Big Man Update for 2019

We have entered the dog days of summer where it’s basically just baseball for the next few weeks. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge Reds fan, but with college football just around the corner it’s hard to stay focused. College Football I love, but for the sole reason that Basketball is just a few more months away. When Calipari came to Kentucky, he brought the program back to where it should be and this year is no different. With the number two recruiting class and a ton of players returning, Kentucky is set out to do what it did in 2012 and this is the team to do so.

The role that maybe scares me the most, the big men. The bigs are definitely improved. Not only do we return Nick Richards and EJ Montgomery but Kentucky adds special talent to help them out. Kahlil Whitney is the player I am most excited for next season. After watching hours of his highlights, he reminds me of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist with the jumping ability of Hamidou Diallo. Expect two alley-oops a game and several players’ careers being ended by getting dunked on. Along with Whitney, Kentucky brings in Keion Brooks, Dontaie Allen, Johnny Juzang, and Nate Sestina. Allen could be a legit player once he is healthy, and Keion brings on a special skill set including rim protector. Juzang could be this years Tyler Herro will his shooting ability and Sestina brings the experience and the shooting/defensive ability needed. But when we look at the 5, only three people can play it: EJ Montgomery, Nick Richards, and Nate Sestina.

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First off, the most important piece is Nick Richards. He is probably the biggest question mark mainly because he is just so damn inconsistent. If he can play like Bam did where he’d get 10-15 rebounds scoring a few here and there that’s about all we can ask for, but we’ve seen how much fouling comes into play with him but as a Junior let’s hope he can work on that. EJ is going to be different. Much like Hagans, EJ added some muscle and has been in the gym daily. I think he’ll play like a peak WCS with glimpses of KAT on the shooting end. Nate Sestina is going to be a lot like Kyle Wiltjer just imagine more height, more athleticism and the ability to actually play defense. Dude can shoot and defend, so he’ll be a solid option for when Richards or Montgomery inevitably get into foul trouble. I think it’s definitely our weakness, but our plethora of forwards (3/4 position) allow this team to hide it if need be.

For only the second time in the Calipari era, Kentucky returns four players who averaged double digits in minutes and more than 4 points per game. The last time that happened? Kentucky went 38-1* and got screwed in the Final Four with a non call on a shot clock violation. Now to sit here and say this team will go 40-0 is just outrageous, but they can make a run. They return their guards in Ashton Hagans and Immanuel Quickley who both improved tremendously as the season progressed. They both could be apart of the best backcourt in college basketball next season along with Tyrese Maxey. Tyrese Maxey has an uncanny ability to get to the rim. Think of John Wall with the ability to shoot outside of 15 feet. He’s going to be a special player and I can see him assuming the starting role at point guard if Hagans is underperforming but they’ll be a great mix.

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Obviously there is one more option: N’Faly Dante. While Dante is 6’11”, he has a wingspan of 7’5” which just makes him a beast. Watching some of his highlights, I feel like Dante is the closest to Bam. Bam was an absolute tank but he wasn’t the best shooter. His defense will set him apart from the others as he is a complete package with shot-blocking and rebounding and the ability to switch off the pick. The issue Dante may have is his outside shot. While he drains threes in his videos, his shot is just so inconsistent. With his height, he has the ability to again rebound and dunk but he’ll need to develop an outside shot and it will take patience from everyone. He has the peak of a Karl Anthony Towns with his athleticism and he can grow into a shot and with Kenny Payne, this is possible. With the Jam coming to an end, N’Faly showed he is college ready with his shot blocking and dunking ability. Now we just wait for him.

My thoughts stay the same, N’Faly will be a Wildcat just give him some time to get everything sorted out. This week showed he’s ready to go and he’ll add a much needed depth in the 5 spot. Be sure to follow us on Twitter @soft7sports and on Facebook.

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Jarred Vanderbilt Showing Serious Potential in Summer League

Due to a nagging ankle injury, we have had to wait longer than expected to see how Jarred Vanderbilt would pan out in the NBA. And if his performance in this year’s Summer League is an indication of anything, well, Vanderbilt is going to be a freaking hoss.

We all know Jarred Vanderbilt as the tireless rebounder and with relentless tenacity. He has lived up to every bit of that expectation in the last couple of games. Posting 12 points and 12 boards per game has squashed every last doubt I had about him. On Wednesday alone, Vanderbilt dropped 20 points and 17 rebounds in one of the best performances in the summer so far.

In fact, the 12 rebounds per game makes him the best rebounder in the Summer League. Vando joins former Wildcat Jamal Murray on a forward heavy Nuggets team. He will have to compete with Paul Millsap, Michael Porter Jr, Mason Plumlee Torrey Craig and Jeremi Grant for playing time, but anyone who can board like him will definitely begin to earn his minutes and hopefully a larger contract. After all, board man gets paid.

I know it’s just Summer League and we should not get too excited just yet, but if this is any sign of things to come, then all of Big Blue Nation should be very excited. For more updates on the BBNBA and sports content follow us on Twitter @soft7sports and on Facebook.

