Saturday, July 18, 2009

Former Wildcat and Hilltopper Discusses Calipari

This article was posted in the forums on LostLetterman.com:

Former Kentucky basketball player Mike Ballenger weighs in on Derrick Rose’s SAT scandal and what that means for new Wildcat coach John Calipari.

When those guys take those tests, they’re still in high school. And a lot of times, they haven’t committed yet to a university or a basketball program. So a lot of times, the coaches aren’t involved in that. It’s hard for me to understand how Calipari or anyone on his staff at Memphis would have had something to do with that.

I think whenever you’re the head guy, that stuff is going to happen. I think a lot of people are disappointed in the one-and-done guys. So, anytime there’s something negative about them, people jump on it.

And of course, Rose was a one-and-done guy. They were very close to winning it all, and then all of a sudden, he becomes the No. 1 pick. Then, Calipari, a year later, jumps to Kentucky. So, I don’t think there’s any question that’s got something to do with it also.

If something like this comes up, and it involves Kentucky players, I think it becomes a huge problem. But considering he wasn’t the Kentucky coach and the kid wasn’t a Kentucky player, I don’t think Kentucky fans are going to be as negative about it as they would be if it happened while they both were at Kentucky.

When guys get to the level that Derrick Rose was as a senior in high school, there are a lot of guys — people like to call them hangers-on. I don’t know if that’s the case here, or not.

A lot of guys will see this guy who has the ability to go to the NBA right out of high school. But there are a lot of guys who could steer these kids the wrong way. And it has nothing to do with the coaching staff. If you remember, there were a lot of negative things about LeBron when he was a senior in high school. And he didn’t even go to college. How was his mom able to cosign a loan for a $50,000 Hummer?

So, I think those kinds of things are always going to happen when it’s a high-profile kid. I think that’s the chance you take.

Obviously, Calipari recruited those kids at Massachusetts. He recruited them at Memphis. And I’m sure he’s going to recruit them at Kentucky.

So, you always have that danger of high-profile kids and some of the things that come with them. But you have to weigh the bad and the good and see if it’s worth pursuing these kids.

More Information on Mike Ballenger

Fore! Antoine Walker Heads to the Golf Course from Jail


Former NBA all-star Antoine Walker is playing golf this weekend in northern Nevada before a scheduled court date Monday in Las Vegas in a case involving an $822,500 gambling debWalker, who last played for the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2008, teed off Friday in a celebrity golf tournament at Lake Tahoe a day after posting $135,000 cash bail following his arrest at Harrah's Tahoe.

Walker, 32, of Chicago made no mention of his arrest at the start of play in the American Century Celebrity Golf Championship. His lawyer, Jonathan Powell in Las Vegas, did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment.Phil Weidinger, a tournament spokesman, said neither Walker nor tournament officials would comment about the arrest.

Walker competed in a pro-am Thursday, playing in the first round of the 54-hole tourney with actors Dennis Haysbert and Bruce McGill.

Douglas County sheriff's Sgt. Jim Halsey said a Harrah's Tahoe employee who had seen a television news report about an arrest warrant issued Wednesday for Walker recognized the 6-foot-9 power forward Thursday in a casino bar and summoned deputies.

NBA Summer League Updates

I am on vacation and was not able to update last night. Here are the results from the last two days of the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas.

Last Night's Games:

- Joe Crawford (Kentucky) started for the Knicks and played 26 minuts; he scored 6 points on 3-6 shooting and pulled down 3 rebounds

- Earl Clark (Louisville) scored 8 points and grabbed 7 rebounds for the Suns

- David Padgett (Louisville) had 6 points and 6 rebounds in 13 minutes for the Trail Blazers

Tonight's Games:

- Joe Crawford (Kentucky) scored 10 points on 4-8 shooting, including 2-3 from long range

- Erik Daniels (Kentucky) had 4 points, 3 rebounds and 2 assists in 13 minutes of play

- Earl Clark (Louisville) had 8 points and 6 rebounds, but was only 4-12 from the field

- David Padgett (Louisville) Game still in progress

Hilton Head: My View from the Back Deck


I'll have a vacation update later tonight, but I thought I'd share this picture taken from the back deck of our house in Hilton Head.

He's a very interesting neighbor - as long as you stay ON the deck. Anything that gets near the water seems to get a rude awakening. At least, that's the way it went down for the poor turtle earlier today.

John Calipari Visits Pikeville


John Calipari has yet to coach a game at the University of Kentucky. But the high-profile coach arrived Friday in Pikeville to a rousing welcome.

Several individuals and businesses were honored for their dedication to making Pike County a better place. Carrie Cinnamond Rose was honored with the Community Service by an Individual award. Rose stays very active in the community as she serves at the head of many committee boards and clubs. Rose serves on the Jenny Wiley Theatre board and is a district representative for Kentucky Educational Television. Rose also serves as President of the Pikeville Rotary Club and Rotary District 6740 Governor.

The Appalachian News-Express also walked away with high honors, receiving the award for Community Service by an Organization.

"It's a honor to receive this award on behalf of the News-Express," said publisher Jeff Vanderbeck. "The News-Express being Pike County's primary source for hard-hitting, local news and information has a fiduciary responsibility to communicate to the community the endeavors in which the Chamber and its members are involved. The Chamber and its members work diligently to further this community and reporting their efforts in the Appalachian News-Express adds credibility to their efforts."

As a community service, we provide space in our paper each week for the chamber to highlight a member or a program they provide. And although all news is not good or popular, it's real. The Chamber provides a positive business connection in our newspaper. We are proud to be a member of this fine chamber and look forward to more success in the future."


