Basketball Season Coverage
By Jack Pilgrim on ©April 13th, 2019 @ 8:00pm
Last night, Kentucky signee Tyrese Maxey continued his play on the All-Star circuit with an impressive showing in the Nike Hoop Summit out in Portland, Oregon.
Representing Team USA, Maxey finished with eight points on 3-9 shooting, three rebounds, two assists, and one steal in his team’s come-from-behind victory over the World Team.
Check out his highlights below:
— Kentucky Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) April 13, 2019
Tyrese Maxey drive and soft finish off glass. pic.twitter.com/zxUvkUd91a
— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) April 13, 2019
Outside of Maxey, 2019 Kentucky target Matthew Hurt also played for Team USA, finishing with seven points on 3-6 shooting, four rebounds, and an assist.
For the World squad, 2020 UK target and potential reclassification candidate N’Faly Dante finished with two points on 1-2 shooting, two rebounds, one assist, and one steal in the loss.
Maxey will also participate in the Jordan Brand Classic next weekend in Las Vegas, with Kentucky commitments Kahlil Whitney and Keion Brooks Jr. set to join him.
KSR will be there to provide all the coverage you need starting on Thursday afternoon.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©April 13th, 2019 @ 12:30pm
The Kentucky football and basketball teams accomplished something together this season that very few others can say they did.
Both sports finished their respective seasons ranked in the final Coaches Poll, making them just one of three programs to accomplish that impressive feat.
The only schools on that list? Kentucky, LSU, and Michigan.
Kentucky had an average rank of ninth overall between both sports, good for the best in the nation. Behind them was LSU with an average rank of 11th, followed by Michigan with an average total of 12.5 overall. All three schools finished in the top-15 in both sports.
Several other schools were ranked in one sport and received votes in the other.
Teams that finished the season ranked in the ? & ? Coaches Poll:
• #11?/#7? Kentucky
• #7?/#15? LSU
• #14?/#11? Michigan
Ranked ?, Receiving Votes ?: OSU, OU, UF, TEX, UCF, WASH, USU, CIN, MSST
Ranked ?, RV ?: UVA, Duke, AUB, ORE, WISC, ISU
RV ?/?: Iowa
— RedditCFB (@RedditCFB) April 12, 2019
Kentucky also finished the season ranked No. 7 in basketball and No. 12 in football in the final AP Polls, as well.
Basketball AND football school.
By Aaron Torres on ©April 13th, 2019 @ 10:00am
While most of America was sleeping on Friday night, the high school All-Star game toured continued, when the Nike Hoops Summit tipped off at 10 p.m. ET. The game – which pits the best American players against the best from those across the globe – featured many of the names that high school basketball fans are familiar with. Guys like Cole Anthony, James Wiseman and Nico Mannion, not to mention Kentucky commit Tyrese Maxey.
And for those who weren’t able to stay up, well I’m sorry to tell you, but you missed an awesome matchup. That’s because after last year’s game was a total dud (in large part because some of the top American players like Zion Williamson and Romeo Langford sat out with injuries) this one was highly competitive as Team USA beat the World Team 93-87, in a game that came down to the final minutes.
Still, you don’t care about the final score. What you want to know is what we learned about the players who will come to dominate college basketball next year, which is what I’m about to do below. There was a lot to take away from the Nike Hoops Summit, so let’s get to it. I’d also add that in addition to the game, media had access to practices all week, so in addition to the game itself, below are some thoughts on what we saw at practice behind the scenes.
Here are 10 Takeaways from the Nike Hoops Summit
(Before we get started, one note: Unfortunately from the perspective of Kentucky coverage, there simply wasn’t all that much to report. Tyrese Maxey was at the event, and I shared thoughts below, as well as 2020 prospect N’Faly Dante. Unfortunately, they were the only two guys with Kentucky ties in this game.
So if you’re looking for strictly Kentucky coverage, make sure to hit bullet point 1 and 10 and skip the rest. However, if you want to learn about players who will play all over college basketball next year from Kentucky to Arizona, Duke and Memphis, read the entire post. Thanks!)
By Grant Hammons on ©April 12th, 2019 @ 5:00pm
And Here. We. Go!
This week five Kentucky players have announced decisions regarding their future as Wildcats. Earlier today, freshman shooting guard Tyler Herro joined teammates Keldon Johnson and PJ Washington in entering the 2019 NBA Draft.
