By Drew Franklin on ©June 18th, 2019 @ 10:42pm
It took a little longer than expected, but KSR can confirm that Kerry Blackshear Jr. has touched down in Lexington for his official visit to the University of Kentucky.
The most important recruit on Kentucky’s recruiting board is in town with his dad and they are currently visiting with John Calipari, Kenny Payne and Tony Barbee to kick off the trip. Things are just getting going due to a late evening arrival, but excitement is high on both sides and there is a lot to discuss.
The hope, obviously, is to get a commitment before he leaves town so he can join this team as soon as possible and get things rolling towards a national championship.
Stay tuned for more. Tomorrow could be big.
By Brent Wainscott on ©June 18th, 2019 @ 10:30pm
KSBar and Grille is the place in Lexington to catch University of Kentucky games (pre and postgame too) as well as other events such as the NBA Playoffs, UFC fights, the World Cup, MLB games, PGA tour events, and more.
KSBar might be known for their smoked wings but don’t miss out on the brisket platter, fried katfish, chicken and waffles, and the great assortment of burgers. Start off with the house chips loaded to the ceiling smothered with pulled pork or chicken straight off the smoker topped with the house BBQ sauce.
Head to the KSBar and Grille website ksbarandgrille.com to see a full menu and drink list.
Be on the look out for different specials and events.
KSBar and Grille is located at: 1030 South Broadway, Lexington, KY 40504
You can be a part of KSR’s Top 10 Tweets by using hashtags like #KSR #BBN or #KSRtop10. You can also nominate tweets by mentioning them with the hashtag. If we like what we see, it could be posted the next day.
If you are interested in sponsoring KSR’s Top 10 Tweets, please contact us at Via Email.
#10 Cody Fannin
— Cody Fannin (@CodyFannin2) June 18, 2019
I’ll never disagree with a post like this.
#9 Chris Heringer
@kjblack15 – #BBN welcomes you with open arms! Imagine, Rupp Arena full, rowdy, and you’re announced in the lineup. Guaranteed craziness, experiences you will love forever! Hope to see ya wearing a uniform of the winningest college basketball program in history! Bring home #9
— Chris Heringer (@chrisheringer) June 19, 2019
What he said.
#8 Loyal BBN Fan
— Loyal BBN Fan (@bigmike201423) June 18, 2019
And a salute to you, sir.
#7 Leigh Anne Claywell
— Leigh Anne Claywell (@leighclay) June 18, 2019
I approve of this purchase!
#6 A D A M
— A D A M (@swipathecrawf) June 18, 2019
The numbers NEVER lie.
#5 Alec Usleaman
— Alec Usleaman (@AlecUsleaman) June 18, 2019
Another purchase I approve of! Now I just need to get me one.
#4 Not Jerry Tipton
Lynn Bowden tells KSR that Ohio State called right after he committed to UK and wanted to visit him so he faked being sick because he didn’t want to meet with them and he also just finished with a 3.8 GPA.
Is it too early to give him the Heisman?
— Not Jerry Tipton (@NotJerryTipton) June 18, 2019
Just hand him the damn thing!!
#3 Sammy Reed
— Sammy Reed (@reedsammy7) June 19, 2019
As mentioned earlier, Lynn Bowden is very good.
#2 KY Clips
— KY Clips (@KY_Clips) June 19, 2019
A couple of suave young men.
#1 Everything Kentucky Football
— Everything kentucky Football (@everythingkyfb) June 18, 2019
Georgia Bulldogs, Georgia Brown, Georgia on my mind, The Devil Went down to Georgia, don’t matter, Cats by 90.
Follow me on twitter and tag me in one of your tweets for a chance to make KSR’s top 10 tweets: @BrentW_KSR
By Drew Franklin on ©June 18th, 2019 @ 9:30pm
Of all the newsworthy stuff that came out of Tuesday’s football edition of the KSR morning radio show — and there was a lot — it is easy to overlook Vince Marrow’s comments about his tight ends.
In answering a call about having to replace the irreplaceable CJ Conrad, who is off to a fantastic start in his first summer with the New York Football Giants, Marrow suggested the next man up, Justin Rigg, can be just as good, if not better. He called Rigg, “your prototypical tight end.”
“Man, I love C.J. and he’s doing so awesome with the Giants, but I think Justin has the potential to be better than C.J,” Marrow said. “He’s a big blocker, he has soft hands, he’s athletic, he’s a basketball player.”
“And then you got Keaton Upshaw,” Marrow continued, going right down the tight end depth chart. “If you don’t know him, you’re going to find out real quick. He’s 6’6, 250, about a 4.65 (40-yard dash) guy, another basketball player; just a freakish athlete. I think people are really going to love him.”
“Then Brenden Bates, we got him from (Archbishop) Moeller, another traditional school, and he’s 6’5, 250.”
“Trust me,” Marrow told fans. “I coach that position. I am the least worried about that position. I think we are going to be very fine and these guys are going to do a good job for us this year.”
We’ll need to see it before we buy all the way into the Rigg will be better than Conrad talk, because Conrad is one of the best the school’s ever had. But in Rigg’s only full season so far, last year as a redshirt freshman, he flashed some potential with four catches for 45 yards, while playing in all 13 games with two starts.
Behind him, Upshaw and Bates will get their share of opportunities in their first full seasons as redshirt freshmen, although Bates saw limited action in two games last year. Another player that went unmentioned, incoming freshman Nikolas Ognenovic, will also be in the tight end room.
By Aaron Torres on ©June 18th, 2019 @ 8:00pm
Let’s be honest, it’s been a longgggggggggg few weeks for those of us who love college basketball.
Sure, the spring was filled with all sorts of excitement – the NBA Draft deadline, the transfer portal turning into a wilder scene than Cancun during spring break, and a bunch of elite high school players making their college decisions. Yet since that draft deadline back in late May, it’s been slim pickings for us college hoops fans, just a couple of meager Kerry Blackshear visits, and that’s really about it.
Thankfully, the NBA Draft will give us something to talk about this week.
Sure, the NBA Draft isn’t technically college basketball content, but at the same time, it isn’t not college basketball content either (how did you like me dropping a triple negative there?). Instead it’s kind of the gap that bridges the two sports, the chance for those of us who’ve followed these kids from their high school days to the college level to see them make the final leap in their basketball journey. To quote John Calipari, it really is their graduation day, a moment where we hand our beloved Zion Williamson’s, PJ Washington’s and Ja Morant’s to Adrian Wojnarowski for safekeeping.
So with the draft now just a few days away, what do you need to know? What are the big storylines and question marks, both for college basketball and NBA fans?
Here are the biggest questions, my favorite players and a few other things to keep your eyes on.
By Drew Franklin on ©June 18th, 2019 @ 7:30pm
Former UK golfer Chip McDaniel is making some serious noise in the professional golf world for what he did this past weekend.