Photo: John Calipari and Pikeville College head coach Kelly Wells

Friday, July 17, 2009

Campbellsville's Zach Allender Signs Pro Contract


Zach Allender, the first player in Campbellsville history to score 2,000 points and pull down 1,000 rebounds during a career, has signed a professional contract. He will play for Thor Thorl in Iceland's first division.

In addition to playing, Allender will also serve as a coach.


23rd Annual East/West Junior Game at Bellarmine


I just spoke to Troy Thomas, the new girl's coach at West Jessamine, about the 23rd annual Kentucky High School Coaches Association's East/West Junior All-Star Game. Thomas will be one of the coaches for the West team in the game, which features top juniors from the 5th and 6th Regions (West) versus top juniors from the 7th and 8th Regions (East).

Tipoffs are set for 6 p.m. (girls) and 8 (boys) at Bellarmine University's Knights Hall. Tickets are $5, and preschoolers will be admitted for free.

Thomas mentioned the prestige of the event, noting that players such as Rajon Rondo, Derek Anderson and Tony Kimbro have competed in the East/West game. He added that there will be many college coaches and scouts on hand and plenty of talent for them to evaluate. One name to keep an eye on, according to Thomas, will be Donovan Gibbs from Iroquois, who is developing into an impressive player.

Speaking on his new job (Thomas left the Green County boy's program to coach the girls at West Jessamine after last season), Coach Thomas stated, "I have been working hard all summer long at West Jessamine. The team is working hard and doing really well."

We have been going at it four days a week, including a couple of days in the weight room and a lot of individual workouts. "

During the coaching dead period, Thomas worked Coach Matthew Mitchell's basketball camp at the University of Kentucky.

"I haven't stopped all summer long...and I love it," Thomas said with a smile.

Boy's Rosters for East/West Game:

West - Bryton Taylor (Campbellsville); Chris Ulls (Elizabethtown); James Berry (North Hardin); Kyle Sandusky (Adair County); Cedric Vaughn (Hart County); Dustin Curry (Green County); Donovan Gibbs (Iroquois); Chris Richard (Southern); Quintrell Morris (Fairdale); Jamal Stephenson (Pleasure Ridge Park); Thomas Blakemore (Butler); Adam Troutman (Holy Cross). Coaches: Troy Lee Thomas (Green County), Mike Durham (Holy Cross).

East - Aleksandar Nikolic (Manual); Josh Sewell (Trinity); Ian Chiles, Keisten Jones (Ballard); Thomas Jackson (Jeffersontown); Delquan Thomas (Eastern); Donovan Johnson, Norris Beckley Jr. (Shelby County); Alex Foley (North Oldham); Zac Jones (Gallatin County); Casey Sorrell (Simon Kenton); Jacob Russell (Anderson County). Coaches: Steve Sergeant (Seneca), Trent Steiner (Simon Kenton).

Rumor: LeBron James in Town


There is a rumor floating around that King James is in Lexington this weekend to work out with the team. As of now, this is only a rumor, but it is still very exciting.

I am going to make some phone calls to see if there is any validity to the rumor. I will post as soon as I know.

UPDATE: The rumor has been confirmed. LeBron was in Lexington this afternoon and he hung out with the Kentucky players at the Craft Center.

John Calipari sent this update via Twitter:

"Ok its official. The King was in the practice facility. LeBron James stopped to say hello on the way to an event in Mississippi".

Joe Lunardi's Upated Bracketology

ESPN's Joe Lunardi has produced an extremely early version of his Bracketology. I supposed that he has to work during the eleven months not named March. Anyways, he is giving tremendous respect to the Kentucky Wildcats and also has three other teams from the state making the tournament field:

- (1) Kentucky vs. (16) Holy Cross
- (4) Louisville vs. (13) Old Dominion
- (13) Western Kentucky vs. (4) California
- (15) Murray State vs. (2) Duke

Here is a look at the latest Bracketology from ESPN.com

Antoine Walker Arrested for Writing Bad Checks


Former Kentucky Wildcat Antoine Walker has been arrested near Lake Tahoe.

Per ESPN.com:

Former NBA All-Star Antoine Walker has been arrested on criminal charges stemming from $822,500 in gambling debts in Las Vegas.

Douglas County sheriff's Sgt. Jim Halsey says Walker was arrested Thursday at a Harrah's Tahoe cabaret bar on Lake Tahoe's south shore.

Deputies were notified of his presence by an employee who had seen a television report about an arrest warrant issued for Walker two days before.

Walker is accused of three felony counts of writing bad checks. Clark County prosecutors say he failed to make good on 10 checks totaling $1 million to Caesars Palace, Planet Hollywood and the Red Rock Resort.

Walker has repaid $178,000 of the debts that were incurred from last July to January.

Walker was released from jail after posting $135,000 cash bail.

EKU's Mike Rose Signs Professional Contract


Congratulations to standout Eastern Kentucky guard Mike Rose. He has signed a pro contract in Turkey. As a Morehead State follower, I have enjoyed watching Rose compete in the OVC and I think he will go on to have a great professional career.

Press Release from EKU:

When former Eastern Kentucky University basketball player Mike Rose started thinking about his overseas prospects, one option that thoroughly interested him was the opportunity to play in Turkey.

That opportunity is set to become a reality, as Rose recently signed with the Oyak Renault basketball team, which is located in Bursa, Turkey. Bursa is a city of 2.5 million just south of Istanbul.

Rose said his agent had connections with the club and therefore, the signing happened quicker than usual.

