By Drew Franklin on ©August 21st, 2018 @ 11:00pm
Mark Stoops made a special guest appearance on Kentucky Sports Radio during a break in Week 3 of his team’s fall football camp.
As always, Stoops was very candid and transparent to the show in his comments; although, he did not reveal any new information as to who the starting quarterback will be in 11 days. (Sorry.) He did, however, say, “I’ve thought about it, but I haven’t made a decision on it as far as when and how I’ll make that public.”
Stoops also raved about his team’s veteran leadership in a year that, for the first time, the best players are also its best leaders.
“We’ve been more consistent,” Stoops told the show. “I’ve been impressed; in particular, some of those guys on the offensive side of the ball with Benny, CJ and all the O linemen. All those guys are leaders and want to do the right thing all of the time, so they’ve been impressive. Same with the quarterbacks.”
Overall, he sees his best football team since he’s been at the University of Kentucky. But only time will tell if his best roster will translate to the Cats’ best record in his six seasons in Lexington.
“Without a doubt, we’re a stronger football team this year,” Stoops said, proudly. “Whether we play better or whether we win those games, that’s why we play them. But we’re a better team this year than we’ve ever been. And as I say all the time, we should be. How it translates to wins and losses, that’s why we gotta go play because I can’t just say that.
“We have a great opportunity. I like this football team. But until you go play, you don’t know exactly what we have.”
11 days until we see it on the field.
Listen to Stoops’ entire interview:
By TJ Walker on ©August 21st, 2018 @ 10:00pm
Former Michigan State star Jaren Jackson Jr. was running The Players’ Tribune Twitter account on Tuesday afternoon and gave UK sophomore Nick Richards some praise.
Jackson Jr. was drafted No. 4 in the 2018 NBA Draft after his lone season as a Spartan. He averaged 10.9 points, 5.8 rebounds and three blocks per game. Michigan State was upset by Syracuse in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Jackson Jr. was asked about his toughest matchup in the Nike EYBL.
My bro Nick Richards
— The Players' Tribune (@PlayersTribune) August 21, 2018
The two unfortunately didn’t square off against one another in college, but it’s more evidence that Richards can be a star. Richards’ issues seems to be consistency, which isn’t surprising given he’s only been playing basketball since he was a teenager.
Richards did a lot of nice things in the Bahamas, he had a couple great games last season and clearly frustrated Jackson Jr. in the Nike EYBL two years ago.
Let’s hope consistent Richards is here to stay in 2018-2019.
By TJ Walker on ©August 21st, 2018 @ 9:00pm
Anonymous coaches are at it again! This time talking to Matt Norlander of CBS Sports, discussing which eligible college basketball player they would most like to have on their roster.
Reid Travis was the only Kentucky player listed and was named by 9 percent of the coaches that disclosed their votes to Norlander. That was good enough to be tied for fourth place with SEC rival Grant Williams.
I don’t think anyone should have any major issues with R.J. Barrett at No. 1. I disagree with Zion Williamson and Carsen Edwards at No. 2, but I’m not overly passionate about it. Both are great players that should have good seasons.
But how is P.J. Washington excluded by these college coaches? He averaged 10.8 points and 5.7 rebounds on a team that featured two NBA lottery picks and three other players that are currently on NBA rosters.
If you’re worried about Duke having two players at the top, there seems to be a bit of a CBS Candid Coach curse. Only one player who received the most votes has gone to the Final Four and no player has helped lead their team to a national championship since CBS started doing this in 2012.
By TJ Walker on ©August 21st, 2018 @ 8:00pm
Kentucky’s 2018 football motto derived from one of the most controversial officiating decisions from the 2017 season. It ended Benny Snell’s sophomore season and drastically hurt UK’s chances of winning the Music City Bowl.
You remember the play. Snell was on the turf and when an official went to help him up, he declined the help and got up on his own. He was thrown out of the game because he brushed aside the officials (despite the official making contact first) and now UK is using #GetUp for the 2018 season.
Snell told the KSR crew on Tuesday that he hasn’t forgotten.
“They took me out the game early last year,” Snell said. “I’m ready to get back. I’ll forever remember that.”
Matt Jones reminded Snell how the ejection became a national story and put the UK back on the map after back-to-back successful seasons.
