By Jack Pilgrim on ©April 23rd, 2019 @ 9:00pm
John Calipari isn’t slowing down on the recruiting trail anytime soon.
According to Corey Evans of Rivals.com, the Kentucky head coach is expected to visit consensus top-five 2020 prospect RJ Hampton tomorrow.
— Corey Evans (@coreyevans_10) April 24, 2019
Hampton, a 6-foot-5 combo guard out of Little Elm, TX, is down to Kentucky, Kansas, Duke, and Memphis, and there is significant talk out there that he’ll be joining one of those schools in the class of 2019.
This weekend, Kentucky signee Tyrese Maxey told KSR that he would “love” to play with Hampton, a fellow Texan and longtime friend, at Kentucky next season.
“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, after playing against Hampton his entire life, it’s time to finally play together 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.”
As of right now, Memphis has received 44% of his Crystal Ball predictions on 247 Sports, 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.
Check out some of Hampton’s most recent highlights:
By KSR on ©April 23rd, 2019 @ 8:45pm
Swing back into the summer with the KSR crew.
You can now sign up for two of the three KSR golf scrambles. The Lexington KSR Golf Scramble presented by Hardee’s and All Trades Services (now featuring Putt For Prison!) will be Monday, May 20 at The University Club. Visit WLAP.com or click here to register your team.
If you’re unable to do that one, Associates in Eye Care will host the KSR crew at Woodson Bend Resort in Somerset Monday, July 22 for another golf scramble. You’ll find more details at WFSCAM.com or click here to register your team.
Sign up now before they’re gone!
By Drew Franklin on ©April 23rd, 2019 @ 8:30pm
With Gunnar Hoak’s departure from the Kentucky football program, the quarterback room is quite thin behind Terry Wilson, the returning starter from last year’s 10-win season. Wilson is the guy again in 2019; after him, though, it is a very inexperienced bunch.
The three backup QB options combine for exactly zero minutes of real college football action. They’ve taken the same amount of snaps as you and me in the SEC. Two of them aren’t even on campus yet; the other, Lexington’s own Walker Wood, will be in his third season on the roster but hasn’t seen the field since joining the team as an early enrollee in January of 2017.
Here is a little bit more about each of the three options behind Wilson:
The Veteran With No Game Experience
Walker Wood | So. (RS) | 6-0 | 189 | Lexington, Ky.
Wood has been in UK’s QB room longer than anyone, but he has yet to take an actual snap on the field. He finally worked his way back into playing shape after multiple injuries, but he would be hard to trust if thrown into action against the defenses of the Southeastern Conference.
In this month’s Blue-White spring game, Wood went 3-for-5 with one very ugly interception, thrown directly into the hands of linebacker Jordan Wright.
The True Freshmen
Amani Gilmore | Fr.| 6-2 | 180 | Amite, La.
Gilmore is a three-star dual-threat quarterback out of Louisiana, who also dabbles in a little baseball as a left-handed pitcher. In fact, he intends to play baseball at Kentucky and already has Mark Stoops’ blessing to do so.
But on the football field, Gilmore is a playmaker and a winner, having led his high school to a 14-1 record and a state title in his senior season. He recorded six touchdowns and took home MVP honors in Louisiana’s 2A championship game.
The 247 Sports Composite ranked Gilmore as the No. 39 pro-style quarterback in the 2019 class and the 42nd best prospect out of the Bayou State. The scouting report on him says raw and undeveloped, in part because of his time spent playing baseball.
Nik Scalzo | Fr.| 6-0 | 175 | Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Nik Scalzo sees himself as a young Baker Mayfield: a little undersized for his position; overlooked by several schools for being a couple inches too short; creative with the ball in his hands; and eager to prove everyone wrong at the next level. He told KSR, “(Mayfield) is my favorite player ever. I would consider myself the same play-style as him. I’m not as cocky as him, but we have the same mentality because we’re both short quarterbacks. We’ve both been told our whole lives that we can’t do it.”
