total. Offensively, the Commodores aren’t much better. In fact, they’re historically bad, ranking near the bottom of the FBS in almost ever major statistical category.

Bye weeks helped the Cats shake off slow starts. If they can come out firing in the middle of an unenthusiastic atmosphere, it could be a fun day to be a Kentucky fan. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m. ET on the SEC Network.

Vandy’s QB is BACK

Like Tennessee (and most of the SEC East), the Vanderbilt Commodores have played a ton of quarterbacks this year, five to be exact. Today Derek Mason will be able to play his original starter. Ball State grad transfer Riley Neal was far from perfect, but after leading Vandy to a victory over Missouri, he appeared to be the guy. Of course, he was knocked out with a concussion in the following game after leading the Commodores on a scoring drive. A pocket-passer, Neal has completed 58.6 percent of his passes for 1,193 yards, six touchdowns and four interceptions in 2019.

Freddie Maggard is BACK

Once upon a time, Freddie Maggard was KSR’s Football Guy. After serving on Mark Stoops’ staff for one season as the Director of UK Player Development, Freddie is making his triumphant return to the KSR airwaves. You can hear the former Kentucky quarterback talk about bubble baths, poke sallett and UK football beginning at 12:30 p.m. ET on 630 WLAP.

A Beautiful Day at Vanderbilt Stadium

Mother Nature has not been kind to the Big Blue Nation. The Cats played back-to-back rain games, then endured the cold to watch a loss to Tennessee. Today there will be clear skies, sun and 55-degree weather when the game kicks off at 2:30 p.m. CT. Kentucky fans can greet the team at the Cat Walk, beginning at 12:15 CT near Gate 3. Once the BBN enters the stadium, it will be the first time UK fans have been able to enjoy a cold beer while watching an SEC game. Enjoy!

TV, Radio, Vegas

Kentucky opened as 8.5-point favorites, now pushing up to UK -10, with the over-under hovering around 41.5. Taylor Zarzour, Matt Stinchcomb and Alyssa Lang are on the call for the SEC Network. If you can’t watch, there are multiple ways to listen to The Voice of the Wildcats.

  • AM: 840 WHAS, 630 WLAP
  • FM: 98.1 WBUL
  • Satellite: XM-190 and Sirius-133
  • Online: iHeart Radio

Today’s Uniforms

The Cats will look crisp in the all-white combo.

College Football Schedule

It’s a great day for college football. Luckily, the Cats do not play until after the four undefeated teams go head-to-head at noon and 3:30 p.m.

  • Noon: #5 Alabama at Miss. State on ESPN
  • Noon: Michigan State at #15 Michigan on Fox
  • Noon: Indiana at #9 Penn State on ABC
  • Noon: #11 Florida at Missouri on CBS
  • Noon: Kansas at #22 Oklahoma State on FS1
  • 2:30: #23 Navy on #18 Notre Dame on NBC
  • 3:30: #4 Georgia at #12 Auburn on CBS
  • 3:30: Wake Forest at #3 Clemson on ABC
  • 4:00: #8 Minnesota at #20 Iowa on Fox
  • 7:00: #1 LSU at Ole Miss on ESPN
  • 7:30: #10 Oklahoma at #13 Baylor on ABC
  • 7:30: South Carolina at Texas A&M on SECN
  • 8:00: UCLA at #7 Utah on Fox
  • 10:15: New Mexico at #21 Boise State on ESPN2
  • 10:30: Arizona at #6 Oregon on ESPN

Have you Voted for Lynn Bowden today?

You haven’t yet? Well get on it!

Nebraska and LSU football fans will show no mercy. The BBN cannot let them steal a Paul Hornung Award vote from Lynn Bowden, an award he rightfully deserves. Click here and cast your daily vote right now.

Decision Day for Isaiah Jackson

An hour before UK kicks off against Vanderbilt, Isaiah Jackson will announce his college decision from his high school at 2:30 p.m. ET. A five-star 6’9″ forward from the Detroit area, he’s the No. 25 player in America according to the 247 Composite Rankings. A Syracuse hat will be on the table, but most recruiting analysts believe it’s between Alabama and UK. Evan Daniels described it as a “toss up” between the two schools. Which ever school he selects, Jackson will be able to sign a letter of intent at the ceremony.

High School Football Scores

  • Frederick Douglass 24, Scott County 14
  • Tates Creek 37, Dunbar 29
  • Boyle County 54, Lex Cath 7
  • Somerset 28, LCA 26
  • Louisville Central 18, Franklin County 7
  • Moore 32, John Hardin 30 OT
  • DeSales 30, CAL 7
  • Madison Southern 24, East Jessamine 21
  • Southwestern 21, Whitley County 15
  • Wayne County 63, Corbin 49
  • McCracken County 17, Henderson County 6
  • North Hardin 31, Central Hardin 7
  • Pikeville 45, Hazard 12
  • Newport Central Catholic 40, Ludlow 20

KSR Shop: Holiday Preview Sale!

The KSR Shop and Kentucky Branded have the perfect gift ideas for the Kentucky fan in your life. Take advantage of the special holiday preview sale now through Sunday! Head to ShopKSR.com to receive 20% off your items. Complete your holiday shopping now. Something for every Kentucky lover!

[KSR Shop] 


November 15th, 2019

With Devin Askew’s reclassification, Kentucky’s class is now No. 1

Photo: @KentuckyMBB

Following Devin Askew’s reclassification this morning, Kentucky’s 2020 recruiting class is now No. 1 in the country, ranking ahead of Duke, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas Tech in 247 Sports’ rankings.

Four of five commitments have signed so far: Askew, a five-star guard; five-star shooting guard Terrence Clarke; and four-star forwards Lance Ware and Cam’Ron Fletcher. Five-star guard BJ Boston is also expected to send in his paperwork during the early signing period, which ends on November 20.

Calipari might not be done yet. Kentucky is a finalist for five-star power forward Isaiah Jackson, who will announce his decision tomorrow afternoon. Jackson is also considering Syracuse and Alabama, the latter of which has accounted for three of the latest picks on his 247 Sports Crystal Ball. Is that who Terrence Clarke is alluding to with this tweet?

Cam’Ron Fletcher signed his letter of intent yesterday, but Kentucky waited until today to release the official video greeting him to the family, featuring a cameo from another former four-star recruit, Tyler Herro:

I really like how UK’s using former players in these videos. If you’re keeping track, Terrence Clarke’s featured a shoutout from Rajon Rondo; Lance Ware’s Julius Randle; and Askew’s Brandon Knight. Who will welcome BJ Boston to the family?