Thursday, June 22, 2017

Hamidou Diallo and PJ Washington Named To 2017 USA U19 World Cup Team




Kentucky men’s basketball freshmen Hamidou Diallo and PJ Washington were named to the 2017 USA Basketball Men’s U19 World Cup Team competing in the FIBA World Cup in Cairo in July. UK head coach John Calipari is serving as the head coach of the team.

Team USA will be looking for its third straight title at the FIBA World Cup after capturing gold at the 2013 and 2015 tournaments.

The 12-man team was trimmed from 28 players who accepted invitations to training camp, which began earlier this week. The USA Basketball Men’s Junior National Team Committee issued the invitations. Athletes eligible for the team must be 19 years old or younger (born on or after Jan. 1, 1998) and U.S. citizens.

Diallo and Washington are among the 12-man USA team that will compete in Cairo July 1-9 at the 2017 FIBA World Cup. Fellow Wildcat freshman, Kevin Knox, made the initial 16-man pool before removing his name from consideration after suffering a minor hamstring injury.

Another Wildcat, redshirt sophomore Tai Wynyard, is already headed to this year’s FIBA U19 World Cup. It was announced last month that Wynyard was named one of 12 members of the Junior Tall Blacks, New Zealand’s U19 national team. Freshman guard Shai Gilegous-Alexander was invited to try out for the Canadian team but opted to stay in Lexington train with his college team.

The 2017 USA Basketball Men’s U19 World Cup Team drew Group D for preliminary-round games at the FIBA World Cup and will open against Iran on July 1. Team USA will then play Angola on July 2 and will cap preliminary round action vs. Italy on July 4 (game times are to be determined).

The United States earned its berth into the 2017 FIBA U19 World Cup by virtue of claiming gold at the 2016 FIBA Americas U18 Championship.

Following the preliminary round, all 16 teams will be seeded according to group-play results and will advance to the July 5 round of 16. Winners will advance to the July 7 medal quarterfinals, while the remaining teams will continue playing out for classification. The medal semifinals will be held July 8, and the gold- and bronze-medal games are slated for July 9.

In the 12 previous U19 competitions held, the USA men’s teams have won six gold and three silver medals, including gold in three of the past four U19 championships (2009, 2013 and 2015).
All three Wildcat training camp participants had prior USA Basketball experience, with Diallo and Washington helping the U19 team qualify for this year’s World Cup.

After testing the waters for a potential entry into the NBA Draft in April, Diallo announced a month ago that he was returning to Kentucky. Although he didn’t play for the Wildcats after enrolling midyear, he is expected to be a leading returner on an extremely young team after becoming a vital practice player down the stretch of the 2016-17 season.

A top-10 prospect in the 2017 class before reclassifying, Diallo led Putnam Science Academy to a 38-3 record with an appearance in the state semifinals. The two-time all-state honoree averaged 19.0 points, 6.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists in his final full season of high school. He averaged 7.6 points and 4.6 rebounds for the 2016 USA Men’s U18 National Team that won a gold medal at the 2016 FIBA Americas U18 Championship in Chile.

Washington, measured at 6-foot-8, 229 pounds, is rated as high as the No. 11 overall prospect in the class of 2017 rankings by ESPN. Scout and Rivals tab him at No. 14 overall and 247Sports ranks him No. 18. He was named to the All-USA Boys Basketball Second Team in March and played in the 2017 McDonald’s All American Game and the Jordan Brand Classic. He also won most valuable player honors at the inaugural Allen Iverson Roundball Clasic.

Washington started all five games and averaged 10.0 points and 4.0 rebounds for the gold-medal winning 2016 USA Men’s U18 National Team in Chile. The 6-8, 229-pound forward was also a member of the 2015 USA 3x3 U18 World Championship Team, which finished in eighth place in Debrecen, Hungary.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Kentucky 2017-18 Men's BBall Schedule As It Stands Right Now



Kentucky’s path for a 49th Southeastern Conference regular-season crown has taken shape with the announcement of the 2017-18 home-and-away designations for the entire league’s schedule. The SEC announced on Thursday designations for all 14-member institutions, including revealing the home-and-away opponents for each team.

