By Andy Sweeney
ESPN 680 Host, Executive Producer
Kentucky basketball is now 3-0 on their Bahamas trip. Sure, the record doesn't matter but at least they're not Indiana who lost to a Canadian pick up team earlier this week. Plus, if you're a UK fan you must be foaming at the mouth to get this season started. To say the Cats have looked good would be an understatement...especially since it's only mid August. Below are some thoughts on what we've seen thus far...
* Calipari could go 8-10 deep, but will he? This seems to be the big question mark heading into the season. We remember last year Cal stating he would go 10 deep and the practices would be tougher than most games. Not until he was forced by injury did he dig into his bench (and that was during the NCAA tournament). I said on air Tuesday that maybe having a starting 5 that you don't need to integrate to college hoops would greatly help Cal. He can focus on developing a bench for the first time in 5 years.
* Tyler freaking Ulis. Okay, so we knew he would be good. After all, he was a 5 star point guard coming out of high school that everyone recruited. We all expected to Ulis to transfer nicely to Cal's system with the Harrisons most likely headed to the NBA. Fortunately for Cats fans, the opposite happen. Both Harrisons stayed in school and Ulis enters as a nice back up as a freshmen. Only now we watch him play in these first 3 games and without a doubt he is going to play major minutes and a major role in this year's team. Ulis said a couple weeks back he wanted to average 10 dimes per game...I think he'll be close to doing so.
* Go small young man. Just think about what different lineups Calipari will be able to use this season. In years past he's been stuck with no reserves at various positions...not this season. Expect him to integrate Ulis into the lineup at a true point guard position and use the Harrisons' size to put Andrew at the 2 and Aaron at the 3. They'll be able to create match up issues all over the field. If a team thinks that they can be faster than UK due to the Harrison's speed, don't expect that with Ulis on this roster.
* Go big young man. Just like UK will have the ability to go small, the same is true with their front line. In fact, I think the frontcourt is their strength and one of the best we've seen in college basketball in years. Think about this...Kentucky has 6 big men that can fill the PF/C positions (7 if you count Derek Willis, which I do not). With the diverse abilities of their players they can throw Poythress, Lee, Caulley-Stein, Johnson, Towns and Lyles on the floor and use an infinite amount of lineups. And the beauty of these bigs is that they all have different strengths. Calipari will have fun mixing and matching his bigs this season.
* Should we buy into the new look Alex Poythress? We know he's never been a pure scorer; it's not his strength. Even during last year's magical NCAA tournament run he averaged south of 6 points per game. But it's the other things that Poythress does that are irreplaceable. His motor, rebounding and effort play is what could make him great. Throughout three games in the Bahamas Poythress is averaging nearly 14 ppg with one of those being a double double. I'm not ready to buy in quite yet. I need to see it in non-conference play. I need to see him grab that starting spot and not let a freshman take it. If he finally does "get it", this team is more dangerous than we already think they could be.
* Is Trey Lyles the odd man out? Unfortunately, Lyles hasn't been able to play in the Bahamas due to lingering injury issues. No doubt that will leave him a little behind in preparing for the upcoming season. I had Thomas Beisner from KSTV on earlier this week and he thinks Lyles could be the odd man out considering the insane frontcourt depth. Let's also remember this...Lyles said he chose Calipari/Kentucky over Pitino/Louisville because of what Cal does "with guys like myself". Of course, referring to being a one and done. With WCS/Dakari Johnson putting the NBA on hold, Poythress playing arguably the best basketball of his career, and Karl-Anthony Towns being possibly the top overall pick in the upcoming NBA draft it's easy to see that Lyles will be fighting for playing time. Either way, it's a luxury to bring along slowly off the bench.
* What about the competition? We keep hearing the same murmurings that Kentucky isn't playing anybody in the Bahamas, which is mostly true. We all understand the level of competition isn't what they'll see in their non-conference or conference schedule. But let's not forget 3 years ago when Louisville went to the Bahamas. And almost forgotten Russ Smith averaged 18 points per game in those contests and turned into a team leader and legit NBA player. Moral of the story..... don’t sleep on what this trip could mean for the younger Wildcats. They get extra practices and can mature in game settings. The competition may stink but at least they're not bellhops.