Rounding out the week of announcements was freshman guard Immanuel Quickley, who just announced Friday afternoon (via Instagram) that he will be returning for another year. He joins freshman point guard Ashton Hagans who announced earlier this week in similar fashion that he will be back (like he forgot his keys) in the blue & white for his sophomore season.
As the NCAA withdrawal date approaches on May 29th, the Big Blue Nation will undoubtedly use that time to speculate about each player’s final decisions in an attempt to start visualizing and building excitement for the 2019-20 campaign.
While NBA Draft announcements continue and projections are taken into account, look no further for your up-to-date projection of the 2019-20 Kentucky Men’s Basketball Team.
- PG – Ashton Hagans (Sophomore) / Immanuel Quickley (Sophomore)
- SG – Tyrese Maxey (Freshman) / Jemarl Baker Jr. (R-Sophomore) / Brad Calipari (R-Junior)
- SF – Khalil Whitney (Freshman) / Keion Brooks (Freshman) / Dontaie Allen (Freshman) / Zan Payne (R-Freshman)
- PF – EJ Montgomery (Sophomore) / Keion Brooks (Freshman)
- C – Nick Richards (Junior) / Nate Sestina (Graduate Transfer)
If this projection holds true, Kentucky would be in a prime position to compete for a title next season despite losing three projected first round draft picks – PJ Washington, Tyler Herro, and Keldon Johnson, as well as a graduate leader in Reid Travis.
The 2019-20 team would be one of Coach Cal’s largest combinations of talent and experience in his decade in Lexington. It would be only the second time Calipari returned his starting point guard from the previous season (2014-15 Andrew Harrison), and I think we could all agree that turned out pretty well.
The coupling of at least four key returners and a top recruiting class, currently ranked No. 2 in the national rankings, has historically been a recipe for success under Calipari. His best teams here have been comprised of a similar framework.
Yes it’s early, but if Andy Katz can stand on the floor at the Final Four – before they’ve even had a chance to sweep off the confetti – and deliver his “Early College Basketball Rankings for 2019-20,” then we can indulge in our own look towards the future (a future that seems bright, I might add).
Coach Cal has a history of adding players late in the process, so the roster has its typical sense of fluidity around this time of year. It may be some time before we truly know the team that will tip off the 2019-20 season in October. Until then, we’ll be here to catch you up to speed.
One of the biggest complaints of John Calipari’s time at Kentucky is that he has been too reliant on freshmen.
The One-and-Done Era, as it is known around here.
Many say it is impossible to win when your best players are not even a year removed from their senior prom; so far, they’re not wrong. Cal’s only championship team had two superstar freshmen in Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, plus a starting point guard, Marquis Teague, in his first and only season of college basketball. But they played with two great sophomores in Doron Lamb and Terrence Jones, as well as a senior leader in Darius Miller.
Kentucky’s 2019-20 roster will look more like that one than some of Calipari’s other teams in Lexington. With this week’s news that both Ashton Hagans and Immanuel Quickley will be back for a second year, he will have at least two experienced guards in the backcourt. Another one, Tyler Herro, is still undecided, although the likely scenario is he is gone to the NBA. And another one, Jemarl Baker, is expected to be back but could always pursue the transfer route. For now there is no reason not to include him.
On the inside, Kentucky will have a sophomore in EJ Montgomery, a junior in Nick Richards, and a grad transfer in Nate Sestina. Calipari will likely add another big man to that mix (hopefully Matthew Hurt, a freshman) to go along with the four other highly-rated incoming players from the high school ranks.
If the season started tomorrow, UK’s starting five would likely go sophomore, freshman, freshman, sophomore and junior, with a sophomore and a grad transfer as the first two players off the bench. If you’re one of the many who have grown tired of watching freshman mistakes early on each season (and even in the tournament), you have to like the experience Kentucky will have right out of the gate next fall.
This is how the projected rotation looks as of this very minute:
G – Ashton Hagans, Sophomore
G – Tyrese Maxey, Freshman
F – Khalil Whitney, Freshman
F – EJ Montgomery, Sophomore
C – Nick Richards, Junior
G – Immanuel Quickley, Sophomore
F – Nate Sestina, Senior
G – Jemarl Baker, Redshirt Sophomore
F – Keion Brooks, Freshman
F – Dontaie Allen, Freshman
Three experienced guards, three experienced bigs and four freshmen with a ton of potential.
You like your team?
