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April 29th, 2017

UK Baseball Falls to South Carolina

Katie Dugan | UK Athletics

Katie Dugan | UK Athletics

The sixth-ranked Kentucky baseball team dropped game two of their series at South Carolina, falling to the No. 21 Gamecocks in Columbia 5-1.

After a Friday night offensive explosion that featured 19 runs and 20 hits, the Cats could only muster two hits against the Gamecocks’ Adam Hill.  The BatCats’ only run was a solo shot by Tyler Marshall in the top of the fourth, his first homerun of the year.  They had a chance to rally in the top of the eighth, but a 6-4-3 double play stopped the Cats in their tracks.

The BatCats will try to win their third consecutive SEC series tomorrow at 1:30.

Don’t let that get you down.  The UK Softball team took down No. 4 Texas A&M 7-2 for a Senior Day victory.  Instead of explaining it to you, I’ll let Ky Wildcats TV do the honors.

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Where Former Kentucky Football Stars Landed in NFL Free Agency

Mark Zerof | USA Today

Mark Zerof | USA Today

Kentucky’s streak of nine consecutive years with an NFL Draft pick was snapped today, but that will not keep a few talented former Cats out of the league.  The free agency market is open for business and these Cats are wasting no time finding a team.

Jon Toth

The former Kentucky center is heading to the San Francisco 49ers.  It was a bit of a shock that the Team Captain who started 47 of 48 games was held out of the draft.  A former two-star prospect, Toth is in familiar territory, fighting to prove himself.

J.D. Harmon

The defensive back and product of Paducah Tilghman Tweeted that he’ll be joining the Cleveland Browns.  Normally people don’t choose to go to Cleveland, but Harmon has the skill set and athleticism to make the roster as an impact player on special teams.

This list will be updated throughout the night.  


Cats Shut Out in the NFL Draft: What’s Next?

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Kentucky had zero players taken in the 2017 NFL Draft. Only one Wildcat was projected to be selected and Jon Toth never heard his name called. Prognostications were all over the place for the center. Starting in the 3rd round all the way through 7 and further, analysts varied in their assessment of the center that started 47 consecutive college games.

The Toth situation was surprising and somewhat discouraging. A team captain, 1st Team All SEC selectee, and Rimington Trophy Watch Lister checked all the blocks to be selected; but that didn’t happen. The knock on Toth was that he lacked elite athletic skills. But, production, leadership, intangibles, and consistency were all through the roof, but not enough.

In addition, the center position is a tricky evaluation and several in the league rose from the ranks of the undrafted. A former 2-star prospect; Toth will need to prove himself all over again on the professional level. Don’t feel sorry for Jon Toth. The Indy native took advantage of a free education and graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering.

Boom Williams declared for the draft immediately after the Taxslayer Bowl. Most likely that decision was made long before Jacksonville. Only ESPN’s Mel Kiper had Williams slated within the parameters of being chosen with every other analyst having him ranked outside the Top 300 list of draft eligible players.

Revisionist history will say that the junior running back should have returned to Lexington for his senior season. He could have been a catalyst for an offense that exploded onto the national rushing category scene in 2016 and completed his degree while improving on skills that could have boosted his status in the 2018 Draft. Like Toth, Boom will get a chance to prove his worth.

What’s Next?

Undrafted free agency for all. Phones are most likely already ringing as teams will be attempting to sign Toth, Williams, McWilson, Harmon, and others.

2018 may see Wildcats drafted. If so, expect potential early departures from Jordan Jones and Mike Edwards. Again, a disappointing process for the BBN.

It’s not personal, it’s personnel.


The NFL Draft Ends Without a Selection from Kentucky

The 2017 NFL Draft came and went and not a single Wildcat was picked.  It’s the first time all Cats have gone undrafted since 2007.

Shortly after the season, center Jon Toth was projected between the third and sixth rounds.  In the final week, he started to slide, but many believed his spot in the draft was secure.  Unfortunately, that was not the case.  To make matters worse, with the 25th pick in the last round the Texans selected another center,  Kyle Fuller from Baylor.