Scalzo put up Mayfield-like numbers at Cardinal Gibbons. He led his high school team to a combined 32-6 record in his three seasons as the starting quarterback, before tearing his ACL in a state playoff game this past December. Recovery has gone better than expected and he is cleared to join the team this summer.
The 247 Sports Composite ranked Scalzo as the No. 28 dual-threat QB.
By Drew Franklin on ©April 23rd, 2019 @ 7:42pm
Northern Kentucky has its next head coach and it is none other than Kentucky native Darrin Horn.
Horn reached an agreement to become the Norse’s new coach, where he replaces John Brannen, who moved up to Cincinnati. It is Horn’s first head coaching job since his four-year stint at South Carolina, which followed his five years at Western Kentucky, his alma mater.
If none of that rings a bell, you may remember him as the star of the 1991 KHSAA state runner-up Tates Creek High School Commodores of Lexington. Or from his appearances on KSR. Or that time he hit a game-winner to beat Louisville in Freedom Hall in 1993.
Horn spent the last four seasons on Shaka Smart’s sideline at Texas.
By Zack Geoghegan on ©April 23rd, 2019 @ 6:45pm
The No. 1 overall seed Milwaukee Bucks completed a 4-0 series sweep of the Detroit Pistons in round one of the 2019 NBA Playoffs. The Bucks won all four games by at least 16 points and outscored the Pistons by a total of 95 points. Even with Blake Griffin in the Detroit lineup for last two games, there was nary a thing the team from Michigan could do to overcome the dominance that is the 2018-19 Bucks.
When you have a 6-foot-11, 24-year old unicorn in Giannis Anteotkounmpo, it surely makes life a hell of a lot easier. The Greek Freak could have smacked the Pistons all by himself. He posted 41 points in a closeout Game 4 and averaged over 26 for the series while shooting 52 percent from the field. He is the heart and soul of this Bucks team and they go as far as he takes them – which could very well be to the NBA Finals.
Milwaukee looks to be the best team in the playoffs at this very moment. Some of that has to do with the fact that the Warriors have dropped a game against the Los Angeles Clippers – who could probably sweep the Pistons, as well – and the Bucks played a team that was overmatched before the series even began. But let’s not take away from the beating the Bucks handed the Pistons. Milwaukee has a real shot at making it to the NBA Finals and a sliver of a shot to win the whole thing that gets a bit bigger with every passing game. However, there is one player for Milwaukee that is necessary for a Bucks title run. The X-factor, if you will. And that is Eric Bledsoe.
Aside from Anteotkounmpo, the former Kentucky guard has been the Bucks most reliable player through the first round of the playoffs. I don’t think it’s a stretch at all to imply that Bledsoe has outplayed his other All-Star teammate, Khris Middleton, as well.
Let’s quickly rattle off Bledsoe’s averages in round one: 19.3 points per game, 4.0 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 2.0 steals, and 1.8 turnovers per game on shooting splits of 52.5 (FG%)/31.6 (3PT)/81.8 (FT%).
He was unstoppable heading towards the rim. His ball handling was the tightest I’ve ever seen it. He was locking down opponents on every possession. This is the best version of Eric Bledsoe that anyone – including himself – has ever seen, and he’s showing up at the perfect time.
Without starting two-guard Malcolm Brogdon due to injury – an extremely reliable shooter and solid defender – Milwaukee was going to need someone to step up and assert themselves. Brogdon has been out since mid-March and his return is still up in the air. Sterling Brown did a solid job of replacing him, but Bledsoe went into All-Star mode.
Of the 26 players who have averaged at least 10 drives per game during these playoffs, Bledsoe posts the third highest field goal percentage (61.9) behind only Pascal Siakam and Derrick White. That number is higher than James Harden, Russell Westbrook, and Kawhi Leonard. But unlike some of those players, such as Westbrook and Harden, Bledsoe isn’t passing out of these drives. He’s just bulldozing through opponents with sneaky euro steps and forearms thicker than most defender’s heads.
