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BB Recruiting

The University of Memphis Charged With Multiple Level 1 and Level 2 Violations

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Credit: USA TODAY Sports

To begin the season, the Memphis Tigers had high hopes. After signing the top recruiting class in 2021, featuring two potential top-5 draft picks, Emoni Bates and Jalen Duren, the Memphis Tigers looked like they had the pieces to make a deep run in March.

However, the Tigers fell to 7-6 through 2020 which featured bad losses to Georgia and Ole Miss. The Tigers were able to rebound to end the season to make the NCAA Tournament and give Gonzaga a fight in the second round

While Memphis ended the season on a positive trend, it does not seem that the upward trajectory will continue for the Tigers, as the NCAA has charged them with “at least four” level 1 and two level 2 violations, reported by the Commercial Appeal in Memphis.

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The notice of allegations featuring these violations was received back on July 9, 2021, and is reported to show that the violations occured between May 2019 and February 2021.

The violations cite NCAA clauses related to lack of institutional control, head coach responsibility, and failure to monitor (sound familiar Louisville?). Stating, that head coach Penny Hardaway “failed to demonstrate that he promoted an atmosphere of compliance within the men’s basketball program.”

The notice of allegations also mentions that data from a computer hard drive belonging to former Memphis assistant, Mike Miller, was not deleted.

“A subsequent forensic examination revealed that the former assistant men’s basketball coach’s computer hard drive was formatted on June 5, 2020, and as a result, the data on the computer was deleted… The Institution failed to conduct an adequate investigation into why the computer’s hard drive was not preserved.”

In a response to the notice of allegations dated October 25, 2021, Memphis either denied or expressed their position that the allegations did not merit Level 1 designation.

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“The facts do not demonstrate a lack of control, a failure to monitor, a failure to cooperate, or a lack of (redacted) responsibility… Finally, the NOA contains no specific facts, and it is the specific facts that are imperative for the resolution of this matter.”

There is a dark cloud looming around the Memphis basketball program and head coach Penny Hardaway, and it will be interesting to see what comes of this.

In addition to Memphis, I expect to finally see progress on the NCAA investigations of other programs such as Louisville, Kansas, and LSU among others, this summer.

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BB Recruiting

Reed Sheppard on Why He Chose Kentucky, “As a little boy from Kentucky, it’s always been a dream to play for UK”

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UK Athletics

The son of Kentucky basketball legends Jeff and Stacey (Reed) Sheppard, Reed Sheppard has had a connection to Kentucky basketball since birth and nearly a year ago, he made the decision to follow in his parent’s large footsteps and commit to the Kentucky Wildcats.

Why? The answer is simple.

Around the Bluegrass State, it is the dream of many children to play basketball for the University of Kentucky, and the same can be said for the in-state legacy commit.

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“As a little boy from Kentucky, it’s always been a dream of mine to play at UK,” Sheppard said.

With that said, Reed has the opportunity to play for Kentucky because he has earned it.

Currently ranked 29th according to 247Sports composite, Sheppard is the highest-ranked recruit from the State of Kentucky since former Louisville player Chane Behanan (Bowling Green, KY). Furthermore, he is the highest-ranked recruit from the state of Kentucky to play for the Wildcats since Rex Chapman.

Kentucky head coach, John Calipari has even echoed the same sentiment.

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“I know playing for Kentucky has been a dream of Reed’s ever since he was a child. But, Reed isn’t here because he wanted to be here. He’s here because he’s a really good player who can help this team win,” Calipari said in a statement on Monday.

In Sheppard’s first season, Kentucky will have the talent to win a national title, and he has the opportunity to be a big piece of the team. Can you imagine that storyline?

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John Calipari Goes Into Detail for Each Player In Historic Recruiting Class

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UK Athletics

In recent seasons, John Calipari hasn’t been recruiting – at least high school prospects – at his typical level. Pair this with the worst record in program history and then losing to Saint Peter’s in back-to-back seasons, many have questioned if Cal still has ‘it’.

If college basketball needed an answer, Calipari has given one with the 2023 recruiting class, which may be the best of his career.