Boom Williams was considered a fringe draft selection when he decided to forego his final season of eligibility and declare for the NFL Draft after the TaxSlayer Bowl.  He gained some late momentum, potentially earning a late spot in the draft, but his name was never called.

As late round picks, it actually might be advantageous that they both fell out of the draft.  Now they can each choose the place that fits them best in free agency.  Still, it hurts that a Louisville long snapper got selected in the sixth round but that Cats couldn’t get a draft pick.


Calipari Zeroing In on a Pair of Nike EYBL Teammates

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Last year John Calipari got an early look at small forward Cameron Reddish while recruiting his prep school teammate, Mohamed Bamba.  Now Calipari is taking a closer look at Reddish’s Nike EYBL teammate, small forward Louis King.

The 6’8″ small forward is a top 25 player in the class of 2018.  He does not yet have an offer from UK, but King told ZagsBlog it would be a “privilege.”

“I know they get guys to The League,” King said.  “They had Isaiah Briscoe and Malik Monk and a lot of great players in that program. So going to that program is like a privilege.”

While Reddish struggled in front of Coach Cal last night, King finished with 19 points and 10 rebounds.   The Cats are considered the early favorites for King.  Reddish was once considered a lock for Duke, but told the Herald-Leader’s Ben Roberts he is slowing down the recruiting process.  He will take his time and use all five official visits.  His description of UK is very similar to his teammate’s.

“We know what they do best, which is get players to the league,” Reddish said. “And that’s my ultimate goal as well. So that’s a great place to be at.”

Highlights of the pair from last weekend.  

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Roush Reviews Braveheart

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Folks, it’s going to be a long hot summer on Saturday’s at Kentucky Sports Radio.  To change things up, I’m killing two birds with one stone: watching classic, must-see movies and creating KSR content.  A child of the 90s, I missed many great cultural moments that every person should encounter.  The only New Year’s resolution I ever accomplished was “listen to The Beatles” and it was one of the best decision’s I’ve ever made.

The following posts will feature some of the greatest movies ever made.  I know little to nothing at all about these movies, save for a few famous pop cultural references (i.e. the horse head in the bed in Godfather).  First, I’ll share my expletive-free running notes from the movie, followed by some overall thoughts.  Naturally, this thing is going to be filled with spoilers.

The first film is in the KSR Movie Bracket and available on Netflix, Mel Gibson’s Braveheart.

Running Notes

— The Baby William Wallace looks more like Baby Joe Dirt.  Beginning with a young Mel, I don’t expect to see his dad survive more than ten minutes.  I know it’s not a Disney movie, but Disney movies taught me that a movie isn’t great unless you kill off a parent.  (He barely lasted ten minutes.)

—  Grown up William looks odd.  Mel Gibson isn’t young, but as one of the few without a beard he looks younger than the rest of the Scotts.  He looks different, but to Gibson’s credit, he has an excellent Scottish accent.

—  Really, a love story?  I’m hear to watch people get murdered, not to see Mel swoon.  But hey, boobs.

—  OH NO THEY DIDN’T!  They killed his wife?  Already?  We’re just 15 minutes in and his lover had her throat cut.  At least they’re using it to turn Wallace into a badass.  His horse may have gotten stabbed, but so did all of those English bastards.

—  Edward Longshanks is a great name for an evil King.  The way Longshanks rolls off the Scottish tongue makes it sound even more despicable.  He also kind of reminds me of King John’s depiction in the Robin Hood cartoon. Meanwhile, his son isn’t concerned with his hot French wife.  Apparently Game of Thrones watched Braveheart before creating noble’s with gay extramarital affairs.

—  Wallace is fighting with his mind and it’s fantastic.  The brutal killings are great, but they wouldn’t happen if he didn’t use his mind first, a line uttered early and often.  Wearing English uniforms is one of my favorite moves so far, straight guerilla-warfare.

