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University of Kentucky Basketball, Football, and Recruiting news brought to you in the most ridiculous manner possible.
April 20th, 2015

Kentucky reaches out to three-star center

With the missed opportunity to add Stephen Zimmerman or Mike Thorne, and a roster in need of another big body, John Calipari has now reached out to yet another former Charlotte 49er. This time it’s Ebuka Izundu, a high school senior who was released from his scholarship to Charlotte due to the school’s coaching change. Izundu had planned to decide between Tennessee, Cincinnati, Miami, Connecticut and Charlotte, but a recent phone call from Calipari may have him holding off on that announcement. Cal plans to watch him play in Atlanta this coming weekend.

Ranked No. 231 in the 2015 class by the 247 Composite rankings, Izundu doesn’t come with the same appeal as a Cheick Diallo or Thon Maker, UK’s only two other frontcourt options. But interest is high in the 6-foot-10 center, according to Aureice McCain, Izundu’s high school coach.

“Kentucky said they’re really, really interested,” McCain told the Charlotte Observer. “They wanted to see how things pan out with some other guys, too. They can’t believe he’s been under the radar this long.”

I won’t pretend to know a single thing about this kid’s game, but I do know Kentucky is getting desperate for help inside for Skal Labissiere, Marcus Lee and Alex Poythress.

We’ll keep an eye on this one, while praying for Diallo.


“Coach Bernie” documentary on Bernadette Locke-Mattox airs on the SEC Network tonight

Need something to watch tonight? At 9 p.m., the SEC Network debuts “Coach Bernie,” an episode of “SEC Storied” about Bernadette Locke-Mattox, the former UK assistant under Rick Pitino who was only the second female assistant coach in Division I men’s basketball history. Here’s the synopsis from the SEC Network:

When Rick Pitino was hired to coach the Kentucky basketball team in 1989, the once-proud program was reeling from NCAA probation and the loss of scholarships. He needed to shake things up and give the players who stayed a fresh perspective. To help achieve this, in 1990 he hired Bernadette Locke, only the second female assistant coach in Division I men’s basketball history. A former star point guard with the University of Georgia, Locke brought knowledge, spirit and academic discipline to the Wildcats. In two years, Kentucky basketball returned to prominence and, though still undermanned by the loss of scholarships, the Wildcats made it all the way to the Elite 8 in 1992. As Pitino and her fellow assistants Billy Donovan and Tubby Smith attest, Coach Bernie made a difference.

And the trailer:


Where Are They Now: Roger Harden

 

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Roger Harden, former Mr. Basketball in Indiana and McDonald’s All-American, was a three-year starter at the point guard position during his four year career at Kentucky from 1982 to 1986.

During his senior year, Harden set a single-season assist record with a total of 232. Harden’s 498 career assists puts him third overall Kentucky history behind Dirk Minefield (646) and Anthony Epps (544). He was also named Third-Team All-SEC and to the All-SEC Tournament team during his senior year. Harden scored a total of 478 points as a Wildcat.

When the Kentucky basketball program switched to Nike from Converse for the 1984-85 season, Harden was the only player to continue wearing Converse, while his teammates wore the “Kentucky Dunk” shoe. Roger then went on to work for Converse for a brief time following his basketball career.

Read an article about Harden’s career from the Cats’ Pause in 1986 here.

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Harden was drafted 115th overall by the Los Angeles Lakers in the 5th round of the 1986 NBA Draft. Harden never played a game for the Lakers, and his NBA career never developed into anything.

Harden returned to Kentucky to coach as an assistant under Eddie Sutton for one season in 1987. Harden went on to coach AAU in Indiana in the 1990s. He has also done some youth and middle school AAU coaching. Harden has done a lot of skill work with young individuals to improve their game.

In May of 2012, Harden was announced as the new head coach of Williamstown (Ky.) Junior/Senior High School in Grant County. Williamstown is a small school with an enrollment of 426 students in grades 6-12.

“I’m just thrilled about being back in the game, and being back in the gym every day,” Harden said. “In my heart, I’ve always wanted to coach.”

Williamstown is the home of Harden’s wife, Gina, and the two have been married for 15 years. They have four children Joseph, Allison, Sarah and Olivia.

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Williamstown plays in the 8th Region and has not had a winning season since 2004-05. Harden knew the challenges he faced when he decided to take the job.

