The recruiting saga of Matt Elam and Kentucky continues to beat on, and the latest news seems to indicate the Cats may be out in front for the services of the 6’6″ 330 Defensive Tackle out of North Hardin High School in Kentucky.
Matt said earlier this week in an interview that it was a “3-horse race” between Kentucky, Louisville, and Alabama. Judging by his tweet, and Drew Barker’s own admission that he may be working on Elam harder than any other recruit out there, Kentucky has been the perceived leader, with Alabama right behind.
However, news broke today that Alabama had accepted the commitment of a 6’2 330 pound pure Nose Tackle named OJ Smith out of Louisiana. Some have speculated whether or not that will affect Elam’s status, but it appears on the surface that Alabama may realize this is an uphill climb that they will not be able to overcome, and has already moved on. It’s not often Alabama puts the kind of pressure on a kid that they apparently put on Elam earlier in the recruiting process, and for him not to have committed early may be the reason for them taking OJ Smith.
Stoops happens, y’all.
Go Big Blue!
Julius Mays headed up to Brooklyn this week to work out for the Nets, and work out he did. Julius got a look at point guard for two quarters today in a scrimmage, and scored 18 points and dropped 6 dimes. That’s pretty impressive.
Some folks may say that Cal should have played Julius at the point last year, and honestly, I actually thought that Mays would before the season. As the season went on you could tell that he just didn’t have the confidence handling the ball that you need from a point guard in college. The great thing about being a point guard in the NBA though, is that sometimes it’s more about getting the ball across halfcourt, and then passing to a guy like Lebron James or Kobe Bryant than actually running the show.
I still think that although Julius won’t be drafted, he’ll find a way on to an NBA team’s Summer League team, where he’ll have an opportunity to prove himself more.
Good job Julius, and good luck!
Last night was the annual Draft Lottery, a time of year where NBA conspiracy theorists everywhere can come out of the woodwork to ponder why the team who won the NBA Lottery, well, won. For another year, NBA conspiracy theorists have plenty of fodder, as the Cleveland Cavaliers conveniently beat the odds, and won the Lottery, landing them in prime position to land the services of Nerlens Noel.
Most people don’t think Noel will be a huge factor next season, but that’s not the reason this is important for Noel. There really was not a better position for him to fall to than in this spot to the Cavs. The Cavaliers have a solid, young nucleus, and a budding superstar in Kyrie Irving. Not to mention there are certainly whispers that King James could make his return to his home state of Ohio once his contract is up with the Heat, which just happens to be the same time that we can officially say Chris Bosh and Dewayne Wade are well past their primes.
The rest of the teams in the Lottery had gaping holes on their rosters, and it likely would take massive rebuilding efforts to bring them back to prominence. Cleveland was one of the few teams who didn’t need a superstar, but rather needed a young, big man who can block shots the way Nerlens can.
Most pundits are already calling Nerlens to Cleveland, and honestly it’s going to be hard for the Cavaliers to talk themselves out of picking him.
So, maybe it’s time to start looking in to how long a road trip would take to get to Cleveland from your hometown, eh?
Go Big Blue!
The final chapter of Andrew Wiggins’ recruitment.
Drew Barker starts a new chapter.
Today our boys kick off the off-season the way they ended it, talking about Andrew Wiggins and Drew Barker. Take a listen.
This week’s topic list:
- The last of the Andrew Wiggins Talk(The Decision)
- Drew Barker’s commitment
- Website News
- Much More….
Link to Podcast: Ky Cat Stats : Episode 045 : The Last of Andrew Wiggins
He keeps movin’ on up….
The Rivals.com top 250 list for the 2014 recruiting class was unveiled today, and included some pretty big moves from Kentucky commitments.
Drew Barker moved up from 153 all the way to #117, and is now a 4* 5.9 QB as opposed to a 4* 5.8. He is the highest currently committed UK player in the 250.
The biggest mover however was Mikel Horton, who jumped from the 200′s all the way up to #131, and also has achieved a 4* 5.9 rating.
Thaddeus Snodgrass held firm in the rankings, coming in at #205, still a 4* 5.8 prospect.