According to Cleaning the Glass, Bledsoe has attempted 43 percent of his shots at the rim in the playoffs and has converted on an impossible 83 percent of them. Both numbers rank in the 100 percentile among guards in the playoffs. Just for reference, Antetokounmpo made 74 percent of his shots at the rim. Whenever Bledsoe was able to draw a foul while in the act of shooting, he converted on exactly half of those attempts for an and-one, which also ranks atop the list of playoff guards.
After watching the four games between Milwaukee and Detroit, you could easily make the argument that Bledsoe has been a better finisher at the rim than the elite finishing guards such as Steph Curry and Kyrie Irving. Hell, if you even wanted to compare him to the 7-footers of the NBA world, Bledsoe would still rank higher than them. That’s how good he’s been when attacking.
But it goes further than just scoring for Bledsoe. He’s avoided even the tiniest whiff of foul trouble, has tortured opposing guards for offensive rebounds, and kept the turnovers to a bare minimum.
The Bucks posted an offensive rating of 120.5 and a defensive rating of 95.0 with Bledsoe on the floor against the Pistons. That 95.0 defensive rating is what stands out to me more than the offensive rating. Whenever Bledsoe was on the floor against the Pistons, he accounted for 40 (FORTY) percent of the team’s overall steals. And that’s with a defensive juggernaut in Antetokounmpo manning the middle.
Facing the Celtics in the second round will be completely different than round one. Boston is built on defense. Even when its offense struggled mightily throughout the season, they could always fall back on defense. It happened in the team’s sweep of the Indiana Pacers, too. Boston’s 95.8 defensive rating currently leads all playoff teams. But along with having the third-best defense in the playoffs, the Bucks couple that with the top offense of the postseason and the highest net rating by a considerable margin.
Bledsoe had the pleasure of going head-to-head with the likes of Reggie Jackson and Ish Smith in round one. Kyrie Irving and Terry Rozier won’t be as simple a task to keep at ease. Defending Irving is like trying to stay in front of a hurricane inside of a black hole. But Rozier has struggled this postseason, especially compared to what he did last year, and Marcus Smart is still out with a torn oblique. His status remains undetermined.
The Bledsoe-Irving matchup will be must-watch television. Both are playing the best basketball of their respective careers. The Celtics are miles ahead of the Pistons, but will absolutely struggle to put up points against the Bucks brick wall defense. Boston averaged only 99.3 points per game against the Pacers in round one. Milwaukee averaged over 121 per game and limited Detroit to a mere 98 points per game. I’ve seen several different predictions sending this series to seven games, but I think Boston would be lucky to even make it to a Game 6.
Eric Bledsoe is having the most efficient and effective season of his eight-year career at age 29 on the most dominant team he’s ever played for. Milwaukee is poised to make a run to the Finals. Antetokounmpo will lead them to the promised land, but they can’t get there without this version of Bledsoe.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©April 23rd, 2019 @ 6:00pm
There’s no shortage of Josh Allen profiles leading up to Thursday night’s draft, and as expected, KyWildcatsTV’s does not disappoint. Watch below as Allen opens up to the crew about his journey from a two-star recruit to a projected top five draft pick, including Mark Stoops’ reaction when Josh told him he wanted to be the best player he’s ever coached.
Josh is officially on his way to Nashville and has taken over Bose’s Instagram account for the day to document his journey. Follow along on Bose’s Instagram story here.
By Drew Franklin on ©April 23rd, 2019 @ 5:25pm
Evan Daniels has the latest on Johnny Juzang, a potential addition to Kentucky’s backcourt next season.
According to Daniels, Juzang plans to visit Lexington for an official visit this coming Monday, April, 29. Juzang is also considering a jump up in class to begin playing college basketball this fall, per the report.
Earlier today Juzang teased a big announcement set for tomorrow afternoon. There was some early speculation that he could reclassify and jump on his new offer to Kentucky, but it’s likely to only be the reclassification news now that he is visiting campus next week.