“He’s familiar with the area and known in the club,” Rose said. “They contacted him and showed a lot of interest in me and it just came together. To me, it was a normal frame of time, but some people don’t find out where they’re playing until some time passes. I’m surprised by how quickly it came around and how good of an opportunity it is.”

Rose won’t leave for Turkey until mid-August. The regular season in the Turkish Basketball League runs from mid-October until May. There are currently two other American players on his team: former Texas A&M player Joseph Jones and former Vanderbilt player Alex Gordon.

“I’m more excited than nervous,” Rose said. “I’m going to be by myself without family and friends, but I went into college like that, basically. I just have to adjust and I don’t have a problem with that.

“I just won’t be close enough to drive home anymore,” he said with a laugh.

Although his family members, most of whom live in Chicago area, said they would have preferred him in the United States, Rose said they realize the opportunity he’s been presented.

“They said they’re going to have to make the trip to see me play all the way across the world,” he said.

Because of his agent’s connections with the team, Rose said he’s been well informed about the team, including his pay schedule, the diversity of his surroundings and the overall vibe of the town.

“I’m ready for just the experience itself,” he said. “I’m ready to start another basketball season and get into a pro league. Altogether, it’s going to be an experience and I’m just happy that I’m still getting to play ball.”

--Courtesy of the Richmond Register

Jodie Meeks: NBA Contract Details Disclosed


According to Marc Stein of ESPN, Jodie Meeks signed a three-year deal worth $2.3 million, with the first two years fully guaranteed and partial coverage in the third.

My Thoughts: I am happy for Meeks and it would be very difficult to argue that he should have stayed at Kentucky. His heart was in the NBA and now he has a large bank account. It's hard to argue against that.

NBA Summer League: The Jodie Meeks Show


Former Kentucky Wildcat All-American Jodie Meeks is making Milwaukee Bucks' executives look brilliant for taking him in the second round of the NBA Draft. Some predicted that Meeks would go undrafted, but representatives from the Bucks stated that they were shocked to find such a talented scorer in the second round. Meeks is proving to be a steal with his play thus far in the NBA Summer League.

After averaging 16.5 points per game through the first four games, Meeks exploded tonight for 29 points on 12-23 shooting. He was 4-8 from three-point ranged and also pulled down 4 rebounds in the Bucks 84-83 loss to the Raptors.

Meeks has emerged as the go-to scorer for the Bucks. He has outshone Brandon Jennings, who was a lottery pick. He is now averaging 19.0 points per game and improving with each game.

Other Notes from Today:

- Juan Palacios (Louisville) did not score in 9 minutes; he was 0-3 from the field
- Anthony Morrow had the game of the summer to this point; he scored 47 points on 18-26 FG
- Erik Daniels (Kentucky) did not play for the Grizzlies
- Brandon Jennings continued to struggle; he scored 13 points and had 7 assists; but had 8 turnovers

Murray State Players Visit Elementary School


As always, I love passing along articles that feature Kentucky schools using basketball to do great things:

Several members of the Murray State Men’s Basketball team spent the day at Calloway County North Elementary playing with the children at the summer day program.

Racer student-athletes participating included, senior Tony Easley and sophomores Ivan Aska and Donte Poole, plus freshmen Ed Daniel, Isaiah Canaan, and Colin Slotter.

Press Release and Photo from GoRacers.com

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Darius Miller Speaks About Team USA

There is a Q&A with Kentucky Wildcat Darius Miller on UKAthletics.com that is a good read. Here are a few excerpts from the interview (make sure to check out the full piece at the bottom):

Q: Can you talk about what this experience meant to you?
“I can't really put into words how I felt when we won the gold medal; it was a great experience. Just to even be a part of the USA team was overwhelming. I was honored to even make the team and then we go and win the gold medal. Everything together and being able to be in New Zealand, which is not somewhere that most people get a chance to go to, I feel blessed to be a part of it.”

Q: What does it mean to have USA written across your chest?
“I think that we played with a lot of intensity while we were over there. I think that we all took it very serious and the coaches did a very good job of making it serious for us. We played really hard and worked really hard before we went over there. I think that we held up our end of the bargain while we played with that jersey on.”

Q: Do you feel that you are a more confident player?
“I definitely think that it could have helped my confidence playing against great competition and against players on my team. There were a few times that we got to scrimmage against the older team that got to go over and play in Serbia. It really helped me a lot.”

Q: What kind of relationship do you have with Shelvin Mack?
“Oh that's my buddy. We played in AAU for four or five years, so I've known him for a while before we went on the trip. I always stay in touch with him and talk to him; sometimes we talk a little junk to each other.”

Q: How anxious are you to get back working with (your UK teammates)?
“I'm real anxious. It seems like almost everybody is in town. So I am anxious to get started and play with the team. I am just ready to get the team together and to figure out how everyone is going to be. I'm just ready for the season.”

Complete Interview Here

Former Eagle Chad McKnight Named Player-Coach


Former Morehead State Eagle Chad McKnight has been appointed player/coach for the Guildford Heat, a British team. The 6'8" McKnight has played with the Heat for three seasons and is excited about his new role:

"I had always hoped to move into coaching and was not about to turn down this opportunity. My first season was with Guildford and I consider it my home form home. The fans have always welcomed and supported me and I have made a lot of friends here."

He added:

"I have always believed in developing younger players for the future and I am excited by the renewed emphasis on being a community based club. That said, the fans in Guildford have seen a lot of success over the past four years and I am grateful that the management team have given me the tools I need to build a competitive first team."

McGee, Johnson Make OIT All-Tournament Team

Andre McGee of Louisville and Haakim Johnson of Pikeville College have made the All-Tournament Team at the Orlando Invitational Tournament.

