Top 5 Players in the Calipari Era

Last night at dinner, I was focused in on a conversation where people were rating the best players in the Calipari Era and I feel like everyone has the same 5 but just in a different order. So I decided to do my own ranking and I want feedback. Feel free to respond to this post or tweet me (here), I’m always open to discussion and arguing if need be. So let’s get to it…here are my top 5.

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#5 Karl Anthony Towns

Karl Anthony Towns was the 2nd ranked recruit in the 2014 class behind Emmanuel Mudiay. KAT was apart of one of the greatest teams ever assembled in college basketball and he averaged 10.3 Pts, 6.7 Reb, 1.1 Ast per game. Keep in mind, his stats would have been a ton higher if Kentucky had not platooned, but he sacrificed for a chance to win a title and he should have won one if they allowed reviews or if they had called a damn shot clock violation against Wisconsin but whatever, I’m not mad. KAT was taken #1 overall to the Minnesota Timberwolves and is continuing to find his place and lead his less than average team. Towns was a huge part of the success in the 38-1 season and was set on Kentucky from day one in his recruiting. He may not have averaged a ton of anything or even had a record but his sacrifices and his love for the school are shown every day. How could you not like KAT?

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#4 Demarcus Cousins

Demarcus “Boogie” Cousins was the first to follow Calipari to Kentucky days after he signed his contract. Previously committed to Memphis, Cousins came to Kentucky only for Calipari but he grew into one of the most beloved Wildcats of all time. For me, when he fought Louisville single handedly and won, I knew he’d be remembered forever. His passion for the game and his antics against Mississippi State saying “call me” after they called him all week then having an unreal game was just unreal. And then the best moment…The moment that ranks in my top 5 was the SEC title game against Mississippi State. Throughout the year, Mississippi State had talked shit to the Cats and especially Demarcus Cousins when they found his phone number and called him hundred of thousands of times before the game in Starkville which Kentucky won 81-75 and the famous “call me” moment from Cousins was there. They met again in the SEC final and it came down to a missed free throw, missed 3, then a miraculous tap in by Boogie as time expired. The best part about this was the team ran around like they won and piled on Demarcus. Once they calmed, they won the game in OT and it is a memory that is forever sketched in Kentucky history.

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#3 Brandon Knight

This is where I may lose a few of you all, but here me out. After the 2009-2010 season where we had Wall, Cousins, Bledsoe…everyone thought Kentucky would be taken down and really had no chance but we made it to the Final Four and a huge part of the reason was Brandon Knight. Knight came out of Florida and was a presumed 4 year player, stating that education was first and foremost…but while he was at Kentucky he evolved into a star averaging 17.3 points per game, 4 rebounds, and 4.2 assist. Knight was then selected in the lottery the following year but there is one moment that stands out and cements him in history…First off, this team was built for March. It was Calipari’s first “be patient” team with Kentucky and he set the bar high. Coming in as a four seed, the Cats barely moved past Princeton (again thanks to Knight) then had to beat the team that eliminated them in 2010…West Virginia. The matchup with Ohio State was supposed to be a slide through for the Buckeyes, yet Kentucky fought every single second and then the beauty happened. As Ohio State just tied it up, Kentucky dribbles down and you hear “he’ll wait till about 8 seconds” and sure enough he did. Knight pulls up on Craft and sinks in. No celebration and then Craft passes it to Buford who then bricks a three and Harrellson taps it as hard as possible. This moment was everything for Kentucky and it makes Brandon Knight a legend.

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#2 John Wall

Wall was the next domino that fell after Calipari and Cousins and boy was it an important one. John Wall was as dominant as you could hope for out of a college point guard and it was shown from his first game. After being suspended at the beginning, Wall played his first game against Miami where he pulled up and sunk the game winner…and boom a legend was born. John Wall led this team all the way to the Elite 8 and we all know what happened there. He averaged 16.6 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 6.7 assists per game while also bringing a certain swagger back to Kentucky. On Big Blue Madness, Wall unveiled his signature “John Wall Dance” and it got the Wildcat fans stirring. Everyone in the BBN was doing the dance and a song even came from it.

