Saturday, July 4, 2009

NBA Summer League Preview: David Padgett

Name: David Padgett

Bluegrass State Connection: Played college basketball for the Louisville Cardinals

Path to the NBA: Signed as undrafted free agent by the Miami Heat

2009 Summer League Team: Portland Trail Blazers

2009 Portland Trail Blazers' Summer League Roster:

Jerryd Bayless - G - Arizona
Jeff Pendergraph - F - Arizona State
Dante Cunningham - F - Villanova
Patty Mills - G - St. Mary's (CA)
Thomas Gardner - G - Missouri
Pooh Jeter - G - Portland
Bobby Jones - F - Washington
David Padgett - F - Louisville
Deji Akindele - C - Chicago State
Matt Freije - F - Vanderbilt
Dwayne Mitchell - F - Lousiana-Lafayette
David Moss - G - Indiana State

Portland Trail Blazers' Summer League Schedule:

Monday July 13th, Blazers vs. Raptors, 5 p.m.
Wednesday July 15th, Blazers vs. Rockets, 7 p.m.
Friday July 17th, Blazers vs. Nuggets, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday July 18th, Blazers vs Spurs, 7:30 p.m.
Sunday July 19th, Blazers vs D-League, 7 p.m.

2010 Recruiting Spotlight: C.J. Leslie

UK Recruiting Notebook: CJ Leslie

By: Dustin Rumbaugh, Kentucky Sports Radio


Position: Power Forward (Could be athletic slasher or big man in DDM)
Height: 6′9″
Weight: 205 lbs
High School: Word of God Christian Academy (Raleigh, NC)
Rivals Ranking: #8 PF, #34 Overall
Scout Ranking: #3 PF, #13 Overall

Scouting Report

CJ has the athleticism and explosiveness that can make a big man a star. He likes to model his game after Kevin Garnett and, so far, he is doing a good job at it. CJ can knock down the perimeter shot or beat his man off the dribble. As he continues to grow, scouts would like to see him develop his post game more. Right now he doesn’t have the ability to put his back to the basket against big men and score consistently. If he can bring that part of his game up the level of the rest of his skills, he’d be the complete package. On the defensive end, his athleticism and large wing span will be his best friend but he needs to use these tools to his advantage more often. He has the talent to make some highlight reel blocks when his timing and effort are in full swing. One of the things that really impressed me with CJ’s performance at the NBA camp was the way that he is coming into his own as a team leader. CJ was very vocal on the court and begged his team to play at the top of their abilities. He is true competitor with all the talent one could ask for and that gives him a very high ceiling.

Recruiting Report

In 2007, CJ committed to play for Sidney Lowe and NC State. This spring, CJ reopened his recruitment, saying that he just felt like he didn’t take enough time to look at all his options. Since then, CJ has visited the campuses of North Carolina and Arizona State. When talking about some of the potential future visits he’ll take, he said, “Florida, Maryland, Kentucky definitely, Wake Forest definitely.” CJ has also said that all of the ACC schools, except for Duke, and Memphis were recruiting him. John Wall has been talking to him about Kentucky and CJ has commented about how much John has been enjoying his time in Lexington. In a recent interview with Kentucky Sports Report, CJ said that the visit with Kentucky is pretty much set except for an exact date. He is working on squeezing the visit somewhere into his busy AAU schedule. With Patrick Patterson and Demarcus Cousins almost certainly leaving after this season, CJ Leslie would be the perfect versatile big man to step in and play right away in Calipari’s offense.

NBA Summer League Preview: Earl Clark

I am going to preview Earl Clark as the first in a series of players with Kentucky ties that are participating in NBA Summer League play. With each player, I will look at ties to the Bluegrass State, path to the NBA, the Summer League roster and the Summer League schedule.

Name: Earl Clark

Bluegrass State Connection: Played college basketball for the Louisville Cardinals

Path to the NBA: Drafted in 2009 NBA Draft First Round; #14 by the Phoenix Suns

2009 Summer League Team: Phoenix Suns

2009 Phoenix Suns' Summer League Roster:

Kaspars Berzins, Latvia
Josh Carter, Texas A&M
Earl Clark, Louisville
Geary Claxton, Penn State
Lee Cummard, BYU
Zabian Dowdell, Virginia Tech
Micah Downs, Gonzaga
Goran Dragic, Slovenia
Taylor Griffin, Oklahoma
Jiri Hubalek, Iowa State
Robin Lopez, Stanford
Carlos Powell, South Carolina
Chris Rogers, Arizona
Alando Tucker, Wisconsin

Phoenix Suns' Summer League Schedule (Phoenix times):

Monday, July 13th Dallas Mavericks COX Pavilion 3 p.m.
Wednesday, July 15th Toronto Raptors COX Pavilion 5 p.m.
Friday, July 17th NBA D-League Select COX Pavilion 7 p.m.
Saturday, July 18th Memphis Grizzlies COX Pavilion 5 p.m.
Sunday, July 19th L.A. Clippers Thomas & Mack Center 7:30 p.m.

Morehead State Eagles Are Hungry for More Success

After advancing to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in a long time, the Morehead State Eagles are eager to experience more success in 2009-10. Mark Story of the Herald-Leader has a nice article about the Eagles and their expectations for the upcoming season. Here is an introductory excerpt from the article:

When Donnie Tyndall has headed down to Main Street in Morehead this summer to sample the pizza at Pasquale's, he has noticed something different.

"I see more people wearing Morehead State shirts and caps in there than UK stuff," the Morehead men's basketball coach says. "It's pretty neat."

That is hardly all that's changed since last season, when the school made its first trip to the NCAA Tournament in 25 years.

Since last March when MSU beat Alabama State in the dreaded NCAA tourney "play-in" game, then put up a dignified fight before falling to No. 1 overall seed Louisville, Tyndall says things have "been a little bit of a whirlwind."

A middle school camp in Ashland. The Bath County Chamber of Commerce. The American Cancer Society in Morehead. A pre-testing rally at a Mount Sterling elementary school.

Those are just a few of the post-NCAA public appearances Tyndall has made.

"When you come into a program that has struggled, this is exactly what you are trying to create," Tyndall said. "People are genuinely excited about what we did last year and what they think we can do next year."

What Morehead State did last year was rebound from an 0-6 start to win 20 games (20-16) in a men's hoops season for only the third time in school history.

Samardo Samuels and Jamaica Advance to Title Game

Louisville's Samardo Samuels and his Jamaican teammates have advanced to the championship game of the 2009 CBC Championships. The Jamaican's squeaked out a thrilling 98-93 overtime victory over Cuba in yesterday's semifinals.

Weyinimi Efejuke exploded for 32 points for the Jamaicans. Samuels added 18 points in the victory.

Jamaica will battle British Virgin Islands in today's championship game.

Multiple Sources: Matt Pilgrim to Oklahoma State

Multiple sources are reporting that former Kentucky Wildcat Matt Pilgrim will continue his career at Oklahoma State.

Oklahoma State, of course, is coached by former Kentucky Wildcat legend Travis Ford.

UPDATE: It appears that it is a done deal. Dan Wolken of The Memphis Commerical-Appeal and Matt Jones of Kentucky Sports Radio are reporting the same thing on Twitter.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Ge'lawn Guyn to Decommit from Charlotte?

Sources close to the Scott County program are reporting that Ge'lawn Guyn might decommit from Charlotte. Guyn apparently feels that he rushed his decision and he might be looking to open his recruitment back up.

These reports are unofficial, but they are worth keeping an eye on.

UPDATE: I have been told this morning by another source that Guyn has indeed decided to decommit from Charlotte.

Trinity's Josh Sewell Commits to Miami (OH)

Josh Sewell, a muscular 6’5,” 200 pound 2G/SF from Louisville (KY) Trinity High School, has committed to Miami (OH). Earlier in the week Sewell attended Miami’s Elite Camp and had a good experience. A few days later, he was ready to make a decision.

In the end, it came down to two schools: Western Kentucky and Miami. Sewell stated why he chose Miami:

“It is a place I can see myself on and off the court. It is one of the best schools in the Midwest. Miami has great academics with the business marketing degree."

Other schools that recruited Sewell include Ohio, Wright State, Butler, Akron, Miami-FLA, Middle Tennessee State, Dayton, Stanford, Penn State, Bradley, Marshall, Eastern Kentucky, Murray State, and Western Kentucky.

He had firm offers from Miami-OH, WKU, Wright State, Ohio, Akron, Middle Tennessee State, Bradley, Marshall, Eastern Kentucky, VCU, Miami-FL, and Murray State.