“It’s going to be a building process, for sure,” he said. “They’ve never had a strength or conditioning program, so we’re going to introduce the players to that.”

In his first year as head coach (2012-13), the Demons finished with a record of 3-15. In his second season as head coach (2013-14), his team recorded a 10-20 season. In the 2014-15 season, the Demons finished with a 6-19 record. Harden has yet to win in 32nd District, which also contains Grant County, Simon Kenton and Walton-Verona. Williamstown has come in last in the district except in the 2013-14 season, they came in third.

 


Here are three highlights of Harden in the 1986 NCAA Regional Final Elite Eight game against LSU.

 


Patrick Patterson has some advice for the incoming NBA Draft Class

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In addition to being in the NBA Playoffs and running one of the best SnapChats ever, Patrick Patterson found time to write an eloquent open letter to the incoming NBA Draft Class. Patterson penned the letter for The Players’ Tribune with some solid advice for the incoming players and some insight on his time at Kentucky, the last year of which taught him the importance of being a role player:

My sophomore year at Kentucky, Jodie Meeks and I formed one of the best scoring tandems in college basketball. It was something I was comfortable with because I had shared the spotlight with O.J. Mayo in high school. But in my junior year, John Wall, Eric Bledsoe and DeMarcus Cousins joined the team, and I went from averaging 18 points and 9 rebounds to averaging 14 and 7.

Playing on that team was a great preparation for the NBA because I learned how to tailor my game when I was surrounded by big-time talent. That was my wake-up call, and I’m thankful it happened while I was still in college. Don’t look at your teammates as competition. If you can make them better, you’ll improve as a player and everything else will fall into place. At Kentucky, I was put in a situation where I had to sacrifice shots and put more focus on other areas of my game. In the NBA, I was asked to do the same thing.

Nobody dreams of being a role player, but those are the guys who manage to have decade-long careers.

That probably sounds pretty familiar to seven certain players. Stop what you’re doing and read the rest at The Players’ Tribune.

[Patrick Patterson: An Open Letter to the NBA Draft Class]


Third person charged with Jonathan Krueger’s murder

Justin D. Smith, 18, and Efrain Diaz, 20

Over the weekend, Justin Smith, 18, and Efrain Diaz, 20, were accused of shooting 22-year-old student Jonathan Krueger during a robbery. Krueger died from the gunshot wound, and both Smith and Diaz pleaded not guilty to the charges this afternoon. Hours later, a third arrest was made in the case. A 17-year-old was charged with murder, robbery, and tampering with physical evidence. Because that person is still a juvenile, his/her name was not released.

As we told you earlier, the Kentucky Kernel–of which Krueger was the photo editor–is holding a memorial service in his honor tonight at 8 p.m. at Memorial Hall. A scholarship fund has also been set up in Krueger’s name, and already has over $20,000 worth of donations. For more info and to donate yourself, click here.

[WKYT]


More people have bid on dinner and a round of golf with John Beilein than John Calipari

Last week, we told you about an awesome charity auction for the American Cancer Society in which fans can bid on dinner and a round of golf with ten of the best coaches in college basketball, including John Calipari. The auction opened on April 13 and the price of dinner and a round of golf with Cal started at $10,000. A week later, the highest bid is only $13,000. The minimum increment is $1,000, so that means a maximum of three people have bid on it so far, which is kind of insane.

Even more ridiculous? So far, more people have bid on dinner and golf with Steve Alford, John Beilein, Tom Izzo, and Bob Huggins than John Calipari. That’s practically a crime, right? If you have $14,000+ to spare, here are all the details to make a dream weekend come true:

The winning bidder and two guests will attend a private dinner on Sunday, May 31 with all 10 renowned college basketball coaches. Each guest will enjoy a one night stay at MotorCity Casino Hotel, Detroit’s AAA Four Diamond Award-winning hotel featuring a luxury spa, great dining, and the hottest gaming in town.

Monday afternoon, the winner and their two guests will tee off in a round of non-competitive golf with John Calipari at Oakland Hills Country Club (host of six U.S. Opens, three PGA Championships, the 2004 Ryder Cup, and the future host of the 2016 U.S. Amateur Championship). Following an amazing day of golf, guests will enjoy dinner at the course.

