This edition of the CatsIllustrated.com Newsstand may be packed with more information spanning several sports than any other you've read.
One of the top baseball analysts in the country speaks with CatsIllustrated.com about UK's top 10 class, Kentucky is rated the top raider of Midwest talent, and the latest in John Calipari's 2018 talent search.
Separating fair and unfair criticism of Calipari, plus you know the silly season is here with this much Calipari-NBA talk (yes, there's more).
UK football previews abound with detailed roster analysis and SEC comparisons for context, a depth chart breakdown and everything we learned about key basketball Cats in Egypt.
Oh, and Lonzo Ball avoids De'Aaron Fox ... for now.
This will keep you busy for a while.
TOP TEN CLASS
After winning 43 games and reaching the first super regional in school history, Nick Mingione and his coaching staff capped off their first season with a top 10 recruiting class. PerfectGame.com ranks UK’s 2017 class as the 7th best in the nation and fifth best in the SEC.
“I think it’s a pretty deep class,” Perfectgame.com national supervisor Brian Sakowski told Catsillustrated.com. “They did a pretty good job of bringing in a lot of guys who are going to contribute in a lot of different ways. They have some star power at the top, even though it’s probably going to take a while to get there.” (Read more)
It's July and that means there's plenty for baseball fans, followers of football recruiting and anybody gearing up for the gridiron action ahead. For basketball fans, July is an exciting time for recruiting, with the evaluation period getting cranked up and Peach Jam this week.
But in terms of college basketball previews, in July, it's the silly season. That's said with all due respect, but it's indeed silly when we're reading about the pros and cons of John Calipari leaving for the NBA.
Without further ado, the latest from the Worldwide Leader ...
He told ESPN last year that he would not consider a move while his son, sophomore walk-on Brad Calipari, is on the roster.
His current contract runs through 2024, but the deal does not include a buyout. So Calipari could resign and take an NBA gig without owing the school a dime.
Here are the pros and cons of a Calipari move to the NBA as a coach or executive...
CatsIllustrated.com takes a look at each position group on Kentucky's football team compared to the rest of the Southeastern Conference.
It's an inexact exercise but one that seeks to answer two questions as best as possible: Does Kentucky have SEC depth at each position? Does Kentucky have SEC talent?
For our purposes the following answers may be given:
— Excellent, meaning Kentucky's depth or talent at a given position is well above average even for an SEC program;
— Above average, meaning Kentucky would rank in the upper echelon of the SEC;
— SEC average, which would mean Kentucky is comparable with the average one would see across the rest of the league;
— Below average, meaning Kentucky would rank decidedly in the bottom half of the SEC;
— Poor, meaning Kentucky's depth or talent at a given position is well below SEC average.
“I told the team after the game, I needed to try some things: go zone, trap pick-and-roll, trap him,” Calipari said. “I kind of rode it because I thought we would figure out something, and that is my mistake. That is not these kids’ mistake.”
Indeed, Calipari made only two real adjustments to cope with Barrett’s dominance of the game. The second was to switch off every cross, something Kentucky often has done under Calipari to great effect. But the U.S. has been under his charge for less than a month and was not fluid in this scheme.
The other was to change the defender deployed against him: Cameron Reddish, Immanuel Quickley, Kevin Huerter, Carsen Edwards and Louis King all got a shot in the first half. None was effective. Calipari might have gone with Kentucky’s Hamidou Diallo in those first 20 minutes, but he picked up two early fouls. Calipari clearly was hoping he could turn Diallo loose to deal with the Barrett threat once they reached the second half.
After a disappointing finish at the 2017 FIBA World Cup, John Calipari, Hamidou Diallo and P.J. Washington all return to Lexington. The latter two will get back to work at UK, while Calipari will only briefly return to Kentucky before hitting the road.
Calipari will check out the top targets in 2018 and 2019 in South Carolina at the adidas Gauntlet Finale and the Nike EYBL Finals at Peach Jam.
The notes will touch on the USA U19 team and the upcoming recruiting week.
Each year SEC Media Days begin with a statement from the Commissioner. Each year it begins with a pat on the back to celebrate the conference’s long list of accomplishments. Each year we’re lucky to hear one mention of Kentucky. This year that was not the case.
After Greg Sankey read through the SEC’s 2016-17 titles, the Commissioner asked us to look even further back to the year 1967. He didn’t do it to remind us it was the first year the Super Bowl was played. He didn’t do it to give the ABA’s Kentucky Colonels a shout out. He did it to acknowledge Kentucky’s Nate Northington, the first African-American to play varsity football in the SEC.
“This September will mark the 50th anniversary of that Autumn Saturday,” Sankey said. “When the Kentucky football team reported for preseason practice in 1967, there were four young African-American men who were part of that program; Nate Northington, Greg Page, Wilbur Hackett and Houston Hogg. Northington and Page were varsity players. Hogg and Hackett freshman recruited to join Kentucky’s team.
BEST MIDWEST RAIDERS
Since Mark Stoops took over as head coach prior to signing the 2013 class, Kentucky has been the most proficient non-Midwest program when it comes to poaching in-region talent. In the last five classes, Kentucky has signed 34 players just out of the state of Ohio, more than any other single state. Ohio is also providing 43 percent of the four-star talent the Wildcats have signed during that stretch. That trend continues in 2018, with seven commitments from the Buckeye State. They also have a commitment from the top-ranked prospect in Michigan, offensive guard Marquan McCall.