Upcoming Bahamas Games
Friday August 15 - Dominican Republic National Team (Reserves), 1pm on ESPN U
Saturday August 16 - Champagne Chalons-Reims, 1pm on ESPN U
Sunday August 17 - Dominican Republic National Team (Reserves), 1pm on ESPN U
Field for the 2014 PGA Championship
Here’s a look at the field – as of July 22, 2014 – for the 96th PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, KY, August 7-10, 2014. The final field will be released on July 28, which will included players from the PGA Championship Points List and other Special Invites.
Beem, Rich – Austin, Texas
Bjorn, Thomas – Silkeborg, DENMARK
Blixt, Jonas – Hammaro, SWEDEN
Block, Michael – Aliso Viego, California
Bowditch, Steven – Queensland, AUSTRALIA
Bradley, Keegan – Woodstock, Vermont
Broce, Jamie – Ottawa Hills, Ohio
Brooks, Mark – Ft. Worth, Texas
Cabrera, Angel – Cordoba, ARGENTINA
Cabrera-Bello, Rafael – Gran Canaria, SPAIN
Casey, Paul – Surrey, ENGLAND
Castro, Roberto – Atlanta, Georgia
Clarke, Darren – The Astbury, ENGLAND
Coetzee, George – Pretoria, SOUTH AFRICA
Corcoran, Rob – Melbourne, Florida
Crane, Ben – Westlake, Texas
Daly, John – Dardanelle, Arkansas
Day, Jason – Queensland, AUSTRALIA
Deane, Stuart – Arlington, Texas
DeLaet, Graham – Saskatchewan, Canada
Donald, Luke – High Wycombe, ENGLAND
Donaldson, Jamie – Pontypridd, WALES
Dubuisson, Victor – Cannes, FRANCE
Dufner, Jason – Auburn, Alabama
Els, Ernie – Johannesburg, SOUTH AFRICA
English, Harris – Sea Island, Georgia
Esposito, Frank – Florham Park, New Jersey
Every, Matt – Jacksonville, Florida
Fernandez-Castano, Gonzalo – Madrid, SPAIN
Fisher, Ross – Cheam, ENGLAND
Fleetwood, Tommy – Southport, ENGLAND
Furyk, Jim – Ponte Verde Beach, Florida
Gallacher, Stephen – Linlithgow, SCOTLAND
Garcia, Sergio – Castellon, SPAIN
Grace, Branden – George, SOUTH AFRICA
Hadley, Chesson – Raleigh, North Carolina
Harrington, Padraig – Dublin, IRELAND
Hearn, David – Ontario, CANADA
Helminen, Ryan – Menasha, Wisconsin
Henley, Russell – Kiawah Island, South Carolina
Holmes, J.B. – Campbellsville, Kentucky
Hronek, David – North Port, Florida
Hyung-Sung, Kim – KOREA
Ilonen, Mikko – Lahti, FINLAND
Ishikawa, Ryo – Saitama, JAPAN
Jacobson, Freddie – Hobe Sound, Florida
Jaidee, Thongchai – Bangkok, THAILAND
Jimenez, Miguel Angel – Malaga, SPAIN
Johnson, Dustin – Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Johnson, Zach – Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Jones, Matt – Scottsdale, Arizona
Kaymer, Martin – Mettmann, GERMANY
Kirk, Chris – Milton, Georgia
Koepka, Brooks – Palm Beach Gardens, Florida
Kok, Johan – Brentwood, Tennessee
Krueger, Aaron – Norwalk, Iowa
Kuchar, Matt – Sea Island, Georgia
Lahiri, Anirban – Bangalore, INDIA
Larrazabal, Pablo – Barcelona, SPAIN
Leishman, Marc – Victoria, AUSTRALIA
Love III, Davis – Sea Island, Georgia
Lowry, Shane – County Offaly, IRELAND
Luiten, Joost – Bleiswijk, THE NETHERLANDS
Manassero, Matteo – Verona, ITALY
Martin, Ben – Greenville, South Carolina
Matsuyama, Hideki – Miyagi, JAPAN
McDowell, Graeme – Portrush, NORTHERN IRELAND
McGinley, Paul – Dublin, IRELAND
McGovern, Jim – Oradell, New Jersey
McIlroy, Rory – Holywood, NORTHERN IRELAND
McNabb, David – Newark, Delaware
Micheel, Shaun – Memphis, Tennessee
Mickelson, Phil – Rancho Santa Fe, California
Molinari, Edoardo – Turin, ITALY
Molinari, Francesco – Turin, ITALY
Montgomerie, Colin – Dunning, SCOTLAND
Moore, Ryan – Las Vegas, Nevada
Noh, Seung-Yul – Seoul, SOUTH KOREA
Norman, Brian – The Colony, Texas
Oda, Koumei – Fukuoka, JAPAN
Olesen, Thorbjorn – Copenhagen, DENMARK
Oosthuizen, Louis – Albertina, SOUTH AFRICA
Perry, Kenny – Franklin, Kentucky
Perry, Rod – Port Orange, Florida
Pesta, Matt – Wixom, Michigan
