Saturday, October 3, 2009

Recommended Fun: Devine's Corn Maze in Harrodsburg





The family and I took a trip to Devine's Corn Maze in Harrodsburg tonight and we had so much fun that I felt I should pass it along to my readers. If you are anywhere near Mercer County, this is a very enjoyable attraction to visit.

Complete with a petting zoo, authentic hay ride to the pumpkin patch, various kid's maze's and other activities, a huge barrel slide, a kid's train ride, a concession stand and a very challenging full-field corn maze (see image at top); Devine's offers something for the entire family.

I highly recommend that you head to Mercer County and check this place out!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Andy Katz Article on Edgar Sosa of Louisville

Francisco Garcia had to check out Edgar Sosa's game, find out about this fellow Dominican who apparently had game back in New York.

So he went to Sosa's Senior Night game at Rice High in Harlem. Garcia was already in the NBA, a year removed from leading Louisville to the Final Four.

How many NBA players would do that?

Sure, there is a connection between high school players and the NBA that is tighter now than it's ever been because the players entering the league can be only a year or two removed from their high school prom. Still, the kinship that Garcia felt with Sosa is unique.

They shared a love for their native island and a comfort in their native Spanish language. They were a pair of transplanted New Yorkers with a connection to Louisville. Garcia had played for Rick Pitino's Cardinals. Sosa was about to do the same. Who else could prepare Sosa for what he was about to face?

"I committed [to Louisville] and he gave me a call one day," said Sosa, who is about to start his senior season as the leader of a team that has high aspirations again in 2009 after a clean sweep of the two conference titles (regular season and tournament) in '08.

"We just start talking about Louisville, about what it's like going to be playing for Coach P," Sosa said. "He said I could keep calling him for advice."

Sosa said the conversations took place about once a week. And then, on Senior Night, Sosa met Garcia in person...

Read the Rest of the Article from ESPN.com

Calipari to Camp Out with UK Fans?

The word out of Lexington is that Kentucky head coach John Calipari will spend the night the UK fans that are camping out for Big Blue Madness tickets at Memorial Coliseum. Calipari hinted at this possibility last night during his speech in Garrard County. Tonight, it appears that he will follow through.

If John Calipari does indeed campout with the Kentucky fans, this may go down as the most memorable example of a UK coach doing exactly what the Big Blue Nation wants out of its coach.

Times Announced for Cancun Challenge


Article from WKYT.com:

Times for the 2009 Cancun Challenge games in Cancun have been set as announced by tournament organizers on Friday.

The Wildcats will take on the Cleveland State Vikings at 4:30 p.m. ET in Cancun on Nov. 24. The winner of the Kentucky-Cleveland State game will take on the winner of the Stanford-Virginia game on Nov. 25 at 9:30 p.m. ET. The losers will play prior to that at 7:00 p.m. ET. All games will be played at the Moon Palace Resort in Cancun.

The tournament schedule for games in Cancun is as follows:

Nov. 24

Florida A&M vs Rider, 11:00 AM ET
Oral Roberts vs. Sam Houston State, 1:30 PM ET
Kentucky vs. Cleveland State, 4:30 PM ET
Virginia vs. Stanford, 7:00 PM ET

Nov. 25

Florida A&M-Rider loser vs.Oral Roberts-Sam Houston State loser, 1:30 PM ET
Florida A&M-Rider winner vs. Oral Roberts-Sam Houston State winner, 4:00 PM ET
Kentucky-Cleveland St. loser vs. Virginia-Stanford loser, 7:00 PM ET
Kentucky-Cleveland St. winner vs. Virginia-Stanford winner, 9:30 PM ET

Seating is limited for this exclusive event, and all fans must book travel packages through Triple Crown Sports or a designated travel agency for admission into games in Cancun. Games in Cancun will be played November 24 and 25. For travel packages and information, contact Melissa Koza at 970.672.0567 or Melissa@triplecrownsports.com or visit the website at www.cancunchallenge.net.

2011 SF Angel Nunez to Visit Big Blue Madness

Article from ZagsBlog.com:

Angel Nunez is the latest high-profile recruit planning to visit Kentucky for Big Blue Madness Oct. 16.

“I spoke to [Kentucky assistant] Orlando [Antigua] and I’m supposed to be going down there,” Nunez said by phone. “Chances are, yes.”

Eric Martinez, Nunez’s mentor, said nothing was definite and plans still had to be worked out.

The 6-foot-7 Nunez, a New York native, is a junior wing at the Winchendon (Mass.) School. He has offers from Louisville, Arizona, UConn, Rutgers, St. John’s, West Virginia, Arkansas, Indiana and Virginia. He is the No. 11 small forward in the Class of 2011.

Kentucky has interest, but has yet to offer. Nunez said Kentucky coach John Calipari or one of his assistants was planning to come to Winchendon next week.

“I don’t have a real favorite,” Nunez said.

Other high-profile recruits headed to Kentucky that weekend include C.J. Leslie, Tobias Harris, Kyrie Irving, Brandon Knight, Achraf Yacoubou and others.

Source

Butler and Shelvin Mack are on the National Radar

Yahoo Sports lists the Butler Bulldogs one of the top programs in the nation from non-Big Six conferences. Lexington native Shelvin Mack, who has already made a splash for Butler, is mentioned as one of Butler's top players in the article. Here is what the article says about Butler and Mack:

Butler – The Bulldogs won 26 games last season with three freshman starters, so it’s no surprise that expectations are high entering the 2009-10 campaign. Forward Matt Howard provides a strong post presence for a squad that features a pair of standout perimeter shooters in Gordon Hayward and Shelvin Mack. Freshman Andrew Smith, a center, will see significant action for a team that should enter the season ranked in the top 15.

The other non-Big Six schools to watch out for are Dayton, Siena, Tulsa, Xavier, Northern Iowa, Gonzaga, Memphis, Creighton and BYU.

Complete Article from Yahoo Sports

John Calipari Kills at Farm-City Banquet in Lancaster


Excitement was in the air when a friend and I arrived at Garrard County High School tonight for the local Chamber of Commerce's Farm-City Banquet event. It was more like the atmosphere of an energetic pep rally than that of of Chamber Banquet. That, of course, is not meant as an insult to any Chamber of Commerce group, but this evening, Garrard County raised the bar. The guest of honor at tonight's event was non-other than University of Kentucky head basketball coach John Calipari.