“At the end of the day when I was talking to my parents and some of the coaches it was like a blessing in disguise,” Snell said. “I learned my lesson from it- the lesson is to stay far away from a ref as possible, or do what they say.”
Matt suggested just allowing the officials to help him up? It wasn’t surprising to hear Snell disagree.
“Stay away. I gotta stay away.
Smart, Benny. Smart.
The entire audio is below and it’s the start of the interview.
By Nick Roush on ©August 21st, 2018 @ 7:30pm
Tomorrow is the first day of class on the University of Kentucky campus. That means Kentucky football training camp has officially closed. After a day off tomorrow, the Cats will begin Central Michigan prep on Thursday.
Mark Stoops and Eddie Gran gave exceptional reviews of the last three weeks. Kentucky escaped relatively injury-free (*knock on wood*) and it wasn’t filled with so many peaks and valleys. Consistency has been a problem in the past, but this team found a nice rhythm and maintained that effort, energy and urgency throughout camp.
You’ll also find plenty of talk about the quarterbacks below, but all of that will likely end on Monday. When pressed about roster questions, Stoops deferred to next week’s press conference where he promised to provide more clarity.
By Nick Roush on ©August 21st, 2018 @ 6:59pm
Kentucky’s explosive All-SEC inside linebacker returned to practice Tuesday.
Jordan Jones missed significant time in 2017 with a collarbone injury. He was also absent throughout the spring with a shoulder injury. At the start of camp his shoulder was cleared to practice, but according to Mark Stoops, Jones had multiple minor injuries that kept him off the field throughout raining camp.
“He hasn’t been out there much. He’s had two or three different things going on with with him. Hopefully he’s back now full-go. We’ll see,” Stoops said after today’s practice.
In 2016, his only complete season as a starter at Kentucky, Jones was a Second Team All-SEC selection after recording 109 tackles (3rd in the SEC), 15.5 tackles for loss (6th in the SEC) and four sacks. In today’s practice he had arguably the defense’s best play when he blew up Benny Snell behind the line of scrimmage, one of Jones’ specialities.
“He’s loose. He’s slippery, both in run game and when he’s pressuring. He’s one of those guys that just has instincts to get to the football. He showed some signs again with that today,” Stoops said.
The defense felt Jones’ impact today. How he will perform moving forward after missing so much time is unforeseen, but his experience is invaluable.
“He’s been gone a bunch…so we’ve learned to function and move on without him at times. But certainly with his experience and has playmaking ability, we love having him out there. As far as his effect on the defense, that’s yet to be seen. Hopefully it’ll amp us up a bit. His experience helps because when we’re playing with the freshmen, they’re talented, but they’re still freshmen.”
By TJ Walker on ©August 21st, 2018 @ 6:30pm
Another day and another potential college football scandal. This time it’s Texas A&M.
Former Aggie (now at Arizona) Santino Marchiol is spilling the beans on new A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher and how he operates his program. USA Today’s Dan Wolken has the story, and boy, is it interesting.
Marchiol red-shirted at A&M last season and was willing to give Fisher a chance this year, but decided to transfer after a handful of incidents took place between him and the coaching staff.
Because he was a red-shirt, Marchiol would have to sit out a year at Arizona and lose a year of eligibility. But there is a relatively new NCAA rule that could grant Marchiol instant eligibility. If he details wrongdoing at A&M, mitigating circumstances, then he could be instantly eligible.
So, Marchiol snitched and there were three major claims:
- Assistants (former UK assistant Bradley Dale Peveto was specifically named) handed Marchiol and his teammates cash. The money ($1,000 mentioned) was to be used on recruits during their unofficial visits. This is an obvious NCAA violation but Marchiol did state there was no evidence of the interactions with Peveto and he kept the leftover money.
- A&M coaches made players participate in “voluntary” workouts, practices and film sessions during the summer.
- A&M coaches used disrespectful language when talking to players and didn’t use caution with Marchiol’s injured ankle.
Marchiol describes being taken aback after the spring game when Peveto pulled him into a bathroom near the coaches’ offices and handed him $300.