We’ll start with the U.S. Open, his first appearance in a major. McDaniel earned a spot at Pebble Beach the week before his first tee time by finishing in a tie for first in a 36-hole Monday sectional qualifying event in Springfield, Ohio. He of course flew out to California as fast as he could for his major championship debut; and not only did well once he got there, but he made the cut and cashed $21,224 by doing so.
Not bad, huh? It gets better.
Immediately after McDaniel tapped in for par on the par-5 18th at Pebble Beach, he took a shuttle to the San Francisco airport, almost three hours away, to catch a 9 p.m. flight to Boston for another Monday qualifying event. He landed in Boston around 5:30 a.m., rented a car, drove 90 minutes to Ellington Ridge Country Club to tee it up again. When he hit his first drive, he had slept only for a little while on the red eye flight and made one stop along the way: McDonald’s for breakfast.
McDaniel told Golf Digest, “It was a pretty wild day. I slept pretty much the entire five-hour flight but, man, I was still loopy when I got there.”
The loopy Clay County native birdied his first hole. And then he went on to win a playoff at the end of his round, earning him a spot in the upcoming Travelers Championship this coming weekend.
Now he’s off to Cromwell, Connecticut for his fifth PGA Tour start and you’ll having a hard time finding a wilder 18 hours in sports.
By Drew Franklin on ©June 18th, 2019 @ 6:37pm
If the New Orleans Pelicans handed its general manager duties over to Jamal Murray, Murray would select RJ Barrett with the first overall pick Thursday night, not Zion Williamson.
The former Wildcat said so in speaking with ESPN’s Marc Spears in Spears’ new story about Barrett’s NBA potential.
Murray told Spears:
“Zion has definitely overshadowed RJ because of the hype. But I think RJ is more of a complete player in terms of what you are looking for. Zion is going to sell tickets. But if it was up to me, I would still take RJ.” [TheUndefeated.com]
He added he believes Barrett will be a star in the league and eventually be considered the best player out of this incoming draft class. For what it’s worth, Barrett got wind of Murray’s comment and said he agrees. (As he should.)
So is Murray serious in this hot draft take? Or is this one Canadian showing some love to another?
(Answer: B. Canadian pride)
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©June 18th, 2019 @ 6:00pm
On Sunday, a very cool event is happening in Lexington that you don’t want to miss. Former Cat Isaac Humphries is performing a benefit concert supporting the Ronald McDonald House Charities® of the Bluegrass at the Lexington Opera House Sunday night at 6 p.m.
“Isaac Humphries: Songs of My Life” will feature 15 songs (a nod to his Kentucky jersey number) and some special guests. Tickets are still available at Ticketmaster, with all proceeds going to help families with sick children.
“I’m so excited to share this experience with my Kentucky family,” Humphries said. “While I was a player at UK, Coach (John) Calipari always stressed servant leadership and impacting the lives of others. It’s no secret that I have a love for music and I have spent years developing this very idea. I have always wanted to share this side of myself with this particular community and help this specific organization that I respect so much.
“The Ronald McDonald House is a prevalent presence on Kentucky’s campus and I have always admired what the House does for families. It was important to me to return to a community that I consider my second home and impact this organization and city that I love so much.”
Isaac’s already in town to prepare for the concert and train for next month’s NBA Summer League, during which he’ll try to earn another NBA contract with the L.A. Clippers. In 2018, Humphries was named NBL Rookie of the Year before accepting a spot with the Atlanta Hawks G-League team. After averaging 11.3 points and 6.9 rebounds in 46 G-League games, Humphries earned a roster spot with the Hawks for the final month of the 2019 season.
This afternoon, UK posted this video of Humphries at the Joe Craft Center:
? who’s in town & working out.
You’ve seen what he can do on the court. Here’s your chance to see & hear his ? talent
— Kentucky Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) June 18, 2019
Isaac’s concert is going to be amazing and all, but where do I get that Kentucky NBA shirt??
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©June 18th, 2019 @ 5:00pm
Now that Anthony Davis is headed to the Los Angeles Lakers, the endorsement deals are rolling in. This afternoon, the former Cat announced a partnership with Ruffles potato chips to help develop new flavors and products.
“Ruffles have ridges. I have ridges,” Davis quipped in the announcement. “So, we understand each other.”
View this post on Instagram
A post shared by Anthony Davis (@antdavis23) on
This afternoon at the NBA Store in New York, Davis showed off the “Ruffles Ridge Top,” a custom shoe he designed with The Shoe Surgeon:
Anthony Davis also will be a “creative partner” with @RUFFLES and help the brand develop new products, including signature flavors of chips. His current favorite? @AntDavis23 likes the Cheddar and Sour Cream chips ? The new limited-edition shoe will be available on June 24 ? pic.twitter.com/QTPGhopzOd
— Matthew Jussim (@Matthew_Jussim) June 18, 2019
Here’s hoping that’s not the only ‘chip Davis gets as a Laker.
By Adrian Bryant on ©June 18th, 2019 @ 4:33pm
I have discovered that my routines and tastes are seldom dictated by season. My girlfriend asked me recently what my favorite summer food was, of course thinking in terms of bar and grille food that people love to make during summer cookouts. But burgers, hot dogs, wings, cheese sticks, and other greasy gastrointestinal nightmares are the bulk of my diet year round (and my rapid consumption of such food is the reason I will inevitably join the 27 Club).
Music is the exception to my season-ambivalent taste. My music interests skew toward pop in general, but the summer is when I find myself replaying the same ten or so records repeatedly, screaming along to them and dancing incessantly in my car – much to the chagrin of my neighbors and passengers. Summer is a time for unabashed joy, and listening to energetic music is the best way to achieve the bliss that summer requires. Narrowing my favorite summer records down to four was a painstaking task completed with the spillage of blood, sweat, and tears by the gallons. But injuries aside, below are my four favorite records to annoy my neighbors with as a blast them down the street with the windows down.
You Get What You Give – Zac Brown Band (2010)
Zac Brown Band shot to fame in 2008 by pandering to country music’s worst tendencies with their torpid single “Chicken Fried,” a glorified listicle of all the things mindless country songs must bow to: fried chicken, cold beer, jeans, pecan pie, what have you. I would normally take this song as a warning that ZBB was only interested in appeasing the mainstream country music fanbase but their first album The Foundation – from which “Chicken Fried” cursed the land – had astounding promise. Songs like “Where the Boat Leaves From” and “Jolene” showed that they had influences ranging from reggae to blues ballads. While The Foundation was more often cliche than not, it had some gems.
