By Aaron Torres on ©February 22nd, 2019 @ 1:00pm
It’s amazing how quickly the conversation in college basketball can change.
Shortly after Kentucky’s win over Tennessee on Saturday, I pitched our editors here a piece on the overall, No. 1 seed picture. Obviously most folks reading here are Kentucky fans and I actually thought that the Wildcats had a better shot at a No. 1 seed than most were projected.
We agreed that we would go ahead and wait until after Tuesday night’s games to be safe. Assuming Kentucky took care of business against Missouri and Tennessee handled Vanderbilt, it would be safe to run Wednesday morning. What could possibly go wrong?
Quite a bit actually. In no particular order, here is what has changed in the race for the four No. 1 seeds, just since late Tuesday night:
— Reid Travis left Kentucky’s game with a knee injury – sending Big Blue Nation into a frenzy. Thankfully it was just a sprain and Travis will hopefully be back in just a few weeks. Still, with several big games ahead and Travis likely on the sidelines, Kentucky’s path to a No. 1 seed isn’t nearly as clear as it looked when I began this article Tuesday morning. I still think they get one, but this is a major road block.
— Tennessee looked terrible in a win against the SEC’s worst team, Vanderbilt. Ultimately it had no bearing on the Vols pursuit of a No. 1 seed, but with Tennessee facing five straight games against NCAA Tournament caliber teams to close the regular season, it feels fair to wonder if the Vols can finish as strongly as they started.
— Nevada lost on the road at San Diego State on Wednesday night. While the Wolf Pack were a long-shot to get a No. 1, this officially eliminated them from any such talk.
— Zion Williamson went down with a knee injury – flipping the sports world on its head Thursday. Zion is OK, and we can put to rest talking of him “Shutting it Down” for now. At the same time, Duke took a loss no one saw coming, and now they aren’t nearly as much of a lock for a No. 1 as they were before the Carolina game.
— Duke’s unexpected loss resulted in an unexpected North Carolina win – and now the Tar Heels have a realistic, albeit small shot at a No. 1 seed. It would take a minor miracle, but North Carolina does in fact have life in the No. 1 seed debate.
And again, that’s only what happened since Tuesday afternoon when I officially finished the first draft of the article below – can you imagine how much will change in the final two weeks of the regular season?
Ultimately however, the gist of the article didn’t change, and I still believe Kentucky is in prime position to get a No. 1 seed.
Let’s go through all the scenarios and all the teams involved, to give you a clearer picture of where we are, and how the Wildcats fit in.
By Nick Roush on ©February 22nd, 2019 @ 11:00am
Two Kentucky legends are taking their talents across the Commonwealth. Josh Allen and C.J. Conrad’s autograph tour begins at KSBar.
Once the NFL Scouting Combine concludes, the record-breaking pass-rusher and versatile tight end will make stops across the state. Mark your calendars for Wednesday, March 6.
Allen will sign any item for $30, while Conrad will offer a slightly discounted rate at $20. You can find more information here.
It’s a wonderful chance to meet the Kentucky legends before they join the NFL. Take advantage of this opportunity before it’s gone.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©February 21st, 2019 @ 11:25pm
To the common fan, yesterday’s news that Reid Travis will have to miss at least two weeks with a sprained right knee would seem like a blow for Kentucky; however, you’re not the common fan. You’re a Kentucky fan, which means you know the game better than most, so you realize that this could be a blessing in disguise for the Cats as we get closer to March.
Will Reid being out affect the Cats in the short term? Obviously. The two-week time frame includes games vs. Auburn, Arkansas, Tennessee, Ole Miss, and potentially Florida. Not having Reid will hurt in some cases more than others. Auburn and Ole Miss are both guard-oriented teams, so Kentucky can afford to play a smaller lineup. Reid had a huge impact on the Tennessee game because he took care of Grant Williams down low, allowing PJ Washington to shine. Having Reid would certainly help Kentucky contain Arkansas’ Daniel Gafford; however, not having him will force Kentucky’s three other bigs, namely Nick Richards and EJ Montgomery to step up.
How many times have we heard John Calipari say that Nick Richards is the key to Kentucky winning a national championship? Countless. Throughout the season, Richards has made baby steps of progress here or there, but continues to be inconsistent. Same thing for EJ Montgomery, who, at times, has shown glimpses of being a transformational player for the Cats. Remember his 11-point, 13-rebound performance vs. South Carolina? Nick and EJ are averaging 10.7 and 13.9 minutes per game, respectively; those numbers will most certainly go up in Reid’s absence. With the brass ring of minutes in front of them, the hope is both will elevate their games and build their confidence.