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#1 Anthony Davis

This has to be a consensus #1 in the Calipari Era. Anthony Davis led Kentucky back to the promised land and he did it while changing what Calipari is known for. Cal was always a point guard guy but when Davis came he turned to big men and Davis was the perfect one to start with. He averaged 14.2 points per game along with 10.4 rebounds and he won the Wooden Player of the Year, the 2nd freshman behind KD. Davis was drafted number one overall to the Pelicans and has since joined the Lakers. He could become the first Calipari Era player to win an NBA title and doing it with the King by his side. Davis had probably the best moment against Louisville as he screamed “this is my state” after knocking them off in the Final Four. While he struggled from the field in the National Championship, he led the way with 16 rebounds, 6 blocks, and 5 assists. While he shot 1/10 from the field, he made sure he impacted in every other way. Kentucky won it all and a huge part of it was because of him which lands him at #1.

Let me know what you think, feel free to tweet me @soft7juice and make sure you follow us on Twitter @soft7sports and on Facebook.

Tides Are Turning in the Bluegrass

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.

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. Which brings us to yesterday.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: JAN 01 Citrus Bowl - Kentucky v Penn State

Yesterday, Kentucky Football stole a recruit right from Michigan. In quite possibly one of the deepest, coolest commitment videos of all time, Kalil Branham announced his intentions to join the 2020 squad. Check it out here if you missed it. He said he always felt connected to the Blue, but got it wrong with his first choice and God showed him the way to the Big Blue Nation when everyone, including his coaches, shunned him after deciding Michigan. The four star has drawn comparisons to Lynn Bowden but either way he is a huge get for Kentucky.

We had another Yahtzee yesterday in the form of 4-Star Defensive End Samuel Anaele who was drawing interest from Florida, Georgia, Michigan, and Oregon. Just take that in for a minute…Kentucky is beating out the top teams in recruiting and their doing it while trying to build a program at the same time. A team that is second fiddle to Basketball is soon becoming their equal counterpart and a huge part of it is due to Mark Stoops and Vince Marrow. Kentucky is now ranked 22nd in terms of recruiting for the 2020 class and there are so many more on the way. Let’s keep it moving and let’s prove everyone wrong.

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N’Faly Latest, Thoughts After Visit

These past few days, the #2 center in the class of 2020 visited Kentucky with thoughts of reclassifying. Wic went on Everything College Basketball, the podcast, to discuss him as a player and where he stands now…check it out here. For those of you who do not know, he is from Wichita. Along with his family, Kentucky is also pushing for a reclassification due to his ability to own the paint and it doesn’t hurt that he is long as hell. While he is technically 6 foot 11 inches, his wingspan stretches to 7 foot 5 and some measurements even think it is bigger. His length allows him to have an elite shot blocking ability and there is no one better to teach him the game than Kentucky’s own Kenny Payne. You know, the guy who trained AD, KAT, Bam and pretty much every single big Calipari has ever produced. Payne can bring out the raw talent that Dante possesses and he could easily learn behind Montgomery and Richards. But as he wrapped up his visit with the Cats, here is where I think we stand.

According to all accounts, N’Faly loved his visit to Kentucky. In fact, his AAU director called Kenny Payne “family” and his host mom called Kentucky “extraordinary.” N’Faly Dante has the potential to be the next big man to successfully come out of Kentucky but it would take some building. He has the skills, the has the work ethic, and Kenny Payne and Calipari could bring him to his full potential. Right now, he is a more a Bam with his defense and lack of an outside shot…but with work and constant practice, Dante could transform into a KAT with the ability to play anywhere. I think Dante is a stud and he could possibly be a two year player which would just further enhance the roster.

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According to sources, N’Faly and his family want to reclassify. There is a huge hiccup though and it comes with the fact he is from Mali and english is his second language. As Wic discussed on the podcast, reclassifying is hard enough as it is but it is even harder when english isn’t your first language but Kyle Tucker (via the Athletic) claims that they are working around the clock to do everything they can to potentially bring him up.

Here are my thoughts…if and it’s about 50/50 right now, IF N’Faly reclassifies Kentucky is in the driver’s seat. He could potentially stay home at Kansas and even Oregon is atop of is list, but Kentucky is the school he has his eyes on and his host family feels the exact same way. If I had to take a guess, I think he will reclassify but it would happen after Peach Jam and those AAU events. This gives him more time to visit, work on school work, and show off his skills against the elite of the elite. It may be a waiting process, but I think the Cats wrap up their 2019 recruiting class with N’Faly.