Thankfully, Zac Brown Band used their massive platform in 2010 to create a genuinely unique record that country radio was not prepared for. At its absolute worst, You Get What You Get What You Give is boring: “I Play the Road” and “Colder Weather” are fine songs, but fall too close to feigned schmaltz. The rest of the record, though, is Zac Brown Band doubling down on their love for beach bum reggae and stadium rock, almost eschewing their ties to country music. “Knee Deep,” one of the band’s many odes to the breezy ocean shore, opens with a deceptively complicated to play (but easy to listen to) lick that opens the doors for Brown’s sultry voice to remind us why sitting in a chair, mind still and effort nonexistent, is a good thing to do from time to time.
Just as easily as they uplift relaxation through soothing reggae, they show their rock chops in “Quiet Your Mind,” the band’s best song to date that would animate a packed-arena crowd like few other country acts would. “Quiet Your Mind,” despite its pounding electric slide guitar, is embedded with the same message that the whole album, musically and lyrically, carries: just take a breather. You Get What You Give is a testament to the power of rest. And even though the majority of the songs are remarkably bouncy, they make you calm and peaceful because the band is constantly reminding you to forget your stress. It is the perfect summer album because it is the embodiment of vacation: replenishment through activity.
Summerteeth – Wilco (1999)
In an interview promoting Summerteeth, Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy said pop music could be “subversive in some ways,” because it allows one to embed dense ideas that may be off-putting to a listener on their own within happy-go-lucky tunes. Pop can be used as a massive bait-and-switch, because “people would be humming [the song] for a year or maybe a week… before they fully get what the lyrics are about.”
If Summerteeth was conceived as the Thinking Man’s Pop Record by Tweedy, the project deftly succeeds. Summerteeth, lyrically, is one of the more frightening records I have ever listened to. It is a contemplation on the aggression that romantic relationships, if kept off-guard, can easily drift towards. “She’s a Jar,” a song indebted to the easy listening styles of Bob Dylan, presents itself as a “Hey There Delilah” song written by and for wistful college lovers – that is until it takes a dark turn toward being a song on domestic violence. But the shift is so easy to miss once locked into the music’s trance. Such musical skill, though on subjects often less brutal, is used throughout the whole album. It demands multiple listens because it easily sneaks its poetic ruminations past you through its relentless sonic joy.
Of course, the album isn’t all masked gloom and doom. “Via Chicago,” the album’s darkest song, marks an important shift: if all the songs up to and including “Via Chicago” are about how relationships crumble, all the songs after “Via Chicago” are about picking the pieces back up. Summerteeth is a very hopeful album, even if it takes time to get to its optimistic side. But the road there is seamless, and the kineticism of songs like “A Shot in the Arm” and “I’m Always in Love” make for some of the most summertime driving songs out there. They are reminiscent of Wilco’s alt-rock contemporaries Weezer and Coldplay, except Wilco’s ambience is coded with enough technical skill to keep it from sounding like plodding anesthesia (sorry not sorry Coldplay fans). Summerteeth is a purposefully deceptive record, but even at its bleakest Wilco manages to make it an obvious album to turn on when the sun is out and the grills are on.
Malibu – Anderson .Paak (2016)
I doubt Anderson .Paak is a huge Wilco stan, but Malibu follows a very similar philosophy of putting unapologetically confrontational subjects in a blindingly sunny setting. .Paak is a bit more direct with his intent, using the mid-tempo opening track “The Bird,” to establish his character. He grew up in a fatherless house with a gambling addicted mother, with the only luxury of his poverty-stricken youth being love. The rest of the album tracks one relationship and the ways in which .Paak’s arrogance, sexism, and proclivity for cheating ruin his romance. Concept albums seldom work, but .Paak manages to make this single-story LP deeply impactful.
While it is the best written album on this list, the true reason to turn on Malibu is to be transported to the city itself. .Paak combines influences as diverse as The Beach Boys and Stevie Wonder to create an R&B album drenched in the sweat of a surfer. Several audio clips from various documentaries about the thrill of surfing punctuate songs, and the music itself carries listeners over waves with its endless breeziness. Malibu is always groovy but never pounding. “Parking Lot” almost makes you smell the salty Atlantic, overlaying a windy synthesizer over the funky pace of his drums. “Put Me Thru” and “Am I Wrong” are the most danceable tracks (and you certainly will dance), and both display the wave-like range of .Paak’s voice: he can shift effortlessly from pit-patter rapping to skillful harmonies that rival any church choir. If Zac Brown is sitting on the shore drinking a beer, Anderson .Paak is riding the ocean blue in front of him.
Recreational Love - The Bird and the Bee (2015)
I am an English major and a regular writer here at Funkhouser, so I generally have a relentless urge to read into everything I consume, from books to movies to music. Even in this list that is supposedly about the best albums to blast in your car mindlessly, I have dived deep into the waters of interpretation. It is an uncontrollable tendency.
With that said, I have no clue what The Bird and the Bee’s Recreational Love is about. And frankly, I don’t care on bit. For me to like a song, it only has to accomplish one of two things: make me feel something emotionally, or make me dance. Thankfully, given my criteria, Recreational Love’s one and only goal is to make people dance. And it succeeds with flying colors.
An unofficial genre of music exists in my mind called “Department Store Pop.” Department Store Pop is the music you hear in American Eagle or Aeropostle. Its electronic beats and simple melodies sound so pastel and bright that you think you will go insane from how hard it is trying to make you happy. Recreational Love is Department Store Pop as made by geniuses. “Young and Dumb” begins with the synthetic bops of the Nintendo Wii’s homepage music set against a typical bass-clap drumbeat. But where most Department Store Pop would take these components and maximize them to the brightest setting, Greg Kirsten (the man behind the beats, who has produced music for the biggest names in music, from Sia to Adele to Paul fucking McCartney) keeps “Young and Dumb” remarkably minimalist. Even Inara George, a relentlessly talent vocalist, keeps her performances smooth and low. It has just enough to compel involuntary dancing, and that’s all it needs. Recreational Love keeps this minimalism intact throughout its brief 35 minute runtime. Songs like “Los Angeles” and “Runaway” bring the cheeriness of 80s pop to a modern setting while shunning the overwhelming indulgence of 80s music. It is the happiest album I have heard, and to play it in the beaming sun of summer is to create the ideal marriage between sound and season.
Honorable Mentions (As Picked By Twitter)
I asked Twitter followers what albums they blasted in the summer. Recommendations by my very tasteful followers include:
– Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band by The Beatles (you may have heard of them)
– Coloring Book by Chance the Rapper
– Cosmos Factory by Creedence Clearwater Revival
– Life and Times by Jim Croce
– High as Hope by Florence and the Machine
For more of Adrian’s excited rambling on songs of the summer, follow his radiant Twitter feed @APBryant32.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©June 18th, 2019 @ 3:45pm
We’ve already shared what Vince Marrow, Lynn Bowden, Josh Allen, and Brad White had to say on the Kentucky Football takeover of KSR this morning, but what about the head man Mark Stoops? Stoops sat in on hour two of the show and discussed his team’s progress since the ten-win season. Here are five highlights.
