NEWSSTAND (6/27): Baseball forecast, SEC hoops, Calipari on one and done

Justin Rowland, Publisher
Cats Illustrated

There's plenty to sort through in Tuesday's CatsIllustrated.com Newsstand, from a way-too-early baseball preview to football talk, from John Calipari talking the NCAA and one and done to basketball recruiting.

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BASEBALL LOOK AHEAD

Nick Mingione’s first season as Kentucky baseball head coach brought more interest in the program than perhaps ever before. The Wildcats hosted an NCAA regional for just the second time in school history. UK won the regional and advanced to the super regional round for the first time ever.

Louisville swept UK in two games to advance to Omaha, but the season was better than anyone could have predicted. Mingione, who led the Wildcats to 43 wins, was named SEC Coach of the Year.

But several of the talented players who helped lead UK to new heights are gone. Much will be expected of the top 25 recruiting class that will arrive in the fall. Although the final roster still isn’t set — players selected in the 2017 MLB Draft have until July 15 to sign — Cats Illustrated takes an early look at the Wildcats in 2018.

LINK: Early look at UK baseball in 2018

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INSIDER NOTES

As the summer evaluation period heats up we know where things stand with Kentucky and its top targets in 2018.

The Cats have locked in on nearly everyone of their top positional targets in the class of 2018 and you can expect John Calipari and company to keep an eye on all those players over the next few weeks.

The good news for Calipari is he is coaching a few of those players in Egypt this week.

LINK: Predicting Kentucky's 2018 targets and the size of the Cats' class

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CAL TALKS UK, NCAA

In an SEC teleconference designed for John Calipari to talk about his upcoming Kentucky basketball team, the UK head coach spent most of his allotted time discussing the NCAA and the NBA's one-and-done policy.

It's a topic that Calipari is well-versed in discussing. If you have been paying attention his talking points haven't changed. Calipari is OK with the one-and-done system and is willing to hear other systems (like the college baseball model), but will always want the best for the student-athletes.

LINK: Calipari talks Kentucky, NCAA on SEC teleconference

Kentucky coach John Calipari said Monday he'd be fine if the NBA changed the rules to allow high school players to go directly to the NBA as long as the league was prepared to pay them them fairly and give them time to develop.

Calipari, speaking on the SEC coaches' summer teleconference, said he's in favor of the "baseball rule," referring to Major League Baseball's rules that allow a player from high school to go to the pros or go to college and then not be eligible to be drafted until after his junior season.

LINK: John Calipari: Kentucky players prepared for NBA, have lifetime scholarships

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DEEPER RECRUITING POOL

South Carolina basketball fans were on cloud nine when their Gamecocks made one of the most improbable Final Four runs in NCAA Tournament history back in March.

But now they're hoping for an encore. Nobody believes South Carolina is a Final Four frontrunner in 2017-18. Not without Sindarius Thornwell and P.J. Dozier. But Frank Martin, on Monday's SEC Summer Basketball Teleconference, spoke about the opportunity presented by his program's unlikely run.

LINK: CatsIllustrated.com's SEC Summer Basketball Notebook: South Carolina looks to capitalize on Final Four run

GATORS STRONG AGAIN

Kentucky is always the center of conversation when the topic is SEC basketball.

This year there's Missouri and Cuonzo Martin's stacked team, too. Not to mention South Carolina, a media darling program ever since the Gamecocks' improbable Final Four run.

It's almost easy to forget about the Florida Gators. But don't. Mike White's team is fresh off an Elite Eight run and they've got plenty of reason for optimism heading into the 2017-18 season.

LINK: CatsIllustrated.com's SEC Basketball Notebook: Injury issues linger but Gators have nice parts

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NEW LOOK COMMODORES

With Kornet gone, Vanderbilt figures to look a lot different.

"We're going to really miss Luke," Drew acknowledged on the teleconference. "Obviously he's a special player with a special skill set. ... Our posts are definitely going to be more traditional, back to the basket guys and more bangers on the inside paint."

That, Drew believes, will make life different for Vanderbilt's guards as well. They were used to playing with a stretch big man last season, which created more space in the lane. With Kornet gone, and more of a traditional look inside, there's more likely to be less space in the paint.

LINK: CatsIllustrated.com's SEC Basketball Notebook: Vandy transitioning to new look post-Kornet

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ALL-NBA HONORS

Just days removed from sending a new wave of players into the NBA, former Kentucky Wildcats are being honored as some of the best in the league. Anthony Davis added a second-team selection to the All-NBA Defensive Team to his growing list of awards in 2017, while Jamal Murray was a second-team honoree on the All-Rookie Team.

LINK: Anthony Davis, Jamal Murray earn All-NBA honors

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UNDER PRESSURE

For the state of Kentucky, 2016 was the best season of major-college football in our state’s history.

Western Kentucky (11-2) won its third straight bowl and its second consecutive Conference USA championship. Louisville (9-4) rose as high as No. 3 in the AP poll and produced the Heisman Trophy winner. Kentucky (7-6) enjoyed its first winning season since 2009 and, as a 27-point underdog, pulled off the greatest upset in the history of its Governor’s Cup rivalry with U of L.

Can our state’s three Football Bowl Subdivision schools keep the good times rolling? Here are 10 people (well, nine people and one position group) under the most pressure to produce in 2017.

LINK: The 10 people under the most pressure in 2017 Kentucky college football

HONOR ROLL

Student-athletes from all of Kentucky's spring teams combined to earn a total of 92 spots on the Southeastern Conference Spring Academic Honor Roll, the league announced Monday.

UK had the fourth-most honorees in the conference. Kentucky placed a league-best 21 baseball players on the list. UK also placed in the top three in softball (12), women’s tennis (6) and women’s golf (7).

A total of 1,245 student-athletes were named to the 2016-17 Spring SEC Academic Honor Roll. The 2016-17 Spring SEC Academic Honor Roll is based on grades from the 2016 summer and fall terms. It includes the sports of baseball, men’s and women’s golf, softball and men’s and women’s track & field. (UK press release, excerpt)

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SINGLE GAME TICKETS

With the countdown to the Kentucky football season in its final 75 days, single-game tickets for the Wildcats’ seven home contests will go on sale to season-ticket holders on June 28 and to the general public on July 14.

Football season-ticket holders will be able to purchase home single-game tickets at exclusive prices beginning Wednesday, June 28 at 9 a.m. through their My UK Account. Football season-ticket holders may take advantage of this special pricing through August 31.

Tickets will be available to the general public beginning Friday, July 14 at 9 a.m. online at UKFootballTix.com or by calling Ticketmaster at (800) 745-3000.

Tickets are priced according to a flexible model designed in response to fan feedback to protect the investment of season-ticket holders. For the purposes of single-game pricing, the Kroger Field seating map has been divided into four zones. Based on opponent and zone, single-game ticket prices will range from $30 to $95.

LINK: More information on single-game tickets

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