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July 5th, 2015

Kash Daniel commitment completes “clean sweep”

247sports.com

247sports.com

If you haven’t heard by now, Kentucky football’s latest Yahtzee came yesterday afternoon when four-star linebacker Kash Daniel picked Kentucky over Louisville and South Carolina. Now that Daniel has committed, Kentucky officially has the top three recruits out of the state. The other two being four-star offensive linemen Drake Jackson and Landon Young.

The Courier-Journal’s Kyle Tucker spoke to JC Shurburtt, a national recruiting analyst for 247Sports about what Daniel can bring to Kentucky along with Jackson and Young.

“It’s huge to have three guys that are Army Bowl guys this year, and to get them all, it’s gigantic. Every recruit in the country watches that and they’re going to be hearing ‘Kentucky, Kentucky, Kentucky’ over and over again during the broadcast.”

“I think the guy can go to Kentucky and be the leading tackler for the Wildcats three years. Just tough as nails, knows the game, is extremely talented and has a good upside. When you’re trying to play football in the SEC, you can never have too many guys like this.”

Read the full article here.

The #BBN can watch Kash Daniel, Landon Young, and Drake Jackson in the U.S. Army All-American game January 9 on NBC.


Watching Andrew, Aaron and Dakari

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I am a sucker for the NBA Summer League and have been for the past couple of years. It comes at that time of the year when nothing else important is on television sports-wise (I love watching the Tour de France, but more for its nap-inducing qualities and the announcers’ voices). This year KSR will be making a trek to the Vegas Summer League, but play has already begun in Orlando, with a few teams kicking off their play. Thus, I spent a few hours this weekend watching the games involving the UK guys and I must say, I thoroughly enjoyed them. It turns out that the Orlando league includes the three players from UK in the most precarious position (Andrew, Aaron and Dakari), and since it is likely you spent the weekend oding something besides watching Summer League basketball, I decided to give you a review of what you missed:

Andrew Harrison:

Of the three, Andrew looked the most NBA-ready and based solely on what I saw in Orlando, the most likely to make the team. The Memphis Grizzlies had Andrew in their starting lineup and played him a ton of minutes, although surprisingly most of it was at the Shooting Guard position. This may have been due to the fact that the Grizzlies also have Russ Smith and his height requires him to play the point, but regardless Andrew spent most of his two games at the two guard. He played both games consistently and his stats reflected it. Andrew had 10 points in the first game, 9 in the second, but most importantly fit into the flow of the play well. He attacked the basket when it was available, made a number of good passes, was serviceable on defense and limited his turnovers while averaging around 24 of the 40 minutes a game. His team plays up tempo (at least in the Summer League) and that served him well, allowing him lanes to attack and he did a great job making decisions both games as to when to go to the rim and when to pass. I divide Summer League players into two categories…those that look like they belong in the NBA (about 20% of them) and those that don’t (the rest). Andrew was in the first group and seems likely to me to find a way onto the roster.

Aaron Harrison

It was a tale of two games for me for Aaron Harrison as my opinion changed dramatically between Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday Aaron scored 10 points, and started strong. But then as the game went on, he seemed a bit out of sorts, lost on defense and never totally in the game flow. Part of this was due to his team, as Frank Kaminsky was dominant for most of the game (he was the best player I saw over the two days worth of games…much to my surprise actually) and PJ Hairston shot the ball constantly (and poorly) thus dominating most of the action. However whatever concerns I might have had on Day One dissipated on day 2, was Aaron was great in the game against his brother for the Charlotte Hornets. He had 16 points, 8 assists, started the game at Point Guard (on Day One, he came off the bench playing Shooting Guard) and truly found his rhythm. He shot the ball poorly from outside both days (he only made one three pointer, calling to mind Jay Bilas’s Draft Day comments that Aaron is a shooter who isn’t making shots), but he attacked the rim perfectly and totally dominated Russ Smith (who guarded him) on the offensive end. Reporters who cover the Hornets were tweeting about how Aaron looked like he belonged in preseason camp and he was probably the story of Day Two. It was a much needed good performance from a kid who wants to shake off the disappointment of Draft night. Through two days, Aaron seems to be on track to take the next step.

