NEWSSTAND (7/13): Kentucky football in the spotlight

Justin Rowland, Publisher
Cats Illustrated

As you'd expect there's plenty of football content in today's CatsIllustrated.com Newsstand.

Everything Mark Stoops told local and league reporters, the continued prominence of the Matt Elam story, Stephen Johnson and his expectations for UK this year, and Mike Edwards' clothes mishap, of course.

Jodie Meeks joins John Wall, but could Wall be part of a Superteam with the Lakers in the next couple of years?

And De'Aaron Fox has very big plans for Sacramento.

Use this offer to go premium and get free months at CatsIllustrated.com.

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PODCAST: THE MATT ELAM EDITION

Topics include: Why is the Matt Elam story even a story at this point in the preseason?

There's a strong case to be made that Elam hasn't exactly been a "bust" so much as he was just overrated by one network.

The defensive line is a major issue and Mark Stoops knows it...The relationship between Matt House and Mark Stoops with the defense this year.

The status of Lynn Bowden and Michael Nesbitt.

Stoops, surprisingly, never really had to address the issue of replacing lost explosiveness.

How Stoops handled the quarterback question

Closing recruiting note on weekend visitors


STARTER FOR NOW

“We all want competition,” Stoops said. “If we get better competition, you get more depth, all is does is put your performance through the roof. We’re very confident in those three guys. Stephen is the starting quarterback, but I’m anticipating if you’re asking Drew, he’s going to work today to earn that job. And he’s going to have every opportunity, just like every position on our football team.”

The quarterback situation is not as concrete as last season, but entering the fall this team is standing behind Johnson as the starter. But that’s not to say Barker, along with redshirt freshman Gunnar Hoak, won’t be given a fair look.

“So let's let the process play out and give Stephen the respect he deserves but give Drew and Gunnar the respect they deserve too, just like all of our players,” Stoops said. “They're out there to compete and win a starting job."

LINK: Stephen Johnson will be UK's starting QB but competition remains

Watch/listen to what Mark Stoops and Mike Edwards had to say to local reporters yesterday in Hoover, or read the full transcript of those Stoops' remarks here.

Or, at the House of Blue read notes and summaries of Mark Stoops' answers to questions in the main room.

RESPONSE TO ELAM CRITICISM

SEC Network commentator Greg McElroy called UK defensive lineman Matt Elam “lazy” and “disappointing” through his first three seasons in Lexington. Elam, a former high-profile recruit who hasn’t had a standout career to this point, was well aware of McElroy’s comment.

“I came into the computer lab yesterday to work, and he was in there,” UK safety Mike Edwards said. “I was like ‘did you hear?’ He was like, ‘yeah, I heard it. Everybody is calling me, telling me about that stuff.’”

LINK: Mark Stoops, players respond to comments on Matt Elam

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LOFTY GOALS

Kentucky hasn’t finished above .500 in SEC play since 1977, but quarterback Stephen Johnson said the Wildcats believe they can win the SEC East this season.

“We believe so,” Johnson said at SEC Media Days. “We’re not too focused on what we did last year (7-6 overall, 4-4 in the league). We know that we did well, but we would like to be great on the field and off the field as well. We’re just ready to get right back to it. We’ve done a great job in the spring and summer.”

LINK: Stephen Johnson says Kentucky can win the SEC East

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TAKING BACK HIS NAME

Courtney Love, the Kentucky senior middle linebacker, has a wide range of musical tastes from country music to heavy metal AC/DC to rappers Scarface, Drake and 2 Chainz.

Not making the list is ’90s grunge, but he has traded tweets with the more famous Courtney Love, the singer/guitarist/actress.

LINK: Kentucky’s Courtney Love ‘trying to get my name out’ like more famous Courtney Love

STOOPS SURPRISED

Mark said Wednesday at SEC Media Days he didn’t have an inkling it was coming.

