Saturday, April 11, 2009

Offensive Explosion in The Derby Festival Classic

Offense was the name of the game in tonight's high-scoring Derby Festival Classic game at Freedom Hall in Louisville. The game produced 296 points, 238 field goal attempts, 76 three-point attempts and 16 players in double figures. The Gold Team, which included Kentucky recruits Daniel Orton and Jon Hood, edged the Black Team 151-145.

Michael Snaer, who is head to Florida State, let the Gold Team with 30 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists. Future Indiana Hoosiers Christian Watford and Maurice Creek added 26 and 21 points, respectively. Hood, who is Kentucky's Mr. Basketball, chipped in 13 points. Orton had a double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds. Kyryl Natyazhko, who had 8 points and 9 rebounds, announced that he would be playing his college basketball for the Arizona Wildcats.

The Black Team was led by Louisville recruit Rakeem Buckles with 26 points on 12-18 shooting. Peyton Siva, another future Cardinal, had an impressive double-double with 15 points and 11 assists. Raymond Penn, who will play for Travis Ford at Oklahoma State, contributed 24 points. The other two Louisville recruits in the game were Mike Marra and Stephan Van Treese. Marra scored 10 points in the game and Van Treese had 11.

Eric Bledsoe and Nolan Dennis are undecided recruits that both have Kentucky on their lists. Bledsoe had 9 points and 8 rebounds in the game. Dennis, who recently de-committed from Memphis, struggled from the field in scoring only 3 points.

Complete Box Score

Wazoo Sports Derby Festival Classic

My thoughts on players of interest for Kentucky and Louisville:

Hood - I was curious to see how Hood would compete against top-level talent and he did not disappoint. I think Hood is talented enough to play in the SEC and will have a nice career at UK. By the way, Hood now says he is 100% committed to Kentucky.

Orton - Daniel Orton is strong finisher around the basket and a good rebounder. He dunks the ball with authority. I'm not sure if Orton will stick with Kentucky or not, but I think he has a very bright future.

Dennis - Nolan Dennis struggled a little in tonight's game. He seemed to be out of sync and was not able to get his game going. He is loaded with athletic talent, but he may have felt the pressure to put on a good showing for the Kentucky fans.

Bledsoe - Bledsoe lists Florida as his current favorite, but his statements make me think Kentucky could get him if they wanted him. If the Wildcats cannot land John Wall, Bledsoe would be a nice pickup. He will be a great college point guard..

Siva - Peyton Siva is going to be a star for Rick Pitino. He has very good PG skills. He is athletic and a super passer. He will be great for the Cardinals.

Marra - Marra has a nice game. He is athletic and shoots the ball well. If he can play solid defense in the Big East, he'll be a good one.

Buckles - I was impressed by Buckles in tonight's game. He has the potential to be a superstar for Louisville.

Van Treese - Van Treese will need to develop a little but has the potential to be a good big man down the road. He will likely be a 4-year guy and have a good, solid career for the Cardinals.

Will Wildcat Greats Join UK Coaching Staff?

John Clay is reporting that former Kentucky Wildcats Scott Padgett and Tony Delk could be in line to join coach John Calipari's staff. Padgett may become a full-time assistant and Delk may be chosen for an administrative post.

My Thoughts: I think it is a great decision to bring a couple of former Wildcats, especially players that are beloved by Kentucky fans, on board. I am very excited about Padgett and/or Delk being involved with the program.

Article from John Clay

TyShwan Edmondson to Transfer from St. John's

Kentucky native TyShwan Edmondson has announced that he will transfer from St. John's. As a freshman, he played in 26 games and averaged 1.7 points, 1.0 rebounds and 0.6 assists per game. Edmondson is a 6'4", 170-pound guard.

TyShwan played his high school basketball for University Heights Academy in Hopkinsville. He was a first team all-state selection after his senior season.

Article from The East Coast Bias

ESPN Player Profile

Arrangements for Mike Casey

Here are the arrangements for ex-Kentucky basketball star Mike Casey:

Monday — Visitation at Shannon’s Funeral Home in Shelbyville — 2-9 p.m.

Tuesday — Funeral at Shelby County High School — 4:30 p.m.

Burial at Baghdad Cemetery.

Related Article:

Former Wildcat Mike Casey Has Passed

Friday, April 10, 2009

Two With Kentucky Ties Honored by CollegeInsider.com

Ivan Aska of Murray State and Shelvin Mack of Butler have been selected to the CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Freshman All-America Team.

Aska, who was also named OVC Freshman of the Year, averaged 10.3 points and 5.8 rebounds a game for the Racers. Aska, originally from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, earned OVC Freshman of the Week honors three times. He helped lead Murray State to a 19-12 record.