Still very good news for UK’s chances.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©April 23rd, 2019 @ 4:34pm
On Friday, John Calipari and Joel Justus visited 2020 five-star wing Johnny Juzang in California and offered him a scholarship. Minutes ago, Juzang tweeted that he’s got a “big announcement” coming tomorrow night at 7:30 p.m. ET:
Big announcement tomorrow @ 4:30pm PST !
— Johnny Juzang (@JohnnyJuzang) April 23, 2019
There have been rumors Juzang might reclassify to 2019; if so, that’s a pretty big announcement, and the timing certainly favors the Cats. Juzang is considered the No. 19 player in the 2020 class by ESPN and averaged 23.0 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 3.4 assists last season. In addition to Kentucky, he’s already been offered by Kansas, Virginia, UCLA, USC, and others.
After Cal and Justus met with Juzang on Friday, 247 Sports’ Jerry Meyer logged a Crystal Ball pick in Kentucky’s favor. He also told Ben Roberts that he’s heard talk of reclassification and that Juzang has coveted a UK offer for a while.
Jack will have more on Juzang in tonight’s Insider Notes, but for now, enjoy his latest highlights.
…and an interview with Juzang’s AAU coach Darin Graham that Aaron Torres posted yesterday:
By Nick Roush on ©April 23rd, 2019 @ 3:30pm
When recruits walk into Mark Stoops’ office, the first thing they see is a portrait of his former first round NFL Draft picks. This weekend Josh Allen will be the next person added to the poster that overlooks his desk.
“He’ll be on the board, probably front and center,” Stoops said Tuesday. “He ranks right up there as one of the great players I had an opportunity to coach, there’s no question about that. There’s no doubt that he will be a successful pro, just because of the way he lives his life, the way he is driven to be great.”
Not every prospective recruit is privy to see that picture in Stoops’ office. The best of the best will likely spend some time there while officially visiting this weekend. Those who are not yet at the top of the recruiting big board will see another Josh Allen poster when they watch the NFL Draft.
“I thought that was pretty cool,” Stoops said. “Our university and our guys did that for him, and really for the program to get us some more exposure.”
The face of the Kentucky football program over the last year, Allen and his teammates have given Kentucky name recognition in new places around the country.
“Without a doubt, it just helps us. With what Josh is doing, the way he represented us, the national awards that he won, all that exposure, it does nothing but help us. Of course all of the other players — Benny, Lonnie, Mike, Darius, Derrick Baity, you can go on and on — I’m just proud of all of them,” said Stoops.
You can go on and on and on, unlike any other time in the history of the Kentucky football program. Anywhere between six and nine former Wildcats are expected to be picked in the NFL Draft. Kentucky has not had more than four players picked in one draft since 1979. There were eight players picked in 1979, but the draft had almost twice as many rounds 40 years ago. Since the draft changed to a seven-round format in 1994, Kentucky’s four picks in 2008 are the high watermark.
Before UK’s prospects make history, many have spent their time working out at the Joe Craft Football Training Facility. Throughout the spring, recruits have been in and out of the facility. During their tours, high school athletes and their parents have been able to meet many of UK’s future pros. It may not seem like a big deal to some, but it could be a huge deal to a 15-year old from the Bluegrass or a four-star All-American currently committed to Miami.
— Michael Tunsil (@coachtunsil) March 18, 2019
Kentucky’s historic draft class is moving on to bigger and better things. As they transition into professional careers, the leaders are leaving the program better than they found it.
“I’ll never forget what they’ve done for us,” Stoops said. “They had great leadership and that’s why we were successful. That’s the foundation we gotta continue to build on. We’re worried about a program, not just a team, but a program, building a program.”
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©April 23rd, 2019 @ 2:30pm
Everyone’s jumping on the Josh Allen bandwagon ahead of Thursday’s NFL Draft, including…the Citrus Bowl Twitter account?