Former Wildcat Matt Pilgrim Will Visit Maryland reported that Matt Pilgrim, a junior power forward from Kentucky, was planning an official visit to College Park this week.

Pilgrim, 6 feet 8, spent his first two years of college at Hampton before transferring to Kentucky last year. After sitting out the 2008-09 season due to NCAA transfer rules, Pilgrim would have been eligible to suit up for the Wildcats this coming season.

When John Calipari was hired to replace Billy Gillispie in Lexington, Pilgrim -- according to the Memphis Commercial Appeal -- was told there wouldn’t be a scholarship available for him at UK.
According to a source close to the situation, Calipari and Josh Pastner are working together to bring Pilgrim to Memphis. Calipari, the source said, will support Pilgrim's case to the NCAA.

Though Pilgrim said he probably wouldn't make a commitment until he sits down with his family, he acknowledged the urgency of picking a new school so that he can start the appeal process. Pilgrim has also visited Oklahoma State.

Article from The Baltimore Sun

Eastern Nazarene Hires Former Asbury Coach

Veteran coach Jim Aller steps to the helm of the Eastern Nazarene basketball program for the 2009-2010 academic year. Described as a “career coaching professional”, Coach Aller says, “I am dedicated to leading teams to maximize their potential as athlete’s and people by inspiring the highest level player commitment and performance.”

With eighteen years of college coaching and teaching under his belt, fourteen as head coach at Asbury College, Aller comes off of 9 straight winning seasons, averaging 20+ wins per season. Having taken a short break from head coaching in the 2008-2009 season to take up the Assistant Coach and Asst. Athletic Director position at Indiana University-East, Aller helped rack up a 23-9 season, while the team received NAIA Top 25 votes for its’ first time in school history.

Coach Aller has brought out the best in many, having produced 4 NAIA All-Americans, 13 Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (KIAC) All-Conference Selections and the 2007 KIAC Player of the Year. In addition, Aller was recognized for his own performance, being named KIAC Coach of the Year three times (2004, 2005, 2007), three times NCCAA Mideast Region Coach of the Year (2002, 2004, 2008) and was awarded the NCCAA Coach of the Year in 2002.

Complete Press Release

Kentucky's Red-Hot Rivalries: Tennessee and Louisville

ESPN's Pat Forde has released a list of today's hottest college basketball rivalries and the Kentucky Wildcats are involved in two of the top three. Forde's list is topped by the annual showdown between Kentucky and the Louisville Cardinals. The third red-hot rivalry on his list is Kentucky and Tennessee.

Here are Forde's thoughts on the matchups involving Kentucky:

1. Kentucky-Louisville

Why It's Hot Now: It's always hot, but the temperature shot up to nuclear-fusion levels when John Calipari was hired in Lexington. Suddenly, Rick Pitino has a rival with a comparably outsized personality and competitive nature. And for the first time in a long time, there is a genuine and mutual antipathy between the coaches, no matter what they say publicly. Meanwhile, a not-insignificant percentage of Kentucky fans seem to have reneged on their mellowing over Pitino's switch from blue to red after his moving eulogy to late UK equipment manager Bill Keightley last year. With Pitino's alleged extortionist heading to trial later this summer, they're salivating over the chance that their ex-coach's name will be dragged through the mud. On the other side, Louisville fans were gleeful over the May revelation of alleged NCAA violations on Calipari's watch at Memphis. Schadenfreude has long been the prevailing state emotion when it comes to this rivalry, but never more than now.

Upper Hand Today: Louisville has won two straight in the rivalry and had better NCAA tournament showings of late. In fact, there was no NCAA showing last March for Kentucky, a first since 1991. But the Wildcats look stronger for the coming season than the Cardinals.

Upper Hand Historically: Kentucky leads the all-time series 26-14. Pitino is 6-2 coaching the Cats against the Cards, 4-4 coaching the Cards against the Cats.

Cardinal Bird to Scratch the Wildcat: Can you even remember your last Final Four?

Scratch the Wildcat to Cardinal Bird: Can you even remember your last national title?

3. Kentucky-Tennessee

Why It's Hot Now: Bruce Pearl versus John Calipari was great theater when they met once a year. Now it's on twice annually, at least. The two hypercompetitive hams direct teams that should battle for the SEC Eastern Division title. Pearl's Volunteers spoiled Calipari's undefeated regular season at Memphis in 2007-08, then the Tigers returned the favor with a victory in Knoxville last winter. Kentucky-Tennessee hasn't had this much heat since the late Ray Mears (original wearer of the orange blazer) was tweaking Adolph Rupp and Joe B. Hall.

Upper Hand Today: Kentucky surprisingly swept the Vols last year amid a terrible season, highlighted by Jodie Meeks' 54 points in Knoxville. And thanks to Calipari's spring recruiting work, the Cats should start the season ahead of Tennessee in the polls as well.

Upper Hand Historically: Kentucky has the upper hand historically on everyone in the SEC, and this is no exception. Cats lead the all-time series 142-65.

Smokey to Scratch: Let us be the first to extend a warm SEC welcome to Coach Vacated.

Scratch to Smokey: Jodie Meeks is still open.

Forde's Red-Hot Rivalries from

USA U19's Continue to Roll; Mack Scores 14

United States U19 112
Egypt U19 55

2009 FIBA U19 World Championships in New Zealand

The United States U19 team continued to roll in New Zealand with a convincing 112-55 victory over Egypt. The win gives the USA a 3-o record in pool play.

The Americans were led in scoring by Ashton Gibbs with 18 points on 8-11 shooting. Butler's Shelvin Mack scored 14 points and dished out 4 assists. John Shurna added 13 points and Howard Thompkins contributed 12. Terrico White and Klay Thompson both put in 11 points for the United States.

Kentucky's Darius Miller had his best game in FIBA play as he scored 9 points and pulled down 9 rebounds.

Box Score from

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Talented Sophomore Perry Ellis to Visit UK Saturday

Rising sophomore phenom Perry Ellis from Wichita Heights is expected to be in Memphis tomorrow for an unofficial visit. At 6′8″ and 210 lbs, Ellis is a very mobile athlete for his size, can run the floor extremely well and uses his size to dominate the paint.

Projected as a concensus top five recruit in the 2012 class, Ellis currently holds offers from the in-state school Kansas along with Memphis and Kentucky. Kentucky was the third in the group to offer Ellis as first reported by Matt Scott of TheShiver.

Brae and Cameron, Perry’s younger brothers, are currently playing in the 13U AAU nationals in Memphis, TN. So, Perry and his mother decided to stop in to see his younger brothers in action and to visit with his older sister Savannah, who will be a junior on the women’s basketball team at Memphis.

Preparing to head to the Lebron James Camp in Akron, OH July 5th-10th, Perry will stop in Memphis Friday to visit with family and visit the University of Memphis then pack up his things and head north to Lexington, KY for a visit to the University of Kentucky on Saturday.


Mid-Continent University Signs Two Transfers

Mid-Continent University has signed Brian Reid from Shelton State Community College (Ala.) and Anthony Lipscomb from Cape Fear Community College (N.C.) 2009-10 season.

Reid, a 6-7, 215 lb. junior forward from Durham, North Carolina and Laurinburg High School, played his sophomore season at Shelton State Community College in Alabama, and averaged 3.3 points and 2.2 rebounds, shot .587 from the field, and totaled 11 assists, 6 steals, and 6 blocked shots in 30 games. Shelton CC lost its first two regular-season games and then won its next 28 plus three more games in Alabama state community college tournament.

Lipscomb, a 6-6, 215 lb. junior forward, resides in Hope Mills, North Carolina and graduated from Laurinburg Institute. He totaled 628 points, 461 rebounds, 113 assists, and 77 steals in 66 career games at Cape Fear Community College. As a freshman in 2006-07, he averaged 11.8 points and 7.8 rebounds with 39 three-point field goals, 59 assists, and 47 steals, and as a sophomore last season (2008-09), he averaged 6.9 points and 6.1 rebounds with 25 three-pointers, 54 assists, 30 steals, and 37 blocked shots.

Press Releases from Mid-Continent

Louisville's Big East Conference Schedule Announced

The University of Louisville's 2009-10 men's basketball season in the BIG EAST Conference will include a challenging slate of 18 games, including two games each against Connecticut, Syracuse and St. John's.