As announced prior to the 2015-16 season, Kentucky’s permanent home-and-away opponents include Florida, Tennessee and Vanderbilt. This upcoming season, the Wildcats will add Texas A&M to their home-and-away slate for the second consecutive season as well as Missouri, which is highlighted by the addition of head coach Cuonzo Martin and one of the best freshman prospects in the country.

Kentucky’s home schedule will include the five aforementioned teams, as well as Alabama, Georgia, Ole Miss and Mississippi State. UK’s lone matchups for the conference season on the road will come against Arkansas, Auburn, LSU and South Carolina. 

Times, dates and television information will be announced at a later date.

In early-season projections, Kentucky, Florida and Missouri are top-25 ranked teams. Twenty-four of ESPN’s top-100 recruits in the 2017 class have signed to play in the SEC, including seven with the Cats. The league is coming off a season in which its teams combined to go 11-5 in the NCAA Tournament and had three teams advance to the Elite Eight.

Kentucky has claimed at least a share of the last three SEC regular-season titles and five overall under the direction of ninth-year head coach John Calipari. The Cats have also won the SEC Tournament five times in the last eight years during Calipari’s helm, including each of the past three years.

With the announcement of the SEC home-and-away designations, the 2017-18 men’s basketball schedule has begun to fill in. Previously announced games in nonconference action include Kansas (Nov. 14), Harvard (Dec. 2), Monmouth (Dec. 9), Virginia Tech (Dec. 16), UCLA (Dec. 23) and West Virginia (Jan. 27). Additional nonconference opponents, as well as a detailed SEC schedule will come at a later date.


2017-18 Schedule
Nov. 14 vs. Kansas (Champions Classic) | Chicago | United Center
Dec. 2 vs. Harvard | Lexington | Rupp Arena
Dec. 9 vs. Monmouth (Citi Double Cash Classic) | New York | Madison Square Garden
Dec. 16 vs. Virginia Tech | Lexington | Rupp Arena
Dec. 23 vs. UCLA (CBS Sports Classic) | New Orleans | Smoothie King Center
Jan. 27 at West Virginia (Big 12/SEC Challenge) | Morgantown, West Virginia | WVU Coliseum

2017-18 SEC Home Games                                       2017-18 SEC Away Games
Alabama                                                                      Arkansas
Florida                                                                          Auburn
Georgia                                                                        Florida
Ole Miss                                                                       LSU
Mississippi State                                                         Missouri
Missouri                                                                      South Carolina
Tennessee                                                                   Tennessee
Texas A&M                                                                  Texas A&M
Vanderbilt                                                                   Vanderbilt


Thursday, May 25, 2017

Kentucky To Take On West Virginia In Morgantown for 2017 Big12/SEC Challenge



 Always one of the main events of the college basketball season, the Kentucky men’s basketball team’s draw in the annual Big 12/SEC Challenge will once again be an enticing one as the Wildcats will travel to West Virginia on Jan. 27.

It will mark the Wildcats’ third all-time trip to Morgantown, West Virginia, to play the Mountaineers and the first since defeating WVU 106-100 on Dec. 7, 1970. UK is 1-1 in games at West Virginia, but the Wildcats own the all-time head-to-head edge 15-5, including a 9-1 record over the last 10 games.

The last three meetings between the two schools have all taken place in the NCAA Tournament. The last game was in 2015, when UK rolled past the Mountaineers 78-39 and into the Elite Eight in Cleveland.

The 2018 slate of Big 12/SEC Challenge games will mark the fifth season of the annual event between the Southeastern Conference and the Big 12 and the third straight season where all 10 games of the challenge will be played on the same day. A bye in the league schedule for participating teams was created to accommodate for the format.

Ten of the SEC's 14 teams will participate in the 2018 challenge against all 10 of the Big 12's institutions, with each conference hosting five games apiece. Each of the 10 SEC teams that will participate in the 2018 games will play in the 2019 event as well. The four SEC teams not participating will play each other in conference games the same day.

Four of the 10 games will be televised on ESPN, four on ESPN2 and two games will air on ESPNU. All
10 games will also be available on the ESPN app. ESPN’s College GameDay Covered by State Farm –
the Saturday roadshow that discusses the top storylines of the college basketball season – will
originate from one of the Challenge games.