With Allen expected to go in the top five, the folks behind the Citrus Bowl’s social media have dedicated their Twitter account to the Kentucky star, renaming it the “Official Josh Allen Stan Account”:
— Official Josh Allen Stan Account (@CitrusBowl) April 23, 2019
For those not versed in “kids these days,” the term “stan” refers to someone who is overly obsessed with a celebrity, ala the fan in Eminem’s song “Stan” from 2000. Thankfully, I don’t think the Citrus Bowl’s affection for Josh Allen is quite that over the top, but it has resulted in some excellent tweets thus far:
— Official Josh Allen Stan Account (@CitrusBowl) April 23, 2019
Don’t freak out. Don’t freak out! Don’t freak out! DON’T FREAK OUT! pic.twitter.com/FLMaleUlPt
— Official Josh Allen Stan Account (@CitrusBowl) April 23, 2019
— Official Josh Allen Stan Account (@CitrusBowl) April 23, 2019
If you haven’t already, make sure you follow @CitrusBowl this week. Go Josh Allen.
By Zack Geoghegan on ©April 23rd, 2019 @ 2:00pm
Good afternoon, folks. Eric Bledsoe and the Milwaukee Bucks are moving on. Let’s talk NBA Playoffs.
(1) Bucks – 127 @ (8) Pistons – 104 (MIL wins series 4-0)
- We finally have our second sweep of these playoffs. The Milwaukee Bucks made light work of the Detroit Pistons in the second half of Game 4 to easily advance to the second round, where they will face the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
- With Blake Griffin back for the second straight game, the Pistons actually got out to an impressive start in this one. They were even up six at halftime behind 20 first-half points from Reggie Jackson. But a 17-3 Bucks run to end the third quarter put the closing stamp on both this game and the series. Giannis Antetokounmpo finished with 41 points because why the hell not? We’re witnessing what looks to be the early stages of the prime of a future Hall-of-Famer. Milwaukee won every game by at least 16 points and outscored Detroit by 95 through the four games. This wasn’t just any ole sweep… This was an ADVANCED sweep.
- I’ll have plenty more to come on Eric Bledsoe’s performance in Game 4 – and the entire series – later on, but just know that he posted 16 points, three rebounds, five assists, two steals, and a block on 7-12 shooting from the field. He is easily one of the best rim finishers in the playoffs right now, maybe even better than his superstar teammate, Antetokounmpo (okay maybe that’s a stretch).
(4) Rockets – 91 @ (5) Jazz – 107 (HOU leads 3-1)
- The Utah Jazz was not trying to meet the same fate as the Pistons, avoiding a sweep by taking down the Houston Rockets in Game 4 at home. Donovan Mitchell poured in 19 of his 31 points in the fourth quarter and Jae Crowder added 23 for the Jazz. Utah was able to limit Houston to a 12-point fourth quarter to pull away late. Up until that final period, the game was actually going back-and-forth. Utah would build a 10-plus point lead only for James Harden and Chris Paul to quickly bring the game back. A 15-1 Jazz run to start the fourth blew this game wide open and left the door open for Utah to make this thing a series. I’m not calling an unrealistic comeback or anything, but I also wouldn’t be surprised if Utah managed to steal two more games and force a Game 7. Houston has been known to choke in the past and the defense on Harden was much improved from the first two games. Although, now that I’ve spoken it into existence, Utah will probably lose Game 5 by 25.
|Eric Bledsoe (MIL)||127-104 W @ DET||16||7-12 (1-3)||3||5||2||1||2||+13||27|
TONIGHT IN THE NBA
7:00 (NBATV): Magic @ Raptors (Meeks) (TOR leads 3-1)
8:00 (TNT): Nets @ Sixers (PHI leads 3-1)
9:30 (NBATV): Spurs @ Nuggets (Lyles, Murray, Vanderbilt) (Tied 2-2)
10:30 (TNT): Thunder (Diallo-out, Noel, Patterson) @ Trail Blazers (Labissiere, Kanter) (POR leads 3-1)
By Nick Roush on ©April 23rd, 2019 @ 1:30pm
We will never see another game like Kentucky’s seven overtime thriller vs. Arkansas in 2003.