—  The crazy Irishman is probably going to be my favorite character.  “It’s my island.”  You gotta have some stones to declare you’re the baddest of asses on an entire island.  He proved it by saving Wallace’s neck during a hunting trip.

—  The best Wallace is blue-faced Wallace.  I don’t know much about the movie, but I do know blue-faced Mel Gibson is iconic.  The speech is famous, but I like his quick retort before they discuss battle terms even more: “I’m going to pick a fight.”  Watching Wallace antagonize the English is the best scene in this entire movie.

—  Mooning and flashing your enemy might be the best battlefield tactic I’ve never seen.  Outmanned and out-gunned, what does Wallace do?  Show them his junk.  “Bold strategy Cotton, let’s see if it pays off” (it does).

—  Never seen so many dead horses.  Chivalry usually spared the beasts, but that’s just how crazy the Scots were.

—  The siege of a medieval castle is the craziest act of war.  Before we had chemical weapons, we poured hot tar on people who were trying to shove a giant log through a door.  What a wild time to be alive.

—  It’s a head in a box.  The most intimidating body part in a box move until…

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—  Longshanks pulls a Lannister.  The prince’s lover was out that window faster than a young Stark witnessing incest.

— The Princess totally wants Wallace.  You could tell she wanted him while listening to stories about him, but when he busted out Latin and French in front of her, Game Over. Lesson: chicks dig the use of romantic languages.

—  Cal learned how to recruit from William Wallace.  Too bad Longshanks pays his players.  It cost him the Battle at Edinburgh and almost his life.

 Horses don’t belong in bedrooms.  If a horse is in a bedroom, it will die.  This one wasn’t headless, but he took one hell of a dive into a lake after the noble Scot got his face smashed in.

—  Wallace cucks Longshanks.  I didn’t think they’d pull the trigger, but Gibson is the director.  If he wants to sleep with the Princess, he sleeps with the princess.

—  DON’T CALL IT A COMEBACK.  Seriously, don’t.  We thought he had one in him, but that stupid leper noble had to betray Bill Wallace.  This isn’t going to end well.

—  This isn’t going to end well.  I really thought William Wallace might sneak an epic comeback before the end of the movie, but I should’ve known my Scottish history better.  At least we got to witness a pretty epic torture scene and without seeing the awful visual of someone being drawn and quartered.

Overview

It’s a slow-starter, making the movie push three hours, too long for many attention spans.  The biggest problem I have with any time-period movies is the required love story.  Titanic and Pearl Harbor were essentially love stories within a significant historical event.  Braveheart‘s love story is not as cheesy or emphasized as the previously mentioned movies, and it simply acts as Wallace’s motive for murdering every English bastard in Scotland.

The movie does a fantastic job capturing the brutality of medieval times, all in the middle of an intriguing story that is filled with twists and turns.  Gibson plays the crazed Wallace well (which is no surprise in hindsight), inspiring the commoners to battle while his lack of people skills prevent him from politicking with noble families, leading to his ultimate demise.

Even though we didn’t get a happy ending where Wallace leads his men to ultimate victory, he’s a poised martyr whose death is not left in vein, leaving the viewer satisfied after investing three hours into the wonderful epic.

Grade: 8.1/10

Braveheart greatly exceeded my expectations and this summer series is off to a great start.


Five Purchases You Need to Make Before Oaks and Derby

Plastic Flasks

CBS says The Masters is “A Tradition Unlike Any Other,” but I beg to differ.  Sneaking booze into Churchill Downs is a craft passed down through families from one generation to another.  It’s become more difficult throughout the years.  Now with metal detecting wands in place, plastic flasks are the working man’s key to a successful, inexpensive trip.

Clear Plastic Bags

You cannot bring booze into Churchill Downs, but you can bring in other essentials like frozen water bottles, sunscreen and snacks.  THEY MUST BE IN CLEAR PLASTIC BAGS no larger than 18×18.  Not everyone survives the weekend, but a few clear plastic bags filled with food and water will exponentially  increase your likelihood of survival.

Cargo Shorts

The stupid cloth-belt is optional.

The stupid cloth-belt is optional.