Washington Wizards’ point guard John Wall has been rather silent since reportedly being offered a “supermax” contract in June. Wall had spoken about pursuing Paul George, but otherwise, had remained focused on having a career summer. On Monday, he attended the Wizards’ summer league game, and discussed his looming extension.
It’s amazing how the NBA Summer League is able to attract NBA players to Las Vegas every summer, regardless of their experience or talent. While the young guys participate on the court, the vets and stars show up to support, and enjoy July in Sin City.
Bradley Beal showed up last week and spoke with CSN’s Chris Miller about the contract extension for James Harden. On Monday, John Wall was in attendance, and spoke to Ben Standig of the Locked On Wizards podcast and NBC Washington about the team’s most pressing topic: His extension.
“Look at our team. We are one piece away. We have the point guard, we have the shooting guard, we have the center, we have the power forward. Our 3-man (Otto Porter) did great for us. You can’t take nothing away from what he did. But (Paul George) is a guy that can guard LeBron and go back at LeBron. It’s a piece that you’re going to need to win. If you don’t have a guy who can do that, you don’t have a chance… You got to add another star.”
That was the Wizards’ John Wall, during his futile attempt to recruit Paul George to Washington.
Should Otto Porter be offended?
“When I tweaked my ankle, Coach took me out and said the same thing,” Fox said. “No one’s ducking anybody. We’re still going to play each other. We’re both in the NBA for a reason.”
So the unnecessarily hyped match up between Fox and Ball didn’t happen Monday night, and that’s OK.
It’s actually for the better.
This new Kings culture is supposed to be about building up the team, not the individual. That’s something cited as a mistake of previous regimes with Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins and supposedly a reason why the franchise remains stuck in rebuilding mode.
According to ESPN.com’s Ramona Shelburne, Ball will not play Monday night againstSacramento because of a groin injury he suffered. Shelburne noted that the 19-year-old guard has been dealing with groin issues since last week.
When Fox heard the news, he tweeted a picture of an emoji character with his hands over his face. He was probably disappointed that he and Ball wouldn't get the chance to go head-to-head on Monday. Fox later deleted the tweet, though.
"Sore groin, really, how convenient," Michael Smith said Monday on ESPN's SC6. "This is not being safe and playing it smart, this is playing it scared. (The Lakers) knew Fox was coming for (Ball). Fox can recite the stats from their AAU sophomore in high school matchup. You knew he (Fox) was coming, trying to get 39 (points) again."
HOOPS RECRUITING RANKINGS
The new Rivals150 for the class of 2018 has been updated and with July’s three live evaluation periods tipping off this week, the only major thing that hasn’t changed is that power forward Marvin Bagley III is still firmly in control of the rankings. There are several new five-stars, several new faces to the rankings and a surprising number of early commitments.
Rivals.com national basketball analyst Eric Bossi takes a look at five topics that stand out with the new rankings.
He's a complete scorer whose game translates well in today's pro game. Malik can shoot from anywhere, take a defender off the dribble, drive, and—unlike most college kids—he can actually make his free throws. Monk and Kemba are gonna run wild in North Carolina and will give a team a combined 80 points—fave this tweet. We talked to Malik about his favorite NBA team growing up, his favorite player (you'll feel old if you're already old), who his game best compares to, and his Kentucky top five.
Sophomore running back Benny Snell was named to the Maxwell Award Watch list while junior linebacker Jordan Jones is on the watch list for the Bednarik Award.
From maxwellfootballclub.org, "The Maxwell Award, named in honor of Robert W. "Tiny" Maxwell, has been given to America's College Player of the Year since 1937...The Bednarik Award has been presented tothe College Defensive Payer of the Year since 1995."
Snell rushed for 1,091 yards and 13 touchdowns on 186 carries last year, splitting backfield duties with Boom Williams. His production could increase this year as he takes on a greater share of the carries in Kentucky's backfield.
Snell was named to the Football Writers Association Freshman All-American team at the end of last football season. He was a Freshman All-SEC pick according to coaches in the conference and set six UK freshman records. He broke Moe Williams' record for most rushing yards as a freshman in UK history. His 13 rushing touchdowns were tied for second in the SEC.
Jones was a second team All-SEC pick according to the AP. He was UK's leading tackler (109) and had 15.5 tackles for loss.
Registration for the 2017 John Calipari Basketball Fantasy Experience, which will be held Aug. 25-27 at the University of Kentucky facilities, is now open.
The sixth annual John Calipari Basketball Fantasy Experience will provide up to 80 participants (64 players and 16 coaches), ages 35 and older, the opportunity to experience the ultimate basketball and Wildcat fan experience. The camp offers participants the chance to live the life of a UK basketball player for the weekend, including unprecedented access to Coach Cal and the inner workings of the Kentucky basketball program.
The first thing that jumps out about 2017's inaugural depth chart is the way the quarterbacks are listed. Stephen Johnson is the starter with Drew Barker and Gunnar Hoak sharing the "OR" label in an apparent battle for the second string spot. That shouldn't catch anyone off guard as the widespread speculation has been that the job is Johnson's to lose.
That consensus probably reflects reality, as its very difficult to see Mark Stoops not going with the guy who got him seven wins after the awful start to last season. If he were to start another quarterback against Southern Miss in the opener, and that game were to end in a loss for Kentucky, what would the popular outcry be for not going with Johnson? Conversely, if Stoops starts Johnson and the game goes poorly it would be much easier to understand, and justify, the coach going with the guy who played the last 11 games of the previous season.