Johnson averaged 23.3 points per game during the three-day event. He also exploded for the tournament's highest scoring game with a 36-point effort.

McGee started slowly with 9 points in his first game before erupting for 32 in the second game and 35 in the final game. His three-day average was 25.3 points per game.

The Orlando Invitational Tournament is an opportunity for the NCAA's top graduating senior basketball players to showcase their talents and skills before the general managers, coaches, and scouts from the European Leagues, D League, WBA, and the PBL. The tournament is a proving ground for America's top basketball players and it gives professional teams an opportunity to evaluate the candidates that have the potential to compete professionally in 2009.

2009 OIT All-Tournament Team

Travis Aiken, Marshall University
Majic Dorsey, Brevard CC
Andre McGee, Louisville
Anthony Farmer, Rutgers University
Anthony Hillard, Elizabeth City State
Haakim Johnson, Pikeville

NBA Summer League: Meeks and Crawford are Solid

A pair of ex-Kentucky Wildcats continue to play well in the NBA Summer League.

Jodie Meeks scored over 14 points for the fourth consecutive game and is averaging 16.5 point per game during that stretch. Meeks totalled 16 points on 6-12 shooting tonight against the Bulls.

Joe Crawford put in 10 points for the second straight night for the New York Knicks. Crawford was 4-7 from the field, including 2-3 from long range in the Knicks loss to the Pistons.

Former Louisville Cardinal Earl Clark got off to a good start in his first professional action. Clark worked hard for a double-double in his summer league debut. He scored 13 points on 5-12 shooting and pulled down 12 rebounds in the Suns one-point victory over the Raptors.

Other Notes from Today:

- Juan Palacios (Louisville) did not score in 9 minutes of action for the Bucks

- David Padgett (Louisville) went 3-4 from the field in scoring 8 points for the Trail Blazers; he also pulled down 7 rebounds

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

DA Will Not Pursue Karen Sypher's Complaint


A complaint filed with a police sex-offense unit by a woman accused of trying to extort Louisville coach Rick Pitino won't be prosecuted because it lacks supporting evidence, a Kentucky prosecutor said Wednesday.

Jefferson County Commonwealth's Attorney David Stengel said he was taking no action on the complaint Karen Cunagin Sypher filed last week with Louisville police. The report has not been released publicly.

Sypher has pleaded not guilty to federal charges of trying to extort money from Pitino and lying to the FBI. She is accused of demanding college tuition for her children, her house to be paid off and, eventually, $10 million.

Pitino's attorney, Steve Pence, said her complaint was void of credibility.

"Coach takes no great pleasure in this entire ordeal," Pence told The Associated Press. "We still have an extortion trial and we'll continue to cooperate with the federal government on that."

"I'm furious," Sypher told WLKY television station. "If the investigation was thorough like it should have been, they would have found out what they needed to carry out this case. I'm not done yet."

Former Kentucky High School Star Hired at Notre Dame


Harold Swanagan, a Hopkinsville native that starred for University Heights in the mid-1990's, has been named Coordinator of Men's Basketball Operations at Notre Dame. Swanagan had a solid playing career with the Fighting Irish from 1998-2002. Swanagan fills the position formerly held by Martin Ingelsby for six years before his recent promotion to assistant coach on the Notre Dame staff.

"I am thrilled to have Harold join our basketball staff in the operations position," head coach Mike Brey said. "I think he will be such a great influence on our players given that he is a Notre Dame man, played in the Big East and played for me.

"He already has developed deep relationships with our current players from former position in the Student Welfare and Development Office. He was a great captain and leader for us as a player and always was a guy who put the team first. I am thrilled to have Swanny back with us."

Billy Gillispie to Write a Book? No really


Larry Vaught of the Danville Advocate-Messenger reports that former Kentucky head coach Billy Gillispie is preparing to author a book. Here is Vaught's post on Twitter:

The "Billy Gillispie Story" is being written by Steve Richardson. No publication date set. That could be some book to read in Kentucky

For those that are skeptical, this is not a joke.


My Thoughts: I was working hard on coming up with some good news, but I don't think anything can top this. I guess Gillispie hasn't been concerned about coaching because he knew that he had a best seller in the works. As a blogger that loves sports, Billy Gillispie is like a gift that keeps on giving.

UK Gets Legislative Help in Gillispie Lawsuit

The University of Kentucky says it needs lawyers who can practice in Texas in its fight with former men's basketball coach Billy Gillispie, and a state legislative panel has agreed to spend up to $100,000 to help with the bill.

The Government Contract Review Committee approved the expense Tuesday without debate. The contract still needs the approval of the Finance and Administration Department.

The university's contract with the law firm of Fisher & Phillips says the school needs lawyers licensed to practice law in Texas. The contract is not to exceed $100,000 from June 23 to June 30, 2010.

Gillispie sued the university in federal court in Texas, alleging that the school's athletics department owes him $6 million for firing him two years into a seven-year agreement. The university says he never signed a formal contract and the school doesn't owe the money.

Source: WKYT.com

Miller, Harris to Join Live Chat at 1:00 p.m.

Cat Scratches has a couple of special guests for the fifth segment of "Wildcat Wednesdays," an eight-week segment of live chats that gives fan an exclusive chance to talk with their favorite Kentucky athletes and coaches.

UK basketball players Darius Miller and Ramon Harris will join UK's official blog on Wednesday at 1 p.m. for a live chat. During the 30-45 minute interactive blog, fans will have the chance to ask questions and send in comments, pending approval.