Dakari Johnson

Dakari only played one game over the last two days and it was starting at Center for the Oklahoma City thunder team. He was solid, 7 points and 11 Rebounds, and if you watched the game, you saw a lot of what he did at Kentucky. He took up space down low, played solid defense and rebounded well when the ball was in his area. He struggled quite a bit on the pick and roll, and really had difficulty the couple of times he had to guard Kaminsky. However he was solid and looked to be in good shape after the Draft. He fared better than the other former Cat on the Thunder, Marquis Teague (who didn’t play and wasn’t even wearing the same shorts as the rest of the team) and the fact that he started was a good sign. But the best player on his team was Mitch McGary and Dakari simply blended in with a good performance. I have no idea what his future holds and I want to see him play a couple of more games…but if you believe his likely role in the NBA is a long-term backup Center in the league, he did nothing to suggest that couldn’t be achieved through his first game in the Summer League.

All three players have a number of more games and will each have to make more strides to make their teams. But for all three, especially Aaron, the weekend seems to have been a success, which is very good news.


USA WINS THE WORLD CUP! USWNT earns their third star

@ussoccer_wnt

@ussoccer_wnt

The USA Women’s National Team pulled a UK-UCLAesque beating on Japan’s national team today to become World Cup champions for the third time in USWNT history with a score of 5-2. Carli Lloyd made history when she became the only American to score a hat trick in the World Cup, doing so in just sixteen minutes. Her first two came in minutes 3′ and 5′ and then her third came at minute 16 from midfield after Lauren Holiday’s goal in minute 14.

@SportsCenter

@SportsCenter

The last time that USA played in the World Cup Finals was in 2011 against Japan in extra-time, making tonight’s victory that much sweeter. The other two USAWNT World Cup titles come from 1999 against China and 1991 against Norway.

As if Carli Lloyd’s hat-trick wasn’t historic enough, the USA is also the first time to win three World Cup titles and tonight’s match-up was also the highest scoring in World Cup Finals history.

USA! USA! USA!


What Politicians Can Learn at the Poker Table

image

Alas, ’twas not to be…again.  After an extraordinary run of luck in my maiden, bucket-list-sealing jaunt through the 2012 World Series of Poker in Las Vegas (read about it here), the next three annual attempts to relive my glory have fallen far, far short.  This year’s journey began promising, but when I found myself at around 12:30 AM holding the second best starting hand in the game – two kings – I quickly was reminded that it is indeed the very worst hand when you run into a pair of aces.

Oh well…it was all for a good cause.  Seriously.  And I learned again that my prior profession (politics) and my current passion (poker) have a lot more than just bluffing in common. If last week’s WSOP Little One for One Drop tournament was any indication, politicians of all suits could learn a stack about moral leadership from the pros at the green felt.

One of the most popular competitions at the 46th Annual World Series of Poker (behind of course the celebrated Main Event, which lunges toward its final table of nine this weekend), Little One for One Drop is one part cut-throat competition, the other, charity fundraiser. Eleven percent of all event proceeds benefit One Drop, a nonprofit created in 2007 by Cirque du Soleil founder (and high-stakes poker player) Guy Laliberté with the mission of providing clean water accessibility to some of the globe’s most arid and polluted regions.

The event buy-ins, plus a coordinated WSOP effort to urge all of its winners to donate at least 1 percent of their earnings to One Drop, net the charity more than $7 million every year. Moreover, says Alexandre Meunier, One Drop’s director for philanthropic development, the widely publicized tournaments and the high-profile volunteer efforts of poker pros help “bring public attention to the global scarcity of water, [encouraging] people to go to their political leaders and demand change.”

