Saturday, April 27, 2013

Coach Cal at it again

(PHOTO COURTESY: Steve Jones; Courier Journal)

You don't land 5 straight number one ranked recruiting classes by sitting at home. That is why John Calipari is out on the recruiting trail today, taking his pick out of the top juniors and seniors in the country for 2014-15. Meanwhile, Coach K is just trying to figure out the whole texting thang.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Now you can be coached by John Calipari too



Calipari Announces Online Store for Coaching Drills
Full proceeds from videos go to The Calipari Foundation

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Never one to hide what happens within his program, John Calipari has launched an online store for coaching drills on his website, CoachCal.com, that will allow coaches, players and fans across the world to watch the drills and teaching points he has used in guiding teams to four Final Fours and the 2012 national championship.
The online store, which can be accessed at coachcal.com/john-caliparis-coaching-drills/, features nearly 40 videos of practice sessions that Calipari has used in developing 15 NBA Draft picks over the last three years.

The videos, which range in length from two minutes to 20-plus minutes, include various skills and teaching points on shooting, defense, the Dribble Drive Motion Offense and more. The pricing of each coaching drill varies from free to $2.99. All proceeds from each video purchased go directly to The Calipari Foundation.

“We talk about being different and transparent, and I believe this is another one of those things,” Calipari said. “These coaching drills are another way that we can show everyone what we’re teaching and how we’re teaching. They are available to players, coaches, fans and whoever else wants them. The great thing with this is all the revenue is going straight to the foundation to be used for projects that the foundation is investing in.”

The Calipari Foundation invests in communities. These communities are not limited by geography – they can also be education, social and spiritual in nature. The foundation’s purpose is to improve the quality of life both in and through these communities, with a particular focus on enriching the lives of children.





Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Nerlens Noel's last quotes as a Wildcat



Nerlens Noel
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“The knee is doing good. I have been working hard in rehab. My physical therapist has been telling me I am ahead of schedule and I’m coming along really well.”

On interacting with orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews ...
“He (told) me when I had the surgery that it went very well. He’s told me to make sure I take things slow and stay focused on physical therapy. That’s the key thing.”

On being patient with his recovery ...
“It is hard to be patient especially during the season. Just seeing my teammates out there playing and wishing I was out there playing with them. There’s not much you can do except stay focused on physical therapy and give it 100 percent.”

On his decision to declare for the NBA Draft ...
“There was a consideration about coming back, but anybody that gets injured is probably going to have the consideration and think about it. I sat there with my family and saw the extent of my injury. I thought it wasn’t going to affect me in the draft too much. I’ve definitely been tackling the rehab. My decision with my family was probably the best decision for me.”

On reasons for considering returning to UK for his sophomore season ...
“The Big Blue Nation. I loved playing here. It was one of the best experiences of my life. Great fans, a great atmosphere and playing in Rupp Arena felt like a once in a lifetime thing. I will never get to do that again. It was a hard decision. I love the Big Blue Nation, I love Coach Cal. That was one of the best things to do here.”

On the incoming UK basketball freshman class ...
“I played with half of those guys when I was in their class before I was classified up. I know how good they are. They are really good, they’re really good kids. That would have been a really special team if I had stayed. Those are great kids though. They’re going to have a great team next year. Even Alex (Poythress) and Willie (Cauley-Stein) coming back is going to give them good leadership just like Terrence Jones and Doran Lamb did (in 2011-12). Those were the key players they needed to win that championship. I feel they will be very good next year.”

On paying attention to NBA mock drafts ...
“I don’t pay attention to those at all. I just stay focused on my physical therapy. I try to keep my mind right.”

On what it would mean to be the No. 1 draft pick ...
“It would be a dream come true being the first pick in the NBA Draft. That’s something you dream about when you’re a kid. I would be very blessed to be in that position.”

On his thoughts the days after his injury and its effect on his draft status ...
“When I heard about my injury a lot goes through your head. When it first happens you don’t know what the injury is. You don’t know if you will ever play basketball or whether you’ll be playing a month from now. When I heard what the injury was I knew I’d get back on the court as fast as I could and get back to what I love doing.”

On what he’s hearing from the NBA about his possible draft position ...
“I don’t hear anything. That isn’t a priority to listen to what they say. I’m my own player, and I just have to worry about getting better, getting stronger, getting my leg stronger and getting right back on that court.”

On watching the UK season after getting injured ...
“It was very tough just watching those guys play knowing I could have helped them in so many ways. I’m proud of those guys. They played as hard as they could. They fought; they beat two of the best teams in the league without me. You can’t underestimate those guys. Things just didn’t roll their way sometimes on the road. I love those guys. They played their hearts out. I’ll always be proud of them no matter what.”

On how good Willie Cauley-Stein can be ...
“Another year Willie can be one of the best big men in the country, definitely. I’m sure he will be. Willie is a freak athlete. He’s 7-foot; he’s fast, strong, quick. He has all the intangibles to be great. I mean next year, I’m sure he is going to dominate the collegiate rankings and move on to bigger and better things.”

On how Willie Cauley-Stein has changed since the beginning of the year ...
“A lot. A lot. He has made so much progress in his game, even mentally. Early on, Willie wasn’t too confident about things but as the season went on he has gotten so much more confident. He’s so sure about himself that there were times in practices that he would just dominate. You would see flashes. Willie has come a really long way physically and mentally and he’s really coming into his own as a player.”