“There were coaches having meetings in the other office, and he said, here, come in the bathroom real quick because he’d just asked me to host the recruit,” Marchiol said. “So I went in the bathroom and it was just me and him in there, and he’s like, ‘Take this, if you need any more just text me and make sure they have a good time.’ ”
I would suggest you read the entire story HERE, but this isn’t great news for A&M. The Cats will travel to College Station in October, so the more headaches the better.
But my big takeaway is the NCAA allowing players to snitch to become instantly eligible. That’s going to be a dangerous game for players who feel they didn’t get a fair shake. I’m guessing this will have college coaches pushing for immediate eligibility soon.
It’s worth noting that Marchiol didn’t go straight to the NCAA with this information, but instead detailed this info to Arizona’s compliance department, who told the NCAA.
By Nick Roush on ©August 21st, 2018 @ 5:59pm
The Kentucky football team opened its doors for half of a practice to the media as Mark Stoops’ squad winds down training camp. Below you’ll find my running notes from the roughly one-hour practice.
- Terry is first to take snaps in the Hurry-Up vs. air period (GASP!).
- Terry was the first to run with the ones in the team period we were permitted to see too. He is not afraid to go North-South in RPOs and is quick to get the ball out of his hands on the pass. When he’s in the game, expect to see A LOT of RPOs.
- Don’t underestimate Danny Clark’s wheels. The big kid can move.
- Hoak continues to be money on short routes, easily finding Baker on the hitch.
- Benny Snell is still really good, but a lot shiftier behind his blockers.
- Last year many people asked, “Where’s AJ Rose?” I doubt that will be the case this year.
- Pretty disappointed that I didn’t get more looks at the freshmen.
- No EJ Price at practice today. Stoops said he’s been dealing with a lingering hand issue.
- Drake Jackson moves so damn well. He can sit in what is essentially a complete squat and move faster than I can sprint. It absolutely blows my mind.
- Drake just gave McCall a freshman moment. Poor guy.
- It’s not fair when Big George is blocking freshmen. Just give them a white towel.
- A pulling Bunchy gave us the best pop of the practice and it came at Josh Allen’s expense. It was loud enough to incite an involuntary audible response.
- Darrian Kinnard, an All-American freshman tackle, got some action in with the second team at guard. Interesting.
- Bowden and Bouvier had a pair of impressive sideline grabs, while Ali and Zy’Aire Hughes were fun to watch stretch the field in stride vs. air.
- Rigg is going to play A LOT helping lead the way for Benny. A reach block is the most difficult task for a tight end and he’s got it down pat.
- I wondered who would win out in the battle of sophomores between Epps and Ali. As of today, it appears that Ali has a slight advantage.
- Bo Knows (how to punch and swim). (In case you don’t know Bo, that’s Quinton Bohanna, the UK nose guard that Vince Marrow raved about on KSR.)
- DuBose has never been in better shape. His initial punch isn’t as powerful as the other nose guards, but he’s incredibly agile inside.
- Davoan Hawkins, a true freshman, stood up Bunchy Stallings, a three-year starter. A stalemate is as good as a win for the defense.
- Entering today, I wondered if Hawkins was good enough to play. We haven’t yet entered the team period, but I think he’s got it.
- DuBose was moving around quite a bit. He’s listed at nose but also got some run in with the ones alongside Bohanna and Middleton.
- JORDAN JONES IS BACK IN FULL PADS!
- Jesus Christ DeAndre is explosive. I feel sorry for the poor running backs who have to pass protect against that blitz.
- Chris Oats is running with the 3s At Mike. The second group behind Kash and Jordan Jones featured Jamin Davis at the Mike and Square at the Will.
- Jones is still an absolute hell-raiser when he blitzes. He made the defense’s best play of the day by blowing up Benny in the backfield.
- Mike Edwards ain’t the type of dude to fall for an RPO fake.
- I forgot we only got an hour to watch, and didn’t allot enough time to check out the secondary. My bad y’all.
- Butler banged one from 40 in a hurry up, end-of-game scenario. Poore’s from 43 yards was wide left.
- It’s fun to watch the Aussie roll it to the corner instead of just booming it like a traditional coffin corner, although Duffy has quite the boomstick.
- I would love to see Edwards in the return game, although I doubt they’ll let him do it.
