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June 24th, 2019

Monday Night Football Recruiting Notes: Five-Star Challenge and Room for More Receivers?

Hello friends. It’s good to be back. I took one last final break of the summer to get my mind right and jump off trees into cenotes. Now that I have (mostly) detoxified from my week-long fiesta, I’m prepared to dive back into the world of Kentucky football recruiting. As a wise man once said, the dice are hot.

All the Receivers

Four commitments in two days is a pretty excellent rate of return on an official visit investment. Three of those prospects will provide plenty of firepower in the wide receivers’ room.

The addition of Earnest Sanders came out of nowhere. His recent offer sheet tells me the Michigan kid has what it takes to be successful. I love Izayah Cummings‘ size for an outside wide receiver. He’s also a proven winner at one of the state’s powerhouse football programs. You can’t coach size and you can’t give a kid confidence. He will bring both to UK’s campus.

You’ve already heard about Jordan Watkins‘ speed. You probably remember his battles with Andru Phillips at UK football camp in early June. Here’s a little something you have not heard.

Four years ago a friend of mine who coaches high school football told me, “Roush, remember the name Jordan Watkins. This kid’s going D-I.” Naturally, I did not believe that my idiot friend could spot D-I talent before the kid played a snap of high school football. I will happily admit that I was wrong. Not only is Watkins a D-I athlete, he has SEC speed. If he remains on the right track, he will be an explosive weapon in Eddie Gran’s offense.

With all that being said, I don’t think Kentucky is finished stockpiling receivers. UK only signed two in the 2019 recruiting class. The biggest question mark on this year’s offensive depth chart, they need as many playmakers as possible, especially in the slot. You can’t count on Lynn Bowden to return for a fourth year. The three added this weekend all play on the outside, leaving a few candidates to potentially suit up in the slot in the near future.

Running back commit JuTahn McClain has enough speed on the edge and wide receiver skills to move to the slot position. The same applies to UK target Michael Drennen, the No. 5 all-purpose back in America. Beating the big dogs for Drennen could be a reach, however, I do feel comfortable with UK’s chances of landing Kalil Branham. The former Michigan commit has all of the speed to make plays and is an absolute work horse. He gave glowing reviews following an official visit to UK in the spring. Branham is in no rush to commit, but when he does, I think the impressive athlete will ultimately choose UK to complete the Cats’ wide receiver class.

Five-Star Challenge

Today the top high school football players in America traveled to Atlanta to participate in Rivals’ Five-Star Challenge. Along with Nike’s The Opening, it’s the premiere prep camp in the country. In previous years, UK and the Commonwealth of Kentucky were under-represented. Now there are Lexington kids rocking cowboy hats on media day.

@RivalsDave

Joining Clemson commit Walker Parks from the state of Kentucky is defensive tackle Octavious Oxendine and his Frederick Douglass teammate, Dekel Crowdus. The speedy wide receiver ran a 4.36 40-yard dash earlier this month at Ohio State football camp. The top-ranked rising junior in the Commonwealth, he’s one of just 17 players from the class of 2021 attending the Five-Star Challenge and the only receiver.

Oxendine isn’t the only high profile UK defensive tackle target attending the camp. Two weeks after officially visiting UK, Dallas Walker will run through drills at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Michigan cornerback Enzo Jennings will be in attendance, along with the dynamic duo from Cincinnati Princeton High School, outside linebacker Jaheim Thomas and defensive end Darrion Henry.

The Cats are finalists for each of the Ohio prospects. Today Henry revealed he will announce his college decision June 29. UK’s prospects aren’t great for Henry, but I think Kentucky can reel in Thomas if they get him on campus for an official visit.

Richie Leonard Nears Decision

The former UK commit completed his final official visit this weekend in Knoxville. Down to seven schools — Kentucky, Florida, Florida State, Miami, Georgia Tech, UCF and Tennessee — Leonard will make an announcement July 5. Florida State and Tennessee appear to be the Cats’ competition for the slugger.

If Leonard does decide to go elsewhere, Joshua Jones is a solid security blanket for the future of UK’s interior offensive line.

Kentucky Kid Commits to Notre Dame

Another Boyle County star is leaving the state. A few months after wide receiver Reese Smith announced he’ll play for Neal Brown at West Virginia, three-star running back Landen Bartleson committed to Notre Dame. I think it’s safe to say the Rebels will have a target on their backs when high school football season starts in just over two weeks.

Talking Season is almost Here

As much fun as it to dish on football recruiting, it’s only an appetizer. We get our first taste of the main course three weeks from today at SEC Media Days. Returning to Hoover after a one-year trip to Atlanta, Mark Stoops will take the podium on the final day of the event. As a wise Bart Scott once said, “Can’t Wait!”