Game times and network designations will be announced at a later date.

West Virginia, an annual powerhouse in the Big 12 and in the national polls, was among the top teams in college basketball during the 2016-17 season. The Mountaineers finished second in the Big 12, spent the entire season in the top 25, and advanced to the Sweet 16 before losing to Gonzaga, the national runner-up, in a heartbreaker.

The core of that WVU team is expected to return for the 2017-18 meeting, including the top two leading scorers in Jevon Carter and Esa Ahmad. West Virginia is widely considered a top-25 team heading into next season based on early national rankings. 

Kentucky’s nonconference schedule for the 2017-18 season continues to take shape. Already the Wildcats have games slated against Kansas (Nov. 14), Harvard (Dec. 2), Monmouth (Dec. 9), Virginia Tech (Dec. 16), UCLA (Dec. 23) and West Virginia (Jan. 27). Additional game announcements will be made at a later time. 


2017-18 Nonconference Schedule
Nov. 14 vs. Kansas (Champions Classic) | Chicago | United Center
Dec. 2 vs. Harvard | Lexington | Rupp Arena
Dec. 9 vs. Monmouth (Citi Double Cash Classic) | New York | Madison Square Garden
Dec. 16 vs. Virginia Tech | Lexington | Rupp Arena
Dec. 23 vs. UCLA (CBS Sports Classic) | New Orleans | Smoothie King Center
Jan. 27 at West Virginia | Morgantown, West Virginia | WVU Coliseum

2018 Big 12/SEC Challenge
Oklahoma at Alabama
Georgia at Kansas State
Baylor at Florida
Texas Tech at South Carolina
TCU at Vanderbilt
Oklahoma State at Arkansas
Kentucky at West Virginia
Ole Miss at Texas
Tennessee at Iowa State

Hamidou Diallo To RETURN To Kentucky



 Hamidou Diallo is coming back to Kentucky.

Diallo, a freshman guard, plans to return to UK for the 2017-18 season after going through the process of declaring for the NBA Draft. Utilizing NCAA rules that allow players to “test the waters,” Diallo entered the NBA Draft without hiring an agent to protect his NCAA eligibility with the option of returning to school.

Players had until 10 days after the conclusion of the NBA Draft Combine to make a final decision based on a rule between the NCAA and NBA so long as the player didn’t hire an agent. That deadline was Wednesday at 11:59 p.m. ET.

With only minutes to spare, Diallo informed UK of his intention to come back to school. He will join Wenyen Gabriel, Sacha Killeya-Jones, Tai Wynyard, Brad Calipari, Jonny David and Dillon Pulliam as 2017-18 returners.

“First of all, I want to thank the Big Blue Nation for your support,” Diallo said. “I've only been a Wildcat for five months, but you have already made me one of your own. I know not everyone understood my original decision -- but everyone has been supportive. Thank you for that. 

“The one thing I've learned through this whole process is how grateful I am that I came to the University of Kentucky. Coach Cal and the staff have had my back throughout this entire journey. They were honest with me from the start, had my best interests at heart and walked me through every step. I couldn't have asked for a better support system.

“I also want to thank the university for understanding how important this decision was to me. This is something I had to do for me and my family, and the school has been supportive of us the whole way. Just so everyone knows, I always planned to pay the school back for my spring tuition for allowing me to enroll last semester because I never thought I would be in this position. If I knew I was leaving after the semester, I would have played to help the team.

“Like I said when I submitted my name for the draft, playing in the NBA has always been my ultimate goal. When I enrolled in school in January, my plan was to come to Kentucky to work on my game and to focus on academics. At the end of the season, I knew I wanted to see where I was in the draft process so I could get a proper evaluation.

“That plan still hasn't changed. I hope to play in the NBA one day -- just not this season. Based on the information I received by testing the waters, I believe it's in my best interests to return to school. Although I was a part of the team last season and trained with my teammates, I never fulfilled another one of my dreams, which was to play for a major college program and win a national title. I am excited about returning to Kentucky for the 2017-18 season. I can't wait to play in a Kentucky jersey for the first time.”

