EJ Montgomery “Really Wants to Go” as Countdown Continues

At the moment that this article was written, there are slightly more than 26 hours until EJ Montgomery has to ultimately decide whether to keep his name in the NBA Draft or return to Kentucky for a sophomore season.

Outside of Montgomery’s announcement to test the NBA waters, Montgomery and his camp have been very silent since the end of the season. However, a very credible source has told KY Insider, “[Montgomery] really wants to go, and this could be ‘Hamidou Diallo’ type decision that comes down to the wire”.

The source also went on to say, “[Montgomery] is leaning towards leaving and is looking for a guaranteed contract from an NBA team upon his selection.”

This situation sounds eerily similar to Jarred Vanderbilt’s last season, and he ultimately was drafted to the Denver Nuggets with the 41st pick and given a three year contract. However, there is no guarantee yet and “hoping” to be selected in the second round is a big gamble.

In what could be Montgomery’s lone year as a Wildcat, he went on to average 3.8 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 1 block.

If Montgomery were to stay he would be a centerpiece of a Final Four caliber Kentucky Wildcat team, and if he were to stay in the draft, Calipari and the coaching stuff will need to find a capable big via reclassification or graduate transfer.

One way or the other, Big Blue Nation will know a decision by 12 am E.T. on Wednesday.

NCAA Looking to Adjust Rules: Could Allow Athletes to Profit off Name, Image, and Likeness

The NCAA is not the most popular organization, and the majority of that blame is their own. However, the NCAA finally looks like to be exploring what I believe would be a positive change, changing the amateurism model.

The NCAA appointed a “working group” to examine issues related to student-athlete name, image, and likeness.

“This group will bring together diverse opinions from the membership — from presidents and commissioners to student-athletes — that will examine the NCAA’s position on name, image, and likeness benefits and potentially propose rule modifications tethered to education. We believe the time is right for these discussions and look forward to a thorough assessment of the many complexities involved in this area.”

The release also went on to say, “the group will not consider any concepts that could be construed as payment for participation in college sports.”

Any sensible human being understands that players like PJ Washington and Zion Williamson are worth far more than a college scholarship, and when they are bringing in MILLIONS of dollars to their respective schools they should be looked in much higher regard than being “amateurs”.

In 2017, the NCAA cleared a revenue of $1.045 billion from media rights fees, ticket sales, corporate sponsorships, and most importantly March Madness (accounts for nearly 90% of NCAA total revenue). How much of that did the athletes performing receive? Zero.

If the “working group” is able to find some sort of way to compensate athletes this would make college more appealing to high school recruits when the “one-and-done” rule changes, could allow athletes to profit off of apparel and autographs, and could even bring back two very memorable video game titles; NCAA Basketball and NCAA Football.

For the sake of college sports and college sports video games, I hope the “NCAA Board of Governors Federal and State Legislation Working Group” is able to find a compromisable way to compensate athletes for their efforts.

Read the rest of the NCAA’s release here.

BBNBA Playoff Update

The NBA Conference Finals are here! Don’t forget to get your champagne and cigars out, as for the first time in probably a long time or forever, a former Kentucky player is guaranteed to win an NBA championship as the four remaining teams all have at least one Kentucky alumnus.

  • Golden State Warriors: C Demarcus Cousins
  • Portland Trailblazers: C Enes Kanter, PF Skal Labissiere
  • Milwaukee Bucks: PG Eric Bledsoe
  • Toronto Raptors: SG Jodie Meeks

Thirteen former Kentucky Wildcats on seven different teams entered the NBA playoffs, only five remain. However, that’s not to say we haven’t seen some amazing moments from Cats that were sent packing.

Jamal Murray

Despite the Denver Nuggets’ early second round exit, we got to see and experience “Finger Licking Playoff” Jamal Murray and his continuing emergence into an NBA star

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander joined Jamal Murray as the best “Cantuckian” players in the playoffs, and as a rookie, showed the NBA he is more than capable of holding his own against the league’s best on the biggest stage.

