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February 24th, 2018

Pregame Scouting: Missouri Tigers, Round 2

Yesterday wasn’t the most fun day to be a Kentucky Wildcats basketball fan, let’s just be honest. Seeing the names of Nerlens Noel, Bam Adebayo, and Kevin Knox on the Yahoo! Sports article was the worst way to start a Friday. But today is a new day, and the season goes on. Having said that, the rest of this post is working under the assumption that Kevin Knox will play and start for the Cats tonight. On top of that, I’m also working under the assumption that Michael Porter Jr will not start for Missouri tonight in his first game cleared from injury.

The last match up with the Tigers was one of the Wildcats’ worst games all season. It was the first time Missouri had ever beaten UK in men’s basketball and started a four game losing streak for the Cats. Kentucky only had one player score over 8 points, they shot 2 of 20 from three, and 7 of 9 players were in foul trouble for the majority of the game. However, Missouri didn’t play that well either, as the Cats’ defense held them to a low amount of points, but the offense couldn’t help the defense out.

Today’s game looks a bit different, as the wake of yesterday’s news is sure to provide some distraction, but on top of that, one of the top recruits in the class may be suiting up for the first time since opening night for the Tigers, in Michael Porter Jr. The presence of a player of that caliber will definitely make the match up have a bit more fire power. Let’s take a look at the possible starting lineup for the Tigers tonight.


#3 Kassius Robertson, Senior Guard, 6’3″

Kassius Robertson is in his first season at Missouri, utilizing the graduate transfer option after spending three years as Canisius. Robertson was one of the top scorers in the MAAC last season and shot over 40% from three in both his sophomore and junior seasons. Robertson has stepped into the scoring role that the injured Michael Porter Jr. left open.

The graduate transfer senior has been a great addition for Cuonzo Martin this season. Robertson is leading the team in scoring, at 16.5 points per game, and three point shooting, at 42.4% on the year. He’s also hitting 81.9% of his free throws, pulling down 2.9 rebounds, dishing out 2.5 assists, and leading the team at 1 steal per game. He finished with 16 points, 4 assists, and 5 turnovers against UK earlier this year.

Despite not being a true point guard, Robertson has the ball in his hands a lot, to create for this Tiger offense. The second guard in the starting lineup has changed throughout the year, but Robertson has been steady. Kentucky will most likely start their best defensive guard, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, on Robertson to begin the game, as they did last time. The problem for Robertson may be defending Shai, as he led Kentucky with 15 points and 6 assists in the previous match up.

#21 Jordan Barnett, Senior Forward, 6’7″

Jordan Barnett returns to the starting lineup for the Missouri Tigers this season, after leading them in scoring through most of last year. He sat out his sophomore season due to transfer rules, after starting his collegiate career with the Longhorns at Texas. In the game three weeks ago, Barnett had 16 points and 6 rebounds.

The senior is probably the most dangerous player on this Missouri team for opponents to game plan against. Reason being is that Barnett can score at a high rate on the perimeter, as well as get to the rim using his size. He’s currently averaging 13.9 points and 5.9 rebounds, good for second on the team in both categories. He’s a lights out shooter, hitting 40.6% of his threes and 89.2% of his free throws on the year.

At the small forward position, the Jordan Barnett versus Kevin Knox match up will be key in today’s game. Both teams rely on their 3-man to score from both inside and out, as well as set a tone for the offense. Look for both of these forwards to be involved early and often in the offensive load. Knox struggled amongst the boos from Missouri fans in the first game, as somehow they thought that he spurned them by not going there, even though the Tigers were never a serious option in his decision. Knox will need to have more than 5 points on 6 shots in today’s game.

#24 Kevin Puryear, Junior Forward, 6’7″

Kevin Puryear is now a three year starter for this Missouri Tiger program. He’s been a steady contributor since his freshman season, when he was named to the 2016 SEC All-Freshman team. He was actually the best freshman scorer at Missouri in almost 25 years. He had 7 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 steals in the first game against Kentucky.

The junior has seen a drop in his overall stats this season, with the influx of some new talent under first year head coach Cuonzo Martin. He’s had a decrease in points, rebounds, assists, blocks, and three point percentage from last season. Nevertheless, he’s still a solid contributor, averaging 9.1 points and 4.6 rebounds. He’s shooting 28.9% from behind the arc and 81.5% from the charity stripe.

At 6’7″ and 238 pounds, Puryear is a thick body at the power forward position for the Tigers, matching up with Kentucky’s PJ Washington and Wenyen Gabriel at the 4 spot. The two players, Washington and Puryear, have near the same measurements for height and weight, with Washington being just two pounds less than Puryear. Washington will need to fight for rebounds to not be out-bodied by Puryear today. Neither Wenyen or PJ played well in the first match up, so getting nearly anything out of them will be an improvement.

#23 Jeremiah Tilmon, Freshman Forward, 6’10”

Jeremiah Tilmon is the lone freshman in the starting lineup for Cuonzo Martin; however, he is sometimes joined by Jontay Porter, brother of Michael Porter Jr. Tilmon was a four-star rated recruit coming out of high school and was regarded as a top 50 player in the class. He had 9 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 blocks against Kentucky three weeks ago.

