By Jack Pilgrim on ©April 21st, 2019 @ 6:30pm
Back on April 9, 2020 five-star combo guard RJ Hampton made headlines after writing in a blog post on USA Today that he was not only strongly considering making a jump to the class of 2019, but that he also wanted to play with another elite point guard.
“I actually think playing with another elite point guard is a more attractive option because either one of us can bring it down and I can do what I do best and score the ball,” he said. “I think that makes us a more dangerous team.”
Hampton, who is down to Kentucky, Duke, Kansas, and Memphis, specifically mentioned Blue Devil guard Tre Jones and Devon Dotson of the Jayhawks as two examples of individuals he’d like to play with. Nonetheless, he added that all four finalists on his list have “really strong” guards on their respective rosters that he’d enjoy playing with.
One elite point guard trying to convince Hampton that he’s the best potential backcourt teammate to pair with in college? Kentucky signee Tyrese Maxey.
In an interview with KSR this weekend at the Jordan Brand Classic, Maxey said that he is in consistent contact with Hampton about joining Kentucky’s class of 2019.
“I talk to RJ (Hampton) dang-near every week,” he said. “We live in the same area. Like I tell him all the time, he is absolutely welcome to join us. I would love to play with RJ.”
Part of the intrigue for Maxey is that after growing up and playing basketball his whole life in Texas, he’s never been able to team up with Hampton, a fellow Texan.
In his eyes, it’s time to finally make it happen at the college level.
“I’ve been playing against RJ since I was yea high, but I’ve never actually been able to play with him,” he said. “He’s one of the only players in the (Dallas Fort-Worth) area that I’ve never gotten to play with, so I’d love to finally be able to play with him on the big stage like that. I think we would do really well together.”
Back in November, Hampton told PrepCircuit.com that Maxey was “(his) guy” and that he was “one of the most dynamic players in the country.”
“Tyrese is my guy, I’ve been playing (against) him since 1st grade,” he said. “One of the most dynamic players in the country. A pure scorer that can get anywhere on the floor”
Hampton, a 6-foot-4 combo guard out of Little Elm, TX, is considered the No. 6 overall prospect and the top combo guard in the class of 2020, per 247 Sports.
As of right now, Memphis has received 44% of his Crystal Ball predictions, followed by Duke with 33% and Kansas with 22%. Since April 7, the Tigers have received three consecutive picks, most notably from recruiting insider Andrew Slater.
Here was just one of the battles between Hampton and Maxey in high school, where Hampton finished with 33 points and the Kentucky signee finished with 21:
By Maggie Davis on ©April 21st, 2019 @ 4:30pm
We now know what the future holds for almost every Wildcat from last season’s roster, but one question mark still remains: Nick Richards.
Will he join PJ Washington, Tyler Herro and Keldon Johnson as certainties for the NBA Draft? Or will he be more like EJ Montgomery, who’s entering the draft to “test the waters” while leaving the door open for a return to Kentucky?
Will he join Jemarl Baker in the transfer portal? Or will he team-up once again with Ashton Hagans and Immanuel Quickley in Lexington for the 2019-20 season?
We may not be able to completely solve the puzzle by the end of today, but we’ll have a better idea: the deadline for entering the NBA Draft is Sunday, April 21 at midnight.
Richards’ teammates have taken to social media to announce their own decisions, but Richards has not posted any news on his personal accounts at this time. UK Athletics would also dedicate a post to Richards once his decision is finalized, no matter the outcome of that decision. For example:
Staying in the Draft:
It’s his time. Keldon Johnson is officially staying in the NBA Draft and forgoing his remaining eligibility at Kentucky. There are few people who love this game as much as he does nor work as hard at it. We know he’s got a long career ahead of him. Make us proud, KJ.#DreamBIG pic.twitter.com/vlQ9oomPCt
— Kentucky Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) April 17, 2019
Testing the waters:
EJ Montgomery showed flashes of his potential this season. He’s got the tools to be a special player. Whatever happens in the NBA Draft evaluation process, we know he’s headed for big things. pic.twitter.com/R1njHG0OPe
— Kentucky Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) April 19, 2019
Wherever Jemarl ends up, he’s going to add a lot of value. We’ll certainly be watching and supporting him. Once a Wildcat, always a Wildcat. pic.twitter.com/N51xFAlcZD
— Kentucky Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) April 17, 2019
Staying at Kentucky:
Arguably nobody improved this season as much as @IQ_GodSon. Quick was playing with so much confidence, feel and poise at the end of the year. We’re excited to see him build on it as one of our leaders next season. Let’s do this, Quick!!! pic.twitter.com/sCOOujYMZa
— Kentucky Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) April 12, 2019
Is no news good news for the Wildcats? Or, does no announcement mean the staff doesn’t know what Richards has decided to do next season? Maybe Nick Richards hasn’t yet decided for himself.
As of now, there’s no clear answer and there are a lot of questions. Will we have the chance to see a Junior Nick Richards in action? If he does decide to enter the Draft – even if it’s just for feedback – we’ll know by tonight at midnight. Otherwise, we’ll be back to playing the waiting game.
For a full breakdown of NBA Draft deadlines and rules, click HERE.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©April 20th, 2019 @ 11:00pm
The high school All-American circuit continues today with the Jordan Brand Classic live in Las Vegas, and once again, the Kentucky Wildcats are represented well.