Some other UK recruits made moves as well, including Darius West who jumped to #185, and Stanley Williams who is up to #96.
Good work guys, and keep showin’ out for the Big Blue Nation.
Mike Edwards, 3* defensive back from Winton Woods High School in Ohio, has made the trek down to Kentucky today for an on-campus visit with his parents. You may remember that a few weeks ago, there were rumors from Mike that he was ready to make a decision, but then a few things happened and that decision got pushed back.
Rumors have floated around the Internet that the final remaining point that stood in the way of Edwards being a Cat was the relationship between UK and his parents. That makes this impromptu Monday visit vitally important.
Even more so however, is the importance of Mike and his relationship with Darius West. Edwards has been very vocal online stating that he would like to play with West, and West would like to play with him at the same school. If Edwards makes a decision before May 30th, and the decision is UK, that points the way for West to pick UK as well on May 30th.
Take a look at Edwards’ highlights, and you can see why we need him:
Well hello there Ky Cat Stats readers. My name is Adam Barron and I’m the best writer you’ve never read. I used to write for my own site (the now debunk www.nbacats.com) but then I got a girl pregnant (my wife) and was forced to get a full-time job and attend parenting classes to learn how to change diapers. Crap happens (pun intended). But now I’m here with you beautiful ladies and gents, so without further adieu, let’s get to some thoughts I’ve been dying to get on the internet for all to see.
If you couldn’t tell by the name of my old website, I like keeping up with our former players in the NBA, so I’m going to focus a little on that…
- Archie Goodwin declared for the NBA Draft. It doesn’t make any sense, but it happened. I think he has a long uphill battle in front of him (which I’ll get to in just a second), but with the way you hear about his work ethic, if anyone can make it, it’s Archie. Have you seen his Draft Express scouting video? Goodness gracious he had some nasty dunks last year.
- One thing Archie does have going for him is that Kentucky players who have been drafted in the second round recently have faired pretty well in the NBA. Think of the longevity and success guys like Jodie Meeks, Chuck Hayes, Kelenna Azubuike, Keith Bogans, and Mark Pope have had. Pope played 6 seasons (albeit pretty crappy ones). Kelenna went undrafted and was on his way to becoming a star for the Warriors (14 ppg) when he suffered a devastating knee injury that essentially ended his career. Meeks (Lakers), Hayes (Kings) and Bogans (Nets) are all solid role players on current NBA teams. But the road can also be bumpy, and not everyone reaches their destination. Guys like Joe Crawford (2 games) and Rodney Dent (0 games) were second round picks and left absolutely no mark in the NBA. Josh Harrellson (55th pick) fizzled out after just 2 seasons and is now playing overseas. And the jury is still out with guys like Doron Lamb, Darius Miller and DeAndre Liggins who made their respective teams and signed contracts but have been sent and called up from the D-League throughout their young careers. Which path will Archie follow? It’s hard to say. Like, incredibly hard to say. The odds are not in his favor, but only Archie can determine what happens to Archie.
- Want even more proof that getting drafted in the first round helps you have a longer and more profibale career in the NBA? Look no further than Daniel Orton. He’s been terrible. I mean absolutely terrible. Yet he’s still playing in the NBA in his third season because he was drafted in the first round and received a guaranteed contract. In two years playing for the Orlando Magic Orton made $2,133,960. This season he’s making $854,389 basically playing for the Thunder’s d-league affiliate. That’s called getting drafted in the first round. If he had slipped to the second round, he might have never even made a roster. If you have some time you need to kill, there is a great article about the relative value of draft position in the NBA I found on the internet. Since I like you, I’ll help you find it (that’s a link if you haven’t figured out what blue underlined text means, yet. It took me several years). For all of you with a life, it basically says your draft position matters.
The good news is that Alex, Willie, Kyle and Polson will all be back with a loaded incoming freshman class that is about to destroy college basketball on their way to winning Big Blue Nation her 9th national title.
I could go on and on, but this is my first post on Ky Cat Stats, and I don’t want to scare Tyler into thinking I’m crazy (which I am). Hopefully I’ll see you again next week.
By the way, if you’re on Twitter, and you get bored going to the bathroom like I do, be sure to follow me at @NBACats. It’s all that remains from my mighty blogging empire.