You may be dismissed for not being “frat” or “classy,” but few clothing items posses more utility than cargo shorts.  Nobody wants to walk around holding a plastic bag filled with granola bars.  Insert cargos.  If for no other reason, cargo shorts can double the number of beers for your walk from the tailgate to the track.

Poncho

No matter what the weather reports say (currently a 30% chance of rain on Derby day), at some point during Derby weekend it will rain.  Even if it isn’t a constant downpour, a poncho may save you from getting soaked when a brief shower hits during the national anthem, like it did last year.  The beautiful thing about a poncho is that it fits perfectly inside the giant cargo short pocket.

Sombrero

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Oaks Day falls on Cinco de Mayo.  Need I say more?  I will.  Outsiders think Derby hats are for fashion purposes.  In reality, it’s to keep you cool and prevent you from getting sunburnt.  Be smart.  Wear a big hat.


The Two Words Athletic Teenagers Use the Most

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The tasks of a KSR blogger vary on a day-to-day basis, ranging from tedious podcast editing to scowling Twitter for content, but at the heart of my job is one simple task: ask teenagers questions.

Whether I’m talking to All-SEC linebacker Jordan Jones or No. 1 overall pick Karl-Anthony Towns, I’m talking to kids that can’t legally sit at a bar and order a drink.  It’s easy to sit at a bar and pick somebody’s brain, but the task becomes more challenging when you have to have a conversation with a 17-year old in front of a dozen cameras.

Earlier this month, I spent three days speaking to 17-year olds behind a camera at the McDonald’s All-American Game in Chicago.  Still not yet versed in media training, questions must be crafted more carefully to receive exceptional content in a conversation set in circumstances the athletes are not accustomed to.  When the questions weren’t carefully crafted, I usually heard a “B-B-N” from the future Wildcats, a ubiquitous crowd-pleasing soundbite.  When discussing their basketball future with John Calipari, the following two words were uttered more than any other phrase:

“Next Level”

The All-Americans didn’t use that phrase to describe college basketball, they were referring to the NBA.  The ultimate goal for the best of the best of the best isn’t to receive a college scholarship, it’s to get paid to play professionally in the NBA.

When Quade Green was a kid shooting hoops in Philadelphia, I bet he was dreaming of hitting a big shot for the Sixers like Allen Iverson instead of being John Cheney’s point guard at Temple.  When I first started writing, my goal wasn’t to be the best unpaid KSR College blogger, it was to get paid for my skills on the big stage.

Earlier this week fans were quick to pick up their torches and pitchforks when Hamidou Diallo and Bam Adebayo announced their intentions to pursue their dream of playing at the next level.  “This isn’t what Kentucky basketball is supposed to be about,” was the generalized sentiment, even though that’s exactly what it is about.

At the heart of John Calipari’s Kentucky basketball program is helping players reach their ultimate goal of playing at the next level.  Like me, you may have grown up dreaming about hitting that buzzer-beater at Rupp Arena.  Most of us weren’t good enough to make that dream a reality.  The best of the best of the best grew up dreaming about that buzzer-beater at the next level, the NBA.

John Calipari opened his first press conference as the Kentucky head coach by saying: “I’m here because I can recruit the best of the best here. That’s why I’m here.”  

In eight years, Calipari has done exactly that.  He’s won games, he’s been to Final Fours, he’s won a title and he’s helped dozens of players reach their dreams by playing at the next level.  The best of the best come to Kentucky because Calipari can get them where they want to be.

Acceptance is the first step.  I’ve accepted that my career will be defined on how well I can ask teenagers questions.  The sooner the “B-B-N” accepts that the best players come to Kentucky to leave for the “next level,” the better.


Hamidou Diallo is Invited to the NBA Combine

Chet White | UK Athletics

Chet White | UK Athletics

Shooting guard Hamidou Diallo received an invitation to the NBA Combine, ESPN’s Jeff Goodman reports.  Diallo is the fifth Wildcat to receive an invitation, joining Malik Monk, Isaiah Briscoe, De’Aaron Fox and Bam Adebayo.