Tilmon is on his way to becoming a force in the paint for Missouri, with a solid start in his freshman season. He’s averaging 8.2 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 1 block per game. He struggles shooting, only hitting 47.5% of his free throws. He splits time with Jontay Porter, who leads the Tigers in rebounds and blocked shots, despite only being a part-time starter.

Measuring in at 6’10” and 252 pounds, Tilmon is the presence in the post for the Tigers, alongside Porter who stands at 6’11” and 240 pounds. Both are talented bigs who took advantage of Kentucky’s bigs last game, as neither Nick Richards or Sacha Killeya-Jones gave much of anything to the Cats. Richards has been playing well as of late, and Kentucky will need a strong presence from him tonight.

#33 Cullen VanLeer, Junior Guard, 6’4″

Cullen VanLeer started about half of least season’s games, and has started just 10 games this year. In the match up three weeks ago against the Cats, VanLeer finished with 3 points and 2 assists in 19 minutes.

The junior puts another guard in the lineup for Cuonzo Martin, despite not being a huge stat sheet stuffer. His current averages are 2.6 points and 1.4 rebounds, while shooting 31.7% from three on the year. Interesting stat on VanLeer is that he’s attempting just 7 free throws this season, and has missed all seven for a 0.00% free throw percentage. Now that I type that, he’ll probably make his first one of the year against the Cats.

As the second of two guards in the starting lineup, VanLeer will most likely match up with Hamidou Diallo for Kentucky. This is a match up that Hami should be to finally get back on track against. Diallo has struggled to find a rhythm this year, and maybe he’ll be able to get it going today. If not, Quade Green has been playing very well as of late, alongside Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, so look for that lineup combination to continue.


Go Cats. Beat Tigers.

@BrettBibbinsKSR


Skip Bayless calls Anthony Davis the “most overrated player in basketball,” Davis makes history two days later

Anthony Davis leads his New Orleans Pelicans team to a much-needed victory over the Brooklyn Nets. (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

On Wednesday morning, Fox Sports One’s Skip Bayless released the hot take of all hot takes, saying former Wildcat Anthony Davis was the most overrated player in basketball.

Just two days later, New Orleans big man made history, becoming the first player in NBA history with a statline of over 40/15/5/5 in a game. Last night against the Miami Heat, Davis put up 45 points, 17 rebounds, 5 steals and 5 blocks in the team’s 124-123 victory.

Check out the highlights from Davis’ historic night:

Anthony Davis becomes the first player with 40/15/5/5 as he puts up 45 points, 17 rebounds, 5 steals and 5 blocks to lead the @PelicansNBA! #DoItBigpic.twitter.com/IRcCpklUYz

— NBA (@NBA) February 24, 2018

Immediately after the game, the official Pelicans twitter account clapped back to Bayless by showing the commentator’s college statistics, where he averaged a whopping 1.4 points per contest.

And then they called him out again.

Over his last ten games, Davis is averaging 32.7 points, 13 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 2.4 blocks, and 2.5 steals per contest.

In fact, Davis has been on the most impressive run of his career, scoring at least 38 points in six of his last nine games, including four games of over 42 points in that span.

With 1441 total points in 52 games this year, Davis has managed 68.6-times the total points Bayless scored as a senior in high school.

Stay in your lane, Skip.


Shareef O’Neal officially decommits from Arizona

This morning, we told you four-star power forward Shareef O’Neal was second-guessing his future as an Arizona Wildcat.

Now, Shaq’s son has officially re-opened his recruitment to ensure he plays in the NCAA tournament next season.

When the FBI investigation first included Arizona as potential participants, rumors spread that the forward prospect was contemplating a decommitment.

He only signed financial paperwork with the school in case the Wildcats were included in any punishment.

Last night, ESPN reported head coach Sean Miller paid $100,000 to lock up the commitment of No. 1 prospect DeAndre Ayton. Later that night, Yahoo! Sports linked the school to three other shady recruitments including Brian Bowen, Rawle Alkins, and Lauri Markkanen.

Today, it was announced Sean Miller would not be coaching tonight, and his future with the team is in doubt. The school has yet to decide whether to play Ayton or sit him out, as well.

Needless to say, the future is incredibly dark for Arizona, and O’Neal wanted no part of that.

Kentucky has been linked to the talented prospect for months now, specifically following the initial round of FBI news. His father, Shaquille, reportedly loves Kentucky and John Calipari, and respects the school’s ability to get players to the NBA.

With Kentucky needing another forward for next year, it’s very likely the Cats get involved in his recruitment.

Watch him work:

Bring him on home, Coach Cal.


WATCH: Inside the Madness: Kentucky Basketball Episode Two is OUT

Episode two of Inside the Madness: Kentucky Basketball has officially released on Facebook Live.