“One guy’s misery is another guy’s opportunity,” Cal said on last night’s call-in show. “So now you have Nick and EJ, now you have that opportunity to get extended minutes. Now, any clutter you were hearing — you should be playing more, etc. — alright, now there it is.”
A better Nick and EJ will lead to a better Kentucky. The most obvious area in which they can contribute is rim protection. Kentucky’s 24th in the country in blocks, with 4.85 per game. Nick leads the team with 1.3 blocks per game, followed by PJ Washington with 1.1 and EJ with 1.0. On offense, that jump hook Nick showed off in the Tennessee game could become a deadly weapon.
“That jump hook he has, unstoppable,” Cal said. “His ability to block shots, his ability to go get rebounds that other players can’t get because he’s seven foot tall.”
On the flip side, if EJ can hone that jump shot he’s shown us on occasion, he could be a matchup nightmare, but with Reid out, Calipari just wants him to focus on the glass.
“At the end of the Missouri game I thought EJ was fabulous against [Jeremiah] Tilmon. He sat him down, he used his quickness, he used his length and he stopped trying to mud wrestle. In EJ’s case, be that active guy, be that secondary scorer. Put yourself in position to go get rebounds, make us different. Reid gave us that. Well, guess what EJ, you’re going to have to give us some of that now.”
With Reid in the middle, PJ Washington’s been able to showcase other parts of his games, such as his three-point shot, but with Reid out, he’s going to have to move back inside.
“I told PJ, now you’ve got to be that guy. We have no one else to go roughhouse. You have to be that guy. And that’s what’s going to make it hard for PJ but let’s just hope he has to hold the fort down for a couple of weeks and we get Reid back and go.”
Maybe even further than we would have gone before.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©February 21st, 2019 @ 5:00pm
After 20 hours or so of endless hot takes and speculation following Zion Williamson’s shoe blowout and knee injury last night, the NBA has officially taken the first step forward to ensuring players are able to enter the draft right out of high school.
According to a report by USA Today, the NBA has officially filed a formal proposal that will lower the draft-eligible age from 19 years old to 18, a move that would likely take place starting in time for the 2022 NBA Draft.
— Nicole Auerbach (@NicoleAuerbach) February 21, 2019
Back in October of 2018, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that 2022 was the target range for the NBA to make the official rule change, with NBA commissioner Adam Silver saying on multiple occasions that the 19-year-old age limit is simply not working for the league, nor is it working for the college basketball ranks.
The NBA informed teams no changes to allow HS players into Draft will happen prior to 2022, sources tell ESPN. NBA/NBPA have been negotiating to change age eligibility to 18. HS players could already go directly into G-League — it’s just now elite can make $125K instead of $35K.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) October 18, 2018
We have heard speculation about lowering the draft age for years, with the MLB model of players having the option of entering the professional ranks right out of high school or playing in college for a set number of years (likely two) being the most popular outcome.
Obviously this is major news for Kentucky and the rest of the blue bloods in college basketball, as the recruiting world would be flipped upside down. With elite talents such as Williamson, RJ Barrett, Deandre Ayton, etc. entering the draft right out of high school, the nation’s top schools would then compete for the next-best group of talent and groom them for several years before they would be allowed to make the jump to the NBA.
This change has been in the works for quite some time, but it’d be silly to discount the timing of Williamson’s close-call last night and the NBA’s formal proposal as just coincidence.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©February 21st, 2019 @ 3:42pm
The debate over whether Zion Williamson should play the rest of this season is dominating the news today, to the point even DeMarcus Cousins is weighing in. When asked, Boogie said Zion should start preparing for the NBA because college basketball, specifically the NCAA, is “bulls**t.”
“Knowing what I know now? College is bullsh**t. College basketball, the NCAA is bulls**t. My advice to him is do what’s best for you and your family. Obviously, college isn’t it. You can’t really — it does nothing for you at this point. You’ve proved you’re the No. 1 pick coming out, you’ve proven your talent. Get ready for the next level because it’s happening.”
DeMarcus Cousins: “Knowing what I know now, college basketball is bullshit.” Advises Zion Williamson to get ready for the NBA. pic.twitter.com/k3B1JA0E42
— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) February 21, 2019
Don’t misinterpret Boogie’s comments as a shot at Kentucky; he added that he loved his time in Lexington, just hates how the NCAA exploits student athletes.