The No. 1 ranked shooting guard in the 2017 class came to Kentucky a semester early in January, but never saw any game action.  Diallo’s draft projections vary, seen by many as a fringe first rounder in the 2017 draft, or a lottery pick in 2018.

The NBA Combine is May 9-14 in Chicago.  Diallo has not hired an agent.  He will have until May 24 to decide if wants to go pro or suit up for Kentucky next year.


John Calipari Makes Recruiting Moves

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Last night John Calipari spent the evening at Under Armour and Nike AAU events in Indianapolis.  After seeing all that he needed to, Cal hit the private jet to Atlanta.

Coach Cal is currently watching his top point guard target in the 2018, Immanuel Quickley.  Calipari is tagging out Joel Justus, who spent last night watching recruits at the Adidas tournament in Atlanta.

Calipari left Tony Barbee and Kenny Payne in Indianapolis where they are currently keeping an eye on another point guard prospect, Javonte Smart, and the nation’s No. 1 player, 7-foot athlete Marvin Bagley.


Isaiah Briscoe is the First Former Cat Invited to the NBA Combine

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Former Kentucky guard Isaiah Briscoe has received an invitation to the NBA Combine according to Jonathan Givony of Draft Express.

Invitations to the NBA Combine, held May 9-14 in Chicago, were sent out yesterday.  Briscoe is the first Cat to be confirmed, shortly followed by Bam Adebayo.  Isaac Humphries was reportedly not invited to play in the combine’s five-on-five event, but that could change.  De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk will likely join their former teammates in Chicago.

The only combine question remaining revolved around Hamidou Diallo.  An invitation could drastically determine his professional future.  Keep KSR close throughout the day for updates on Diallo’s combine status.

UPDATE: Jeff Goodman confirmed both Monk and Fox received NBA Combine invitations.  Goodman’s list of the 59 prospects who received combine invitations:

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Jamal Murray Quietly had a Great Rookie Season

Former Kentucky shooting guard Jamal Murray started slow, but the pure scorer finished the season as one of the best rookies in the NBA.

It took Murray five games to knock down a shot, but he finished his first year in the NBA averaging 9.9 points, 2.1 assists and 2.6 rebounds per game in 21.5 minutes per game to finish third in scoring among all rookies.  During NBA All-Star weekend, Murray won MVP honors at the Rising Stars Challenge with 36 points on 9 three-pointers and 11 assists.

In the games that count, he ended the year with one of his best performances, scoring 27 points against the Thunder.  His 115 made three-pointers were the second-most by a rookie. He scored more than 20 points eight times, the third-most among all rookies.  His best games of the season:

  • April 7 vs. NOLA: 30 points (career-high), 10-14 FG, 5 assists and 4 rebounds
  • March 13 vs. LAL: 22 points, 8-13 FG, 5-8 3FG
  • December 5 vs. PHI: 22 points, 8-12 FG, 3-7 3FG
  • November 23 vs. Utah: 23 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists
  • November 22 vs. CHI: 24 points, 9-13 FG, 6 rebounds, 2 assists

Murray was named Western Conference Rookie of the Month in October and November.  What makes his first season in the NBA even more incredible is that he played all 82 games with a sports hernia.  He underwent surgery on Thursday to repair the injury.

While he uses the offseason to get healthy, enjoy highlights from his first season in the league.

If 15 minutes of highlights is too much for you, this 50-second clip will do the trick.


A Cam Johnson Recruiting Update

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Cameron Johnson is on the move.

The graduate transfer shooting guard from Pittsburgh visited Kentucky Wednesday and Thursday.  One of Calipari’s final targets in the 2017 class, Johnson is visiting Ohio State on Monday and Arizona next weekend, according to multiple reports.

Johnson’s decision will likely be between the two Wildcats.

Jeff Goodman reports Johnson will begin the week by visiting Ohio State. 


