Pick 3: Which 3 UK basketball recruits are most essential??

Judging from the results of yesterday’s poll where I asked you would be the Cat’s MVP this year…. it appears that you like Patrick Patterson. You REALLY like Patrick Patterson. Patterson took a whopping 82% in the poll as YOUR choice for MVP, outdistancing John Wall’s 12%, Darius Miller with 5%, and Orton and Cousins sharing 1%. As some people messaged, Wall may actually have better stats, but PPatt will have the heart and the leadership to make this year special. Plus Patterson deserves the adoration for turning down the NBA money to take a shot at number #8.

Now today’s poll concerns the 2019 recruiting class and which three players are essential to the 2019 season. Let’s assume that Kentucky has the season we all dream of and Patterson, Wall, and Cousins all bolt to the pros and Harris and Perry graduate. This would leave UK with the following roster and bout 5-6 spots to fill:

PG – Bledsoe
SG – Dodson
SF – Miller
PF – Harrelson
C – Orton
—————
B – Hood
B – Liggins

Currently UK is pursuing about 9 pretty big names to fill the void in 2019. Let’s assume that Calipari has the batting average of an All Star outfielder and can close three of these players. Personally, I think he can close more, but for the sake of argument, which three of the following recruits would you realistically expect to see on the UK roster in 2019?

PG – BRANDON KNIGHT


The buzz has shifted a lot to UK’s favor for the #1 PG (and arguably #1 player) in the 2019 class. Some people cite UK’s reputation as “Point Guard U” as the reason that Knight is a virtual lock for UK, but he has remained tight lipped about a leader. I think he will be tough to pry away from Florida but he seems to be the sure thing averaging 31.8 points, 8.7 rebounds and 5.6 assists a game last year.

SG/SF – HARRISON BARNES
The other player who would challenge Knight for number 1 overall is Barnes and from recent news, he seems to be very high on Cal and UK as well. There is a buzz that Duke is the leader, but then weren’t they the leader for John Wall as well? Barnes can step in at SG or SF right away and averaged 19.7 points and 8.8 rebounds last year. He also has a 84″ wingspan.

PG – KYRIE IRVING
Irving is pretty much the number 2 PG after Knight and his Godfather is UK assistant coach Rod Strickland. While some people say that makes Irving a sure shot for UK, he has not publicly stated so and will be naming his top 5 schools by the end of the summer. Irving has fantastic range from beyond the 3 point line and can definitely score, averaging 26.7 points as a sophomore. Some reports have Tom Crean and IU making up ground on Irving.

SG/SF – JELAN KENDRICK
UK is trying to make up ground in the recruitment of Kendrick and have offered the 6’6 Junior from Atlanta. Kendrick would appear to be a natural for the DDMO as he excels in an up tempo situation and knows when to pull up or attack the rim. UK’s main competition appears to be Georgia and Georgia Tech.

PF – CJ LESLIE
John Walls Word of God teammate is reportedly showing great interest in UK and Cal has been recruiting him for a while. Calipari took advantage of the John Wall visits to see Leslie as well and now John Wall is acting as chief recruiter, telling Leslie how great UK is. Leslie has been described as “an athletic freak” and would fill a huge void with both Patterson and Cousins leaving. UK will have to break Gator and Tar Heel hearts (again) to land him.

SG – DORON LAMB
This flirtation has been going on for a while and it looks like it may take a little longer to land this one. Lamb recently stated he would not decide until the middle of his basketball season but UK has been in a good position for a while. From some accounts, he is Cal’s number one target and the interest seems to be mutual. He is one of the best scoring guards in the the class and will also be visiting Kansas soon.

PF – ADREIAN PAYNE
Payne is another of the top PF’s but you are not hearing a lot of UK buzz with him. He has been offered, but apparently is a mystery where UK stands with him. Some scouting reports show he may have problems with motivation but he has the ability to be the best big man and especially the best shot blocker in the draft. He made a visit to UK on 5/16 but not a lot of news about him.

SG – MYCHAL PARKER
Parker is kind a mystery as well. He recently visited UK, the same time as Doron Lamb, but has not received an offer yet. He gets a lot of points moving toward the basket and can make things happen but from some accounts needs to work on his defense. Parker would be a nice grab but one wonders if Cal is waiting on Lamb or others before offering.