“I loved my experience in college. That was some of the best years of my life playing basketball. That being said, just how crooked the whole NCAA business is. I saw a post the other day where it was I think the highest ticket for that UNC-Duke game was $2,500, $3,500? How much does Zion Williamson get? That’s who they’re coming to see. So how much does he get? Actually, who does it go to? How does it benefit any player on that team? But if they were to get $20 and a free meal, they’re this bad kid. They get a bad rep. ‘Uncoachable.’ They’re ‘thugs.’ Whatever the case may be. It’s bulls**t.”
He’s not wrong.
By Drew Franklin on ©February 21st, 2019 @ 2:00pm
Kentucky’s PJ Washington has almost doubled his three-point shooting percentage from a year ago, turning his hard work in the gym into a 43.9% shooting percentage in his sophomore season, after a 23.8 percent clip as a freshman. Improving his three-point shot was one of Washington’s points of emphasis in coming back to school to improve his game, rather than taking a shot at the NBA draft last summer. And it has more than paid off.
In the last month (seven games), Washington hit 15 of his 30 three-point tries. Overall, his season average is among the best single seasons in the history of Kentucky basketball. If his current percentage remains the same, Washington’s sophomore year would rank 10th among the all-time best three-point shooting seasons for players with a minimum of 50 attempts.
|Name||Season||Games||3-PT FG||3-PT FGA||3-PT FG%|
His shot has only gotten better as the season goes on, so who knows, maybe he jumps a few more and makes his way further up the list.
However it all ends, it’s wild for him to even be mentioned among those names.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©February 21st, 2019 @ 11:30am
If the SEC Tournament started today, Kentucky would be the three-seed, playing the winner of Mississippi State vs. Texas A&M/Vanderbilt late Friday night. Tennessee and LSU would be the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds.
Here’s the bracket after last night’s games:
…and the current standings:
As you can see, LSU and Kentucky have the same conference record right now, but because LSU beat the Cats last week, they own the tiebreaker. On Saturday, Tennessee plays the Tigers in Baton Rouge. If the Vols win — and Kentucky beats Auburn — LSU will fall to third place. If LSU wins (and Kentucky beats Auburn), they’ll move into first place and Kentucky moves into second and Tennessee falls to third because of the three-way tie-breaker procedures. Obviously, the game vs. the Vols in Knoxville will factor in as well.
So, basically, the SEC is a giant mess at the top and the basketball gods need to work with us so we can avoid the late Friday night game. No one wants that.
By Maggie Davis on ©February 20th, 2019 @ 11:00pm
We finally have some Reid Travis news: Travis is expected to miss at least two weeks after spraining his right knee during the Missouri game Tuesday night. After being stranded in Missouri for far too long, the team finally made it back to Lexington Wednesday afternoon. Once home, an MRI confirmed the sprain. No other damage to the knee was detected.
The news was sent out on behalf of the UK Athletics department. The release says Travis is expected to miss “at least two weeks.” Losing Travis for the next few games is tough for Kentucky, but having him back before the SEC Tournament (and, presumably, the NCAA Tournament) will be huge.
“I just feel so good that it was more of a sprain than anything else because you just get worried about that stuff when you see someone go down,” John Calipari said. “We are going to be very conservative with this, so he may be out a couple weeks. We hope he will be ready for around the conference tournament or maybe even a little bit before, but I’m happy for Reid that we’re going to get him back.”
Prayers for a quick and easy recovery for Travis.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©February 20th, 2019 @ 6:15pm
In a taped segment on his call-in show, John Calipari gave us an update on Reid Travis’ knee. The segment was taped before the team left Columbia this afternoon, so the MRI scan had not been done; however, Cal said he expects Reid to miss at least a week to ten days, possibly two weeks.
“I would say, at the least, he’s going to be out a week to ten days, maybe two weeks,” Cal said.
“He’s not going to have the scan done until we get back, so it won’t be done until 5 p.m. He was with me this morning and he’s — you just don’t know with this stuff. And I just say we’ll pray and let’s hope it’s good news and he’s out a couple weeks, but we don’t know. I feel bad for him. He’s worked so hard and having so much fun and having such an impact that fate intervenes sometimes. In this case, it was like a freak thing.”