He teased Calipari about his new contract this morning
On Thursday, John Calipari’s new 10-year, $86 million contract extension became official, and Stoops couldn’t help but tease Cal about it this morning while getting coffee.
“I said, ‘I saw your contract and I’m here for a loan!’ We started laughing, and then I said, ‘Yeah, I’m going to get you. I’m going to go to that camp store and say, give me this, this and this, and all those things and put it on Cal’s tab.’ That’s what I’m going to do.”
It’s vacation time for the coaches, but the players are working
With the big camps of the summer now over, most of the coaching staff is taking the next few weeks off to spend with their families; however, the team is on campus for summer workouts, so Stoops is handing the reins to his veterans, including Kash Daniel.
“You’ve got Coach Daniel here next to me. He’ll take over and run the defensive meetings here when the guys do go out of town and really, that’s what we need. We need leaders to really have a great summer. There’s only so much we’re allowed to do with these guys, so when we leave, we’ve gotta have great leadership to step up.”
How does Coach Daniel feel about his squad so far?
“Everything in that 7-on-7 we did yesterday was crisp,” Kash said, mentioning how the team-run workout flowed like a normal practice. “For me, that gives me a lot of confidence going into the season, saying, hey, if we’re doing this right now in June, we’re going to be five steps ahead of where we were last year going into camp.”
Stay hungry, stay humble
Along those same lines, Stoops said the team doesn’t have a big head after last season’s success; in fact, it just made them hungry for more.
“We don’t ever go around beating our chest around here,” Stoops said. “In this business, you have every seven days to get humbled so you always keep things in perspective. We’re confident but we are hungry and we always try to have a chip on our shoulder. That’s why these coaches are in here on vacation. That’s why Kash is here. That’s why we’re here all the time. It’s a competitive business. We’re competitive. We’re not here to lose. We’re going to do everything in our power to win and be successful and that’s not going to stop. I want these guys to have an edge and an attitude about them but I want them to keep things in perspective.”
Recruiting is “really good”
Stoops couldn’t mention any names or specifics, but said he’s pleased with how recruiting’s going, which has to be the understatement of the century.
“Recruiting’s going really good,” Stoops said. “We’re on some great guys. These [coaches] have done a great job recruiting. They’ve been busy. We’ve had more guys on this campus this offseason than ever before at this point. Some really quality guys.”
Stoops said the ten-win season helped changed the perception of the program, making it easier for coaches to lure big names in for unofficial and official visits.
“Once we get people on this campus, they love it. We fight that — and we’re changing that — but that 100-year history, it’s a lot easier for them to look at some history of some other places in the SEC. When we’re bringing them from the south, we’ve got to bring them here and get them on campus and then they see that and they’re like, ‘Wow. This place is incredible. We love the atmosphere. We love what’s going on.'”
“We’re not going backwards”
A ten-win season that culminated with a New Year’s Day bowl and five draft picks is tough to follow, but Stoops vowed to do everything he can to prevent the program from backsliding.
“Keep on winning,” Stoops said. “I don’t ever make predictions, never have, with games or numbers or anything, but I’ve just simply said — and fortunately, to this point, it’s always held true — we’re not going backwards. We haven’t gone backwards in six years and I don’t plan on going backwards this year.”
Listen to his appearance below starting midway through Hour 2:
Pilgrim’s Insider Notes: Kerry Blackshear Jr. visits and a few updates on recruiting for 2020 (Part 1)
By Jack Pilgrim on ©June 18th, 2019 @ 2:30pm
Today is the big day, Big Blue Nation. Virginia Tech graduate transfer Kerry Blackshear Jr. is headed to Lexington on an official visit, and if he signs on the dotted line as hoped, Kentucky will likely have the No. 1 team in all of college basketball going into the season.
In this edition of Pilgrim’s Insider Notes, we will dive into the big decision, how other schools feel about this recruitment, Kentucky’s pitch, and a timeline on when we should find out his final destination.
After breaking down Blackshear, I’ll also be touching on the class of 2020 and some of the rumblings I heard at the NBPA Top 100 Camp in Charlottesville, VA this past weekend.
Let’s dive right in.
Kerry Blackshear Jr.
On Sunday evening, Kentucky fans were treated to news of Kerry Blackshear Jr. visiting Kentucky starting on Tuesday evening, with Jake Weingarten of Stockrisers.com first breaking the story, followed by KSR and recruiting insider Evan Daniels of 247Sports also confirming the report.
And then on Monday, Weingarten followed it up with even more breaking news that left the BBN salivating, saying that there was “major” mutual interest between Blackshear and Kentucky.
More on my Kentucky-KBJ report yesterday: Hearing the major interest between the two sides are mutual, UK is extremely hopeful they could land Blackshear on this visit. Texas A&M still vying for a visit. https://t.co/jNQnKwGqBC
— Jake (@jakeweingarten) June 17, 2019
I wrote in my notes back in April when Blackshear originally put his name in the transfer portal that not only was Kentucky one of the first schools to reach out to the 6-foot-11 big man, they also wanted to make sure they met with their family face-to-face before he got into the grind of the NBA Draft process. Not long after, multiple outlets reported that contact was made and an in-home visit was held at the family’s home in Orlando, FL.
For whatever reason, though, those reports were originally denied by Kerry Blackshear Sr. before he eventually backtracked and admitted both parts of the story were true. Why was he so open about other schools reaching out but wanted to keep Kentucky’s interest hidden? At the time, many assumed it had to do with Nick Richards and EJ Montgomery still being undecided on their futures, but it has always been a bit odd to me that the Blackshear family was willing to keep things quiet for the UK coaching staff.
To take it a step further, I also reported in my notes back in April that one source told KSR that if Blackshear were to withdraw from the NBA Draft, Kentucky would be the likely option. At the time, the original plan for the 6-foot-11 forward was to keep his name in the draft and continue to explore his professional options even if he went undrafted, so this source essentially brushed off the idea. Now that he’s absolutely playing college basketball next season, that conversation lingers with me.
In terms of the visits he has taken – Florida, Arkansas, and Tennessee – there are conflicting reports about each school’s confidence in landing the prized big man. For starters, I’ve seen a few reports that Florida is out of the running completely, but I genuinely don’t believe that is true. I talked to one source down in Gainesville that feels that while they aren’t necessarily the favorite they once thought they were, they definitely feel they still have a shot. They wished they could have sealed the deal during the visit, but they are confident if Blackshear goes home after his visit to Lexington uncommitted, they are still right in the thick of things.
