NEWSSTAND (6/29): Cats lead US team; Recruiting scoop; Basketball previews

Justin Rowland, Publisher
Cats Illustrated

Maybe the summer doesn't have to be a slow time for college sports news. The CatsIllustrated.com Newsstand today seems like an in-season version.

Kentucky players led the USA U19 team to a victory in their inaugural game. Several football recruiting scoop items. One of the top young basketball players in the country is going to visit UK on Friday, per a report.

Also, tons of SEC basketball reading from right here at CatsIllustrated.com.

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LEADING THE WAY

John Calipari and the USA U19 National Team enjoyed an 89 exhibition win over Lithuania on Wednesday.

P.J. Washington (18) and Hamidou Diallo (17) combined for 35 points and were the two leading scorers of the game. Kentucky 2018 recruiting targets Cameron Reddish had eight points, Louis King seven points and two points for Romeo Langford.

It's was John Calipari's first win for Team USA.

LINK: UK players lead American team to exhibition win

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STANDOUT VISITING?

According to a report online, one of the top 30 basketball players in the Class of 2019 will visit Kentucky on Friday. Rivals.com's Eric Bossi is working to confirm. He could be a major target for John Calipari over the next couple of years.

LINK: Report says one of the top hoopsters in the 2019 class visits UK on Friday

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RENEWED PUSH

Vince Marrow seems to be back on the trail of a running back who committed to a Big Ten school earlier this year but is now back on the market. The Cats' search for a running back continues in the 2018 class, so this development is as noteworthy as any.

LINK: Kentucky mounting another push for a running back who's back on the market

Also at the House of Blue from yesterday, yet another running back target visited Kentucky not too long ago. The Florida prospect is one to watch.

LINK: Florida running back has visited Kentucky

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FOOTBALL RECRUITING

CatsIllustrated.com is working the phones, talking to sources and recruits, and here's what we've been able to piece together in this midweek update for subscribers.

We've got one of Mark Stoops' top targets on Yahtzee Watch, an old running back target is emerging as a new prospect in focus, and a 2018 DB just landed an offer from the Cats.

LINK: Midweek recruiting notes (6/28)

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SEC BASKETBALL

Look over Texas A&M coach Billy Kennedy's record, year by year, in the history books.

Whether was at Centenary, Southeastern Lousiana, Murray State or, as he now is, at Texas A&M, there's a distinct trend. He's a builder.

It has rarely been pretty early in a Kennedy tenure somewhere, but things tend to get better and by now at a predictable rate. Fairly quickly, and a lot better. That's why last year's dip to a 16-15 record in College Station was outside the norm.

LINK: SEC Summer Notebook: A&M should bounce back as an SEC contender

In case you've been living under a rock for quite a while, here's a newsflash: Missouri's basketball fortunes have changed. A lot.

Just a few months removed from a season in which Missouri won eight games, the Tigers are already media darlings. It's easy to understand why that's the case.

LINK: SEC Summer Notebook: Amid Mizzou's hype, Martin preaching basics

Mississippi State has a losing record (30-33) through two full seasons of the Ben Howland era and that's probably not how they drew it up.

Turnarounds aren't easy.

Turnarounds are even harder when a coach and a program have to deal with unexpected transfer decisions that create a void.

LINK: SEC Summer Notebook: Offseason adversity for Howland's Bulldogs

Last year was a typical Andy Kennedy season at Ole Miss. The Rebels finished in the upper half of the SEC's final standings with a 10-8 conference mark. They won 22 games and reached the quarterfinals of the NIT.

It probably wasn't the kind of season some Rebel fans were hoping for, but based on preseason expectations the outcome was pretty much what was anticipated.

There are some reasons to believe Ole Miss could once again finish in the upper echelon of the conference, especially given Kennedy's track record, but some substantial hurdles will have to be cleared.

LINK: SEC Summer Notebook: Ole Miss could again win lots of SEC games

When Bruce Pearl arrived at Auburn before the 2014-15 season, there was hope on the Plains that he could be poised to turn the Tigers' fortunes around.

Three seasons later there hasn't been a real breakthrough, but if you're an optimist then there have been some encouraging signs.

LINK: SEC Summer Notebook: There's finally returning talent for Pearl at Auburn

Is Alabama poised for a big rise in the SEC and even on the national college basketball scene?

That remains to be determined, but it's undeniable that, on paper, the 2017-18 version of the Tide has some intriguing parts.

LINK: SEC Summer Notebook: Experience meets talent wave at Alabama

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RECRUITING REWIND

Recruiting can change quickly.

Cats Illustrated takes a look back at who UK was recruiting a year ago in the class of 2017. A lot can change over the course of a few months and some current UK commits hadn't received much, if any love, from Kentucky coach John Calipari.

LINK: Where Kentucky basketball recruiting stood a year ago

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TOP FIVE

A lot of people expected Louisville (Ky.) Doss wide receiver Terez Traynor to be committed to Kentucky by now, following the Cats' offer at a camp earlier this month.

While Traynor isn't committed to Kentucky and remains on the open recruiting market, he did make some recruiting news on Tuesday when he released his initial list of five favorites.

LINK: In-state receiver announces favorites

KENTUCKY AND ICE CUBE

Kentucky’s love of basketball is the reason a new three-on-three version of the game will be played in Lexington this summer, league co-founder and rapper Ice Cube said Wednesday.

The league — which features such former NBA players as Allen Iverson, Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf and Jermaine O’Neal — comes to Rupp Arena on Aug. 6.

Other sites for the “Big3” league of players in their late 30s and older include such former or present NBA cities as Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Seattle, Charlotte and Dallas.

LINK: Does Kentucky want more basketball? Ice Cube hopes to find out.

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REUNION COMMITTEE

When Rick Pitino raised a stink last summer about the University of Kentucky not hosting a 20-year reunion for his Wildcats’ 1996 national championship basketball team, UK responded by saying (a. it had previously recognized that team with a ring ceremony in 2013 and, b.) the school was busy establishing a new protocol for honoring its teams.

The climax of UK’s work in that regard was revealed Wednesday.

The school announced it has formed a reunion committee to honor elite teams from its past.

LINK: Remember Rick Pitino’s 1996 reunion complaint? Kentucky now has a solution.

WHY NOT LOUISVILLE?

When two of the city’s top football prospects released updated lists of colleges they were considering recently there was a similarity.

Kentucky made the cut, but Louisville didn’t.

“I would definitely read into that,” said Chris Vaughn, a former U of L player and founder of Aspirations Fitness, where many of Louisville's top high school football prospects train.

LINK: Why didn't Trinity stars pick Louisville?

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