The auction closes on May 1 and all proceeds benefit the American Cancer Society. Click here to start bidding.


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Hello there. How is everyone’s afternoon moving along? It’s yet another rainy day here in Nashville, so while my sump pump does its thing, let’s go over the headlines of a slow Monday so far…

— If you missed it, I spent the morning rounding up all the recruiting information from the weekend, and there was a lot of it. The 2015 class will be the major storyline around here over the next month as several elite guys finally decide where they’re going. After a few hours of research, what I gather is Kentucky’s best chance to land an elite guy is Cheick Diallo, who has buddied up with Skal Labissiere over the past few weeks. It also seems pretty likely that JuCo shooting guard Mychal Mulder will commit on his visit to UK this weekend, and while the phrase “JuCo shooting guard” doesn’t really get the blood pumping, he will fill a need on next year’s squad. Meanwhile, Calipari is going to have to hold off Duke and UNC for Brandon Ingram. Coach K will make his second in-home visit in five days tomorrow night and, with the National Championship momentum pushing the Dukies (ugh, still hurts), it may be too much for an in-state kid to pass on.

The recruitments for the rest of the guys–Jaylen Brown, Thon Maker, Malik Newman–seem too murky to speculate, but Jamal Murray looks like an interesting get. In addition to Diallo, Skal Labissiere also seems to be recruiting Murray, his teammate at the Nike Hoop Summit:

(Turns out that Murray account was fake, but the sentiment is good all the same. Murray’s real Twitter account is @BeMore27. Thanks to @BBNFanTy for the tip.)

— As Matt said on the show today, the 2015 recruiting class is just kind of weird overall, with several kids who seem to want to be “the guy,” even if it means going to a less prestigious program. Last week, Keith Garrett of A Sea of Blue put together a lot of research on why recruits should come to Kentucky, breaking down each major program/coach to prove that John Calipari is the best at putting players in the pros. It’s very similar to the pieces I’ve done on the same subject the past two summers, but a well-researched and interesting article nonetheless, so check it out.

— I don’t know if it’s all this rain or a bad night’s sleep, but two weeks later, I’m still bummed about the loss. Sure, I have done my best to “move on” and most of the time, the loss doesn’t consume my thoughts, but when it does…man, it’s depressing. I was talking to a friend about it yesterday and explained how there’s this giant void in my life right now, which sounds so melodramatic it almost makes me want to reevaluate how much UK basketball means to me. I realize that’s impossible considering my job and no matter how hard I try, I’ll always love the Cats, but I’ve still got a bad taste in my mouth two weeks later that even makes watching the NBA Playoffs difficult. Hopefully this will get better in time. Until then, I’ll lock this loss in the cellar with ’92 and try to forget about it.

— One thing that does make me feel better is pictures of the players with fans from the various signing events across the state. This one of Karl Towns and two girls who gave him tiny sneakers for Karlito is especially great:

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Karl, Dakari, and Trey will all be at the Bowling Green Hot Rods’ baseball game on Thursday night to sign autographs and meet fans. If I can make my schedule work, I’ll be there too.

— On a similar note, please stop licking Devin Booker’s car, girls of the Bluegrass:

It’s disgusting and you’re better than that.


Marshall Henderson finally gets revenge on Erin Andrews

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Note to self: Marshall Henderson carries a grudge. Two years ago, Erin Andrews (and the rest of the internet) took a shot at Marshall after he failed a drug test:

Marshall vowed to remember that tweet:

Two years later, Andrews’ boyfriend, NHL star Jarret Stoll, is arrested for drug possession. Marshall pounces:

Burn.


John Calipari will visit Malik Monk tomorrow

Malik Monk, Cal, Marcus Monk

It’s been a while since we’ve talked about Malik Monk, but it’s time to refresh our memories. According to Arkansas radio host Nicholas Mason, Monk will host John Calipari tomorrow on an in-home visit.

The 2016 shooting guard is a top 5 player considered to be one of the best scorers in his class, and visited Kentucky on an unofficial visit back in August. The Arkansas native will host Oregon today, the Cats tomorrow, and his in-state Razorbacks on Wednesday. His brother, Marcus, played basketball and football for Arkansas, who is considered the heavy favorite for Malik’s services; however, there is a Kentucky connection. Malik is good friends with former Cat Archie Goodwin, also from Arkansas. Malik says he thinks of Archie as his “big brother,” so hopefully Cal can play up that La Familia angle more tomorrow.