On his injury giving him or other players a different perspective ...
“You have to go out and play hard every day. You can’t take it for granted; you have to cherish the game you love and play. I feel like that’s what I did. Things like this happen you’re a human being; you’re going to get hurt sometimes. You just have to stay focused and be ready to fight and get back to doing what you love.”

On what exactly caused his injury ...
“I don’t really want to recollect that. It’s over. That’s not what I’m really thinking about. I’m just thinking about moving forward and getting back on the court.”

On what they are telling him about getting back on the court ...
“We’re just taking it step-by-step. It’s a six to eight month injury, I had surgery six weeks ago so it will probably be around Christmas time but you never know. It’s a long healing process. I’m just staying focused and doing my rehab.”

On the events that happened in Boston ...
“That definitely affected me, just growing up in that city, born and raised, and to see that happen you just can’t think of a human being that would do that. People run in the Boston Marathon from all over the country. Everybody is out there having fun, enjoying themselves, for something they have prepared so long for. That was a very tragic happening. Seeing it on TV all day, that was the same day that I had declared but that wasn’t even on my mind the rest of the day, just me sending my prayers out for everybody that was affected that day.”

On what he was doing the day of the Boston Marathon ...
“I actually woke up that morning and went to rehab, I declared that same morning but I was in rehab and it was all over the TV. Even when I got home, I was lying in bed just looking for updates, making sure everybody that I knew back home was OK.”

On how being in college for a year benefited him ...
“It benefited me a lot, especially playing here under coach Calipari and the coaching staff. There are no pushovers here, they want you to be the best you can be and they don’t accept anything less. Coach Cal has taught me so much on and off the court, how to be a good person and really know how to have a good work ethic. He made us love to work. Just carry yourself, a lot of life lessons that not any regular coach would teach you about off the court.”

On his one year a Kentucky ...
“This was one of the best experiences of my life being here. Regardless if you have to stay three, four years, these are the best times of your life whether you’re here one or three years, regardless.”

On the one-and-done rule ...
“There is a lot of politics. I don’t really get into that. Both sides are reasonable as to why they should come out of high school and why they should stay a year in college, or two. I don’t get into that too much. I focus on what I have to do. If I have to come to school for a year, I do it.”

On if he regrets the play that tore his ACL with the score being what it was ...
“No. No way. We weren’t down too much. Regardless of the score, I wasn’t going to let them get that easy basket. I will not be embarrassed in any type of way. I will not give them an easy basket. I just wanted to keep fighting and give my team the best chance of getting back in a fighting position to win that game.”

On the healing process ...
“I’m taking it in stride. If I’m ready, I’m ready. If I’m not ready, I’m not ready. The main focus right now is to keep working so I am ready when my body tells me I am. You just take it one step at a time.”

On where he is right now in the healing timeline ...
“Today is the six-week point. I am doing everything out of the brace. All of my exercises, so that tells I am ahead of schedule. I can tell I have had a lot of muscle added back in my leg, but it takes a while to heal and get two and two in the body with the nerve system. I am taking it slow, with exercise and agility.”

On being a community role model ...
“God blessed me with my God-given talents. I remember when I was one of those little kids and I looked up to them as a role model. When I would see someone that I looked up too, I wouldn’t mind if he came to visit me. That’s the way I looked at it. I try to look back and give back to people who aren’t as fortunate as myself. Anything I can do to make a kid smile, or make their day better, whether it would be cancer or leukemia, anything that’s life threatening. I just do my best to give back to them, especially to kids who aren’t as fortunate as me.”

On what he will be doing at the NBA Combine ...
“I have seen the combine. It was on TV. I have seen what the actual players will do. But, going in with the injury I have right now, I’m not sure I’ll be able to do too much, besides get checked out by the doctors. Maybe I can shoot some free throws, or talk to GM’s, but as far as that, I don’t think I’ll be doing too much.” 


Monday, April 22, 2013

Cauley-Stein and Poythess talk about returning for another season



#15, Willie Cauley-Stein, F

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On his decision to not enter the draft this year ...
“I mean, I go this year and go late first round or come back for another year with the chance of going in the draft a little earlier, so staying was almost a no brainer. Plus I enjoy school. It wasn’t like I was in any rush to leave. I never thought that I’d be a one-and-done anyway so to come back wasn’t that big of a deal.”

On whether or not this season affected his decision ...
“It just put a bad taste in my mouth. When I feel like something is empty I want to fill it, and I think that next year we have a great chance of doing that.”

On his family’s influence in his decision on the draft ....
“They just said that it was up to me. That they’d survived this long without whatever I would make in the pros, so what’s another year or two?”

On what he likes about school ...
“You don’t get these years back, so why grow up when you don’t have to. Plus I just like the college life. I like that here everyone knows who I am, that experience is fun.”

On what Coach Calipari wants him to do next season ...
“He just wants me to step up as more of a vocal and hands-on leader. This year I was put in a situation where I had to step up and lead, but I wasn’t really ready. Coming in I was really hesitant about what I was doing. I didn’t feel like I was in a place to try and lead guys that were more hype than me or guys who were supposed to be playing better than me. So I just stayed back and watched instead of taking action like he wanted me to.”

On the team’s potential next season ...
“Potential is exactly that. We had the potential this season and didn’t capitalize on it. So we could easily have the best recruiting class and not do anything with it; it’s that simple. If you don’t come together and do things right, then you’re just a bunch of talented kids that didn’t do anything with it.”

