NEWSSTAND (6/21): Card turns to Cats; Team USA cuts; draft nearing

Justin Rowland, Publisher
Cats Illustrated

Another morning, another loaded edition of the CatsIllustrated.com Newsstand to help you get through one of the hardest parts of the day.

Pour a cup of coffee and read about Kentucky's new commitment, who flipped from Louisville, Team USA basketball roster cuts and a whole host of other topics from the last 24 hours.

GO PREMIUM AT CATSILLUSTRATED.COM

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RED TO BLUE

"First off, I would like to thank God for giving me the talent to play this game at the next level; without him this would have never been possible. I would also like to thank the Louisville coaching staff for the relationship we have built in the last couple months. I also want to say that I love the relationship the Kentucky coaching staff and I have built in these last couple months of my recruiting process, but after talking it over with m y family I've decided to flip my commitment to the University of Kentucky."

LINK: Akeem Hayes flips from Louisville to Kentucky

RECRUITS CHIME IN

Rivals100 wide receiver and Alabama commitment Xavier Williams spoke with CatsIllustrated.com after Hayes announced his flip to Kentucky and he had some praise for Hayes, his teammate and fellow receiver at Chaminade Madonna.

"Kentucky is getting a hard-working sponge," Williams said. "He's hard working. He soaks up everything you teach him and he's a high spirit guy on and off the field."

LINK: What South Florida football recruits are saying about new UK commitment Akeem Hayes

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DRAFT'S TOP WINGS

There were few, if any, in college basketball capable of exploding for more points in shorter periods of time than Monk. Though he’s on the smallish size for an NBA two guard, he’s a freaky athlete who has great range and a quick release on his jumper. Some think he could play some on the ball, but he looks like a pure wing scorer to me.

LINK: Eric Bossi's top available wings in the upcoming draft

The most entertaining player is the best player, at least most of the time. In that case, give me Marvin Bagley III, the No. 1 player in the class of 2018 and all of high school basketball now that Michael Porter Jr. from 2017 has moved on to college. Bagley plays way above the rim, dominates the glass and has a very good motor. He might not be the most flashy player in the country, but the level of production he has is highly entertaining and I don't think I've ever walked away from watching him feeling even slightly underwhelmed.

LINK: Rivals Basketball Recruiting Roundtable (Feat. Bossi, Corey Evans and Krysten Peak)

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KNOX'S GOAL

Kevin Knox expects to be a mismatch nightmare next season at Kentucky. The incoming small forward stands tall at 6-foot-9 while also possessing guard skills.

“I can pretty much play any position, one through five, anything Coach wants me to do,” said Knox in an interview with Kyle Tucker of SEC Country on Sunday. “I can handle it on the wing, I can go inside and get a bucket in the post, I can shoot it. I can do all of it, and Cal is going to help me experience that this year on the college level, get me outside my comfort zone and get me ready for those big-time games. I’m ready for it.”

Watch KSTV's (Spectrum News) discussion of this topic at the link below.

LINK: Kevin Knox aims to be a complete player at Kentucky

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STILL ALIVE

Perhaps they have an inside advantage being coached by their college head coach, but all three UK players made the first cut at the USA U19 National Team.

John Calipari narrowed his list to just 18 players and the final team that will travel to Egypt to represent the United States will be just 12 players. The USA U19 initially invited 28 players but 27 showed up to Colorado Springs.

Joining Kevin Knox, Hamidou Diallo and P.J. Washington on the list of 18 players were all 2018 UK targets- Bol Bol, Romeo Langford, Cameron Reddish, Immanuel Quickley, Louis King and Jordan Brown.

LINK: UK players and targets survive first USA cut

BLUE GETS IN

Kentucky head coach John Calipari plans on being in Brooklyn, New York, at Thursday’s 2017 NBA Draft. He will be joined by three Wildcats at the Barclays Center.

The NBA announced Tuesday that former UK stars De’Aaron Fox, Malik Monk and Bam Adebayo are three of 20 players who have been invited to sit in the green room at the NBA Draft. Kentucky leads all schools with three attendants.