By Aaron Torres on ©April 12th, 2019 @ 2:00pm
One more week.
That is how long college basketball fans will have to wait to find out where Matthew Hurt, the top unsigned forward the country will attend college next season. While he officially has a handful of schools left on his list, 247 Sports Evan Daniels said yesterday on Kentucky Sports Radio that he is down to just Kentucky and Duke.
Duke is perceived to be the favorite for the five-star forward from Minnesota but to John Calipari’s credit, he isn’t going down without a fight. Calipari is set to meet with Hurt at his home this weekend for one final in-person pitch, after Hurt returns from the Nike Hoops Summit, which will be played on Friday night.
Speaking of the Hoops Summit, KSR sat down with Hurt to discuss his recruitment on Thursday in the lead-up to the game. We dove into a number of different topics, starting with this: When he does make his final decision, what will he be looking for in a school?
“I’m looking for how I fit with the coaches, teammate-wise, playing-wise,” Hurt said. “I think I can fit any style. It’s just how the culture is. Winning is a big thing for me. All I want to do is win.”
From there, Hurt not only discussed each school, but also how players who are committed to those schools are still trying to recruit him. Hurt went over Duke’s pitch from Wendell Moore and Vernon Carey, before discussing what Tyrese Maxey has said to him over the previous few days. And it sounds like Hurt really has created a bond with Maxey after the players both played at the McDonald’s All-American game a few weeks ago.
“We’ve had a great experience playing together,” Hurt said when discussing Maxey. “I think he’s a great player. I think he’s one of the best point guards, shooting guards in this class. I think highly of him.”
Hurt also thinks of highly of returning Kentucky guard Ashton Hagans, and the possibility of playing with him as well.
“I know him a little bit,” Hurt said. “He’s a lockdown defender. I watched him this year. He’s tough. He knows the right way to play basketball. He makes the right pass at the right time.”
Ultimately most recruiting experts (including Evan Daniels) believe that Duke remains the team to beat in Hurt’s recruitment. But with the way he spoke about Maxey and Hagans, does Kentucky have a better shot than we realized?
To listen to Hurt’s entire interview, watch the video below.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©April 12th, 2019 @ 12:45pm
Immanuel Quickley is returning to Kentucky for a sophomore season. The freshman put any concerns he may transfer to rest with a post on Instagram confirming he’s returning for “Year 2” to take care of “unfinished business”:
“Excited for Immanuel, who is in the same mold as Brandon Knight in terms of his work ethic,” John Calipari tweeted. “We haven’t had many players who work harder than him on the court or in the classroom. He is a grounded, faith-centered person who is undoubtedly going to reach his dreams. He improved as much as any player on our team this past season.”
Quickley averaged 5.2 points, 1.8 rebounds, and 1.2 assists during his freshman season. He shot 37.2% from the floor and 34.5% from three, becoming one of Kentucky’s most reliable outside threats by the end of the season.
If he continues to work on his shooting, Quickley could be an integral part of next year’s run. Plus, having another veteran in the backcourt is always a good thing.
By Aaron Torres on ©April 12th, 2019 @ 11:30am
One of the great things about Kentucky basketball is that no matter how long ago any individual played for the Wildcats, they are always part of the brotherhood that is Big Blue Nation. No matter how long they are away from campus, they will always be a “Cat.”
That is certainly the case for former Wildcat Skal Labissiere who is currently in his fourth season in the NBA, after spending one season, during the 2015-2016 campaign, at Kentucky. Skal is currently playing for the Portland Trailblazers (after being traded by the Sacramento Kings in February) and now that he’s back in Portland, it allowed him to re-live one of the best moments of his youth career on Thursday night, when he took in Nike Hoops Summit practices. Back in 2015 Skal played in the game, as his 21 points (and 30 points from future UK teammate Jamal Murray) helped the World Team seal a victory.
KSR caught up with Skal on Thursday night, and he was happy to reflect on his memories of the Hoops Summit. More importantly, he also shared his thoughts on this past season of Kentucky basketball, which ended in the Elite Eight against Auburn.
“They were very good,” Skal said, before he stopped to continue.
“I just wish PJ [Washington] was healthy the whole time. That’s my guy. I was very excited for him the whole season. The way he showcased his skills in the way that I knew he could. So I was just excited for the guys in general.”