Louisville's home conference opponents will include Cincinnati, Connecticut, Georgetown, Notre Dame, Rutgers, St. John's, USF, Syracuse, and Villanova. The Cardinals' nine league road games will be at Connecticut, DePaul, Marquette, Pittsburgh, Providence, St. John's, Seton Hall, Syracuse and West Virginia.

"There is no easy way out in the Big East," said U of L men's basketball coach Rick Pitino. "The Big East schedule is always going to pose great difficulty for every basketball team in our league. As usual, our fans will be treated to some of the greatest teams in the nation in this, the final year for our team to compete in Freedom Hall. We look forward to another highly competitive season."

Five BIG EAST teams -- Villanova, Connecticut, West Virginia, Georgetown and Louisville -- are among preseason top 25 picks by Gary Parrish of, Jeff Goodman of or Andy Katz of One of the Cardinals' repeat opponents -- Connecticut -- is a top ten selection in two of the three rankings.

The Cardinals return eight lettermen from a stellar team which attained its first-ever Associated Press No. 1 national ranking in 2008-09, achieving that position in the final poll of the season. The Cardinals (31-6, 16-2 BIG EAST) won their first BIG EAST Conference regular season title, accomplished in a year in which the league had a record nine teams earn national rankings during the season. U of L also won its first BIG EAST Conference tournament championship. The Cardinals entered the NCAA Tournament as the overall No. 1 seed and reached the NCAA Elite Eight for the second straight season. Ten members of the team earned recognition on the Athletic Director's Honor Roll.

U of L's non-conference schedule is incomplete. A completed schedule, including dates and times for the BIG EAST games, is expected in early September.

Press Release from U of L

Samardo Samuels, Jamaica Defeat Bahamas

Team Jamaica rebounded from their surprise defeat to Trinidad & Tobago yesterday with a close but decisive 77-73 victory over the Bahamas today as the Caribbean Basketball Championships continued in Tortola, British Virgin Islands. Weyinmi Efejuku and Kimani Ffriend with 18 points each, led five players in double-figures as Jamaica evened their record at 1-1.

The Jamaicans, playing without starting point guard, Chaz Carr, drew first blood to go up 19-14 after the first period, but surrendered 30 points to the Bahamas in the second half to fall behind 44-37 at the break. They made up some ground in the third quarter but were still trailing 60-56 going into the fourth. Jamaica slowly chipped away at the lead and a free throw by Efejuku finally leveled the score 60-60 with 6:27 to go. Ffriend, who had a dominant half on both ends of the floor, put Jamaica on top for good (62-60), as they slowly inched away for the victory.

Samardo Samuels and Mike Coburn with 11 points each, and Andre Smith with 10 points were the other double-figure scorers for the winners who will play Barbados tomorrow in their final group game. Alonzo Hinds led the Bahamas (1-1) with a game-high 27 points, followed by Quentin Hall and Torrington Cox with 11 each.


Gillispie Was Employed by UK Athletics Association?

Tax documents seem to indicate that Billy Gillispie actually was an employee of the UK Athletics Association. When Gillispie filed his lawsuit several weeks ago, there was confusion because the suit was filed against the athletics association. UK stated that Gillispie actually worked for the university and not the UKAA, a non-profit organization that oversees UK athletics.

"It is unfortunate that Mr. Gillispie has sued the UK Athletics Association, a nonprofit supporting foundation that was not his employer," the university said in a news release on May 28.

However, tax returns filed by the UK Athletics Association tell a different story, listing Gillispie as the organization's highest-paid employee. The 2007 return lists Gillispie's salary as $1,220,6667, with contributions to employee benefit plans and deferred compensation of $293,524.

Failure to give accurate information in such filings with the Internal Revenue Service could risk the organization's tax-exempt status.

"The hypocrisy of the university's position is absolutely mind-blowing," said Demetrios Anaipakos, Gillispie's attorney in Houston. Either the athletics association or the university isn't telling the truth, he said.

This is an interesting development in Gillispie's case and millions of dollars are hinging on which organization actually employed the former UK coach.

Cumberlands Hosts Successful Big Man Camp

The University of the Cumberlands Men’s Basketball program hosted its annual Big Man Camp from June 28th to July 2nd. Nearly 60 athletes attended this year’s camp with the Patriots’ coaching staff and fellow colleagues.

The campers completed numerous drills for the first two sessions of the day as they ended each day with team games and scrimmages. The campers showed hard work and dedication throughout the week. Lots of conditioning was incorporated into the camp this year so that the players would leave with a better knowledge of the game as well as in better shape.

Assistant University of the Cumberlands Men’s Basketball Coach Mark Vernon commented, “We had another great week of camp. Our individual camp is tough, as we play basketball from 9 to 9 every day. The campers were all very interested in learning and worked very hard all week. We had some very skilled posts and guards this week which made the camp very enjoyable for the coaches.”

Press Release from UC

Matt Grady Named Assistant Coach at Morehead State

Press Release from Morehead State:

Matt Grady, an experienced coach at the highest collegiate level, has been named Assistant Men's Basketball Coach at Morehead State. Head coach Donnie Tyndall announced Grady's appointment this week. Grady comes to Morehead State with experience at the University of Louisville on two occasions, the University of Cincinnati, New Mexico State, Murray State, and St. Joseph's.

"I am really excited to join Coach Tyndall and the Morehead State basketball program and university. I look forward to working for Coach Tyndall and along with his staff to help them continue their great success. I want to thank him, and I know we'll have a lot of fun," said Grady. "Also I really appreciate everything Coach (Rick) Pitino and Coach (Mick) Cronin did for me and all the opportunities that they have afforded me. I cannot thank them enough for all I have learned."

Grady most recently served as an administrative assistant on Pitino's staff at Louisville. He also worked with Pitino at U of L as a program assistant in Pitino's first two years at the school in 2001-02 and 2002-03. The Cardinals won 44 games during that span.

"We are very pleased to add Matt Grady to our staff. He has worked for a great coach in Mick Cronin and, in my opinion, the best coach in America in Coach Pitino," said Tyndall. "He was a part of two OVC championships and has a great feel for our league.

"I truly believe that Matt is one of the best young assistants in college basketball and we are thrilled that he is now part of the Eagle basketball family."

"Matt is one of the hardest working people I have had the pleasure to work with," said Pitino. "He'll do a fantastic job at Morehead State. His energy is boundless."
Prior to his role in Louisville, Grady was an assistant coach at New Mexico State. He helped guide the Aggies to a 21-14 record in 2007-08.

Grady was the Director of Basketball Operations at Cincinnati with Cronin in 2006-07 and also served under Cronin for three seasons prior to that at Murray State. At Murray State, Grady was the team academic liaison and played a key role in all aspects of on-the-floor coaching for a Racer program that produced a three-year record of 69-23.

He began his coaching career with Phil Martelli at St. Joseph's University as a student assistant. He also played on the junior varsity squad at St. Joe's and earned his bachelor's degree in finance in 2001.

Grady is a native of Springfield, N.J., where he played alongside former Duke All-American and Chicago Bulls' star Jay Williams at St. Joseph's High School. Along with Williams, he also teamed with Golden State Warriors' standout Al Harrington when the two played for the New Jersey Roadrunners AAU club.

Team USA Defeats France in FIBA U19 Play

United States U19 71
France U19 55

2009 FIBA U19 World Championships in New Zealand

The United States U19 team guaranteed themselves a spot in the next round of the FIBA World Championships with a win over France. The Americans jumped out to a 35-20 halftime lead and then breezed through the second half to improve to 2-0 in the tournament.

Duke transfer Seth Curry scored 12 points to lead the United States. Gordan Hayward added 11 points and Ashton Gibbs contributed 10 in the victory.

It was not a good day for the Americans with Kentucky ties. Shelvin Mack was 0-5 from the field and did not score in the game. Kentucky's Darius Miller played 14 minutes, scored 2 points and had 3 turnovers.

Landon Slone May Be Eligible for Morehead in 2009-10

There are several people who feel that the NCAA will be lenient given Landon Slone's unfortunate departure from the University of Kentucky that they will likely allow Slone to be eligible for the 2009-10 season. Slone has transferred to Morehead State and will give the Eagles a nice boost in their hopes of repeating as OVC champions.

The Eagles and head coach Donnie Tyndall return a solid rotation of talented players, including a good recruiting class and Notre Dame transfer Ty Proffitt.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Doran Lamb Still Favoring Kentucky

There were rumors that 2010 guard Doran Lamb would commit to the Kentucky Wildcats soon after his unofficial visit last weekend. While he has not given a commitment yet, he has announced publicly that the Wildcats are his leader. In comments to Jeff Goodman at, Lamb stated that he’s “still open”, but that Kentucky “is at the top.”

