Cal Starts 2020 with a Bang, Plus N’Faly Commitment?

A little bit of breaking news this morning as Kentucky gets their first commitment in the 2020 class, Brandon Boston Jr. Boston is the #10 player in the class and the #2 shooting guard. He is a very versatile player who was seen as a lock to Kentucky but is also considered Duke and Auburn. He is an amazing shooter as well as a great rebounder but needs to work on his strength if he wants to make it in the long run, but Cal can bring so much out in him. Boston could be the next Eric Bledsoe for Kentucky, but he could bring a much better force in the college game than Bledsoe could have ever imagined. He is joining Wade and Bronny James this season which will give us a better idea of how he can play with some spotlight on him, but this is a HUGE get for Calipari with Coach K making a big push for Boston Jr last week.

With Boston Jr committing, our attention turns again to N’Faly Dante. Dante is a 6’11” junior from Kansas (originally Mali) and he is in the process of reclassifying but he is running short on time. Dante is said to be between Oregon, Kentucky, and LSU but if you ask me, it’s Kentucky or Oregon with LSU trending down quicker every day. With the process nearing a close, here’s what we know.

Dana Altman and the coaching staff over at Oregon have done an amazing job with their pursuit of N’Faly. They have had his visit and have visited him multiple times within the past two seasons and they were the first team that showed interest in him. I can see why N’Faly would want to go to Oregon, just because of the constant love and admiration they have shown him but look at Bol Bol…no offense, Oregon did not help him whatsoever, in fact it definitely made his situation worse. But what they do have, is success with reclassified players such as Dillon Brooks and Francis Okoro. When it comes to it, Oregon will be hard to turn down for N’Faly.

Five-star center N'Faly Dante stops and poses for a photo in New York City

With Kentucky, you know what I think. Kentucky would allow N’Faly to develop his full potential with the help of Kenny Payne and John Calipari, I mean just look at their success with the big men. Kentucky offers a challenge that any other school cannot do but it comes at a cost. Kentucky is the standard for one and dones, but with every class but a few there has always been competition that cuts playing time which means less time to showcase skill. Cal has never held back anyone (shut up Booker fans) and he always allows them to strive once they hit their peak. N’Faly would have to accept a lesser role, due to Richards, Sestina, and Montgomery but it would also allow him the opportunity to grow and fully enhance his game at an elite level, on a national stage every single night.

N’Faly would put Oregon into the top 25, would they stay there? My guess is probably. Oregon will be decent this season with or without Dante. He would force them into a conversation for the title, but most likely a Sweet 16 is the peak. He would make Kentucky a top 2 team and they’d be there all year. If he commits, he’d give Kentucky the best odds to win the tournament but there is still some waiting to be done. With the Peach Jam and the summer circuit closing shortly, N’Faly is waiting on some test results but all signs point to a reclassification. His host mom loves Kentucky, so does his AAU director…calling them “family.” I firmly believe he will be a Wildcat in due time, just be patient with the process.

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A Big Blue Charge

We’re in a rare situation in Lexington. It is currently the end of July and more people are excited about football than ever before, in fact no one even cares about the thought of N’Faly Dante joining the Basketball Team but who blames them? There is so much build up around the football program, even with the injury to Davonte Robinson. Kentucky Football is a next man up program and good thing there are tons of four stars backing up Robinson. But all of this is due to one man and his intentions on forever (Mark)ing his legacy in Lexington.

If you would have told me that Kentucky Football was beating LSU, Alabama, Michigan, and even Louisville in recruiting, I would not believe you, not at all. But it’s a different feel in Lexington these days and that is mainly due to Vince Marrow and Mark Stoops. In November 2012, Mark Stoops took over the program and it started off very rocky. In his first year he went 2-10 and then followed it up with two straight 5-7 seasons, barely missing bowl season. Everyone was calling for Mark’s head, including myself but I am forever thankful that Mitch trusts himself more so than the passionate Big Blue Nation.

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After his first three years of going a combined 12-24, he started his 2016 season with another disappointing 0-2 before he turned it around. He finished up going up 7-5 defeating Lamar Jackson and the Louisville Cardinals in the best way possible. This was followed by another 7-6 season due to another bowl loss and we all know what happened this past season, 10-3 with a Citrus Bowl victory over Penn State. Stoops has given Kentucky fans a wild ride, but the actual ride is only beginning.