In the second edition, we get an inside look at Kentucky’s matchup against Virginia Tech back in December, featuring some inside information on Quade Green’s eye injury/goggle use, and the teammate support he received during that time.

We then get a one-on-one look with Wenyen Gabriel’s upbringing and humbling life story, and why exactly he’s so proud to represent his Sudanese heritage.

In the days leading up to the UCLA matchup, the entire Kentucky team and coaching staff participated in a charity event for Christmas, where they gave out food, had Santa Claus for the kids, and even provided gift cards and rent checks to families in need.

The documentary then takes us to New Orleans for Kentucky’s matchup with the UCLA Bruins, featuring the team finding chemistry off the floor, despite struggling on it.

Take a look at the entire episode below:

S1:E2 The Not So Big Easy

We’re back with episode 2!Guard Quade Green sidelined from a game day injury is questionable for Kentucky’s match up with Virginia Tech. Coach Cal has the team spread some holiday cheer and help those who are less fortunate. The Wildcats hit New Orleans and check out the big easy as they prepare for a game against UCLA.

Posted by Inside the Madness: Kentucky Basketball on Saturday, February 24, 2018

Once again, excellent work by the Facebook Live crew.

#BBN


Latest FBI emails recovered involve Brian Bowen, Kansas, Arizona, Indiana, Michigan State, Louisville, and more

Indiana, Michigan State, Louisville, Kansas, and (more) Arizona, come on down!

Yahoo! Sports released another report late last night involving recovered emails in the FBI scandal, with the fascinating recruitment of five-star Brian Bowen being heavily discussed.

Christian Dawkins, one of the central figures in this FBI investigation, reportedly “dangled” Bowen, among other prospects, to various teams and coaches. In fact, Bowen was used as “trade bait” to steer talented recruits/players on the team to ASM Sports.

Two of the assistant coaches named in the emails: Dwayne Stephens of Michigan State and Chuck Martin, formerly of Indiana, and currently with South Carolina.

Dawkins, 24, provides a roadmap for the quid-pro-quo relationship between the agent world and college coaches. He dangles a high school prospect – five-star recruit Brian Bowen – as potential trade bait for schools to steer their best players to ASM Sports. On the same July day, Dawkins wrote to Miller that he connected with two Big Ten assistants, Dwayne Stephens of Michigan State and Chuck Martin, formerly of Indiana.

“Dwayne Stephens – Trying to close the deal on Brian Bowen for Michigan State. Trying to do a trade deal for (Spartans) Gary Harris, Miles Bridges, etc”

“Chuck Martin – Trying to close the deal on Brian Bowen for Indiana. I told him if we can work together and if he can push for us to get (Hoosiers) Thomas Bryant and OG Anunoby two projected first rounders from IU this year we can work something out.”

Arizona also reportedly got in on the Bowen action, adding to their $100K payment for DeAndre Ayton.

“Now I can’t promise that this kid that they want [Bowen] is going to Arizona, but Joe told me verbatim he will help us get all the Arizona players so put his feet to the fire.”

After all parties talked, Louisville was declared the winner, and the end of the Rick Pitino era came.

Dawkins ran the recruitment of Bowen, the decorated high school recruit who turned up in one of the U.S. Attorney’s criminal complaints as being allegedly sold to Louisville, via Adidas, for a six-figure payment. (That revelation led to the firing of Louisville coach Rick Pitino.)

After Bowen signed with Louisville last summer, Rick Pitino oddly told Terry Meiners that he spent “zero dollars” on Bowen and that in 40 years of coaching, it was the “luckiest” he had ever been.

“We got lucky on this one,” Pitino told Terry Meiners. “I had an AAU director call me and ask me if I’d be interested in a player (Bowen) I saw him against another great player from Indiana. I said ‘Yeah, I’d be really interested.’ They had to come in unofficially, pay for their hotel, pay for their meals. We spent zero dollars recruiting a five-star athlete who I loved when I say him play. In my 40 years of coaching this is the luckiest I’ve been.”

Now we know, in essence, Michigan State, Indiana, Arizona, Louisville and others were in a bidding war for the five-star athlete.

Interestingly enough, Chuck Martin, the Indiana assistant involved in the original set of emails, ended up at South Carolina following the scandal… the same place Bowen ended up after leaving Louisville… Hmm…

Arizona also jumped in the action AGAIN, including players such as Rawle Alkins and Lauri Markkanen, to go with DeAndre Ayton and Brian Bowen.

The emails illustrate how Dawkins attempted to manipulate a powerful collegiate program like Arizona and how the client recruitment dance plays out in the recruiting world.

Dawkins, 24, who has no formal college education and was in his early 20s at the time, slowly accumulated power with the Arizona staff to the point where he’s heard on federal wiretaps saying he can attend Arizona practices “like I’m on the team.”

There are more Arizona mentions in Dawkins’ emails on Aug. 18 in reference to former Wildcats assistant Emanuel “Book” Richardson.

Dawkins writes to Andy Miller and others: “coach book from Arizona called me and basically told me he wants me to take [current Arizona guard] rawle alkins. He said he is picking the agent, period….What’s your position on the situation?”