Mack is a Kentuckian that played his high school basketball for Bryan Station High School in Lexington. He averaged 11.9 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.5 assists for the Butler Bulldogs. The Bulldogs, who play in the Horizon League, finished the season at 26-6 and lost to LSU in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

The 21-player All-America Team was selected by a panel of NCAA DI coaches, NBA scouts and CollegeInsider.com staff.

CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Freshman All-America Team

Larry Anderson G 6-6 Long Beach State
Ivan Aska F 6-7 Murray State
Keion Bell G 6-3 Pepperdine
Julian Boyd F 6-6 Long Island
Jamar Briscoe G 5-10 North Carolina Central
John Brown G 6-4 The Citadel
Kevin Dillard G 5-11 Southern Illinois
Novar Gadson G 6-7 Rider
Anthony Hitchens G 5-9 Akron
R.J. Evans G 6-3 Holy Cross
Samme Givens F 6-5 Drexel
Jarrod Jones F 6-8 Ball State
Damian Lillard G 6-2 Weber State
Shelvin Mack G 6-3 Butler
Dominique Morrison F 6-5 Oral Roberts
Harouna Mutombo G 6-4 Western Carolina
Clifford J. Reed G 6-3 Bethune Cookman
Kevin Thompson F 6-8 Morgan State
Julius Wells F 6-5 James Madison
Eric Wise F 6-5 UC Irvine
Alex Young F 6-5 IUPUI


Announcement from Murray State

Bob Huggins Would Like to Play Kentucky

Bob Huggins has stated that he will call good friend John Calipari about possibly scheduling Kentucky in a regular season game. Calipari has mentioned that he would like to "beef up" the Kentucky schedule so there could be mutual interest.

West Virginia is a Big East school that will be returning the vast majority of its roster next season. They are projected as a potential top-10 team.

Here is the article from The Charleston Gazette.

Kentucky Wildcats Basketball Update

A few notes to pass along this morning:

- Matt Jones at KSR has heard that former Wildcat Scott Padgett could possibly be hired to John Calipari's staff as a "Special Assistant"

- The Derby Classic All-Star game is tomorrow; it will feature several Kentucky and Louisville recruits such as Nolan Dennis, Daniel Orton, Jon Hood, Peyton Siva, Rakeem Buckles, Eric Bledsoe, Mike Marra and Stephan Van Treese

- John Calipari is in Portland, Oregon today today at the Nike Hoop Summit; DeMarcus Cousins and John Wall are participating in the event

- Eric Bledsoe likes Kentucky, but lists Florida as his favorite; Bledsoe is a PG and is #67 on the Rivals150 list

- Daniel Orton is wavering between Kentucky and Kansas; at this time, he is still a Wildcat; Orton is #22 on the Rivals150 list

- Nolan Dennis states that he is interested in Kentucky but will not commit immediately; Dennis is a SG and is #47 on the Rivals150 list

- John Wall has listed his final 7 schools and Kentucky is on the list; Wall is the top PG prospect in the nation and is #1 on the Rivals150 list

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Former Wildcat Mike Casey Has Passed


It is with a sad heart that I must report that former Kentucky Wildcat great Mike Casey has passed away. Please pray for his family and friends.

I received this e-mail from his daughter, Laura, tonight:

My best friend, my sweet, precious Daddy is in heaven now.

He went peacefully and we were all around him to love and pray over him. His my Guardian Angel now.

Thank you for all your love, support, prayers.......everything you did is greatly appreciated.

May continue to bless you all,
Laura

Note:
If you have a word of encouragement for Laura and the family, please add a comment and I'll make sure she gets your thoughts and prayers.

Ex-Holme's Guard Austin Hill Will Sign With Illinois State

Former Covington Holmes' player Austin Hill has announced that he will sign with Illinois State next week when the regular signing period begins. Hill played his last two seasons at Southeastern Illinois (Junior) College.

Hill was Southeastern's leading scorer last season at 15.2 points a game. He also averaged 4.1 rebounds and 2.8 assists a game.

The NCAA's regular signing periods begins on April 15 and ends on May 20.

John Wall Gives His List of Seven Schools

John Wall states that his final list of potential schools is North Carolina State, Duke, Memphis, Baylor, Kansas, Miami and Kentucky. There has been speculation that he might consider North Carolina but he says he has not spoken to Carolina coach Roy Williams since the Final Four.

"North Carolina is not recruiting me now," he said.

Wall is considered the top point guard prospect and is generally ranked in the top three overall players in the nation for 2009.