I think the first clue that tonight's event was a little different was the fact that it was held in a high school gymnasium. The second? How about the 50 or so members of the Garrard County High School pep band that were anxiously awaiting the UK coach's arrival, instruments in hand. The final clue was unveiled when the local fire department began preparations to clear the helicopter landing pad that sits a football field's length away from the school.

As a rumbling crowd gathered outside, the bright red helicopter of the one-and-only R.J. Corman was spotted in the distance. As flash bulbs illuminated the air, the helicopter came to rest and John Calipari (and a few friends) sat foot in Lancaster.

My first thought was that surely Calipari would avoid the crazy members of Big Blue Nation that anxiously awaited the opportunity to interact with him in front of the building. Rather than running the other way, he actually headed straight to the tunnel formed by the band and the roughly 100 people that screamed greetings and snapped photos. The band played a nice rendition of the UK fight song as Calipari entered the building.

As Calipari entered the dinner portion of the event, I thought to myself that he will surely head straight to his table and interact with the persons seated at the "key sponsors" table. What did he do? He started on the right side of the room and zig-zagged back-and-forth until he had basically interacted with every person in the room that was willing to speak to him. He shook hands. He exchanged greetings. He signed autographs. He happily took a picture and shook hands with a guy that said, "Coach, I was wondering if we could take a picture for my AllKYHoops.com website?"

As the dinner concluded, the masses gathered in the gymnasium for the keynote address that Coach Calipari would soon deliver. In all honesty, it felt more like attending an early season game at a neutral site than a speech. The band was gathered in its regular section and the majority of both sides of the gym was speckled with blue and white. It reminded me very much of a Maui Invitational or Preseason NIT game during the Rick Pitino or Tubby Smith eras. The thought crossed my mind of an announcer admitting, "This is a very pro-Kentucky crowd considering we're in Maui..."

Calipari entered the gym to the familiar sound of the UK fight song and a clapping Big Blue Nation. It was announced that the order of the program would change because there were some recruits in Lexington tonight and Calipari had to return as soon as possible. That, in itself, was enough to create a bit of a buzz in the arena. After the national anthem, the Kentucky coach took the mic.

He opened by describing the craziness that is the Big Blue Nation.

"We have 800,000 followers on Twitter. You people are crazy.

"Have any of you been to CoachCal.com? About 80 countries have visited that site. You now where the most hits come from? China...and they're not even allowed to be on it!"
Calipari then explained his love for the Kentucky Wildcats and what it means to him that he is now the head coach of, "The greatest basketball program in the country."

"I am humbled to be your coach and I am honored."

He then explained how fate led him to Kentucky, "You know, it's funny. Isn't it funny how fate intervenes throughout life? Fate has intervened many times in my life. I worked a camp at Kansas some 22 years ago. I drove there from West Virginia. I met my wife there and we have been together for almost 23 years now. It's funny how fate intervenes. "

He continued, "Two years ago, I really wanted to be your coach. I would call my wife over and over and ask her if the phone has rang yet. The realization finally hit me that the phone wasn't going to ring. I was disappointed and mad. I said 'schedule those guys!' The two years I stayed at Memphis were the most rewarding of my life. Those players needed me to be their coach. Besides, I would have had to follow Tubby Smith and you can say what you want, but people loved Tubby. He won 27 games a year. Now, two years later, you all need me!"

At this point, the crowd erupted in laughter and applause.

He added, "Truth be told, I needed you, too."

Calipari then talked about his current team.

"Right now, I've got a team...we're overrated right now. We have six new players that think they poop ice cream. We have six returning players that think 'it's my turn.' My job is to get this team together. Not only do I have to get them together, but I have to teach this team the dribble-drive and defense. You know how long I have to do this? About 45 days.

"We are trying to get these guys to think like they're 12 again. A 12-year old thinks that there's 'no holding me back.'"

Intentionally or not, Calipari took an indirect shot at former Kentucky head coach Billy Gillispie.

"When you've been beaten down consistently, you don't think you can achieve. I have to make these players forget everything..."

He specifically mentioned several players.

"Patrick Patterson looks great. I am going to be playing him like a guard...when the game is on the line, Patrick will be under the basket. Darius Miller looks terrific. John Wall is really fast. I asked Eric Bledsoe how fast he is and he said 'Coach, he's really fast.' I asked him if he is faster than anyone he's ever played against and he said that he is. I asked him 'is he faster than you?' He responded 'Coach, I'm not going there.'"

Calipari said he is very happy with what he has observed in the classroom this summer.

"Patrick Patterson is going to graduate in three years. All of our freshmen took two classes each and we only had one 'C'. John Wall took two classes and had two 'A's"

He mentioned the 230 or so odd tents that are currently camped out at Memorial Coliseum for Big Blue Madness tickets.

"I thought about camping out with those fans tonight but I don't know. My ears were a little cold when I was out there this morning."

After another loud applause, Calipari introduced Rick Corman to the audience. He asked Corman, who was wearing a bright-red jacket, to stand for the audience.

"No one near me is allowed to wear red except for Rick Corman!"

Calipari then opened the floor for questions.

Who will be the starting five?

"I got to start Richie! Other than that, I don't know. We're going to try to play 10 guys. Early, there will be a lot of turnovers and a lot of bad shots. We don't throw 5 passes before we shoot (immediately following that statement, someone behind me could be heard blurting out, "Amen!"). But, we don't set screens. It's different and it'll be ugly early.

Would you like to schedule a home-and-home with Duke?

"I'd like to play Duke in Atlanta at the football stadium in front of 70,000. I'd also like to play Kansas at the football stadium in St. Louis in front of 70,000."

Who is the best player you've ever coached?

"I was an NBA coach for awhile. You do know that I was fired in the NBA don't you?" After another round of laughter, he continued, "Marcus Camby...you know he was 6-3 as a sophomore and he grew to 6-9 as a junior. By the time he was senior, he was 6'11. Tyreke Evans. Lou Roe was a heck of a player. Derrick Rose. I'm hoping to have a few guys on this year's team that can join this group..."

