Could Kentucky Have 4 Top-10 Picks in the 2021 NBA Draft?

On Monday, Draft Express released its first 2021 NBA Mock Draft on ESPN, and it is looking for Coach Cal and company.

While unlikely, there is a possibility that Kentucky could have another record-setting performance at the 2021 NBA Draft and have four top-10 picks.

The list already includes Kentucky commits Terrence Clarke and B.J. Boston, and Cats are in great position to land fellow five-star recruits Cade Cunningham and Greg Brown.

The 2020 NBA Draft has yet to occur, so let’s not get far ahead of ourselves and get our hopes up.

However, this is a very promising sign.

FYI, UK players Kahlil Whitney (No. 12), Tyrese Maxey (No. 14), and Ashton Hagans (No. 30) are all projected in ESPN’s latest mock 2020 NBA Draft.

Calipari Gives Ashton Hagans High Praise, Calls Him Best Defensive Guard he has Ever Coached

John Wall. Derrick Rose. Tyler Ulis. De’Aaron Fox.

Calipari has had no shortage of elite point guards in his coaching career, but on Wednesday, Cal noted that none of them were as good defensively as Ashton Hagans.

Hagans is the returning SEC Defensive Player of the Year and was named the “toughest to score on” during SEC Media Day.

However, we know that Cal likes to talk up his team a bit so let’s do a quick fact check and see how he compares to other elite guards in Cal’s coaching career

Ashton Hagans

Defensive Stats: 1.6 steals, 0.1 blocks, 97.5 Defensive Rating, 1.9 Defensive Win Shares, 3.7 Defensive Plus/Minus
Defensive Accolades: SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Year, SEC All-Defensive Team

Dajuan Wagner, 2001-02

Defensive Stats: 1.2 steals, 0.6 blocks, 2.4 Defensive Win Shares
Defensive Accolades: N/A

Derrick Rose, 2007-08

Defensive Stats: 1.2 steals, 0.4 blocks 3.8 Defensive Win Shares
Defensive Accolades: N/A

John Wall, 2009-10

Defensive Stats: 1.8 steals, 0.5 blocks, 94.1 Defensive Rating, 2.6 Defensive Win Shares
Defensive Accolades: N/A

Brandon Knight, 2010-11

Defensive Stats: 0.7 steals, 0.2 blocks, 101.5 Defensive Rating, 1.8 Defensive Win Shares, 0.5 Defensive Plus/Minus
Defensive Accolades: N/A

Tyler Ulis, 2014-16

Defensive Stats: 1.2 steals, 0.1 blocks, 98.3 Defensive Rating, 3.8 Defensive Win Shares, 2.1 Defensive Plus/Minus
Defensive Accolades: SEC Defensive Player of the Year, SEC All-Defensive Team
*Averaged both seasons

De’Aaron Fox, 2016-17

Defensive Stats: 1.5 steals, 0.2 blocks, 96.9 Defensive Rating, 2.1 Defensive Win Shares, 3.7 Defensive Plus/Minus
Defensive Accolades: N/A

Shai Gilgeous Alexander, 2017-2018

Defensive Stats: 1.6 steals, 0.5 blocks, 101.8 Defensive Rating, 1.9 Defensive Win Shares, 3.6 Defensive Plus/Minus
Defensive Accolades: N/A

While Hagans may not have overwhelmingly better stats compared to the players on this list, he is only one of two to be named Conference Defensive Player of the Year and that says something.

The Good, the Bad, the Worst: How this Football Season Could End for Kentucky?

This Kentucky football season has been a roller coaster. After a very disappointing start to the season, Kentucky got back on its feet with a big win against Arkansas last Saturday. More importantly, us fans were given some hope after seeing what Lynn Bowden could do at quarterback.

With only six games left in the season, and Lynn Bowden and Sawyer Smith both taking first-string snaps in practice, we don’t really know how this season is going to play out. So, here is the best, bad, and worst ways this season could end for Kentucky.

Good

No, this does not include beating Georgia. I’m sorry, but I don’t think there’s a chance in hell Kentucky leaves Athens with a win.

Kentucky goes to Georgia and puts on a good performance with Lynn Bowden at the helm, but the Bulldogs are just bigger, stronger, faster at every position possible and the Cats lose.

You have Missouri, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, UT Martin, and Louisville left on the schedule after that. You get Sawyer Smith back at 100%, go 4-0 to end the season, finish 8-4, and everyone is happy.

Most importantly, you keep the entire recruiting class together.

Bad

The Cats go down to Athens and get crushed with Lynn Bowden at QB. Bowden gets replaced by Sawyer Smith in the second half and the “Lynn Bowden starting QB” era is over quickly.