Kentucky signees Tyrese Maxey and Keion Brooks Jr., along with forward commit Kahlil Whitney, are all competing in the event. Kentucky matches Duke for the most competitors in the event with three representatives.
Over the course of each of their recruitments and after their commitments, we’ve broken down their games extensively here on KSR. We’ve also gotten player breakdowns from some of the top recruiting and draft analysts in the game.
Instead of getting the same ole recycled analysis, though, I decided to ask some of the individuals that know their games the best to give a fresh scouting report on each of the future Wildcats.
At Jordan Brand Classic Media Day on Friday afternoon, I talked to some of their opponents and fellow five-star peers to break down their games with some of their biggest strengths and weaknesses.
The participants? Five-star point guard Cole Anthony, Georgia signee Anthony Edwards, and Indiana signee Trayce Jackson-Davis.
On Tyrese Maxey…
Tyrese Maxey is an extremely versatile two-way player, can score on all three levels. I’d say his weakness is that he’s erratic at times, but I’ve got nothing but positive things to say about him. It’s always a battle when we play against each other. To stop him, I’d have to try and make him feel uncomfortable without the ball and just pressure him.
On Keion Brooks Jr…
Keion Brooks, I’d say one of his weaknesses is that he can be erratic at times too. But he can really score the ball, can really shoot it, freak athlete. Nothing but positive things to say about him either.
On Kahlil Whitney…
Kahlil Whitney, I think his weakness is that his motor, at times, is questionable. Just whether or not he wants to play sometimes. But he can shoot it, freak, freak athlete. When he competes, he’s really, really good.
On Tyrese Maxey…
Tyrese Maxey, he’s cold. I mean to me, every dude that’s committed to Kentucky is really good. But Tyrese can really shoot, and his floater is unstoppable. He’s hard to stay in front of.
On Keion Brooks Jr…
Keion Brooks is like a big guard, nice pull-up jumper, athletic. I mean, he’s taller than me, but I’m stronger than him, so I’d have to impose my will against him.
On Kahlil Whitney…
Kahlil Whitney is so strong, he’s just a dog. He wants to score at will, so it’s hard to stop him. I’d have to just not let him post me up, can’t let him body me. I mean he’s so strong and physical.
On Tyrese Maxey…
Tyrese is an explosive guard, can shoot up to like 40 feet. He’s just crazy. Stopping him, you’re going to have to jam him, make him drive. He can come at you both ways, so it’s going to be hard to stop him regardless. He’s got a nice floater, so you’ve got to try to take that away from him. You’ve got to meet him at the rim, time it just right. His biggest strength is definitely his jump shot, he can shoot it anywhere on the floor. As far as a weakness, I’m not really sure, but I’d guess I’d say his passing ability.
On Keion Brooks Jr…
He can be a bang inside, bang outside player. He’s worked on his shot so much this year, so it’s gotten a lot better. If anything, I’d say he needs to work on his handle a little bit, tighten that up. But that’s about it, he’s really good.
On Kahlil Whitney…
Kahlil is an explosive guard, 6-foot-6, 6-foot-7, probably has a 38 or 39-inch vertical. He’s crazy high. His skillset is that he can come off the wing, pull-up jumper, bang with you down low. He needs to keep working on his 3-point shot, just keep it consistent, but that’s not even bad either.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©April 20th, 2019 @ 4:00pm
At one point, Kentucky’s 2019 recruiting class was shaping up to look completely different than what eventually became reality. John Calipari and the UK coaching staff had landed a commitment from four-star small forward DJ Jeffries and were the runaway favorite for the No. 1 prospect in the class, James Wiseman.
They landed five-star guard Tyrese Maxey, and beyond that, Wiseman was talking about teaming up with fellow elite big man Vernon Carey Jr. and becoming the next Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins at whichever school they decided to attend.
When Penny Hardaway became the head coach at Memphis that spring, he immediately began recruiting Wiseman, his star center with his former AAU squad, the Bluff City Legends. And there were rumors Jeffries was interested in teaming up with each of them in Memphis.
Just a few months later, Jeffries became the first player under John Calipari to decommit from Kentucky and eventually pledged his commitment in October to Hardaway’s Tigers. Wiseman soon followed in November.
For Jeffries, he says it wasn’t an easy process and that he realized the magnitude of his decision, he just felt it was the best decision for him.
“Making the adjustment from Kentucky was kind of hard, you know?” he said. “I mean, it’s Kentucky, right? Not too many kids leave Kentucky. When I did that, it just felt like it was right for me, felt like it was the best thing.”
So why was it the best thing for Jeffries and his future? Hardaway helped him realize that he wanted to represent the city of Memphis at the next level.
“Penny (Hardaway), of course, and my teammates,” he said. “I played AAU ball with most of the guys already there, and James (Wiseman) is a big part of it. I just wanted to do something for the city (of Memphis), you know?”
Though he did become the first player to decommit under Calipari at Kentucky, he said that he has nothing but love for the UK coaching staff and the time and effort they put into recruiting him.
“But Coach Cal, he’s still a really great guy,” Jeffries said. “I don’t have anything (against) him, Tony Barbee, none of them. They have a great coaching staff.”