Former Wildcat Finds New Home

One former Kentucky women’s basketball player is taking her talents to the state of Tennessee.

Lipscomb University announce it has added former Wildcat center Dorie Harrison to its roster. A McDonald’s All-American and Top 100 recruit, Harrison averaged 6.7 points and 3.8 rebounds as a freshman in 2017-18. Last season she sat out for personal health reasons.

Harrison took a not-so-subtle shot at her former head coach in the Lipscomb press release.

“I believe in the vision Coach Sumski has for the program, and I am excited to evolve and progress with it, but mostly I honestly believe she supports me as a person first before anything else, which is so rare to find,” Harrison said.

““I’m truly humbled and blessed to be transferring into a culture in which young women are faithfully empowered, encouraged, and cultivated to be great.”

A Nashville native, Harrison’s older sister, Isabelle, was an All-SEC performer at the University of Tennessee and is currently a member of the WNBA’s Dallas Wings.


Joe Freaking Mazulla has a new job in the NBA

Jim McIsaac | Getty Images

There are some names that will put a bad taste in the mouths of Kentucky fans. The salivary glands produce a bitter disgust when the names of Christian Laettner, Chris Doering and Luke Maye are uttered. Near the top of that list is Joe Mazulla.

Bob Huggins’ starting point guard for West Virginia in 2009-10, Mazulla averaged just 2.7 points and 2.4 assists per game as a junior. At his best, he was a solid role player…until the 2010 East Regional Final.

Going toe-to-toe with John Wall and Eric Bledsoe in the 1-3-1 zone, Mazulla made 5-of-11 shots to score a career-high 17 points and lead the Mountaineers to the Final Four. Ending Wall, Bledsoe, Patterson and DeMarcus Cousins’ UK careers was so unforgivable, a Kentucky victory over West Virginia in the NCAA Tournament the following year to end Mazulla’s career could not even provide adequate vengeance.

Fast forward almost ten years later and Mazulla is an NBA assistant coach. The Boston Celtics hired Mazulla after two successful seasons at Fairmont State. As the Falcons’ head coach, he went 43-17 and reached the NCAA Division II tournament this past season. He previously worked for the Celtics’ G-League staff.

Joe Freaking Mazulla. That guy. Is there any one player who puts a more disgusting taste in your mouth?


Marina on Kentucky Lake damaged by tornado yesterday

Photo: @MikePickett257

Yesterday, another series of powerful storms made their way through the Bluegrass, and the damage was so bad it’s making national news.

A tornado with 100 mph winds touched down near Moors Resort & Marina on Kentucky Lake in Marshall County around 5 p.m., damaging two docks. It’s hard to believe from the pictures, but no one was hurt:

Moors Campground boat docks photos from Mark Vincent, Vitas Patel and Marshall county responders #KYlake #KentuckyLake

Posted by Kentucky Lake – KentuckyLake.com on Sunday, June 23, 2019

Moor's Resort & Marina. Approx 5:15 PM on June 23, 2019, a possible tornado or high winds caused significant damage to…

Posted by Paducah Drone on Monday, June 24, 2019

Another tornado touched down in Carlisle, Ballard, and McCracken counties on Sunday, causing widespread damage. Kentucky Dam Marina also got hit hard Friday night:

Outstanding response support tonight.Lots of trees down throughout the county and in Calvert City, semis blown over on…

Posted by Marshall Co Emergency Management Agency on Friday, June 21, 2019

Here’s hoping for a calm week of weather and some actual sunshine on the weekend.


Mitch Barnhart, Matthew Mitchell toured a coal mine in Eastern Kentucky today

@UKAthletics

For the second summer in the row, UK Athletics is traveling the state to get to know fans through the Big Blue Caravan tour. Today, they kicked things off with a stop in Hazard, where Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart, Women’s Basketball Coach Matthew Mitchell, UK Gymnastics Coach Tim Harrison, and other members of the athletic department toured a Blackhawk coal mine:

@UKAthletics

From there, they went to City Hall for a meet and greet with fans:

@UKAthletics

@UKAthletics

On Twitter, Barnhart recapped the experience:

All events are open to the public and include poster giveaways and photo opportunities with UK’s mascots and trophies. On Wednesday, fans in Paintsville will have the chance to meet hometown hero Kash Daniel:

Here’s the full schedule so you can plan accordingly.

— Paintsville, Ky. | Wednesday, June 26 | 10-11:30 a.m. | Paintsville Recreation Center (232 Preston St.)

— Owensboro, Ky. | Thursday, June 27, 4-6 p.m. | Kroger (2630 Frederica St.)

— Meade County, Ky. | Friday, June 28, 11 a.m.-1 p.m. | Kroger (568 By Pass Rd.)