Piercy, Scott – Las Vegas, Nevada
Poulter, Ian – Woburn, ENGLAND
Reed, Patrick – Houston, Texas
Rose, Justin – London, ENGLAND
Schneiter, Steve – Sandy, Utah
Schwartzel, Charl – Johannesburg, SOUTH AFRICA
Scott, Adam – Queensland, AUSTRALIA
Senden, John – Brisbane, AUSTRALIA
Simpson, Webb – Charlotte, North Carolina
Singh, Vijay – Nadi, FIJI
Smith, Jerry – Oskaloosa, Iowa
Snedeker, Brandt – Nashville, Tennessee
Sowards, Bob – Dublin, Ohio
Stadler, Kevin – Scottsdale, Arizona
Stallings, Scott – Knoxville, Tennessee
Stenson, Henrik – Gothenburg, SWEDEN
Sterne, Richard – Stellenbosch, SOUTH AFRICA
Streelman, Kevin – Wheaton, Illinois
Stricker, Steve – Madison, Wisconsin
Tentis, David – Woodbury, Minnesota
Todd, Brendon – Atlanta, Georgia
Toms, David – Shreveport, Louisiana
Volk, Dustin – Layton, Utah
Walker, Jimmy – Boerne, Texas
Warren, Marc – Glasgow, SCOTLAND
Watson, Bubba – Bagdad, Florida
Watson, Tom – Bucyrus, Kansas
Weekley, Boo – Jay, Florida
Westwood, Lee – Close House, ENGLAND
Wiesberger, Bernd – Oberwart, AUSTRIA
Williamson, Eric – Shoal Creek, Alabama
Wood, Chris – Bristol, ENGLAND
Woods, Tiger – Hobe Sound, Florida
Yang, Y.E. – Jeju Island, SOUTH KOREA
By Andy Sweeney
ESPN Executive Producer, Host
Where will they land? That will the talke for the next week as we lead up to June 26th's NBA draft. Below are my thoughts on the best and worse case scenario for Julius Randle, James Young, Noah Vonleh and Russ Smith.
Julius Randle, 6’9 250
BEST CASE SCENARIO: Obviously, if someone loves Randle top 3 then go ‘succeed and proceed’ young man. But, in reality, Randle won’t be top 5, meaning the Boston Celtics would be my pick here. You have a young team whose rebuilding but doing it the right way. The franchise is solid from ownership to GM Danny Ainge and newly appointed Brad Stevens. If he doesn’t win the starting job, look for him to get major minutes alongside Jared Sullinger and Brandon Bass. If not Boston there’s a strong move Randle could drop (with the foot issues) to 8-10. If that happens then Randle landing alongside Nerlens Noel, MCW and whoever Philly takes a # 3 would be a fun group to watch.
WORSE CASE SCENARIO: Hear me out. They may be legendary but Randle would be better off not landing with the Lakers. Here’s why: first, LA has made it known they want to use their 7th pick as part of a trade, potentially for Kevin Love. This would mean Randle would land ultimately in Minnesota or be sitting behind Love. Second, the Lakers are still without a head coach, meaning no set philosophy as we’re under a month from the draft. Even if they hire Byron Scott, most likely Randle enters a pivotal year 3 or 4 with a new coach who DIDN’T draft him. Even though living in LA would be a dream, let’s remember Kobe has just 2 more years left on a mega deal. You’re talking full rebuild when you’re trying to earn that second (more lucrative) contract. (Let’s also not forget, if Randle goes 7 it probably means he’s the 3rd PF off the board)
NBA Draft Net - #7 Los Angeles Lakers
NBA Draft Express - #7 Los Angeles Lakers
ESPN - #10 Philadelphia 76ers
James Young, 6’6 215
BEST CASE SCENARIO: Let me first say I think Chicago would be a fantastic spot, but it also would mean falling out of the lottery, which I don’t think happens. With that being the case, give me the Phoenix Suns. You’re talking about a team on the cusp of the postseason (would’ve had home court had they been in the East this year). You’re also talking about a team with no real SF. They have a stable of bigs and a nice backcourt that includes Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic, but no SF. Young could flourish in a wide open system in which he could play and where there’s a glaring need.