My Thoughts: I find it hard to believe that North Carolina would stop calling Wall, but I would be happy if that is true. For now, I have to believe that his top 3 would be Duke, Memphis and Kentucky. I am not basing that on any inside information or anything - just my opinion.


Source: The News Observer

Rick Bolus' Latest List of Kentucky College Prospects

Rick Bolus has released his latest rankings of Kentucky high school players that will be playing season:

Top 12

Ricardo Johnson, Holmes (6-4 Sr.)
Elijah Pittman, Holmes (6-7 Sr.)
Chad Jackson, Scott County (6-4 Sr.)
Ge-Lawn Guyn, Scott County (6-4 Sr.)
George Fant, Warren Central (6-6 Jr.)
Donovan Gibbs, Iroquois (6-7 Sr.)
Dakotah Euton, Scott County (6-8 Sr.)
Vinny Zollo, Clark County (6-8 Jr.)
Aaron Cosby, Jeffersontown (6-2 Sr.)
Josh Sewell, Trinity (6-4 Sr.)
Matt St. John, South Laurel ((6-8 Sr.)
Elisha Justice, Shelby Valley (5-11 Sr.)

Top sleeper

Jaylen Beckham, Lexington Catholic (6-0 So.)

Second 12

Aaron Watts, McCreary Central (6-2 Sr.)
Thomas Jackson, Jeffersontown (5-11 Sr.)
Robbie Stenzel, Clark County (6-4 Jr.)
Josh Forrest, Paducah Tilghman (6-4 Jr.)
Orlando Rutledge, Fern Creek (6-6 Jr.)
Timmy Knipp, Elliott County (6-7 Jr.)
Clint Stepp, June Buchanan (6-1 Sr.)
Tate Cox, Knott Central (6-0 Sr.)
Jomari Bradshaw, Waggener (6-4 Sr.)
Jordan Shanklin, Warren Central (5-11 Jr.)
Keisten Jones, Ballard (6-3 Sr.)
Chris Richard, Southern (6-4 Sr.)

Source: Fields Notes

Dead Period Ends, Recruiting Season Begins


The April "dead period" has finally ended and today at noon mark's the beginning of an official "contact period." The contact period lasts until Monday and staffs will likely be working hard over the weekend. There should be plenty of news to report from around the state as we move through the next four days.

Here are a few important facts to understand about the NCAA basketball recruiting process:

NCAA recruiting calendar:

8/1 - 9/8 Quiet Period
9/9 - 10/5 Contact Period Fall Contact Period
10/6 - 3/31 (with noted exceptions) Evaluation Period
11/10 - 11/13 Dead Period
12/24 - 12/26 Dead Period
3/16 - 3/22 Contact Period March Contact Period
4/1 - 7/5 (with noted exceptions) Quiet Period
4/2 - 4/9 (at 12pm) Dead Period
4/9 (noon) - 4/13 Contact Period April Contact Period
4/13 - 4/16 Dead Period
4/16 - 4/22 Contact Period April Contact Period
4/21 - 4/30 Dead Period (There's an exception built-in to this dead period for evaluations tied to the NBA pre-draft camp -- dates TBD)
7/6 - 7/15 Evaluation Period Summer Evaluation Period
7/16 - 7/21 Dead Period (Teams are allowed contact during this period with players who have enrolled in summer classes or who have signed a National Letter of Intent)
7/22 - 7/31 Evaluation Period Summer Evaluation Period


2009 NCAA Signing Dates:
Early Period: November 12, 2008 - November 19, 2008

Regular Period: April 15, 2009 - May 20, 2009

Some Definitions:

Contact period - permissible for authorized athletic department staff members to make in-person, off-campus recruiting contacts and evaluations.

Dead period - not permissible to make in-person recruiting contacts or evaluations on- or off-campus or permit official or unofficial visits.

Evaluation period - permissible for authorized athletics department staff to be involved in off-campus activities to assess academic qualifications and playing abilities. No in-person, off-campus recruiting contacts with a prospect are permitted.

Quiet period - permissible to make in-person recruiting contacts only on the member institution's campus.

Source: http://www.ncaa.org

Image: Source

Kentucky and Calipari Add Three Assistant Coaches


John Calipari has hired three assistant coaches to join him on the sidelines at Kentucky next season. John Robic, Rod Strickland and Orlando Antiqua have joined the Kentucky staff. All three worked with Calipari in Memphis.

There will likely be a fourth assistant hired soon and it is speculated that Calipari will try to hire someone with Kentucky ties.

Daniel Orton is Still a Wildcat

Daniel Orton has explained that Evan Daniels report that he had asked out of LOI was a "misunderstanding." He states that he asked out of his commitment a few weeks back before John Calipari was hired, but he did not receive it yet. He is still planning to evaluate his future, but for now, he is still a Kentucky Wildcat.

