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Josh Hopkins Breaks Down Next Year’s Team


Note from Matt Jones: We are very excited to have Josh Hopkins from ABC/TBS’s “Cougartown” joining KSR as a guest columnist over the course of the next year. Josh is the ultimate fan and like you, he bleeds blue and follows every part of Kentucky basketball. The difference is that Josh lives in Hollywood, is on television and gets to see the program as the ultimate fan would. His fandom is unparalleled amongst the “famous” UK fan set and we are looking forward to his thoughts here on KSR. He starts with this post on the summer practices by the UK team:


It was the middle of the summer in 1984 and I was Thirteen. I had just received my “Cats Pause” (thank god for Oscar Combs) and I couldn’t have been happier. I read it about six thousand times until the next edition was printed…TWO MONTHS LATER! Yeah, that’s what the coverage was like in the off season for the basketball team.

I dissected every ounce of information no matter how trivial. I obsessed over tidbits like how big John Pittman’s hands were, and I was convinced he would be the best center in UK history. Sure, Pittman never came to UK, nor did he amount to much of a ball player either, but it didn’t matter because I ate up every morsel of UK information. Now, no longer do I need to wait months for UK basketball news, because it is there immediately and honestly I couldn’t be more thrilled. That’s why I love me some KSR.

I click on this site no less than 10 times a day. I get all the Cat news in a clear, succinct package, which makes it easy, for a kinda dim guy like me to understand. Even better, KSR is a destination that turns the entire BBN into a massive Internet force. When Matt asked if I’d like to write a semi weekly piece for the site…I was honored.

Many ideas have come in and out of my thought process regarding my first post. Should I write about my own fandemonium? About how I’m still reveling in the Cats’ national title? Or, how exciting it’s gonna be to watch our guys in the NBA? None of these… I’m gonna actually switch gears…and give you a glimpse of the impressions I have on the Cats’ future.

I recently had a chance to see the 2012-2013 Cats practice. It was a lucky opportunity for which I am feel unbelievably fortunate and so I thought would share some of my thoughts. I get so annoyed by critics that say Coach Cal is “just a recruiter”. After seeing him with these kids at practice, Coach is probably best described as a master motivator and a focused teacher. I wish there was an opportunity for people to see how Cal crafts his practices. It is fascinating to watch him teach position and angles, footwork and proper screening. Yeah, he recruits one and done talent but it’s how he prepares and teaches those kids in that one season that has continually impressed those of us really paying attention.

You know what the returning players bring so here’s the impression I came away with from the new guys during my limited time watching with my very untrained eye:

NERLENS NOEL : Not around yet. Dang.

FRESHMEN: As should be expected, the new guys were a little lost and seemed slightly frustrated. They’ve had a very limited time thus far with the system. The transition to college as well as the expectations of playing for the defending NCAA champs is a not a simple process. I’m NOT worried, but you could sense the frustration of these guys as they tried to grasp the system. One thing I’ve learned about watching these early practices and pick up games, is that, for the most part, the freshman shoot very poorly. It’s not because they are poor shooters, or lost, or intimidated. In general, it’s because this is the first true big boy weight lifting/conditioning these kids have ever attempted. Their legs and arms are jelly by the time they get to the court and this year’s class was no exception. The frosh were struggling to hit shots, but that was hardly their biggest issue. Coach Cal told them the biggest challenge is to get their bodies to continually move fast, while training their minds to not panic, and just slow down. I’ve heard it from Coach Cal in the past, and we’ve all seen it happen as the season
progresses. It’s just part of the learning process.

WILLIE CAULEY-STEIN: WCS, doesn’t roll off the tongue like MKG, but that’s what I’ll call him now. He IS what you have heard. Super physically gifted, but still learning the game. His physical gifts are enough to really excite. Runs like a deer, jumps out of the gym, and has good hands. If you thought he’d be this years Vargas you’ll be pleasantly surprised. If you have heard the early hype and have convinced yourself he’s another one and doner, you’ll probably be disappointed. I can’t wait to see what Cal does with him.

Plus he’s a Goonie and I like The Goonies.

How about WCS and Nerlens on the court together? Fagetaboutit! Nasty defensively! Also, you can tell he’s a team favorite as the guys and coaches are all constantly encouraging him.