On Monday afternoon, Kentucky added their Crown Jewel of the 2023 class, No. 1 prospect DJ Wagner, who will join his high school teammate Aaron Bradshaw (No. 6), and fellow 2023 five-star recruits Justin Edwards (No. 2), Robert Dillingham (No. 9), and Reed Sheppard (No. 29).

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Together, they form the No. 1 overall class for 2023, with four prospects ranked in the top 10.

Following Wagner’s commitment, Calipari released a statement where he talked about each of his star recruits for next season. Let’s see what he had to say.

Note: Rankings based off 247Sports.

DJ Wagner (No. 1 overall, No. 1 CG)

“I have known D.J. his entire life and I’ve always wanted to coach him. Above all he is a competitor. He attacks the offensive end and is a versatile scorer, but he is equally as tough on defense. I love the spirit he’ll bring to practice every day, and I love that he wanted to be at Kentucky. He knows that to get the best of himself, he needs to be surrounded by other talented players who are going to match his competitive energy.”

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Justin Edwards (No. 2 overall, No. 1 SF)

“Justin has the ability to impact the game in a variety of ways. He has terrific size, can play multiple positions and can score the ball at all three levels. I really like how active he is defensively and his desire to rebound every ball. He already has a great understanding that he can positively impact winning without scoring. That isn’t something you can teach, and I know Justin is going to demand the same of his teammates.”

Aaron Bradshaw (No. 6 overall, No. 2 C)

“The most impactful trait we can have on the defensive end is the ability to block shots, and Aaron is elite at that. He also has all of the tools that a versatile big in today’s game needs. Aaron’s motor continues to improve, he has great size and mobility. As a 7-footer, he can change the game on both ends of the court. He has a high ceiling and has only begun to scratch the surface of the kind of player he can be.”

Robert Dillingham (No. 9 overall, No. 2 PG)

“Our best teams have had really good guards and this class has that. Rob has the ability to make good decisions, can create for others or get his own shot. He can make contested layups, which opens the court for him offensively. He is an extremely efficient scorer, but I’m excited about the fact that Rob wants to be pushed by other really good guards on our roster and continue to develop his versatility by playing with or without the ball in his hands.”

Reed Sheppard (No. 29 overall, No. 9 CG)

“I know playing for Kentucky has been a dream of Reed’s ever since he was a child. But, Reed isn’t here because he wanted to be here. He’s here because he’s a really good player who can help this team win. He has terrific fundamentals and is the kind of player who can excel on or off the ball. I love his work ethic and the fact that he wants to be pushed on the biggest of stages to reach his full potential.”

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While the 2023 class is loaded with talent and will be exciting to watch, we are still away from seeing together on the court.

However, with this roster and next season’s roster, John Calipari has the opportunity to send a big-time message.

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DJ Wagner on Why He Chose Kentucky, “Calipari Said He Would Be With Me Until the Wheels Fall Off Either Way”

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UK Athletics

DJ Wagner, the No. 1 recruit in the 2023 class and the Wildcat’s most recent signee, was destined to play for John Calipari from a young age.

This is due to the connection between his father Dajuan Wagner, and Calipari, who Dajuan has said multiple times that he owes his career to.

Dajuan played for Calipari at Memphis, who refused to let him come back for a sophomore season, making him one of the first one-and-done players in college basketball. Fortunately, this was the right decision, because after being drafted sixth in the 2002 NBA Draft, Dajuan’s career was derailed by injuries.

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This left Dajuan with a lasting impression of Calipari, as he pushed him to do what was best for himself and his family.

Now, two decades later, Calipari is set to do the same for DJ Wagner, and that is what sold the top-ranked guard on Kentucky.

“Coach John Calipari was always straightforward and honest with me. He said he would be with me until the wheels fall off the car either way. And that meant so much to me,” Wagner said in his ESPN announcement.

Now that he is a Wildcat, Wagner knows that they will have the talent to compete for a national title. “I’m coming there to win. Winning comes first with me and I want to help Kentucky win as much as possible.”

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