Source: The Cat's Pause

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Recruit Spotlight: DeMarcus Cousins


Closer Look at DeMarcus Cousins

By: Chad Brendel

Cousins comes to Kentucky as the #2 ranked player in the 2009 class, and for good reason. Most big men come in to college with a high level of skill on the defensive end, but a lot of work to do on offense. Issues like footwork, post moves, passing and expanding a mid range game are almost always a concern. Cousins is one of the few exceptions to the rule.

He's a very fluid athlete who is comfortable with his back to the basket, working the high post and even attacking the rim from the wing. He is without a doubt the ideal big man for the DDM offense as he can pull bigger, slower defenders away from the basket or can take a smaller opponent down on the blocks and score with a variety of moves using either hand. Cousins also has a soft touch on his jumper with range out to the three point line, and can use that to blow by a defender once they have to respect his ability from distance.

While listed as a C, it would make more sense to see him playing more like a PF if Patrick Patterson returns for his JR season in Coach Calipari's system. Patterson would be the power player working the weak side block with Cousins on the wing or in the high post rotating through the motion based system. His size and skill set bring a very rare blend for a big man in an open and flowing system, and it's the reason why Cousins was intent on playing for Calipari.

While the reviews are glowing about his offensive game, there is some work to do on his defense and rebounding. He's more like a wing player in that regard, but given his pure talent level, it shouldn't be an issue as long as he makes improvement in those areas a priority.


Chad Brendel
Recruiting Analyst
http://www.bearcatlair.com/

Nolan Dennis Wants Out at Memphis; UK Possible

Evan Daniels at Scout.com (subscription) is reporting that Nolan Dennis has asked out of his commitment to Memphis and may be leaning towards Kentucky.

Dennis is a 4-star shooting guard and ranked #47 on the Rivals150 list.

Breaking News: Daniel Orton Asks for Release from UK

I just received a phone call from a good source stating that Daniel Orton has asked for his release from the University of Kentucky.

Orton was originally recruited by Billy Gillispie and is #22 on the Rivals150 List.

UPDATE #1: Matt Jones is reporting the same thing

UPDATE #2: KentuckyInk is reporting that they spoke to Orton's father and he says that Daniel has not asked out of his commitment.

Some Kentucky Wildcat Notes

There is an abundance of news and rumors involving Kentucky basketball today:

Recruiting News:

- As reported earlier, DeMarcus Cousins has committed to Kentucky; Cousins is a top 3 player nationally and adding him is huge

- DeShawn Painter has de-committed at Florida and Kentucky was on his original list - he is a 4-star 6'9" Center

- Xavier Henry has officially been released from Memphis and submitted his paperwork to Kansas and Kentucky - he is a top 5 national recruit, as well

- Solomon Hill has de-committed from USC and Kentucky was also on his list previously - he is Rivals #28; a 4-star, 6'6" Forward

- Eric Bledsoe has trimmed his list to Kentucky, Cincinnati, Alabama and Florida - he is Rivals #67; 4-star PG

- John Wall is Rivals #1 player and he has Kentucky on his final list - Wall is a 6'4" PG

Current Team News:

- Michael Porter will not play next season; he has decided to graduate and focus on his family

- Patrick Patterson will likely join Meeks in taking a look at the NBA Draft

- I saw several 2009-10 pre-season top 25 predictions yesterday and UK was in the top 20 on all of them

- Former Kentucky assistant Glynn Cyprien told Larry Vaught that Matt Pilgrim, who transferred from Hampton and will be eligible next season, would be a top 25 player if he were coming out of high school right now. He states, "Pilgrim is a beast."

Rumor Mill (nothing more, nothing less):

- One walk-on will likely opt to leave and play for one of Kentucky's NAIA schools

- One regular player will likely announce his transfer soon

Impressive Career for Campbellsville's Zach Allender

Zach Allender, a fifth-year senior at Campbellsville University, has ended his career as the first male player in school history to accumulate at least 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds.

Allender's career college numbers are 2,050 points and 1,082 rebounds. He is the third Tiger to reach the 2,000-point club. He was a three-time All Mid-South Conference selection, All NAIA second team once and Co Mid-South Player of the Year in 2006-07. Honors for this season have not been announced yet, but he is expected to earn more accolades.

Allender attended Nelson County High School in Bardstown, Kentucky.

"I loved playing in Campbellsville," said Allender. "It was close to home and the people there are great."

Article from Campbellsville University

DeMarcus Cousins is a Kentucky Wildcat

DeMarcus Cousins has committed to the Kentucky Wildcats.