How are your wife and kids doing?

"Well, if it tells you anything, my wife is still mad at people that kept us from getting this job two years ago!"

What is the toughest game on the schedule this season?

"I would probably say North Carolina."

In closing, Calipari ended with, "I'm having fun!"

Not Your "Average" Garrard Co. Chamber Meeting












Calipari Mingles with the Fans in Garrard County












Coach Calipari Arrives in Lancaster












Thursday, October 1, 2009

Ex-Cat Gerald Fitch Returns from Injury; Scores 14

Former Kentucky Wildcat Gerald Fitch, who was forced to miss some pre-season action due to a hand injury, returned to lead Fuenlabrada with 14 points in a 65-59 loss to Real Madrid.

This was the fourth pre-season game for Fuenlabrada, which competes in Spain's top-level ACB League.

Other International News:

- Former Morehead State star Ricky Minard scored 6 points in limited action during a lop-sided game. Minard's Lottomatica Roma defeated Martos Napoli 95-53 in a pre-season game for Italy's top-level SerieA League.

- Former Western Kentucky Hilltopper Elgrace Wilborn put in 14 points, 10 rebounds and 2 blocks as his Atenas team defeated Hebraica 88-73 in Uruguay's top-level LUB League. Atenas improved to 4-0 on the young season.

Source: EuroBasket.com

Cardinals to Hold Red-White Scrimmage on Oct. 25

Announcement from Louisville:

University of Louisville men's basketball fans will have an opportunity for a preseason look at the 2009-10 Cardinals when the team plays a Red-White intrasquad scrimmage on Sunday, Oct. 25 at 3 p.m. in Freedom Hall.

Tickets for the event are $5 and will go on sale beginning at 9 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 2 at both U of L Ticket Offices, located on the third floor of the Swain Student Activities Center or in the new location across the street from Papa John's Cardinal Stadium at 2799 South Floyd Street. Both locations are open weekdays from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Tickets will also be sold before and during the Cardinals' next two home football games against Pittsburgh on Oct. 2 and Southern Mississippi on Oct. 10.

Cardinal fans may also purchase tickets by visiting www.ticketmaster.com online, calling (502) 361-3100 or by visiting any Ticketmaster Ticket Center, including statewide Kroger locations. Convenience fees are applied with Ticketmaster orders. Further information can be obtained by calling the U of L ticket office at (502) 852-5863.

Ticket Info for UK's Blue-White Scrimmage

Press Release from UKAthletics.com:

Tickets for the men's basketball Blue-White scrimmage go on sale beginning Tuesday, Oct. 6.

Scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 28, tickets are available by visiting the UK Ticket Office between the hours of 9:00 – 4:00 p.m. ET or by calling 1.800.928.2287. Fans can also obtain tickets by calling the Rupp Arena Box Office (859.233.3535) or by going online to UKathletics.com and TicketMaster.com or Ticketmaster outlets statewide. For outlet locations, go to www.Ticketmaster.com.

The cost of the tickets will be $10 and all seating is reserved. Partial proceeds go to local charities.

The first exhibition game of the season is scheduled for Monday, Nov. 2 against Campbellsville, followed by the second exhibition on Fri., Nov. 6 against Clarion. The season opener is scheduled for Friday, Nov. 13 against Morehead State. Tickets for those three home games will go on sale Oct. 21 and are available from the same ticket outlets.

The Cats will kickoff the 2009-10 season on Friday, Oct. 16 with Big Blue Madness at Rupp Arena.

Morehead State Lands 2010 PG Kevin Gray

Article from MSU Eagle Nation:

Coach Donnie Tyndall and his staff are on fire! Having recently picked up a verbal commitment from 6′6 Nashville senior Robert Wade, the Eagles just got a verbal commitment from Reynoldsburg, OH combo guard Kevin Gray.

Gray is 6′ 178 lbs. As a junior, he put up some impressive numbers, averaging 14 points, 4 assists and 3 steals while making the transition from shooting guard to point guard. He also put up some really good numbers this summer playing for the All-Ohio AAU team (which won the 17U nation championship this year). There’s a video, as well as several articles on Gray on his rivals.com profile. He’s not yet rated by Rivals, Scout rates him at one star, and ESPN’s Scouts Inc. gives him a rating of 82. Scouts Inc. had this to say about Gray in their evaluation of him in July:

Gray is a dead eye three point shooter off the catch. He sprints ahead in transition for spot ups and spaces to the open area on the side of dribble penetration. Gray comes off screens with excellent shot preparation and understands the importance of feeding the post and relocating for open shots. Gray is very confident in his shot and does not hesitate to pull the trigger when open. He has decent strength for his size but to take his game to the next level he must work to improve his ball handling and ability to score off the dribble. Gray is a shooting guard in a point guards body and can break the game open with his ability knock down shots in bunches. He will keep the defenses attention especially when playing against zone. Gray has the potential to be a specialist from behind the arc.

Its unclear at this point as to whether Gray will be a PG or a SG at MSU. We wont know what coach Tyndall’s intentions are until after Gray has signed in November and coach is able to talk about him.

AllKYHoops.com Meets UK Head Coach John Calipari


"AllKYHoops.com...meet Kentucky head coach John Calipari. John Calipari...meet AllKYHoops.com..."

I attended the Garrard County Chamber of Commerce event tonight and as expected, John Calipari was large and in charge. He is on fire for Kentucky basketball and my early prediction is that this season will be the introduction of the "We're Back Cats."

I will have a complete article and many other pictures coming soon. Stay tuned!

Does Gilchrist See the UK Light at the End of the Tunnel?


Does sensational 2011 small forward Michael Gilchrist already possess a one-way ticket to Lexington?
That seems to be the prevailing thought in some recruiting circles.

This morning on Twitter, John Clay of the Lexington Herald Leader posted his daily Big Blue Links on his blog. The title of today's edition: "Is Michael Gilchrist destined for UK?"

Clay then posted a link to his blog on Twitter as follows:

Is Michael Gilchrist destined for Kentucky? http://bit.ly/27z6N2

A few moments later, Evan Daniels of Scout.com posted the following answer:

Simple answer. Yes. RT @johnclayiv Is Michael Gilchrist destined for Kentucky? http://bit.ly/27z6N2

That is an interesting transaction between Clay and Daniels and hopefully a sign of things to come in 2011.