ALEX POYTHRESS: Alex honestly was pretty lost. However nobody seemed to mind but Alex himself. His athleticism is not just freaky. It’s FREAKY FREAKY. He must have giant hands as his one hand dunks are scary in their power. There’s going to be times he dunks this year and the sound of the rim cracking back into place won’t hit upper Rupp until Alex is crossing back past the mid court line. I think he could have a slightly slowish start, but come February, lottery talk will be everywhere.

RYAN HARROW: All I want is a slow motion montage with Ryan Harrow (I wish we were best friends and not someone he refers to as “sir”). We could go get ice cream and play video games together. Make videos of us dunking on a nerf goal… anyway, I digress. Ryan looked great. He’s a little fella in stature, but he’s got everything else. We all know he has stupid hops, but he’s also got a really nice stroke. From my outside position, he looks comfortable and confident being the Cats point guard. His year under Cal is obvious as he had that second year swagger that I love to see. It’s hard to think of someone that he reminds me of in The League but Sacramento’s Isiah Thomas (the former Washington player) would definitely be a favorable comparison. Ryan will have to show he has that same kind of bulldog like competitiveness if he’s to be a first rounder but he has the athleticism and i know Cal’s the right coach for him. I’m all the way out here in Los Angeles now and I miss him. I hope we can be BFFs one day.

ARCHIE GOODWIN: Just looking at Archee Goodwin is impressive. If Michael Jordan and Len Bias had a younger, slightly shorter, brother, this is what he’d look like. Total stud and REALLY long. If he’s 6’5″, I’ll bet his wingspan is 6’10”. Crazy! It was just an early practice but he seemed to be grasping everything pretty well. Like I said, he wasn’t shooting great, but the freshman never do this time of year. I can’t really tell what kind of year he will have in this limited viewing but he was born to play in the NBA. I already want to order his Fathead.

JULIUS MAYS: Julius Mays was as advertised EXCEPT he ain’t 6’2″. He’s smaller, but aside from that he seemed to be a good ball handler, can stroke it from deep or mid range, and always was competing hard. Also, his new teammates already seemed to really like him. I might be making that up because I want it so badly and it really makes me happy if everyone on the team seems to also be friends. But it did seem like that to me, so I am just going with it.

JON HOOD: I’ll say Jon Hood was cutting very well on his knee and seemed confident. Love that Kentucky kid.

KYLE WITLJER Kyle ran well and said he’s lifting with the football team who he said were “animals” in the weight room. He said the whole “screaming and yelling” must be a football thing. Still has trademark feathery touch that will light up the scoreboard this year. Did I mention I like the Goonies?

JARROD POLSON: I’ll tell you who ain’t scared, Jarrod Polson. He’s a good athlete, third year in this system, and if he comes in to run the show for a few minutes, there isn’t a guard in college basketball who’s going to scare him. When you go head to head with Wall, Bledsoe, Knight, Teague and Harrow these last few years, a player from some lower tier SEC school wouldn’t intimidate you in the least…well maybe it would intimidate me, but it won’t Jarrod.

Last year we caught lightning in a bottle. This year, I look forward to the thunder clouds rolling in.

I am getting excited just think about it.

Go Cats!

Article written by Josh Hopkins

71 Comments for Josh Hopkins Breaks Down Next Year’s Team

  1. Tom
    8:07 pm July 24, 2012 Permalink

    I would say Ashley Judd’s fan hood parallels Josh Hopkins. With that said they are both awesome celebrity fans

  2. Danny
    8:13 pm July 24, 2012 Permalink

    KSR just got a whole lot handsomer!!!!!!

  3. ThatsExactlyRight
    8:15 pm July 24, 2012 Permalink

    Ashley Judd just became my second favorite celebrity CAT fan. Congrats Josh, I am sure you are honored 🙂

  4. CATS
    8:16 pm July 24, 2012 Permalink

    What about Twany?? I hope he gets to play this year.

  5. Demon Sister
    8:18 pm July 24, 2012 Permalink

    I still dont know who Josh Hopkins is..

  6. Uk
    8:19 pm July 24, 2012 Permalink

    Great post and look forward to seeing more of your writing!

    Also, nothing on Twany?