One Week Till Derby: Saturday’s Top 10

If you’re reading this, I’ve already been tailgating for the mini-Marathon for six hours.  Entering the homestretch with just one week till the Kentucky Derby, it’s the most magical time of the year to be in the city of Louisville.  Even though Derby is the only thing on my mind, there’s still plenty of other things happening around the Big Blue Nation (but first with the Derby stuff).

Opening Night at Churchill Downs

If you’re not a fan of spending a ton of money during Churchill Downs first week of May trifecta, Opening Night Racing might be just what you need.   If you haven’t already celebrated the start of Derby Week at the mini or the Balloon Race, get to the Twin Spires.  Gates open at 5:00 and admission is $10.

Horse Racing Trash Talk!

Horse racing has plenty of interesting characters.  Some are outspoken idiots (Steve Coburn), while others simply shine in the spotlight (Bob Baffert).  Trainer Mark Casse received some of the spotlight yesterday with two horses in the race, State of Honor and Classic Empire, the early Derby favorite.  Casse was feeling froggy during his time with the press.

I can’t blame Casse for being confident; he has the best horse in the field.  If you leave Empire out of your Derby exotic bet you’re out of your mind.

Will Boom and Toth get Drafted?

It’s the final day of the NFL Draft and two Wildcats hope to hear their names called.  Jon Toth is essentially a lock, but where the center may fall is a mystery.  Boom Williams initially appeared to be on the outside looking in, but picked up some late momentum this week.  Even if he doesn’t Williams will surely sign a nice free agent deal by the end of the day.  The Draft restarts today at noon.

Really Bengals?

Every year there’s handful of players with “character issues,” but Joe Mixon does not fit into this category.  He didn’t get in trouble for smoking weed.  He punched a girl in the face and it was captured on video.  I (kind of) consider myself a Bengals fan, but how in the hell am I supposed to root for that dude?  Bungles gonna Bungle.

Final Weekend of the Active Recruiting Period

John Calipari gets one more weekend to see his top prospects before shutting it down for the spring.  Under Armour and Nike are both hosting events in Indianapolis, while the Adidas Circuit is ongoing in Atlanta.

After starting his night at the Under Armour event, Cal shifted his focus to the EYBL where he saw Cam Reddish face off against Bol Bol, Manute Bol’s son, followed by an unbelievable performance from 2018’s No. 1 player, Marvin Bagley.  In front of Kenny Payne and Coach Cal he scored 35 points, grabbed 13 rebounds and did this:

Did you Hear Bam Adebayo on KSR?

The Kentucky forward joined Kentucky Sports Radio to discuss his decision to hire an agent and turn pro.  He shared stories from his time at Kentucky and much more in this fantastic interview.

See Bam in E-Town

Adebayo’s autograph tour will stop at the Towne Mall at Elizabethtown from 11-12:30.  If you can’t be there, he’ll be at the Wildcat Warehouse in Owensboro tomorrow.  To see his full schedule, click here.

If you’re more of a Malik Monk person, do not worry.  Here’s where Monk is this week.

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John Wall is a Beast

The Wizards defeated the Hawks 115-99 to advance to the second round thanks to John Wall’s impressive 42-point performance.

The Wizards will open the second round in Boston on Sunday at 1:00.  Trey Lyles’ Jazz have a Game 7 date with the Clippers at 3:30.  Sorry sports fans, but today is a Saturday without playoff basketball.

Check out the Updated KSR Movie Bracket

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UK Baseball Rolled South Carolina

The BatCats put the Gamecocks in a coffin, rolling in Columbia 19-1. NINETEEN runs.  Wow.  The highlight reel is a long one.

UK will try to win the series today at 4:00.


April 28th, 2017

John Wall drops 42 points, sends Wizards to conference semis

John Wall’s a bad, bad man. You can ask Atlanta ’bout him.

Wall scored 42 points tonight on the road in Game 6 to clinch the series and send Washington to the Eastern Conference semis. His backcourt mate, Bradley Beal, added 31 points to set a new high of 73 combined points in a single game for the two Wizards guards.

Wall did some trash talking toward Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones too:

The Wizards get the Celtics in the next round.