After Florida, Blackshear made a surprise visit to Arkansas, with several recruiting analysts saying they felt the Razorbacks actually had a strong shot to land him. While I trusted some of the individuals who made these reports, I just didn’t buy it then and I don’t buy it now. Eric Musselman has a strong history with graduate transfers and I have also heard there are strong family ties between Blackshear and the Arkansas coaching staff, which could have been a big part of the original rumors. But to spend one final year in Fayetteville before heading off to play professionally? I’ll eat my hat if it happens.
As for Tennessee, I have heard that there is not much confidence in Knoxville that Blackshear will end up playing there. They felt their pitch was strong during the visit and there is playing time to be had, but something just didn’t click with him in his time on campus. The staff hasn’t shut down the possibility completely, but I am told that they are operating under the assumption that he won’t be in Knoxville next season. I’d be shocked if he ends up at Tennessee.
With the other schools that have been mentioned in this recruitment – Texas A&M, Gonzaga, and Memphis – I don’t see any of them being serious contenders. The latter two likely won’t even get a visit before a decision is made. When it comes to the Aggies, I am told that Blackshear and his family has incredible respect for Buzz Williams and they were hoping to give him a visit out of pure courtesy. Evan Daniels says that still might happen, but I think it all depends on how it goes with Kentucky over the next two days. At first, I thought it was a close race between Kentucky, Florida, and Texas A&M, but after putting together all of the conversations I’ve had over the last week or so, I don’t think they will be the final landing spot. Blackshear wants one final run at a championship while building his NBA Draft stock as much as he can, and he realizes the best two places to make that happen are Kentucky and Florida.
Which brings us to our final topic of conversation: the Kentucky visit.
The Kentucky coaching staff has been up-front from the start about their overall interest and desire to get him on campus at some point. I’m told that Blackshear and his family made it clear that the plan all along was to visit Lexington once the recruiting process got going.
And now that the trip is finally happening, Kentucky is confident they can make it his last.
I’m told that the UK coaching staff feels strongly about their chances and that their pitch is the strongest among all contenders. With PJ Washington off to the NBA, they are set to show him that he can replace his production and consistency in the frontcourt en route to a Final Four run. Blackshear wants one last chance at a national title and to build his draft stock a bit in the process. He’s not going to magically become a lottery pick in just a year, but if any coach can help him become a sure-fire draft selection, it’s Coach Cal. And he knows that.
Take it for what it’s worth, but I’ve also been told from one individual that Blackshear may have already told his family that he wanted to go to Kentucky and has planned on signing on this visit all along, but he wanted to take some of these other trips to keep his options open and make a complete decision. I’m not sure if this was at the request of his family or if it was a joint decision, but I think there is legitimacy to that rumor.
Based on everything I know, I believe Kentucky gets a signature from Blackshear before he leaves campus. And if not, I feel he will go home, talk things over with his family, and still ultimately decide to commit to Kentucky.
If we don’t hear news of a trip to Texas A&M, I believe a decision will come as early as Wednesday in favor of the Wildcats. If he does visit College Station, I expect that to take place this weekend with a decision coming not long after.
Regardless, I expect Blackshear Jr. to join Kentucky’s 2019-20 roster sooner rather than later.
2020 recruiting class
I spent the latter part of last week and into the weekend in Charlottesville, VA at the NBPA Top 100 Camp where I got the chance to talk to several of Kentucky’s top recruiting targets for both 2020 and 2021.
Because I couldn’t get around to a notes post last week while I was covering the event, I’ll be posting a few quick updates today and then posting a bigger recruiting update on Thursday evening.
Makur Maker, the No. 2 prospect in the class of 2020, has seen his stock rise exponentially over the last several months.
As a result, all eyes are on his recruitment to see which college program will land the 7-foot center with elite guard skills.
While just about every school in the nation will be recruiting Maker, sources tell KSR that there is a bit of uncertainty regarding his basketball future. On one point, I have been told that there is definitely a pull for the five-star forward to go professional right out of high school, following in the footsteps of his cousins Thon and Matur.
“Zero percent chance [his guardian] lets Makur play college hoops,” one source said.
On the flip side, I have also heard that those close to Maker want him to play basketball at the college level because they saw the struggles Thon has had adjusting to the NBA and feel he needs to mature a bit physically.
In fact, in an interview with Ben Roberts of the Herald-Leader, Maker’s guardian, Ed Smith, touched on that specifically and said Makur will absolutely be playing college basketball next year.
“Everybody thinks he’s not going to college,” he said. “They’re like, ‘Ah, Ed’s going to send him pro.’ That’s how it is. … But [those schools] are going to be trying to come in late when they figure it out. Then they’ll be behind the game.”
If he goes to college, I think Kentucky has a very good shot to land the skilled center. Maker told KSR that he will be visiting Lexington soon and that he is highly interested in the Wildcats.
BJ Boston/Daishen Nix
Early on in the week at the NBPA Top 100, I was told that two of the top guards in the class of 2020, BJ Boston and Daishen Nix, had genuine interest in playing with one another in college, and that would likely be at Kentucky. They had been developing chemistry together from the moment they arrived on campus together, and sources tell KSR that they had those discussions with one another not long after.
Later on in the week, I asked them both about the rumors, and they said there is definitely truth to the speculation.
“It’s up to him, I don’t know where I want to go right now. I probably won’t be making my decision until later,” Boston said. “But for me, I need a passer to join me where I decide to go to school.”
For Nix, he said he would be happy being that passer Boston is looking for.
“He’s a scorer, he can score from wherever he wants, get wherever he wants on the floor,” he said. “And I like that. If I get him the ball, he can do his thing.”
And he hopes it happens.
“Hopefully,” the No. 1 point guard in America said. “I’m not sure yet, but hopefully.”
After talking to more people this week close to both of their recruitments, I feel that Kentucky is the strong favorite to land Boston right now, and they are definitely trending for Nix. The star point guard told KSR that he feels an offer is coming and that he can’t wait to meet a “legend” like John Calipari. He says he’s nowhere near a decision, but I believe the UK coaching staff is ready to put on the full-court press for the top passing guard in the nation.
If I were a betting man, I’d say Kentucky’s starting backcourt in 2020-21 consists of both Nix and Boston.
I’ll be back with more on Thursday.
Until then, follow me on Twitter: @JackPilgrimKSR
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©June 18th, 2019 @ 2:00pm
Miss today’s show? Stop what you’re doing and download the podcast because the Kentucky Football coaching staff killed it.