Clearly Skal watched a lot of the 2019 Kentucky Wildcats. Later in the interview he also took a second to reflect back on his one season in Lexington. There, he discussed his most memorable moments, which didn’t include games or results, but the relationships he built.
“The best memory for me is the friendships I got to make there,” Skal said. “I still talk to some of my closest friends that I met while I was on campus. Dillon Pullium was a walk-on. He was like a brother to me.”
To listen to the full interview with Labissiere, listen below.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©April 12th, 2019 @ 10:39am
As expected, Tyler Herro has declared for the NBA Draft, but isn’t ruling out returning to Kentucky for a sophomore season.
The freshman just shared the news on social media, telling fans he will take advantage of the new rules and sign with an agent; however, if he hears he needs to improve his game, he will consider returning to Kentucky for another year.
“My freshman season at Kentucky was incredible,” Herro said. “As Coach Cal and the staff promised, it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. This staff challenged me to be the best version of myself. I’m proud of what we accomplished as a team and how I elevated my game personally. After talking with my family, Coach Cal and the staff, I’ve decided to test the waters and see where I stand in the NBA Draft process.
“In order to make the most informed decision possible, but also leave my options open, I will be taking advantage of new rules allowing me to work with an agent. If the information I receive supports that I’m likely to be a high draft pick, I want to be upfront with everyone in Big Blue Nation that I will keep my name in the NBA Draft. If the evaluations tell me I need to elevate my game further, I would be thrilled to return to Kentucky and help this team compete for a championship.
“Whatever happens over the next couple months, I want to thank BBN for its support this season and throughout this process. I love this school, I love playing on the Kentucky stage and I am grateful that my family is now part of the Kentucky family.”
Herro averaged 14.0 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 2.5 assists in his freshman season at Kentucky, shooting 46.2% from the floor, 35.5% from three, and a staggering 93.5% from the free-throw line.
“I think Tyler is making the best decision for him and his family and using the resources that the NCAA now allows. I’m in full support of Tyler’s decision,” John Calipari said in a release from UK. “What I’m most proud of is how Tyler became not only an efficient offensive player but an efficient defensive player. He’s wired and driven like only a few others I’ve coached. I’ve had an absolute ball coaching him. Whatever he decides to do in the end, I will support.”
Herro is the third Kentucky player to declare for the draft, joining PJ Washington and Keldon Johnson. PJ has indicated that he will remain in the draft, but like Tyler, Keldon left the door open to return based on the feedback he receives. They have until May 29 to make that decision.
Last week, Dontaie Allen was in a car wreck, and judging by the pictures he shared this morning of his vehicle, he’s lucky to come out of it with only a broken collarbone.
“Sometimes the most important miracles aren’t about what happened to you, but rather, what didn’t happen,” the Kentucky signee tweeted. “#RecognizeYourMiracles”
The accident happened last Wednesday morning in Harrison County as Allen was on his way to Lexington for physical therapy for his torn ACL and meniscus. A source tells KSR he’s expected to be fully recovered in five weeks.
It may seem like Allen has bad luck with injuries, but after seeing these pictures, I think he’s lucky it wasn’t much, much worse.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©April 12th, 2019 @ 7:30am
If you’re one of the many Kentucky fans lined up at Keeneland to get your Maker’s Mark 2012 National Championship team bottle signed this morning, I’ve got some bad news for you: John Calipari can’t make it. Late last night, Cal tweeted that plane issues will force him to miss this morning’s signing event, but he promised to make up for it with a second event at a later date.
“BBN, I’m really sorry to report that I’ve ran into plane issues and cannot get out of Chicago tonight. We looked at all options to get me back in time tomorrow for the Maker’s Mark bottle signing at Keeneland but unfortunately I won’t make it back.
“To make up for it we will set up something separate to make sure I personally sign every bottle for those who have a ticket for Friday’s signing. Darius Miller, Marquis Teague, Jon Hood, Jarrod Polson, Twany Beckham and Sam Malone will still be there and are excited to see the #BBN. We will also have the 2012 national championship trophy on display for everyone to get a photo with. I wish I could be there but we will turn this into two special events.”
The 2012 team is already hard at work:
Get those hands loose, fellas. Lot of bottles to sign this morning. pic.twitter.com/GjT6egwRS3
— Kentucky Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) April 12, 2019
— Kentucky Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) April 12, 2019
If you didn’t get a ticket to this morning’s event, Marquis Teague, Jon Hood, Jarrod Polson, Twany Beckham and Sam Malone will also be at AllSports at Fayette Mall tonight from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. to meet fans and sign bottles.