He goes on to encourage Vye, a veteran ASM agent, to build a relationship with Markkanen’s father. “Arizona will do pretty much whatever we ask of them right now, until my kid decides on a school.”

We’ve been waiting for Kansas’ involvement to come out since news broke back in September. Josh Jackson was listed on the leaked document yesterday morning for receiving a loan of $2,700. In the latest Yahoo! emails, Jackson’s mother, Apples Jones, was getting $10,000 a month from Under Armour, on top of the payments from Adidas.

In the same email, Dawkins summarized a meeting with Apples Jones, the mother of Kansas’ Josh Jackson and a self-styled AAU entrepreneur: “His situation is going to get done at the very end. UA is giving her 10k a month and she’s also getting paid by adidas now — so she’s plenty taken care of.

Washington’s Markelle Fultz, Michigan State’s Miles Bridges, Clemson’s Jaron Blossomgame, Xavier’s Edmond Sumner, and Iowa State’s Monte Morris were all also included in the emails and the complete report, which can be read in its entirety here.

Most importantly, Kentucky wasn’t named in the latest breaking news at all.

Phew.


Mark Emmert hints at major upcoming rule changes in College Basketball

This afternoon, NCAA president Mark Emmert went on CBS’s Inside College Basketball to discuss the major Yahoo! Sports reports released in the last few days and the current state of the sport.

In the interview, Emmert said he sees major “systematic changes” coming to college basketball this summer.

He started by saying college basketball players should be allowed similar leeway as college baseball and hockey athletes when it comes to dealing with agents.

Emmert says he understands the frustrations of those wanting to see change, and they’re going to make that a point of emphasis going forward.

“No one wants to hear words, they want to see action, and I get that as much as anyone,” he said. “We’re serious about that, and I, along with the board of directors, are focused on really making a systemic change starting this Spring and going forward through this summer.”

In fact, Emmert says we will likely have new changes in place by the time college basketball tips off next fall.

“They’re going to be putting forth their recommendations and bringing them forward during the month of April, and then the boards are going to act on them and act on them quickly. We need to act and have changes in place before tipoff of next season. Failure to do that will really erode everyone’s confidence in what this wonderful game is truly all about,” he said.

As far as the current basketball season goes and the upcoming NCAA tournament, Emmert says they will act on eligibility concerns before Selection Sunday.

“By the time we get to Selection Sunday, we’ll have a much better handle on what’s going on with the current students so we have eligibility solutions in place for those who are and aren’t eligible,” said Emmert. “Everyone in the selection committee and the fans out there will really know what’s going on.”

Though the Yahoo! Sports report was troublesome, Emmert believes the vast majority of college basketball is well-behaved and those that are following the rules need to be recognized for that.

“The vast majority of coaches, and I believe this deeply, are behaving themselves and conducting themselves appropriately, as are the vast majority of student-athletes,” he said. “We need to recognize them for what they’re doing and their commitment and enjoy these great games.”

He finished the interview by saying those that violated the rules, “especially the adults,” will be held accountable for their actions.

“After the season is over, we’re going to go in and make changes to the nature of the rules and move forward. Especially the adults, we’re going to hold them accountable for their behavior.”

We’ve heard similar talk from Emmert in the past about “major changes” that never came to fruition, but hopefully the pressure of this latest nationwide scandal will (finally) force his hand.


The Aaron Torres Sports Podcast E23: The FBI Scandal Strikes College Basketball

A new Aaron Torres Sports Podcast is live, as Aaron and Nick dive into the latest controversy in college basketball, discussing both the FBI probe and Louisville’s banner coming down.

— What Friday’s news taught us about the state of college basketball, and why it’s the NBA, not NCAA which is to blame for the mess we’re currently in. Also, what is the next step forward, and why Friday’s news will impact LAST YEAR’S NCAA Tournament more than this years.

— A reaction to Louisville’s national championship banner coming down. Nick gives a live look at the situation as someone who lives in Louisville and explains what the reaction has been like in the city. He also discusses Rick Pitino’s bizarre press conference and will Pitino ever coach again?

— And finally, the guys actually look at the games of the weekend. They discuss Michael Porter getting cleared to play against Missouri and will Louisville miss the NCAA Tournament?

You can easily listen on the KSR App, available on iTunes and Google Play. Streaming online is simple through Pod Paradise.  You can also get it directly to your phone by subscribing to the Aaron Torres Sports Podcast feed on iTunes or via Android’s Podcast Addict app.

NOTE: Sponsor the Aaron Torres Sports Podcast for a special price if you sign up by March 15th. Email ksrads@kentuckysportsradio.com to learn more.


Kentucky determines no eligibility issues or rules violations for any current student-athletes or staff

The University of Kentucky has spoken.

After conducting an internal investigation yesterday afternoon, the school determined “there were no eligibility issues or rules violations for any current student-athletes or staff.”

They also said they would continue to work with all authorized authorities on the other issues at hand.

Here was the official statement from the Kentucky men’s basketball account:

Looks like Kevin Knox will officially be playing tonight.