Miller, who is fresh off helping the United States U-19 National Team capture the gold medal at the FIBA U-19 World Championships, averaged 5.3 points and 3.1 rebounds as a freshman last year. He had a team-high 14 steals and 12 blocks for Team USA and is expected to compete for a starting spot this season. Harris, who will be a senior this year, averaged 5.3 points and 3.8 boards a season ago.

"Wildcat Wednesday's" is entering its fifth week of live chats. The blog has already hosted volleyball's Sarah Rumely, softball's Molly Johnson, women's basketball head coach Matthew Mitchell, and football's Sam Maxwell and Trevard Lindley. Last week, baseball head coach Gary Henderson and pitcher Alex Meyer joined the chat.

Announcement from Cat Scratches Blog

Former Cat Mark Pope Added to Georgia Staff


Former Kentucky Wildcat Mark Pope has been added to Mark Fox's staff at the University of Georgia. Pope, who transferred to Kentucky from Washington, played for the Wildcats from 1993-1996 before being drafted in the 2nd round of the 1996 NBA Draft by the Indiana Pacers. He enjoyed a successful six-year career in the NBA.

Pope will serve as the Operations Coordinator at Georgia. A press release comments on Pope:

A native of Bellevue, Wash., Pope played the 1991-92 seasons at Washington before transferring to the University of Kentucky. As a senior he was a key reserve on the Wildcats' 1996 NCAA championship team, averaging 7.6 points and 5.2 rebounds. As a professional, Pope played two seasons in Turkey and six in the NBA, two each in Indiana, Milwaukee and Denver. Most recently, he enrolled in medical school at Columbia University in 2006.

"Mark is the first kid I coached as a graduate assistant at Washington," Fox said. "He was a terrific player in college and in the NBA. He's a very bright, articulate guy that has made a commitment to get into coaching, where I think he has a great future."

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

NBA Summer League Notes; Joe Crawford Scores 10

A few NBA Summer League notes from today:

- Joe Crawford (Kentucky) opened the summer by scoring 10 points on 4-9 shooting for the Knicks

- Erik Daniels (Kentucky) did not play for the Grizzlies

- Nick Young scored 36 points for the Wizards on 13-19 shooting

- Anthony Randolph exploded for the Warriors; he scored 42 points in 34 minutes of action

NBA Summer League: Erik Daniels vs. Joe Crawford


Former Kentucky Wildcats will take the court on opposite sides tonight in NBA Summer League action when the Grizzlies face the Knicks. This will not be a "Cat" fight however, as both players are simply trying to find a home in the NBA.

Joe Crawford will play for the New York Knicks in the team's first summer league game while Daniels will suit-up for the Grizzlies. Daniels did not play Memphis' first summer league game during the weekend.

Crawford was a member of the Wildcats from 2004-2008. He scored 1,438 career points, blossomed during his senior season and was drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2nd round of the 2oo8 NBA Draft.

Erik Daniels, a Wildcat from 2000-2004, scored 1,053 career points before signing an NBA free agent contract with the Sacramento Kings.

Both players had short stints in the NBA and went the direction of the NBA Developmental League (NBDL). Crawford and Daniels played great basketball and the NBDL and are getting shots at the NBA once again. Crawford was signed to a ten-day contract last season by the Knicks. When the contract expired, they opted to sign Crawford for the rest of the season. He appears to be on course for a nice NBA career. Daniels was invited to participate in the summer league by the Grizzlies. He hopes to make an impression and find a home in the NBA, as well.

I will have updates on each player later tonight.

Kentucky Announces Satellite Camps Information

From UKAthletics.com:

Coaches and staff will offer three hour camps around the state

Register Online Medical/Parental Consent Form

Three Hour Session
Coach Calipari and staff will be working camp
Kids will get T-shirts
Boys and girls
K-6th grade
Autograph session with coaches
Limited availability
Camps will open at sites one hour before for check-in
Price is $75

The location and site dates are:

August 14

Maysville, KY
Mason County High School
4-7 pm
Boys and Girls K-6th Grade (entering)

August 15 - Session 1

Pikeville, KY
Pikeville High School
9am-12pm
Boys and Girls K-3rd Grade (entering)

August 15th - Session 2

Pikeville, KY
Pikeville High School
2-5pm
Boys and Girls 4th -6th Grade (entering)

August 16th

Hazard, KY
Hazard High School
2-5pm
Boys and Girls K-6th Grade (entering)

August 17th

Madisonville, KY
Madisonville North Hopkins HS
4-7pm
Boys and Girls K-6th Grade (entering)

All Courtney Lee Does is Win


There is an excellent article about former Western Kentucky Hilltopper Courtney Lee on the NetsDaily Blog. Lee, who was recently traded from the Orlando Magic to the New Jersey nets, has laid the foundation for a promising NBA career. The Nets' upper-level management views Lee as a proven winner.

The article states: Courtney Lee does win. At Pike High School in Indianapolis, Lee led his team to the state championship in 2003, going 29-0. They were also ranked second in the nation behind LeBron James’ St. Vincent-St. Mary team. He had academic problems though and was only lightly recruited by top college teams. Only Georgetown and Purdue among the big programs pursued him. At Western Kentucky, he won again. His teams averaged 24 wins a year and he took the mid-major to the Sweet Sixteen his senior year before losing to UCLA, a team that featured Kevin Love, Richard Mbah a Moute and Darren Collison. And this season, his team got to the NBA Finals.

Gregg Polinsky, the Nets chief scout, likes Lee's game.

“Always knew he was a good defender and a good athlete but today you saw more from him in terms of a middle game and being able to create space off the dribble,” said Polinsky after the workout. “He did a real nice job of that. Then when you sit down with him you realize all the good things you heard about him are actualized because he is such a first class kid.”