Last year put Kentucky Football on the map. A team that was never expected to win more than 6 games ended up being the team that beat the streak, demolished Louisville, and posted a 5-3 record in the SEC. Josh Allen led the way and became the eleventh top 10 pick in program history and the 17th first rounder. He is the highest Wildcat drafted since Dewayne Robertson in 2003 when he was selected 4th by the Jets. Benny Snell also changed the program, becoming the all time leading rusher as well as posting highs that haven’t been accomplished in so long at Kentucky. Mark Stoops and Vince Marrow have built on all their success. When looking at Allen, the 2 star recruit out of high school, helps Kentucky’s recruiting game more than anyone. Marrow and Stoops built him into a top 10 pick after being a 2 star and it shows the tide is turning at Kentucky.

Kentucky is changing, folks. It is no longer only a basketball school and a big thanks goes to Mark and Vince. With the growth, comes the disrespect which many analyst have already brought on. Not predicting a bowl game, not thinking they’ll get over 6 wins, ranking Terry the worst in the SEC, etc. This only builds the passion of the team. Their feeding this team with tons of bulletin board material as they prepare to shock the world even more. As Michael Jordan once said, “the ceiling is the roof.”

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Latest on N’Faly Dante

With August approaching quickly, all eyes have shifted to N’Faly Dante and his decision that could impact a few teams and bring one to a lethal team. Dante is a 6’11” junior from Kansas (originally Mali) and he is in the process of reclassifying but he is running short on time. Dante is said to be between Oregon, Kentucky, and LSU but if you ask me, it’s Kentucky or Oregon with LSU trending down quicker every day. With the process nearing a close, here’s what we know.

Five-star center N'Faly Dante stops and poses for a photo in New York City

Dana Altman and the coaching staff over at Oregon have done an amazing job with their pursuit of N’Faly. They have had his visit and have visited him multiple times within the past two seasons and they were the first team that showed interest in him. I can see why N’Faly would want to go to Oregon, just because of the constant love and admiration they have shown him but look at Bol Bol…no offense, Oregon did not help him whatsoever, in fact it definitely made his situation worse. But what they do have, is success with reclassified players such as Dillon Brooks and Francis Okoro. When it comes to it, Oregon will be hard to turn down for N’Faly.

With Kentucky, you know what I think. Kentucky would allow N’Faly to develop his full potential with the help of Kenny Payne and John Calipari, I mean just look at their success with the big men. Kentucky offers a challenge that any other school cannot do but it comes at a cost. Kentucky is the standard for one and dones, but with every class but a few there has always been competition that cuts playing time which means less time to showcase skill. Cal has never held back anyone (shut up Booker fans) and he always allows them to strive once they hit their peak. N’Faly would have to accept a lesser role, due to Richards, Sestina, and Montgomery but it would also allow him the opportunity to grow and fully enhance his game at an elite level, on a national stage every single night.

N’Faly would put Oregon into the top 25, would they stay there? My guess is probably not. He would make Kentucky a top 2 team and they’d be there all year. If he commits, he’d give Kentucky the best odds to win the tournament but there is still some waiting to be done. With the Peach Jam and the summer circuit closing shortly, N’Faly is waiting on some test results but all signs point to a reclassification. His host mom loves Kentucky, so does his AAU director…calling them “family.” I firmly believe he will be a Wildcat in due time, just be patient with the process.

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Let’s See How the NCAA Can Mess This Up

The Kentucky family lost one of the most beloved members of their community when Jared Lorenzen passed away due to kidney, heart complications as well as an infection. Since then, Kentucky fans have raised nearly $100,000 for Jared’s family (huge s/o KSR) and have shown why being a Kentucky fan is still one of the greatest things in the world. We’re a family, who will do anything for anyone. Which leads us to Terry Wilson. A week or so ago Terry Wilson tweeted that he wanted to “rock the deuce deuce” for opening day and we thought it may be far fetched, but apparently not.