Regardless of how long Reid is out, Calipari says he needs his big guys to step up, starting with PJ Washington.
“Not only that, he’s giving up — I told PJ, now you’ve got to be that guy. We have no one else to go roughhouse. You have to be that guy. And that’s what’s going to make it hard for PJ but let’s just hope he has to hold the fort down for a couple of weeks and we get Reid back and go.
“Now, the other thing is, one guy’s misery is another guy’s opportunity. So now you have Nick [Richards] and EJ [Montgomery], now you have that opportunity to get extended minutes. Now, any clutter you were hearing — you should be playing more, etc. — alright, now there it is. I always tell them, you don’t listen to all this flattery or where they’re trying to blame other people. When you hear that, you have to put the phone down. You have to stop. You have to get off the internet. Anybody that’s flattering you vs. being truthful, holding you accountable, it’s poison because at some point, you have to step in the ring. You either can or you can’t. I think because we coach every player like they’re starters, I think EJ and Nick, this is their opportunity and I have great confidence in those two.”
Ten days would mean Reid is back for the Tennessee game, two weeks for Senior Day vs. Florida. Everyone cross your fingers.
Tyler Herro had 18 points last night at Missouri, his best scoring output since the Florida game in Gainesville on February 2. Whether it be the thrill of playing in front of an opposing crowd or the chilly rims in Rupp, Herro has become Kentucky’s road warrior, a role he embraces.
“I just like hitting big shots against people who don’t like us,” Herro said after Kentucky’s big win at Auburn back on January 19. “If they don’t like us, we don’t like them.”
How much better is Herro on the road than at home? I spent the morning crunching the numbers. His rebounding, assists, and steals averages are pretty much the same, so I only focused on shooting.
12.3 points per game, 43.3 percent, 35.4 percent from three, 88.6 percent from the free-throw line
|11/9||vs Southern Illinois||0||20||0-6||0.000||0-2||0.000||0-0||0.000|
|11/14||vs North Dakota||18||25||7-12||0.583||1-2||0.500||3-3||1.000|
|11/23||vs Tennessee State||8||25||3-7||0.429||2-6||0.333||0-0||0.000|
|12/1||vs UNC Greensboro||18||35||6-12||0.500||2-6||0.333||4-6||0.667|
|1/8||vs Texas A&M||21||36||7-14||0.500||3-7||0.429||4-4||1.000|
|1/22||vs #22 Miss. State||18||37||5-10||0.500||3-3||1.000||5-5||1.000|
|1/26||vs #9 Kansas||6||38||2-9||0.222||0-4||0.000||2-2||1.000|
|2/5||vs South Carolina||11||29||5-11||0.455||1-3||0.333||0-0||0.000|
|2/12||vs #19 LSU||12||39||5-13||0.385||2-5||0.400||0-0||0.000|
|2/16||vs #1 Tennessee||15||32||3-11||0.273||1-3||0.333||8-9||0.889|
13 points per game, 34.1 percent, 20 percent from three, 87.5 percent from the free-throw line
|11/6||vs #4 Duke||14||34||4-11||0.364||1-6||0.167||5-5||1.000|
|12/8||vs Seton Hall||10||26||4-13||0.308||0-6||0.000||2-2||1.000|
|12/22||vs #9 North Carolina||15||36||6-17||0.353||3-8||0.375||0-1||0.000|
Given the small sample size and the fact that one of those games was against Duke, I’m not going to read too much into the neutral site averages (especially that 20 percent from three…yeesh).
On the Road
16.1 points per game (team high), 52.3 percent, 43.2 percent from three, 100 percent from the free-throw line
|1/19||at #14 Auburn||20||34||6-12||0.500||3-6||0.500||5-5||1.000|
|2/9||at Miss. State||12||33||5-9||0.556||2-4||0.500||0-0||0.000|
How significant is the number 16.1, Herro’s scoring average on the road? Kentucky is 13-0 in games Herro scores at least 15 points.
In March, it’s Kentucky against the world, right?
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©February 20th, 2019 @ 12:49am
For about 90 minutes, this felt like a typical mid-February game vs. a bad SEC team. Kentucky was up by 15 and Missouri was trying to stay alive by slowing the game down to an excruciating crawl.