Associate head coach/tight ends coach/recruiting coordinator Vince Marrow hosted hour one with special guests Lynn Bowden and offensive coordinator Eddie Gran, while new defensive coordinator Brad White hosted hour two with appearances from Josh Allen, Kash Daniel, and head coach Mark Stoops. We’ve shared plenty of highlights from the show so far, but be sure to listen to it all on podcast:
Get ready for more football tomorrow as Charles Walker and Austin MacGinnis join Ryan, Drew, and Shannon in studio. Matthew Mitchell gets his turn on the mic on Thursday, while ESPN’s Laura Rutledge wraps up the guest host schedule on Friday. Matt will be back before you know it.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©June 18th, 2019 @ 1:00pm
Over the past several years, we’ve seen how Kentucky’s coaching staff and players have used low expectations from the media as fuel to reach new heights. Even though Kentucky won ten games last year and went to a New Year’s Day bowl, the “disrespect” continues, with many college football writers predicting the Cats will slide back to the SEC cellar. As you might expect, recruiting coordinator Vince Marrow had plenty to say about that on today’s Kentucky Sports Radio.
“I’m knocking down doors to national media because these guys are really pissing me off,” Marrow said. “It’s pissing me off.”
The most recent example of this is Phil Steele not including Kentucky on his list of SEC teams he expects to go bowling this year, but Marrow’s anger was directed towards another media member, ESPN Radio Nashville’s Braden Gall, who ranked Terry Wilson as the worst quarterback in the SEC.
“I was listening to Tom Leach and, those guys — I should stop listening to radio. I guess they said Terry was the last rated QB in the preseason? We should start a poll, and I’m going to talk to the BBN, just like coaches get fired for wins and losses, when all these reporters come out and say, hey, this team is going 4-8 and this team ain’t gonna do that. If they’re wrong, they should get fired.”
Hoo-boy. Lynn Bowden said those articles have made their way around the locker room as well.
“I see a lot of things that are going to be overturned, opening people’s eyes. We’re not even ranked, I think. That’s crazy…Some people do [use it as motivation]. I kind of look at it like, dang, they really just don’t like us. It’s just got to be because we’ve got Kentucky on the front of our uniforms or something. It’s like, why hate us?”
Marrow has a fun theory.
“Don’t get it twisted; I think our head dog is pissing them off too,” Marrow said of his boss and lifelong friend Mark Stoops. “I think people think — I’ve known Mark for years. I think people think because he’s a fun-loving, jovial guy that there ain’t no toughness in him. He’s more tougher than — look, he’s from Youngstown, man. He’s from Youngstown. Trust me. When it’s time to be tough, he’s going to be tough. When it’s time to be something else, he’s going to be something else.”
Listen to Big Dog host Hour 1 of today’s show below:
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©June 18th, 2019 @ 12:00pm
Kentucky’s new defensive coordinator Brad White hosted hour two of today’s show, and about halfway through, received a phone call from the guy who helped him get the job. Josh Allen, who was drafted seventh by the Jacksonville Jaguars last month, surprised his former position coach by calling into KSR to congratulate him on the promotion and ask some hard-hitting questions.
“How do you expect to gain from losing a lot of players on last year’s defense?” Allen asked.
“That’s a great question,” White said. “We lost quite a bit in the secondary. I didn’t feel like we lost much from a pass-rush standpoint. Just a little bit.”
“It’s one of those deals that we’re going to spread the love around,” White continued. “I know you were back here in the spring a touch and looking around and the new blitzes we’ve got going in piqued your interested a little bit. Obviously we can’t tell them which ones are going in yet but no, we’ve got to find some guys that can match that production.”
The love between the two was obvious during the call, with Allen thanking White for helping him reach his potential at the college level.
“I give Coach White a lot of the credit. He came in and we got to work. I introduced myself and he introduced himself and we got right to work. I knew what he had on his mind and I just wanted to pick his brain as much as I could and grow as a person, grow as a football player, and grow as an individual overall. It goes both ways but I give a lot of credit to Coach White and what he’s done for this program already. You can see how much he did. We had a great season from the pass-rushing standpoint and you could tell by the success, him being named defensive coordinator. That’s real special and I wish him nothing but the best. I just want to say thank you to Coach White. That’s my dog.”
Warm fuzzies aside, the best moment of the interview came when Mark Stoops interrupted to give Allen grief over not answering his phone call the night before.
“I’m interrupting you because this is your old buddy. Yeah, who? I called you last night because I knew I had to jump on KSR this morning and I get no answer from you. And then I walk in and he’s on the phone with his old Coach White. ”
After some friendly banter, it was revealed that Allen wasn’t ignoring his former coach after all; Stoops actually canceled the call before he could pick up. That’s probably a good thing because Allen claims he was already asleep.
“When you get to the next level, rest is the most important thing you can have.”
You can listen to Josh’s call starting around the 15-minute mark of Hour 2 below:
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©June 18th, 2019 @ 11:00am
As Kentucky Football continues to change the narrative with a ten-win season, a New Year’s Day Bowl, and big recruiting gains, it’s worth remembering how important Lynn Bowden’s commitment was. A four-star recruit and top five athlete in the 2017 class, Bowden turned down plenty of big name schools to come to Lexington. This morning on KSR, Bowden told the story of how he faked being sick to avoid meeting with Ohio State the day after he committed to Kentucky.
“It was literally, I had committed to Kentucky that day. They wanted to come see me the next day. I told my mom, ‘I don’t want to go. I don’t want to go to school.'”
Bowden has blossomed into a star since then, leading the team in catches (67), receiving yards (745), and touchdown catches (5) last season. He’s also matured into a leader, posting a 3.8 GPA last semester and taking other receivers under his wing in summer workouts, a transformation he attributed to becoming a father.
“I really want to be able to take care of my family. I’m really the first one that ever went to college to play sports and change my family’s life.”
As for his fellow wide receivers, Bowden is pleased with what he’s seen so far this summer.
“One that really sticks out is Josh Ali,” Bowden said of the junior, who had ten catches for 115 yards and a touchdown last year. “From his freshman year to now, if you took a picture and compared it, he’s way bigger than what he’s been.”
Bowden echoed Marrow’s praise of junior Isaiah Epps, who had eight passes for 76 yards last season.
“He’s coming along. It’s been a long journey for all of us receivers as a group, but I think we’re putting it together.”
How about Terry Wilson? Bowden said he’s been impressed by his quarterback so far this summer.
“We went out and did 7-on-7s yesterday and all the receivers look good, the quarterbacks were on time,” Bowden said. “Terry’s good. We’re going through some hard training right now so he’s a little sore but he’s fighting through. He’s throwing the ball well and he’s even better than he was last year.”
As for Bowden’s individual goals, don’t worry; he’s still got that chip on his shoulder.
“I saw something someone tagged me in, the top 30 receivers or something and I wasn’t even in it. I thought I was top three receiver in the SEC so I guess I’ve gotta get myself back into that. I just want to push my teammates around me. I want go back to another ten-win season.”
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©June 18th, 2019 @ 10:00am
After tying a 40-year-old record in the 110-meter hurdles at the NCAA Outdoor Championships earlier this month and deciding to go pro, Daniel Roberts has signed with Nike. The former Kentucky track star shared the news last night on social media, the latest chapter in his burgeoning career.