Sawyer Smith isn’t quite the same as we saw in the first half against Florida, but Kentucky puts some of the pieces back together, goes 6-6, and makes a bowl game. Not disastrous, but not good.

You also probably lose some of the recruiting class, which isn’t good either.

Worst

This is what would be featured in the nightmares of the BBN.

UK gets shutout by Georgia and can’t do anything. Lynn Bowden plays bad, get benched for Sawyer Smith, and the offense still looks bad and Smith still doesn’t look healthy.

Sawyer Smith vs. Lynn Bowden continues, Smith still doesn’t look healthy, and Bowden gets the job because Smith can’t go. Things improve a little, but not by much.

Kentucky never gets the pieces back together, and the only win they get coming down the home stretch is a miserable win over UT Martin.

Cats go 4-8 after a 10-3 season, the recruiting class is gone, and I don’t really want to think about this anymore, so I am stopping here.

John Calipari is against expanding the NBA Draft

In the summer of 2018, Adam Silver, the commissioner of the NBA, said that the NBA was in “preliminary talks” about expanding the NBA Draft to more than two rounds.

“We’ve thought about it. We’ve had very, very preliminary discussions with the Players Association.” Silver said.

This plan would likely be aimed at the NBA’s goal of having a 30-team developmental league some time in the near future. Which, if you’re a college basketball fan, should be scary.

The NBA’s plan is to bring back the rule where players can declare for the Draft out of high school which is expected to happen some time in 2022.

Today, at SEC Media Days, John Calipari opened up on the idea of the NBA expanding the NBA Draft.

“First of all, I think kids should be able to go to the NBA from high school. In the last 10 years I’ve had the best players. Of all of those players, only a handful could’ve gone directly to the league and succeeded.” Calipari said.

“So that tells you about seven to eight guys a year could go directly to the NBA and have a direct impact. Second thing I would tell you is if they aren’t going to the NBA, if they’re young people, we should encourage them to go to college. The reason is, their way out is through education. Their way to breakthrough to the American dream is through education. If you support more rounds in the NBA Draft, those more rounds are to get kids to go to the G-League. If you support that, you either don’t care about college basketball or you’re trying to ruin college basketball.”

In reading this, I think Cal is absolutely right. Derek Willis has given his honest opinion on the G-League. It sucks. Right now, college basketball is the path to prepare for the NBA. If players aren’t good enough, they can get their education. With this plan, the players that usually stay multiple years in college, may go to the NBA Draft and end up in the G-League. If they can’t go to the NBA after a couple of years, they will be left out to dry with nothing.

I do find it funny though that Cal will do a two minute monologue on this issue, which isn’t new. But, he will not open up on the new California Bill, which is huge news in the sports world, and he acts like he doesn’t even know what it is.

Tyler “Bucket” Herro Continues Hot Stretch with 15 Straight Points

Since becoming the 13th pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, Tyler Herro has put the NBA on notice with his impressive play.

Herro’s most recent performance might be his most impressive yet and here is a live look of Herro at the moment 🐐

In just five minutes, Herro recorded 15 points, going a perfect 5-5 from the field.

Herro’s play has created plenty of Rookie of the Year talk, but regardless, Herro is looking like one of the best steals in last year’s draft.

Looking back at Lynn Bowden’s Electric Performance on Saturday

After two terrible losses, Kentucky’s football season was on the brink of disaster. With basketball just around the corner, most fans were ready to check out. Saturday night was a big night. Kentucky played Arkansas in a must-win game while honoring the late Jared Lorenzen.

It was obvious Sawyer Smith was not close to 100% two weeks ago against South Carolina, leaving most fans furious. Stoops in his post-game presser said that they shouldn’t have left him in. So, Walker Wood or Lynn Bowden?

There was a lot of whispering around the program for the past week that Lynn Bowden was going to be the starter. We all were left on the edge of our seats, wondering what the offense would look like with a play-maker like Bowden back there.

Well, he didn’t disappoint.

Kentucky went down 13-0 early, and most fans, including myself, were ready to be done with the year. I mean, if you lose to an SEC team who hasn’t won a conference game in two. years, things aren’t going well.

Bowden marched the Cats down the field, eventually running for a three yard touchdown, and they were only down 13-7 at the half.

After a Matt Ruffolo 50-yard field goal, Bowden marched Kentucky down the field once again, and threw a beautiful ten yard pass to Clevan Thomas for another touchdown. Making the score 17-13.

Kentucky’s defense struggled the whole game, but came up with two big sacks. At the beginning of the fourth quarter, Quinton Bohanna got a huge sack and forced the Razorbacks to punt.