According to WLex 18, Stoops said “He reached out to me right after it happened and my initial thought was, that’s a great idea.” One of the big obstacles was the coaching staff, just because a lot goes into the numbering as well as the planning, but with Stoops on board there is only one thing that could stop this…the NCAA.  Our good friends over at the NCAA love to ruin good things, like NCAA Football. But they could step in saying this isn’t allowed due to money allocation on the sales of the #3 jersey or that they do not want to set a precedent that players can just change numbers whenever, but I think they should just let this happen.

Think about this…if the sales of #3 dip, then just make a #22. You know how many fans would scoop up a newer version of a Lorenzen jersey? This would also give them good press for the first time in a very long time and would seemingly put them in good graces with Kentucky (for the time being). With Stoops, our athletic department, and pretty much everyone else on board, let’s hope they don’t ruin this.

If Terry Wilson is able to pull this off, how beloved will he be? Kentucky will definitely have a ceremony on before their opening kick and may even wear some “22” stickers but if Terry Wilson changes his number for a game that would be the sign of ultimate respect and a way for him to win over some fans. As for Lorenzen, he was the one that got me into Kentucky Football. The “Hefty Lefty” inspired many and lived the dream of any player raised in Kentucky. Wic wrote a piece on him the other day (here) but our continued thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends. In 2016, he said “Life’s too short to cry about stuff. So get out there laugh, smile, and have fun doing it.” So let’s take those words and live on. See you on the other side, 22.

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ESPN Does Not Include Kentucky In Top 10 of SEC

As Football season finally approaches, predictions are coming out daily. When SEC Media day began, I for one was hopeful we’d get an ounce of respect just because we went 5-3 in the league last season, but yet again I was wrong. The Louisville Courier Journal released their predictions for the SEC and had Kentucky ranked fourth in the East, behind Georgia, Florida, and Missouri…two teams Kentucky beat last season (on the road) and play at home this season but that’s not what is dumb. ESPN decided to run their ranking of SEC teams and well, Kentucky isn’t even in the top 10 and oh yeah, there’s only 14 if you forgot.

ESPN ranked the top teams in the following order: Alabama, Georgia, LSU, Florida, Auburn, Texas A&M, Tennessee, Mississippi State, South Carolina, and then Missouri. To be fair, I do think the top three are accurate and there is no argument from probably anyone. Kentucky should fit in before or after Florida but with the game being at Kroger Field and Kentucky whooping their ass last season Kentucky should be fourth. We lost important parts to both our defense and our offense, beginning with Josh Allen and Benny Snell but we bring back our QB, a fantastic O-Line and D-line, and oh yeah Lynn Bowden who will probably get over 1,000 this year.

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Kentucky Football is going to be something special this season, all of Big Blue Nation knows that. The team will use this hate as motivation much like they did last season and our offense is going to be special. If Terry can be Florida game Terry, he could break some records and lead our offense to heights we haven’t seen since 22 held down the fort. AJ Rose and Smoke will be more than enough to balance the loss of Benny but Lynn Bowden will steal the show. We saw how special he could be last season, especially against Florida and Penn State, but I’d expect it much more often this season. Our defense will struggle at first, much like any new defense. But with the D-Line coming back in a big way, Stoops will get his defense back to top shape in no time.

As a Kentucky fan my entire life, we’re not used to being good at football. This is a special time in the Bluegrass and we need to take full advantage of it. Embrace the hate, just like this team will. And when it is all said and done, they’ll make the media look dumber than they did last season. For more Kentucky news, follow us on Twitter @soft7sports and on Facebook.

Could 2020 be Calipari’s Best Class Yet?

With the 2019 recruiting class coming to an end with only the possible reclassification from N’Faly Dante, it’s time to starting looking at 2020 and how they team could look. With expectations high in 2019, Kentucky could possibly lose: Hagans, Quickley, Montgomery, Richards, Maxey, Brooks, Juzang…there are endless possibilities. Realistically, we lose 2 out of 3 guards (Hagans, Quickley, Maxey), probably lose both our centers (Montgomery, Richards), and either Brooks or Juzang, and Sestina for sure due to being a graduate transfer. So we could be looking at another complete rebuild down in Lexington, but with Calipari at the helm it isn’t impossible to say the least.

To start, N’Faly Dante would be a nice addition to this class if he doesn’t reclassify. I do think his recruitment opens up a ton if he doesn’t reclassify, but I like Kentucky’s chances. I’ve written a ton on him as it is, so check it out here.