By Aaron Torres on ©April 11th, 2019 @ 11:00pm
It’s that time of year for Kentucky fans – the time where everyone is trying to figure out who will stay, who will go, and what next year’s Wildcats will look like. And this year is no different. At this point, we know that P.J. Washington and Reid Travis are gone, and we’re trying to figure out Keldon Johnson and Tyler Herro’s will do next.
But there is one decision that has gone final, and that was the decision of Ashton Hagans, who shocked some by announcing this week that he will return to college next season. He won’t test the draft waters. He won’t gauge the NBA’s interest. He’s already focused on what’s needed to have success next season.
Of course with his return came a bit of concern: Would his return have any negative effect on Tyrese Maxey, the high school All-American guard who is headed to Kentucky next season?
KSR caught up with Tyrese Maxey at the Nike Hoops Summit on Thursday night, and Maxey couldn’t be more exited to team up with Hagans.
“Ashton is an elite defender, a great leader, and he’s going to bring great action to our team next year,” Maxey said when asked his thoughts on Maxey’s return. “And I can’t wait to go against him every day in practice.”
And that last part is what’s most important, and why it’s no surprise that Maxey isn’t worried about Hagans’ decision to return. Remember, the one thing that John Calipari never does in recruiting is promise a player anything – but instead, promise him that he’ll have to work once he gets to campus. The better player will play, and in a lot of cases both will. But no matter who plays what minutes, both players can get better because of it.
“It’s going to help me a lot,” Maxey said. “He’s an elite defender like I said. He’s going to push me, I’m going to push him and we’re going to get better together for the team.”
From there, Maxey touched on a number of other things with KSR, all of which can be seen in the video below. He shared his thoughts on how Kentucky’s season ended, the message John Calipari has given him recently and whether or not he’s recruiting anyone else that’s at the Hoops Summit.
However, Maxey did have one final message to UK fans before departing:
“Be ready,” he said. “We’re coming.”
By Jack Pilgrim on ©April 11th, 2019 @ 7:00pm
With LSU head coach Will Wade “allegedly” caught with his hand in the cookie jar, his players are getting out of Baton Rouge as fast as they can this offseason.
This afternoon, freshman forward Emmitt Williams announced he would be putting his name in the NBA Draft, becoming the fifth Tiger to leave the program since their season ended.
Williams joins freshman forward Naz Reid, freshman guard Javonte Smart, sophomore guard Tremont Waters, and junior guard Skylar Mays as early entrants to the 2019 NBA Draft.
Senior forward Kavell Bigby-Williams is also graduating this year, meaning all six of LSU’s leading scorers will not be on the team next season.
After refusing cooperation with the school and the NCAA, Will Wade is expected to meet with officials from both parties tomorrow.
“There is a meeting scheduled tomorrow with Coach Wade, LSU officials and the NCAA within the parameters LSU first requested in early March,” LSU senior associate athletic director Robert Munson said in a statement. “University officials have made clear their expectation for full cooperation and transparency in this first step in a process toward resolution.”
The school suspended Wade back on March 8, just one day after Yahoo Sports reported that the LSU coach was caught via FBI wiretap back in 2017 discussing a “strong-ass offer” with aspiring agent Christian Dawkins to land a recruit, presumably Javonte Smart.
LSU only has three 2019 recruits signed for next season, with each of them being rated three stars or lower.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©April 11th, 2019 @ 3:00pm
Yesterday, Keldon Johnson declared for the NBA Draft, but said he’ll only stay in if he’s projected to be a lottery pick. In his new mock draft for ESPN, Jonathan Givony has Keldon going 21st to Boston.
“Danny Ainge has long valued toughness, versatility and 3-point shooting — all strengths for Johnson. Although his struggles creating offense off the dribble caused his stock to fall somewhat, Johnson won’t need to be much of a ball handler on a team with this much star power.”
Givony has PJ Washington at No. 12 and Tyler Herro at No. 16. Obviously, this could change a lot between now and May 29, especially if Keldon performs well at the Draft Combine and in team workouts, but Givony is the most reputable NBA Draft writer out there, so what he says is likely based on good intel.
As for Herro, still no official announcement on his status, although yesterday’s “inadvertent typo” by UK in Keldon’s announcement all but assures he’ll follow Keldon’s path and declare for the draft but leave the door open to return.