On why next year might be harder and different ...
“The hype is going to be different because there are so many guys coming next year. We have 10 potential first round picks coming, and they’ll have to play with each other every day. Coach doesn’t want the same thing that happened this year to happen next year so he’s going to change a bunch of things so that doesn’t happen. Intensity is going to pick up and the level of how we play is going to go up tremendously.”

On his impression of the recruiting class ...
“To be honest I haven’t really watched them play, but their height is a positive. They should be really good.”

On the ability to get better because of the players coming in ...
“To me, that’s the best thing about next year, is that you’re going against pros every day. This year it was like that until Nerlens got hurt and then it was like playing against Brian Long; and then you’re not getting
better. You’d dominate in practice and get to a game and struggle. But next year it’s going to be a lot different. And that’s what I’m going to capitalize on every day. Going at these dudes every day because it’s not only going to make me better, but it’s going to make our team better. And it’ll make them better as well.”

On how he plans on being different next season ...
“Definitely bringing each other together early. (Coach) Cal always talks about coming together and at the rate that we were going, we were coming together right when the tournament started. But this year I want to start that way early. Like having group meetings in the summer and going out to eat; doing silly stuff like that. I think things like that will really help bring us together and that’s one of my big things that I’m going to go into the summer with.”

On what he heard in the media and how that affected his decision about the NBA Draft ...
“I heard a wide variety of things which is kind of what set me off. I heard anywhere from 8-10, 15-20, 22-25, and that’s the whole dang scale. That’s everywhere. I didn’t feel comfortable taking a chance on it and landing somewhere that I’m not going to be good at when I could come back and help.”

On any pieces of advice for the freshmen ...
“The biggest thing that I could say is just knowing from the get go that it’s real. We started off really good and then we started losing and it was just like wow, we’re not as good as we thought we were. And that’s the biggest thing. Every game you play has to be hype. You have no time to relax when you step in between those lines. And it’s all business once you do.”

#22, Alex Poythress, F

On if it was an easy or tough decision to return to school ...
“It was a pretty tough decision. I had to weigh my options, but I am happy with my choice to come back and will have to live with it.”

On how long it took to make his decision ...
“I’m not really sure. It was a long process. You just want to make sure your heart is in it and make sure you make the right decision, and I feel like I did.”

On what he will do during the summer to improve his game ...
“Just do all of the little things like workout all of the time and get in the gym as much as I can. I’ll try to drag other people to the gym with me like Willie (Cauley-Stein) and just try to work hard for next year.”

On what the process was in the making his decision ...
“Just talking to my mom and my parents. Really just trying to figure out what they were thinking, getting their input, and talking to the assistant coaches. I talked to Coach Cal (Calipari) to try and get his input and decide what was the best decision for me.”

On how much he discussed the process with the other guys in similar situations ...
“I talked to Willie and Archie (Goodwin) a lot. Those were the two players I talked to the most because they were going through what I was.”

On Archie Goodwin’s decision to go to the draft ...
“I am not surprised. Archie is a very hard worker and I think he will do fine in the league. He just has to work hard and show that he belongs. I am happy for him and hope he has a bright future.”

On if last year’s success played a role in returning to school ...
“We have big expectations for next year. We just want to come prepared everyday. The goal is a championship and nothing less. That is the ultimate goal, and that is what we want so we just have to work hard and try to accomplish that.”

On how he would rate his freshman year ...
“I think I had a decent year. There is always room for improvement. We are just focused on next year now.”

On if he forgets about last year or will use it for motivation for the upcoming season ...
“We can use it as motivation. We don’t want next year to end up like this year. With the guys coming in and the people returning, we must have a fire burning in our belly. We don’t want to repeat last year so we have to work hard.”

On looking forward to next year’s roster ...
“It’s going to be a nice roster. We will have a lot of competition. We will have to go hard everyday. We will be competing against top competition so it should be good for us.”

On if it was hard seeing Louisville win the national championship ...
“Yes it was kind of hard when you have a rival school win like that. I’m happy for them at the same time, but hopefully that will be us next year.”

On how experiencing last year will make him a better player ....
“It prepares you mentally. You have to be mentally prepared for everything. When you are losing, that is when you figure out what people are really made of. So, it just helps mentally.”


On what Coach Calipari told him after the Robert Morris game ... 

“He just told me that they wanted me back and that another year would help me in the long run to work on my confidence, mentality, and that everything will work itself out.” 

ANDREW WIGGINS UPDATE




Rumors swirling this morning that the nations #1 ranked player Andrew Wiggins has canceled his in-home visits with UNC, FSU and KU that were supposed to take place this week.

I spoke with Huntington Prep coach Rob Fulford minutes ago and he said...

"He will be doing them by phone. He is drained and didn't want to meet. No timetable. He's not back from Portland. He has had two flights canceled and just doesn't want to deal with it right now"

That settles that, carry on.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Calipari was "totally sold" when he saw Dominique Hawkins play



Not too many people know a lot about future Cat Dominique Hawkins out of Madison Central. If you're one of these people, let Cal's opinion set your mind at ease...

“I kept hearing about Dominique from Marquis Estill and my good friend Dr. Robert Palmer,” Calipari said. “When I watched him play, lead his team, and play with a will to win and fight, I was totally sold. At the Sweet Sixteen, he made sure he got his teammates involved and was always happy with their success, but when it was time to take over the game – when it was winning time – everyone in the building knew they were going to play through Dominique, which they did, and they won. The last UK player who was named Kentucky Mr. Basketball and won a state title in the same year was Darius Miller. He went to two Final Fours, won a national title and is now playing in the NBA. My hope is Dominique will be on the same path.”