Kentucky’s 2013 recruiting class has already been touted as the best recruiting class in history. Looking at the rankings, there’s no denying this fact—at least on paper.
Yet, what does this really mean? Kentucky has had its fair share of No. 1 recruiting classes in the past—with some degree of mixed results. How much better can we really expect this year’s class to be?
In order to put this year’s class in perspective, I have compiled a list of similarly ranked recruits from each year since 2007. According to Rivals.com, Kentucky has the No.1 point guard, No. 1 shooting guard, No. 3 small forward, No. 1 power forward, No. 2 center and No. 8 PF in the 2013 class. To put this into perspective, I have gone back and listed all of the players with these same rankings since 2007. In order to at least somewhat account for hindsight bias, I have also included each player’s freshman year statistics.
Note: I did not include Derek Willis or Dominique Hawkins in this comparison. We will just consider them the icing on the recruiting cake.
|#1 PG||Kris Dunn||5.7 pts, 4.8 rebs, 3.2 asts|
|#1 SG||Shabazz Muhammad||17.9 pts, 5.2 rebs, 0.8 asts|
|#3 SF||Sam Dekker||9.6 pts, 3.4 rebs, 1.3 asts|
|#1 PF||Anthony Bennett||16.1 pts, 8.1 rebs, 1.0 asts|
|#2 C||Isaiah Austin||13.0 pts, 8.3 rebs, 1.1 asts|
|#8 PF||Ricardo Gathers||5.7 pts, 5.7 rebs, 0.2 asts|
|#1 PG||Marquis Teague||10.0 pts, 2.5 rebs, 4.8 asts|
|#1 SG||Austin Rivers||15.5 pts, 3.4 rebs, 2.1 asts|
|#3 SF||DeAndre Daniels||3.0 pts, 2.1 rebs, 0.5 asts|
|#1 PF||Anthony Davis||14.2 pts, 10.4 rebs, 1.3 asts|
|#2 C||Rakeem Christmas||2.8 pts, 2.9 rebs, 0.2 asts|
|#8 PF||Otto Porter||9.7 pts, 6.8 rebs, 1.5 asts|
|#1 PG||Josh Selby||7.9 pts, 2.2 rebs, 2.2 asts|
|#1 SG||Reggie Bullock||6.1 pts, 2.8 rebs, 0.6 asts|
|#3 SF||Jelan Kendrick||5.1 pts, 2.2 rebs, 1.7 asts|
|#1 PF||Enes Kanter||N/A|
|#2 C||Fab Melo||2.3 pts, 1.9 rebs, 0.2 asts|
|#8 PF||Dwight Powell||8.1 pts, 5.2 rebs, 1.0 asts|
|#1 PG||John Wall||16.6 pts, 4.3 rebs, 6.5 asts|
|#1 SG||Avery Bradley||11.6 pts, 2.9 rebs, 2.1 asts|
|#3 SF||Solomon Hill||6.7 pts, 4.4 rebs, 1.7 asts|
|#1 PF||DeMarcus Cousins||15.1 pts, 9.8 rebs, 1.0 asts|
|#2 C||Tiny Gallon||10.3 pts, 7.9 rebs, 0.8 asts|
|#8 PF||Ryan Kelly||1.2 pts, 1.1 rebs, 0.4 asts|
|#1 PG||Jrue Holiday||8.5 pts, 3.8 rebs, 3.7 asts|
|#1 SG||Demar DeRozan||13.9 pts, 5.7 rebs, 1.5 asts|
|#3 SF||Chris Singleton||8.1 pts, 4.9 rebs, 1.1 asts|
|#1 PF||Greg Monroe||12.7 pts, 6.5 rebs, 2.5 asts|
|#2 C||Ty Walker||1.9 pts, 1.4 rebs, 0.1 asts|
|#8 PF||Delvon Roe||6.4 pts, 5.0 rebs, 1.2 asts|
|#1 PG||Derrick Rose||14.9 pts, 4.5 rebs, 4.7 asts|
|#1 SG||Eric Gordon||20.9 pts, 3.3 rebs, 2.4 asts|
|#3 SF||Donte Greene||17.7 pts, 7.2 rebs, 2.0 asts|
|#1 PF||Michael Beasley||26.2 pts, 12.4 rebs, 1.2 asts|
|#2 C||DeAndre Jordan||7.9 pts, 6.0 rebs, 0.4 asts|
|#8 PF||Herb Pope||11.5 pts, 10.7 rebs, 2.0 asts (RS freshman)|
Many people—including myself—consider this year’s recruiting class to be the strongest since 2007. If we pretend for an instant that this class will equal the talent of 2007. we get some pretty unbelievable comparisons. If Kentucky had pulled this year’s class in 2007, they would have landed Derrick Rose, Eric Gordon, Donte Greene, Michael Beasley, DeAndre Jordan and Herb Pope. Not only have five of these players made names for themselves in the NBA, they also made immediate impacts as freshmen. Four of these guys averaged over 14 points as freshmen—not to mention Jordan who managed a respectable 7.9 points and 6.0 rebounds per game. And let’s not forget Pope, who averaged a double-double after being forced to redshirt his first year on campus.