By Zack Geoghegan on ©August 21st, 2018 @ 5:00pm
The NBA conducted their annual rookie survey, releasing the results on Tuesday morning and several former Wildcats received votes in almost all of the polls. Rookies voted on other rookies and were not allowed to vote for themselves, college teammates, or NBA teammates (and the ones that did anyways had their votes thrown out).
New York Knicks forward and number nine overall pick Kevin Knox received the most praise from his fellow rookies, as 10 percent of them picked him to have the best career among all rookies in his draft class. Former Duke product Wendell Carter Jr. finished with the highest percentage of votes at 13 percent and the three-year man out of Boston College, Jerome Robinson, tied Knox by also receiving 10 percent of votes.
Not only do the rookies think highly of Knox having a fantastic longterm career, he also finished tied for third with Dallas Mavericks forward Luka Doncic in voting to win Rookie of the Year with nine percent of the votes going his way. Knox also received at least one vote as the best rookie shooter in the class (Trae Young easily won that poll).
Oklahoma City Thunder guard Hamidou Diallo also received at least one vote to win Rookie of the Year, as well. Remember, these votes couldn’t have come from Knox, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, or any other Kentucky rookie, so there is at least one believer in Diallo to have a huge rookie season.
Diallo also received at least one vote to be the biggest steal of the draft and finished tied for second in voting as the most athletic rookie in the draft with 15 percent of the votes. Zhaire Smith, an unexpected one-and-done player from Texas Tech drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers, finished with 24 percent of the votes. The love for Diallo doesn’t even stop there, as at least one player voted him as the best rookie defender.
*I assume the same player is continuously voting for Diallo in each poll, although I have no idea who it might be. Or maybe his peers just have that much faith in him. Who knows. But either way, it’s nice to see him gaining some recognition.*
SGA finished tied for third as the best rookie playmaker with nine percent of the votes and he also received at least one vote to have the best overall career.
Is it October yet?
By Zack Geoghegan on ©August 21st, 2018 @ 4:00pm
Sacramento Kings forward Skal Labissiere looks considerably more jacked than in the past. Hide your significant others, gentlemen.
A highlight video posted to Ball is Life’s YouTube channel showcased some private games hosted by Rico Hines, a current assistant coach with the NBA’s G League team, the Stockton Kings. The teams were star-studded with players such as Kevin Durant, Bradley Beal, Buddy Hield, Denzel Valentine, Taurean Prince and several other NBA players being pitted against each other. There were also a handful of former Kentucky players who took the court.
Devin Booker, Julius Randle, and Labissiere were all participants in the private games. The thing that will pop out at you the most? Labissiere’s improved muscles.
Labissiere appears to have hit the weight room hard this offseason, looking like a completely different player with the beard to match. His highlights begin around the 4:29 mark (as do Booker and Randle’s) and he can be seen throwing down dunks, attacking the boards, and just being a much more physically imposing player than previously seen.
Also, I can’t help but notice the fact that Labissiere is trying his hardest to look like Anthony Davis. Although that’s not a bad player to try and mold yourself after.
Most of the 13-minute video consists of Taurean Prince and Kevin Durant exchanging jump shot after jump shot, but it’s some of the first video we have of Labissiere since the offseason began and it’s clear he’s been working hard on his body, something he has been criticized for since he was at Kentucky.
Through two less-than-ideal seasons with the Kings, Labissiere has averaged 8.7 points and 4.8 rebounds in 19.9 minutes per game with several stints in and out of the G League. While he’s shown flashes of being a potential role player in the NBA, he has never been consistent enough to be reliable (with some minor injuries sprinkled in) and his playing time has suffered because of it.
With how the Kings have spent their time and money this offseason (drafting Marvin Bagley III and signing Nemanja Bjelica, both big men) and their infatuation with Harry Giles III (another center), it’s good to see Labissiere investing time into his body in order to compete with what will be a cluttered Kings frontcourt. The third season for fringe NBA players can typically be a good indicator of whether or not they can make it in the league and Labissiere appears to be putting in the work to stand out this season and ensure he’s not on the outside looking in.
I mean, check out this video of him lifting weights in late July.
— Coach Shabazz (@Teamshabazz9) July 30, 2018
That’s a grown man. It’ll be exciting to see how it all pays off for him.