After Jeffries decommitted, Kentucky was able to put the full-court press on five-star small forward Kahlil Whitney, who ended up committing to the school just a week later. Fast forward to March of this year, and five-star forward Keion Brooks Jr. also decided to make Lexington his new basketball home.
In Jeffries’ eyes, both Memphis and Kentucky ended up better off in the long run with how things played out.
“(Kentucky has) two great players in Keion Brooks and Kahlil Whitney (at the wing) now, so there’s no bad blood,” he said. “I really just had to do what was best for me.”
On Thursday, the SEC announced that they had formed a scheduling alliance in basketball with the American Athletic conference going forward.
As of now, the idea is that the top four AAC schools would face off against the four SEC schools who do not currently participate in the SEC/Big 12 challenge, meaning that does not include Kentucky for now. That being said, the partnership could lead to increased dialogue between both parties and a potential matchup between UK and Memphis could come about that way.
With the dust settled a bit, Jeffries said he would be all for a friendly rivalry with head-to-head matchups while he is at Memphis.
“I hope for it,” he said. “That’d be really fun. It’d be fun, because, you know, the fans gave me so much backlash. But I still love them, I ain’t got no problem with them. I’d just love to have a game against Kentucky.”
Festivities at the annual Jordan Brand Classic tipped off today, with a competitive practice and scrimmage getting things rolling, followed by Media Day immediately afterward.
Three future Kentucky Wildcats, Tyrese Maxey, Kahlil Whitney, and Keion Brooks each took the floor for the Home team, with UK forward target Jaden McDaniels also teaming up with them.
After going through some drills, the Home and Away teams competed in an hour-long scrimmage, giving those in attendance a pretty solid opportunity to scout out the participants.
Here is what I saw from the Wildcats, along with some other specific players of interest.
Once again, Kentucky signee Tyrese Maxey proved to be one of the best players on the floor. With elite scoring skills, defensive intensity, and overall leadership skills, he’s a difference-maker on both ends of the floor.
When it comes to making decisions, he’s excellent at feeling out his teammates and thinking two steps ahead. He knows when his team knows a big bucket, but he also knows when it’s time to be unselfish and find the open man for an easy basket.
Oh yeah, and his jumper is still the silkiest in the class.
Tyrese Maxey’s jumper: still the silkiest in the class pic.twitter.com/HAMdD65Yt6
— Jack Pilgrim (@JackPilgrimKSR) April 19, 2019
Seriously, I have never seen Maxey miss two jump shots in a row. Never. I told you guys back at the McDonald’s Game that I felt he can be a 20-point-per-game scorer at Kentucky, and I really believe that.
Outside of pure basketball talent, Maxey has a contagious personality that rubs off on everyone he comes in contact with. Whether he’s celebrating with his teammates or smack-talking the competition, he always has a smile on his face, and everyone around him really seems to appreciate that.
One time this afternoon, the gym was too quiet for his liking, so he randomly started yelling, cheering, and clapping and wouldn’t stop until everyone else joined him. He likes everybody, and they all like him.
I usually try not to play favorites, but I can already tell you right now that he’s going to be the exception next season. It’s going to be fun watching him in blue and white.
For Whitney, like we saw at the McDAAG and the practices leading up to it, it’s really difficult to get a feel for his true game at events like this. The opportunities for true breakout moments are minimal for athletic small forwards because it’s a guard-heavy style of play, with big men feasting on cleanup baskets around the rim.
With Whitney not being a dominant shooter and not focusing on rim-running like the traditional forwards, he doesn’t get the ball in his hands too much. And when he does, it ends up being awkward isolation basket attempts against a clogged paint that rarely end well. As much as I love his game and believe it will translate well to the college game, this event just isn’t the right event to show that.
As far as what I did like, though, the 6-foot-7 small forward had several impressive fadeaway 12-foot jumpers fall, something he has been working on the past several months. That will be deadly at Kentucky next season. Beyond that, he was extremely aggressive on defense and really impressed on the glass. His timing and instincts are pretty strong, allowing for rebound opportunities on both ends.
His mechanics are there shooting, but the consistency is not. He also needs to tighten his handles just a bit. Those will be his two biggest flaws at Kentucky next season.
Keion Brooks Jr.
With Kentucky signee Keion Brooks Jr. missing the cut for the McDonald’s All-American Game back in March, this was my first time seeing the newest Wildcat in an All-Star Game setting against the best of the best in his class.
And the 6-foot-8 forward sure didn’t disappoint.
He shot extremely well both in warmups and drills, specifically in catch-and-shoot opportunities. His athleticism is there, he runs the floor well, and he has strong instincts while driving to the basket. In the scrimmage, he had just a few jump shot attempts, but he made his presence known in transition.
He tends to get a bit out of control at times, needs to tighten his handle, and he needs to hit the weight room a bit, but overall, I think Brooks proved he absolutely belonged on the floor today.
Kentucky target Jaden McDaniels is rated as one of the top 2019 prospects in the nation, but it’s apparent recruiting analysts are using that based on future expectations and potential, not how they’re expecting him to play at the college level.
As much as I love McDaniels as a future NBA prospect, I’m starting to get really worried about his instant-impact ability at the college level. He has a solid jump shot and his length allows him to contest shots on defense, but I genuinely feel that he disappears on the floor more often than he’s involved in the action and makes elite plays.