WORST CASE SCENARIO: This is easy, it’s the Atlanta Hawks. Sure, Atlanta limped into the post season as an under .500 team and took Indiana to game 7. And sure, there’s a glaring need at the 3 spot (ATL roster has many holes), much like we see in Phoenix. But, let’s be honest, Atlanta is a dead franchise with dead fan base. You get drafted by Atlanta you might make the postseason a few times but you’ll be clamoring to get out by year 3. Not to mention you’ll probably play for 2-3 different coaching regimes.
NBA Draft Net - #22 Memphis
NBA Draft Express - #19 Chicago Bulls
ESPN - #14 Phoenix Suns
Noah Vonleh, 6’9 247
BEST CASE SCENARIO: Sure, Dante Exum is probably the logical choice at 4 for the Orlando Magic given their need for PG, but Vonleh could really beef up an already nice front court. When healthy, Nikolva Vucevic is a fantastic young rebounder, same with Andrew Nicholson. Adding Vonleh to this front court would really give the Magic some depth. Plus, I’m not sold Exum is ready from day one to be a starter.
WORST CASE SCENARIO: The Utah Jazz would be a bad landing spot for anyone, especially Vonleh. It’s no secret the Jazz covet Jabari Parker, but he won’t slip that far. Meaning, Utah will be stuck in a position where they’re taking the “best available” and not necessarily a need. Unfortuantely for Vonleh, it’s a real possibility he ends up here despite the organization paying Derrick Favors in the offseason and already have Enes Kanter on the roster.
NBA Draft Net - #5 Utah Jazz
NBA Draft Express - #5 Utah Jazz
ESPN - #5 Utah Jazz
Russ Smith, 6’1 160
BEST CASE SCENARIO: If Russ gets drafted it will be at the back end of round 2. With that being said, I’m looking for a good team who needs help at the PG position and doesn’t mind taking a chance. That team is the Miami Heat. First, Mario Chalmers is going to request 7 plus mil in his next deal. Miami, of course, isn’t paying that. They’ll still have Norris Cole but will be looking for a cheap option coming off the bench. Russ could develop slowly and even play off the ball since Cole/Lebron/Wade would handle many of the point duties. (Also look at Chicago in round 2. They have a propensity to stash European players overseas to let them develop but it’s no surprise with D-Rose injury issues, they’re usually light at PG. Plus, Kirk Hinrich and DJ Augustine probably won’t be resigned.)
WORST CASE SCENARIO: Many think if Russ goes undrafted that would be a bad thing. I’m not so sure. If you go in round 2 there are zero secrutiies. Much like an undrafted in the NFL who get to choose their team, same is true in the NBA. Russ’s agents will find the perfect spot for him, instead of letting a team roll the dice on a guy they’re not sold on.
NBA Draft Net - Undrafted
NBA Draft Express - Undrafted
ESPN - U/A
Read the entire statement from UK President Eli Capilouto as he responded today to the Lexington Center Corporation. CLICK HERE
By Andy Sweeney
Executive Producer, Host
There are several shams when it comes to professional sports.Too many to list here, and to be quiet honest that’s an entire different subject. But I got to see one up close this Spring, and that’s the NFL combine. And as we embark on another summer, yet another sham rears its ugly head….the NBA combine.
By owning TV rights I have no problem with ESPN promoting these combines in the manner they do. It’s advertised as the most important day in these kids’ lives. A job interview that will make or break, not only your draft viability, but how successful you will be at the next level.
Sorry to burst everyone’s bubble, but it’s a sham.
All of it. Every single combine. Ever.
And worse yet, incoming NBA hopefuls are now following the lead of their NFL counterparts and dissing the event altogether.