The marriage of political advocacy and poker wouldn’t surprise close observers of both; indeed, the two zero-sum games are really two sides of the same chip. As esteemed political prognosticator and poker savant Nate Silver told me, “politics and poker share the feature of being both very prosaic and very poetic”: Building your chip stack by grinding with careful mathematical calculations is akin to developing a sound get-out-the-vote effort through micro-targeted polling and door-to-door canvassing; riding an electric run of great cards and lucky flops is as thrilling as being uplifted by a gifted political orator. Of course, Silver—who poetically surged to near the top of the of the leaderboard on Day 1 of the 2013 Little One event, only to meet a prosaic bustout on Day 2—concedes that poker is the “more refreshing” of the two contests: “It’s pure, undistilled competition, with no intrigue, no B.S.”

There’s also no disputing that the two games require similar skill sets. A career in politics could in fact prepare someone quite well for a life at the poker table. Consider:

• Serving up fiery, red-meat orations at partisan rallies or stump-speaking amid hostile, heckling crowds at open events can help a poker player perfect the art of projecting confidence… or alternatively, vulnerability… and shape a poker face to confuse opponents as to the strength of any particular hand.

• Retail campaigning—the hand-shaking, back-slapping, and baby-kissing—enabling someone to observe, listen to, and really understand people, can be employed powerfully in a game in which you have to read the strength of your opponents’ hands by their facial expressions and body language.

• Late-night, smoke-filled, back-room, legislative negotiations—tests of endurance and concentration—provide invaluable practice for sitting long hours at tables with adversaries who’d say or do anything to provoke you or otherwise knock you off your calculated strategy.

• Waiting out filibuster blockades, partisan stall tactics, and special-interest foot-dragging—to win even the smallest of policy victories—can equip anyone with the resolve to withstand days of numbing boredom at the poker table, and to resist all temptations to take risky gambits that could send the player to the rail.

But what’s perhaps more clear from observing the World Series of Poker is how much today’s politicians could learn from the celebrated card game.

Poker legend T.J. Cloutier, whose book Championship No Limit and Pot Limit Hold ’Em taught a generation how to play the game (including this recovering politician), believes that many politicians could pick up a lot about adversity—and how to transcend it—at the card table: “Poker players have to deal with a lot of difficult, high-pressure situations, just like politicians,” Cloutier remarks. “But the most successful poker champions are able to shrug off bad beats. That’s not something you see too often in politics.”

Jim Fannin, a mental-performance coach who’s counseled many of the best poker players in the world (as well as hundreds of sports stars and Fortune 500 CEOs), says his core poker advice is equally applicable in the arena: “Politicians are too easily swayed, too easily influenced by special interests and lobbyists… there’s just way too much cluttering their minds. I’d advise them [like my poker clients] to clear their mind of everything, and let intuition take over. Intuition has real-time information that the conscious mind does not process. When you do what your intuition tells you is right for your constituents, your country… your political success will be uncanny.”

And perhaps the best tricks come from The Magician himself,  Antonio “The Magician” Esfandiari, who took home $18 million in 2012’s inaugural Big One for One Drop tournament. Esfandiari told me that he revels in the camaraderie among the most talented professionals, who leave their battles at the table, in contrast to the politics as usual in hyper-partisan Washington: “Unlike most politicians, we’re not always putting our personal interests above the people in the world… We just get good things done.”

Could the World Series of Poker emerge as a personal-grudge-drained model for post-partisan politics? Perhaps not. But if a few more politicos took the mental strategies and compassionate approach modeled by the world’s leading card sharps, the promise of clean-water accessibility promoted by One Drop could be just the tip of our melting icebergs.

A version of this essay appeared previously at The Daily Beast.


Get ready for football season at the Kick-Off Luncheon

ukathletics.com

ukathletics.com

If you’re a UK Alumni or friend join Mark Stoops, Shannon Dawson, D.J. Eliot and the Greater Louisville UK Alumni Club for the 2015 Kentucky Kickoff Luncheon on July 31 in Louisville at the Galt House.