2011 PG Marquis Teague Will Visit Big Blue Madness


Marc Maggard at TrueBlueKentucky.com reported yesterday that 2011 superstar point guard Marquis Teague will be at Kentucky's Big Blue Madness on October 16. Teague, an intelligent 6-2 guard, has most commonly been referred to as a slight Louisville lean.

He has picked up offers from a nice list that includes: Kentucky, Louisville, Cincinnati, Indiana, Ohio State, Purdue and Wake Forest.

Related News:

- 2010 forward C.J. Leslie enjoyed a recent in-home visit with Seton Hall head coach Bobby Gonzalez; Leslie still lists Seton Hall, Kentucky, Florida, Maryland and North Carolina (Source: ZagsBlog.com)

- 2010 forward Tobias Harris, fresh off an official visit to Syracuse, will visit Tennessee next. He has not released dates at this time, but he also plans official visits to Kentucky, Louisville, West Virginia, Georgia Tech and Maryland. (source: ZagsBlog.com)

John Calipari Makes a Surprise Visit


Kentucky fans that are camping out for Big Blue Madness tickets were surprised when non other than Kentucky head coach John Calipari himself showed up to greet them. Calipari and several players have visited with the Wildcat fans that are camped out around Memorial Coliseum.

(Hat tip to John Clay of the Lexington Herald-Leader for posting a link to this image on Twitter; Clay is one of the best - make sure to follow him on Twitter for daily UK updates)

NOTE: I will be making a trip to Lexington on Friday evening to do some interviews, take some pictures and hand out some AllKyHoops.com gear.

Maysville Native Michael Jones is Enjoying Life at Brevard


Maysville native Michael Jones is entering his 11th year as head coach at Brevard College, an NCAA Division II school in western North Carolina. Jones enjoyed stops at Eastern Kentucky University and Lee's Junior College (Hazard Community College) before finding his way to Brevard.

I chatted to Coach Jones this week about his life since leaving Maysville, his job and basketball. Here is my interview with Michael Jones, head coach of Brevard College:

Mike, tell me a little about your background in the state of Kentucky

I grew up in Maysville KY. Graduated from Maysville Saint Patrick in ’85. Upon graduating, I went to the University of Louisville for 2 years before transferring to Eastern Kentucky University. I received my Bachelor and Master’s degrees from EKU. I began working with the basketball team at EKU in 1992. After 4 years with EKU, I went to work in Jackson KY at Hazard Community College-Lees College Campus and stayed there for 3 years.

You were a graduate assistant at Eastern Kentucky for several years. Had you made the decision to pursue a career in coaching before your time at Eastern or did your time with the Colonels help lead you into the coaching profession?

I was one semester from graduating with a business degree from Eastern Kentucky, when I needed to fill an elective class; I took a Theories of Coaching Basketball class. The class was taught by the head basketball coach at the time Mike Pollio. After class one day, I went to his office and asked about helping out with the team. Coach Pollio directed me to one of his assistant coaches, Mike Calhoun, about working camp. As a senior in high school, I had sent some letters out about being interested in playing at EKU. Coach Calhoun claimed to have remembered me and graciously allowed me to get on the camp staff that summer. As I started to develop a rapport with Coach Calhoun, Coach Pollio made the announcement that he was leaving coaching to join the Athletic Department at the University of Louisville. Coach Calhoun was named the Head Coach at EKU a short time later. I continued to talk and ask advice from Coach Calhoun, at which time I made the decision to stay in school for another year, change my major and pick up a minor as I now found what I wanted to do…coach. There is no question that I owe my start in college coaching and my career to Mike Calhoun.

You’ve been at Brevard College since 1999. Tell the readers a little about your program and the school.

Brevard is a small Liberal Arts college in the western part of North Carolina. We are 25 miles southwest of Asheville. It is easily one of the most beautiful parts of the country. We have over 100 waterfalls in our county and Brevard has one of the entrances to Pisgah National Forest about 3 miles from campus.

Brevard College was a very well known and successful Junior College for many years. In the late 90’s the administration decided to make the change to 4-year degrees. I was hired in 1999 as the first 4-year basketball coach to lead the program through the transition from 2-year competition to 4-year. We began competing in the NAIA and made the transition to NCAA DII status in 2006.

I have been very fortunate here at Brevard to have been a part of some very special and successful teams. We have been to two National Tournaments and have two Conference Titles.

We have had some great players here. There have been 8 players that have had the opportunity to play for money after graduating; two played in the NBDL. We have had a hand full from Kentucky and three finished their careers here: Mario Hall-Owensboro, Travis Williams-Bowling Green, and David Evans-Franklin County. Evans was the Conference Player of the Year and an All-American

When reading your online bio, this statement jumped out at me: “Most impressive for the Men’s Basketball team is the 98% graduation rate since Coach Jones took over the reins.” Is that accurate? That is a very impressive number. Tell me a little about your devotion to academics and some of the methods you use to keep these kids focused on their academic success.

The 98% graduation rate is correct. In my 10 years, we have only had one player that finished his eligibility with us not receive his degree. When he left he was 3 credit hours short. However, he found a very good job and is doing well in life. We take a lot of pride in our academics. We make it clear to prospective student athletes and their families that we want them to graduate and will provide them with the necessary resources to do that. We have very strict rules regarding class attendance and Brevard College has a great Academic Enrichment Center, where the players with under 2.5 GPAs go for study hall and tutoring help. I firmly believe that success breeds success, both on the court and in the classroom. Our players GPAs have become an area that they are very competitive amongst each other and with other teams. We have not had the highest team GPA on campus yet, but we have been close.

I am assuming that last season was kind of a transition season for your program as you made the jump to NCAA Division II and also joined the South Atlantic Conference. Discuss that transition and some of the obstacles you have faced during this change.

Our transition actually began in 2006. We had to go through two years of provisional membership before being declared a full NCAA member last year. Our administration has done a fantastic job with getting us to full membership in record breaking time. It is normally a 4-year process. The jump to the NCAA has not come without its growing pains. There are completely different rules, paperwork, compliance procedures, etc. However, it has been completely worth it in every way. The NCAA and the SAC have been such a great experience for us. The NAIA is not as strong in the southeast. It is nice to go into a recruit's house and not have to explain what the NAIA is. People know NCAA DII and they know the SAC. The South Atlantic Conference has a long history of being a very strong basketball conference with teams that have performed very well on the national level. Every team we play in the conference is good.