“It’s one of those moments you won’t forget because he called me and it came out of the blue. I had really no idea it was coming, but he called me and told me what was going to happen in the future, in the very near future,” he said. “And it was a bit of a shock to me to be honest with you. I had to walk out of my office and walk around the practice field. And that’s where I had that conversation with him away from everybody. So I was shocked.”

LINK: Mark Stoops was 'shocked' by brother Bob's decision to retire from Oklahoma

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CLOTHES MALFUNCTION

Edwards joined head coach Mark Stoops and teammates Stephen Johnson and Courtney Love in Hoover, Ala., on Wednesday for the Wildcats' appearance at SEC Media Days. But before they left Lexington, Edwards had a mishap.

The butt of his pants exploded.

LINK: Kentucky safety Mike Edwards rips huge hole in butt of pants before SEC Media Day

BASKETBALL RECRUITING PREDICTIONS

According to Rivals.com analysts Kentucky has a very real chance to land Marvin Bagley III, Zion Williamson and/or Bol Bol.

What about Cam Reddish?

Moses Brown?

Has anything changed with Immanuel Quickley?

They make their predictions here.

LINK: Preview and player predictions: July recruiting period

THE NEXT STEP

Following a 45-7 thrashing at Florida, the Wildcats were 0-2 to begin Stoops’ pivotal fourth season. At the time, Year Five seemed unlikely.

“It was a very, very difficult time because just as we're here now, you open the season with a lot of optimism,” Stoops said during Wednesday’s SEC Media Days. “You're very excited. Players have worked hard. And certainly, I think, Year Four is very hard as coaches as in the position that I was in.

“It’s nut-cutting time.”

Kentucky’s players had a choice, Stoops told them.

LINK: Improving Kentucky Wildcats look to take next step during coach Mark Stoops' fifth season

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WIZARDS ADD MEEKS

The Wizards have signed Jodie Meeks, giving Washington a proven scorer off the bench. Meeks, another Kentucky guy, can score around the rim, from midrange, and from beyond the arc. He's a dynamic reserve who will benefit the Wizards this coming season and step into the role Bojan Bogdanovic played during the second half of the 2016-17 season.

“Jodie will improve our backcourt rotation and fill a need with his scoring and shooting,” Wizards President Grunfeld said of Meeks. “He is an eight-year veteran who has been a reliable player throughout his career, and we look forward to him bringing that stability to our bench.”

LINK: Wizards add veteran scoring threat in Meeks

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SUPER TEAM?

“What if I told you that 12 months from now, LeBron James, Paul George, John Wall, and Boogie Cousins will all be on the Los Angeles Lakers together?” Simmons asks. “Conspiracy Bill has some things that he doesn’t like about what’s going on. I think the LeBron James–L.A., he hasn’t come out and denied it. Everyone’s talking about it in the league, it became public last month. He knows they’re talking about it and hasn’t said anything. Hasn’t said, ‘This is ridiculous. I’m so tired of hearing this. I want to finish my career in Cleveland.’”

LINK: Bill Simmons could see LeBron James, Paul George, John Wall and Demarcus Cousins together with the Lakers

BOOKER SPEAKING UP

Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker joins Bleacher Report's Howard Beck at Las Vegas Summer League to discuss what it's like being such a young leader on a youthful roster. He also talks about his 70-point game, buying his first home, learning from veterans like Tyson Chandler and being a fan of future Hall of Famer Kobe Bryant.

LINK: On a podcast, Devin Booker talks about his 70-point game, Kobe Bryant and more

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TITLES WITH THE KINGS?

De’Aaron Fox is confident that the head-scratching run of incompetence will end with him. This summer, the Kings have worked hard to fumigate the franchise’s futile past with a stream of sensible decisions that hint that there finally is a coherent plan in place. They drafted players from college basketball’s most storied programs, including North Carolina’s Justin Jackson and Kansas’ Frank Mason, and lured veteran free agents capable of contributing on the court and educating the team’s roster of impressionable youth on the professionalism required to maximize their careers.

LINK: De'Aaron Fox's goal with Sacramento: 'Try to win championships here'

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