For those that want to go, tickets for UK Alumni Association members are $50 dollars and non-members are $55. Tables for 10 are also available for $500 and you can get a joint sponsorship for the Kick0ff and Tipoff luncheons for $1500 which includes tables at both events.

If you want to preview of the new highlight video, hear the coaches talk about the upcoming season or ask those hard-hitting questions on this season that you’ve been dying to ask since the Louisville game ended last November, RSVP by July 22. You can do so by calling 800-269-ALUM (2586) or going to ukalumni.net/stoops.

If you want to learn more about the event that really sets the football season in motion email John Ryan and Steve Rush at events@ukalumni-louisville.net..

September fifth is right around the corner Cat fans, hold tight.

(Image via @ukstoopstroops)

(Image via @ukstoopstroops)


Aaron shines, but Andrew wins in NBA Summer League matchup

@NBATV

@NBATV

For the first time in their pro careers, the Twins faced off in their second summer league game of the season. While the Grizzlies won 79-75 and Andrew had nine points and grabbed six rebounds, Aaron was the one who shined today. Aaron started at point and had 16 points, lead the team in assists with eight and had four rebounds.

After the game NBA TV interviewed the Twins and Andrew admitted that they wanted to silence the haters.

Watch the full interview and highlights from the game:


Jamal Murray turned down contract for Kentucky

CIS9GW_UAAA42hy (1)Last week, Jamal Murray ended John Calipari’s recruiting drought (R.I.P April 2015- June 2015) after he committed to play for the Wildcats this upcoming season. Murray is the missing piece for next year’s team and apparently he chose Kentucky over more than just Oregon. According to Hype Hoops Canada, Murray turned down a seven-figure pro contract to play for Cal.

Read about it here: 247 Sports

I don’t know about you all, but I am definitely excited to see Murray’s handling alongside Ulis and Briscoe in the back court next year.


BLOCK of the Year?

Jayson+Tatum+FIBA+U17+World+Championships+UZ1bAZmGO1Rl

The 2016 High School recruiting class is one of the best in the last 10 years. At the top of the class are five guys of tremendous talent and three of those (Harry Giles, Jayson Tatum and Josh Jackson) would potentially be the top three picks in next year’s NBA Draft if they were eligible. All three are playing for Team USA in the Under-19 World Championships and all three are starting because of their tremendous talent. The Cats are recruiting all three and would love any to end up in Lexington, including Jayson Tatum. His explosiveness is unbelievable and he has had a tremendous week dunking on everyone…well except until today’s finals. Tatum went to the basket against Croatia and…well he ended up on the receiving end of the block of the year.


Harrison twins face off in Orlando Summer League

Harrison hug

Here is your friendly KSR reminder that at 3:00 p.m. on NBA TV the Harrison twins will be playing each other for the first time since leaving Kentucky in the Orlando Summer League. Andrew, who was drafted in the 2nd round by the Memphis Grizzlies will know Aaron’s game undoubtedly better than any of his teammates.

Aaron made his rookie debut yesterday with the Charlotte Hornets on Day 1 of the Orlando Summer League games, one game before his brother did the same. Aaron finished his debut with 10 points, five rebounds, three steals and two assists in 22 minutes. Andrew had eight points, including a made three-point attempt, three assists and no turnovers in his debut with the Grizzlies. Both will get a chance to showcase their talents again today, but rather than complementing one another like they did in blue, they will have a chance to shine on their own.

And for one last memory, here’s the clip of Andrew telling Aaron to “shoot” his game-winning three against Wisconsin. Too bad we won’t see a connection like this anymore. *insert sobbing face*

 


The importance of landing Kash Daniel

thestate.com

thestate.com

A commitment from four-star linebacker Kash Daniel makes three high school All Americans in the 2016 recruiting class joining Drake Jackson and Landon Young. They will join the other four high school All-Americans already on UK’s campus for the upcoming season. Rivals college football recruiting expert, Justin Rowland, was quick to recognize how key Daniel will be for Kentucky. He mentioned in a string of Tweets yesterday that Daniel might be the “most college-ready linebacker Kentucky has landed in several years”. With Daniel’s advanced defensive skills and signs of offensive leadership from commit Drake Jackson, it’s looking like this recruiting class is going to be one of Kentucky’s strongest yet.


