Tag:Kentucky
Posted on: June 20, 2011 3:08 pm
Edited on: June 20, 2011 3:09 pm
 

Brandon Ashley stakes claim to top-five ranking

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By Jeff Borzello

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – When discussing the top players in the class of 2012, Brandon Ashley is not always mentioned in the case for number one.

Ashley takes offense to that.

“I definitely feel like I belong in the top five,” he said. “I know I’m just as good or better. My skill level is not an issue. I just have to play harder, play more consistently.”

The 6-foot-9 forward from Bishop O’Dowd (Calif.) certainly made his case at the NBPA Top 100 camp last week. Ashley showed off his all-around skill set, scoring with his back to the basket and knocking down face-up jumpers. He runs the floor better than most big men, and also handles the ball and passes well for someone his size.

Ashley’s potential is through the roof, and when he brings maximum effort, he is tough to contain.

“I’m trying to become an all-around better player, an inside-outside player,” he said.

Ashley has plenty of suitors at this point, but said he is ready to cut down his list in the near future. For now, though, it seems a number of colleges have a shot at him.

“I’m wide-open, but a lot of the same schools [are involved],” Ashley said. “The Pac-10, the SEC, Kansas, schools like that. Everyone is coming at me the hardest.”

In addition to the entire Pac-10 and Kansas, Wake Forest, Texas, Georgia Tech, Ohio State, Connecticut and others are also recruiting him.

One school mentioned in association with Ashley in the past has been Kentucky, but he said the Wildcats’ pursuit has tailed off.

“They’ve sent me a few emails, but that’s it,” he said.

When Ashley does make a final decision – which doesn’t look like any time soon – he is looking for a school that already has established talent on the roster

 “I want to go to a place where I’m surrounded by good players, with a good coaching staff,” Ashley said.

Photo: Media 411


Posted on: June 16, 2011 9:54 am
 

Rodney Purvis: Duke, N.C. State sit atop his list

By Jeff Goodman

Rodney Purvis has been busy since his de-commitment from Louisville last month.

The top-ranked shooting guard in the Class of 2012 spent last weekend at the Chris Paul Camp and followed it up with an unofficial visit to Missouri – where ex-Louisville assistant Tim Fuller is now on staff.

Purvis will also head to the NBA Camp this week and plans to attend LeBron James’ Skills Academy in early July.

``If Tim Fuller had stayed at Louisville, I’d still be committed,” the 6-foot-3 guard admitted.

Purvis said that he is in the process of compiling a definitive list, but he did admit that two schools that stand at the top right now are Duke and N.C. State.

``Those are probably the two that have been on me the hardest,” he said.

Purvis also told Scout.com recently that Kentucky, Louisville and Memphis comprised the remainder of his top five
Posted on: June 13, 2011 1:29 pm
Edited on: June 13, 2011 1:30 pm
 

Ricardo Ledo aims for consistency

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By Jeff Borzello

BRONX, N.Y. -- When Ricardo Ledo is on top of his game, there's not a better scorer in the country.

However, it's his inconsistency that has prevented him from breaking into the top-five players in 2012. That was clearly on display this weekend at the Rumble in the Bronx, when Ledo lit up the scoreboard on Friday night – only to turn around and struggle immensely Saturday morning. He was scoreless for most of the early game, with his only points coming on a few late 3-pointers.

"I played a lot better yesterday," Ledo said. "I took too many 3s today."

Despite his up-and-down play at times, Ledo still ranks near the top of his class. With his combination of size and skill, he's essentially unguardable.

Ledo is confident about his standing nationally.

"I think I'm the best guard in the country," he said. "I can do so many things."

At 6-foot-6, the Notre Dame Prep (Mass.) product has the ability to see over most opposing guards. He can handle the ball well, has a very good mid-range game and can also shoot from deep. Ledo can post up smaller guards and demonstrates great body control when knocking in tough shots. He has a great first step and uses his length to finish effectively at the rim.

Ledo, who plays on the AAU circuit with Expressions Elite and the Albany City Rocks, admits he has things to work on.

"My all-around game needs to get better," he said, pointing to defense as his major weakness.

As for recruiting, the former Providence commit is taking his time wading through the myriad colleges currently courting him.

Kentucky, Syracuse, Providence and Connecticut are the four currently standing out for Ledo, but Texas, Florida, Arizona and Maryland are also heavily involved.

"I want to go somewhere I can win," he said. "Playing time is also important."

If Ledo develops consistency, though, he will likely find getting playing time won't be much of a problem. 

Photo: Rush the Court 

Posted on: June 13, 2011 11:12 am
Edited on: June 13, 2011 11:15 am
 

NCAA, Kentucky disagree on Calipari's win total



By Matt Norlander


We couldn't go too, too long this offseason without a Kentucky story, you know?