Look at what we see in the NFL. Quarterbacks don’t throw, running backs don’t run, wide receivers don’t catch. If you’re a first round draft pick, why risk it? This is no more true than at the QB position.
This year the only 1st round QB to throw AND finish all his drills was Blake Bortles. Last year, EJ Manuel. And good for both of those guys who raised their stock and were taken in round one. For Bortles, it may have been the difference between mid to late first round (IE: Johnny Manziel, Teddy Bridgewater) or going 3rd overall. Much the same for Manuel who was the only first round QB taken in 2013.
Louisville fans saw up close the way Teddy Bridgewater treated his combine apperance. He didn’t throw and since he added 10 pounds of muscle, why in the world would you run the 40? Thus, he left it all up to his pro day.
But let’s move to the NBA. My point isn’t only about participation, but the actual relevancy of the combine itself.
In other words, stop the sham. The sham the NBA is now perpetuating. For instance, check out the list below on guys who aren’t competing in drills this week in Chicago (and that’s just to name a few)…
Adriene Payne (injury)
Mitch McGary (injury)
That list, which is incomplete at the moment, is compiled of all first rounders and maybe 8 of the top 14 picks come June. So again, what’s the point of the combine if these guys basketball players AREN’T you know, playing basketball. Just like their football counterparts, sure they’ll get measured and meet with teams, but the real value should be playing the sports they’ve chosen.
To add to my point, here are a couple names who weren’t invited at all, yet would’ve competed in drills: Keith Appling, Scottie Wilbekin, Bryce Cotton, Jakarr Sampson, Mike Moser. Shouldn’t the combine be about these guys who are fighting for a roster spot?
NBA evaluators already know Joel Embiid can do things normal 7 footers cannot. They know Jabari Parker is an assassin but lacks on the defensive end. They’ve seen the hops Andrew Wiggins has displayed at the collegiate level.
But why make the move?
That’s simple. Elite level prospects no longer care about the combine, whether it’s NFL or NBA. They see it as a necessary evil. An evil they’re just now figuring out doesn’t need to be attended. And an evil they can do nothing but hurt their stock.
And worse yet, the fact is NBA and NFL teams hold no leverage. They aren’t going to tell bosses and fan base, explaining they didn’t take an elite level prospect because he didn’t do passing drills in a controlled environment. Let’s use combines for lesser known players. Guys trying to make the league, not the ones who are ushered to the front of the line.
Get measured at your pro day. Dribble the basketball at your pro day. Shoot 15 foot jumpers at your pro day. Leave the combine to guys grasping for their chance at glory.
(Via UK Athletics)
LEXINGTON, Ky. – The contract of University of Kentucky football head coach Mark Stoops has been amended to extend through the 2018 season, UK Director of Athletics Mitch Barnhart announced Tuesday.
The new agreement extends the term from Dec. 31, 2017 to June 30, 2019, giving the coach five years remaining on his contract.
“We are excited about the enthusiasm and recruiting success that Mark and his staff have brought to our football program,” Barnhart said. “We had the nation’s second-largest increase in attendance last season and we have had the two largest spring-game attendances in school history (in 2013 and 2014).
“In recruiting, Mark and his tireless assistant coaches have made an obvious impact with their first two classes and that momentum is carrying forward for 2015.”
When Stoops took over the program in December 2012, UK’s recruiting class was ranked in the 60s by the national evaluation services. But, in the next two months, Stoops and staff were able to secure 14 additional commitments, moving the needle for the 2013 signing class as high as No. 29 nationally.
With a full year to recruit the 2014 signing group, the Kentucky coaches landed a consensus national top-25 class, including a No. 17 ranking by Rivals.com, UK’s highest-rated class in the Internet era of recruiting evaluation.
In 2013, Stoops’ first season as head coach, Kentucky averaged 59,472 in attendance per game, an increase of 9,781 from the previous season and representing the second-best improvement in the nation. The two Blue/White Spring Games under Stoops have drawn crowds of more than 50,000 and 35,000, easily the two largest spring attendances in school history.
Additional momentum has been generated with UK’s football facilities. A $110 million renovation of Commonwealth Stadium has begun and is slated for completion for the 2015 season and a $45 million football complex has been approved and is going through the design stages.