PG – JOE JACKSON
I hesitated putting him on the list because I fully expect him to commit to Memphis … however you keep hearing reports that he still likes Calipari and UK. He is a super scoring point guard and may be the best at creating scoring opportunities for himself. Only drawback I would see with him is that he and Bledsoe would give us a pair of smaller PG’s and we know that Cal like big PG’s. But then, from what we hear, Bledsoe’s talent has superseded his size and you would expect the same is true with Jackson.

So Wildcat fans, who do YOU like if we can have just three of the above list. Once again, with what Cal has done, I would not be shocked at him pulling 4 or 5, but to keep it interesting, let’s keep the list at 3. Personally, I like Doron Lamb, Kyrie Irving, and CJ Leslie. I am looking forward to see what the BBN thinks.

Cousins draws comparisons to Shaq as Cats prepare to face LSU

As Kentucky heads into it’s game Saturday against the LSU Tigers, it’s inevitable that the comparisions start between the Cat’s DeMarcus Cousins and the other big fella that used to roam the basketball court at Baton Rogue: Shaquille O’Neal.

“Beyond the Arc” on MSNBC.com started the debate earlier today when they suggested the Boogie/Shaq comparisons not because of the production, but because of the amount of attention Cousins is drawing from the opponents and the number of fouls that Cousins draws. Of course, Cousins is bringing the production as well.

Despite being double teamed by Vanderbilt most of the game, he managed 21 points and 10 boards. You can’t question the productivity of Cousins as he leads the SEC in both offensive and defensive rebounding percentage … by a large margin.

That enough got me curious enough to take a look and compare and contrast Shaq’s freshman year and DeMarcus Cousins’s season thus far and see how DeMarcus rates with O’Neal:

FG %
O’Neal 180/314 57.3%
Cousins 129/237 54.4%
FT %
Cousins 99/150 66.0%
O’Neal 85/153 55.6%
PPG
Cousins 16.3
O’Neal 13.9
RPG
O’Neal 12.0
Cousins 9.8
BLOCKS
O’Neal 115
Cousins 42
STEALS
O’Neal 38
Cousins 21
ASSISTS
O’Neal 61
Cousins 18

Overall the numbers favor O’Neal pretty heavily, although it is interesting that Cousins has gotten to the line a lot more than Shaq and he is already a much better FT shooter. Cousins is pretty competitive in the glamor numbers, leading in scoring and trailing by 2 rebounds a game.

The recent mock draft lotteries have Cousins inching up as a lottery pick, but there are some that think he could use some more seasoning. Dime Magazine recently had a story that said “DeMarcus Cousins needs to stay at Kentucky”. Let it be said that I do not support the writer’s slant that DeMarcus is a thug and needs to grow up — along with his aspersions on John Wall — but I do like the idea of DeMarcus getting another year under Calipari and I do think that he could possibly be next year’s #1 pick if he stays.

And it is interesting to note the increase in O’Neals numbers from his freshman to his sophomore season. Most of his numbers increased dramatically (especially scoring) in that second year of college. Check out the differences in O’Neal’s two seasons:
FG %: 57.3 to 62.8%
FT % : 55.6 to 63.8%
PPG: 13.9 to 27.6
RPG: 12.0 to 14.7
BLOCKS: 115 to 140
STEALS: 38 to 41
ASSISTS: 61 to 45

Of course, no one expects Cousins to double his scoring his sophomore season, but you can see that all of O’Neal’s stats improved drastically except for assists, and you would think that Cousins would see improvement as well.

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Could Brandon Knight be on the verge of committing?

Throughout the past few months, Brandon Knight has been rumored to be a Kentucky lean and has thought to have been close to committing.

Well the heat has been turned up in South Florida this week, and it seems as if Brandon Knight is close to sealing a deal with a school. Much of the local sources seemed to speculate that Florida and Miami were more in the mix for Knight.

But most national sources and scouts even in the state of Kentucky seemed to believe that the possibility of being a point guard under John Calipari and following in the footsteps of Rose, Evans, and Wall was just to much not to turn down.

The No. 1 rated player and PG in the 2010 class was expected to pick straight from six schools or so without narrowing down his list. So far, it seems that he has unofficially narrowed it down with Kentucky, Miami, Florida, and Connecticut being the only schools remaining with a strong chance. Syracuse and Kansas also remain in the running.

Many recruiting analysts say that according to their sources Knight was supposed to commit after his visit to Miami last week. Dustin Rumbaugh of Kentucky Sports Radio seems to think that Knight is ready to make a decision pretty soon as well. Jeff Drummond from Kentucky Ink recently spoke with Turgenia Knight, Brandon’s mother, regarding his recruitment process. “Things are going pretty good,” Turgenia Knight said. “I think he’s got things narrowed down, and hopefully he’ll be making a decision and an announcement pretty soon.