Lynn Bowden once again went to work, and eventually turned a busted play into a 24 yard run for a touchdown. Lynn Bowden doing Lynn Bowden things. This gave the Cats the lead 24-20.

Arkansas needed a touchdown, and they didn’t get one. The Razorbacks had a 3rd & 8 on UK’s 15 yard-line. Calvin Taylor came up with a huge sack that gave Arkansas a 4th and 15 on UK’s 22 yard-line. Calvin Taylor made a big play once again, batting down the pass from Ben Hicks at the line of scrimmage. Turnover on downs.

Kentucky still needed to run out the clock though, and they did just that. Lynn Bowden ran for 51 yards, which was the ultimate dagger, and for 15 yards to seal the game. Cats win 24-20.

“It’s very special, all the film they showed us throughout the week, I feel sorry for his family. He was a great guy, he was a legend here. I don’t want to talk about it, I might start tearing up. Too many cameras.” Bowden said after the game.

Bowden finished with 7/11 passing for 78 yards, a TD, and 196 yards rushing for two TD’s.

What made the night even more special was that UK honored Jared Lorenzen. Fans, teammates, and coaches were there. A highlight video was played before the game. And, instead of a moment of silence, they had 22 seconds of noise.

Oh, and one more thing. Get the tissues ready.

Image

What a night it was. Kentucky travels to Athens next weekend to face the Georgia Bulldogs. Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. EST on ESPN.

John Calipari has “Supported Players Being Paid for their Likeness” for Years

The newest California Fair Pay to Play Act was signed by California Governor Gavin Newsom on Sept. 30, and has sparked conversation in the college sports world, with several big names giving their opinions about it. Yesterday, Mike Krzyzewski came out in favor of the new law.

At Kentucky Basketball Media Day, when asked about the new law, John Calipari didn’t go into any detail about it. He even claimed that he knew nothing about the law and needed some time to learn about it. But, who’s believing that?

This morning, Matt Jones of Kentucky Sports Radio, interviewed Coach Cal and asked him specifically about his thoughts on the bill.

“I’ve been talking about this for a long time. Let’s understand this, kids should be able to go to the NBA out of high school. I’ve coached the best players over the past ten years. About five-to-six could’ve left out of high school and would’ve done fine. Every year you have five-to-six that can go from high school to the NBA.” Calipari said.

“The big question is how are we going to make these other kids go to college?” Calipari said. “Don’t diminish education. It’s their only hope. We have the highest graduation rate in the history of (College Basketball). We have the highest African American graduation rate in the history of our sport. If you want all of these kids to go to the NBA, you’re ruining the game.” Calipari said.

“I’ve been talking about this for 8-10 years, right? If everyone back then supported it, probably would’ve happened. But since it was only me, everyone was against it – I wore the black hat. This thing has moved slow because we move slow. With that being said, since it was passed who has come out with one? Florida – I hope we come out with one.”

“I think where this is going, I think it’s going to have to be settled in Congress, because whatever the NCAA does, won’t be enough.”

In classic John Calipari fashion, he’s asked about a huge topic, he talks for forever, and doesn’t answer the question. But, he took plenty of shots, most aimed at Duke.

He also took a shot a Rick Pitino:

“When I got my banners vacated, everyone laughed. Then a title gets vacated and there’s outrage.”

I think it’s safe to say Cal supports it, even though he won’t say it openly.

Kentucky is No Longer in the Running for Isaiah Todd

We all woke up to some bad news in the recruiting world this morning.

Isaiah Todd, a five-star power-forward in the 2020 class, cut his list to two schools, and Kentucky isn’t one of them.

The two schools Todd listed were Kansas and Michigan, in a Avengers themed post on Instagram:

Kentucky was seen as a heavy favorite for a long time, and there were rumors that Todd might even reclassify to the 2019 class. He ultimately decided to stay in the 2020 class and took several visits to North Carolina, Kansas, and Michigan.

Over the past few weeks, there were rumors that Kentucky had taken themselves out of the race completely.

This morning, in the comments of the Instagram post above, Todd claimed UK “wouldn’t let” him take an official visit to Lexington.

There are a lot of potential reasons as to why Todd wasn’t allowed to make a visit, but who knows.

The recruiting world is wild, and this proves that point even more.

How has Kentucky Fared After Bye-Weeks in Recent Years?

After the two debacles we have witnessed the last two Saturday’s, I think we can all agree that we as fans need a break.

The big question that surrounds the football program right now is who is starting at QB?

Now, that question isn’t one that you want to have five games into a season after going 10-3. But, after Terry Wilson’s season-ending injury and Sawyer Smith’s struggles, that’s where we stand.

