Happy Friday, KSR amigos. Welcome to the end of the end of a week that has seemed to drag on for roughly a decade. The first one back in the office after a holiday – and especially after you went on vacation the week before too – is always the worst and I feel like I’m going to drop. So, with that in mind, I’ll spare you all the mindless July 9th birthday shoutouts in exchange for a fairly short, links-filled news and views.
Here are a few noteworthy happenings…
– The legend of Darius Miller has seemed to grow since the departure of Billy Gillispie and the expectations for the pride of Maysville have certainly increased since Jodie Meeks decided to keep his name in the draft. From a strong showing in the open practices early in the summer to making the U19 USA squad, Miller’s name has been a hot one around these parts. The great Larry Vaught caught up with Purdue’s Matt Painter, an assistant on the U19 squad, who said that Miller’s versatility is also winning over the coaching staff in New Zealand. Although Miller is averaging a fairly benign 5 points and 4 rebounds per game, he’s shooting at a very efficient clip (60%) and is leading the team in steals and blocks. UK fans saw how strongly Miller’s offensive game came on late in the season (how beautiful is that runner?) but hearing Painter say that Miller’s defense is impressing them as they’ve played him mostly at the “4” spot in international play. Darius might not be getting the attention nationally that his teammates are sure to garner but there’s no doubt that he’s a household name in the Bluegrass and has the potential to be a homegrown favorite by the time he gets done in Lexington. There is a lot to like about the young man’s game and work ethic.
– As our first summer of Cal continues to move along, the names are coming fast and furious at you (shoutout to Dustin and his hardwork). It seems like everyone near the top is at least mentioning UK in the mix for their services…including 2010’s top player, Harrison Barnes. We’ve heard Barnes mentioned frequently over the past several months, even dating back to the Billy Clyde era, but it seemed that most assumed UK wasn’t really in the mix for his services. However, the good doctor, Jerry Tipton, writes that Barnes is still very much considering UK, although they’re still in a nine-team group at the moment. He told Tipton that some things he said were misinterpreted by the media and he cleared it up with Calipari who has “a lot of interest”. With as many as six scholarships to use on the class of 2010, expect the names of players with serious interest to keep coming with Barnes, hopefully, being one of them.
– Another name that we’ve started hearing more and more on is 2011 point guard Marcus Teague of Indianapolis, the brother of recently departed (from college, not life) Wake Forest star Jeff Teague. Teague, who was considered a near-lock for the Filthy Cards just a few months ago, eased up on his original plans of picking a school in June and is still weighing his options – with UK starting to be mentioned as a possible destination. Jody Demling caught up with Rivals #2 player in the 2011 class at the King City Classic in Cleveland and Teague said he will visit UK in August. However, he told Demling Wednesday that UK had not offered yet, although his father later said they had. Teague plans to also visit IU and Louisville in August and decide after. The fact that UK is even in the mix – no matter where in the top five they may be – is a credit to Calipari’s presence and the hard work of the staff since getting to Lexington.
– And in other 2011 news, just days after the Philadelphia Inquirer ran a story where Michael Gilchrist refuted that he was a lock for Kentucky, everyone’s favorite faux hawk writes that the consensus among college coaches is that Michael Gilchrist and UK is essentially a done deal. One coach went as far as to say “I should be fired if I waste one cent recruiting that kid…It’s done. Trust me. He’s playing for Cal. If you recruit him, you’re wasting your time.” Gilchrist, who’s already been raved over a number of times here, is believed to be by many the best high school player in the country and was named the Most Promising Prospect at the NBA Camp.
– Over at the Worldwide Leader, Henry Abbot writes about an interesting interaction between Coach Calipari and new Pistons head man John Keuster. Apparently, back when Keuster was coaching at George Washington, he suffered through a 1-27 season where his only victory came against one UMass team coached by Calipari. During the game, Calipari had a little emotional outburst that involved nearly ending up barechested like Bruce Pearl…and then high-fiving the GW mascot and students.
– If you have a little free time in the office today, take the time to read this story in the LEO about former UK football player and fellow ex-South Oldham Dragon Trent DiGiuro. Next week marks the fifteenth anniversary of DiGiuro’s murder outside of a Lexington home. While it’s certainly a sad story, Sarah Kelley crafts a very well-written and detailed account of a tragic and often forgotten piece of UK football history. The DiGiuro family has a foundation that awards a scholarship in Trent’s name every year to an athlete at UK as well as the three Oldham County High Schools. If you would like to donate, you can do it on their page here.
– And as one final note, you’re getting much closer to finding out the finalists for the “Who Wants to be a Blogger” contest. I’ve gone through over 150 of the entries already and I’m amazed as to not only how good they are, but also by the range of the contestants. So far, I’ve read entries from Iraq, Australia, Taiwan, China, Brazil and East Africa and the entries have come from people between the ages of 15 and 56 and from people far more accomplished than me (doctors, lawyers, professors, journalists, former UK players). And, yes, even a few women. But, overall, the quality of the entries is very high and when I finish this preliminary run through to pass along to the gang, they will have their work cut out for them. As of now, I’ve kept about 40 of the 150 or so that I’ve read to be passed along to the board of KSR elders for them to narrow down to the final 12. That final 12 will be announced on Monday. This is a dead set promise set in stone….as long as I don’t have any more emergency room trips or funerals pop up this weekend. Again, I apologize for the delay but we’ll get you all updated on this Monday.
Well, as usual, I rambled on much longer than I anticipated. Stay tuned throughout the day for all kinds of Friday goodness as we keep you posted on all the happenings around the UK program and out on the recruiting trail. Also, make sure you’re around for Fake Gimel’s announcement later today on a Kentucky Sports Radio version of Hollywood Squares, which will include all your favorite KSR bloggers and Bryan the Intern…and even some prizes from Kentucky Ale. It should be a fun day. See you in a few…