Add in the likes of Willie Cauley-Stein, Alex Poythress and Kyle Wiltjer. If Kentucky’s recruiting class turns out to be anywhere near the level of this 2007 group, the Cats will steamroll college basketball on the way to the program’s ninth national title.
Now, is it really reasonable to expect Kentucky’s freshmen to come in and play at the level of Derrick Rose and company? Probably not.
In order to temper expectations a bit, let’s take a look at the 2012 class—which many recruiting experts have deemed to be the weakest of the past five to 10 years.
If Kentucky duplicated the rankings of this year’s class in 2012, it would have landed Kris Dunn, Shabazz Muhammad, Sam Dekker, Anthony Bennett, Isaiah Austin and Ricardo Gathers. While this group of recruits isn’t on quite the same level as 2007, it still makes for a fairly solid roster. The biggest weakness would be at point guard, but Andrew Harrison is, by all accounts, leagues ahead of Dunn.
Again, add in Kentucky’s returners from last year and you have another solid title contender.
Really, the worst case scenario would be the 2010 class, which doesn’t feature any double-digit scorers—though this admittedly would not have been the case if Enes Kanter had been eligible to play. This is really the only class that doesn’t appear to be a hands-down title contender when combined with Kentucky’s returning players. With that said, it would still be difficult to discount a roster that includes Kanter, Josh Selby, Reggie Bullock and Fab Melo under the tutelage of John Calipari.
One thing that should be noted when making these comparisons is the fact that Kentucky’s 2013 recruits will be expected to do a lot more as freshmen than some of the players I have listed. For instance, while guys like Ryan Kelly, Chris Singleton, Solomon Hill, Fab Melo and DeAndre Daniels all developed into fantastic players, they didn’t have to take on as much responsibility in their freshman seasons.
Kentucky’s 2013 class will be asked to grow up in a hurry. This is why fans may want to temper their expectations early. Such a young squad could easily drop a couple of games early in a brutal non-conference schedule. The good news, however, is that the Cats will have a few top-quality “veterans” to fall back on in Cauley-Stein, Poythress and Wiltjer.
Regardless of what happens early on, Kentucky should be considered one of the premier teams in the nation by season’s end. And while it may be unreasonable to expect the incoming freshmen to mirror the likes of Derrick Rose, Eric Gordon and Michael Beasley, history has shown that a class of this caliber will be overflowing with talent no matter what. Add in Kentucky’s returning players and you have all the necessary ingredients for another national title contender.
2015 Center Stephen Zimmerman out of Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Quick Take: Stephen Zimmerman, Center from the 2015 class, has already established himself as one of the top prospects in the country. The skilled big man can shoot, pass, dribble, and block shots. He’s likely to be a top 5 prospect in the 2015 class when everything is said and done.
I was able to catch up with Zimmerman recently, to see if I could get his thoughts on his recruitment and the University of Kentucky. See what he had to say below.
What schools are currently recruiting you?
“Kentucky, UNLV, UCLA, Kansas, UConn, Oregon, Oregon St., Arizona, Memphis, UTEP, Notre Dame, USC, Florida St., Baylor, Tennessee, and Auburn.”