Four-star Arizona commit Shareef O’Neal: “Don’t want to be involved with that”

IG: shareefoneal

Did another option for Kentucky’s 2018 recruiting class just open up?

Last night, ESPN released a bombshell report that Arizona head coach Sean Miller organized a $100,000 payment to ensure No. 1 prospect DeAndre Ayton ended up in a Wildcat uniform.

Before it all released to the public, four-star Arizona commit Shareef O’Neal tweeted that he “didn’t want to be involved with that.”

Back in late September when Arizona was originally included in the FBI investigation, there were rumors O’Neal would decommit from the school, and Kentucky was seen as the likely destination if that happened.

When O’Neal signed only financial paperwork with the school in the first week of October, rumors only spread further. In fact, 247 Sports’ Andrew Slater flipped his Crystal Ball from Arizona to Kentucky, saying O’Neal’s father, Shaquille, is a “big fan of coach Calipari.”

“There are rumors that [O’Neal] is likely to decommit from Arizona, given the events of last week. He’s likely to visit Kentucky on the 13th with his AAU teammate and friend Bol Bol. O’Neal’s father is reportedly a big fan of coach [John] Calipari.”

Five other Crystal Ball picks came for Kentucky after the events, and now, 100% of experts on the site list Lexington as the likely destination.

With Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett heading to Duke, Kentucky is left looking for a star forward to fill the frontcourt. Five-star forward EJ Montgomery is seen as the No. 1 target for Kentucky as of right now, and his recruitment will likely come down to the Cats, UNC, and Duke in the coming weeks.

If things go south with Montgomery, could Coach Cal give a call to O’Neal? Or if he expects another player in the Kentucky frontcourt to leave school early, could he make a hard push for both prospects? Maybe he goes after both players regardless of impending departures, hoping for another loaded roster next season?

If he does officially decommit from Arizona, I’d certainly expect there to be mutual interest between Kentucky and O’Neal.


GAMEDAY: Kentucky Seeks Revenge vs. Missouri

Tonight we’ll get to press pause on the FBI scandal that has consumed college basketball to watch the Kentucky Wildcats take on the Missouri Tigers at Rupp Arena.

The last time these two met, it was an ugly, knock down, drag ’em out.  Kentucky couldn’t buy a bucket and The Streak almost snapped.  After two consecutive UK wins, that game feels like it happened three months ago instead of three weeks ago.

As Kentucky turns around their tumultuous season, Missouri is trending in the opposite direction. After winning five straight, the Tigers have dropped their last two, including an embarrassing home overtime loss to Ole Miss.  They’re still in play for an NCAA Tournament bid in Cuonzo Martin’s first season, but the Tigers could certainly use some late-season momentum with a win over UK.

Porter Jr., Knox will likely Play

The top two NBA prospects on each team will likely take the Rupp Arena court.  Michael Porter Jr. has been cleared to play.  There’s no official word that he’ll play today, but don’t be surprised when he takes the court.  The transition will not be seamless, but he’s good enough to make an impact vs. Kentucky.

Kevin Knox’s name was in yesterday’s Yahoo report, but John Calipari expects him to play. “At this point, I believe so,” Cal said yesterday afternoon. “I mean (unless) there is something I don’t know.”

An SEC Tourney Double-Bye on the Line

Entering today Kentucky is tied with five other teams for third place in the SEC.  One of those teams is Missouri.  A win would not clinch a Friday start at the SEC Tournament, but it would go a long way to help.  An Auburn win over Florida and a South Carolina upset over Miss. State would also prop up Kentucky in the standings.

TV, Radio, Vegas

TV — An 8:15 tip-off on ESPN with Tom Hart and Sean Farnham on the call.

Radio — KSR Pregame Show at Shakespeare and Co. on 630 WLAP at 5:30. Hear Leach and Pratt on the UK Sports Network, Sirius-137 and XM-190.

Vegas — Kentucky -6

1978 Title Team Reunion

This weekend UK is celebrating the 40th Anniversary of Joe B. Hall’s National Championship team.  Jack Givens, Kyle Macy, Rick Robey and Co. will be honored at mid-court during tonight’s game.  You can meet the National Champs prior to tip-off in front of Your Frame of Mind Galleries at the Lexington Center from 5:30-7:30.  Click here for more information.

It was a Bad Day for the Millers

An hour after ESPN reported Sean Miller was recorded on a wiretap talking about a $100,000 deal for DeAndre Ayton, Archie Miller’s Hoosiers let a win slip away in double overtime.

Today’s Tale of the Tape

Junior Day

It’s not just a big weekend for basketball.  Mark Stoops is setting the foundation for the future of Kentucky football at this weekend’s Junior Day.  With dozens and dozens of recruits on campus, it’s UK’s first opportunity to show these elite athletes what it’s like to be a football player in Lexington.  Below is just a small sample of who will be in the stands to see Kentucky take on Mizzou.