That’s when it happened; Keldon Johnson went up for a defensive rebound and fell into Reid Travis on his way down, causing Reid’s right knee to bend inward. Reid immediately fell back in pain, clutching his knee, and when Kentucky called a timeout, limped off the court. From there, he went to the locker room. Ten minutes later, Kentucky announced that Reid had a sprained right knee and would not return. Afterwards, John Calipari didn’t have any specifics, simply saying Reid will get an MRI and hopefully be okay, and if he’s not, EJ Montgomery and Nick Richards will have to step up in his place.
Kentucky went on to win the game 66-58, but no one will remember the final score. They’ll remember Reid’s injury, and if it’s severe, how poorly the Cats played after it. Naturally, part of it was the players adjusting to Reid being out, but they let Mizzou push them around under the basket and on the boards. The Tigers ended up winning the rebounding battle 34-28, 16-6 on the offensive boards. Twelve of Missouri’s offensive rebounds came after Reid exited the game, which would normally send Calipari on a lengthy postgame rant; instead, Cal shouldered part of the blame, admitting that once Reid got hurt, he just wanted to get out of the gym, which led to his team taking possessions down to the shot clock and playing more tentatively than usual. Should Reid be out for an extended amount of time, you have to think they’ll play better than that.
It feels like nothing really matters other than Reid’s knee right now, but let’s roll through some quick hitters about the rest of the game before shutting the book on an ugly night in Columbia.
PJ Washington and Tyler Herro played well
PJ Washington’s streak of 20-point games ended tonight, but he turned in another impressive performance, finishing with 18 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, and a block in 37 minutes. Fifteen of PJ’s 18 points came in the first half, and there was a stretch before halftime in which it felt like he couldn’t be stopped. PJ’s earned a lot of accolades this week, including Oscar Robertson Player of the Week, so it was good to see him follow it up with another solid night, despite some cramping issues at the very end (did I mention how ugly this game was?).
Tyler Herro also had 18 points, the most he’s scored since the Florida game in Gainesville on February 2. Herro always seems to play better on the road, and tonight, his most impressive work came at the line, where he was a perfect 8-8. In SEC play, Tyler has only missed one free throw, vs. Tennessee on Saturday, an incredible mark that deserves recognition.
Speaking of free throws…
…Kentucky going 19-22 (86 percent) from the charity stripe sure is a silver lining on a stormy night. According to Corey Price, that’s the Cats’ third best free-throw shooting performance in the Calipari era, and their best since the 2015 season. With Mizzou attempting to make it a game in the last five minutes, Kentucky went 10-10 from the free throw line, a promising sign as we get closer to March.
Second half Ashton > First half Ashton
Ashton Hagans did not play well in the first half, not scoring and turning the ball over three times to only one assist. In the second half, he was able to shoot his way out of a funk, scoring 12 points, including three of four threes. Whoulda thunk it? Tellingly, Calipari let Ashton play through his struggles over subbing in Immanuel Quickley, and it worked. Hopefully that confidence will carry over to Saturday, because Ashton will need it vs. Auburn’s guards.
Kentucky can’t leave Columbia tonight
There are few things John Calipari hates more than staying in an opposing team’s town the night after a game, but bad weather will keep the Cats in Columbia tonight. After grumbling about it, Cal said he hopes the team can fly back to Lexington tomorrow.
What is this team without Reid?
I really hope we don’t have to find out, but the question looms on the horizon like the winter storm that’s keeping the Cats in CoMo. The obvious answer is EJ Montgomery and Nick Richards have to step up. Richards had a promising first half, with seven points off 3-3 from the floor and four rebounds, and even started the second half, but quickly got taken out after a mistake. EJ played significantly more minutes in the second half and looked okay, but let Missouri’s bigs push him out of position.
PJ Washington’s play will also be affected. Part of his success in recent weeks is thanks to Reid, who has born the brunt of guarding guys like Grant Williams and clearing out space for PJ under the basket. How will PJ cope if Reid has to be out for a while? I keep coming back to something Kenny Payne said yesterday.
“It doesn’t always show up in the stats, what he means to this program, but I can only say this to you guys: I can’t imagine Reid Travis not on this team.”
Me neither. Be okay, Reid’s knee.
After an exciting first half that saw Kentucky maintain an impressive 41-23 lead, the second half turned into the sleepy performance we all expected going into the evening.
The Kentucky Wildcats fought off a tough late effort from the Missouri Tigers to pull off a 66-58 victory on the road, the team’s sixth consecutive victory away from home.
With the win, the Cats move to 22-4 on the year and 11-2 in the SEC.