Other NBA superstars realize Lee's potential, as well. Dwight Howard, who was Lee's best friend on the Magic, stated on his blog, “He’s going to be a great player in this league and it’s hard for me to think about him playing somewhere else. But in Jersey, he’ll have a bigger role now and get more shots.”

Shaquille O'Neal said he was "shocked" at the trade. “The only move that really, really shocked me was when Orlando got rid of Courtney Lee. That dude is going to be a star, I’m telling you right now… They’ve done in an excellent job building that team but Courtney Lee, that’s a star, brother. Star, star, star.”

Antoine Walker Facing Legal Issues for Gambling Debts

Las Vegas prosecutors have filed a criminal complaint against Antoine Walker, claiming the former NBA star has not paid back $822,500 in gambling debts to three casinos, the Las Vegas Sun reported.

Walker, a three-time all-star who won an NBA title with the Miami Heat in 2006 and a national championship at Kentucky in 1996, has been charged with failing to pay back $1 million worth of markers at Caesars Palace, Planet Hollywood and Red Rock Resort, according to the report. Under Nevada law, gambling debts are handled as bad check cases.

Chief deputy district attorney Bernie Zadrowski said he was asking a Las Vegas justice of the peace for an arrest warrant for Walker, 32. Zadrowski said Walker has paid back some of the debt, but still owes $822,500, in addition to $82,500 in fees to the DA's office, according to the report.

Jonathan Powell, an attorney for Walker in Las Vegas, declined to comment, according to the report.

Source: ESPN.com

Kelly Combs Resigns as Union Head Coach

Kelly Combs has resigned as the Union College men's basketball coach, Union Director of Athletics Darin S. Wilson announced Monday.

Sean Gillespie, who joined the Bulldog staff as an assistant in May, will serve as the interim head coach for the 2009-10 season.

Combs is leaving Union to pursue other interests.

"We appreciate Kelly's years of service to Union and to the Bulldog basketball program," said Wilson. "We wish him and his family well as they begin this next chapter in their lives."

Combs spent seven seasons at the helm, tying Brian Evans for the second-longest tenure in program history since World War II. Combs led the Bulldogs to a 112-116 record during his tenure. His 112 victories rank him third in program history behind Pete Moore's 253 wins and Evans' 117.

Complete Press Release from Union College

David Thorpe: "Jodie Meeks Looks Good as a Shooter"

ESPN basketball analyst David Thorpe has been "tweeting" during the NBA Summer League games in Las Vegas. A tweet, of course, is an update sent via Twitter. Last night, during the Bucks/Kings game, Thorpe sent this message out:

"Jodie Meeks looks good as a shooter."

Another update that helps clarify why Earl Clark did not play for the Suns last night:

"Earl Clark being held out with back spasms."

If you enjoy following the NBA Summer League, I recommend following Thorpe on Twitter.

NBA Summer League Notes: Meeks Looking Great

Jodie Meeks continued his tremendous NBA Summer League play against the Sacramento Kings. Meeks scored 20 points on 8-12 shooting, including 2-3 from long range. He pulled down 3 rebounds and had a steal in 31 minutes of action. The Bucks (3-0) defeated the Kings 91-86.

Other Summer League Notes from Today:

- Brandon Jennings vs. Tyreke Evans was an exciting matchup tonight; Jennings when for 13 points, 14 assists and 7 steals; Evans had 33 points, 9 rebounds, 7 assists and 7 turnovers

- Juan Palacios (Louisville) played 10 minutes and scored 2 points on 1-3 shooting for the Bucks

- David Padgett (Louisville) played 3 minutes and did not score for the Trail Blazers

- Earl Clark (Louisville) did not play for the Suns

Monday, July 13, 2009

Catching Up With Former Wildcat Dale Brown


I chatted with former Kentucky Wildcat Dale Brown this afternoon about his current job, his life after Kentucky basketball and the experience of wearing the Kentucky uniform. Brown is currently the head basketball coach at Dillard University, an NAIA program in New Orleans. Here is a quick Q&A between myself and Coach Brown:

Coach, can you tell me a little about your current position?

I am currently the head coach at Dillard University, which is back home for me in New Orleans. This is my first head coaching position and I owe a lot of thanks to guys like Tubby Smith, John Pelphrey, Travis Ford, Billy Donovan and Herb Sendek for making calls and serving as good references. I inherited a 5-27 team and in my first season, we improved to 12-18. It has been a struggle as the school is being rebuilt after being devastated by Hurricane Katrina. In fact, we only had 2 scholarships available this season due to financial problems associated with the disaster.

Give me a brief timeline of what you have been doing since your UK career.

My last season at UK was in 1993 and I signed a one-year guaranteed contract with the Sacramento Kings. My mom passed away shortly after I signed the contract and I asked the Kings to allow me to leave training camp to attend her funeral. They refused, I left anyways and I was released. They did pay me the guaranteed contract, but I ended up playing in Greece and France for a couple of years. In 1997, I started coaching in the NBDL. I was an assistant to Randy McCoy at Pikeville College for awhile and then an assistant at Mississippi Gulf Coast CC. After that, I became head coach at Moss Point High School in Mississippi. From there, I landed my current job at Dillard.

You mentioned Pelphrey, Ford and others. Are you still in contact with many of your teammates, coaches and others from Kentucky?

Oh yeah. I have Sean Woods nearby as he is the coach at Mississippi Valley State. I stay in contact with Richie Farmer (he pauses to chuckle a little). That always cracks me up to think of him as the Agricultural Commissioner. I also regularly talk to (Gimel) Martinez, Tony Delk and Tubby a few times a month. Also, Herb Sendek is a good friend.