This morning the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel voted to approve a few college football rule changes. They made a minor tweak to kickoff formations and added a 15-yard blind-side block penalty. The most dramatic change is for overtime.
Once the game reaches a fifth overtime, instead of returning to the 25-yard line to switch possession, teams will simply alternate two-point conversion attempts. The reason behind the rule change: player safety. Directly from the NCAA:
Panel members approved a tweak to the overtime rules. If a game reaches a fifth overtime, teams will run alternating two-point plays, instead of starting another drive at the opponent’s 25-yard line. This rules change was made to limit the number of plays from scrimmage and to bring the game to a conclusion. Additionally, there will be a two-minute rest period after the second and fourth overtimes. The rules for the first four overtimes remain unchanged.
Playing more than four overtimes is rare, but when it does happen it is an instant classic, like last year’s LSU-Texas A&M game.
Was this change necessary? Not at all. Since the adoption of overtime in 1996, only five games have resulted a seven overtime endurance test.
There was also a change to the targeting rule. On some occasions the call on the field would simply “stand” after further review. Now there’s no gray area. Replay officials must either confirm the rule on the field or overturn the targeting penalty.
Read all of the changes here.
As uncertainty swells around UK’s NFL Draft prospects, Mark Stoops believes Lonnie Johnson is a First Rounder
By Nick Roush on ©April 23rd, 2019 @ 12:30pm
The wait is the hardest part. As Kentucky’s NFL prospects get closer and closer to the 2019 NFL Draft, the wait is becoming even more difficult.
“It’s tough on all of them because there’s so much indecision,” Mark Stoops said Tuesday morning. “They don’t know where they’re going to live. They don’t know where they’re going to be drafted. It’s obviously a difficult time for them in that respect. These guys, they get antsy. It’s hard in this day and age, they get so much information at their fingertips.”
Stoops’ advice to his antsy former players is simple.
“I just constantly tell them to lean on the things we taught them in their development and that’s to control what you can control. That’s how they handle themselves, how they train and what they’re doing. They’ve really done a good job with that,” he said.
Months of evaluation should provide players with more clarity, but that additional information can sometimes make things more confusing, especially for late round picks. One Wildcat is benefitting from the influx of information, cornerback Lonnie Johnson. Before Stoops spoke to the media, he was lobbying on the cornerback’s behalf.
“I just got a question from a general manager this morning. We were just on the phone talking. I just wanted to confirm the things he and I were already talking about. Hopefully he’ll get that opportunity to go in the first round, I think he will,” Stoops said.
A cornerback at the collegiate level for only three years, Stoops believes Johnson’s potential will carry him into the first round.
“He’s handled his business everyday that he’s been here,” Stoops said. “He’s got great upside because he’s still learning the game.”
Lonnie may not have to wait long to hear his name called. On the other hand, some of his teammates may still be on the edge of their seats until late Saturday afternoon. Even though it will take them longer to receive their payout, Stoops is confident that regardless of circumstance, they will find a way to achieve their NFL goals.
“Just like recruiting, you’re gonna see those guys who are late draft picks or free agents that are going to make teams, in my opinion, because they’re very good players and they’re trained to be successful.”
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©April 23rd, 2019 @ 12:00pm
Over the years, we’ve heard about John Calipari’s yellow scooter, but pictures of him on it are very rare…until now. Shoutout to Jennifer Palumbo for snapping this pic of Cal and Ellen on his scooter, which his daughter Megan shared on Twitter:
— Megan Calipari (@MeganteCalipari) April 23, 2019
If that’s not relationship goals, I’m not sure what is. As Ellen pointed out, all that thing needs is a cupholder for his Dunkin’:
View this post on Instagram
Roommate about to take his powderpuff yellow scooter for a spin. Beware @joejoepalumbo he may be headed for you! So..Dr, Earthly & #12 do you miss being here for this? ?? He’s looking hard to see where he could put his Dunkin! ? #scooterneedsacupholder
A post shared by Mrs Cal (@cal_mrs) on