The latest mini crisis in the Bluegrass State is a debate over the true total amount of wins John Calipari has collected in his career. Calipari has seen two of his seasons -- the two seasons that, coincidentally, featured Final Four appearances -- get wiped out by the NCAA. The first was with the '96 UMass team; the second was the '08 Memphis squad, which was two Derrick Rose free throws away from a championship. Those are now seasons non grata in the NCAA's record books.

This past season, Calipari won his 500th game, or so Kentucky believed and still does. The NCAA thinks otherwise. Those '96 and '08 seasons were vacated, meaning, according to the NCAA, Calipari is stuck at 467 Ws as of now. Kentucky's public acknowledgement of this faux feat has caused the NCAA to pucker its tush and demand an apology -- yes, an apology, a five-page apology, at that. How dare Kentucky make such a big stink over its head coach reaching a milestone few men and women accomplish.

Jerry Tipton of the Lexington Herald-Leader broke the story over the weekend.

Earlier this month, the chairman of the NCAA's Committee on Infractions sent University of Kentucky President Lee T. Todd Jr. a letter asking the school to publicly acknowledge it was wrong to recognize John Calipari's 500th coaching victory this past season. Chairman Dennis E. Thomas, the commissioner of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, also told Todd that the wording of UK's statement "must be approved by the office of the Committee on Infractions prior to its release."

Thomas asked UK to respond to the letter no later than next Friday.

Spokesman Jay Blanton said Saturday that UK did not have a comment.

What's fascinating about this should-be non-story: We've go the first case of a school simply refusing to oblige by the NCAA's foolish vacate rule. The NCAA likes to retroactively take away wins and championships. It's one of the weakest, most-mocked "punishments" in sports. And now there's blowback when they didn't expect it.

According to Tipton, if the NCAA doesn't get its apology and some timely changes in the Kentucky media guides and record books, then UK officials will eventually be called to meet with the Committee on Infractions. Yes, the same group of people currently dealing with cheaters at Tennessee and Ohio State. A meeting with the COI? What a gigantic waste of time and fuel that would be. The theater of the absurd is hosting a new act.

We're talking Calipari getting a commemorative basketball and a round of applause for winning 500 games. A quick celebration at Rupp Arena. It's hardly a huge deal. But the NCAA's taking it very seriously, making the entire thing is pretty hilarious. The NCAA can't keep Kentucky from acknowledging Calipari's accomplishment, no matter how much they insist. They can't go back in time and erase the celebration from happening, just like they can't go back and erase seasons or championships from having occurred. What are they going to do, remove Kentucky from NCAA affiliation? Remove scholarships? Of course not. Another PR disaster if they did, especially considering it's Kentucky and Calipari, and both would be looked at sympathetically in this mini drama.

Suddenly the NCAA is looking like the angry neighborhood kid who's not getting its way and wants to take its ball and go home. Two steps forward, one step back with the NCAA. Same as it ever was. I wish we could vacate this kind of birdbrained behavior. 

Photo: US PRESSWIRE
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: June 10, 2011 10:31 am
 

Pitino: SEC is 'second-rate' basketball league

By Matt Norlander

Rick Pitino's capability for a good quote has too often gone overlooked. Thankfully, in the doldrums of June, college basketball's second-worst month of the year (only August is worse), Pitino has delivered some fighting words. Words that will have some lasting impact by the time Kentucky and Louisville play each other around New Year's Eve.

And the words aren't even directed at Kentucky -- they're a shot at the SEC. The Louisville coach sent a verbal barb flying Wednesday in the direction of the conference, a clear response to something John Calipari said last week.

After the SEC ditched its two-division format, opting to have one league with 12 teams, giving the league a better chance at more NCAA tournament teams, Cal said, "This is no knock on the Big East but they’ve had 19 teams in the tournament the last two years and how many have made it by the first round? How is this happening? When they start playing each other they say the 11th team is really good. What? We have to figure out how you play the best schedule you can play and still win. That’s different for all of us. I think that’s more important than 16 or 18 (conference) games." 

Card Chronicle also brings up the fact Calipari, in March, said the Big East is a product of "media hype." So Pitino, the former Kentucky coach who led them to a title in '96, clearly knew what he was doing when he said this:

The coach jabbed back just a bit tonight at a Cardinal Caravan event in Shelbyville. When introducing his son, Richard, to the crowd, he said:

"(Richard) went away for a couple of years to learn how to do things in a second-rate league, then get back to the big time."

Richard Pitino spent the past two seasons in the SEC as an assistant under Billy Donovan, a Pitino disciple. It's as much a playful jab as it is an under-the-surface shot. And a truthful one. The Big East has been a better league than the SEC for most of its existence. Undeniable. And Kentucky, you'll remember, saw its 2011 season end in the Final Four at the hands of Connecticut, a Big East team.

Photo: AP
Posted on: June 9, 2011 4:22 pm
Edited on: June 9, 2011 4:37 pm
 

Omar Calhoun visits UConn, trims list

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By Jeff Borzello

After leading the Elite Youth Basketball League in scoring – with no one even close to him – it’s clear Omar Calhoun will be able to make an immediate impact at the next level.