Eric Bledsoe

Among the Wildcats still remaining in the NBA Playoffs, Eric Bledsoe has undoubtedly been the most impressive.

Bledsoe is currently averaging 16 points, 4.3 assists, and 1.2 steals (all playoff career highs) and with the help of Giannis Antetokounmpo, has led the Milwaukee Bucks to their first Conference Finals appearance since 2001.

Enes Kanter

While Enes Kanter was never able to actually play during his time at Kentucky, no one will forget his “UnderKanter” entrance at Big Blue Madness. Kanter is truly a Wildcat at heart and still considers himself a Wildcat.

Kanter is currently showing what an athlete’s heart should look like as he continues to play with a separated left shoulder.

Not to mention his trolling of fellow Wildcat, Jamal Murray, after defeating the Nuggets in their second round 7-game battle.

Simply put, this has been a successful NBA Playoffs for some former Kentucky Wildcats. Regardless of who you are rooting for (NOT Golden State), rest assured knowing that at least one Wildcat will be hoisting the Larry O’Brien Trophy and receiving a nice piece of jewelry come June.

Does Wikipedia Know Something that Big Blue Nation Doesn’t?

Either Wikipedia or a joking fan (most likely) is trying to tell the Big Blue Nation something. That something, 2019 five-star, Jaden McDaniels, is a Kentucky Wildcat.

Wikipedia is well known for its ability to allow users to change information, which is most likely the case here. Nonetheless, Kentucky is widely considered the favorite to the land the 6-9, 185 pound, forward amongst recruiting insiders.

Recruiting guru, Evan Daniels, notably made his prediction for Kentucky as the Wildcats lead the Crystal Ball rankings at 85%.

Sources have reported that McDaniels hopes to decide within the next two weeks. Hopefully soon, Jaden McDaniels will accurately be a part of the Kentucky Wildcats and their Wikipedia page.

Are Jaden Mcdaniels and RJ Hampton Dropping Hints on Social Media?

Jaden McDaniels and RJ Hampton are the two highest ranked recruits of the 2019 class yet to make their college decision, and both have Kentucky as one of their finalists.

Social media has become an emerging tool for recruits to use to get exposure, recruit other recruits to team up, and speak to current and former players. Now, while it is important not to over analyze things, recruits often send subtle hints with their social media activity. Let’s take a closer look at McDaniels’ and Hampton’s activity.

Jaden McDaniels

Jaden McDaniels and his camp have been very quiet during the recruiting process. Many believed due to the quietness, McDanels preferred to stay close to home and would attend Washington. However, many believe that is now a two horse race between Kentucky and Washington, with the Wildcats now being the favorite.

Sources have reported that McDaniels hopes to make a decision in the next two weeks, and more Kentucky talk has emerged including the Wildcats taking over McDaniels 24/7 Crystal Ball prediction with 85%, including a pick from recruiting guru, Evan Daniels.

In the past week, McDaniels has followed other Kentucky commits Dontaie Allen and Khalil Whitney, and already follows Tyrese Maxey,

McDaniels also follows the official Kentucky men’s basketball account and notable Kentucky alumni John Wall, Demarcus Cousins, Tyler Ulis, De’Aron Fox, Bam Adebayo, and Malik Monk amongst many others.

As for Washington, McDaniels follows very few Washington related accounts including alumnus Isaiah Thomas, transfer and former Wildcat Quade Green, and current players Nahziah Carter and Noah Neubauer.

RJ Hampton

RJ Hampton was originally a part of the 2020 recruiting class, but after reclassifying in late April, Hampton has become a top-5 recruit in this year’s upcoming class.

Hampton’s final list consists of Kentucky, Kansas, Memphis, and Texas Tech. Many believe that Kentucky had the best shot to land Hampton if he had stayed in the 2020 class due to Kentucky’s loaded frontcourt next season. However, Kentucky is still in the mix, and Hampton’s final decision will likely come down to Kentucky, Kansas, and Memphis.

Hampton notably replied to Barstool Kansas on Twitter this past weekend.