For every one play that I come away extremely impressed with the 6-foot-11 forward, there are three more that I hope for more. He had one phenomenal block in the post, and then followed it up just a few possessions later with a nasty alley-oop slam on the other end. It’s apparent he has all of the tools to be a future star in the NBA, but will things click for him in his likely one season in college? I just don’t know.
If you’re deciding between one season of potential graduate transfer Kerry Blackshear Jr. or one season of McDaniels, I think you’d have to go for the guarantee in Blackshear over potential in McDaniels.
Kentucky fans may not like the sound of this, but I think Louisville got their hands on a stud in five-star small forward Samuell Williamson.
He didn’t shoot particularly well during warmups or drills, but when the scrimmage started, Williamson turned into one of the best players on the floor. He was able to find his shots with ease, making something out of nothing more often than not. At one point, the rest of players stepped to the side and let the future Cardinal put on a show in isolation on four straight possessions.
At 6-foot-7, Williamson is long and can make incredibly difficult shots over smaller defenders. After a few made jumpers, some of his teammates, including Tyrese Maxey, began comparing him to current Boston Celtic Jayson Tatum.
“J-Tatum ain’t missing that shot,” Maxey said after one baseline 15-footer.
He’ll be a great player for the Cards next year.
For four months back in 2018, five-star small forward DJ Jeffries was set to sign with Kentucky. At the time
In my first time watching him since then, the 6-foot-7 forward really struggled. His shot was off, he wasn’t active on defense, and he really didn’t show off his tremendous athletic ability at all. When his shots weren’t falling, his body language left a lot to be desired, lightly jogging back down the court and letting up on the other end.
After talking to him at Media Day, he seems like a great kid, but I just didn’t like what I saw from him against elite competition. He very well might be a solid college player, but for today at least, the struggles were evident.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©April 19th, 2019 @ 5:00pm
[Ed. Note: This article originally ran on April 9, but with EJ Montgomery declaring for the draft this morning, now seemed like a good time to repost it.]
With NBA Draft decisions rolling out, now’s a good time to go over the rules and deadlines for early entrants. Let’s start with the rules, which have changed in the wake of the FBI college hoops scandal.
Certified agents are now allowed
After the FBI’s report into bribery in college hoops went public last year, the NCAA voted to change the rules to allow players to be represented by NCAA-certified agents after the season as long as they request an evaluation from the NBA Undergraduate Advisory Committee (UAC). Agents will be allowed to pay for meals, transportation, and lodging for players and their families during the agent selection process and meetings with teams; however, players must end that relationship if they decide to return to school.
Players who request an evaluation from the UAC will receive written feedback throughout the process, including where NBA executives believe they will be drafted, if at all. Here are the five categories they will use:
- Drafted in the Lottery (i.e., pick Nos. 1-14);
- Drafted in the First Round but outside the Lottery (i.e., pick Nos. 15-30);
- Drafted in the first half of the Second Round; (i.e., pick Nos. 31-45);
- Drafted in the second half of the Second Round (i.e., pick Nos. 46-60); or
- Not drafted
The feedback will start rolling in to players and their coaches around April 1 and continue through the early-entry deadline of April 21. Players who decide to stay in the draft through the Combine will continue to receive feedback through May 29, the NCAA’s deadline to withdraw.
G-League Elite Camp
A new addition to the evaluation process is the G-League Elite Camp, a three-day scouting event in Chicago for the top 40 prospects not invited to the Combine. The top performers from the G-League Elite Camp will also be invited to the Combine.
One Rule That Hasn’t Changed Yet
Still TBD: Undrafted players may return to school
In the fall, the NCAA proposed allowing undrafted underclassmen to return to school as long as they requested an evaluation from the UAC and participated in the Combine. Many outlets have reported that as a new rule change; however, after speaking with an NCAA spokesperson, I found out the proposal is contingent on the NBA and NBA Players Association changing their rules to make players who return to college after the draft ineligible until the end of the following season. I’ve reached out to the NBA for clarification on the matter but have yet to hear back. The rule change is a great idea, but for now, it’s still on the shelf.
End of Season: NBA UAC evaluation requests due
Once a player’s season is over, they can request an evaluation from the NBA Undergraduate Advisory Committee. Once the evaluation is requested, they can sign an agreement with an NCAA-certified agent.
April 11, 11:59 p.m.: Deadline to request an evaluation from the NBA UAC
April 17-20: Portsmouth Invitational Tournament
Derek Willis participated in this seniors-only event a few years ago; I’d say the odds are high that Reid Travis will do the same.
**April 21, 11:59 p.m.: Early Entry Eligibility Deadline**
By this date, we will know everyone who has declared for the draft.
April 22 – May 29: Early-entry players may participate in NBA workouts
April 26 – May 3: NBA Draft Combine and G-League Elite Camp invitations sent out
The top 60 draft prospects (as voted on by NBA teams) will be invited to the Combine. The next 40 prospects will be invited to the G-League Elite Camp.
May 12-14: G-League Elite Camp, Chicago
The top performers from this camp will receive invites to the Combine. Separately, 40 of the best current G-League players will also work out and scrimmage in hopes of finding a place on an NBA roster.