If that doesn't get you excited about Mr. Hawkins being a future Cat, his play will certainly change your mind. But, with the amount of talent coming in next season, I don't see Dominique clocking very many minutes in his freshman season. However, After a season or two under Calipari, Hawkins will no doubt make an impact as an upper class-man with a couple of years experience under his belt. 

Most local kids grow up dreaming of playing for Kentucky and aside from a select few, most never get the chance. Dominique is one of the select few and he will not let his chance go to waste.


Thursday, April 18, 2013

Lineup of pros for Coach Cal's Pro Camps has been announced




Men’s Basketball Announces Lineup of Pros for 2013 John Calipari Prasco Pro Camps
Camps to take place in late July-August
LEXINGTON, Ky. – Kentucky has finalized its lineup for the 2013 Prasco John Calipari Pro Camps, which will take place at the end of July and early August. Former UK stars Nerlens Noel, Archie Goodwin, Julius Mays, Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Eric Bledsoe and DeMarcus Cousins will be featured as this year's pros.

This summer's Pro Camps will be split into two separate camps. Pro Camp I will take place July 29-30 and Pro Camp II will be held July 31-Aug. 1.

Noel, Goodwin and Mays will be at both days of Pro Camp I and Bledsoe and Cousins will participate in both days of Pro Camp II. Davis and Kidd-Gilchrist will be featured for a day each at both Pro Camp I and Pro Camp II. The lineup of the featured pros is subject to change.

The cost for each camp is $199 per camper and includes a camp T-shirt, two days of instruction, competitions, autograph session and camp team photo with the featured Wildcat pros. Both camps will be held at the Joe Craft Center and Memorial Coliseum.
The Pro Camps are open to both boys and girls of the appropriate age/grade level, which varies between sessions. Camper's grade level is based on the grade in which the camper will enroll during the fall of 2013 school year.

In an effort to accommodate camper participation with all 2013 Wildcat pro players, UK will offer a discount for signing up for both camps at the price of $350. The discounted price is only available by selecting and registering for both desired camps during the same registration session online. You will be given the option to select the number of camps you would like to attend and the discount will be displayed at the end of your registration of both camps.



Pro Camp I – July 29-30 (Tuition – $199)
            Featured pros: Nerlens Noel, Archie Goodwin, Julius Mays, Anthony Davis (July 30 only) and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (July 30 only)
Morning session (8:30 a.m. – noon) – Open to grades K-5th – Check-in from 7 -8:30 a.m.
            Afternoon session (1:30 p.m. – 5 p.m.) – Open to grades 6th-12th – Check-in from Noon-1:30 p.m.

Pro Camp II – July 31-August 1 (tuition – $199)
            Featured pros: Eric Bledsoe, DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis (July 31 only) and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (July 31 only)
Morning session (8:30 a.m. – noon) -Open to grades K-5th – Check in from 7-8:30 a.m.
            Afternoon session (1:30 p.m. – 5 p.m.)-Open to grades 6th-12th – Check in from Noon-1:30pm

Both Pro Camps I & II (discounted tuition – $350)
Individual campers who wish to participate in BOTH Pro Camps I and II can do so for the price of $350 per camper. The discounted price is ONLY available by selecting and registering for both desired camps during the same registration session online.  You will be given the option to select the number of camps you would like to attend and the discount will be displayed at the end of your registration of both camps. Those who do not register for BOTH camps during the same registration session online are not eligible to receive the discounted price of $350. Those who wish to purchase admission to an additional Pro Camp following purchase of only ONE camp will have to pay the full $199 per camp.
Both John Calipari Pro Camps are open to both boys and girls of the appropriate age/grade level, which varies between sessions. Camper’s grade level is based on the grade in which the camper will enroll during the fall of 2013 school year. 

All pre-registered campers will receive a confirmation e-mail for their specific camp/session that includes details of necessary paperwork needed (physical, insurance and consent). To ensure the safety and participation of all campers, it is important that the basketball office receives all necessary paperwork two weeks prior to the start of the specific camp date.
Due to the limited number of spots available for each Pro Camp, walk-up registration will not be available unless noted on the UK Athletics website prior to the start of camp. Once each Pro Camp has reached its maximum capacity, that particular camp will be closed to all forms of registration (online and walk-ups).

Any camp related questions can be called into the men's basketball camp line at 859-257-9457 or the men's basketball office at 859-257-1916.



Kentucky vs. Providence tickets go on sale Friday



Kentucky-Providence Tickets Available Friday
Schools agree to two-year series; 2014-15 game to take place in Rupp Arena

LEXINGTON, Ky. – After playing in the venue’s inaugural college basketball event this past season, Kentucky will return to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., to face the Providence Friars on Sunday, Dec. 1, 2013.
Tickets will go on sale to the general public Friday, April 19 at 10 a.m. ET. Tickets may be ordered online through Ticketmaster or by calling (800) 745-3000. Tickets are also available at the American Express Box Office at Barclays Center. Tickets will be available at a variety of price levels.

Visit the Barclays Center website for more information as the event nears. For further ticket information, please contact the UK Ticket Office at (859) 257-1818.
Additional ticket information for the 2013-14 men’s basketball season will be provided at a later date.

In addition to the 2013 game, Kentucky and Providence will play during the 2014-15 season in Rupp Arena on a date yet to be determined.
Kentucky won the lone meeting between the two schools in the 1976 season, a 79-78 win in the semifinals of the National Invitational Tournament.