  7. WildcatTown
    8:24 pm July 24, 2012 Permalink

    Great first post. Hope ya throw more 3 goggles on primetime.

  8. Old timer
    8:25 pm July 24, 2012 Permalink

    Great post, very well written and knowledgable fan. In all honesty I was surprised!!!

  9. LuvDaCats
    8:26 pm July 24, 2012 Permalink

    Nice artiicle. Well written. Very well written.

  10. SeaCat
    8:26 pm July 24, 2012 Permalink

    Great post Josh!!!
    Next time add some Courtney tidbits

  11. westerncat
    8:27 pm July 24, 2012 Permalink

    Good reading. Can’t wait for the games to start.

  12. Kycatspaws
    8:31 pm July 24, 2012 Permalink

    Nice update, I enjoyed reading it. Go Cats!

  13. KS
    8:37 pm July 24, 2012 Permalink

    Josh, played football long time ago with you at shillito with coach Beatty. Eent to gatlinburg with u and and test of our team Glad to see you doing well and still a huge cats fan. Good post. You will be a big contributor on here.

  14. Bluman
    8:37 pm July 24, 2012 Permalink

    Really good stuff from a fan’s perspective. I look forward to more of your posts. Thanks Matt for bringing on board a true blue Hollywood big boy. The BBN never stops. Go CATS!

  15. Swoony
    8:38 pm July 24, 2012 Permalink

    Super break down. Enjoyed it. Now can I get a PENNY CAN!!!

  16. Kenny Power's Agent
    8:41 pm July 24, 2012 Permalink

    Nice wrap-up from someone who’s watched from the inside. Must’ve been an awesome experience watchin’ our guys this early. All this and big Nerlens hasn’t even stepped foot on campus! I cannot wait to see how Coach develops these guys! Great post J-Hop!

  17. EightLetters
    8:45 pm July 24, 2012 Permalink

    Great post….insightful and candid. Looking forward to your future posts. GOGGLES UP!!!

  18. mapcatfan
    8:46 pm July 24, 2012 Permalink

    Great post, Josh. Look forward to reading your thoughts throughout this season. Also, it’s good to give us ladies someone to counter Ashley! ; )

  19. ellibri
    8:49 pm July 24, 2012 Permalink

    Dear Josh,

    Can you please turn Busy Phillips into a Cat Fan?
    Great Post & You were great on the radio!


  20. Andy
    8:53 pm July 24, 2012 Permalink

    Great post

  21. BigBlueWestCoast
    8:53 pm July 24, 2012 Permalink

    Awesome stuff, Josh. 80 Days until Big Blue Madness. I think Penny Can should be part of the Madness.

  22. Bradley
    9:04 pm July 24, 2012 Permalink

    Bravo. Great post.

  23. Tom
    9:06 pm July 24, 2012 Permalink

    Nice post. Hope to see more.

  24. nassau65
    9:07 pm July 24, 2012 Permalink

    Good stuff Josh, welcome.

  25. KSR Fan
    9:08 pm July 24, 2012 Permalink

    Love how you’re such a UK basketball junkie! What a great addition to KSR!

  26. MsMcJones
    9:11 pm July 24, 2012 Permalink

    A true member of the BBN and a hottie too!?!? You may have just made my list 😉

  27. Ukblue
    9:12 pm July 24, 2012 Permalink

    Anyone else wanna call fair weather fan on this? Ashley Judd has been with us through thick and thin but it seems like this guy just showed up with calipari and the John wall dance… Could be wrong but just sayin

  28. gr8ness
    9:25 pm July 24, 2012 Permalink

    @28, you must be a TARD fan. If you could read, you would have noticed the reference to 1984/ Cats Pause / waiting for next issue.

    I remember those days. Josh just brought it.

  29. cats11
    9:25 pm July 24, 2012 Permalink

    Better than 90% of the other KSR writers, for sure.

  30. gr8ness
    9:26 pm July 24, 2012 Permalink

    @27 now. What happened?

  31. gr8ness
    9:28 pm July 24, 2012 Permalink

    Did I just go back in time? And I just called ukblue a TARD.

  32. Bull
    9:34 pm July 24, 2012 Permalink

    Well Done “SIR”. I’d give that an A👍. Great job, keep these post coming!