On his visit to Kentucky:

“It was a great experience,” Lamb, the No. 5 point guard in the Class of 2010, said at the Paul Pierce Skills Academy in Boston. “The fans go crazy. I hung out with the coaching staff, John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins, and got to see the practice facility."

Lamb has also visited Louisville and told Jeff he’s also considering Kansas, Oklahoma, Marquette and UConn.


Antwain Barbour Signs With Top-Level Spanish Team

Former Kentucky Wildcat Antwain Barbour has signed with a top-level team in Spain.

He most recently played for Erdemirspor Belediyesi in the Turkish Basketball League, the same league where Gerald Fitch (Kentucky) was recently named MVP and also where Chris Lofton (Tennessee) played last season. In Turkey, Barbour was in the league's top 10 in scoring with 18.3 point per game.

Barbour played for Tenerife Rural in a lower-level Spanish League before his move to Turkey. He averaged 18.9 points per game at Ternerife last season to lead the LEB Gold league. He also led the league in scoring in 2007-08 with 19.5 points per outing.

Since leaving UK in 2004, Barbour has made stops in the ABA, CBA, Spain and Turkey.

Pikeville College Adds Chris Donald to 2009 Class

Pikeville College head coach Kelly Wells has announced the signing of Chris Donald, a 6'5" guard transfer from Pfeiffer University.

Chris Donald

Number: 20
Position: Guard
Height: 6'5''
Weight: 200
Hometown: Boston, MA
Previous Schools: UMASS Lowell / Pfeiffer University
Class: 2010
Major: Management

Summary from Coach Wells:

Chris is transferred from UMASS Lowell where he played under Coach Ken Barer. The Catholic Conference MVP came into his own during his junior year at Catholic Memorial High School. Donald led the Knights to the conference regular-season title on the strength of 23 points and nine rebounds per game. The 6-foot-5-inch swingman also helped the Knights get a berth in the EMass finals, where they lost to eventual state champion Charlestown. Chris was named to the prestigious Boston Globe and Boston Herald All Scholastic Team in 2005-2006. Donald, who played AAU basketball for the Boston Metro squad, was also invited to the Adidas Superstar camp in Atlanta, Ga., one of the top national high school camps.

Chris is the son of Grady Donald and Liz Clark.
College Stats:

Pfeiffer - Sophomore - 47% FG, 34% 3FG, 79% FT, 11 PPG, 4 RPG

UMASS-Lowell – Freshman - 39% FG, 24% 3FG, 63% FT, 5 PPG, 2 RPG

USA U19 Team Crushes Iran in FIBA Play

USA U19 106
Iran U19 55

2009 FIBA U19 World Championships in New Zealand

Team USA jumped out of the gates in a strong manner at the FIBA U19 World Championships in New Zealand. The Americans were impressive in soundly defeating Iran by a score of 106-55. Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor led the United States with 13 points. Seth Curry added 12 points while John Shurna managed a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds.

Butler's Gordon Hayward scored 9 points and pulled down 5 rebounds for the Americans. Butler teammate Shelvin Mack, a graduate of Bryan Station High School, contributed 7 points, 3 assists, 3 steals and 2 rebounds.

University of Kentucky sophomore Darius Miller filled the stat sheet up in 16 minutes of play. He had 4 points (2-2 FG), 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 blocks and a team-high 6 steals.

Box Score from

Transy's Carrigan Named Head Coach at Indiana HS

Toby Carrigan, Transylvania's assistant basketball and head cross country coach, has been named boys' varsity basketball coach at South Dearborn High School in Aurora, Ind.

Carrigan has been on the men's basketball staff at Transy since the 2000-01 season. He worked first for former men's coach Don Lane for a season, then became current coach Brian's Lane's top assistant in the 2001-02 campaign.

He has also been the men's and women's cross country coach at Transy since 2002-03.Carrigan is a native of Rising Sun, Ind., which is near Aurora. He played college basketball at Hanover before graduating in 1998. He also coached a season at Rising Sun.

At Transy, Carrigan concentrated on recruiting and coaching the team's defensive schemes. The Pioneers were ranked No. 1 in the NAIA during the 2000-01 season and have made the NCAA Division III Tournament on three occasions during Carrigan's tenure: 2005-06, 2006-07, and 2008-09. The 2006 team advanced to the round of eight.

Press Release from Transylvania

Bellarmine's Fagbenle Granted Additional Year by NCAA

The NCAA has informed Bellarmine University that it has approved a request for waiver and awarded men's basketball player Oladapo Fagbenle another year of eligibility. The 6-9 center from London, England transferred to Bellarmine last year after playing at Campbell University.

Fagbenle spent four years at Campbell, but competed only two years. He red-shirted one year and an injury prevented him from competing another year.

Fagbenle was eligible for the waiver under NCAA Division II bylaw, which states "For a student-athlete who does not use a season of competition during his or her initial year of full-time collegiate enrollment at any institution, a waiver may be granted".

"I'm very excited to be back with the team," said a jubilant Fagbenle who was notified by phone of the NCAA's decision while he was home in his native London. "I'm looking forward to reuniting with my teammates and finishing my master's."

Press Release from Bellarmine

Samardo Samuels Impresses in Jamaican Loss

Trinidad and Tobago 88
Jamaica 76

CBC Championship - Group A

Jamaica, one of the favorites to win the Caribbean Basketball Championships, were surprised 88-76 by Trinidad and Tobago yesterday in Tortola, British Virgin Islands.

Steven Lewis led all scorers with 27 points for Trinidad and Tobago. Reginald Reggie George, from Robert Morris, added 18 points for the winners.

University of Louisville standout, Samardo Samuels, led the way for the Jamaicans with 22 points, followed by 21 points from Providence University guard, Weyinmi Efejuku. Ricky Johns and Andre Smith both added 10 points each, as Jamaica placed four players in double-figures.

Jamaica return to the court tomorrow to face a tough Bahamas team.

Xavier Henry Will Stay at Kansas

In another bizarre twist, it looks like Xavier Henry will now stay at Kansas. Henry has once again managed to make bloggers, sources and Kentucky fans look like fools!

BREAKING NEWS: Xavier Henry will stay at KU

Highly touted basketball recruit Xavier Henry told 610 Sports Radio exclusively late Tuesday night "I'm going to Kansas and that's final." There was some doubt as to his commitment after his father, Carl Henry told 610 Sports Radio's Chris and Cowboy that Kentucky may still be an option. Henry says a recent article in the KC Star painted the family in a bad light and that Xavier had expressed a few weeks ago a desire to play with some recruits committed to Kentucky. Click here to listen to the full interview.


Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Sources: Xavier Henry to Kentucky

There are various sources reporting that Xavier Henry will leave Kansas and become a Kentucky Wildcat. A Kansas site is saying that C.J. Henry will be coming to Kentucky, as well. It is important to note that this is unofficial (at least for now).

Stay tuned for an official announcement...

By the way, Xavier Henry is #25 on the Google Hot Trends list as of 11:20 p.m.

UPDATE: Kentucky Sports Radio is hearing similar reports

UPDATE #2: A Kansas site is reporting: Andy Katz has picked up on the Henry situation and that Carl has informed him that Kentucky would ultimately be the destination for his sons, not just Xavier, but CJ as well; here is an Andy Katz article from earlier tonight - the important line: "Players can't sign two national letter of intents, so nothing is binding."

FINAL UPDATE: Xavier Henry now states that he will stay with Kansas.

My Message to the Henry's: You know you're joining something special when the head coach of an SEC rival says, "You see, that uniform is not just a uniform. It's a special piece of cloth, it's sacred. It demands our best. Forty-three SEC championships, twenty-five tournament championships, seven national championships. The winningnest program in college basketball. That's what it demands. It demands our best, all our sweat and tears because of the great players that came before us that paved the way - and there are many. No, you see, it's not just another jersey - it's a matter of the heart."

- John Pelphrey, Head Coach of the Arkansas Razorbacks

Rivals 2011 Top 100 is Released has released its Top 100 list for the class of 2011. St. Patrick (NJ) forward Mike Gilchrist leads the way, followed by sensational guard Marquis Teague from Indianapolis Pike (IN).

Michael Chandler, a 6-10 center that is committed to Louisville, ranks 17th on the updated list. Another Cardinal commit, Ryan Taylor from Indianapolis Lawrence North (IN), is ranked #43.