Sawyer Smith may or may not play due to his injuries. But, the one thing Kentucky has going for them right now is they have a week-off to get it all figured out.

Kentucky needs to beat Arkansas to keep the hopes of making a bowl game alive. With that, let’s look at how Kentucky has faired in games coming off a bye-week.

2013

Loss to #20 Florida: 24-7

Loss to Mississippi State: 28-22

Yeah, we can forget about this year.

2014

Win against Vanderbilt: 17-7

Loss to #24 Louisville: 44-40

If you remember, that Vandy win came two weeks after the Cats got screwed in Gainesville with the game-clock going to zero. Kentucky has struggled in the past with games following heart-breaking defeats.

The loss to Louisville was a game Kentucky wasn’t expected to be in. The Cats started that year 5-1 and ended 5-7. One of two mid-season slides.

2015

Loss to Auburn: 30-27

The Cats only got one bye-week in 2015. However, the hype was real as Kentucky got a shot at Auburn under the lights of Kroger Field on a Thursday night. Unfortunately, the Cats took a heart-breaking L to the Tigers. After starting 4-1, Kentucky would go 1-7 in their last eight games to finish the season 5-7.

2016

Win against Mississippi State: 41-38

Loss to Georgia Tech: 33-18

After a terrible start to the year, Kentucky got back on its feet with wins against New Mexico State, South Carolina, and Vanderbilt. A loss to #1 Alabama was followed by a win against Vandy, making the Cats 3-3 going into a bye-week. The game that followed was one for the ages. Austin MacGinnis’ game-winning FG gave the Cats a 4-3 record and kept their bowl hopes alive.

They made the TaxSlayer bowl and got smacked by Georgia Tech, 33-18, in Jacksonville, Florida.

2017

Loss to Mississippi State: 45-7

Loss to Northwestern: 24-23

After Kentucky got off to its second 5-1 start in the Mark Stoops era, the Cats went into the bye-week. They then travelled to Starkville to play Mississippi State, with a chance to start 6-1. Well, the Cats got crushed, 45-7.

Kentucky would go on to make the Music City bowl in Nashville, Tennessee, after going 7-5, ending the regular season with an embarrassing loss at home to Louisville. An early Benny Snell ejection put Kentucky in a hole early. A banged up Stephen Johnson and Kentucky fought back, but lost 24-23.

2018

Win against Vanderbilt: 14-7

Win against #13 Penn State: 27-24

I will never forget last season. The Cats had a chance to start 6-0, but travelled to College Station, played terrible, and lost. A bye-week followed with a very important Vanderbilt game, one they had to win. It was ugly, but it was a 14-7 win.

Kentucky finished the season 9-3 and kicked Louisville’s ass at Cardinal Stadium to cap it off. A game that I was at and was literally fearing for my life.

Anyway, Kentucky went on to face #13 Penn State in the Citrus Bowl. It was quietly a crazy game. Mark Stoops and James Franklin didn’t like each other, Benny Snell set the rushing record, and Trace McSorley almost brought the Nittany Lions back on one leg. But, they didn’t, and the Cats won 27-24, finishing the season 10-3.

2019

Kentucky hasn’t played a game coming off a bye-week yet, but they’re getting ready to. A VERY important game. In the Stoops era, Kentucky is 4-7 in games coming off a bye-week, which isn’t great.

Kentucky will face Arkansas next Saturday. I will make an official prediction after I know who’s playing QB. But, that doesn’t change the fact that Kentucky HAS to win this game. They will also be honoring Jared Lorenzen, so more of a reason to kick some Razorback ass.

NBA Cats Are Training with Hall of Famer Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant is a sure first-ballot Hall of Famer as one the most decorated players in NBA history with 5 NBA Championships, 18 All-Star appearances, 11 NBA First-Team Honors and so much more.

Back in 2015, Bryant talked about not following a lot of college basketball but admitted that he did keep track of Kentucky and that he was “a big Cal guy”.

Post-retirement, Kobe has won an academy award and now opened the Mamba Sports Academy, to teach athletes of all levels to embrace the “Mamba Mentality” and be the “best versions of themselves”.

The Mamba Sports Academy has been headlined by superstars like Kawhi Leonard but several former Cats have been training with Kobe, and that list features

  • Anthony Davis
  • De’Aaron Fox
  • Julius Randle
  • Jamal Murray
  • Rajon Rondo
  • Devin Booker
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Scary Hours on Court 5 📍

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It is definitely a good thing to be learning from one of the greatest of all time, and maybe those Cats can take some more hardware with their newfound “Mamba Mentality”.