What impact has the change to DII had on your scholarship numbers? What are some of the positive gains you have enjoyed as a result of moving to a higher level of basketball?

Both men's and women's basketball are the only sports at Brevard College that are not at the South Atlantic Conference's scholarship limits. So we are somewhat behind the other SAC teams. But we have gotten more scholarships every year and are closing the gap. We have also had the opportunity to play at the University of Alaska-Anchorage as well as having an arrangement with the Charlotte Bobcats where we play the first game of a double-header in the Bobcat's Arena. This season we will play prior to their game with the Boston Celtics.

Coach, tell me about your 2009-10 team. What are you expecting out of your team and what will your goals be in your second season of SAC play?

When we found out we were transitioning to the NCAA and were going to have go through our provisional membership time when we were not going to have our games count towards any type of post season, we made the decision to build for this year. We brought in a lot of freshman four years ago, knowing that we would take our lumps early, but that since we would be provisional, we felt that was the time to do it. So this season we have seven seniors. We have great leadership. Players that have been through the hard times early and have grown. We had more SAC wins last year than any of the team sports at Brevard. With the addition of some key transfers, we feel that this may be one of our most talented and deep teams we have had. One of our key seniors is Jonathan Whitson. John is already Brevard College's leading scorer and rebounder. John was also named to the All-SAC first team and All-Region team last year. Our main team goal this year, is to be even more competitive this year in the SAC in the hopes to host an opening round game in the conference tournament.

Let me throw you a bit of a curveball. How often do you get back home to visit? Do you still follow any basketball in Kentucky?

I do not get back to Kentucky nearly as much as I would like. My wife and I try to make at least one trip usually around the spring Keeneland meet. I still have many friends in Kentucky both in coaching and out. So I definitely keep tabs on high school basketball in Kentucky. We continue to recruit players from Kentucky so I do get to get back to see some games from time to time.

Let me also say this. I feel very fortunate to have found myself in what must be considered the two best basketball states in the nation. Basketball is obviously a big thing in North Carolina. Everyone is aware of the North Carolina-Duke rivalry and the emotions that stir. However, I am still constantly trying to explain what basketball is in the state of Kentucky. People still have a hard time understanding the passion that people have for the University of Kentucky basketball team, or what the Kentucky State Basketball Tournament is like, or the gyms and sellout crowds for a regular season game in eastern Kentucky. There is nothing that compares to those things.

Wildcats or Cardinals?

Tough question. Obviously I attended the University of Louisville out of high school, which by the way, was in 1986. Can you say, Milt Wagner, Billy Thompson, Herb Crook, Jeff Hall and Pervis Ellison. However, I do enjoy watching UK and the quality of players they have had. Not to mention that I am a big Darius Miller fan, being from Maysville. So I will plead the fifth.

Any thoughts on new Kentucky head coach John Calipari?

I think that Coach Calipari is one of the best recruiters in college basketball. The talent pool that he will attract to UK will be scary. I will be interested to see the very passionate UK faithful's reaction to having so many players leave early for the NBA year after year. But they will definitely be loaded with some of the best young players every season.

Coach Jones, it has been great talking to you and I wish you the best of luck in the upcoming season. I’ll touch base with your as we get into the swing of basketball season and see how things are going for Brevard.

Thanks so much for the opportunity. I really enjoyed it!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Ex-Pikeville Bear Ewan Linton Signs in Mexico


Ewan Linton, a 6-9 big man that played for Pikeville College from 2007-09, has signed a professional contract to play with Bucaneros de Campeche in Mexico.

Linton was Pikeville's team captain in 2008-09 and he averaged 9.8 points, 7.2 rebounds and 1.5 blocked shots per game. He averaged 11.9 points and 7.0 rebounds during his junior season.

He is the twelfth player that Pikeville head coach Kelly Wells has helped to the next level.

Wells stated, “We are so excited that all the hard work and dedication that Ewan has shown to basketball and Pikeville College has put him in a positive situation. We cannot be more excited for Ewan and this endeavor!”

Related News:

- Pop Thornton, who played for Western Kentucky in the mid-1990's, in continuing his long professional career in Uruguay. Thornton plays for Sayago in Uruguay's LUB league. In an 88-87 loss to Anastasia, Thornton put in 34 points and 5 rebounds for his team. (Source: LatinBasket.com)
- Former Kentucky Wildcat Antwain Barbour scored 22 points in a 85-70 loss to Caja Laboral in pre-season action in Spain. (Source: EuroBasket.com)

Pikeville to Give Car Away in Attempt to Break Record


Press Release from Pikeville College:

Three local businesses are coming together to allow one Pikeville College basketball fan the opportunity to win a 2010 Toyota Camry.

On Appalachian Wireless Night, the cell-phone provider will unite with Walter’s Toyota and East Kentucky Broadcasting to give away the Camry during halftime of the men’s basketball game when the Bears and Lady Bears play Georgetown College.

The games are Thursday night, Jan. 21, 2010 at the Eastern Kentucky Expo Center, beginning at 6 p.m.

That is only one of the events taking place that night. The companies and Pikeville College have announced plans to set a new attendance record for an NAIA basketball game as the longtime rivals meet in Pikeville.

These announcements were made at a Wednesday morning press conference at the Expo Center where the new Pikeville College logo was unveiled at center court of the basketball floor.

“One thing I’ve learned already this basketball season, and it hasn’t even started,” said Kelly Wells, head coach of the Bears. “If you get Danny VanHoose involved in something, big things are going to happen.”

VanHoose is the Director of Marketing for Appalachian Wireless, who has spearheaded the efforts of Jan. 21.

To win the Toyota, fans can register by texting “TOYO” to 8696 from their Appalachian Wireless phones. On Jan. 21, six lucky texters will be finalists for the automobile and given a key. One of the keys will start the car and that person will drive away from the games in the car that very night.