Kentucky’s Junior Day Guest List

College Basketball on TV

Time Game Network
Noon #17 Michigan at Maryland ESPN
Noon Baylor at TCU ESPN
1:00 #19 Tennessee at Ole Miss SEC
1:00 Louisville at Virginia Tech CBS
2:00 #13 Wichita State at SMU ESPN
2:00 LSU at Georgia ESPNU
2:30 #3 Villanova at Creighton Fox
3:30 South Carolina at Miss. State SEC
4:00 Texas A&M at Vanderbilt ESPN2
4:15 #8 Kansas at #6 Texas Tech ESPN
6:00 Iowa State at #21 West Virginia ESPNU
6:00 Arkansas at Alabama SEC
6:15 Syracuse at #5 Duke ESPN
8:30 #12 Auburn at Florida SEC
10:15 #14 Airzona at Oregon ESPN

BIG BLUE FLASH SALE: 25% off everything at the KSR Shop

The KSR Shop and Kentucky Branded are continuing their Big Blue Flash Sale for one final day. Head to ShopKSR.com to receive 25% off everything in store! Check out the great selection of KSR sweatshirts, t-shirts, hats, UK prints, jackets, jewelry, and more.

Hurry the clock is ticking on this Big Blue flash sale. Ends at midnight!

[BIG BLUE FLASH SALE]


February 23rd, 2018

Breaking down Yahoo’s FBI story involving Nerlens, Bam, and Knox

Waking up to the news that three Kentucky players were listed in documents obtained by the FBI was jarring to say the least, but after a deep breath and an hour to digest the story, I’m not nearly as panicked as I was when my phone went off this morning. Let’s break down the facts of what has been released and what to focus on going forward.

The facts

Nerlens Noel, Bam Adebayo, and Kevin Knox are all listed on financial documents from ASM Sports (Andy Miller’s agency).

  • Nerlens, who briefly employed Miller as his agent,  is listed as taking a $4,350 loan
  • Bam is listed as taking a $12,500 loan, but did not sign with ASM. In a separate document, he is listed as being a “bad loan” with a $36,500 monetary amount.
  • Kevin Knox is one of several players listed on an expense report as meeting or having a meal with former ASM associate Christian Dawkins.

The immediate concern is Knox

It’s important to point out that players are allowed to meet with agents; however, they are not allowed to accept money from them or have those agents pay for their meals. Yahoo did not post the actual expense report from Dawkins listing Knox, so it’s unclear who paid. If Knox did let Dawkins buy him a meal, it’s a violation and he could repay it and regain his eligibility; however, no one knows how the NCAA will handle any of this. Also, did UK already know about this, and if so, did they disclose it to the NCAA before the season began?

The big question now becomes…

Will Knox play tomorrow?

If he does, UK must be confident everything checks out. If not, there may be something there.

Bam’s involvement is by far the worst

According to these documents, Bam accepted either $12,500 or $36,500 from ASM, which was by their description a “bad loan” because he didn’t sign with the agency. Obviously, this is a way bigger deal than Knox having a meal with Christian Dawkins. The timeline becomes very important here. Bam’s $12,500 loan is listed on a balance sheet from December 31, 2015, so after he signed Kentucky (November 18, 2015). Did the payments come before or after that? If after, maybe it’s a good thing Luke Maye hit that shot.

Nerlens’ loan is the least of our worries

Nerlens was also listed on the December 31, 2015 balance sheet as taking a $4,350 loan from ASM, but Miller was his agent from June 2013 – December 2016. A professional player taking a loan from his agent is the least of Kentucky’ worries right now.

A rundown of players from other major programs

It’s definitely not just Kentucky:

  • Dennis Smith, NC State – $43,500 loan, total of $73,500
  • Markelle Fultz, Washington, $10,000 loan
  • Miles Bridges – no specific amount, but per expense reports, “hundreds of dollars in advances”
  • PJ Dozier, South Carolina – at least $6,115
  • Josh Jackson, Kansas – $2,700
  • Wendell Carter, Duke – Met or had meals with Dawkins
  • Collin Sexton, Alabama – Met or had meals with Dawkins
  • Tony Bradley, North Carolina – Met or had meals with Dawkins

There are so many more.

No players from the 2011, 2012, 2014, or 2015 teams are listed

Which means for now, the banners are safe.

John Calipari is scheduled to talk to the media today

Calipari was scheduled to meet with reporters at 2:15 p.m. to preview tomorrow’s game vs. Missouri. That has yet to be confirmed this morning, but knowing Cal, I expect it will. Select players were scheduled to meet with the media at 1:45 p.m., but given this morning’s news, I doubt that happens.

UPDATE: John Calipari will address the media at 2:45 p.m. As expected, players will not be available for interviews.


KSR Top 10 Tweets of the Day

McDowell


The one and only Big Mick is a meaty masterpiece in its own right. Composed of two quarter-pound patties* of never-fresh, frozen, mostly beef raised close to the processing plant. Only McDowell’s has the frosted beef and processed cheese to give you a major reason for the afternoon trip to the secret bathroom only you and Debra know about on the 9th floor that is under construction.