Do you have any favorites sticking out to you? What about a dream school?
“No favorites yet, I’m blessed to have such great programs recruiting me.”
“And, no I never had one specific dream school growing up.”
What has Kentucky expressed or said to you up to this point?
“They said they noticed me when they were recruiting Shabazz(Muhammad) and are impressed with how I’ve developed over the last year. They said I have gotten better and that they are looking forward to recruiting me.”
What kind of interest do you have in Kentucky at this point?
“Kentucky is an amazing school with a great coach and a history of winning and getting their players into the NBA.”
What do you think about Coach Calipari?
“He’s a great coach with great success. Any player would love to play for him.”
Does Kentucky plan to watch or visit you anytime soon?
“They plan on being at all of my tournaments in July and at my school when they are allowed to.”
Do you plan to take a visit to Kentucky?
“I have thought about visiting there, it’s not that far away.”
What NBA/college player would you compare yourself to and why?
“Multiple players because I try to be the best overall player I can be. I try to have Dirk’s shot, Blake Griffin’s explosiveness, Tim Duncan’s footwork…a little from everyone.”
Who have you been in contact with at UK?
“Coach Payne is the coach at UK that I have been in contact with.”
What are your strengths and weaknesses in your game?
“My strengths are my ability to shoot, my speed and footwork.”
“My weaknesses are my consistency and my ball handling.”
How is your AAU team doing?
“I play for Dream Vision and we are playing pretty well right now. We won the Gold Championship at adidasVIP and lost in the Championship game at the Atlanta Spring Classic.”
“I’ve played well. I’d like to work on starting tournaments strong and maintaining that rather than struggle early and have great games at the end.”
What do you expect to next high school season, personally and as a team?
“I hope to be named the Nevada player of the year and expect nothing less than winning a 3rd state championship with my teammates.
What was it like playing with Shabazz Muhammad?
“It was hard, he demands a lot at all times and he worked for everything he got on the court.”
Player Profile w/ Highlights: Stephen Zimmerman – C | 7-0 | 215
Braylon Heard, 2014 feature back?
I”m not sure if you’ve noticed lately or not, but UK has been loading up at running back over the past few months.
And by loading up, I mean REALLY loading up.
Let’s think about this for a few moments. Currently on the roster, UK has DyShawn Mobley, Josh Clemons, Raymond Sanders, Jonathan George and JoJo Kemp. Of course, two of them will be graduated at the end of the year, leaving UK with Mobley, Clemons and Kemp.
Still, UK is adding in transfer Braylon Heard, a man who went he steps on campus, will be the highest rated player by Rivals to suit up at UK since Micah Johnson. Heard averaged over 6 yards per carry last season for the Nebraska Cornhuskers.
Then, on top of that, UK is adding Mikel Horton in this current draft class. With Horton you are getting an every down back who can do it all. He can be a bruising runner at 225 pounds, but has the quickness to allude defenders in the open field, can catch the ball out of the backfield, and has the speed to hit the edge. Honestly, as far as running backs go, he’s the total package.
That means that on next year’s roster, UK will have 5 running backs who each can absolutely get it done.
Still, it gets better.
UK also is in the running to get Stanley “Boom” Williams, a running back out of Georgia. Boom is one of the fastest running backs in the class, with blinding 4.39 speed. Williams is an all-purpose back who can catch the ball out of the backfield and really adds a home-run dimension to your team.
Adding Boom would mean UK would have 6 different running backs that could all be big impact players for the Cats.
The best part is that UK has a plethora of guys who can be used in different situations. Mobley is a guy you can count on in short yardage situations. Clemons and Horton are guys who can be every down backs for your team. Kemp, Boom, and Heard are game breakers who can change the course of a game with one screen or toss. Trust me, there will be plenty of teams, even SEC teams, who wish they had as much to play with in the backfield as UK does.
Neal Brown has not historically been known as involving running backs heavily in his offense, but with the weapons at his disposal, and lack of weapons at wide receiver, he may need to rely on the backs more than he ever has before.
And maybe that’s not such a bad thing.
Go Big Blue!