Akeem Hayes on flipping from Louisville to Kentucky, plenty of football recruiting scoop and news, Bam Adebayo's latest impressive performance and Kentucky football's giving fans reasons for hope.
De'Aaron Fox agrees to a rookie contract and a lot of blowback following Team USA's loss to Canada in the FIBA World Cup.
RED TO BLUE
It doesn't seem like Hollywood (Fla.) Chaminade Madonna receiver Akeem Hayes was out to cause a stir when he flipped from Louisville to Kentucky. He didn't seek out the spotlight or make any controversial, inflammatory statements about the Cardinals. He didn't fan the flames of the rivalry.
Nonetheless, when you flip from one of the Commonwealth's Power Five schools to the other, in this 24/7/365 rivalry, you're bound to get a taste of what the red-blue hate is all about.
Hayes spoke with CatsIllustrated.com on Saturday evening now that some time has elapsed since his decision to commit to Kentucky, backing out of his pledge to cross-Commonwealth rival Louisville.
"When I flipped, I did it because I visited Louisville and Kentucky," Hayes explained. "When I visited Kentucky it was like a home away from home. When I visited Louisville I didn't get the same feeling."
TEAM USA GOES DOWN
The USA’s pursuit of a third-consecutive FIBA U19 World Cup for Men title came to an end in the semifinals on Saturday night in Cairo, Egypt, when Canada (5-1) handed the USA a 99-87 loss.
Winners of the 2013 and 2015 U19 World Cups, the USA will meet Spain (5-1) in Sunday’s bronze medal game at 12 p.m. EDT. Canada and Italy (5-1), which defeated Spain 66-63 in the day’s other semifinal game, will play for the gold medal (2:30 pm EDT).
The USA, which in its first five victories had allowed opponents an average of 61.8 points a game, saw Canada explode for 99 points with 38 coming from 6-foot-7 guard R.J. Barrett.
The United States junior national team lost a world international competition, so all the problems with the American basketball system will be revisited as a result: the perils of AAU ball, the alleged lack of skill development, the lack of preparation time for the U.S. team.
Except the Americans were beaten by a team filled with players who play on the AAU circuit, who compete at U.S. high schools, and who relied largely on the brilliance of a single individual player.
"We got 30 offensive rebounds," Calipari said. "We scored enough points to win. But then it came down to some breakdowns defensively, and the other thing was, RJ (Barrett) had it going. I told the team after the game, I needed to try some different things – go zone, trap pick and roll, trap him. I kind of rode it because I thought we would figure out something, and that is my mistake. That’s not these kids’ mistake. They beat us to some balls at the end, some free throw misses that we needed to get our hands on. We could have come down and made a 3, and now it’s a three-point game with 28 seconds to go. Anything can happen. But, the reality was, one kid really went crazy, and then the rest of their kids did what they did, so hats off to them. Congratulate Canada, they deserved to win the game."
TEAM USA'S BOX SCORE
R.J. BARRETT HANDLES TEAM USA
...This has been harped on a bit over the last week or two but Kentucky's recruiting success is very surprising. This is the team that lost to Southern Mississippi to start last season and now it has commitments from three four-stars while six of its 15 commitments are from Ohio. Surprising stuff from Mark Stoops and his staff. It's also a bit surprising that the Big Ten has more teams in the top 30 of the team rankings than any of the other conferences and the same number as the SEC and Pac-12 combined.
THE WAR ROOM!
We'll cover a lot more ground here as next weekend approaches but the moment can't pass without mentioning that Kentucky will be hosting a lot of talent in the very near future. A lot of talent.
Yesterday CatsIllustrated.com reported that Blue Smith would be visiting Kentucky on July 14th. Not surprisingly, Jarren Williams is going to be in town as well. Last week/weekend in Oregon was Williams' first opportunity to rub shoulders with Smith and the two seem eager to spend more time with one another. With Smith now eyeing a late August decision, there's a possibility this could be his last trip to Kentucky before making his choice. Right now it seems too close to call between Kentucky and Ohio State. (Much more inside)...
The Sacramento Kings announced today that the team has signed 2017 first round draft selections De’Aaron Fox, Justin Jackson and Harry Giles to contracts, according to General Manager Vlade Divac.
Tabbed with the fifth overall pick, Fox was just one of four freshman in the nation to average at least 16.7 points (.479 FG%, .246 3pt%, .736 FT%), 4.6 assists, 4.0 rebounds and 1.5 steals per contest. A Bob Cousy Award finalist, he paced the SEC in assist average and earned Third Team All-American honors by CBS Sports, USA Today and ESPN, as well as AP Honorable Mention accolades. The 6-3, 170-pound guard posted 22.0 points (.618 FG%, 3-5 3pt, .700 FT%), 3.7 rebounds and 2.7 assists en route to MVP honors during the Wildcats 2017 SEC Championship run, including a Kentucky freshman tournament-record 28 points versus Alabama in the semifinals. He later encored the performance in the Sweet 16 with 39 points (13-20 FG) against UCLA, the most ever by a freshman in a tournament game.
REASONS TO BELIEVE
They didn’t want to hear it. Not back in 2016. Not during spring drills. Each time I wrote or posted something considered even cautiously optimistic about the Kentucky football program, my inbox and Twitter feed became host to a push-back from long-suffering fans.
That was before UK won seven football games last fall. It earned a bowl invitation for the first time since 2010. Better yet, it beat Louisville. At Louisville. The same Louisville that had been ranked in the AP top five. The same Louisville that boasted the Heisman Trophy winner in quarterback Lamar Jackson. UK 41, U of L 38.
Thus, times have changed. So have attitudes. Success has a way of doing that. With the grid-a-palooza that is SEC Football Media Days set to kick off this week in sweet home Alabama, I’ve sensed a slow surge of optimism from the fan base about Kentucky football for 2017. And hope. Yes, hope.