May 14: NBA Draft Lottery, Chicago
The full draft order will officially be set on May 14, giving the top players a clearer picture on where they may go.
May 14-19: NBA Draft Combine, Chicago
PJ Washington turned heads at last year’s Combine but was told his stock could improve if he returned to school to work on his shooting and conditioning. Now, he’s a projected lottery pick. If any of his teammates receive similar feedback, will they follow his path?
**May 29, 11:59 p.m.: NCAA’s withdrawal deadline**
This is the big one. Ten days after the combine, underclassmen who wish to retain their eligibility must withdraw their names from the draft. Underclassmen can withdraw from the draft twice before exhausting their college eligibility. For example, EJ Montgomery can test the waters this year and next, but if he declares for the draft after his junior season, he must stay in.
June 20: NBA Draft, New York City
Or, as John Calipari puts it, Graduation Day.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©April 19th, 2019 @ 12:30pm
Construction at Rupp Arena is underway to make room for chairback seating in the upper level; as a result, there will be changes to season tickets next season. Here’s what you need to know.
There will be no seating changes in the lower level
Three thousand seats will be removed, reducing Rupp’s capacity to approximately 20,500. The only area that will be affected by the reseating process is the upper level, so if you have a season ticket in the lower level, you will not have to move; however, while K Fund pricing remains the same, season tickets in the light blue, purple, and green sections (lower level sideline) will now be $1,500/ticket, a $122 increase. Season tickets in the light green sections (lower level end zone) will now be $1,400/ticket, a $22 increase.
Chairbacks are coming to the upper level sidelines only
All seats located along the sidelines in the upper level (sections 211-217 and 228-234) will be upgraded from bleachers to blue chairback seats, as shown below (the white chair is just a sample):
There will be cupholders on the backs of the chairs for all but the front row, who will have them on the armrests.
The bleachers will remain in the end zone sections; however, one of those end zones will reserved for students (more on this later).
The seat selection process for the upper level will begin next month
Everyone with a season ticket in the upper level will go through the seat selection process. UK held inventory to make sure no current season ticket holders in the upper level would be left out. All upper-level season ticket holders will receive an email later this week from the UK Ticket Office with further information and seat selection details, including a digital seat selection guide. The process will begin in mid-May. The order in which fans will select seats will be determined based on K Fund priority point ranking as of Feb. 1, 2019.
Most upper-level season ticket prices have gone down
Total annual cost for 64% of upper-level season tickets will actually decrease from last season. Whereas in years past, all upper level tickets cost $1,166/seat, there are now seven different price levels for season tickets holders to choose from. Chairback seating starts at $1,150/seat and goes up to $1,400/seat based on location; bench seating will start at $950/seat and go up to $1,050/seat based on location. The K Fund donations for the prime sideline seats (yellow and brown sections) have increased, but there are still two other chairback sections (dark green, blue) that don’t require a K Fund donation.
To give you a sense of how many seats have been taken out, the upper level sidelines used to go from Row A-KK; now, they only go from Row A-Z.
The student sections have moved
One obvious area that’s being impacted by the renovations are the student sections. The upper level student sections will be moved to sections 238, 240, and 241 (upper level end zone). Students will still have lower level sections 33 and 34, along with the eRupption Zone. (Sections 35 and 36 on the old seating chart were marked as student sections, but a UK spokesman noted that they were only used for prospective students/recruits.)
Given the decrease in student attendance over the years, the changes shouldn’t come as a surprise; in fact, UK went ahead and cut the student allotment to 2,500 last season to reflect the declining numbers.
Single-game ticket inventory will be down
Because 3,000 seats are being removed, single-game ticket inventory will be down next season. So, if you have season tickets currently and are considering just getting single-game tickets instead of renewing, something to consider.
UK will help you sit with your friends
If you’ve had season tickets in the upper level for years, odds are you’ve made some pals around you. If you still want to sit with those people or maybe you have friends with season tickets elsewhere in the upper arena, UK will allow you to link your seats by combining your priority points and taking the average. They’ll also help you find your old seat neighbors in case you never exchanged contact information. All of that information will be included in the seat selection packet.
The chairbacks will be in by Big Blue Madness
Construction started on the upper level right after the season ended, and to make sure the arena is ready for Big Blue Madness in October, Rupp will shut down in June. Madness will be Kentucky’s first event with the chairbacks in place.
The reseating process has nothing to do with the new club areas
Another big part of the renovations to Rupp Arena are the new club areas; however, it’s important to point out that the reseating process has nothing to do with that. UK is budgeting for the same ticket revenue it did last season despite all the changes to the structure, which are being paid for by Rupp Arena.
Speaking of those clubs, construction began last July and two will be ready in time for the 2019-20 season. Season ticket holders can purchase club memberships to accompany their season ticket package. More information on that will come out soon.
Get ready for a new Rupp!
EJ Montgomery is going to test the NBA Draft waters.
The Kentucky freshman just announced that he will take advantage of the pre-draft evaluation process with the goal of being a first round pick; if he hears that will happen this year, he will stay in the draft.
“First of all, I want to thank God because none of this would be possible without Him,” Montgomery said. “Thank you to my family for their love and support. Thank you to Coach Cal and the coaching staff for challenging me to be the best player and young man I can be.