Also, Hampton has liked several comments from several incoming, current, and former players from Kentucky (Jarred Vanderbilt & Johnny Juzang), Kansas (Devon Dotson), and Memphis (James Wiseman & Lester Quinones).

Hampton’s brother Ry, only follows one player with any connections to RJ’s final list, Kentucky commit Tyrese Maxey.

Like I previously said, it is important not to put too much stock in things regarding social media, however, it does give us a closer insight and confirms what many already believe; that Kentucky is the favorite for Jaden McDaniels and it’s a three horse race for RJ Hampton.

WAKE UP This Morning to a New Kentucky Basketball Hype Video

Basketball season came to a close over a month ago, and while the Cats fell a basket short to reaching a Final Four, it was still a successful season that included an Elite Eight trip, 30 wins, and wins over: North Carolina, Louisville, Kansas, and Tennessee.

Wake up to this new hype video, that will definitely make you feel the best moments of this past season and will get your blood pumping for next season with the No. 1 recruiting class! Go Cats!

Even in a Rebuilding Season, Kentucky Baseball Is Not the Most Flawed Team in the State

Following a season where Kentucky had 13 players selected in MLB Draft, the Wildcats are in rebuilding mode. Even in a down season, Kentucky Baseball is not the most dysfunctional team in the state, that title may belong to Western Kentucky this season.

On Friday night, at Ruston High School (LA), where Louisana Tech has been forced to play following an EF-3 tornado, the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers and Louisiana Tech Bulldogs matched up for the first game of a weekend series.

Louisana Tech outfielder, Steele Netterville, struck out swinging with bases loaded that secured 5-4 victory for the Hilltoppers, but on his backswing, he appeared to had made accidental contact with WKU catcher, Collin Hopkins’ outstretched arm. 

While Western Kentucky is not at the level of the University of Louisville in athletics nor scandals, they have done their fair share to deserve their mockery.

WKU baseball head coach, John Pawlowski, would be great friends with Billy Gillespie with his DUI charge, and the WKU basketball program had five suspensions just this past season.

Don’t forget, in Kentucky’s two matchups against the Hilltoppers this season, they have handled them fairly easily with 15-0 and 15-4 wins.

Johnny “Bucket” Juzang Commits to Kentucky

After a hot and heavy month of Kentucky recruiting four-star scoring wing, Johnny Juzang, Juzang finally made the decision to become a Kentucky Wildcat via instagram.

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This is far from a surprise if you look at the timing of events, as he has received a visit from Coach Cal and Joel Justus, received an offer from Kentucky, reclassified to the 2019 class, and took an official visit all within a three week window.

Juzang is Kentucky’s fifth commitment thus far for the 2019 class joining Tyrese Maxey, Khalil Whitney, Keion Brooks Jr., and Dontaie Allen.

As a junior, Juzang averaged 22.8 points, 9.5 rebounds, and 2.8 assists on 43% FG and 35% from three. Juzang’s shooting and offensive production will be a welcome sight to next year’s Wildcat team, which currently lacks shooting.

Juzang’s commitment jumped Kentucky’s recruiting class ranking to No. 2, and could improve even more as two top-10 recruits, RJ Hampton and Jaden McDaniels, and graduate transfer, Kerry Blackshear Jr, are nearing their decisions.

Scouting Report: Just like Tyler Herro, Juzang is a natural born “bucket”. Juzang can score inside and out and everywhere in between using quick release jumpers, floaters, and scoop shots to score in the lane. Juzang also plays well off the ball and excels in catch and shoot situations. Juzang does lack athleticism and handling.

NBA Comparison: Dillon Brooks

KY Insider: Basketball Recruiting Update

The 2019 class is nearly complete, however, Kentucky’s recruiting class could look much different as soon as the end of May. Kentucky is on three of the highest ranked recruits remaining including top-10 recruits Jaden McDaniels and RJ Hampton, and four star scoring wing Johnny Juzang. Let’s take a look at the latest developments!