“We’re very excited about this and hope those who do not currently use Appalachian Wireless as their cell-phone provider to give us the opportunity to earn their business,” said VanHoose. “I will guarantee they will not be disappointed.”

The premium short code number is up and running now, and with every call, Appalachian Wireless customers will be registered with the opportunity to win the car.

“We encourage everyone to get behind Pikeville College by showing your support for this great institution,” VanHoose said.

Season tickets for Pikeville College basketball games are on sale now. Tickets are $85 for all Pikeville College basketball nights, which will include all men’s and women’s games and select high school basketball games as well.

For more information, contact Coach Kelly Wells at 606/218-5352 or visit the Appalachian Wireless Ticket Booth at the Expo Center.

SEC Staffs Heading to Bowling Green to Look at Behanan


I reported last week that 2011 rising star Chane Behanan is starting to explode in recruiting popularity since his choice to decommit from Cincinnati and that trend continues this week.

Tonight, assistant coaches from Mississippi State will visit Bowling Green to watch Behanan workout. Tomorrow night, assistants from Alabama will travel to central Kentucky to watch the 6-7 power forward workout.

Coaches from Georgia, West Virginia, Oklahoma State and Western Kentucky are working hard to schedule visits, as well.

Ed Davender Ticket Scam Case Goes to Grand Jury

Article from Kentucky.com:

A Fayette grand jury will decide whether to indict former University of Kentucky basketball star Ed Davender who authorities said ran a ticket scam.

District Judge Bruce Bell sent the case to the grand jury during a hearing Wednesday.

Davender, who was arrested Sept. 1, is accused of taking money from at least three people and promising them UK basketball season tickets that he didn't have, police say.

Davender, 43, faces three felony counts of theft by deception. Three alleged victims gave Davender a total of $5,846 after he offered to sell them tickets for the 2009-10 season, according to court records. Since Davender's arrest, police have received calls from others reporting irregularities but no new charges have been filed.

Davender also was charged with having a prescription not in the proper container and trafficking in a controlled substance within 1,000 yards of a school. Court records state that Davender had 14.2 grams of marijuana in two jars in his Jeep Cherokee at the time of his arrest.

Davender has pleaded not guilty, and his attorney has said Davender never intended to defraud anyone. He said there was miscommunication between parties.

Source

Kyrie Irving Says Not so Fast to the Cameron Crazies


It was rumored by several very reliable sources a few days ago that 2010 superstar Kyrie Irving would be announcing his commitment to the Duke Blue Devils. That commitment is yet to take place and Irving now says he will make several other visits, including a trip to Kentucky in October for Big Blue Madness.

Irving announced last night via Twitter that he would still be attending UK's BBM:

"Jerry made a mistake we are still going to uk for big blue madness"

While he is still considered a Duke lean, that is very encouraging news for Kentucky. Irving, an explosive 6-2 combo guard, is ranked #9 on the Rivals150 List for 2010. He appears to favor Duke, but is also high on Kentucky, Georgia Tech and Texas A&M.

Related News:

- The Kentucky staff will visit 2012 sensation Perry Ellis tonight, according to Larry Vaught of the Advocate-Messenger

2011 SG Damien Leonard Likes Kentucky


Damien Leonard, a 6-5 shooting guard that will be one of Kentucky's primary targets in 2011, seems to have a mutual like for the Wildcats. CatsPause.com reports that Leonard considers Kentucky, Clemson and Wake Forest as three of his top choices. ESPN.com also lists Leonard as considering South Carolina, Miami and Texas. He has already picked up offers from an impressive list that includes Louisville, Memphis, Marquette, Virginia Tech, Clemson and Florida.

ESPN's August Evaluation of Leonard is as follows:

August, 2009: Leonard is a true shooting guard with great size. He runs the floor and spots up in transition. In the half court he understands how to space to the open area after feeding the post or by reading a teammates dribble penetration. He can also finish at the rim when ahead of the pack in transition or avoid the charge with a 1 or 2 dribble pull up jumper or floater deep in the lane. Leonard is confident in his shooting stroke especially when he comes off screens. He has pretty good shot preparation and a high release and follows through. He size helps him shoot over smaller defenders. Leonard must add strength and improve his ball handling against intense pressure but every time he shoots the ball it looks to have a chance to go in. Defensively he works to pressure the ball but must have a better understanding on how to pressure the ball without giving up penetration to the lane. Overall excellent young perimeter prospect with his best playing days ahead.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Ex-Hilltopper Filip Videnov to Play in Serbia


Former Western Kentucky Hilltopper Filip Videnov has accepted an offer to play in Serbia following his impressive performance for the Bulgarian National Team this summer. Videnov, who graduated from Western in 2003, will play for KK Crvena Zvezda Belgrade in Serbia's top-level A-League.

Videnov spent last season playing for Kalise Gran Canaria in Spain's ACB League. There, he averaged 5.8 points and 1.3 rebounds per outing. He elevated his game this summer while playing for Bulgaria an averaged 13.2 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4 assists per outing during EuroBasket 2009.

Source: EuroBasket.com

Brandon Knight Enjoyed Trip to UCONN

Article from ZagsBlog.com:

Brandon Knight, the top prospect in the nation out of Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) Pine Crest, enjoyed his weekend visit to UConn and will visit several other schools before deciding — potentially in the spring.

“He had a good visit,” Pine Crest coach Dave Beckerman said Tuesday by phone before he took off for Italy for two weeks.

“He respects a great deal the UConn progmam and what they have done to develop kids to get to the pro ranks, which is an objective of his.”

Having missed out on guards Kyrie Irving and Josh Selby, UConn appears to be targeting the 6-foot-3, 185-pound Knight and Cory Joseph of Findlay (Nev.) Prep, who is tentatively slated to visit UConn Oct. 16. Joseph plans to cut his list and make it public in the coming days.

Knight has already visited Kentucky officially and plans to visit Kansas OCt. 16 for “Late Night in the Phog.”

Duke, Miami and Syracuse are also involved and Beckerman said Knight will likely visit Duke.
“He’s slowly starting to see the difference in programs,” Beckerman said.

“He’s starting to evaluate the differences between the progams and what program will fit his style of play and what program will enhance his game. Not only the program, it’s the coach as well. These are things that they’re looking at.”