Rivals ranks Cousins #2 on its Rivals150 Class for 2009. He is a 6'10" power forward that can play inside or outside. Here are Cousins' comments:

"Well, basically I went home (from the McDonald's All American Game) and tried to figure out which coach out of all the coaches recruiting me could help me get to the next level," said Cousins. "The answer was Coach Cal. Then I asked myself what school was best to me. And what school is better than Kentucky?"

"I'm working on John Wall and Xavier Henry right now," he said. "I think we have a chance to get them."

Cousins averaged 29 points and 12 rebounds to help LeFlore, No. 27 in the ESPN RISE FAB 50 rankings, reach Alabama's Class 5A semifinals, where it was upset by Parker (Birmingham).

Article on ESPN

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Michael Porter Will Not Play for Kentucky Next Season

Matt May at the Cat's Pause is reporting that Michael Porter has opted to not play for the Kentucky Wildcats next season. Porter will graduate and focus and supporting his wife and baby that is on the way.

Porter's official statement from UKAthletics.com: “This has been a decision weighing on my shoulders for a while. Being married, and now with my little girl on the way, my priorities have simply changed. I love basketball and will miss it a lot, but I think it’s the best thing for me and my family at this stage of my life. This wasn’t an easy decision to come to, but with a lot of thought and prayer, I have come to peace and am looking forward to the next phase of my life.”

My Thoughts: I hate to see Porter go, but I am fully supportive of his decision to focus on his family and life. Best of luck to Michael Porter!

Breaking News: Patrick Patterson Likely to Test NBA Draft

I just heard from a very reliable source that Patrick Patterson will likely follow Jodie Meeks in entering his name into the NBA Draft. Patterson, like Meeks, will not hire an agent.

Also, I have been told to expect some news on DeMarcus Cousins as early as tomorrow.

My Thoughts: It's highly likely that both Meeks and Patterson will return to Kentucky next season, but I expect Patterson to have a more difficult decision to make.

UPDATE: The Cat's Pause is reporting that Cousins has chosen to postpone his decision until April 20th. There were several people that thought he would announce a decision tomorrow, but he will now wait.

UPDATE #2: My source was correct - Cousins has committed to the Kentucky Wildcats.

Joe Crawford to Finish Season With Knicks

Former Kentucky Wildcat Joe Crawford has been signed by the New York Knicks through the rest of the season. He was originally signed from the NBDL by the Knicks to a 10-day contract. That contract has expired and the Knicks decided to keep him on board through the end of the season.

Congratulations to Joe Crawford.


Source: WKYT.com

Mid-Continent Players Volunteer for "Dribble With Dad"

I love when basketball is used off the court to help others through volunteer work. Here is a nice story from the Mid-Continent University basketball team:

Mayfield, KY -- Six members of the Mid-Continent University men's basketball team recently sacrificed an opportunity to watch the NCAA Elite Eight tournament games to volunteer at a local basketball event called "Dribble with Dad" in correlation with Mayfield Elementary School.

Dribble with Dad is a program that Fran Chester, a counselor at Mayfield Elementary School, started 11 years ago. "There are so many things that get moms involved, so I wanted to get dads involved," said Ms. Chester. Chester, also a cheerleading coach at Mayfield Elementary School, has developed and grown the event, with the help of others, from a few local youngsters in its first year to over 460 who participated on Sunday, March 29, at the Mayfield High School Sports Arena, Mid-Continent's home arena for its men's and women's basketball games.

"Dribble with Dad" lasted about four hours. The day began with the preschool and kindergarten-age children showing off their ball-handling and passing skills. The first through third grade children then demonstrated their skills in relays featuring dribbling and three-legged style races. The last group played in an unconventional 10 on 10 tournament, featuring five students and five "dads". Every child at every grade level was paired with their father or a fill-in volunteer.

The Cougar volunteers included guards Donovan Willis, Joshua Woodley, Marvin Bolden, and David Gratton, and center Kenny Thomas, along with student assistant coach Ryan Smith, who also is Mid-Continent's student body president. The volunteers filled in for fathers who were unable to attend the event.

Mid-Continent University Facilities Director Tim Blalock, a participant in the event, said that he was pleased to see MCU's men's basketball team participating in community events. "You could see that the guys were timid at first, but once they got out there with the kids they couldn't stop smiling."

"Some of the guys might have wanted to watch the NCAA games when we first arrived at the arena, but on the way back all they were talking about was their new friends and how funny the kids were," said Smith, who added this: "In an attempt to serve others with our talents, we are the ones who are blessed by the outlook and attitudes of the kids and local community leaders that we helped. It was a great day for not only young basketball enthusiasts, but for Mid-Continent basketball."