Jaden McDaniels

Jaden McDaniels has one of the highest upsides and is one of the most offensively talented players in the 2019 class. Ranked as the overall No.8 recruit in the 2019 class, McDaniels is one of two players in the top 10 not to make a decision.

Two weeks ago McDaniels was considered to be a near lock to stay out west and choose Washington or San Diego State, but things have changed quickly and rumors have it that Kentucky is now the favorite.

McDaniels and his camp have have been very quiet regarding his recruitment, and with more rumors and information coming out it appears that McDaniels is nearing his decision.

Recruiting guru, Evan Daniels, logged his prediction for the Wildcats on Wednesday and gives me more confidence that McDaniels will be a Wildcat next year.

Early in his recruitment, McDaniels called Kentucky his “dream school” and is chooses to come to Lexington he would be Kentucky’s highest ranked commit since De’Aron Fox.

Johnny Juzang

Kentucky’s recruitment of Johnny Juzang has been hot and heavy over the past month and is now set to make a decision.

On April 19th, Juzang received a scholarship offer following a visit from John Calipari and Joel Justus. On April 29th, Juzang took an official visit to Lexington and sources say it went “great”. Based off of the timing of events and a prediction from Evan Daniels, Kentucky seams to be the heavy favorite.

At 6-6, 200 pounds, Juzang is a four star wing that can straight up score and has previously been called a “bucket” (sounds pretty familiar). Juzang’s scoring and shooting ability would be a welcome sight as that appears to be a weakness of next years team.

RJ Hampton

After making the decision to reclassify to the 2019 class, RJ Hampton is the highest ranked recruit yet to decide and Kentucky is trending up for the 6-5 point guard as he plans to make a decision at the end of the month.

This allows Hampton to see who returns and who leaves as he makes his final decision.

In recruiting insider,Corey Evans’ weekly Q&A, he said that Kentucky has “picked up some ground.”

Kentucky has picked up some ground in recent weeks. I still believe that Kansas will be where Hampton plays his lone year of college, as the numbers in the backcourt hurt UK some, but the Wildcats’ recent pitch and the platform that they can provide has piqued Hampton’s interest. 

It’s hard to see Hampton joining Kentucky’s loaded backcourt next season, but maybe he enjoys the competition. In the end, I expect Hampton to choose Kansas or Memphis where he would undoubtedly be the star guard.

If the Cats are able to secure two of the three players, they would seal the No.1 recruiting class for the first time since 2015, and would most likely set themselves up to be the most dominant team in college basketball alongside Michigan State.

CBS Sports says, “Replacing Benny Snell is tough, but do-able”

Kentucky football is coming off their best season in over 40 years, which included 10 wins and Citrus Bowl victory.

Big Blue Nation should not expect the Wildcats to easily repeat such a historic season, but coach Mark Stoops has now created the expectation of winning 7-8 games consistently.

Even with losing so much talent, CBS Sports says it is “do-able”

Replacing Benny Snell is tough, but do-able: Kentucky’s offense was missing in action quite a bit last year despite the presence of Snell. With star linebacker Josh Allen also gone, the 2019 season might be one that relies a little more on the offense. It looks like bridging that gap and becoming more explosive is at least a possibility. A.J. Rose and Kavosiey Smoke each looked strong in the spring game, and could team up to replace Snell’s production. Couple that with Terry Wilson being more comfortable taking the snaps, and there’s at least a shot at a more explosive offense.

Last season, the Wildcats were anchored by their elite defense but there was no shortage of roster turnover including one of the greatest defensive players in program history, Josh Allen, and nearly the entire secondary. This season, the Wildcats will need to produce on the offensive end, rather than relying on the defense to get stops.

Benny Snell has moved on to the Pittsburgh Steelers and Under Armour endorsement contracts but leaves behind a successful blueprint for AJ Rose, Kavosiey Smoke, and Chris Rodriguez. All of which, have shined and shown some promise up to this point.

I hope to see a much more confident offense and more of Eddie Gran’s offensive creativity this fall!

(CBS Sports)