Beckerman continues to believe Knight will wait until the spring to commit.

“Yes, they’re still looking at a longer-term decision,” he said.

My Thoughts: There is a belief forming that Josh Selby will end up at Kentucky and Brandon Knight will eventually land at Connecticut.

Other Kentucky Recruiting News:

- 2010 F Roscoe Smith appears to be down to five schools and Kentucky did not make the list. He has announced that his official visits will include Georgetown, Connecticut, Duke, Kansas and Florida. Smith ranks #31 on the Rivals150 List for 2010.
- 2010 F Casey Prather has told Evan Daniels at Scout.com that his final two are Florida and Michigan. Prather comes in at #64 on the Rivals150 List for 2010.

Rajon Rondo Has Beefed Up This Summer


An article on BostonHerald.com states that Boston Celtic point guard Rajon Rondo has added about 11 pounds of muscle over the summer. Rondo, a former Kentucky Wildcat, is proud of his new gains in the weight room.

“All muscle, all muscle,” the Celtics point guard said yesterday, glancing with pride at his enlarged biceps. “I’m weighing 184.6, maybe 186.7. I’m 23, I’m eating better, and I worked harder in the weight room. Weights, eating three meals a day and no McDonald’s.”


Image: Professional Bodybuilder "King" Kamali

Monday, September 28, 2009

Former Cat Cliff Hawkins Finds a Contract in Poland


Former Kentucky point guard Cliff Hawkins has found an opportunity to continue his career in Poland's top-level PLK League. Hawkins has signed with Trefl Sopot.

Hawkins played for Poland's Bank BPS Kwidzyn last season where he averaged 6.8 points, 3.5 assists and 2.2 rebounds per outing. Since starting his professional career in 2004, Hawkins has played in Italy, France, Croatia, Turkey and Japan.

In his Kentucky career (2000-04), Hawkins scored 839 points and dished out 468 assists. He also picked up 199 steals in 126 games.

Source: EuroBasket.com

Dakotah Euton to Make College Choice Soon?

Jody Demling of the Courier-Journal is reporting that former Kentucky recruit Dakotah Euton will make his new college choice. Euton, who will be a senior for Scott County this season, will apparently choose between Akron and Eastern Kentucky.

Here is an excerpt from Demling's article:

Euton told me tonight that he visited Akron last weekend and spent Sunday and Monday at Eastern Kentucky University on his official visit with the Colonels.

"I'm not going to take any others," Euton said. "Right now, (the two) really want me to make a decision, so I am going to sit down with my parents and try to make a decision."

Source

Ex-MSU Eagle Leon Buchanan Playing in Sweden


Former Morehead State Eagle Leon Buchanan is now playing for the Solna Vikings in Sweden's top-level Basketligan league.

Buchanan, who averaged 15.1 points and 6.3 rebounds during his senior season at Morehead, helped lead the Eagles to an OVC Tournament championship and NCAA Tournament appearance last season.

Related News:

- Former Bellarmine star Calvin Fowler has found a home in Jordan's Premier League. He will be playing for ASU Sports Club.

- Ex-Louisville Cardinal Taquan Dean scored 14 points for Unicaja in a 79-73 loss to Cajasol in the Andalusia Cup tournament.

Sources: EuroBasket.com and Asia-Basket.com

Union Bulldogs Picked Fifth by Conference Coaches


Article from Union College:

Union College was placed in a tie for fifth in the Appalachian Athletic Conference Men's Basketball Coaches' Preseason poll, released Wednesday by the league.

Union and Bryan (Tenn.) College were placed fifth as both received 42 points in the poll.

Bluefield (Va.) College, the defending AAC regular-season champions, is atop the poll with eight of the nine first-place votes and 80 points. Tennessee Wesleyan College had the other first-place votes and received 64 points.

AAC newcomer Reinhardt (Ga.) College and Milligan (Tenn.) College landed third and fourth, respectively. Reinhardt garnered 53 points, three more than Milligan.

UVa-Wise, Montreat (N.C.) College and Virginia Intermont College round out the poll from seventh to ninth, respectively.

The Bulldogs finished last season 15-15 overall with a 10-8 AAC record. Union, the No. 4 seed at the AAC Tournament, saw the campaign come to an end when Bluefield won 85-76 in a semifinal contest.

Union, under the direction of interim head coach Sean Gillespie, starts the 2009-10 season Friday, Nov. 6, with a 6 p.m. contest against Ivy Tech (Ind.) Community College at the Joe B. and Denny Classic in New Albany, Ind.

School Points (1st Place Votes)

Bluefield 80 (8)
Tennessee Wesleyan 64 (1)
Reinhardt 53
Milligan 50
Union 42
Bryan 42
UVa-Wise 21
Montreat 20
Virginia Intermont 17

Prayers for Scotty Hopson and Family

I just wanted to pass along a prayer request for Scotty Hopson's family. Scotty's father, James, recently passed away - everyone lift this family in your prayers.

Scotty is a native of Hopkinsville (University Heights Academy) and currently a member of the Tennessee Volunteers basketball program.

Here is the obituary for James Hopson

Morehead State Adds 2010 F Robert Wade

Article from MSU Eagle Nation:

Morehead State has picked up their first commitment for the class of 2010. In head coach Donnie Tyndall’s second recruiting class, he plucked a gem out of Nashville in Demonte Harper and now they have another Nashville native in the fold.

TN Prep Hoops is reporting that Robert Wade, a 6′6 200 lb forward, has committed to the Eagles!

The Eagles, who are looking for post players in this recruiting class, are getting an athletic post player who plays above the rim and has the ability to play in the paint or on the wing. He averaged 15 points per game last season for a Maplewood team that finished 22-6 against some stout competition.

According to TN Prep Hoops, Wade chose Morehead State over other OVC and Sun Belt Conference Schools.

Expect Wade to sign in the Early signing period in November.

Check Out MSU Eagle Nation

NOTE: I asked a friend of mind at Rivals about Wade and he describes him as a 6-6 wing that has a big wingspan. He is a good athlete that can run up-and-down the floor. One of his most positive attributes is that he plays extremely hard all the time. He says Wade had several other offers, including Austin Peay and Middle Tennessee State.