The only Kentucky high school players that make the top 100 are Bowling Green's Chane Behanan at #86 and DuPont Manual's Tony Kimbro at #88. Top 10 for 2011:

1. Mike Gilchrist, F, 6-6/190 (List includes Kentucky)
2. Marquis Teague, G, 6-2/170 (List includes Louisville)
3. Quincy Miller, F, 6-8/180 (List includes Kentucky)
4. Austin Rivers, G, 6-3/175 (Committed to Florida)
5. James McAdoo, F, 6-9/205
6. Rakeem Christmas, C, 6-8/200
7. Bradley Beal, G, 6-3/170
8. LeBryan Nash, F, 6-7/212
9. Anthony Wroten, Jr., G, 6-4/18o (List includes Louisville)
10. Johnny O'Bryant, F, 6-8/220

Complete 2011 Top 100 List

Q&A with Chartrael Hall

Chartrael Hall went on a heck of a ride since graduating from Manual High School in Louisville. He played two years at NAIA Division II Spalding University in Louisville where he led the Pelicans (now Golden Eagles) to the NAIA National Tournament in 2007 and received All-American honors. He transferred to NCAA Division II Bellarmine University after the '06-'07 season and led the Knights to its first NCAA Tournament since 1989 in his senior year. After connecting with IU-Southeast coaches and former Louisville Cardinals Wiley Brown and Scooter McCray, Hall was hooked up with Allen Houston, who helped him set up a workout with the New York Knicks earlier this month, and now Hall is looking to begin his professional career. I caught up with Chartrael this afternoon and talked to him about his aspirations and what it was like to work out for the Knicks.

TY: How did the tryout come about?
CH: I went over to IU-Southeast, and I'm really cool with Wiley Brown and Scooter McCray. They're like my big brothers — they look out for me. Scooter got me hooked up with Allen Houston, and we set everything up, and I went up there June 17 for a workout with the Knicks.

TY: Was it cool working out with those DI guys?
CH: Yeah, but I don't look at them like they're something big; they got lucky and got the opportunity, and I didn't get the opportunity to play DI. I have the utmost respect for them, but you deal with politics a lot. Once you're all on the same playing level, it doesn't matter what school you went to — they want to see your talent and how you perform.

TY: Take me through what the workouts were like.
CH: I started off with the basic height, weight, wingspan, body fat and all that. Then we went to the bench press, then agility drills, foot speed, covering the lane, vertical, everything like that. Then we went into running their offense, which is basically guard up top, big man on the elbow, man in the corner, and you ahve to pass and cut and sprint and keep moving and just knock down the open shots. Then we started doing a lot of full-court shooting drills, one-on-one, one-on-one in the post, two-on-two, three-on-three, half court, full court. It was about a two-and-a-half-hour workout.

TY: How did you do?
CH: I did extremely well. There were about 40 people in the gym; there were scouts in there. Allen was talking and letting me know, 'You did great.' Mike D'antoni was impressed because I'm coming from a small DII school, so they were very impressed. One of the scouts actually talked to Allen, so I'm going to go through him and get an agent and go overseas somewhere.

TY: Have you been looking at places where you could end up?
CH: I have some offers in Germany, and I've got one in Iceland. I was waiting to see if I'd heard something else, but I haven't picked an agent, so after I hooked up with Allen, I decided I would go through the Knicks, and whatever agent they hook me up with, that's who I'm going to run with.

TY: Is the goal to get back to the states and play in the NBA?
CH: Most definitely, most definitely. I'm trying to stay in the loop right now, go over there for a year or two and sharpen up my skills and let them know that I can play and hang with the big boys and come back over.

TY: Obviously every kid's goal growing up and playing ball is to be in the NBA. Did you believe through your career that you would make the league, or at least get a tryout with the New York Knicks?
CH: No I did not, not at all. My mom told me growing up that I was going to play in the NBA, and my mentor always told me I would get there, but me personally, I did not believe in myself because I had never gotten any attention. I had always been the guy behind the scenes, always been overlooked. I definitely dreamed about it all the time, so it's kind of a dream come true.

TY: How crazy is that, going from an NAIA DII school to NCAA DII to is just a whirlwind?
CH: It's amazing. It shows the power of God. If you believe in God, you can do all things. Live an uncommon life, you get uncommon blessings and have uncommon faith. I just got closer to God and he took me from Spalding, going to nationals where I led in scoring and rebounding for two games and got my all-american honors. Came over to Bellarmine and took them back to the NCAA tournament. The best-winning season, 26-7, best start — 14-0, #2 in the nation, sold out four games, it just goes on and on and on with all these accomplishments this season. But it's great, the best feeling ever.

TY: How much did you improve under your coach at Bellarmine (Scott Davenport)?
CH: I really didn't improve with him, it was through my mentor, Chris Morris. He wanted me to come because of the way I play. Coaches want you to come to their school because of the way you play. Yes they help you any way they can, but it was really like, Chartrael's gonna play his game the way that I play — I just play hard and go all out — and he had enough faith to let me do whatever I wanted to do on the floor.

TY: I heard people say you were the best point guard in the state of Kentucky last year. Is that true?
CH: Ah, well I don't know. If that's what the people are saying. I haven't heard that, but I'm grateful that they're saying that if they are. I mean, I don't know where I stand.

TY: Can you think of anybody better?
CH: In the state? At the point guard spot, not really that I can name.

TY: Well there you go!
CH: (laughing) Well Mendez-Valdez (from Western Kentucky) was good, but he wasn't really a point guard. Louisville was going through it with McGee and Sosa — they weren't really performing how they should. I mean, I won't say that I was the best, I just work hard and try to be consistent. That's all I can say, that I try to be consistent with my play.

TY: Can you hang with the best?
CH: I can definitely hang with the best.

TY: Some rapid-fire questions. Ready?
CH: Alright

TY: Kobe or LeBron?
CH: LeBron.

TY: Best Michael Jackson song?
CH: Can we go best song/video? I'll go with Do You Remember The Time.

TY: Whose fault was it — Jon or Kate?
CH: I'm gonna go with Jon.

TY: What's the last CD you bought or downloaded?
CH: Drake.

TY: What's your favorite pair of shoes you own?
CH: My Hyperdunks.

Thanks a ton to Chartrael, who is a great interview and a really nice guy. I'm looking forward to seeing where he ends up this Fall, and we'll continue to keep track of his road to try and reach his dream of playing in the league.

Donald Williams to Mississippi Gulf Coast CC

Former Kentucky Wildcat Donald Williams will be transferring to Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. I spoke to Gulf Coast assistant Patrick Wilcher earlier and he confirmed the reports that Williams has signed:

"We have signed Donald Williams. We are located in Perkinston, MS (between Hattiesburg and Gulfport). We have a very strong athletic tradition. During the upcoming season we hope to reach the 1000 wins milestone. This past season we won the Region XXIII Tournament and advanced to the NJCAA Sweet Sixteen in Hutchinson, KS. This was the fourth time since 1990 that we have made the NJCAA National Tournament. In 2007, we were the Region XXIII Runner-up. We have had two NJCAA All Americans in the past 3 seasons. We have had a lot of success with Division I transfers and we are very excited to add Donald to our program. We think Donald can be a big contributor for us next season. We will look for him to play a lot of minutes and be a leader of this year's team. We've had a solid program at Mississippi Gulf Coast over the years and we think Donald can help keep us among the nation's elite."

Gulf Coast Tradition

15 South State Championships
10 South State Runner Ups
9 State Championships
5 State Runner Ups
4 Region XXIII Championships
4 Region XXIII Runner Ups
NJCAA Elite Eight and NJCAA Final Four Appearances

Here is the team website

Xavier Henry Having Second Thoughts; UK an Option?

Xavier Henry's summer has been the gift that keeps on giving for bloggers around the nation. After a lengthy recruiting process that finally ended with Xavier and brother C.J. picking Kansas, it seemed that things were finally settled.

That does not seem to be the case, however. Today, Xavier's father did an interview that suggests his son is having second thoughts about Kansas and that the family would be meeting to determine what they would do.

Matt Jones at Kentucky Sports Radio states: Xavier Henry’s father just did an interview with a Kansas radio station in which he suggested that the circus around his son might not be over. He said that Xavier was having serious second thoughts about Kansas and that the family was “meeting tonight” to determine what they would do. He said Kentucky is an option, but Europe is not.