“With that being said, I have sat down with Coach Cal and my family and decided to take full advantage of the rules that are in place and enter my name in the draft process. My goal is to be a first-rounder. If the information I receive supports that, my plan is to stay in the draft and pursue my dreams of playing in the NBA. Thank you BBN for your love and support through this important time in my life.”
View this post on Instagram
A post shared by Ej Montgomery (@_mont23) on
Montgomery averaged 3.8 points and 4.1 rebounds in 15.1 minutes per game last season and tallied 38 total blocks, 16 steals, and 15 assists.
“EJ improved so much during the year,” John Calipari said in a release. “He helped us win games and made a difference in so many other games. I think it is smart for him and his family to explore what his options truly are. I have no doubt in mind that EJ has a bright future. Whether the information says EJ should stay in the draft or come back for another year to prepare for the rest of his life, I’ll support his decision.”
EJ has until May 29 to decide whether or not to return to Kentucky for a sophomore season.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©April 18th, 2019 @ 5:45pm
The Kentucky coaching staff has reached out to yet another transfer about joining the upcoming roster in Lexington next season.
And it’s a player the Big Blue Nation should be fairly familiar with.
Former five-star forward and McDonald’s All-American Jordan Brown signed with Nevada in the class of 2018, but after averaging just over ten minutes per game as a freshman, he’s ready to pack his bags and transfer elsewhere.
Brown entered the transfer portal on April 11, and Kentucky was among the several schools to reach out right away.
Evan Daniels of 247 Sports talked to Dion Brown, Jordan’s father, who said that Kentucky has been involved “from the beginning” and are “showing a lot of interest.”
“We’ve had Kentucky reach out, Arizona, Cal, Oregon, Baylor, Miami, Pitt, Ohio State, Louisiana-Lafayette, my old college,” he said. “St. Mary’s, there’s quite a few people reaching out. … Kentucky was there from the beginning, and they’ve been reaching out and Sean Miller from Arizona,” he added. “They are showing a lot of interest.”
If you may remember, Kentucky was interested in Brown back in the summer of 2017, and then again when UK’s frontcourt situation was up in the air with potential NBA Draft departures last spring.
When word broke out on Tuesday evening that Kentucky had reached out to Virginia Tech graduate transfer Kerry Blackshear Jr., I was also told that Kentucky was in contact with Brown and his camp, though I was asked to keep it quiet until they were comfortable listing the initial schools on his list.
Source tells KSR that Kentucky has reached out to not only Blackshear, but another very interesting available player on the transfer market. In fact, UK is interested in bringing in BOTH. https://t.co/CoVj1dm56T
— Jack Pilgrim (@JackPilgrimKSR) April 17, 2019
Brown, who averaged 3.0 points and 2.1 rebounds last season with the Wolfpack, will have to sit out a year due to NCAA transfer rules before he is eligible to play. Because of this, I’m told that Kentucky would be interested in bringing in both Brown (as a practice player) and Blackshear (or another big-name graduate transfer) for next season.
KSR’s Aaron Torres, who also has a bit of new information on Brown, will be giving us a report in just a bit.
Other intel I've gathered on Jordan Brown the last few days: I don't expect him to stay at Nevada. Lot of staff turnover and not the greatest relationship with Steve Alford from his HS days. Would be somewhat surprised if went to Arkansas too. Hunch is he lands somewhere new
— Aaron Torres (@Aaron_Torres) April 18, 2019
Here are just a few of Brown’s highlights:
By Nick Roush on ©April 18th, 2019 @ 3:30pm
It’s finally here. Almost five months after the conclusion of the Kentucky football season, more than a dozen former players will soon learn which NFL team will call their name.
Since the Wildcats’ Citrus Bowl win, players have traveled across the country for workouts, postseason bowl games, interviews, combines, meetings and more. Josh Allen has drawn most of the spotlight near the top of every analysts’ draft board. Next Thursday Allen, along with Mark Stoops and Vince Marrow, will be in Nashville for the first round of the NFL Draft. Tootsies is already prepared to see him.
They’ve already cut the draft night promos too.
"Motor. I never stop. I won't stop."
?: First Draft pic.twitter.com/Q8WRsqAHYD
— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) April 17, 2019
We know Allen will be a top five pick, but it’s difficult to gauge where the rest may fall. The Athletic’s Dane Brugler compiled an enormous 222-page NFL Draft guide that grades every single prospect imaginable. This is not just your run of the mill mock draft. He’s done his homework with background information on each prospect.
Conrad’s absence is attributed to his lack of athleticism. The same applies to Bunchy Stallings, who tested poorly at his pro day. Benny Snell receives similar remarks and an, “it’s a shame it’s not 1995.”
Athleticism is not a problem for Lonnie Johnson. It’s why teams were drooling over him at the Senior Bowl. Brugler believes it could make him a top 50 pick, however, he just doesn’t like his film. From mental mistakes to lack of ball skills, Brugler slates him so low because Johnson has so much room to grow. We’ll see if that analysis holds up or if athleticism carries Johnson to the top of the draft.
First Round Love for Lonnie
While Brugler isn’t bullish on Johnson, others are. We’ve heard for quite some time that Lonnie Johnson could jump into the first round. The buzz has been building and it’s finally here, just a week before the NFL Draft. The NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah, host of Move The Sticks, has Johnson going 20th overall to join Bud Dupree with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
This is higher than I have Johnson rated, but he’s catching a lot of buzz right now and the Steelers have a need at the position.