  33. 27 Youre a negative little bitch
    9:35 pm July 24, 2012 Permalink

    27 There always has to be that negative asshole who just HAS to make a stupid commment. Actually you’re probably a UL fan but either way…get a life douchebag. This guy was born and raised in Kentucky and I’m sure has bled blue since he was a kid.

  34. Michael
    9:35 pm July 24, 2012 Permalink

    Awesome post, Josh. It’s always fun when you are on the radio, and you brought it here, too. I’m glad rep UK.

  35. Catfan
    9:37 pm July 24, 2012 Permalink

    Good read.

  36. CurtCat
    9:38 pm July 24, 2012 Permalink

    Hey Ukblue… Ashley is just more famous and has been for a while. For you to insinuate that he’s a “fair weather fan,” on any level, makes you ignorant. Why does jealousy run so rampant among Cat Fans? You don’t have a monopoly on caring about our team. He’s now on national network TV all the time and you want to call him out because he’s a fan and drawing attention to our program??? What have you been doing for the program besides trying to complain about other fans. How much attention are you bringing to the program? Does life suck that much for you? He actually has other things he could be doing besides complain about other people and he’s out there supporting our CATS. Then, you throw in a B.S. disclaimer at the end??? You know who makes statements like that without having any sort of evidence? Chicken-s*&ts do. I bet you were one hell-of-a hall monitor in high school. Your name should be UK-blue-est.

  37. Truth
    9:40 pm July 24, 2012 Permalink

    Not much tread left on judd’s tires. In fact, she looks like the bride of Frankenstein.

  38. therealjohnpittman
    9:41 pm July 24, 2012 Permalink

    Nice post Josh…played little league baseball with you way back. Enjoy reading your ‘tweets’ – seeing pictures of you with Jay Atkins & Griggs takes me back. Keep up the good work.

  39. Road Dogg
    9:43 pm July 24, 2012 Permalink

    Josh Hopkins is a cool guy. But don’t care for always seeing him throw up the goggles in his pictures. 3 goggles went out of style with gold chains.

  40. woo's gummy snacks
    9:44 pm July 24, 2012 Permalink

    good stuff josh…i like you on here. it’s good for matt, it’s good for you and it’s good for ksr

    one love

  41. grilled-chez
    9:46 pm July 24, 2012 Permalink

    Nice article Josh, thanks for the info on how our young cats are looking this summer.

  42. jaxcats8503
    10:05 pm July 24, 2012 Permalink

    Excellent first post. Excited about reading more insider info!

  43. Got CAL?
    10:14 pm July 24, 2012 Permalink

    Nice post!

  44. Rommy Goodman
    10:21 pm July 24, 2012 Permalink

    Not bad Hopkins, I like the fathead remark..

  45. Rommy Goodman
    10:22 pm July 24, 2012 Permalink

    What was it like to play for Tennesse and do you wish you would have came here like Darius and be in the NBA instead of writing for KSR?

  46. Yo Believeo
    10:25 pm July 24, 2012 Permalink

    Great post Hopkins. You are a true Cat fan and represent the BBN well!

  47. Nervous
    10:29 pm July 24, 2012 Permalink

    Hope Cal and World Wide Wes have everything under control in regard to Noel’s academics and ncaa situation.

  48. WildcatFan
    10:33 pm July 24, 2012 Permalink

    Extremely well written, Josh! It’s obvious that you are ‘one of us’, a diehard member of the BBN….your basketballspeak is a dead giveaway:) Jealous that you have gotten to watch the guys practice this summer. Thanks for giving us a sneak peak into what we can expect this fall!! Go, Big Blue!

  49. Dmase
    10:39 pm July 24, 2012 Permalink

    Good insight, best post in a while (unless Wiggins becomes a cat). Nice job josh and ksr!

  50. Huston
    10:40 pm July 24, 2012 Permalink

    Hey Josh, we spent a summer eating 7-11 hot dogs and hanging with the Duck sisters. Anyway, great first post.

  51. bballdoc
    10:49 pm July 24, 2012 Permalink

    Josh, rule number one is don’t pay any attention to the know-it-all critics. Oops, you learned that years ago. Keep up the good work.