My Thoughts: It will be interesting to see how this will play out, particularly with Kentucky in need of a shooting guard. I'll be spending the evening looking for a "leak" or any breaking news. Stay tuned!

Louisville's Samardo Samuels to Play for Team Jamaica

Press release from Louisville:

University of Louisville sophomore forward Samardo Samuels will compete as a member of the Jamaican National Basketball team in the Carribean Basketball Championship (CBC) to be held June 30 through July 4 in Tortola, British Virgin Islands.

Team Jamaica will face Trinidad and Tobago in its opening game on Tuesday. The team is coached by Sam Vincent, former head coach of the NBA Charlotte Bobcats who played seven years in the NBA for Boston, Seattle, Chicago and Orlando.

Samuels, who hails from Trelawny, Jamaica, scored a game-high 21 points to lead Team Jamaica to a 107-56 victory over a team of NBL (National Basketball League of Jamaica) All-Stars last Friday in its final exhibition game. The Jamaicans beat that same NBL team last Tuesday 96-57 during its preparations for the upcoming tournament.

Samuels' 11.8 scoring average last season was the seventh-highest ever for a freshman at Louisville. He ranked 11th in the BIG EAST in blocked shots (1.3) and was seventh in field goal percentage (.578). A member of the BIG EAST All-Rookie team, he grabbed 4.9 rebounds a game and his 51 dunks were the second most ever in a single season at U of L. The Cardinals posted a 31-6 record last season, won the BIG EAST regular season and tournament championships and reached the NCAA Elite Eight.

The Jamaican team also features two other BIG EAST Conference players: Providence forward Weyinmi Efejuku of Providence and Rutgers guard Mike Coburn. Jamaica last won the CBC title in 2006. Team Jamaica will face The Bahamas on Wednesday before playing Barbados in it final group match on Thursday.

D.C. Reeves: Happy Osborne a Wild Card in UWF Search

An article by D.C. Reeves in the Pensacola News Journal discusses his favorites for the West Florida head coaching position. It also labels several, including Georgetown College coach Happy Osborne, as "wild cards."

Reeves states that his favorites for the job are Central Florida assistant Craig Brown and former Pensacola High School coach Bob Stinnett. His wild cards are former Georgia Southern coach Jeff Price, current Alderson-Broaddus College coach Greg Zimmerman and Osborne.

His thoughts on Osborne:

Happy Osborne, head coach, Georgetown College (Ky.) — Osborne has helped build an NAIA dynasty. But he's been there 30 years, why is he looking to leave now? Plus, he oversees a program with a ton of financial support. UWF won't be that way.

Here is the Article from

Matt Pilgrim "Wants a Piece" of Kentucky

Matt Pilgrim, who will be transferring from the Kentucky basketball team, has visited Mempis. During the visit, he spoke a group of Memphis reporters and was not shy in stating his feelings about Kentucky. He said if he winds up at Memphis that he hopes the Tigers schedule Kentucky.

In speaking on new Kentucky coach John Calipari, Pilgrim stated, "He just gave me a sit the bench or go somewhere and play. So, you know he basically gave me a choice but it wasn't really a choice at the same time."

He said that Calipari did not give him a reason why he wouldn't play much at Kentucky and in fact, Calipari told him that he has NBA ability if he works hard.

"I told him I was willing to work hard, but I guess it wasn't convincing enough," Pilgrim said.

On the rumors that he gave Kentucky's All-SEC big man Patrick Patterson plenty of trouble in practice, Pilgrim said, ""That's definitely accurate, that's why I'm surprised I'm still not there."

Complete Article from

Monday, June 29, 2009

Q&A: Dan Wolken of The Memphis Commercial-Appeal

Since John Calipari made the move from Memphis to Lexington, I have spent numerous hours visiting various Memphis-media sites. I have covered everything from the infamous door, to R.J. Corman private planes, to the recruitment of Lance Stephenson lately. In fact, I would say (quietly of course) that I am becoming somewhat of a Memphis basketball fan. If the Tigers ever face the Kentucky Wildcats, I will be religiously cheering for the Cats, but I am hopeful that Josh Pastner will continue to build on Calipari's progress at Memphis.

One Memphis site that I frequent is, which is associated with several journalists from The Memphis Commercial-Appeal newspaper. I enjoy the articles written by Dan Wolken, who has been with the Commerical-Appeal since 2006.

Over the weekend, I caught-up with Dan for a Q&A session. I thought it would be interesting to get his take on the events that have taken place in the basketball programs at Memphis and Kentucky.

BSB: Dan, thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to chat with me. Let's start by telling the readers a little about yourself. How long you’ve worked for The Commerical-Appeal and how long have you been covering the Tigers?

Wolken: I started at the CA in October 2006. My first story was about Derrick Rose coming on an official visit. I had worked in Colorado Springs previously, and had been talking to the people in Memphis for a couple months about the job (it came open when Gary Parrish went to CBS but it took awhile to get everything finalized. I didn’t have much time to dip my toes in the water, so to speak. I had to get a running start into the 06-07 season, and it’s pretty much been nonstop craziness ever since.

BSB: Talk a little about the Memphis program during Calipari’s tenure. What changes did you see with the program from the hiring of Calipari to the time he left for Kentucky?

Wolken: My tenure here basically covers the last third of the Calipari era at Memphis, and each third was markedly different. The first third was marked by a lot of expectations and some disappointment. He brought in Dajuan Wagner as his first big recruit, and that was a huge deal, but things didn’t really work out the way people thought. In the second third, the program started to improve, but there was a lot of off-court drama. His fifth year was definitely the toughest. That was supposed to be “the” team, but it was just a disaster with Sean Banks and all of his troubles. When that team didn’t make the NCAA Tournament, there were definitely some people questioning the direction of the program. Then in Calipari’s sixth year, when he brought in the Laurinburg guys, things changed dramatically. I came in right after that year, and the program pretty much blew up from that point on. I think it’s fair to say that, over the course of nine years, pretty much everything about the program changed. Facilities, travel, the way the program recruited, the way it was perceived nationally, the fan base. You could go on and on. But much of that happened in the last 3-4 years. It just absolutely exploded. John demanded a lot from the AD and boosters, and he got a lot, but in the long run the investment they made will pay off because the program now has the infrastructure in place to maintain at a high level.

BSB: What was the general consensus of how the fans in Memphis felt and reacted upon the announcement that Calipari was leaving?

Wolken: I think any time a coach leaves, there’s going to be that sense of betrayal and disappointment among the fan base. It was especially pronounced with this situation because Memphis fans felt like they were going to be No. 1 in the country again in 2009-10 with the recruiting class that was coming in. And the reality is, Memphis really needed that recruiting class. Some guys had been encouraged to leave to make room for new recruits. There had been some recruiting misses the last couple years, guys Memphis maybe shouldn’t have taken and some other guys they passed on that turned out to be very good. Some veteran guys hadn’t developed like they had hoped. It was obvious that Calipari wasn’t real happy with the roster. He had talked all year long about bringing in eight, maybe nine new guys. The mix of one-and-dones, four-year guys and junior college transfers would have basically reset the roster for the next few years.
Then he leaves, and poof, that recruiting class is gone. For the fan base, it was a huge shock to the system. When you looked at the roster the day he left, you’re like, “Can these guys even field a team next year?” Plus, Calipari said a couple things during the whole process that he probably shouldn’t have said. Getting off the plane in Memphis after the Sweet 16 game and telling the fan base, “Memphis is where I want to coach,” then turning around and taking the Kentucky job a couple days later didn’t endear him to people here.

BSB: Why do you feel it took a successful coach like Calipari this long to get a BCS coaching position? Are you aware of any other BCS offers he has received during his tenure at Memphis?

Wolken: He could have taken any number of jobs, but the reality is that Memphis was the best setup for him until the moment Kentucky came after him, and he knew that. He had total control over every aspect of the program, all the resources he could want, and a guaranteed No. 1 or No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament every year as long as he was recruiting guys like Derrick Rose and Tyreke Evans. The only time he ever seriously thought about leaving was the N.C. State situation in 2006, which was really more about a contract dispute with the athletic director that eventually got smoothed over. Arkansas made him a very good offer the next year, good enough that he had to at least look at it, but I don’t think he ever seriously considered going there. But it is true that he had been largely overlooked for the traditionally elite jobs (UK, Indiana, UCLA) before this year. My guess is that Calipari, for a long time, had to fight off the reputation for being a great recruiter but average coach (which, for the most part, was unfair). And there was probably some skepticism about his past, especially regarding the UMass/Camby situation.