Announcement

Mid-Continent Basketball

NBCSports.com Offers Early Respect for UK in 2009-10

NBC Sports is offering a very early look at the preseason top 25 for 2009-10. Kentucky makes the rankings at #17 and Louisville is not in the top 25.

1. Kansas
2. Syracuse
3. Duke
4. Purdue
5. West Virginia
6. Wake Forest
7. Michigan State
8. North Carolina
9. Florida
10. Tennessee
11-25: 11. Villanova 12. Ohio State 13. Pittsburgh 14. Texas 15. Florida State 16. Washington 17. Kentucky 18. Minnesota 19. Cal 20. Butler 21. Michigan 22. Texas A&M 23. Clemson 24. UCLA 25. Oklahoma State

(Just missed: Georgetown, Missouri, Louisville, Connecticut.)

Here is the link

Ken Davis at NBCSports.com has Kentucky in his preseason Final Four for 2009-10:

1. Kansas
2. Syracuse
3. Kentucky
4. Wake Forest

His thoughts on Kentucky: With all that money Calipari is getting to coach the Wildcats, he really needs to produce. No honeymoon for Coach Cal. The last coach in Lexington missed the tournament and got fired after two years.

With Jodie Meeks, Patrick Patterson and undetermined players who will follow him from Memphis or sign letters of intent, Calipari should win it all. But he’s never done that, has he?

Jodie Meeks Will Test the NBA Draft

Jodie Meeks has decided to test the NBA Draft. He will not hire an agent which will allow him to return to Kentucky for his senior season if he is not satisfied with his draft prospects.

Meeks was named to four different All-American teams this season. He led the SEC in scoring 23.7 points a game. Meeks also set a single-game Kentucky scoring record with 54 points against Tennessee this season. He set a season record with 108 three-point field goals made.

My Thoughts: Jodie will test the waters, he will at best be a second rounder and he will return for his senior season.

Source: Yahoo Sports

Monday, April 6, 2009

Las Vegas Seems to Like the UK Coaching Change


How much does a coaching change mean at a school like Kentucky? According to the odds makers in Vegas, it makes a tremendous difference. Vegas is already offering the "Odds to Win the 2010 NCAA Championship" and you might be surprised at some of the numbers.

The early picks to win it all next season are the North Carolina Tar Heels and (drum roll) the University of Kentucky Wildcats. Those are the same Wildcats that just missed the NCAA Tournament for the first time since I was a freshman in high school. They are the same Wildcats that just lost in the NIT to Notre Dame and then canned Billy Gillispie. The Cats and the Heels are sitting at +500 to win it all in 2010.

The Louisville Cardinals are tied with the Duke Blue Devils at +800. To give an idea of what Vegas thinks about John Calipari, the Memphis Tigers are sitting at +7500 odds to win it all.

I will not list every team that the odds makers are offering, but here are a few teams of interest:

- North Carolina +500
- Kentucky +500
- Louisville +800
- Duke +800
- Kansas +1000
- UCLA +1000
- Alabama +1000 (they like Anthony Grant, as well)
- Michigan St. +1200
- Florida +1500
- West Virgina +1500
- UCONN +1500
- Syracuse +2000
- Tennessee +2000
- Pittsburgh +3000
- LSU +3000
- Memphis +7500
- Indiana +17500

Daniels, Crawford Make All-NBDL Teams

Former Kentucky Wildcat players Erik Daniels and Joe Crawford have been chosen for the All-NBA Development teams. Daniels has been selected to the league's First Team after averaging 21.1 points, 10.0 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game for the season. Crawford, who is currently playing on a 10-day contract for the NBA's New York Knicks, was named All-NBDL Honorable Mention. Crawford averaged 20.8 points and 4.6 rebounds during the NBDL season.

All-NBDL First Team

G Blake Ahearn Dakota Wizards
G Will Conroy Albuquerque Thunderbirds
F Erik Daniels Erie BayHawks
F Marcus Williams Austin Toros
C Courtney Sims Iowa Energy

Complete All-League Selections

Erik Daniels

Joe Crawford

Kentucky High School All-Star Tryout List Announced

The tryout list for the Kentucky/Indiana All-Star series has been announced. The tryouts will take place April 17-18 at Campbellsville University. The games will be June 13 in Indianapolis and June 14 in Louisville.