The UK-Providence game in Brooklyn marks the second straight year the Wildcats will play in the Barclays Center. A multi-year deal between Kentucky and the Barclays Center was announced in March.

"We are excited to return to the Barclays Center next year to play Providence,” UK head coach John Calipari said. “Last year's game against Maryland was an NCAA Tournament environment in November. It's a great event, a great building and a great city. We're looking forward to being back in Brooklyn."

The Wildcats opened their 2012-13 season in the Barclays Center, posting a 72-69 win over the Maryland Terrapins.



Julius Randle, Dakari Johnson, Hawkins make it official




Official media release from the University of Kentucky...

Wildcats Add Three to 2013-14 Roster
Hawkins, Johnson and Randle join five previous additions from fall signing period


LEXINGTON, Ky. – Dominique Hawkins, Dakari Johnson and Julius Randle have officially signed to play basketball at the University of Kentucky beginning in the 2013-14 season, head coach John Calipari announced Thursday.

The trio joins fall signees Aaron Harrison, Andrew Harrison, Marcus Lee, Derek Willis and James Young to form the consensus top-ranked class in the nation.

“The thing I like most about this group is its competitive spirit and its will to win,” Calipari said. “These guys are All-Americans and award winners, but more importantly they’re world champions, national champions and state champions. They know what it takes to win. The size and talent of the group will allow us to have tough, hard-nosed practices which will carry over to the games. I’m excited for the opportunity to coach this group.”

Hawkins is an in-state player who hails from Richmond, Ky. The guard was named the 2013 Kentucky Mr. Basketball and is the 17th player in UK history to claim the honor. He directed Madison Central to the state championship and captured most valuable player honors after averaging 20.4 points, 5.6 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.8 steals per game throughout the Kentucky Boys Sweet Sixteen. Hawkins is rated as the No. 44 point guard by 247 Sports. Rivals and Scout rank him as a three-star player.

He joins Derek Willis as the two state-of-Kentucky signees. Both will take part in the Derby Festival Classic later this week.

“I kept hearing about Dominique from Marquis Estill and my good friend Dr. Robert Palmer,” Calipari said. “When I watched him play, lead his team, and play with a will to win and fight, I was totally sold. At the Sweet Sixteen, he made sure he got his teammates involved and was always happy with their success, but when it was time to take over the game – when it was winning time – everyone in the building knew they were going to play through Dominique, which they did, and they won. The last player who was named Kentucky Mr. Basketball and won a state title in the same year was Darius Miller. He went to two Final Fours, won a national title and is now playing in the NBA. My hope is Dominique will be on the same path.”
Johnson is a 6-foot-10 center from Brooklyn, N.Y. He played his senior season at Montverde Academy in Montverde, Fla. Johnson is rated as the No. 11 overall player by ESPN and the top player at his position. Rivals ranks him as the No. 9 overall player and Scout lists him at No. 18. Johnson led his high school squad to a national championship at the National High School Invitational where he claimed MVP honors after logging 18 points and eight rebounds.

Johnson was a McDonald’s All-American as well as a Jordan Brand Classic selection. He notched 12 points and five rebounds in the McDonald’s game, while pouring in eight points and snagging four rebounds at the Jordan Classic. In addition to his high school accolades, Johnson suited up for Team USA Basketball’s U17 squad in the summer of 2012 where he averaged 20 points and five boards a game for the world champions.

“Dakari’s improvement over the last year and a half has been phenomenal,” Calipari said. “His ability to be a true low-post threat adds an important piece to what our team will really need. He’s patient when he gets the ball on the block and has a great understanding for how to use his size for a kid his age. Dakari is a great student and a great kid. He’s won a high school championship, a world championship with Team USA, and he said he wants to win a national championship with us and an NBA championship. That statement says a lot about the type of winner he is.”
Randle is a 6-9 forward from Plano, Texas. He helped lead Prestonwood Christian Academy to three state titles including one his freshman year and back-to-back titles in junior and senior seasons. The nation’s consensus top power forward is ranked the No. 2 overall player by Rivals, the No. 3 overall player by ESPN and the No. 5 overall player by Scout.

The McDonald’s All-America selection posted 11 points and seven rebounds in the annual all-star game last week. He earned co-MVP honors of the Jordan Brand Classic game with 19 points and seven rebounds. Randle played in the FIBA tournament with Team USA’s U18 squad where he averaged 14.2 points and 6.6 rebounds per game. In his final three high school contests he poured in 34 or more points and 15 or more rebounds in each contest.

"Julius is another hard-working player who is a great student and person along with being a dominator on the court,” Calipari said. “He has that will to win that the players I’ve had who have become special have all had. That motor will be important to our success next year. Julius has the skill set to be an inside-outside guy for us. He has the ability to put it on the floor and beat guys off the dribble, but he’s also got the toughness, size and ability to score against bigger defenders. At the end of the day, he’s a true leader whose personal drive is off the charts.”
The class of 2013 joins returning players Willie Cauley-Stein, Alex Poythress and Kyle Wiltjer who combined for 949 points, 40 percent of UK’s offensive output in 2012-13. The trio also accounted for 515 rebounds or the equivalent to 41 percent of the team’s total rebounds.

The spring signing period runs from April 17 through May 15.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Rod Strickland leaving? Maybe not



Rumors have been swirling all day about Rod Strickland leaving Kentucky to take an assistant coaching position at his alma mater DePaul University.  So I decided to do a little digging into the matter and after discussing this with a member of Media Relations at the University of Kentucky I got this quote.