If that comes true, it wouldn’t be Lonnie’s first time in a Steelers uniform.
Two Josh Allens on one Team?
Could Kentucky’s Josh Allen play with the Buffalo Bills’ Josh Allen? That question was asked by Bleacher Report’s Adam Lefkoe.
— The Lefkoe Show (@LefkoeShow) April 18, 2019
The former WHAS-11 sports anchor came to Lexington to spend a day with Allen. More videos from their time will be released at a later date. As for now, enjoy Allen’s 40-minute appearance on The Lefkoe Show. You’ll learn a few things you probably did not know about Allen, except his middle name. NOBODY knows his middle name. Surely it can’t be as weird as mine, Loring.
More Praise for Allen
He’s been described as the best pass rusher in the draft by many. Add Yahoo’s Terez Paylor to that list.
The 6-5, 262-pounder has been terrific for three-plus seasons for the Wildcats, using his size, athleticism and juice off the snap to rack up 31 sacks since 2016, including an absurd 17 in 2018. What’s more, Allen — who led the Wildcats in tackles (88) last season as an edge rusher — is a turnover machine. Since 2016, he forced 11 fumbles.
Kiper’s Favorite Cornerback
ESPN’s two draft gurus recently completed another mock draft, this time going back and forth for three rounds. Once again, Josh Allen was slated third overall to the Jets, while Lonnie Johnson fell to the Redskins in the middle of the third round at No. 76 overall. In a separate piece, Kiper said Johnson is his favorite cornerback prospect in the draft and could go all the way into the second round.
There are some big corners in this class. I count six in my top 10 who are at least 6-foot-1. And Johnson, who spent three years at junior colleges before coming to Kentucky in 2017, is right there with the best of the best. My sixth-ranked corner, Johnson is long and athletic, and he’s not afraid to tackle. He also blocked two kicks for the Wildcats.
There could be a run on corners in the second round. Johnson could make an immediate impact for the team that picks him.
Only one more week until Allen, Johnson and the rest of the Wildcats learn their NFL fate.
By Keifer Winings on ©April 18th, 2019 @ 11:30am
[Ed. Note: Keifer Winings and Chris Smith are two University of Kentucky graduates who took a road trip across the country to visit UK Alumni Clubs. They wrote about some of their stops for KSR and now, their documentary is complete and ready to share with the Big Blue Nation.]
A couple of years ago, myself and a friend took a road trip with the goal of experiencing the Big Blue Nation in person. Up until that point BBN had been abstract to us, and we wanted to find out what the term meant.
So, we contacted alumni and fans and scheduled a watch party for each UK basketball game of the 2015-2016 season in a different city across the country, with a different group of fans. When November came around, we bought a cheap camper van to live out of, stocked up on ramen and Easy Mac, and hit the road.
Over those five months we met some truly incredible people and made some of the best memories of our lives. In the years since, we have cut through hundreds of hours of footage to put together a documentary that tells the stories of thousands of UK fans that have left the Bluegrass and make the Big Blue Nation as far reaching as it is.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©April 17th, 2019 @ 11:00pm
In the past 48 hours, we’ve learned quite a bit about Kentucky’s 2019-20 roster. First, Tyler Herro and Keldon Johnson are definitely gone to the NBA, which was expected. Second, Jemarl Baker is definitely going to transfer, which wasn’t entirely unexpected, but still came as a bit of a surprise. Third, there could be another grad transfer on the way in the form of Kerry Blackshear Jr., a 6’10” junior from Virginia Tech.
It sounds like Blackshear’s going to take his time with his decision, which could still include going to the NBA Draft, but let’s go ahead and take a look at where Kentucky’s 2019-20 roster stands as of now, and how it could change in the coming weeks.
Guard: Ashton Hagans/Immanuel Quickley
Guard: Tyrese Maxey/Immanuel Quickley/Brad Calipari
Forward: Khalil Whitney/Keion Brooks/Dontaie Allen/Zan Payne
Forward: EJ Montgomery/Nate Sestina/Keion Brooks
Center: Nick Richards/EJ Montgomery
Obviously, having a sophomore Ashton Hagans and Immanuel Quickley is huge. Any kind of roster turnover is diminished by an experienced backcourt, and I’d expect Hagans and Quickley to both make considerable jumps in their sophomore years. Given his ability to score, I see Tyrese Maxey starting at the two, but Quickley backing up at both guard spots as a strong sixth man. Should Brad Calipari stay at Kentucky (remember, Cal mentioned he might transfer), he could get some time at the two as well. So, backcourt, good.
Khalil Whitney and Keion Brooks will give Calipari some interesting looks on the wing, as will Dontaie Allen if he’s healthy enough to go early in the season. On the inside, you’ve got veterans in EJ Montgomery, Nick Richards, and Nate Sestina, although I don’t believe the dust has settled on the frontcourt. As long as Leah Edmond is at Kentucky, I feel comfortable about Richards staying, but I wouldn’t rule out Montgomery testing the waters. You may scoff at that, but towards the end of the season, EJ showed a lot a lot of potential. If he returns, I think he could have a monster season and be the anchor Kentucky needs on the inside. While Nate Sestina is not Reid Travis, he should provide valuable minutes and an outside presence to keep teams honest, ala PJ Washington this season. If Kerry Blackshear Jr. does come to Kentucky, at 6’10”, 250 lbs., he could be a very important piece to the puzzle, but let’s not get too excited about that just yet.