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Another name to keep an eye on is Brandon Boston Jr. The #10 player in the class and the #2 shooting guard, Boston is a very versatile player who many see as a lock to Kentucky but is also considering Duke and Auburn. He is an amazing shooter as well as a great rebounder but needs to work on his strength if he wants to make it in the long run, but Cal can bring so much out in him.

Jalen Green is another player Kentucky has their sights on as he is a top 5 player and would be Kentucky’s first since 2015. He is a heavy Memphis favorite but as we saw him in the Peach Jam, the dude can ball. Again, Memphis is the favorite but Calipari has been in touch with him a lot more recently so only time will tell. Penny could also fail big time this season which would lose him recruits and respect.

In terms of forwards, the class is stacked with virtually no one leaning anyway. Isaiah Todd was one that many people thought would reclassify to join Kentucky in 2019 but once he ruled that out he opened up a little bit. Many people still see Kentucky as a lock but North Carolina is also in the mix. Makur Maker is another one but with no offer from Kentucky it seems his interest will shift until he gets one. He has spoken very highly of Calipari and his staff but they’re focused more on N’Faly. Cliff Omoruyi would be a work in progress, but he’s coming from the same school Briscoe and Whitney came from so Cal has ties there.

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Lastly, wing Scottie Barnes. Scottie was the first one offered in 2020 from Kentucky. Cal offered him when he was a sophomore in high school which is super rare for Calipari. Barnes could be a special player and could be a (healthy) Jarred Vanderbilt when he arrives. Great rebounder, great passer, great defender, but scoring could improve. With Kenny Payne taking the helm on his recruiting, if we want him we’ll get him. Oregon is considered the favorite but with a year, so much can change.

There is still so much time to figure out the 2020 class and I’ll provide updates when I can. But with 4/5 of these guys, Calipari can bring him maybe his best class with it headlining N’Faly Dante or Scottie Barnes. I think we’ll be just fine after we win #9 this season. For the latest updates, follow us on Twitter @soft7sports and on Facebook.

The Most Important Series of the Year

Well the series after All-Star break can tell you a lot, but one thing it showed us is that this team is still not in sync. With the offense exploding for 28 runs in three games, the pitching struggled and allowed 23. Unfortunately for the Reds, the only solid pitching they had all weekend was Sonny Gray but they lost due to 2 home runs given up by Hernandez in a wildly disappointing 2-3 loss. Which brings us to now. The Reds march into Wrigley with a lot riding on this series. Sitting at 42-48, if the Reds get swept they could be 9.5 games out with all hope lost and with the deadline coming up, it could be a selling fest. But, they they win two or even sweep the Cubs, they’ll be 4.5 or 3.5 games out and that changes the narrative. Let’s take a look.

Tonight we’ve got our ace, Luis Castillo on the mound going up against Kyle Hendricks. Hendricks is 1-1 against the Reds this season while Castillo sits at 1-1 as well. By all means, this will be the lowest scoring game of the season as Hendricks knows how to pitch the Reds, but he is 0-1 at home against them this year. Castillo is just about the same, he’ll find a way to shut down the Cubs offense as he has this season it just depends whose offense shows up first. Personally, I think the Reds win this game because there is a chip on their shoulder and they need to prove themselves before it is too late.

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Game two we got DeSclafani going up against Alec Mills who is making his first start of the 2019 season. DeSclafani is 2-0 against Chicago this season while Mills beat the Reds last season. It will more than likely be a high scoring game but the Reds need it. Game three will be between Sonny Gray and Yu Darvish. Gray is 2-0 against the Cubs, while Darvish is 1-1. The Reds have the pitching advantage all series. It will come down to the offensive side of the ball but with it being it Wrigley, the Reds scored 24 runs back in May. The Reds need a sweep to remain relevant, but will they get it?

By all accounts the Reds have shown they have what it takes to beat the Cubs this season. Winning 6 of 9 from the Cubbies, they need these next 3 as their season may depend on it. If they lose all three or even 2, they’ll be 8.5 or 9.5 back with all hope pretty much gone. With the deadline coming up, the Reds could sell and get a plethora of prospects especially if Castillo goes on the market. So let’s sit back and just watch the most important series of the year…let’s go Redlegs.