Dale, what is your greatest memory as a Kentucky Wildcat?

It has to be coming out of that tunnel at Rupp Arena for any game. I'll never forget that unwavering fan support. I've never seen anything like that. My heart will always be in Kentucky. I'll never forget the love they showed me each and every night...just awesome.

In looking back, what does it mean to you now to say that you had the opportunity to wear the Kentucky uniform?

It was great. There is no better program in the country. I'm speechless. You think of Midnight Madness, where you have tons of fans camping out for a week to get in the door. I really thank God for it.

If you had to choose one, who would you say was the most talented Wildcat that you had the opportunity to play with at Kentucky?

Jamal Mashburn. I played with many, but he was the best.

Who was the most talented opponent you played against? Anyone stand out?

I'd have to say Allan Houston. I was labelled the team's defensive stopper and was often left guarding an opponent's most talented player. There was Latrell Sprewell and James "Hollywood" Robinson at Alabama, but I'd say Houston was the best. You know, I held Houston to 1-15 shooting and only 3 points in the last game for me at Rupp Arena. (he chuckles and I reassure him that this is definitely something to be be proud of).

Give me your thoughts on John Calipari as Kentucky's coach.

Great guy. He knows basketball in and out and he's going to get it done right away. He can bring in very talented players and he is able to put them together as a team. He reminds me a lot of Coach Pitino...they have many of the same philosophies. UK fans wil love Calipari's up-tempo style. I love him. Great guy. He was actually my assistant coach in the Junior Olympics.

Back to your current team, I understand that you are hoping to land an exhibition game against Kentucky.

You know, I feel that my team is a good tune-up game for high-level teams. Pelphrey gave us an exhibition last season and we forced them into 24 turnovers. We ended up losing by 24 points, but it was a good tune-up for them. It would be a dream come true for me to return to Rupp as a coach. I talked to Sean Woods and he told me that the feeling was unbelievable during his game against UK. Exhibition games are really our primary source for funding, so it's important for us to play such games. I have talked about playing Arkansas again this season and I'm waiting to hear back from Travis Ford and also Ole Miss. I am hoping to get an opportunity to face Kentucky soon.

How are things shaping up for Dillard heading into the season?

We expect to have a really good season. We used our scholarships to sign a couple of 6'8" guys for the post. We have an excellent backcourt returning. We will be lacking depth. Our big void last season was height and we have addressed that with our available scholarships.

Coach, it has been great talking to you. I appreciate your time and best of luck this season.
Follow Dillard Basketball (ironically enough, they are the Blue Devils)

Jodie Meeks: A Second-Round "Steal"

There is an interesting article in the Las Vegas Sun this morning about former Kentucky Wildcat Jodie Meeks. Here are a few excerpts from the article:

"It was very hard," Meeks said of his decision to stay in the draft, which he waited until the last possible second to make. "I think these last three years I had at Kentucky were great, I love the fans, love the program, but I felt like it was time to move on."

That was the case even though a first-round draft slot wasn't guaranteed. And leaving school early for the draft without that guarantee is a pretty big risk, as only first-round contracts come with guaranteed money. The second round of the draft is basically a game of craps for prospects.

"I think once June 15th came and I decided to stay in the Draft, I told myself that I was gonna not look back and not regret anything. No matter what happens, I'm gonna be happy. I'm a Wildcat at heart and I'll be rooting for them, but I'm happy with the decision I made."

One close friend who agreed with the decision is former Kentucky teammate and roommate Derrick Jasper, who transferred to UNLV following his sophomore campaign in 2008. Jasper was on-hand Friday at Cox Pavilion for Meeks' pro debut.

"I was surprised with his decision to leave UK at first, especially with how talented of a team they have returning," Jasper said. "It would have definitely been a tough decision, with all that is at stake, but Jodie had one of the best years in Kentucky history and has worked extremely hard to overcome injuries and coaching changes throughout his years at UK. I think he got what he deserved."

"You know, one thing I like about him is he's a high-integrity kid, high-character kid, and he wants to do well -- He's an easy kid to coach," Sampson said. "I don't know that because of his makeup, and just observing him now since last Monday, I'm not sure we should give Kentucky credit for that as much as we should give him credit for that."

Here's the Complete Article

Sunday, July 12, 2009

NBA Announcer on Meeks: "He's a player, isn't he?"


Jodie Meeks had another excellent performance in his second NBA Summer League appearance. Meeks, who led the Bucks with 14 points on Friday night, showed a consistent ability to knock-down jumpers against the Cavaliers tonight. He scored 16 points on 7-14 shooting and again demonstrated that he can play at the next level. Meeks also grabbed 2 rebounds, dished out 2 assists and picked up a steal in the Bucks' 80-69 victory.

After Meeks swished a long-range jumper, the NBA.com announcer questioned, "He's a player, isn't he?"

Other notes:

- Former Louisville Cardinal Juan Palacios played 9 minutes and scored one point
- Joe Alexander (West Virginia) continues to struggle and is now 5-26 in 2 games
- Brandon Jennings had one good-looking stretch, but was benched for show-boating; he was seen on the bench with a towel over his head; Jennings was the game's leading scorer with 23 points on 7-18 shooting (4-8 3PT)

A couple of thoughts from HoopFest

Well I feel a little bad — I told BH that I was going to be at the Eddie Ford HoopFest this weekend, but due to very little sleep and lots of to-dos, I only made it for the Friday session. I was able to make some observances, though, so here goes:

• VERY weak showing at the Fest. At Hoops, there were coaches on only two of the eight courts, which means there weren't many players worth looking at. Hopefully next year's will be scheduled to where some higher-caliber teams can make it.