Four-star WR Tino Ellis places Kentucky in his final 6

247Sports

247Sports

2016 wide receiver Tino Ellis announced yesterday that he has narrowed his options down to six schools, one of those being Kentucky. The 4-star receiver from Hyattsville, Maryland says he is planning to make his decision on July 31st. Though Ellis hasn’t shown signs of favoritism, keep an eye on the Hokies as his cousin Donovan Riley plays cornerback for the team. With that and his home state of Maryland in the mix, we will see in 26 short days if Mark Stoops can work his magic and bring Ellis to the bluegrass.

 


Sunday Morning Links

Links

Rub those sleepy eyes, BBN, and get your Sunday best on because we’ve got a full day for you! We know you’re moaning and groaning at how yesterday’s celebratory decisions might be hitting you hard now, but never fear, Sunday is the chance to start anew. So with a clean slate ready to start the day, here are a few links from across the World Wide Web to get you off on the right foot.

— What could be more American than a hot dog eating contest? An upset at the hot dog eating contest on America’s birthday, that’s what! ESPN, thankfully, has all of the action covered for you from yesterday’s Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest. The winner ultimately consumed 62 hotdogs and buns, but we’ll leave it to you to find out who pulled the upset. [ESPN.com]

— Experts are liking the 2015-2016 Kentucky Wildcats basketball team, according to some folks over at the Courier Journal. In the article, Jay Bilas, Gary Parrish and Mike DeCourcy all agree that Kentucky is going to be a force to be reckoned with and should be the preseason No. 1. But honestly, who’s surprised? [Courier-Journal.com]

— USA Today is weighing in on the upcoming Women’s World Cup Final match that will ensue today between our own Team USA and Japan. All of the experts have the U.S. scoring two goals and ultimately winning the match, but we’ll have to see for ourselves tonight at 7:00 p.m. [USAToday.com]

— As if you didn’t get enough red, white and blue yesterday, the Bleacher Report posted a slideshow of photos from athletes celebrating America’s Independence. From the classic boat ride on the lake to a little celebratory weight room action, these celebrity athletes did it all (and they have the pictures to prove it). [BleacherReport.com]

— While you’re waiting to cheer on the U.S. in their final soccer match of the World Cup today, don’t forget to check out a few former Wildcats as they continue their NBA rookie season in Day 2 of the Orlando Summer League. SB Nation has the schedule and all of the preview info you’ll need to sit back and enjoy a nice Sunday of sports, like the good Lord intended. [SBNation.com]

See you back here in a few. ‘Merica.


Uncle Sam’s Post 4th of July Sunday Morning Wake Up

 

uk uncle sam

kentucky.com

Good morning Big Blue Nation, I hope you’re feeling extra free today as you nurse those 4th of July hangovers and look forward to another year of celebrating the red, white and blue. So while you’re hopefully still reminding yourself that not only are you a member of the best country in the world, but also the best fanbase, stick around with us today for some NBA Summer League action and a little taste of America doing what it does best…winning.

Here are some things you may have missed:

 

Kash Daniel committed to Kentucky

kash-daniel-uk

Yesterday Coach Mark Stoops and his University of Kentucky Wildcats received a commitment from All-American Kash Daniel, for the 2016 recruiting class. Kentucky beat out South Carolina for the four-star Kentucky-bred linebacker, which made celebrating America’s freedom a little sweeter.