The 6-foot-5 Calhoun averaged 25.0 points in the 15 EYBL games, including a 38-point performance in April and a 31-point performance in the next-to-last game over Memorial Day weekend.

On Thursday, Calhoun took a surprise visit to Connecticut.

“He just finished,” Omar Calhoun Sr. said. “The visit went well.”

For several months, Calhoun has had a long list of schools under consideration, but that group has been trimmed.

According to his father, the schools Calhoun is focused on are North Carolina, Kentucky, Connecticut, Pittsburgh, Villanova, West Virginia, Seton Hall, Maryland and Georgetown.

“Those are the guys we built the best relationship with,” Calhoun Sr. said.

Calhoun, a shooting guard from Christ the King (N.Y.), has taken trips to North Carolina, Pitt, Villanova, Connecticut and Seton Hall.

No schools stand out in particular right now.

“All the schools I listed are on equal playing ground,” Calhoun Sr. said.

Photo: NY Post 

Posted on: June 6, 2011 10:58 am
 

Versatile Devonta Pollard shoots up the rankings

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Posted by Jeff Borzello

RALEIGH, N.C. – It certainly doesn’t take long to see why Devonta Pollard is one of the fastest-rising players in the class of 2012.

Pollard, a 6-foot-7 forward from Kemper County (Miss.), immediately impresses due to his long and lean frame, and his eye-popping athleticism. But he’s more than just a talent on paper.

Need to see him make a play in the paint? Pollard outleaps everyone and finishes well above the rim.

Need to see him get other players involved? Pollard draws the defense and finds a wide-open teammate near the bucket with an excellent jump-pass.

Need to see him extend his game to the perimeter? Pollard knocks down a couple of outside jumpers with range.

Of course, with all of his talents, Pollard draws attention because of his versatility. He might be the most explosive leaper in the country, but his dexterity around the rim and ability to knock down jumpers make him a must-have prospect.

“I think of myself as a three man,” Pollard said at last weekend's Tournament of Champions, where he led the Southern Phenoms to the U-17 title. “I’m being recruited as a three.”

Among the schools recruiting him include Mississippi State, Alabama, Georgetown, Mississippi, LSU, Kentucky and Missouri.

Pollard insists he has no favorites, and will take his time with a decision.

“I want to take some more visits, then make a decision in my senior year,” he said.

While roundball is in his immediate future, Pollard said the factors that go into his college choice will include more than just the basketball program and coaching staff.

Academics are important to Pollard.

“I don’t want to just be good at basketball,” he said.

For now, he’s more than just “good” when it comes to the hardwood. Pollard is a lock to be ranked in everyone’s top 20 after the spring and summer.

While it’s a nice feeling, Pollard said the high rankings also motivate him.

“It’s good,” he said. “But it also lets me know that I have to work harder."

Photo: Meridian Star 

Posted on: June 3, 2011 8:38 am
 

Kuran Iverson stays out of the spotlight



Posted by Jeff Borzello

RALEIGH, N.C. – For such a highly-ranked player, Kuran Iverson gets very little coverage on a consistent basis.

It could be attributed to his lack of appearances on the AAU circuit, the fact he plays for a small school in Connecticut, or simply because you don’t know where and when he will show up.

For example, it was rumored he would play with the Long Island Lightning at the Tournament of Champions. On Friday, he wasn’t there. After a flight delay, Iverson appeared on Saturday to help lead the Lightning to the U-16 championship game.

“I haven’t played ball in awhile,” Iverson said.

The 6-foot-8 small forward from Northwest Catholic (Conn.) has sat out most of the spring period to focus on academics. Now, Iverson said his grades are in good shape.

Also in good shape is Iverson’s game. The rising junior is an absolute matchup nightmare due to his size and skillset. He can handle the ball well and is able to knock down perimeter jumpers. Moreover, he is versatile enough to play around the rim and make passes over the defense. Iverson still seems to be growing, which could hamper his ability to run the floor. With that said, his potential might be as high as anyone in the class of 2013.

The younger cousin of former NBA star Allen Iverson will have his pick when it comes to colleges.

For now, Pittsburgh, Connecticut, Kentucky, Syracuse, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Georgia Tech and North Carolina are in the mix.

Although he doesn’t seem anywhere close to a decision, Iverson likes North Carolina and Connecticut.

While on Tobacco Road, Iverson took a trip to Chapel Hill. “I like the team, everybody played hard,” he said of the Tar Heels.

The national champion Huskies are his home state team, but location has nothing to do with why they are high on his list. “I just like Kemba,” Iverson said.

Iverson also mentioned that he wants to visit St. John’s.

With his combination of size, skill and athleticism, Iverson is guaranteed to make an impact at the next level.

If colleges can find him, of course.

Photo: Hartford Courant 

 
 
 
 
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