He’s done all of his visits, which is something he said he wanted to do from the beginning, and he’s done his homework on all the schools. I think he’s ready to sit down and make the decision.”

At this point, that might be a broad statement because we have heard twice since the AAU season that he was close to committing and still hasn’t pulled the trigger. But according to Mrs. Knight, she says the time is soon. All the signs point to UK being the primary decision but no one knows for sure now. On Friday, Knight’s Pine Crest Panthers (FL) play against 2011 Florida commit Austin Rivers’ Winter Park (FL) team at Florida Atlantic University on ESPN2

Patrick Patterson, Daniel Orton, and Darius Miller spend their summer vacations preparing for a title run

In an effort to help you give your input on the blog, and to get the pulse of the BBN, I am adding polls after each entry for your opinions and see what you think and your vibe on all things UK, so please take a second to vote.

When Jodie Meeks left UK to play in the NBA, there was a lot of hand wringing and tongue wagging among the BBN about who who step up and provide the veteran leadership on a young team with 6 new faces.

Patrick Patterson immediately came to mind for a leadership role and Darius Miller became another name that would need to step up to ensure success for the basketball Cats.

So how did these basketball Cat’s spend their summer break? From all appearances, it looks like both took totally different routes to assuming their leadership roles and from the looks of things, the UK Wildcats will benefit from these summer detours.

Patrick Patterson (and freshman Daniel Orton) have spent the summer in San Francisco under the tutelage of “Hell’s Trainer” Frank Matrisciano. If the name is not familiar, the results are. Former Oklahoma center (and the number 1 pick in the NBA draft) Blake Griffin spent last summer working with Matrisciano and he absolutely dominated the Big 12 last year. Gilbert Arenas and Kareen Rush are other basketball players who have benefitted from this training.

One thing for sure is that this was not a summer of treadmills and simply lifting weights. Matrisciano’s agenda is so tough that 7 of the 10 athletes that enlist his services end up leaving in the first half hour. The four to 6 week agenda also features NBA training with former coach Bob Hill. For more information on “Hell’s trainer, check out the SEWR blog for more info.

From all reports coming out of San Fran, it is currently working for Patrick Patterson. Daniel Orton’s dad, Larry recently while it looks like Patterson has lost weight, he has added a lot of muscle and predicts that Patterson will be a “terror”. Orton said that Patterson’s game has improved and that “Patrick is knocking down that 15 footer all the time. He’s going to be so hard to guard. He’s going to be a Top 5 pick (in the 2010 NBA Draft)”.

As for his own son, Orton says that Daniel is pain free from his knee injury and is focused on winning the national championship at Kentucky. “When he sets his mind on something, that’s what he goes after, too. I can’t wait to see him playing with all these other great players at Kentucky”.

One of those potentially great players is Darius Miller. Miller showed flashes of brilliance last year and as a sophomore, finds a lot expected out of him. From all early indications, Miller thrived in early practices under Calipari and was quickly pencilled into the UK starting lineup by fans when Meeks left for the NBA. Meeks spent his summer playing on the US Under 19 team which just won the first gold medal for the US in the FIBA championships since 1991.

Just making the team was a big deal, and Miller acknowledged that being part of such a talented team stressed teamwork more, rather than padding individual stats. Miller feels that the experience has made him a better player, hopefully something he can bring back to UK.

Miller feels that his defense has improved the most during this experience and his stats show it. Despite not starting, Miller led the US team with 11 blocked shots and 11 steals after the first 7 games of the tourney. Miller has turned his coaches heads with his team work and versatility.

“He is loading up the stat sheets. He is able to guard bigger guys and smaller guys. That versatility has really stood out. He has kind of given us a needed shot in the arm a couple of different times with his ability to block shots, make steals or create a hustle play. He’s been pretty clutch for us.” said Purdue coach Matt Painer, an assistant on the team. While not known for his shot blocking ability at UK, he has impressed the US staff enough to think he can take his shot blocking prowess to UK.

Miller has used this experience as a metaphor for whatever role he may play on the Wildcats this season. “We have a lot of scorers on this team (US u19 team). We do not all need to score. Sometimes a guy has an off night and then he might have a good game. It was just the way the game went when I had to score more. That could be a preview of what our season at UK will be like, because we are going to have a lot of scorers and depth too.”