Orlando Summer League kicked off for some former Cats

kentucky.com

kentucky.com

Former Kentucky Wildcats, Aaron and Andrew Harrison as well as Dakari Johnson, made their NBA Summer League debuts yesterday in Orlando. Aaron Harrison had 10 points, five rebounds, three steals and two assists in 22 minutes for the Charlotte Hornets who were playing Dakari Johnson and the Oklahoma City Thunder. Johnson finished with 11 rebounds, one assist and one steal in 23 minutes. Following the Aaron/Dakari matchup, Andrew Harrison had eight points and three assists for the Memphis Grizzlies. Overall it was a successful start for these former Cats in their summer NBA debuts.

 

David T. Foster, III | Charlotte Observer

David T. Foster, III | Charlotte Observer

 

UK took over the SEC Network

You might’ve noticed during your 4th of July festivities that UK athletics completely took over the SEC Network. From throwbacks like the 2007 Kentucky vs. Louisville football game when “Stevie Got Loose” to the close UK/UL basketball matchup from this past season, it was all blue all day long.

Now here are a few things to look forward to today:

The Harrison twins will face off at 3:00 p.m.

Wisconsin v Kentucky

Kentucky’s own Aaron and Andrew Harrison will play against each other for the first time in the NBA during Day 2 of the Orlando Summer League at 3:00 p.m. The two each brought something different to the table during their time at Kentucky so it will be interesting to see how they handle one another’s strengths and weaknesses. So sit back, relax, and get ready to watch your favorite twins battle it out in the big leagues.

 

Team USA plays for the World Cup Championship

USWNT_041415

The U.S. Women’s Soccer Team will play for the World Cup Title in a revenge match against Japan at 7:00 p.m. today on Fox. After defeating Germany to advance to the finals, the U.S. is looking to clean up some unfinished business from their previous World Cup finals loss to Japan in 2011. You can keep your 4th of July decor hanging proud and tune in to cheer Team USA to victory.


July 4th, 2015

How much have Cal’s players made in the NBA?

(Photo: John Wall, USA TODAY Sports)

(Photo: John Wall, USA TODAY Sports)

On this Independence Day, it has been a time to celebrate some of the strengths of our beautiful country. Sure, not everything about America’s great; the media likes to remind to us every day. But when all is said and done, we still live in a place where you can become a millionaire if you’re good at putting a ball through a hoop. That’s something worth celebrating, at least.

John Calipari is the best in the game at turning college basketball players into millionaires. In his six years at Kentucky, he’s put 25 players in the NBA. According to the Courier-Journal, the total worth of their future contracts is around $726 million. Not too shabby. But how much money have his players ALREADY put in their pockets? According to spotrac.com, here are the total cash earnings of each of Kentucky’s NBA players that Cal has coached:

John Wall $37,717,125
Demarcus Cousins: $29,838,286
Enes Kanter: $25,567,009
Anthony Davis: $23,198,010
Eric Bledsoe: $20,104,069
Brandon Knight: $15,880,357
Patrick Patterson: $14,434,196
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist: $14,429,520
Nerlens Noel: $6,487,440
Terrence Jones: $4,655,520
Marquis Teague: $3,052,640
Julius Randle: $3,064,800
Archie Goodwin: $2,176,680
James Young: $1,674,480
Darius Miller: $1,662,476
Daniel Orton: $883,370
Deandre Liggins: $381,193
Josh Harrellson: $381,193

Total Earned: $205,588,364

So far, Cal’s Cats have already earned around $206 million – a total greater than the GDP of three different countries. And this isn’t even considering money earned from endorsements and overseas’ play. With the money guaranteed on their upcoming contracts, it’s clear that the total money earned by John Calipari’s players will soon be exceeding $1 billion.

You listening, recruits?


Watch Kentucky down the Cards all over again.

We have been talking about Kentucky’s takeover of the SEC Network for a week now, but if you don’t feel like going out to celebrate our great nation’s independence and watch some fireworks, you can celebrate in another way. At 10 o’clock tonight, the SEC network will be showing the 2014 Louisville vs. UK game, and you know what they say, when UofL loses, America wins. 

Here’s the highlights to hold you over until game-time.