You can be a part of McDowell’s KSR 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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#10KC


Mood all day today

#9 Derik Hunt


Ryan is a hero!

#8 John Ellis


That’s hard to do.

#7 mb cat fan


Probably.

#6 Jonathan Young


Everyone likes this.

#5 The Sizzlechest


Drops mic.

#4 chad


Let’s hope so.

#3 Josh


There’s no way.

#2 Jimmy Caulde


Oh this makes sense.

#1 Steve Mulrooney


Classic Ryan


FBI wiretaps show Arizona’s Sean Miller discussing $100K payment for DeAndre Ayton

Remember when Kentucky fans complained for months about John Calipari not recruiting No. 1 prospect DeAndre Ayton hard enough?

Now we know why.

According to ESPN sources, Arizona head coach Sean Miller held phone conversations with Christian Dawkins about a $100,000 payment to “ensure” Ayton ended up at Arizona.

FBI wiretaps intercepted telephone conversations between Arizona coach Sean Miller and Christian Dawkins, a key figure in the FBI’s investigation into college basketball corruption, in which Miller discussed paying $100,000 to ensure star freshman Deandre Ayton signed with the Wildcats, sources familiar with the government’s evidence told ESPN.

ESPN reports the Miller-Dawkins phone call was just one of over 3,000 hours of conversations on Dawkins’ phone alone, meaning this is likely just scratching the surface on what else is out there.

With this news, it’s almost a certainty Ayton will be declared ineligible, this season will be vacated for the Wildcats, and Sean Miller very may well be fired.

We’re just getting started, folks…


BBNBA: 3 Things to Watch for Post All-Star Break

Washington Wizards point guard John Wall hopes to make his return from knee surgery in the middle of March. (Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)

After a relaxing week-long break from the strenuous NBA season, games picked back up on Thursday night. The All-Star break isn’t technically the halfway point in the season, considering every team has already played at least 55 games (although it could be considered the halfway point since the NBA Finals won’t even end until June), but it marks the first signs of the closing stages of the regular season. With less than 25 games remaining on each team’s schedule and playoff seeding becoming more prevalent, every game is valuable. This is the stretch of the regular season that decides who’s going to be hot or cold going into the playoffs. Energy levels will be much higher across the league and every game matters. With that being said, here are three things to watch for as the regular season begins to wind down.

1. John Wall’s return from injury

Since John Wall’s knee surgery back in January, the Washington Wizards have actually been on somewhat of a hot streak. They beat the new-look Cleveland Cavaliers in their first game back from the All-Star break, looking fluid an under control without their starting point guard. The Wizards have gone 8-2 since Wall went out (four of those wins came against teams well under .500) and backup point guard, Tomas Satoransky, has filled in better than expected.

By no means are the Wizards better without Wall. That would be a very quick and irrational decision to make, but it is interesting that the team is playing so well in his absence. The Wizards currently sit at 34-24, fourth best in the Eastern Conference, with a locker room that appears to be improving relationships between teammates. You may recall the “beef” between Wall and Wizards center Marcin Gortat, where Wall literally said he “spoon-fed” baskets to Gortat after some other – now irrelevant – Twitter squabbling between the two. They have since aired out their grievances – even after a team meeting that didn’t go exactly as planned – during a mutual meeting including just them two.

With Wall out, the Wizards have been moving the ball at a considerably higher pace, which isn’t necessarily surprising when someone with the attacking ability such as Wall is forced to sit. The Wizards are averaging more shots per game and over seven more assists per game since Wall’s injury, who averages 9.3 assists per game. This can be attributed to Wall being the driving factor of the offense who has the ball in his hands more than any of his teammates. With no one who can attack the rim like Wall, the Wizards have to rely on constant ball movement and precision passing to make up for it, which has led to more shots and more assists. Bradley Beal is currently their best player – and he was an All-Star this season for a reason – but as long as he’s the number one option, the Wizards will eventually lose their magic. Ball movement is key to any offense, but defenses will begin to learn the Wizards’ tricks. Without many players who can consistently get themselves open looks and knock down contested shots, expect the Wizards to come down to earth right around the time Wall should be ready to return.

One of the bright sides of Wall’s injury is the emergence of Satoransky, who has bolted himself to the level of viable NBA player. When Wall comes back, Satorasnky will make an excellent backup who can run the offense at 6-foot-7 and score from various areas on the court. The return of Wall to full health is necessary if the Wizards want to do any damage in the playoffs. Wall is still the team’s best player (although Beal is quickly catching up) and they become much less of an explosive threat without him. It will be interesting to see how head coach Scott Brooks incorporates both Wall and Satoransky into their new-founded success. If Wall can sacrifice his own production in order to work within the current system, the Wizards could look a lot more dangerous than they already do.

2. Where DEN/NOP finish in the standings

This topic matters for a couple of reasons. One because the Denver Nuggets have two Kentucky players who play heavy minutes while the New Orleans Pelicans have five Kentucky players who all get consistent playing time as well (especially Anthony Davis). Two, because these two teams are only separated by half a game in the standings. The Nuggets (32-26, currently seeded at number six) are trending upward while the now DeMarcus Cousins-less Pelicans (31-26, currently seeded at number eight) are trending…. neutrally.