BREAKING: Russell Westbrook Traded to Houston

For Chris Paul, two first round picks, and an additional two first round pick swaps, Russell Westbrook will be playing in Texas next year wearing that Rocket red. This brings Sam Presti’s acquired picks via trade up to 12 following the PG, Grant, and (now) Russ trades. If you’re keeping track, Sam Presti has now traded two All-Stars on bloated contracts (with two good shoulders and one good leg between them) for 11 first round picks, an expiring contract, an All-Star, and an amazing young asset that has the potential to be an All-Star.

Wish I had a media vote to give Sam Presti for GM of the year.

2019 Louisville vs. Kentucky Basketball Date Is Set

The date has been set for one of the best rivalries in college basketball. The Kentucky Wildcats will take on the Louisville Cardinals on Satuday, December 28th, 2019, at Rupp Arena in Lexington, KY. The game will air on CBS

This will be the 53rd time installment of the rivalry. Kentucky currently leads the all time series 36-16. Calipari has never lost to Louisville in Rupp and is 10-1 against UofL since he arrived at Kentucky (10-2 depending on your stance on vacated wins). This includes a 71-58 win last year in the KFC Yum! Center.

Kentucky should prevail in defending their home court, but Chris Mack may have something up his sleeve with his “Super Six” recruiting class.

Let us know your predictions in the comments or on Twitter and Facebook and follow us for more content from the Bluegrass.

Liverpool Fan Banned from Matches for 3 Years for Pushing People in Fountain

The NBA has some of the pettiest fans in sports. And while it normally begins and ends with twitter arguments and comment sections and never anything face to face, they are still beat out the baseball purists for the pettiest in the United States. But the NBA stans are nothing compared to European soccer fans. They are the crackheads of sports fans and are actually afraid of nothing. Unfortunately for them, this does have its consequences.

The Liverpool faithful made the trip to Barcelona for the Champions League Semi Final including Anthony Mullen, a lifelong LFC fan. Instead of just getting way too drunk, talking shit, and jumping through a table like a normal fan; he decided to act like a 13 year old girl at the mall. Mullen has been banned from matches for 3 years for pushing people into a fountain in Barcelona. Watch the classic prank below:

The sopping wet Spaniard told BBC Sports that he felt “targeted and humiliated” after the soaking.

Cincinnati Reds Hidden Gems Part 2: AAA All-Star

Originally, the Reds Hidden Treasure blog was only supposed to be a one time post about the Louisville Bats’ Brian O’Grady. But in a shocking turn of events, the AAA affiliate of Cincinnati has an unprecedented SECOND elite prospect that has not yet been called up to the majors. Arisitides Aquino is having a phenomenal season in Louisville. With 20 home runs, 39 RBI’s and a .293 batting average; he is proving to be one of the best players in the Reds farm system. And his performance landed him a spot in the AAA All-Star game.

As you can see in the tweet from the Bats above, Aquino is no stranger to all-star games. He has played in the Advanced-A, AA, and AAA all-star games. Hopefully, it is only a matter of time until he is playing in the MLB. It is awesome to finally be excited for prospects in the Reds’ system instead of just a couple players on the top team. The wait for another Reds playoff appearance is almost over and now they are building up the young talent to keep them in contention for years to come.

Aquino went 0-2 in his two plate appearances in the 9-3 loss to the Pacific Coast League All-Stars. Also, if anyone can tell me why minor league baseball leagues are named the same way batteries are, that would be great. Follow me on twitter @soft7wic and our main account @soft7sports for everything Reds.

Aaron Harrison Underwhelms in Summer League with Celtics

Aaron Harrison is the classic college basketball case of “what the hell happened?” After an incredible 2 year career at Kentucky, he has had a serious fall from grace. In his freshman year, Harrison’s last second heroics was the sole reason Kentucky made it to the NCAA finals. The next season, he was on the 38-1 Final Four team where he started over Devin Booker. Probably the best team ever that did not win a championship. Obviously, the kid can ball. But every since he left Lexington, he hasn’t been able to get a solid footing in the NBA.

Harrison currently plays for Galatasaray in the Turkish Super Ligi, but is using this summer to take another stab at the NBA with the Celtics Summer League squad. Sadly, it looks like he may be heading back to Turkey for at least another year. In the Celtics’ three Summer League games, he is averaging 5.3 points and 1.7 rebounds. Not exactly the kind of production Danny Ainge wants to see in a possible signee. For a SG/SF to really impress in Boston, he is going to need a lot more than the occasion three pointer in 14 minutes of play. Here are his full stats from his three games:

vs. Denver

vs. Cleveland

vs. Philadelphia

It looks like it is going to be another fruitless summer for Aaron Harrison. Sad to see especially from such an amazing college player who gave us some of the best moments in Kentucky March Madness history.

Be sure to follow us on Twitter @soft7sports for much more coming.