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Most Important Week of the Year

After this next week, the MLB officially goes on their All-Star break and it is a great time to build momentum towards a strong second half of the season. The Reds are coming off another series win against the Chicago Cubs and currently sit at 38-43 which is 5.5 games back in the NL Central and they have a chance to gain even more ground because the Brewers enter for a 4 game series starting tonight. The Reds need to win this series, they somehow need to sneak at least three wins from them and continue their momentum from yesterday’s huge win against the Cubs.

Yesterday, the Cubs fought back from a 4-0 deficit and made it 4-3 after a very controversial pulling of Anthony Desclafani, who only threw 73 pitches allowing 5 hits, 1 walk, and striking out 7. In the bottom of the eighth, the Reds tacked on 4 more runs which showed their fight and gave us a glimpse at how fun this Reds team can really be. Let’s go back to the pulling of Desclafani…David Bell has done this quite a lot where he pulls the starter no matter what the situation is after the 6th and people gave him shit for it but I’ll defend him here.

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Bell went to the bullpen for the final three innings and who cares? The Reds have the 3rd best bullpen in the league and Desclafani struggles when he sees a lineup the third time around. This was the right call. You think Bell knew that Lorenzen would suck? Definitely not, he went to who he trusted more with the Cubs lethal lineup and I respect the move. They went on the win but not comfortably, 8-6 after Iglesias gave up a 3 three bomb in the top of the ninth. Regardless, still a huge series win and they remain Cub Killers. Which brings us the the most important week of the year.

The division leading Milwaukee Brewers march into town coming off a series win over the Pirates. The Reds need this series. They need at least three wins out of the four games and it would bring them 41-44 and brings them to presumably 4 out in the division. With the return of Scooter, Geno being Geno, Votto on a tear, Puig waking up, and the 3rd best pitching in the league, this team could put together a run. This could start the push towards October and build the momentum needed for a strong second half…but it has to start tonight. Also huge shoutout to Luis Castillo for making the All-Star game, what a day for him.

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Huge Update for 2019-2020 Roster

As it was reported earlier this week from Evan Daniels and company, N’Faly Dante is currently on Kentucky’s campus and is absolutely “loving it” according to his father. When Kerry Blackshear committed to Florida, Kentucky immediately switched to their Plan B (should have been Plan A). N’Faly Dante is strongly considering reclassifying to 2019 but as Kyle Tucker put in his piece on the Athletic, “Any time with a kid who has English as his second language, he’s had to work his butt off academically. That’s not an easy thing to do. So they’re still trying to push through all of those requirements and make sure they make the best decision for him. It’s as much an academic question as it is athletic, because obviously he has the talent to play right now. They have to make sure the I’s are dotted and the T’s are crossed, so it’s all still up in the air because of that.”

N’Faly Dante is the 2nd ranked center in the 2020 class but his family seems to be pushing for him to reclassify into 2019. While he is from Wichita, Kentucky is also pushing for a reclassification due to his ability to own the paint and it doesn’t hurt that he is long as hell. While he is technically 6 foot 11 inches, his wingspan stretches to 7 foot 5 and some measurements even think it is bigger. His length allows him to have an elite shot blocking ability and there is no one better to teach him the game than Kentucky’s own Kenny Payne. You know, the guy who trained Boogie, AD, KAT, Bam and pretty much every single big Calipari has ever produced. Payne can bring out the raw talent that Dante possesses and he could easily learn behind Montgomery and Richards. 

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Not only does Dante fit perfect into Kentucky, his host mom calls Kentucky “extraordinary” and his AAU director calls Kenny Payne “family.” N’Faly Dante has the potential to be the next big man to successfully come out of Kentucky but it would take some building. He has the skills, the has the work ethic, and Kenny Payne and Calipari could bring him to his full potential. Right now, he is a more a Bam with his defense and lack of an outside shot…but with work and constant practice, Dante could transform into a KAT with the ability to play anywhere. I think Dante is a stud and he could possibly be a two year player which would just further enhance the roster.