Diallo will return in a unique situation as one of the team’s leaders. Although he didn’t play in 2016-17, he became an important player in practice after reclassifying and enrolling at Kentucky in January. In recent interviews at the NBA Draft Combine, former teammates De’Aaron Fox and Isaiah Briscoe raved about Diallo’s defensive presence in practice as the Wildcats went on to win both the Southeastern Conference regular-season and tournament titles before advancing to the Elite Eight. 

With five underclassmen entering their names in the NBA Draft (Fox, Briscoe, Bam Adebayo, Malik Monk and Isaac Humphries) and three graduating seniors (Dominique Hawkins, Mychal Mulder and Derek Willis), Kentucky will be tasked with replacing 92.6 percent of its scoring and 76.6 percent of its rebounding from the 2016-17 team.

Reinforcements will be on the way in the form of the nation’s No. 1 ranked recruiting class (Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Jemarl Baker, Quade Green, Kevin Knox, Nick Richards, Jarred Vanderbilt and P.J. Washington), but Diallo’s return will add some experience to what will be one of John Calipari’s youngest teams yet.

“I’m really proud of Hami,” head coach John Calipari said. “He took in all the information, asked a lot of questions, including questions to the NBA teams. I love the fact that he wants to put himself in a better position and help lead this new team to a championship. I can’t wait to get him on the court and have all of you fans see what I know. He’s a special player and a special person.”

Diallo will be a leading returner alongside Gabriel, Killeya-Jones and Wynyard. Gabriel is UK’s leading statistical returner from last season after averaging 4.6 points and 4.8 boards as a freshman, including seven games in double figures. He boasted a 23-point performance against LSU and also hauled in 16 rebounds against Auburn which were the most for any UK player at the time since 2014. Killeya-Jones had 12 points on 6-of-8 shooting against UT Martin and 10 blocks over his first nine career games. Wynyard, the youngest player to ever suit up for the New Zealand National Team, appeared in 15 games a season ago for the Cats and adds a bruising inside presence with experience in the program.
  
Diallo enrolled at Kentucky in January after graduating from Putnam Science Academy in Connecticut in May. A top-10 prospect in the 2017 class before reclassifying, The 6-foot-5 guard from Queens, New York, practiced with the team and was eligible to play in games, but he opted not to play this season in order to adapt to college competition, develop his game and focus on his academics.

A high-flying, high-scoring guard who excels at getting to the basket, Diallo is considered a long, athletic wing with a potential to be a lockdown defender. Before reclassifying last season, he was rated as high as No. 9 (247 Sports) and no lower than No. 11 (ESPN) among the major recruiting services. Both 247Sports and Scout considered him the No. 1 shooting guard in the 2017 class.

In his final full season in high school, in 2015-16, Diallo led Putnam Science Academy to a 38-3 record with an appearance in the state semifinals. The two-time all-state honoree averaged 19.0 points, 6.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists in his senior season before graduating in the fall. He averaged 17.0 points and 4.0 rebounds as a junior.

Diallo was also a key member of the 2016 USA Men’s U18 National Team that won a gold medal at the 2016 FIBA Americas U18 Championship in July in Chile, where he averaged 7.6 points and 4.6 rebounds for Team USA.


Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Kentucky Men's Basketball To Host Virginia Tech



 The Kentucky men’s basketball team will play Virginia Tech during the 2017-18 season.

The Wildcats will host the Hokies on Dec. 16 at Rupp Arena as part of a one-year deal with the Atlantic Coast Conference member. The meeting will be the first between the two programs since 1996, when UK defeated Virginia Tech 84-60 in the NCAA Tournament in Dallas.

Kentucky owns a 3-1 all-time edge over Virginia Tech. The Wildcats have hosted the Hokies in Lexington twice before, splitting the two games, but next season’s matchup will be the first between the two schools in Rupp Arena. 

Virginia Tech went 22-11 last season and reached the NCAA Tournament in Buzz Williams’ third season in Blacksburg, Virginia. The Hokies are expected to return six of their top eight leading scorers from that team.

Kentucky’s nonconference schedule for the 2017-18 season is beginning to take shape. Already the Wildcats have games slated against Kansas (Nov. 14), Harvard (Dec. 2), Monmouth (Dec. 9), Virginia Tech (Dec. 16) and UCLA (Dec. 23). Additional game announcements will be made at a later time. 