The tryout invitees are:

Darren Ballou (Adair County); C.J. Penny (Anderson County); DeLon Butler (Apollo); Wesley Cox (Ballard); Jordan Hickman (Bardstown); Steven McFarland (Boone County); Charles Ashford (Bryan Station); Andy Blank (Buckhorn); Ridge Wilson, Alex Morrison (Central); Corey Wilford (Christian County); Josh Crawford (Corbin); Chris Dowe (Eastern); Jonathan Ferguson, Ethan Faulkner, Evan Faulkner (Elliott County); Andy Donovan (Franklin County); Aaron Wilson (Fulton City); Prince Stewart (Henry Clay); Brandon Housley, JaMel Riley, Dominique Johnson (Holmes); Chuck Jones (Hopkins County Central); Jordan Reves (Jeffersontown); Vee Sanford (Lexington Catholic); Ethan Spurlin (Lincoln County); Ramsey Walker (Lyon County); x-Jon Hood (Madisonville-North Hopkins); Jacob Jenkins (Manual); Russ Middleton (Mason County); Eric Mosley (Moore); Tommy Oates (Muhlenberg North); Nick Hudson, Tyler Rogers (Paul Dunbar); Matt Clevenger (Pikeville); James David Strange (Pineville); Bryon Ellis (Russell County); Corey Jackson (Shawnee); Chase Cox (Taylor County); Dayvon Sloan (Waggener).

x-automatic selection as Kentucky's Mr. Basketball.

Source: Courier Journal

Memphis Promotes Assistant Pastner to Head Coach

Memphis will promote John Calipari's assistant, Josh Pastner, to the position of head coach. Pastner is well-known as a great recruiter and has spent several years as an assistant to Lute Olson at Arizona. He spent last season as Calipari's assistant. Pastner has no head coaching experience.

This is important to Kentucky basketball because many expected Pastner to join Calipari in Lexington. He may also have the ties to keep several top-notch recruits, some that were rumored to be following Calipari, in Memphis.

Article from CBSSports.com

Could Billy Gillispie Land in Memphis?


There is a new rumor floating around today that Billy Gillispie could possibly get a shot at the Memphis head coaching position that was vacated by new Kentucky-coach John Calipari. How ironic would it be if Kentucky and Memphis essentially conducted a DI coaching trade?

Matt Jones at KSR reported a piece from an article in the Memphis Commercial Appeal newspaper. That paragraph states:

The appearance of trading coaches with Kentucky would be odd, if not off-putting to some. But let's face it. If Calipari had gone anywhere else, who's the best, most accomplished coach available? There's no doubt, it's Gillispie, who has been coach of the year in the Big 12 (2005, 2007) and the SEC (2008). Two years ago, nobody was hotter than Gillispie. And he wants the job. Wouldn't it be a heck of a story if the two parties who got wrecked by Kentucky join forces, both with something to prove? Now that's a "Wow" hire.

Here is a link to that article

I decided to a check into this rumor and sure enough, Bill Self at Kansas is making a Gillispie-to-Memphis push, as well. Dan Wolken on TheMemphisEdge.com site conducted an interview with Self this morning. Here are Self's comments:

“Hes the best recruiter I’ve been around. I wish he could get involved (with Memphis).”

“Billy is tough, and although this is a setback in many people’s eyes for him, what went down at Kentucky, he’ll see it as an opportunity to do something else at a different place, and I know he’s hungry to coach. He’s as hard a worker as I’ve ever been around. I think anybody, especially someone that’s recruited in the area, any school in the proximity of the south or southwest would be really crazy for not at least looking into him as a potential candidate because he can win and win big.

I think he can get players and I know he can coach ‘em.”

Dan Wolken adds that he has been told that Daniel Orton would likely follow Billy Gillispie if he were hired at a division I program.

Here is report on the Memphis Edge site

And finally, a previous article from the Memphis Edge in which Wolken describes a Gillispie/Memphis relationship as "the two parties who got screwed over by Kentucky joining forces with something to prove."

UPDATE: Memphis has hired assistant Josh Pastner to replace Calipari. The Gillispie job hunt continues...

Sunday, April 5, 2009

10 Reasons for UK Fans to Love John Calipari


1. In His Dream Job: Coach Calipari has stated numerous times that being Kentucky’s head coach was his dream job. He stated to Andy Katz that he was actually willing to take less money for the job.

"I don't want you to tell Kentucky this, but I would have taken less money to go to Kentucky," Calipari said. "Because it's Kentucky. Don't tell them that, though.”

When meeting with his Memphis team to make them aware of the opportunity, he described Kentucky as “the Notre Dame of college basketball.”

2. Awareness of History: In his first press conference, Calipari alluded to Dan Issel, Tayshaun Prince, Kyle Macy, “Mr. Wildcat” Bill Keightley, Rex Chapman and Nazi Mohammed. Various times since accepting the job, he has mentioned the great history and tradition of Kentucky basketball.