Dante is still considering the reclassification as well as a few other schools including Kansas, LSU, Oregon, and a few others. I think Kentucky is easily in the driver’s seat and this weekend could pull him closer to the 2019 reclassification. Our 2019 roster is already stacked, but Dante brings more depth, more competition, and an all around better feel around the team especially with adding another 5. Time will tell, but I think Dante reclassifies and joins Kentucky in the coming weeks.

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Kash Daniel Has a Message to the Haters

Disrespect is a key term that will pop up with this Kentucky Football team time and time again. First it was Phil Steele prediciting this team would not make a bowl game, then it was Terry Wilson being ranked last in the SEC by some goof at ESPN, next it was Phil Steele again being an idiot by saing Kentucky will go 5-7, and lastly they have set the over/under for the Football squad at 6 games. Well that is what officially set off Kash Daniel as he was recorded yesterday saying some kind words about their decisions…

Kentucky Football is coming off their best season in years. Their defense may be weaker but it starts with Kash Daniel. The senior linebacker recorded 82 tackles last season (including assist) and a sack. He played through multiple injuries including a broken hand and he has as much passion as anyone who has ever played at Kentucky. Kash will lead this team into the trenches and he strives off of the hate. Kash will lead us above the six wins they say we’ll get and he will lead us right back into the top 25.

Bottom line is that Kentucky, yet again, has been given no respect. Sure, it’s frustrating, but the cats thrive in the underdog role. At least, the last couple of years. Mark Stoops has proven time and time again that BBN is not something to mess with. He has shown that he can make something out of nothing putting 2-star recruits in the NFL. It will be interesting to see what he can do with one of the best recruiting class in UK history.

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Please Keep Hating on the Cats, More Disrespect

As a Kentucky fan, we’re not used to having a talented football team year in and year out. But this is our chance to build Kentucky football into a respectful and dangerous team, especially coming off a 10-3 season and a Citrus Bowl victory. On the offensive end, Kentucky lost essentially Benny but they placed him with Smoke and Rose. Our defensive may be weaker due to losing pretty much our most important assets but to say that they’ll fall from 10-3 to 5-7 is just so disrespectful. Phil Steele is a idiot, the same idiot that said Missouri would make a bowl game even though they’re banned. Kentucky has the chance to be something special, so let’s take a look at how they can be.

First off, their schedule is a tad easier than last season. They have their rivals, Louisville, Florida, and Tennessee at home while traveling to Mississippi State, Georgia, and South Carolina. Kentucky will win four of those six games…with losses probably coming to Georgia and Mississippi State if I had to guess. But our good pal Phil claims Kentucky will only win five games and he states that the loss of our defense is too major to recover yet Mark Stoops has had an inexperienced defense every season besides last and we’ve still been able to reach the seven wins. But this year is different, mainly because our offense is so much better.

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Terry Wilson has what it takes to be an elite quarterback. He is tall, athletic, and can run the RPO offense which the NFL seems to be leaning towards. He has the arm to make the downfield threat but you really never know where his ball will go. He has experienced the lowest of lows, including his season opener against Central Michigan where he went 11-18 with only 78 yards and 2 interceptions but he also has had his highlights when he beat Florida at the Swamp by throwing two touchdowns and running for one more. Terry has shown he has what it takes, especially against Kentucky’s rival opponents. To say he is the worst quarterback in the SEC after he led Kentucky into the Swamp to defeat Franks and the Gators to end a long streak. To have Franks ranked above Terry is just as disrespectful as having Terry last.

If you look at Terry’s stats last season, the games he struggled in seemed to be the games that Benny excelled (minus Louisville where everyone killed it). Benny Snell was the best running back to come through Kentucky, we will not find another like him for a while. But what Kentucky does have is AJ Rose. AJ perfectly complements Terry. He is not the elite runner that Benny was, but he has the ability to be more effective in the passing game. No offense to Benny at all, like I said he was the best Kentucky has had, but he struggled in the passing game. Rose will perfectly complement Terry due to his ability to turn upfield and be more of a dual threat where Benny would just run over everyone.

So as the disrespect rolls in, let’s just remember this team. Last year they were underrated and they strived on proving everyone wrong…I have a feeling it will be the same this year. So call Terry the worst in the SEC, say they won’t be in a bowl game, say they’ll only win five games…because at the end of the day this team will again prove everyone wrong and we’ll all be able to laugh at the joke Phil Steele is.

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