Blessed is an understatement! This year has brought me everything I could ask for and more…but this is only the beginning!! I’m beyond proud to announce I will be representing Nike as I continue this amazing journey God has placed before me! pic.twitter.com/CAbO2kJep7
— Daniel Ellis Roberts (@riseofdrob) June 17, 2019
In his junior season at Kentucky, Roberts rewrote the record books. As mentioned, he matched the former collegiate record of 13.00 in a runner-up finish in the 110m hurdles at the NCAA Outdoor Championships on June 7 and clocked the second fastest mark in collegiate history in another runner-up finish (7.41) in the 60m hurdles at the indoor championships in March. All in all, Roberts owns six all-time top-10 marks with four of those coming outdoors. He won the SEC title in the 110m hurdles in 13.07 and is one of 10 semifinalists for The Bowerman, collegiate track and field’s highest individual honor.
The only man faster than Roberts this year? His rival, Grant Holloway from Florida, who beat him by only two hundredths of a second in the 110m hurdles at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. Holloway, who is also going pro, signed with adidas last week. Together, they combined for eight of the top-10 marks in collegiate history: No. 1, t-No. 2, No. 4, t-No. 5 (x2), No. 7, No. 8 and No. 9.
Here’s to seeing that rivalry continue for years to come.
WOW WOW WOW ???
1??2??.9??8?? ??? pic.twitter.com/7y9pwpNgq8
— NCAA Track & Field (@NCAATrackField) June 8, 2019
By Jack Pilgrim on ©June 18th, 2019 @ 9:55am
One of the best days of the year is finally year, as the Kentucky football coaching staff is ready to take over KSR this morning.
This morning, Vince Marrow is set to control the radio show for the entire first hour, where the Big Dog will have guests from his side of the ball, including an appearance from star wide receiver Lynn Bowden.
From there, defensive coordinator Brad White will take over in the second hour, where Kentucky linebacker Kash Daniel will also join the show.
Kenucky head coach Mark Stoops is also expected to join the program at some point.
You’ll definitely want to tune in.
Join in on the fun by calling (502) 571-1080 or send a text to the KSR Texting Machine at (772) 774-5254.
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By Jack Pilgrim on ©June 18th, 2019 @ 9:00am
Good morning, BBN! Rise and shine!
Today marks the official start of “Kerry Blackshear Jr. Watch,” as the top graduate transfer in the nation is expected to be on campus starting this afternoon.
Kerry Blackshear Jr. visits
Blackshear, a 6-foot-11 forward out of Orlando, FL, has already taken visits to Florida, Arkansas, and Tennessee since withdrawing from the NBA Draft.
Now, the Virginia Tech grad transfer is headed to Lexington for what could be his very last visit before making a decision.
In fact, the Kentucky coaching staff feels there is a chance the talented big man won’t leave without signing on the dotted line.
Update on KBJ: He will arrive in Lexington later today, close towards night time, i’m being told. More news, UK has hope that he could commit on the visit. Very important two days here for John Calipari. https://t.co/jNQnKwGqBC
— Jake (@jakeweingarten) June 18, 2019
Blackshear, a Second-Team All-ACC selection last season, averaged 14.9 points and 7.5 rebounds per game for the Hokies. He also led Virginia Tech with 28 blocked shots and ranked third with 83 total assists.
In case you forgot what Blackshear is capable of, take a look at his highlights below:
We’ll have more on the big decision in Pilgrim’s Insider Notes here in just a few hours.
The NBA Draft is in two days
At the University of Kentucky, there are two graduation dates. The first comes in early May when players walk across the stage at Rupp Arena and earn their diplomas. And then we have graduation No. 2 in June, where former Wildcat walk across the stage at the NBA Draft to shake the hand of NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and put on the hat of their new team.
The latter is set to happen in just two days.
Yesterday afternoon, Kentucky head coach John Calipari took to Twitter to let everyone know what he thought of his players moving on to the next level:
If you know me, you know I don’t like to look in the rearview mirror very much, but I’m sitting here this morning thinking about graduation day later this week. It marks the end of our season. We won 30 games and were an overtime game away from the Final Four. Individual players grew all season.
During the season it’s about our team. Once it’s over, it’s about those kids, and now we’ve got another group of players who are about to have their dreams come true. I’m proud that our kids have gone into that league prepared mentally to compete at the highest level. It’s obvious they have.
I can remember talking about (Jamal Murray) and (Shai Gilgeous-Alexander) in recent years on the impact they would have. I was pretty on point. Now we’ve got three guys in the green room, and I’m telling you, when we look back next year, we’re going to see the impact they had on the teams they’re drafted by. In most cases, our players overdeliver on their draft position over a period of time, and I expect this draft class to do the same.
And let me say this: If you have a young team, you should take (Reid Travis). You talk about a professional who can make a difference, Reid is that guy. He’s physically ready to play in that league and he’s a great locker room guy.
All three Wildcats are expected to fall in the middle of the first round, with two of them potentially landing in the late-lottery.
Here’s a roundup of the latest mocks, with previous positions listed in parentheses.
|ESPN Top 100||16||18||19|
|ESPN (Updated 6/17)||13. Miami (13)||14. Boston (16)||18. Indiana (23)|
|The Athletic (Updated 6/15)||18. Indiana (18)||15. Detroit (15)||22. Boston (22)|
|Sports Illustrated (Updated 6/17)||12. Charlotte (13)||13. Miami (14)||15. Detroit (15)|
|Matt Norlander (Updated 6/17)||17. Atlanta (17)||14. Boston (14)||20. Boston (20)|
|Gary Parrish (Updated 6/15)||13. Miami (13)||15. Detroit (15)||19. San Antonio (19)|
|Kyle Boone (Updated 6/17)||17. Atlanta (11)||16. Orlando (16)||20. Boston (25)|
Monday was move-in day for the Kentucky football freshmen
Kentucky football’s impressive recruiting class for 2019 has officially arrived on campus.
The official UK football Twitter account released a video of Monday’s move-in festivities, Kentucky offensive line coach John Schlarman and defensive coordinator Brad White helped the newest Wildcats get situated in their respective dorm rooms.
Take a look:
— Kentucky Football (@UKFootball) June 17, 2019
Welcome to Lexington, fellas. Now it’s time to get to work.
KSR in an hour
One of your favorite days of the year for the KSR radio show is finally here.
From 10 a.m. to noon, the Kentucky football coaching staff is set to host the show, with Vince Marrow taking complete control for the entire first hour. The Big Dog will be bringing guests with him from his side of the ball, including an appearance from star wide receiver Lynn Bowden.
From there, defensive coordinator Brad White will take over for Marrow as the show’s host in the second hour. White will have Kash Daniel by his side for some of the show, along with a few other special guests throughout the hour.
UK head coach Mark Stoops will also join the program at some point to make sure his assistants and his players are on their best behavior.