Until then, watch him work:


Scholarship fund set up for Jonathan Kreuger

By now you’ve heard about Jonathan Kreuger, the 22-year-old UK student that was murdered early Friday morning while walking home on UK’s campus. Kreuger was the photo editor at the Kentucky Kernel and his death is a senseless tragedy that sent shockwaves through the community. Tonight, the Kernel will hold a memorial service for Kreuger at 8 p.m. at Memorial Hall on UK’s campus. The service will be open to everyone to come and pay their respects, and the Kernel is putting together a scrapbook of messages and photos from Jonathan’s friends to give to his family.

The Kernel has also set up a scholarship fun in Jonathan’s memory, and so far, over $17,000 has been raised. To learn more and donate, please click here.

Our thoughts and prayers continue to go out to the Kreuger family, his friends, and the staff at the Kernel in this difficult time.


LSU now has the #1 recruiting class in the country

Since John Calipari came to town, we’ve gotten pretty used to having the #1 recruiting class in the country. In fact, Cal has pulled in the top class five of the past six years. Until this morning, Kentucky still held on to the top spot in the 2015 team rankings, but not anymore. Four-star shooting guard Brandon Sampson committed to LSU today, vaulting the Tigers to the top spot in 247 Sports’ team rankings:

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Sampson, a Baton Rouge native, joins Ben Simmons, the top player in the class; and Antonio Blakeney, another five-star shooting guard. To make things ever more interesting in Baton Rouge, Arizona transfer Craig Victor will become eligible in time for conference play next season. LSU is still in the mix for Malik Newman, although Mississippi State and Kentucky seem to have the momentum right now. You have to think that Kentucky will add at least one more elite prospect, which will likely put them back on top, or at least in the top three when all is said and done.

There’s already been a resurgence in recent years, but the Kentucky/LSU series is about to get a lot more interesting.


All the recruiting info you missed this weekend

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If you were like me, you spent your weekend in the yard, Home Depot, and generally as far away from the computer as possible. A LOT happened in the recruiting world while we were away, so to get you ready for a very busy week, here’s a recap of where Kentucky stands with each top target.

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Cheick Diallo: Hosted Cal and Kenny Payne last night

Last night, John Calipari and Kenny Payne met with power forward Cheick Diallo, Rivals’ 7th best player in the class. Kentucky has reportedly recaptured some momentum with Diallo, who is also being heavily recruited by Kansas and St. John’s. St. John’s Slice has been close with Diallo for a while, but Kentucky now has another “in” with the Mali native: Skal Labissiere. The two native French speakers roomed together at the Nike Hoop Summit and Skal apparently had plenty to say to Diallo about teaming up with him at UK.

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Mychal Mulder: Visting UK this weekend

The JuCo sharpshooter got an offer from UK over the weekend and will take an official visit to Lexington this weekend. With Devin Booker and Aaron Harrison gone, Kentucky desperately needs an outside threat, and Mulder could fill that void.

Brandon Ingram: Will announce on April 27

Duke and UNC are reportedly still the frontrunners for the North Carolina native, who hosted Cal and Kenny Payne on Friday. Ingram also met with Duke on Friday and will host them again on Tuesday. UNC will make their final plea on Wednesday before Ingram announces next Monday.

Jamal Murray (2016): Hosted Cal and Kenny Payne on Saturday

The 2016 shooting guard was one of the standouts at the Nike Hoop Summit and Calipari mixed a little business with pleasure this weekend, meeting with Murray and his family while in Toronto to see John Wall and the Wizards face off against Patrick Patterson, Chuck Hayes, and the Raptors. Murray is considering reclassifying to 2015 and his father told Adam Zagoria a scholarship offer is understood.

Harry Giles (2016): Hosted Cal and Kenny Payne on Sunday

The 6’10” power forward is the number one player in the 2016 class, and like fellow North Carolinian Brandon Ingram, many believe he’ll stay in state. There’s been no talk of Giles reclassifying, so Cal and Kenny’s visit is just more prep work for the 2016 class. Ben Roberts is reporting that Giles will be in Lexington next weekend for a Nike EYBL event and could take an unofficial visit to campus while in town.