2017-18 Nonconference Schedule
Nov. 14 vs. Kansas (Champions Classic) | Chicago | United Center
Dec. 2 vs. Harvard | Lexington | Rupp Arena
Dec. 9 vs. Monmouth (Citi Double Cash Classic) | New York | Madison Square Garden
Dec. 16 vs. Virginia Tech | Lexington | Rupp Arena
Dec. 23 vs. UCLA (CBS Sports Classic) | New Orleans | Smoothie King Center


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Bam Adebayo To Hire Agent; Forgoes Remaining Eligibility



Kentucky men basketball freshman forward Bam Adebayo announced Tuesday he will officially hire an agent and remain in the 2017 NBA Draft, forgoing his remaining eligibility at Kentucky.

“After talking with Coach Cal, the staff and my family, I have decided it’s in my best interest to remain in the draft,” Adebayo said.

“This process we went through at Kentucky was a tough but a rewarding one. It was everything I wanted when I decided to come to Kentucky. It taught me a lot. It taught me how to be a better man on and off the court. I have improved so much since the beginning of the season thanks to the hard work of the coaching staff. They helped me with every step of the process along the way and they never gave up on me.

“I also want to thank my teammates. I couldn’t have asked for a better group to grow with. We were all like brothers. I also want to thank the fans for their support and everything they do for us. Their passion is like nothing I’ve ever seen before.”

Adebayo is the fifth underclassman to hire an agent, joining sophomores Isaiah Briscoe and Isaac Humphries and fellow freshmen De’Aaron Fox and Malik MonkFreshman Hamidou Diallo has also declared for the draft, but has not hired an agent.

Like Anthony Davis and Karl-Anthony Towns, who developed at Kentucky and went on to become NBA superstars, Adebayo evolved into an unstoppable post presence as the season progressed. The 6-foot-10 freshman from Little Washington, North Carolina, was arguably UK’s most effective player over the last month and a half, averaging a double-double during the Wildcats’ late-season 14-game winning streak.

For the year, Adebayo averaged 13.0 points and a team-best 8.0 rebounds per game. He also led the team in blocks per game (1.5) and double-doubles (eight), including five double-doubles over his last 11 games. He was a member of the All-Southeastern Conference Second Team and was also named to the All-SEC Tournament Team during his successful freshman campaign.
                
Playing in a guard-heavy lineup, Adebayo provided UK with its most consistent inside presence. His .599 field-goal percentage was the best among players attempting at least 100 shots for the season, and his 101 dunks on the year are more than any other Kentucky player under Calipari. Davis had 92 during the 2011-12 season.

Adebayo took his game to another level starting in February. He followed a 22-point, 15-rebound game at Missouri with an 18-point, 15-rebound effort vs. No. 13/12 Florida, accomplishing a pair of milestones in the process. His back-to-back double-doubles were the first of the season and put him in the team lead with five, while his back-to-back 15-rebound games marked the first such stretch since Jared Prickett accomplished the feat on Feb. 6 and Feb. 9, 1994. It was the first time a UK player had posted back-to-back games of at least 15 boards in consecutive SEC games since Sam Bowie on March 1 and March 3, 1984.

In the opening NCAA Tournament game vs. North Kentucky, Adebayo collected 18 rebounds, the most boards under Calipari in an NCAA Tournament game at Kentucky and the third most all-time in UK history in the tournament. Per ESPN Stats and Info, he became just the second UK player (Julius Randle in 2014) with a double-double in each of his first two NCAA Tournament games.

Since Calipari joined the Wildcat program for the 2009-10 season, UK has produced 28 NBA Draft picks over seven seasons, more than double any other school. Included in the 28 are 21 first-round selections, three No. 1 overall picks, 11 top-10 selections and 14 lottery picks.   

Of the 18 players in the Calipari era who declared for the NBA Draft after one season at Kentucky, all 18 were drafted in the first round.

Monday, April 24, 2017

The CATSPY Awards Were Held This Evening and Here Are Your Winners



The 15th annual CATSPY Awards were held Monday in Memorial Coliseum to recognize athletic and academic performances during the 2016-17 year in the UK Athletics department. With co-winners in some categories, 20 individuals were recognized as well as four teams.