3. Acceptance of Former Cats: When Coach Calipari held his first practice at Kentucky, former Wildcat Kyle Macy was watching from the sidelines. Calipari went over to Macy and exchanged greetings with him. He asked to be the university’s representative in Detroit this weekend when Tayshaun Prince was honored with his Olympic gold medal.

There has been a rumor floating around that he might even be willing to bring a former Kentucky player on as an assistant coach.

4. Willingness to Show Face on Campus: Calipari has already visited a Kentucky football spring practice where he spoke to the team. He told Andy Katz that he won’t be a stranger on campus. He said he won't stay in his office and avoid interacting with the other coaches or teams. He plans on attending football, baseball and women's basketball games as well as other sporting events.

In his press conference, Calipari announced, "I'm a regular guy, folks. I do not walk on water."

5. Loves Representing the University of Kentucky Nationally: Calipari has been all over television and radio since the accepted the Kentucky job. He has been on Rome is Burning, SportsCenter, the Final Four Pre-Game Show, Mike and Mike, Pardon the Interruption, Sirius Radio and more.

There was even a 30-minute show Friday on FoxSports South titled Let's Meet John Calipari.

6. Work Ethic: It made a great first impression on many Wildcat fans when an understandably tired John Calipari flew to Kentucky just before midnight, got out of bed early for a Kentucky press conference and then immediately flew to Memphis for a good-bye press conference. The first impression was made when he ended the Memphis press conference and flew to Oklahoma City to make contact with Kentucky recruit Daniel Orton’s family.

Calipari didn’t stop with that. He has already had a couple of practices with the current Kentucky players and has spoken to nearly all of the recruits that were recruited by Billy Gillispie. Add to that the fact that he has flown all over the country recruiting and representing UK and it is hard to not appreciate Calipari’s work ethic.

7. Recruiting: Speaking of recruiting, Calipari has stirred up more recruiting excitement in one week than there’s been in Kentucky for the last 10 years. He single-handily has Kentucky listed on the prospective lists of basically every top, unsigned player in the nation. Kentucky was previously listed on the #22 (Orton) and #32 (Hood) players in the Rivals Top 150 List. Now, Kentucky is listed on #1, #2, #3, #22, #32, #67, #75 and #140. That excludes several players that have already committed to Memphis that might consider following Calipari to Lexington.

For many years, Kentucky has focused on recruiting lower-level players that can be developed into solid contributors. It is refreshing to see Kentucky listed beside the likes of Duke, North Carolina, Kansas and UCONN on the lists of some of the nation’s top recruits.

8. Personality and Charisma: Calipari has the perfect persona to become a beloved Kentucky coach. He is comfortable when speaking in public and he displays a witty humor that captures the audience. His humor was evident in his first press conference. He looked at the notorious Alan Cutler (famous for chasing former coach Billy Gillispie through the basketball office for an interview) and stated, "Did you chase that guy? Do you have tennis shoes on right now?"

He sarcastically asked, "Do they question coaches here?"

Throughout the press conference, his witty jokes drew laughter from the anxious audience. His personality and charm allow him to be in control, while still being likeable.

9. His Offense: He will bring a brand of basketball to Lexington that the Big Blue Nation has longed for since the Rick Pitino days. If you have not already done so, do some research on the Dribble-Drive Motion offense and prepare to be excited.


The Dribble-Drive Motion: A Look at the Numbers

10. The Potential Rivalries (imagine the possibilities):

- Calipari vs. Pitino
- Calipari vs. Pearl
- Calipari vs. Donovan
- Calipari vs. Horn
- Kentucky vs. the SEC

Imagine the possibilities...


Image: ESPN.com

Meeks, Calipari Receive NABC State Farm Honors

Kentucky's Jodie Meeks and head coach John Calipari were both honored over the weekend at the NCAA Tournament's Final Four in Detroit, Michigan.

Meeks added to his impressive collection of honors by being named to the NABC State Farm Coaches' All-America team. Meeks finished the season as the SEC's leading scorer at 23.7 points a game. He set school records for points in a game with 54 at Tennessee and three-pointers in a season with 108. Meeks has all received All-America honors from the Associated Press (2nd Team), USBWA (2nd Team), The Sporting News (2nd Team) and FoxSports.com (4th Team).

Kentucky coach John Calipari won the Jim Phelan National Coach of the Year award for his work at Memphis this season. He led the Tigers to a 33-4 record and an appearance in the Sweet 16 before taking the Kentucky job.

Kentucky native Darrin Horn, the head coach at South Carolina, was also a finalist for the Jim Phelan award.

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