"We have no information on this subject"

So there's that. I'm not saying that everyone else is wrong because they have way better sources than I could imagine, but I can tell you that no one in the Media Relations Department at the University appears to know anything about Mr. Strickland taking any kind of position at any other university.

I'm sure we'll all find out something more concrete tomorrow, but for now, it looks like Rod Strickland isn't going anywhere, but time will tell.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Noel to enter NBA Draft as expected




I didn't have time to post this yesterday, but better late than never.

The press release from the University of Kentucky announcing Nerlens Noel's plans to enter the 2013 NBA Draft...


Noel to Enter NBA Draft
Freshman will forego sophomore season

LEXINGTON, Ky. – University of Kentucky freshman All-America selection Nerlens Noel will forego his sophomore season and enter his name in this year's NBA Draft.

“I have loved my time at Kentucky, but I feel that I’m ready to take the next step to the NBA,” Noel said. “I’ve learned so much here at UK and am thankful for Coach (John) Calipari, the staff and my teammates for all of their support. I especially appreciate the Big Blue Nation and all of the support, prayers and well-wishes I’ve received from them during my rehab and decision-making process. I’ll always be a Wildcat!”

Noel, an Everett, Mass., native, led the nation in blocks as he averaged 4.4 rejections per game and tallied 106 in 24 games played. Prior to his season-ending knee injury he was the only player standing taller than 6-foot-5 to rank in the top 30 in steals per outing as he had accumulated 50 steals on the year.

He averaged 10.5 points and 9.5 rebounds per game. His rebounds and blocked shots led the Southeastern Conference, while he also ranked among the top-10 players in steals per game, defensive rebounds per game, offensive rebounds per game and minutes played per game.

Noel finished the season ranked second in UK single-season history with 106 blocks. His 50 steals ranked as the fifth most in a single season by a freshman. His .590 field-goal percentage is the ninth-best mark in school history, while his steals per game (2.1) is the seventh-best mark in school history.

“I support Nerlens' decision to enter his name in the draft and am excited for him and his future,” Calipari said. “The hard work and will to win he showed on the floor this year and the dedication and attitude he has shown in his rehab will only be a reward for him and whatever team drafts him in June.”

The NBA Draft lottery is scheduled for Tuesday, May 21, and the 2013 NBA Draft will take place Thursday, June 27


Monday, April 15, 2013

This young UK fan is amazing




With all that has happened in Boston, this seemed like the perfect time to post this video.

A young, blind and handicapped Kentucky fan sang the National Anthem before a UK women's game this season. Click play and tell me this young CAT fan doesn't have an amazing talent.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Julius Randle vs. Huntington Prep coach



Apparently Huntington Prep head man and coach of the East Team in tonight's Jordan Brand Classic took on Kentucky bound Julius Randle in a friendly game of horse.

Looks like Rob wants a rematch

Kentucky dominates the Jordan Brand Classic roster



Another All-Star game, another chance for Kentucky fans to catch their entire roster for next season in action. It wasn't too long ago, that when an All-Star game came around, Kentucky fans had no reason to watch other than to further their jealousy of other schools ability to land the best of the best. But, since the arrival of John Calipari, the roles have reversed as other schools are forced to watch as Kentucky takes their pick of the top players in the country and everyone else is left to fight over who's remaining.


This season, Kentucky will have six participants in the Jordan Brand Classic...

1. Aaron Harrison
2. Andrew Harrison
3. Julius Randle 
4. Dakari Johnson
5. Marcus Lee
6. James Young

Then you add in the fact that the Cats are still in the mix to land Andrew Wiggins (Even though I never have and still DON'T think Kentucky is the likely destination for the best player in this class), who is also a participant in the Jordan Brand Classic and you can see why Kentucky fans will be paying very close attention to this years Jordan game.

Interesting side note, Andrew Wiggins will be on the East Team which just so happens to be the team that Andrew and Aaron Harrison and Julius Randle will be on, all of which will suit up for the Cats next season. The head coach for the East Team is Rob Fulford, Andrew Wiggins' high school coach at Huntington Prep in Huntington, WV.

So if you're a Kentucky fan, you may want to tune into ESPN2 tonight at 8pm and check out the guys who will be in Lexington, Ky this fall.

Monday, April 8, 2013

UPDATED NBA mock draft


Draft Express has updated their mock draft and despite missing the latter part of the season with an injury, Nerlens Noel sits atop the predicted draft board. You can't help but think that had Nerlens not gotten injured, Kentucky would have made the field of 68 for the NCAA Tournament instead of the NIT. But, it is what it is. 

This should also stop any kind of speculation about Noel returning for a sophomore season. Considering his injury and being projected #1 in the draft, he should definitely strike while the iron is hot. Why risk returning to college and suffering another injury?

Cornhuskers make dream come true




If you're a sports fan, then you no doubt have a favorite team. Be it baseball, basketball or football, we all have someone we root for. While obsessing over our teams season, we can easily forget that it's just a game and in the end, none of it really matters. But, every now and then something happens to make us realize that there's more to life than sports and that's what happened this past Saturday.

After developing a friendship with Huskers Running Back Rex Burkhead last season, Jack Hoffman a 7-year-old Nebraska fan who is battling brain cancer got the thrill of a lifetime during the Cornhuskers annual red/white spring game when he suited up for the team he loves. During the fourth quarter, Hoffman had his number called and didn't waste any time taking full advantage of the opportunity. After taking his spot on the field, Jack took a hand off in for a touchdown and was met by the team in the end zone and was lifted into the air in true Rudy fashion as he received a congratulatory tap on the helmet from the Cornhuskers head coach.

