NEWSSTAND (7/8): Blue Smith; Fox, NBA news; Basketball recruiting updates

Justin Rowland, Publisher
Cats Illustrated

It may be the weekend but the news won't be slowing down. Stay ahead of the next big story with the Newsstand. reported yesterday that Rivals100 athlete Blue Smith visits Kentucky soon. Read about that and UK's signature recruiting wins under Mark Stoops.

T.J. Walker updates the basketball recruiting Hot Board with some interesting changes. Where do the Cats stand with Cam Reddish?

Football previews, Calipari's USA team rolls over Germany, UK's football manager is profiled, De'Aaron Fox highlights and reviews, plus lots of other NBA notes on former Cats.

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Blue Smith told on Friday that he'll be unofficially visiting Kentucky on Friday, July 14th.

Kentucky will host their annual Friday Night Lights camp next Friday and many of the program's commitments are already planning to attend. has learned from sources that four-star quarterback Jarren Williams is expected to be among the visitors as well.

Smith, a 6-foot-5, 215-pound four-star Rivals100 prospect from Huber Heights (Ohio) Wayne, recently attended The Opening in Beaverton, Oreg., where he spent plenty of time with Williams and fellow Kentucky commitment Xavier Peters.

Kentucky has made the case to Smith throughout the recruiting process that he's their top option at the receiver position. Vince Marrow is Smith's recruiter. His teammate, Alex Reigelsperger, is committed to Kentucky. The Cats' 2018 recruiting class has started a #GetBlueinBlue Twitter hashtag campaign.

LINK: Blue Smith has scheduled another trip to Kentucky


De’Aaron Fox is fast. It was understood when the Kings drafted Fox with the fifth overall selection that he was one of, if not the quickest player in the 2017 NBA Draft. The 19-year-old point guard swiped a steal early in the game and took it coast-to-coast. He took the Suns off the dribble and was so fast around the corner he lost a shoe. The rookie point guard showed flashes of brilliance, finishing the night with 18 points, four assists and five steals in 27 minutes of action. He hit jumpers and even played off the ball alongside fellow rookie Frank Mason.

LINK: Five takeaways from the Kings' summer league loss to the Suns

The Kings know De’Aaron Fox is fast and can get to the rim. And it was a treat to watch how the point guard was able to get to the rim and finish, showing just how crafty he can be in scoring 18 points, which tied fellow rookie Justin Jackson for the team high.

Fox’s left-handed moves were especially impressive as he showed he’s capable of finishing above bigger players by putting the ball high off the glass.

“I was really comfortable out there,” Fox said. “Nothing really came as a surprise to me, the way they played, the way they defended, I feel like I was really ready. People gave me really good advice coming in and I went out prepared.”

LINK: Fox can fly and other Kings' notes


Kentucky offensive line coach John Schlarman probably never lets Louisville (Ky.) Trinity slip far from the front of his mind.

The school is producing talent at an impressive rate these days, and Trinity is home to an under the radar rising senior that you might not have heard of, but who has a chance to make a big move up Kentucky's recruiting board in the near future.

LINK: Rising senior defensive end at Louisville (Ky.) Trinity is on UK's radar


We're about five years into the Mark Stoops era and there have been plenty of highlights on and off the field. Recruiting is where a lot of the fireworks have been happening and has kept up every step of the way.

Here's a list of the ten most impressive football recruiting victories for Mark Stoops' staff during the last few years. Bear in mind, this is not a list of the ten best recruits or the ten most impactful players. But the ten recruitments where Kentucky beat the odds and/or surprised some people in the process.

LINK: The ten most impressive recruiting wins of the Mark Stoops era



Want to stay on top of what John Calipari is doing on the recruiting trail? You don't need to look far beyond the link below. At the House of Blue, T.J. Walker is providing regular updates to the Class of 2018 Recruiting Hot Board.

Here you'll get the latest on Quentin Grimes, Immanuel Quickley, Cam Reddish, Zion Williamson, Bol Bol and Marvin Bagley.

LINK: Class of 2018 basketball recruiting Hot Board



This week started a series previewing the top individual performers that Kentucky will face during the 2017 season.

Part I: Ranking the quarterbacks on Kentucky's schedule

Here we move on to the running backs.

While we ranked every expected starting quarterback the Cats will face, running backs are a little different because some opponents have two backs who might be better than any back on another opponent's roster.

So here's a list of the five best running backs Kentucky will face.

LINK: Ranking the top five running backs on Kentucky's schedule


The college basketball off-season is long and largely lacking in major news developments. Programs are still finalizing their 2017 recruiting classes and sorting out which of their players will return for another season or jump to the professional ranks. We’ve got a long way to go until Midnight Madness. To help pass the time, is asking and answering three key questions about each of the teams in our Way-Too-Early Top 25. Here’s No. 2, Kentucky.