Ex-Cat Joe Crawford on the Knicks' Jet


Former Kentucky Wildcat Joe Crawford posted this picture on Twitter earlier. It is nice to see Crawford getting his well-deserved shot at his NBA dreams!

More Charges Aimed at Former Cat Derrick Miller

Former Kentucky Wildcat Derrick Miller continues to sink deeper into criminal charges from his involvement in an alleged ticket scam. Miller, who seems destined to face charges in all 120 Kentucky counties, is now facing charges in Washington County according to Lex18:

The investigation into the alleged UK ticket scam by former Wildcat Derrick Miller continues to grow, as another alleged victim has now come forward in Washington County.

Miller now has four more charges against him and a fifth new one on the way. Miller is accused of swindling fans out of tickets that the victims paid for.

Miller allegedly took four checks from one victim, cashed them, then never followed through with giving the victim those tickets. Springfield police say they plan to file a fifth charge against Miller after another alleged victim came forward Monday.

Miller also faces charges in Bell, Clark and Fayette counties.

Where Will the Top 2010 Recruits Go?

Which schools will boast the top recruiting classes in 2010? I think the top 10 classes in 2010 will come from the map above. I chose these schools based on 3 factors:

1. Players that are already committed
2. Past experience; schools that get it done year-in and year-out
3. Staffs that have proven themselves on the recruiting trail

Which school will end up with the top overall class in 2010?

I'll take my chances on one of the following five schools (in no particular order):

1. Duke - Kyrie Irving, possibly Harrison Barnes, Coach K and the Blue Devils are a lethal combination
2. North Carolina - UNC and Roy Williams are near the top every season; no reason to think that will change in 2010
3. Kentucky - Hand the resources of UK to one of the games top recruiters and the Wildcats are a safe bet to make the top 5 every season
4. Ohio State - I can never understand how Ohio State gets it down, but they have already picked up commitments from 2 five star players and are on the lists of several others
5. Syracuse - Don't look now, but Jimmy Boeheim has discovered the recruiting fountain of youth (Somewhere, Dick Vitale is smiling)

Other schools that are one-two recruits away from making some major noise:

- Memphis - Pastner has given the Tigers' fans a reason to smile in the midst of disaster
- Baylor - Yes, Baylor
- UCONN - If Jim Calhoun lands Brandon Knight, they immediately shoot to the top 3
- Kansas - We all know that Bill Self is capable and Kansas is one of the best
- Louisville - Look for Rick Pitino to refocus his career and show that he is one of the best

Some up-and-comers that may not reach the top, but are certainly making some waves:

- Oklahoma State - How about the job Travis Ford is doing on and off the court?
- Arizona - The Wildcats are back in a big way
- Florida International - That's right, Florida International. Isiah Thomas is making some noise at FIU.
- West Virginia - Bob Huggins isn't exactly an up-and-comer, but he is one-two recruits away from being big-time in the Big East
- Marquette - They haven't closed the deal on any major superstars just yet, but most of the 2010 lists include the word "Marquette" on them

Sunday, September 27, 2009

UK BBall Has Less PAYNEful Weekend Than UK FBall


As the Kentucky football team was in the midst of an embarrassing 41-7 loss to the mighty Florida Gators, the Kentucky basketball team was hosting 2010 recruit Adreian Payne. The word out of Lexington is that Payne had an excellent visit and the weekend was very positive for the big man.

Payne is a 6-10 center that ranks #20 on the Rivals150 List for 2010.

Will Payne join Stacey Poole in Kentucky's 2010 Class?

Alhaji Mohammed Continues to Shine in France

Former Louisville Cardinal reserve Alhaji Mohammed has emerged as the leader of his Limoges CSP Elite team in France's ProB League. Mohammed led Limoges to a regular season-opening 69-62 victory over JL Bourg Basket. The former Card scored 17 points, grabbed 5 rebounds and dished out 5 assists in the victory.

Other International News:

- Former Murray State Racer Marcus Brown scored 12 points to help lead his Zalgiris squad to an 83-78 victory over arch-rival Lietuvos Rytas. The victory gave Zalgiris the championship in the BBL Cup.

- Former Western Kentucky Hilltopper Elgrace Wilborn put in 13 points and 9 rebounds as his Atenas team defeated Cader 76-70 in Uruguay's LUB League.

Source: EuroBasket.com

UK Recruit Kyrie Irving Heading to Duke?

I have heard from a very good source that 2010 recruit Kyrie Irving is likely preparing to commit to the Duke Blue Devils. Irving is #9 on the Rivals150 List for 2010.

Kentucky made the final list for Irving, but he has generally been considered a Duke lean for some time now.

UPDATE: I just saw a Twitter post from Justin Young of National Hoops Report stating that Irving is likely heading to Duke. Here is Young's tweet:

"hearing from very good sources that kyrie irving will commit to duke in next 24 hrs if he hasnt already http://tiny.cc/9yomT"

2010 PG Josh Selby Cuts List; Kentucky in the Mix

Dustin Rumbaugh of Kentucky Sports Radio just sent a message via Twitter that 2010 point guard Josh Selby has trimmed his list of schools to six. Here is Rumbaugh's "tweet":

DustinRumbaugh Josh Selby cuts his list down after family discussion last night. Its now Kansas, Syracuse, Kentucky, Miami, Indiana and Baylor.

Selby, who recently decommitted from Tennessee, is a big-time player that is ranked #4 on the Rivals150 List for 2010.

2011 Guard Achraf Yacoubou to Visit Kentucky


Article from ZagsBlog.com:

Achraf Yacoubou is one of the most exciting guards in the Class of 2011. Ranked No. 19 among shooting guards by Rivals, the 6-4, 200 pound Yacoubou is a junior at Long Island Lutheran.

He is set to visit Kentucky for Big Blue Madness Oct. 16 and Villanova for Hoops Mania Oct. 23.

He lists those two schools, along with UConn, as his top three.

“They are all equal. I don’t have a leading school just yet,” he said by text.

Villanova coach Jay Wright is very high on Yacoubou, according to a source.

Yacoubou is an explosive scorer who looks very smooth on the court. When I saw Long Island Lutheran win at St. Anthony last year, Yacoubou was the best player on a court that also included Tobias Harris, Dominic Cheek and Devon Collier.

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