It's moments like these that make us realize that there's more to life than sports, but when the two intertwine they can create some truly awe inspiring moments.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

The season is over, now it's time for some down time



Well, Kentucky's season came to an end, an end no one expected to witness. Despite having the nations number one ranked recruiting class, all the Cats could muster was a first round exit in the NIT. The NIT wasn't what BBN wanted, but it's the hand we were dealt. The fact that Louisville is having what is arguably their best season in school history doesn't make it any easier to deal with. But, every dog has it's day, and now it appears to be Louisville's no matter how bad it will hurt to watch the Dirty Birds cut down the nets in Atlanta, you may as well make you piece with it because that will more than likely be the outcome.

One thing Cat fans have to look forward to is an incoming class of freshman that has been dubbed "the best recruiting class of all-time". Six McDonald's All-Americans (first time any school in history has had six in one class) and all of which is ranked in the top 18 players in the country. Are they the best class of all-time? On paper yes, but we will have to wait and see what these young men are able to accomplish once the season starts, but I can promise you one thing, you will not deal with the type of season you were forced to endure this year.

Next season has the potential to be one of the best in Kentucky basketball history and I for one am ready to get it started. But, for now the season is over and summer is fast approaching and that can only mean one thing for Big Blue Corner, DOWN TIME!

We use this time of year every season to take a break from posting on the blog to kick back, relax and enjoy some time off. We won't be gone all summer, if there's any news that we receive we will post it here as always, we just won't be posting every day like we do during the season. We aren't fortunate enough to have this be our job, we still have to go to work every day and then if there's time, we write on here for people to read and hopefully enjoy.

This has been one of the best seasons for the site and I only have the people who actually read it to thank. We have had the most traffic this website has ever seen and starting next year things seem to be getting even better. Last year we had a record of 800 unique visitors for one day, this year however we set a new record for one day at 25,000 and I can't thank you guys enough. I know 25,000 visitors isn't much, but for a site that is as small as this one, it's not bad to say the least.

I hope everyone has a fun and safe spring and summer and I look forward to getting started again in the fall.

Until then, check back periodically as we will post any type of news concerning Kentucky basketball as soon as we receive it.

Thanks for reading...

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The McDonald's All American Game or a Kentucky pick-up game?




Tonight at 9:30 on ESPN, you will get your first glimpse of what next years edition of the Kentucky Wildcats will look like when the 2013 McDonald's All American Game tips off.  This year's McDonald's game will have 6, count em, 6 future Wildcats on their rosters, more than any other school has had in one recruiting class in history and the scary part is Cal could potentially land another couple of players before he's done with this class. Now you're beginning to understand why Cat fans are so giddy about the start of next season, especially after the debacle that took place this year.


Here's who Kentucky fans will want to watch tonight, as if they didn't already know...


Dakari Johnson (13 overall)
James Young (#2 shooting guard, #10 overall)
Marcus Lee (#5 power forward, #18 overall)
Aaron Harrison (#1 shooting guard, #4 overall)
Andrew Harrison (#1 point guard, #5 overall)
Julius Randle (#1 Power Forward, #2 overall)

Not to leave anyone out, Kentucky also has Derek Willis, the #25 power forward coming in for next season as well. Derek held offers from Kentucky, Louisville, Indiana, Purdue, Oklahoma State and Xavier when he decided to pull the trigger for the Cats in January of 2012 giving them their first commitment of the 2013 class.

When you look at that list, it's impressive to say the least, especially for one class. But, when you look at what John Calipari has done since his arrival in Lexington four years ago, it's staggering.

Since 2009 Calipari has signed 16 McDonald's All Americans beginning with Demarcus Cousins who was among his first couple of commitments when he arrived at Kentucky. That's 16 in four years, to put things in prospective there have only been 13 All Americans sign with the Cats between 1992 and 2007 which covers three different coaching regimes, when you consider the fact that one of those coaches was Rick Pitino, one of the greatest college coaches of all time, it makes what Cal has accomplished look even more impressive. 

Calipari has been on a recruiting tear for four years and shows no sign of slowing down with him already having a commitment from the #1 ranked player in the class of 2014 in Karl Towns. When it comes to recruiting, no one ever has or ever will be able to compete with John Vincent Calipari.


So tune in tonight and watch your 2013/14 Kentucky Wildcats and see what you'll have to look forward to in a mere seven months





John Calipari Pro Camp dates




Men’s Basketball Announces 2013 John Calipari Prasco Pro Camps
Camps to take place in late July-August

LEXINGTON, Ky. – The University of Kentucky men’s basketball program is pleased to announce the dates and information for the 2013 John Calipari Prasco Pro Camps.

This summer’s Pro Camps will consist of two separate camps (Pro Camp I and Pro Camp II), with both camps offering two separate sessions each day, which are divided into different age groups.

The cost for each camp is $199 per camper and includes a camp T-shirt, two days of instruction, competitions, autograph session and camp team photo with featured Wildcat pros (to be announced at a later time). Pro Camp I and II will feature a different set of professional players to participate with campers. Pro Camp I and Pro Camp II will not feature the same players and all eventual pro players will not be at both camps.

In an effort to accommodate camper participation with all 2013 Wildcat pro players, we will offer a discount for signing up for both camps at the price of $350. Both camps will be held at the Joe Craft Center and Memorial Coliseum.