BSB: As someone that has watched many Memphis games under Calipari, talk a little about his DDM offense and the strengths/weaknesses you’ve noticed in his game plans and in-game adjustments.

Wolken: You know, it’s remarkable to me how much people talk about the DDM, which is exactly why Calipari runs it (I think he’s selling those videotapes now; someone told me it’s like $200 bucks for the set.) But to me, the genius of Calipari is pretty simple. He recruits really good players and gets them to play really hard. Everything else is kind of just fan fodder. I would contend that if you put Derrick Rose and Chris Douglas-Roberts in your backcourt, you can run pretty much any offense you want and those guys are going to kill people in college basketball. As far as the DDM itself, it’s definitely wide open; guys have freedom in that system, and it’s a good sell on the recruiting trail. Otherwise, I’m not a huge fan of it. I saw Memphis get taken out of that offense way, way too much by zones and junk defenses, and it can look downright ugly when that happens and shots aren’t falling. The fact is, when teams go zone, you can’t really run the DDM. You have to have make shots and force teams to go back to man. That was really the flaw for Memphis last year, and Calipari knew that. Every time I talked to him, he lamented the fact that they hadn’t recruited enough shooters and was really in the process of changing his recruiting approach to get more guys who could make shots even if they weren’t as athletic. If you look at the game tapes, Memphis barely ran the DDM at all last year. There’s no doubt that going to the DDM when he did made Calipari think differently about basketball, and I think it really rejuvenated his career. On the other hand, I know a couple coaches who would take you into the film room and just trash it. At the end of the day, it’s really all about players.

Having said that, Calipari is very underrated as a practice coach. People don’t really talk about that, which is unfair. The stuff about “just rolling the ball out” is bunk. There are coaches who just roll the ball out; I’ve seen them. But watching Calipari in action would dispel that notion pretty quickly. I think for the most part, he and Robic also do a very good job of putting together a gameplan (the Missouri game notwithstanding) for their guys. They totally coached circles around Ben Howland at the Final Four a couple years ago. This last year at Tennessee, they had a brilliant plan to hold the ball and slow the game down, and it worked. I was shocked they didn’t do the same against Missouri in the NCAAs. Instead, they tried to run, and that was a fatally bad decision. The main criticism I’d have of Calipari as a coach is that he gets too emotionally wrapped up in the heat of the game. During games, I don’t think he coaches for strategy nearly as much as he coaches for effort. If a guy doesn’t give an effort on a play, he’s coming out. That’s what he’s watching for at least 95% of the time. He is as animated and borderline maniacal on the sidelines as any coach in the country, always imploring guys to play harder or run faster. But hey, guys play really, really hard for him.

BSB: Calipari is without question an excellent recruiter. He has brought in top-level talent at all stops in his career, but his recruiting success has not been without criticism. As someone that followed the program closely, have you noticed any red flags that would make you question Calipari’s recruiting practices?

Wolken: Any coach who recruits the top players in the country spends a lot of time working in the gray areas. Package deals, hiring someone close to a player, etc. – Calipari certainly isn’t the only coach who has done that stuff. And one thing I know is true is that any successful coach is going to have to deal with a lot of questionable characters along the way, because top-level players attract questionable characters. The two issues that have gotten a lot of attention specific to Calipari are the academic stuff and the stuff with William Wesley, or “Worldwide Wes.” Calipari’s run at Memphis was built on a bunch of guys who came from Laurinburg Prep, which had a lot of question marks attached to it when the prep school scandal came up a couple years ago. It’s especially relevant now in light of the Derrick Rose/SAT stuff. With Wes, you know, that’s a topic that we’d need a lot more time to discuss fully, but a lot of people have questions about him and what exactly he does and how he makes his living. I’m not sure Wes ever intended to get this famous, but certainly everyone who follows recruiting closely knows about him.

BSB: We have already witnessed the first few of what will likely be many Memphis/Kentucky recruiting battles. Calipari and Pastner are both excellent recruiters that go after similar types of players. How do you see the Calipari-Pastner recruiting battles playing out?

Wolken: Despite what we’ve seen with Eric Bledsoe and Will Barton, I’m not really sure how often they’ll go head-to-head. It will happen occasionally, but Pastner’s most fertile recruiting territory is going to be Memphis, Mississippi, Texas, etc. Calipari will work New York, Philly, D.C., etc. Pastner will pick his spots against Cal, and if there’s a particular circumstance or relationship that he can use to his advantage, he’ll have a good chance to get a kid. Otherwise, it’s going to be tough. They’ll probably also battle over some Memphis kids; at least that’s the word around town. There’s a lot of talent here in the 2010, 2011 and 2012 classes, but I think it will be hard for Cal. It’s the same reason why good players from Memphis never go to Tennessee. Bruce Pearl and his staff have spent a ton of time here, and they haven’t gotten anybody out of Memphis. There’s just so much anti-Tennessee sentiment around the Memphis kids that, at the end of the day, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for them to go there when it’s a shorter drive to Arkansas, Alabama, Missouri, Georgia Tech, etc., and they don’t have to deal with the grief. The anti-Kentucky sentiment, at least right now, is comparable, and Calipari will have the added challenge here of overcoming his history with the Memphis high school coaches. Calipari didn’t recruit Memphis kids when he was here, and when he left the relationship between the Memphis program and the local recruiting scene was in a state of disrepair. Pastner has turned that around, and it would surprise me if he doesn’t get most of the players out of Memphis that he wants.

BSB: What are your thoughts on Elliot Williams?

Wolken: Elliot is indeed coming to Memphis. It’s a big deal for the program. Local kid, great kid, great academically and a heck of a player. It’s unfortunate that he ends up at Memphis this way, because his mom is sick. He should still be at Duke, but nonetheless, having a kid like that back home is a huge story locally.

BSB: Your thoughts on Lance Stephenson? Is Memphis still hoping to land Stephenson?

Wolken: I doubt it, especially now that Elliot Williams is in the fold. The Memphis staff tried really hard to get on Lance, and they had some conversations early on. But then, from what I’ve heard, the Memphis staff couldn’t reach Lance or his father for a time. Once the Stephensons stopped returning phone calls, the Memphis staff pretty much stopped calling.

BSB: How do you see Kentucky’s season playing out? How do you see Memphis’ season playing out?

Wolken: It will be extremely interesting to watch Kentucky this year with a whole team of guys who have never been coached by John before. Obviously, they’re loaded with terrific players, but it might take awhile for things to click. Derrick Rose wasn’t an elite college player until mid-February. Tyreke Evans was horrendous until mid-January. Even with guys of that ability level, it doesn’t happen automatically. Kentucky will certainly be a Sweet 16 caliber team. They’ll have an opportunity to go further if they figure out who’s going to make perimeter shots, since that seems to be an area of concern right now.

I have no clue where to peg Memphis, and especially since we don’t know for sure yet if Elliot Williams is going to be eligible. If he is, I think Memphis will be picked first or second in Conference USA and could be a top-25 type team if things fall the right way.

Check out Dan Wolken's work at:

The Memphis Edge

The Memphis Commercial-Appeal

Follow Dan on Twitter

UK Asks Court to Dismiss or Move Gillispie Lawsuit

The Lexington Herald-Leader is reporting that the University of Kentucky has asked a federal court in Texas to dismiss former UK basketball coach Billy Gillispie's lawsuit or at least move the case to a Kentucky courtroom.

UK's attorneys filed the school's motion to dismiss late Friday in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas in Dallas, where Gillispie sued the UK Athletics Association last month, alleging breach of contract.

The university also had filed a countersuit in Franklin District Court in Kentucky last month claiming that Gillispie had sued the wrong entity in the wrong venue.

Gillispie "attempts to bring these convoluted claims against UKAA to avoid the fact that the university is a state agency of the Commonwealth of Kentucky and, due to sovereign immunity, cannot be sued in Texas," wrote UK attorneys Stephen L. Barker of the Lexington firm Sturgill, Turner, Barker & Maloney and Michael P. Royal, a Dallas-based lawyer.

"Alternatively, the lawsuit should be transferred to Kentucky — where the overwhelming majority of the witnesses reside and where the alleged acts for the basis of this suit occurred."

Vinny Zollo Will Re-Open Recruitment

I was just messaged by someone close to the George Rogers Clark team who says Vinny Zollo will decommit from Kentucky and open his recruitment up.