Thon Maker: Situation murky

Maker wasn’t at the Jordan Brand Classic and generally struggled on the All-Star circuit, especially against Skal Labissiere. Maker’s situation remains murky as he works towards reclassifying to 2015. College is not his only option; Maker is reportedly also exploring playing overseas or staying another year at his high school in Canada.

Malik Newman: Mississippi State surging

Newman and Jaylen Brown’s decisions are by far the most difficult to predict, and the latest buzz is that Newman will stay close to home and go to Mississippi State. Newman won’t take any more visits and won’t sign a letter of intent.

Jaylen Brown: Who knows

Brown did not meet with media during the Jordan Brand Classic and no one seems to know what he’ll do. Over the past few months, he’s actually added Cal, North Carolina, and Michigan to his list, which also includes Kentucky, Kansas, Georgia, Georgia Tech, and UCLA.


Bud Dupree talks about the importance of getting his degree

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Bud Dupree has gotten a lot of publicity for his freakish athleticism and is projected to go anywhere from 8th to 24th in next Thursday’s NFL Draft. Bud is expected to be Kentucky’s best football pro since Randall Cobb and yesterday, USA Today’s Lindsay H. Jones had an excellent story about Bud in which he describes how important it is for him to not only go pro, but get his degree in community leadership next month.

“I feel like both are amazing accomplishments. The draft, I’ve been looking forward to the draft since I was a little kid,” Dupree told USA TODAY Sports. “But at the same time, graduating from college is a once in a lifetime thing.”

Dupree will be the first person in his extended family on his mother’s side to receive a college degree, a true labor of love while he’s been preparing for the most important night of his life.

“It’s not just making myself proud, it’s making my family proud,” Dupree said.

And making your fans proud. Keep it up, Bud.

[USA Today]


Five Stars Never Looked Better at the ACMs and One Needs A Re-Do

 

Last night the music industry celebrated the 50th Academy of Country Music Awards in Texas at the Dallas Cowboys stadium which held 70,000 people- breaking an award show record for most-attended live award show.  Miranda Lambert led all the contenders with eight nominees and winning her sixth consecutive award for female vocalist of the year. George Strait, the only country singer named the ACM’s entertainer of the year in four different decades, received the first Milestone Award at the show Sunday. The Texas native is one of seven artists to be honored with a Milestone Award, along with Garth Brooks, Brooks & Dunn, Kenny Chesney, Reba McEntire, Lambert and Taylor Swift. Swift’s mother, Andrea Swift, presented her daughter with her Milestone. Recently diagnosed with cancer, she spoke of watching “the tangled-hair girl growing up on our farm” turning into a woman “brave enough to explore her musical curiosity, having a voice against those who hate and giving of herself in need.”

 

While people aren’t tuning into the ACMs for their glamorous red carpet, there were five stars who have never looked better.

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Miranda Lambert- The winner of the night stunned in this plunging neckline and high slit.

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Willie and Korie Robinson- The Duck Dynasty duo took their Louisiana charm to the red carpet- beard and all.

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Taylor Swift- Despite her transition into pop music this year, the star looked elegant and spring-y in her powder blue Reem Acra gown.

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Reese Witherspoon- The Nashville native and founder of the Southern lifestyle website Draper James struck gold in this metallic mini adding a rock-n-roll feel to the country night.

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Kasey Musgraves- The double nominee shined in her feminine and flowy pink gown.

 

… but one star stood out from all the rest

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Steven Tyler and his pop art pants seemed out of place at the award show, but the carefree rocker announced he is making a country album this year and has recently moved to Nashville. So welcome to the South Steven, just leave the pants in Texas.

 

Who was your favorite performance of the night? Tell me in the comments below!


Say goodbye to the grass at Commonwealth Stadium

@ClayMarrillia

Construction continues at Commonwealth Stadium, but today, the focus moves to the actual field. Right now, the natural grass is being ripped up so workers can begin to install the new synthetic turf. Here’s another shot from live construction camera on TheNewCWS.com:

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(As an aside, how much would you pay for a piece of Commonwealth sod? Crabgrass has taken over my backyard, so I’d definitely open up my wallet.)

There have been a lot of rumors about possible turf designs since the synthetic material can handle paint much better than natural grass. I love the thought of blue and white checkered end zones…what do you want to see?