Pro Camp I – July 29-30 (Tuition – $199)
Morning session (8:30 a.m. – noon) – Open to grades K-5th – Check-in from 7 -8:30 a.m.
Afternoon session (1:30 p.m. – 5 p.m.) – Open to grades 6th-12th – Check-in from Noon-1:30 p.m.

Pro Camp II – July 31-August 1 (tuition – $199)
Morning session (8:30 a.m. – noon) -Open to grades K-5th – Check in from 7-8:30 a.m.
Afternoon session (1:30 p.m. – 5 p.m.)-Open to grades 6th-12th – Check in from Noon-1:30pm

Both Pro Camps I & II (discounted tuition – $350)
Individual campers who wish to participate in BOTH Pro Camps I and II can do so for the price of $350 per camper. The discounted price is ONLY available by selecting and registering for both desired camps during the same registration session online. You will be given the option to select the number of camps you would like to attend and the discount will be displayed at the end of your registration of both camps. Those who do not register for BOTH camps during the same registration session online are not eligible to receive the discounted price of $350. Those who wish to purchase admission to an additional Pro Camp following purchase of only ONE camp will have to pay the full $199 per camp.
Both John Calipari Pro Camps are open to both boys and girls of the appropriate age/grade level, which varies between sessions. Camper’s grade level is based on the grade in which the camper will enroll during the fall of 2013 school year.
All pre-registered campers will receive a confirmation email for their specific camp/session that includes details of necessary paper work needed (physical, insurance, and consent). To ensure the safety and participation of all campers, it is important that the basketball office receive all necessary paper work two weeks prior to the start of the specific camp date.
Due to the limited number of spots available for each Pro Camp, walk-up registration will NOT be available unless, noted on the UK Athletics website prior to the start of camp. Once each Pro Camp has reached its maximum capacity, that particular camp will be closed to all forms of registration (online and walk-ups).
Any camp related questions can be called into the men’s basketball camp line at 859-257-9457 or the men’s basketball office at 859-257-1916.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Demarcus Cousins goes one on one with Lil' Chuck Hayes



After a Sacramento Kings practice, Demarcus Cousins helped former Wildcat Chuck Hayes' son work on his game. If you're a Kentucky fan you know how good Demarcus was with kids while in Lexington and it looks like that hasn't changed since his departure.

It's always nice to see this side of Cousins since all the media ever reports is the negative.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Stein and Wiltjer to return, Goodwin to enter draft



Cauley-Stein and Wiltjer to Return; Goodwin to Enter NBA Draft
Goodwin has not signed with an agent

http://www.ukathletics.com/sports/m-baskbl/spec-rel/040113aaa.html

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Willie Cauley-Stein and Kyle Wiltjer will return to the Kentucky men’s basketball program for the 2013-14 season, while Archie Goodwin will forego his sophomore season and enter his name in the 2013 NBA Draft, head coach John Calipari announced Monday.
“I’m excited that Willie and Kyle have decided to return for next season,” Calipari said. “When we talk about a players-first program, our goal is for each player to reach his dreams. Willie and Kyle believe it is in their best interest to return to Kentucky next season to achieve those dreams, and I fully support their decisions.
“Although I really wanted Archie to return for his sophomore season, I fully support him choosing to pursue his dreams. He has the drive and desire to be great and I will continue to do everything I can to make sure he succeeds in life both on and off the court.
“I believe, with another year of hard work and competition, they all can take their games to the next level. I look forward to seeing them all grow into young men.”
Cauley-Stein earned All-Southeastern Conference Freshman team accolades following his first season in the Blue and White. As a freshman, Cauley-Stein notched 8.3 points and 6.3 rebounds per outing in 2012-13. He totaled 59 blocks on the year, which ranks as the seventh most by a first-year player in program history. He secured four double-double efforts on the year and totaled a career-high 20-point effort in a win over Vanderbilt.
“I’m looking forward to continuing to develop as an all-around player," Cauley-Stein said. "I’m also excited for the opportunity to try and win a national championship.”
Wiltjer will enter his junior season after earning SEC Sixth Man of the Year accolades during the 2012-13 year. In his sophomore campaign, the 6-foot-10 forward averaged 10.4 points and 4.3 rebounds per game. He has sunk 90 3-pointers in his career, which ranks No. 26 on UK’s all-time career 3-point made list.
“I’m so excited about the possibilities of next season,” Wiltjer said. “I love Coach Cal and the staff, the University of Kentucky and the Big Blue Nation. After talking with Coach and the staff, I understand what I need to do. I want to be a part of another championship. This summer I’m going to work the hardest I’ve ever worked to come back next season better and stronger to help my team fight for number nine.”

Goodwin was the team’s leading scorer with a 14.0 scoring average en route to Freshman All-SEC honors. The Little Rock, Ark., native posted 25 double-figure scoring games and had five outings with 20 or more points. He ranked second on the team in assists (87) and steals (35). His 448 points scored in his first season ranks as the 10th best mark for a freshman in UK history.
"This is something I've dreamed about my entire life and I feel like the opportunity is there for me to play at the next level," Goodwin said. "I will stay in Lexington to finish my schoolwork this semester before continuing to pursue my dream. I've loved my time at UK and want to thank Coach Cal, the staff and my teammates for helping me get where I am. I especially want to thank the Big Blue Nation for all their support."
Goodwin has not signed with an agent. The NBA Draft is June 27.

Additional announcements regarding remaining players will be announced at a later date.