You won’t want to miss it.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©June 17th, 2019 @ 11:00pm
Virginia Tech graduate transfer Kerry Blackshear Jr. is expected to officially visit Kentucky on Tuesday.
And if the UK coaching staff has it their way, he won’t be leaving Lexington without signing on the dotted line.
According to Jake Weingarten of Stockrisers.com, the same reporter to break the Blackshear visit news last night, said that there is “major” mutual interest and Kentucky is confident they can land the 6-foot-11 forward during the visit.
More on my Kentucky-KBJ report yesterday: Hearing the major interest between the two sides are mutual, UK is extremely hopeful they could land Blackshear on this visit. Texas A&M still vying for a visit. https://t.co/jNQnKwGqBC
— Jake (@jakeweingarten) June 17, 2019
KSR has confirmed Weingarten’s original report that Blackshear Jr. is expected to be in Lexington for an official visit starting tomorrow evening. I will have more on Kentucky’s growing confidence in landing the top graduate transfer on the market in this week’s edition of Pilgrim’s Insider Notes, which will be published tomorrow around lunchtime.
Blackshear, a Second-Team All-ACC selection last season, averaging 14.9 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. He also led the Hokies with 28 blocked shots and ranked third with 83 assists.
Before his visit to Kentucky, Blackshear visited Florida, Arkansas, and Tennessee.
Bring him home, Coach Cal.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©June 17th, 2019 @ 10:55pm
John Calipari and the UK coaching staff is focused on reeling in some of the elite prospects in the class of 2020, but there are two rising juniors that have been so impressive that they’ve already earned scholarship offers from Kentucky.
Those individuals? Consensus top-three prospects in the class of 2021 Jonathan Kuminga and Terrence Clarke.
While the former wasn’t able to participate in the NBPA Top 100 Camp in Charlottesville, VA this weekend, KSR was able to catch up with the latter at the prestigious event about his recruitment and what he thinks of Kentucky’s early offer.
Clarke, a 6-foot-7 shooting guard out of Boston, MA, has received nine offers over the last week to add to his list of 26 overall. The No. 3 prospect in the nation says he has no idea where the recent spike in interest came from, but he’s certainly appreciative of it all.
“I got a couple [new offers] this week, yeah,” he said. “To be honest, I have no clue [where it came from]. I’ve been hearing of a lot of offers coming in, coaches wanting to talk to me. But I always like hearing of new offers and interest.”
During the Nike EYBL regular season this year, the Brewster Academy guard averaged 17.0 points, 5.7 rebounds, 4.3 assists, and 1.1 steals per game. Playing against the best rising seniors in the nation, Clarke proved to be not only one of the best players in his class, but all of high school basketball.
As a result, the question being asked about Clarke isn’t necessarily where he’ll going to college quite, but when.
Like we’ve seen time and time again with elite prospects over the last several years, there are rumblings that Clarke is a serious reclassification candidate for 2020. And after seeing him this past weekend in Charlottesville, it’s obvious why, as there isn’t much doubt that he’ll be ready to play college basketball in a year from a physical standpoint. He could probably play this year, if we’re being totally honest.
When asked about the rumors, Clarke said it’s not something college coaches have been asking about quite yet, and he honestly hasn’t thought too much about the idea of it.
“Coaches haven’t really been talking to me about [reclassifying] and I haven’t focused on it much either,” he said. “It’s not really popping up that much yet.”
That being said, the 6-foot-7 five-star says the discussions are coming soon.
“I’ll probably explore it soon, most likely,” he said. “Just to see if I can, see if it’s a possibility that’s in my favor. If it’s not the situation that’s not good for me, I probably won’t do it, but I’ll definitely go over it with my coaches.”
After talking to a source very close to Clarke this weekend, while the 6-foot-7 star is confident he could thrive at the college level a year early physically, there are concerns that he would not be able to meet graduation and NCAA requirements from an academic standpoint in just three years. While other reclassification candidates in the past were held back a year when they were younger, Clarke is true to his class and age. To put it simply, while his grades are in great shape, it would be a tight squeeze to fit in two years of school work over the next year, even including potential summer classes.
Nonetheless, it’s noteworthy that he will at least attempt to explore the possibility.
Moving on to specific schools of interest, Kentucky, who offered back in May, has always been associated with Clarke as a possible destination. He’s visited the school, the UK coaching staff has already visited him personally on two separate occasions, and they go out of their way to watch him play on a regular basis.
When asked about his interest in the Wildcats, the elite wing said his interest with the blue blood program is serious and he will “definitely be staying in contact” with the coaching staff.
“I’ve talked to a lot of [guys at Kentucky] like Kenny Payne, I talked to Coach Cal before,” he said. “Just having them offering me, it’s fabulous. With them being a blue blood school, a ton of pros going there, I’m just honored, blessed, everything. I definitely talk to them here and there, and I’ll definitely be staying in contact with them.”
Clarke, who visited Lexington for Big Blue Madness back in October of 2018, said his recent trip was “crazy.”
“It was great. Kentucky’s Midnight Madness, it was just crazy,” he said. “Just the atmosphere, seeing those guys out there competing, even if it was just like an All-Star scrimmage, it was just a great experience.”
So what will it take to win out in the end for the five-star prospect? What is he looking for in a school?
Go figure, he hit a Calipari buzzword.
“Just seeing how I’d fit in that system,” he said. “Basically, since it’s a positionless game now, I just want to go out there and be able to show I can play any position. Show my versatility, my skill, be a playmaker. Just be the best player I can.”
In terms of what he brings to the table, Clarke says he love showing his versatility and playmaking ability.
“I think when I’m out on the floor, I’m a playmaker,” he said. “I can go out there and score, but I love to get other people involved. Everybody says I’m a wing, but I think I’m a guard because I can definitely help other people get open and stuff like that. Me driving into the lane, people come to me, I can kick it. I think I’m a good passer, I just like getting everybody else better.”
This past weekend at the NBPA Top 100 Camp, college coaches and NBA scouts filled the sidelines and stands to see the participants in action. For Clarke, it was an opportunity for him to show what he is capable of not only in the college ranks, but how he projects as a professional basketball player.
“First impression is the best impression,” he said. “I just wanted to go out there and show them everything I’ve got. I wanted to show off my skill, highlight my playmaking ability, everything I can do on the court. That’s the main thing, I just wanted to show them what I can do [at the college level] and when I get to the league.”
So what’s next for Clarke in terms of his recruitment? Does he plan on cutting his list anytime soon?
“Right now, I’m just listening to all the offers I’m getting,” he said. “But I’m sure sooner or later I’m going to want to cut my list, but I don’t really know yet. I’m just really focused on getting better.”
While it’s to be determined when he’ll be playing college basketball, it’s evident that Kentucky will have a decent shot when it comes time for a decision.