  52. yaheard
    11:13 pm July 24, 2012 Permalink

    So all I have to do is become a Hollywood star and I can write for KSR? You will be hearing from me shortly Matty Fatty Jones…

  53. LoganBleedsBlue
    11:15 pm July 24, 2012 Permalink

    Excellent post. Awesome to have Josh as a BBN ambassador to the Hollywood world. Really enjoyed his comments on the practice.

  54. AMG
    11:34 pm July 24, 2012 Permalink

    Agreed, best post in a while. KSR + J. Hopkins takes it to the next level!!!

  55. Phili5
    11:41 pm July 24, 2012 Permalink

    So Jon hood still looks like jon hood?

  56. john4uk
    12:00 am July 25, 2012 Permalink

    Finally someone has written an article about the Cats that lets us commoners know what’s going on.Thanks Josh.Looking forward to more .

  57. Shampoo
    1:10 am July 25, 2012 Permalink

    Love you Josh except let’s be honest Polson is wank and he wasn’t here when Wall and Bledsoe were.

  58. Tennesse Wildcat
    2:12 am July 25, 2012 Permalink

    Awesome post, Josh. Thanks so much for some practice news. I remember geting my cats pause magazines in the mid 80s like Josh and trying to find out anything I could about the Cats. Look forward to more from you this year!

  59. WestWorld
    7:46 am July 25, 2012 Permalink

    Good post. I particularly enjoyed the Nerlens Noel synopsis.

  60. bluefan
    8:42 am July 25, 2012 Permalink

    Nice work, MrJoshHopkins! Loved the beach wedding.
    Hoping to see UK blue shirts on TBS next season.#BBN

  61. Stmitch
    8:50 am July 25, 2012 Permalink

    Wait! So Hopkins is more than just a pretty face?! Nice post Josh…keep up the good work for BBN!

    27.) Ukblue, “fair weather fan” I bet you couldn’t drop names like John Pittman, or remember the days when people use to study the pre-season Catspause? If you don’t know what you are talking about (which you cleary you do not) then you should keep your mouth shut…

  62. Jungle Bob
    9:02 am July 25, 2012 Permalink

    Thanks Josh. Really appreciate your post.
    Thanks KSR. Can’t get enough of this.
    Go Big Blue!!!

  63. gtowncatfan
    9:15 am July 25, 2012 Permalink

    Great post. Thanks for sharing from your perspective.

  64. nky4cats
    10:17 am July 25, 2012 Permalink

    can’t wait for the season to start and take the road to #9. Josh will help recruiting even more…if that is possible with Cal.

  65. Uh oh
    10:30 am July 25, 2012 Permalink

    Josh Hopkins still follows @ChristinaN_BBN, c’mon dude that’s not a good look.

  66. kevin
    10:42 am July 25, 2012 Permalink

    thanks for the analysis

  67. Penny Can
    10:50 am July 25, 2012 Permalink

    Great post Mr. Hopkins (can I can I call you Josh? I need a new BFF, and I feel like I already know you.) I’ve been a fan of the show from the time I heard you were going to “John Wall”. BTW, I made my wife sit down and watch that scene as I kept rewinding it o error and over and ov….well, you get the point. She is now a fan too.

  68. Penny Can
    10:52 am July 25, 2012 Permalink

    O error? Dang autocorrect.

  69. Biglaw Dawgin'
    11:08 am July 25, 2012 Permalink

    Great analysis, hilarious anecdotes. You can tell Josh has a lot of basketball knowledge simply by his paragraph on the “Freshmen.” He makes a very interesting observance on the guys which, he notices, probably haven’t ever lifted weights that hard before.

    One thing basketball players always ask each other when first lifting hard, “hey man, does lifting affect your shot?” The answer is, yes, it does affect it for the very short term (i.e., an hour or two after lifting), but not at all in the long term. Actually, it improves it slightly in regards to range. By October, the initial shock of lifting should be long gone.

  70. Will S
    11:21 am July 25, 2012 Permalink

    Very happy that my Blue Devils will get UK early in the season. The ‘cats will be a different team in March than they will be in November. I think Duke’s experience and depth will serve them well in the teams 3rd game of the young season. Duke by 7.

    Neutral site, crazy environment, great coaches and players, should be great!

  71. Smiffanator
    12:46 pm July 25, 2012 Permalink

    @45, do you know who wrote this?? i believe you are talking about the wrong guy haha