PJ Washington finished with a tying team-high 18 points (7-13 shooting, 2-4 from three) to go with eight rebounds, three assists, and one block. He has now upped his scoring average in ten consecutive games, moving up to 19.9 points per game during that span.
Tyler Herro continued his dominant ways on the road, finishing with 18 points (4-9 shooting, 2-5 from three, 8-8 FT), five rebounds, two assists, and one steal. For the season, the Kentucky guard is now shooting 92.4 percent from the line, good for No. 1 in school history (single-season) for players with 50 or more attempts.
After finishing the first half with zero points and four turnovers, Ashton Hagans managed to end the day with 12 points (3-5 shooting, 2-4 from three), two assists, and four turnovers.
Nick Richards had seven points (3-3 shooting) and four rebounds in just 12 minutes of action.
Keldon Johnson added five points, six rebounds, one assist, one steal, and one block in the victory.
Beyond those five, Immanuel Quickley and Reid Travis each finished with three points.
Overall, Kentucky was outrebounded 28-34, finished with more turnovers (14-12), and fewer assists (10-11). That being said, the Cats shot 48 percent from the field (compared to 37 percent for Mizzou), 37 percent from three (33 percent for MU), and 86.4 percent from the free throw line (71.4 percent for MU). Even with the sloppy overall performance, Kentucky still managed to lead for 37:43 of the game compared to 0:42 for Missouri.
In easily the biggest news of the night, Travis went down with a knee injury, which was soon diagnosed as a sprain that kept him out to end the game. ESPN announcer Jimmy Dykes said that was the best-case scenario for the star forward, but we’ll have to find out specifics in the near future.
Here is the entire box score:
By Nick Roush on ©February 19th, 2019 @ 9:38pm
Kentucky will have a familiar face calling the defense next fall. Sources tell KSR Brad White will be the Cats’ next defensive coordinator.
White will be Mark Stoops’ third defensive coordinator in seven seasons. He replaces Matt House, who departed after three seasons in Lexington to become the Kansas City Chiefs linebackers coach.
Last year was White’s first in Lexington. In that short time as UK’s outside linebackers coach, he helped transform Josh Allen into a record-breaking National Defensive Player of the Year. He is expected to continue coaching that position. Prior to joining Stoops’ staff, White spent six seasons with the Indianapolis Colts.
White will receive help from Jon Sumrall. The former UK linebacker coached inside linebackers at Ole Miss last season and has an excellent reputation as a recruiter.
Mark Stoops’ defense will be led by a rising star in the coaching industry, and he has new protege to help him recruit. A win-win for Kentucky’s defense.
Just days after Matt House officially departed for the Kansas City Chiefs, Mark Stoops made his next move. Multiple Ole Miss media outlets report that former UK linebacker Jon Sumrall will leave Oxford to return for a position at his alma mater.
There’s no other way to spin it: this is a great hire by Mark Stoops.
Sumrall’s credentials are extensive in spite of his age. In three years at Troy, he served as special teams coordinator and helped Neal Brown’s defense finish in the Top 25 nationally in scoring, rushing and total defense. The man knows his X’s and O’s.
On the recruiting front, the Huntsville, Alabama native has connections in his home state and its eastern border, Georgia. In only one year at Ole Miss, he served as the primary recruiter for at least four players in the Rebels’ 22nd-ranked recruiting class, including four-star middle linebacker Lakia Henry, a day-one starter next season.
Most importantly, Sumrall checks all of the boxes to pave the way for Brad White to become UK’s defensive coordinator.
Sumrall can easily fill House’s vacancy as middle linebackers coach, leaving White the opportunity to still coach the edge defenders while coordinating the defense. Not only does Sumrall give the defensive side of the ball a young, aggressive recruiter, he has ties to an area UK needs to tap into to take the next step. The cherry on top — Sumrall is a Kentucky guy. He will not be too eager to leave his old stomping grounds.
In six years as UK’s head coach, Stoops has a knack for finding rising talent in the coaching ranks. Five of his former defensive assistants are coordinating defenses or special teams in Power Five conferences. That doesn’t include House’s move to the NFL. Sumrall is the next UK assistant with an incredibly bright future.
Stoops deserves plenty of praise for the impending move, but I’m giving all the credit to Adam Luckett. Minutes after news broke about House’s departure, I texted KSR’s resident Gridiron Guru.
He spoke it into existence. Follow that man, BBN. @AdamLuckettBOS