Aaron Torres Sports Podcast Ep.160: UConn is Back in the Big East + More NBA Draft Thoughts

It’s Monday and you know what that means, it’s time for an all new episode of the Aaron Torres Sports Podcast. Aaron is flying high with the news that UConn is headed back to the Big East and wonders when Kerry Blackshear will pick a school. Later, Nick Coffey joins to talk more NBA Draft.

UConn Back to the Big East: Saturday was a great day for Aaron once he learned UConn is headed back to the Big East. Aaron explains why UConn had to make this move, and why it was so good for the school, the Big East and college basketball. Also, what does this mean for UConn’s football program going forward?

NBA Draft Talk with Nick Coffey: Next, Aaron is joined by his buddy Nick Coffey to discuss Thursday’s NBA Draft. The guys discuss all the big angles, including the number of underclassmen who went undrafted. What does it mean, and should they be allowed to return to college? Also, with so many college veterans selected early, is this a sign that NBA teams are moving away from “one and done” players?

Get the podcast delivered directly to your phone by subscribing to the Aaron Torres Sports Podcast feed on iTunes or via Android’s Podcast Addict app.  You can easily listen on the KSR App, available on iTunes and Google Play. Streaming online is simple through Pod Paradise.  Don’t forget to follow the show on Instagram too.


BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: What are the Trends In Retiring Jerseys?

Image result for tony delk jersey retirement

You know, a common topic of conversation among UK fans, especially in the summer months, is about who might be next to go up into the rafters at Rupp Arena.  But what has generally made a UK legend?  Below, I have split the 37 retirees into different categories to see if there has been any common feature amongst the players.  You’ll find some interesting trends I think:

HOME STATE
Kentucky (20): Hayden, Spicer, Sale, DeMoisey, Rouse, Rollins, Beard, Jones, Hagan, Ramsey, Evans, Rose, Bird, Grawemeyer, Hatton, Cox, Givens, Feldhaus, Pelphrey, Farmer
Indiana (4): Barker, Dampier, Macy, Woods
Ohio (2): Groza, Grevey
Georgia (2): Spivey, Walker
Louisiana (2): Nash, Robey
New York (2): Riley, Mashburn
Massachusetts (1): Tsioropoulos
Texas (1): Burrow
Illinois (1): Issel
Pennsylvania (1): Bowie
Tennessee (1): Delk

What’s interesting to me is that 16 of the first 21 UK players to have their jersey retired were from the state of Kentucky.  Since that time though, only 4 of 16 players who have seen their jersey into the rafters are from the state, and 3 of those were from The Unforgettables.  Tayshaun Prince is probably the next to go up there, which will take care of California.  Keith Bogans is from Virginia.  But what’s clear is that the quality of high school basketball in Kentucky has dipped to such a level over the last 25-30 years that UK just can’t rely on recruiting the state heavy.

POSITION
Guard (11): Rouse, Rollins, Beard, Ramsey, Rose, Hatton, Dampier, Macy, Farmer, Woods, Delk
Guard/Forward (4): Hayden, Evans, Barker, Pelphrey
Forward (11): Spicer, Tsioropoulos, Bird, Grawemeyer, Cox, Riley, Grevey, Givens, Walker, Feldhaus, Mashburn
Forward/Center (6): Sale, Demoisey, Jones, Nash, Robey, Bowie
Center (5): Groza, Spivey, Hagan, Burrow, Issel

(Positions determined by Jon Scott’s website)

ERA
1920’s: Hayden, Spicer
1930’s: Sale, Demoisey, Rouse
1940’s: Rollins, Groza, Beard, Jones, Barker
1950’s: Spivey, Hagan, Ramsey, Tsioropoulos, Evans, Rose, Bird, Grawemeyer, Burrow, Hatton, Cox
1960’s: Nash, Dampier, Riley, Issel
1970’s: Grevey, Givens, Robey, Macy
1980’s: Bowie, Walker
1990’s: Farmer, Feldhaus, Pelphrey, Woods, Mashburn, Delk

Those 1950’s were sure filled with a lot of UK legends.  Same amount of titles as the 1940’s and 1990’s, but many more legends.  Ok.

TITLE WINNERS
2 Titles: Groza, Beard, Jones, Barker
1 Title: Rollins, Spivey, Hagan, Ramsey, Tsioropoulos, Hatton, Cox, Givens, Robey, Macy, Delk
No Titles: Hayden, Spicer, Sale, Demoisey, Rouse, Evans, Rose, Bird, Grawemeyer, Burrow, Nash, Dampier, Riley, Issel, Grevey, Bowie, Walker, Feldhaus, Farmer, Pelphrey, Woods, Mashburn

Interesting that 22 of 37 retirees did not win titles at UK.  I don’t know why, but I thought that the majority of them would have.  But UK went from 1959 to 1995 winning only 1 title, so when put in that context, it’s understandable.