LINK: Which players will emerge as Kentucky's top scorers?



ESPN will present all 67 games from Las Vegas across ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU and the WatchESPN app, including 35 on its linear television channels. NBA TV will televise 28 of the games.A handful of Wildcats – Adebayo, Briscoe, Harrison, Poythress, Dakari Johnson (2014-15) with the and Derek Willis (2014-17) with the Detroit Pistons – were already in action in the NBA summer leagues in Orlando and Utah, both of which wrapped up Thursday.

Among the most notable performers in the Orlando and Utah leagues, Johnson averaged 18.0 points and 5.5 rebounds, Adebayo posted 17.5 points and 8.3 rebounds per game, and Poythress averaged 12.3 points and 5.7 rebounds. Johnson finished second in the Orlando league in scoring average while Adebayo was fifth. Adebayo’s rebounding and blocks average were also second in the league.

LINK: A dozen Wildcats to be featured in NBA Las Vegas Summer League



Stick your head into Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City, and you’ll see a G-League team implementing an old-school style.

Teams use the G-League, formerly known as the D-League, to experiment. Some, like the Houston Rockets, have their affiliates chuck up as many 3s as they can to learn how many is too many. Others lend new roles to developing players to see if they can handle them. The Oklahoma City Blue, however, have a throwback No. 1 offensive option, a big, burly, low-post threat amidst cycled shooters.

Roster consistency is a myth in the G-League. But for the past two years, there’s been a constant in OKC: 21-year-old center Dakari Johnson.

“He’s an old 21,” joked OKC's D-League and summer league coach Mark Daigneault.

LINK: Dakari Johnson hoping hard work starts to pay off



“Here’s what happens – you have teams that are going to play with such high intensity and focus, it’s just can they do it for 40 minutes,” asked USA head coach John Calipari(Kentucky). “The way we are doing this, when we are playing 10 or 11 kids and they are playing 22 or 18 minutes, you just keep coming at people in waves.

“We don’t have any weak links on this team. We just don’t. What I’m seeing right now is us pressuring them, and at some point, they will back off. Now, they (Germany) went zone, and it was bang, bang, bang with 3s.”

LINK: Calipari says Team USA doesn't have any weak links


As more than 40 years of Kentucky football players can attest, one person always seems to be there: Tom Kalinowski.

Kalinowski, who will begin his 40th season as the full-time football equipment manager when the season kicks off on Sept. 2 at Southern Miss, has worked for eight coaches and overseen hundreds of student managers.

He’s been around for every win, every loss since arriving as a student from Connecticut in 1974.

LINK: 'Mr. Kentucky' has seen it all from Fran Curci to Mark Stoops



The Wildcats also return some big contributors on defense including Denzil Ware, Jordan Jones and Courtney Love. If the offense performs to its capabilities, then the defense won't have to be stellar, just reliable. That means coming up with some stops and turnovers, but the defense shouldn't be expected to win games for Kentucky.

Looking at the schedule, I believe UK will win as many as 10 games this season when taking into account a bowl victory. Kentucky's opponents are not the typical SEC powerhouses that we're used to, and it could be the season for something special to happen in Lexington.

LINK: Writer says UK's football schedule sets Cats up for big season


...Toss in the arrival of former Baylor quarterback and hot-shot recruit Jarrett Stidham at Auburn, former Notre Dame quarterback Malik Zaire at Florida and Kentucky's Stephen Johnson getting a full offseason to learn the Wildcat offense, and the SEC has its best crop of quarterbacks since 2013 when Manziel, Aaron Murray, A.J. McCarron, Zach Mettenberger and Connor Shaw were the headliners.

LINK: What's right and wrong with the SEC as it looks to make a major comeback in 2017


The Charlotte Hornets have had a questionable history with the NBA draft over the years. One could count on their hands the number of players the team has drafted over the years that have made a significant impact. Yet, for the first time since drafting Kemba Walker, the Hornets have a player who could really make a name for himself.

So, what makes Malik Monk so special? Well, he gives the Hornets a scoring threat the team drastically needed, whether he starts or not. In his only year at Kentucky, he averaged just under 20 points per game (including scoring 47 against the eventual National Champion University of North Carolina).

LINK: Can Malik Monk win Rookie of the Year honors?



But as of now, almost the entire future of the Pelicans as a potential contender in the Western Conference is tied to whether they can convince Cousins to re-sign next summer.

Cousins could sign an extension with the team at any point next season, but it would prevent him from getting as much on his next contract as he would if he waits until he becomes a free agent.

The most New Orleans could offer him next summer would be a five-deal worth up to $180 million.

Holiday said his teammates helped give him a clear vision of what they hope the team can be with this current core and he's hoping Cousins can have that same clarity around this same time next year.

LINK: Jrue Holiday hopes he can convince Cousins to re-sign with Pelicans

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