The Nuggets are now winners of nine of their last 12 games, including wins over the Warriors, Thunder, and Spurs. Jamal Murray and Trey Lyles are playing the best basketball of their still incredibly young careers and have been huge factors in the Nuggets success. Murray might be one of the hottest players in the entire league right now, shooting over 48 percent from deep in his last 12 games while averaging 20 points per game in that span. Everything Murray touches turns to molten lava. He simply can’t miss. He refuses to miss. His shooting splits (FG%/3PT%/FT%) over the last 12 games is a mind-melting 54.1/48.6/90.5. Only four other players have hit at least the 40/50/90 over their last 12 games; Karl-Anthony Towns, Steph Curry, Joe Ingles, and (you guessed it) Tomas Satoransky.

Lyles has continued to build off his surprise start to the season, averaging 12.8 points and 6.0 rebounds over his last 12 games. He and Murray (along with Gary Harris and Nikola Jokic) have the Nuggets looking like a team ready to win now. Throw in the imminent return of four-time All-Star Paul Millsap and Denver should continue their current tear in the Western Conference. Getting Millsap back from injury will likely have a negative impact on the overall team offense to start (although a positive one on defense) which might limit Murray’s touches, but he’s been the starting point guard for a while now and should still have the ball in his hands for most of the game. The best way to get Murray going is to let him do him. If Millsap’s return doesn’t diminish that, the Nuggets will be looking mighty dangerous as a mid-level seed.

The Pelicans, on the other hand, are struggling. They’re 4-5 since the Cousins’ injury, however, currently on a three-game winning streak (all three opponents had a losing record). Anthony Davis has been nothing short of extraterrestrial during the nine-game span. He’s averaging a cool 31.3 points, 12.2 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 2.2 steals, and 2.1 blocks per game with shooting splits of 49.8/42.4(!!!)/81.1. Those are Hall-of-Fame numbers, people. The MVP talk will surely poke it’s head out if he keeps this up, if it hasn’t already.

With Davis and no Cousins, the Pelicans can likely keep themselves afloat and stay above .500 for the rest of the season. Their schedule for the remainder of the regular season isn’t a cakewalk by any means, but there are more than enough games against very bad teams that will be winnable.

The bad part is the two teams slowly creeping up on them. The Utah Jazz are the hottest team in the NBA right now (oddly enough), winning 11 straight games behind hot shooting from Donovan Mitchell and excellent team defense from Rudy Gobert and co. The Jazz currently sit at 30-28 but are shooting up the standings with impressive wins.

Slightly ahead of them is the Los Angeles Clippers, who are 30-27 and also going through a renaissance of sorts. The Clippers have won seven of their last 10 and have looked like a legitimate playoff over the past month or two, despite having a roster riddled with once borderline NBA players.

It will be an uphill battle for the Pelicans, a team already close to the top than the ones charging after them, but Davis can get them there. As we get closer and closer to the playoffs, we’ll find out pretty quickly if the Pelicans are in a position to keep their current playoff seed. Then the question becomes whether or not they decide to fall completely out of the playoffs if they can’t keep up with the Jazz and Clippers, potentially gunning for a higher lottery pick. Either way, there are eight teams all within 4.5 games of each other in the West with only six available spots, so it should be an exciting end.

3. Bam Adebayo catching up to Hassan Whiteside

Bam Adebayo is in the news for the wrong reasons at the moment, but the rookie season he’s put together should not be ignored. He’s become a reliable backup for the Miami Heat when center Hassan Whiteside is on the bench. His numbers don’t stick out, not just yet, but the energy and knowledge for the game he possesses shine a bright light on his future. So much, in fact, that it wouldn’t be surprising to see him steal some of Whiteside’s minutes as the playoffs approach.

The Miami Heat are eighth in the Eastern Conference standings with a record of 30-28. With only the Detroit Pistons to worry about as far as another team potentially stealing their spot, the Heat are in a much better situation than the Pelicans to make the playoffs. Miami won’t need another miraculous run like they had last season (where they won 13 games in a row during the middle of the season before riding that to a 41-41 record), but they’ll absolutely need help from everyone on their roster, which includes Adebayo.

You’ll find more dedicated Heat fans who favor Adebayo over Whiteside than you would the other way around. His play has been so infectious that there have been Heat media members asking the question of whether or not they should trade Whiteside altogether and build around Adebayo. These are strong words about a rookie, but Adebayo has been that good in a limited role. The Heat have been using both Whiteside and Adebayo together at times, which has worked for the most part but will eventually hurt them in the playoffs. The two center lineup is great for rebounding and paint scoring, but horrendous for outside shooting and guarding quicker forwards.

Not even one year of Adebayo has fans and media alike questioning if Whiteside and the three years/$75 million left on his contract is a piece they take with them in the future.

@ZackGeoghegan