Zollo likes Kentucky, but with the changes that have occurred lately, he likely feels the need to at least explore a bit.

Vinny seems like a genuinely "good" kid. I wish him nothing but the best in the future and hope he finds happiness in his basketball career.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Ramel Bradley Signed by France ProA Team

Former Kentucky Wildcat sharpshooter Ramel Bradley has been signed by a top-level team in France.

Dijon bolstered their squad with the addition of Ramel Bradley (188-G-85). Bradley is a 24-year-old guard who last played in Croatia. He averaged 15.1 points, 2.4 assists per game with Cedevita.

Ramel Bradley graduated from Kentucky where he tallied 15.9 points, 4.2 boards and 3.4 assists per game in the senior season.


Chris Lofton Invited to Join Celtics' Summer League Team

An impressive season in Turkey has paid dividends for former Mason County and University of Tennessee star Chris Lofton. Lofton has been invited to join the Boston Celtics Summer League squad.

"Boston got in contact with my agent when I was playing Turkey and said it was interested,’’ Lofton said. “I’m definitely planning on going to the (NBA) summer league with Boston.’’


Andy Katz Looks at 2010 NBA Draft Prospects

ESPN's Andy Katz has released an article that takes an early look at the NBA draft stock of various college players. He includes three Kentucky players in his article. Here is what he has to say about DeMarcus Cousins, Patrick Patterson and John Wall:

John Wall, Kentucky: Wall will be the projected No. 1 pick throughout the season. He has game-changing ability on every possession. He can fly as a lead guard and will be extremely tough to stay in front of on a possession. He could, and should, be Calipari's second No. 1 pick in three seasons after coaching Derrick Rose at Memphis in 2008. Of course, it helped Rose's candidacy for the top spot when he led the Tigers to the national title game. Wall could do the same at Kentucky.

Patrick Patterson, Kentucky: Patterson returned to school because he didn't think he was ready for the NBA. Great call. He clearly knows his game. He should flourish playing for Calipari, and there's no doubt the interest in him will only increase, as he likely will lead Kentucky to great things. Without Jodie Meeks, Patterson will be counted on to be more vocal. If he stays healthy, proves he's a leader and continues to be productive, his evaluation likely will be extremely positive.

DeMarcus Cousins, Kentucky: Cousins comes to a team expected to compete for the national title with plenty of hype. But how John Calipari uses him and how he meshes with Patrick Patterson are questions still unanswered. He's not ready for the NBA, but if Kentucky has a banner season and he flourishes, he could be tempted for a short stay with the Wildcats.

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Scott County's Ge'lawn Guyn Commits to Charlotte is reporting that Scott County star Ge'lawn Guyn has committed to the Charlotte 49ers. Charlotte is a member of the Atlantic-10 Conference in NCAA Division I.

Guyn's Evaluation:

May, 2009: This combination guard has excellent size. Guyn has long arms and a wiry strong body. He is a good athlete that is athletic. He can finish above the rim in transition and scores with baseline slashes to the basket with touch and body control around taller defenders. Guyn can attack the lane with either hand but seems to favor going to his left as he hangs in the air for an athletic pull up jumper or floater. Guyn knocked down a couple open three with time and space as well. He was open on the arc because his defender played off due to him being such a threat to get in the lane with his quick first step. Guyn was an impressive passer as he penetrated and kicked to open teammates and he also made pinpoint passes against full court pressure down the floor. His size allows him to see over traps and deliver the ball with ease over a smaller defender. Guyn is a versatile enough to be affective with the ball or playing the wing. He seems to be more comfortable on the wing but he has the tools and talent to be a play the point with game repetitions. Guyn is an excellent on ball defender that plays with urgency. His hands are active and his feet are quick enough to beat the offensive player to where he wants to go. His stance looks great and he has the ability and size to defend all three perimeter positions.

ESPN is also showing that Guyn has committed

Photo: Courier-Journal

USA U19 Defeats Croatia; Mack Scores 12

USA U19 97
Croatia U19 68

International Friendly

Shelvin Mack: 12 pts, 6 ast, 4 stl

Less than 24 hours after arriving in Auckland, New Zealand, the USA U19 World Championship Team got its first taste of real international basketball in a friendly scrimmage against Croatia's U19 National Team. The USA used its superior depth and balanced scoring to record a 97-68 victory.

The USA squad, which does not feature any player with previous true international experience, was paced by Seth Curry's (Duke / Charlotte, N.C.) 16 points (4-7 3pt FGs), Ashton Gibbs (Pittsburgh / Scotch Plains, N.J.) added 15 points and Shelvin Mack (Butler / Lexington, Ky.) accounted for 12 points, six assists and four steals. Outrebounding Croatia 43-25, John Shurna (Northwestern / Glen Ellyn, Ill.) led the way on the glass with eight rebounds to go with nine points, and Howard Thompkins (Georgia / Lithonia, Ga.) added seven boards and seven points.

"It went pretty well. It took us a while to get used to the conditions and getting used to playing overseas basketball, but I think we got better as the game went along and we’re making strides right now," said Curry. "They’re (Croatia) a real big team, really physical, it’s not what we’re used to, but that’s what we needed for a scrimmage game to get used to the conditions and the referees and stuff like that. I’d say the game definitely benefit us."

The United States, which has been placed in Group B, opens preliminary round play with a July 2 contest against Iran, followed by France on July 3, and the USA squad will celebrate the Fourth of July by taking on Egypt. The top three teams from each preliminary group will qualify for the preliminary second round, while the fourth place teams will qualify for the classification round to determine 13th to 16th places.

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Louisville vs. Kentucky Rivalry is Heating Up

I personally can't wait to see Kentucky and Louisville battle on the hardwood this season. When John Calipari accepted the Kentucky head coaching position, I was immediately intrigued by some of the potential coaching matchups we will see soon. I am anxiously awaiting the coaching battles between Calipari and Bruce Pearl, Billy Donovan, Roy Williams, Anthony Grant, Jim Calhoun and of course - Rick Pitino.

An article in today's Louisville Courier-Journal discusses how the Kentucky/Louisville rivalry is intensifying.

The trash talk for the U of L-University of Kentucky game has been building, and Cardinals co-captains Jerry Smith and Edgar Sosa said they've already been hearing plenty about their next trip to Rupp Arena.

"A lot of people are counting us out," Sosa said. "A lot of people, with the recruiting class that Kentucky has, already have us losing that game. Basketball doesn't work like that. I really think in my heart that we're going to be a real good team."

Sosa said he still has been getting comments about his game-winning three-pointer with 2.8 seconds left that beat UK 74-71 on Jan. 4.

Smith said the hype surrounding the arrival of UK coach John Calipari and his highly ranked recruiting class will only make the rivalry better.

"Next year is going to be nuts," Smith said. "Coach Cal is a great coach, and he's going to have success wherever he goes regardless. But Coach P (Rick Pitino) is a great coach too."

Things are heating up in the Bluegrass State.

Pair of 2010 UK Recruits Visit Other Schools

Brandon Knight and Tobias Harris, a pair of 2010 recruits that Kentucky is pursuing, took visits to other schools this weekend.

Knight, the top overall player in the 2010 class according to Rivals, took unofficial visits to Connecticut and Yale this weekend.

“It was fine. He hasn’t made up his mind or anything. I live in Connecticut for the summer and he came to visit and he went to visit a couple of schools,” said Dave Beckerman, Knight’s coach at Ft Lauderdale (FL) Pine Crest.

Knight has picked up offers from and outstanding list that includes Connecticut, Duke, Florida, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Kentucky, Miami and Syracuse.

"He hasn’t made up his mind,” Beckerman said. “He’s a very bright kid. He was here on a visit and he wanted to see different things and he’s visiting different schools on an unofficial basis so that he can get a feel for it.”

Beckerman said there’s no timetable for a decision.

“He’s going to let the process play out,” he said. “That’s what he would prefer to do and hopefully he’ll make the right decision.”

Harris, a 6-8 forward that is #29 on the Rivals150 list for 2010, visited Georgia Tech this weekend.

“Tobias visited Georgia Tech and he had a great visit,” his father, Torrel, said. “He was very impressed with the school and its basketball program.”

Harris is being recruited by Tennessee, Connecticut, West Virginia, Syracuse, Notre Dame, Maryland, Georgia Tech, Rutgers, St. John's, Virginia, Kentucky and Louisville.

“At the end of the summer we will cut the list to five schools and by the end of September we will have a college decision,” Torrel said.

“When we pick our five, everybody’s going to know.”


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