• The major coaches in attendance that I saw were Tom Izzo, Tom Crean, Travis Ford and Richard Pitino. There were some other assistants from different schools like Xavier and Ohio State, and some I honestly just didn't recognize.

• Most of those were at Friday night's 16U game featuring the Indiana Elite, which has Jeremiah Davis and Vinny Zollo. This was the first time I had ever seen Davis play, and I was extremely impressed. He's not big, probably 6'1" or so, but he's got a strong frame, and if he gets the ball anywhere in the paint, he is going to score. And he was in the paint quite a bit in the game I watched, most of the time getting pounded on his layups and still making them. Scout has him listed as a three-star with interest in several schools including Kentucky, Indiana, Florida and Tennessee, but I would imagine he could work his way up in the rankings by the time he graduates in 2011. Really good player.

• Vinny Zollo wasn't featured much in the Indiana Elite offense, which consisted mainly of Davis, but the few times he did touch the ball, he looked more like the guy whose recruitment Kentucky fans were excited about, not the guy who, along with Dakotah Euton and KC Ross-Miller, came to be symbols of Billy Gillispie's irrelevance in the recruiting scene. If he maybe grows a couple of inches and/or continues to improve his 12-15 foot jump shot, he could be back in the mix by the time he becomes a senior.

• Deng Leek was a name I had never heard before Friday. A 7-footer out of North Carolina, Leek has a very strong body — although Rivals has him listed at just 230 pounds — and was a brute on the boards. Pretty much all of his points came off of putbacks, because nobody could move him out of the way. He also blocked several shots. That's really just a side note, because his schools listed are Georgetown, Indiana, Maryland and Syracuse, although at one point supposedly he had some interest in Kentucky.

• I didn't see any local small-college coaches Friday. I'm pretty new to the recruiting scene, so I'm not sure that NAIA coaches frequent these big events, but it seems like it wouldn't hurt to check some kids out and build early relationships.

• I was standing behind Indiana Assistant Coach Tim Buckley in the pizza line, and a kid, probably 8 years old, came up to him with his dad and asked Buckley who his favorite player was in the NBA. Buckley told him it was Dwayne Wade, because Buckley recruited him while he was under Crean at Marquette (guess he didn't care about Travis Diener or Steve Novak). He asked the boy who his favorite player was, and the kid pulled out Kobe Bryant's basketball card and held it up proudly. Boom, roasted.

• Pat Ford, Eddie's wife, let me in for free. She's awesome.

NBA Summer League Updates; Meeks and Daniels

I will have live coverage of former Kentucky Wildcat stars Erik Daniels and Jodie Meeks during their summer league games tonight. Daniels and the Grizzlies take on the Thunder at 8:00 p.m. and Meeks and the Bucks battle the Cavaliers at 10:00 p.m.

- Memphis/Oklahoma City is underway; Daniels is not in the starting lineup
- End of the 1st Quarter - Daniels has not entered the game
- Haltime - Still no Daniels
- End of the 3rd Quarter - No Daniels
- Memphis crushes the Thunder; Erik Daniels - DNP - Coach's Decision
- One note - Marcus Williams from UCONN finished the game with 7 points and 17 assists
- Meeks and the Bucks coming up next
- Jodie Meeks makes his second straight start for the Bucks
- Kelvin Sampson coaching the Bucks tonight
- Jennings taken out hard on a layup attempt; flagrant foul
- Meeks drills an outside jumper for his first 2 points
- Meeks is 1-2 for 2 points early in the game
- End of the 1st Quarter: Meeks 1-2 for 2 points
- Jodie can't get any shots with Jennings running the point; no offensive flow at all
- Meeks with another long-range 2-pointer
- Halftime: Meeks is 3-7 FG, 6 PTS, 2 REB, 1 STL, 1 AST
- Jennings and Alexander are a combined 3-14 so far in this one; Bucks shooting 29.7%
- Meeks opens the 2nd half with a nice driving bank shot off a good pass
- Meeks reaches double figures with two FT's; 10 points
- Sweet move by Jodie; scores on a layup
- Announcer on Meeks: "He's a player, isn't he?"
- End of the 3rd Quarter: Meeks 5-11 FG, 2-2 FT, 2 REB, 2 AST, 1 STL, 12 PTS
- Meeks is now 6-13 for 14 points, matching his total from Friday
- With a missed dunk, Joe Alexander goes to 5-24 from the field in his first 2 games
- Meeks with a 2-pointer from the side
- Final line for Jodie Meeks: 7-14 FG, 0-1 3PT, 2-2 FT, 2 REB, 2 AST, 1 STL, 16 Points
- Juan Palacios (Louisville) played almost 9 minutes and scored a point

United States Takes U19 World Championship


United States U19 88
Greece U19 80

2009 FIBA U19 World Championships in New Zealand

The United States captured the FIBA U19 World Championship today with an 88-80 victory over Greece (6-3). The Americans blew the game open by outscoring Greece 27-11 in the 2nd quarter. Greece fought hard in the second half, but were not able to overtake an American team that had its sights set on the team's first FIBA gold medals since 1991.

Tyshawn Taylor led the United States with 18 points, 6 assists and 5 steals. Ashton Gibbs contributed 13 points. Klay Thompson and Arnett Moultrie added 10 points each in the game. Kentucky's Darius Miller had a solid performance with 8 points and 2 steals. Shelvin Mack was cold from the field, but did score 4 points.

The United States finished the tournament undefeated with a 9-0 record.

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