On the recruiting front, Matthew Hurt and Jaden McDaniels are still out there, but it’s looking more and more like Hurt’s going to Duke and McDaniels to Washington. (I’d love to be wrong about that.) Five-star combo guard RJ Hampton could also reclassify to 2019, but that’s still to be determined.
As it stands, do you like your team?
By Jack Pilgrim on ©April 17th, 2019 @ 10:00pm
This afternoon, 2020 four-star offensive lineman and Christian Academy of Louisville product John Young announced he would making his final decision on April 29.
And the Kentucky Wildcats are one of the schools in serious contention.
I will be announcing my commitment on April 29!! ?
— John Young (@the_johnyoung) April 17, 2019
After setting his big announcement date, the 6-foot-6, 295-pound offensive tackle from Louisville talked to KSR about the timing of his decision, the final six schools on his list, and why the Wildcats have a shot.
Check out our Q&A with Rivals’ No. 214 prospect in the class of 2020.
JP: Why April 29?
JY: The date isn’t really anything special, but I wanted to get it out of the way as soon as possible so I could focus on my senior season coming up.
JP: Are we still at six schools? What are the final schools in contention and why?
JY: Yeah, we’re still at six.
Ohio State, they’re a school that has been heavily involved in my recruitment for a long time. I really like Coach Day, and of course the tradition up there is amazing. So they’ve always been one of my top choices, and they still are as I’m nearing my decision.
Michigan, rival to Ohio State, but another great school. My parents really loved it up there, and so did I when we visited. Amazing academics, great coaching staff up there as well.
Purdue is in the Big 10, as well. One of my best friends, Milton Wright, is headed to Purdue. So it’d be pretty cool to go up there and play with him. I really like Coach Brohm, he’s got ties in Louisville where I’m from. He runs a powerful offense at Purdue.
Kentucky, I grew up a fan of Kentucky, and I really love what they’ve done over the last year with their team. Coach Stoops has really turned that program around. I love all the coaches up there, and I’ve visited there a lot.
Louisville, I really hit it off with the new coaching staff, Coach Satterfield and Coach Ledford are the main guys recruiting me from over there. I think they’re going to turn that program into a winning team, as well, and possibly get to a bowl game this year.
And then the final school Georgia, I visited there really recently, they offered me pretty late in my recruitment. But I decided to visit, and I really loved the campus there. I have a really good relationship with Coach Smart and Coach Pittman down at Georgia.
Those are the six schools and the reasoning for why they’re on my final list.
JP: What will go into your final decision? What will separate your final choice from the pack?
I would say the biggest factor would be where I could see myself being the best fit. I’ve taken visits to every single one of those schools, I’ve been around the campus, I’ve been around the coaches, I’ve talked to the players. So I feel like I’ve got a good feel, it’s just about coming down to the final stretch of where I’d be the best fit in their offense and the university as a whole.
JP: With Kentucky, what is their main pitch to you?
Their main pitch to me is to be a home state hero, just stay home and play for my home state. They’ve got a great track record with in-state offensive linemen with Landon Young and Drake Jackson. Those are the two biggest names I’d say from that group, but there are other (in-state) guys there as well. With those in-state guys, they develop them, take care of them, and get them ready to start. I’d say that’s their main pitch to me, be part of that in-state offensive line tradition.
JP: How much has Kentucky’s recent growth as a program made an impact on your decision?
JY: I’m going on my third year of being recruited by Kentucky, they offered me as a freshman, so I’ve really gotten to see the development there. They develop players and turn them into high-caliber draft picks like they did with Josh Allen and Benny Snell. Those guys weren’t super highly recruited guys out of high school, Josh wasn’t really recruited at all, but they turned those guys into very high caliber guys who are going to make millions of dollars playing football. Just the way they’ve developed players is the most impressive thing for me.
JP: Will you be shutting down your recruitment after this, or do you plan on keeping your options open?
JY: My recruitment will be completely and 100% shut down after I make my decision. I will not be taking visits to other schools, I won’t talk to other schools, my recruitment will be shut down as soon as I make my decision.
JP: What will the school you choose be getting as a player and as a person?
JY: I will be bringing a hard working attitude. I think you’ll be getting a nasty run blocker and a guy who just loves to play football wherever I go, somebody who wants to win and will do everything that it takes to do so.
You can check out his junior year highlight tape here:
Kentucky’s Jemarl Baker is the newest name in the NCAA’s transfer portal. Friend of the program Evan Daniels broke the news via Twitter on Wednesday.
Baker made big plays late in the year during the tournament run, but with Ashton Hagans and Immanuel Quickley coming back, plus incoming five-star guard Tyrese Maxey, it’s easy to understand why he would consider other options for his redshirt sophomore season.
Baker averaged 2.3 points in 9.1 minutes per game in 2018-19, while shooting 31.0% from outside, which ranked fifth on the team.
Good luck to Jemarl wherever he ends up. My guess is it’s somewhere out west so he can be closer to home.