“It’s a real pleasure to have everyone here tonight,” Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart said in a speech welcoming student-athletes, coaches, staff and fans. “As usual, everyone looks tremendous. It’s a night of celebrations, a night of achievement and a night of challenge. It’s been a real special year in a lot of ways.”

WKYT will air the CATSPY Awards at a later time to be announced. A replay is also available on UKathletics.com.

Headlining the awards this year were men's basketball and women’s swimming and diving.

The Kentucky men's basketball team, which had to replace 75.8 percent of its scoring and 70.0 percent of its rebounding from a season ago, won Male Team of the Year after winning its 48th regular-season Southeastern Conference championship and its 30th SEC Tournament title this season. The team also advanced to the Elite Eight for the sixth time in John Calipari’s eight years at Kentucky.

The Kentucky women’s swimming and diving team put together one of the best seasons in school history in 2016-17 to win Female Team of the Year. Spurred by gold-medal performances from freshman Asia Seidt and sophomore Geena Freriks, the Wildcats placed third at the SEC Championships to match their highest finish in program history. The team went on to post its highest point total ever at the NCAA Championships en route to a 14th-place finish, with eight women achieving All-America distinction across nine different events.

The Mr. and Miss Wildcat awards – dedicated in honor of the late Bruno Agostinelli, a UK men’s tennis All-American and past Mr. Wildcat winner – are given for all-around excellence in athletics, academics, character and service. Senior Jon Toth (football), an All-America honoree, an All-SEC First Team selection and a four-time SEC Academic Honor Roll member, won this year’s Mr. Wildcat honor. Senior Danielle Galyer (women’s swimming and diving) captured Miss Wildcat for the second year in a row after an illustrious career that has included winning the NCAA’s Elite 90 academic award in each of the last two seasons, the school’s first national championship in the 200-backstroke and multiple All-America honors.

Track and field won both the Male and Female Athlete of the Year awards. After winning the 2017 NCAA championship and the SEC championship in the indoor long jump, senior Sha’Keela Saunders took home Female Athlete of the Year. Junior Jacob Thomson won Male Athlete of the Year after a decorated year that included SEC championships in the 5,000- and 10,000-meter runs.

Women’s tennis captured Female Academic Team of the Year and men’s golf won Male Academic Team of the Year. The Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year was Galyer (women’s swimming and diving), a two-time NCAA Elite 90 winner. Paul Sime (men’s soccer), the 2017 winner of the Arthur Ashe Jr. Male Sports Scholar of the Year award, won Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year.

“We fight for our Kentucky home together,” Barnhart said. “Thirty-eight states, 18 countries, one department all play a really cool part in this really, really special story we call the University of Kentucky.”

A complete list of awards is below:

Community Service Award
Alex Carter (women’s soccer)
Sean Gunn (men’s swimming and diving)

Female Rookie of the Year
Jasmine Camacho-Quinn (women’s track and field)

Male Rookie of the Year
Malik Monk (men’s basketball)

Bill Keightley “Assist” Award
Ryan Clark (men’s basketball) 

Blue Heart Award
Kole Cottam (baseball)
Alex Montgomery (football)

Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year
Danielle Galyer (women’s swimming and diving)

Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year
Paul Sime (men’s soccer)

Female Academic Team of the Year
Women’s tennis

Male Academic Team of the Year
Men’s golf

Scratch Award
Paige Poffenberger (women’s basketball)

Supporting Role
Dominique Hawkins (men’s basketball)

Heart of a Wildcat
Makayla Epps (women’s basketball)
Evelyn Akhator (women’s basketball)

Female Athlete of the Year
Sha’Keela Saunders (women’s track and field)

Male Athlete of the Year
Jacob Thomson (men’s track and field)

Coach(es) of the Year
Mark Stoops (football)
John Calipari (men’s basketball)
Lars Jorgensen (swimming and diving)
Edrick Floréal (track and field)

Female Team of the Year
Women’s swimming and diving

Male Team of the Year
Men’s basketball

Miss Wildcat
Danielle Galyer (swimming and diving)

Mr. Wildcat