LINK: Three Wildcats invited to NBA Draft Green Room

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NO NONSENSE

De’Aaron Fox will almost certainly be a top-five pick in Thursday night’s NBA draft, although this draft is silly with point guards and he will likely be the third lead guard selected. It’s inevitable that Fox will be judged alongside Markelle Fultz, Lonzo Ball, and Frank Ntilikina as this class of point guards ages up through the NBA, and Fox’s heroics against Ball in the NCAA tournament have seeded what could be a cool-as-hell rivalry going forward as both settle into life in the NBA’s Pacific Division (probably).

LINK: De'Aaron Fox isn't having any of LaVar Ball's bull----

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"WHO KNOWS?"

Palm Beach Gardens (Fla.) Benjamin School offensive tackle Martin Weisz has emerged as a major Class of 2018 recruit for Kentucky.

The 6-foot-6, 295-pound tackle hails from a part of Florida where Kentucky has recruited very well recently, and Weisz landed an offer from the Cats on June 7th.

He spoke with CatsIllustrated.com about what the future holds as it relates to Kentucky.

LINK: OT Weisz lands Kentucky offer, plans visit; and did he hint at something more?

BRAND AMBASSADOR

When De'Aaron Fox hears his name called during the 2017 NBA Draft he will know that he is about to sign his name to a contract that guarantees him millions of dollars for multiple years. Even before being drafted, Fox is ensuring a stream of revenue from off-court endeavors, which includes a new relationship that names him gaming headset ambassador of HyperX, a division of Kingston Technology Company, Inc.

LINK: HyperX selects De'Aaron Fox as brand ambassador ahead of NBA Draft

MONK Q&A

The 2017 NBA draft features one of the better draft classes the league has seen in years, and it's the depth that makes it special. Depth in the lottery, to be specific. Plenty of drafts feature a handful of stars among the top three picks, but this June there are potential All-Stars lurking all over the top 10. Malik Monk is one of them. "Malik is an elite, special athlete," John Calipari said last week. "And when he gets in a zone, you just sit there and say, 'Oh my goodness.' He shoots a three and it goes down, it doesn't even hit the net."

Monk will need to get stronger and diversify his game to succeed in the NBA, but he's the most explosive scorer in the draft. He might be the best shooter available. He's a better athlete than most people realize. And he's hitting the league during an offense-first era that makes his skills more valuable than ever. While teams talk themselves into players like Jayson Tatum and Josh Jackson in the top five, someone later in the top 10 will land Monk and be very pleased.

LINK: Malik Monk Q&A: Draft Advice, Kentucky Mafia And The Future

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AIMING TO IMPRESS

As a 5-star small forward, a bouncy, 6-foot-8 athlete ranked the No. 12 overall recruit in the Class of 2018 by Scout.com, King has no shortage of interest from top college programs. For whatever reason, however, Calipari and the Wildcats have not jumped into that mix.

King aims to change that, and he figures making Tuesday’s first cut from 27 players down to 18 finalists for Team USA is a good start.

LINK: 5-star recruit Louis King aims to impress Kentucky coach John Calipari at Team USA camp

Kansas head coach Bill Self and two assistants, North Carolina coach Roy Williams and a sidekick, new Indiana coach Archie Miller and assistant Bruiser Flint. Duke was two-deep, including ace recruiter Jeff Capel, and Louisville sent top recruiter Kenny Johnson to Colorado. All of them came to be seen as much as to see Langford play against some of the top young talent in the country.

What they saw, though, is that the 6-foot-5 Langford (and his 6-10 ½ wingspan) very much belongs in this setting. After a slow start, the No. 1-ranked shooting guard in the Class of 2018 started playing like it by the third practice session here on Monday night. He was a playmaking whirlwind, draining 3-pointers, driving for tough finishes in traffic, finding open teammates and seeing things before the developed defensively.

LINK: College basketball’s top coaches flock to Colorado to watch John Calipari coach 5-star Romeo Langford and other stars on Team USA

COVERAGE FEATURES CAL

ESPN’s exclusive presentation of the 2017 NBA Draft presented by State Farm, begins Thursday, June 22, at 7 p.m. ET from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. The main desk will be manned by host Rece Davis, along with NBA analysts Jalen Rose and Michael Wilbon, and college basketball analyst Jay Bilas. This year marks the 15thconsecutive year ESPN has televised the event.

LINK: Kentucky coach John Calipari will be part of exclusive ESPN draft coverage

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