Posts Tagged ‘Brandon Knight’

Kentucky Basketball Is Heading North

August 7th, 2010

The fans of “Big Blue Nation” will get a sneak peak at their beloved 2010-2011 Wildcats as they head to Canada for a three-day exhibition playing against University of Windsor and the Western Mustangs.

This preview should prove to be interesting and will give us our first good look at a team that has been completely remodeled since last season. The competition shouldn’t be too difficult for the Wildcats.

The University of Windsor, also known as the Lancers, finished the 2009-2010 season with a record of 22-9 and lost in the quarterfinals of their year-end tournament.

Last season, The Lancers also tested the NCAA waters by hosting an exhibition similar to this against the Ohio State Buckeyes. They played the Buckeyes in two games, the first they lost 39-90, and the second was a little bit more respectable but they also lost, 47-89. They seem to be one of the better teams in Canada but compared to the talent in the States, that’s not saying much.

The Western Mustangs are a little bit worse. They also played Ohio State last season and lost, 68-103. They ended last season with a record of 12-11. Both teams will surely get some enjoyment out of playing the Wildcats and John Calipari will be able to work with his young squad to try and get them prepared for in-game situations.

The Wildcats will have to come a long way if they are looking to be as successful as last year's team, a team that lost eight players: five to the NBA and three to graduation. Odds are the team this year will not be as glorified as the 2009-2010 team but will be special in its own ways. Enes Kanter will be the only face missing from the trip because he is yet to be cleared to play by the NCAA. There has been recent talk as to whether Terrence Jones will be able to showcase his talents due to an ankle sprain.

Assuming those two are unable to play, fans will still get to see the likes of Brandon Knight, Doron Lamb, Eloy Vargas, and Stacey Poole. For Canadian fans, they will get a chance to see what the No. 1 recruiting class in college basketball looks like. This will be a very good early season matchup for all three teams as they will be able to see what their respected teams will be bringing to the court in 2010-2011.

Michigan State, Kentucky Lead the Great Lineup For the Maui Invitational

August 6th, 2010

Despite being an early tournament in the college basketball season, the Maui Invitational's prestige has made it a very important event. With great competition, good teams, and a great line up of teams, there is a lot of promise for the tournament to continue it's success this year.

Fronted by Kentucky and Michigan State, the 2010 Maui Invitational features Oklahoma, UConn, Washington, Virginia, and host Chaminade.

There are obviously a lot of things to look forward to in these early season match-ups. Here are a few:

Kentucky's Reloaded Roster

It's the John Calipari system, sign all of the best players and reload when all of your starters leave after one year. Last season, it lead to a deep run in the NCAA Tournament before losing to West Virginia in the Elite Eight.

This year, Kentucky brings in a fourth-generation point guard in Brandon Knight to follow in the footsteps of Derrick Rose, Tyreke Evans, and last year's phenom, John Wall.

There is obviously a lot to prove for Calipari and the Wildcats early in this season as the new roster looks to show themselves on the national stage.

Michigan State Continues After Two Straight Final Fours

Tom Izzo is obviously one of the best coaches in the NCAA, and he has a loaded roster again this year after their Final Four appearance last season. Returning Draymond Green, Durrell Sumers, and Kalin Lucas, the Spartans are star-studded and ready for another great season.

The Maui Invitational just gives them an early chance to showcase the talent they have ready for the 2010-2011 campaign.

Connecticut Recovers From Last Season's Failure

Last year, neither North Carolina or UConn were in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in my lifetime. It was definitely a disappointing season for the Huskies with the recruiting violations showing up and Calhoun missing parts of the regular season.

This year isn't necessarily a do or die for Jim Calhoun because of his legacy and the success he has had in Connecticut, however, he needs to come out and make the tournament this year, at the least.

UConn fans will start to lose patience if they miss the March classic two years in a row.

So, the Maui Invitational definitely has it's stories for this year's go, and it will be a very interesting preseason tournament to watch. I can't wait to see it all play out.


This story was originally featured on

The Loss of Darnell Dodson Opens Offensive Holes for Kentucky

August 3rd, 2010

The Kentucky Wildcats are equipped with one of the better college basketball programs.

They acquire and enhance their players into premiere collegiate athletes. With the addition of John Calipari, the Wildcats have produced some of the best NBA talent.

Every player from the 2009 recruiting class, except Jon Hood and Darnell Dobson, was drafted in the first round of the 2010 NBA draft.


That's well understood, right? Well, no.  Dobson beat out Daniel Orton in points and assists, while shooting a better three-point percentage.


Not to mention, he received more minutes than Orton and led the Wildcats in three-pointers made with 50. Keep in mind that he led the team in three-pointers, playing around 15 minutes a game.


Coming out of junior college, Dobson was considered one of the better slashing guards. He is 6-foot-7 and has the versatility of playing the two and three guard position because of his athleticism and height. He was always a great shooter and it was evident last season.


However, because of the magnificent freshman classes Calipari has strung together, Dobson has never received the chance to showcase his elite skills. I assume the notion of playing time was a huge part of his discretion.


In fact, according the Associated Press, Coach Calipari said he could possibly return, "if he meets our standards."


The Wildcats pulled in Brandon Knight, Terrence Jones, Enes Kanter, Stacey Poole and Doron Lamb to name a few. With so much talent, I suppose  Calipari would only call on Dobson for his sharp-shooting ability as he did the year before.


Is this a good or bad decision for the Wildcats? Right away, you presume that it was a role player that could be replaced.


But with Dobson and Eric Bledsoe, their top three-point shooters from a year ago gone, stretching the defense or passing it out to the wing man for a three-ball will be greatly missed.


Yes, you have Darius Miller, but what will transpire once the three-balls do not fall? It's always beneficial to have three-point specialist on your team.


With Kentucky, next season they'll have Knight and Miller. 


Overall, Dobson wasn't considered the backbone of the Wildcats. His contributions will be missed, but with a coach like Calipari, he'll put a bandage over the problem.


The 2010 recruiting class didn't feature a lot of pure three-point threats, but the Wildcats are equipped with a deadly mid-range team. 


The loss of Dobson hurts the Wildcats on the three-point line and depth, nothing else.


This post was  originally posted on Collegiate Hoops . For more CoHoops news follow us on Twitter ( @Collegiate_Hoop ) or  subscribe via email

2010-2011 SEC Basketball Preview

July 10th, 2010

Last season, the SEC had two Elite Eight teams in Tennessee and Kentucky who fell just short of making the Final Four.

This season, the success will continue as the SEC will be a top heavy conference.

With that said, here are my top five SEC teams entering the 2010-2011 season.


1. Kentucky

Say what you want about the way Calipari recruits, but he will have loads of talent next season, and they will be at the top of the SEC all year.

With top point guard Brandon Knight coming in, he will be the Calipari point guard project: year four.

Look for Kentucky to be a top seed in the tournament again come March.


2. Tennessee

The Vols will bring in a lot of athleticism next season and will stay close to the Wildcats as SEC play goes on.

Tennessee will again be a team that can compete in the national spotlight, despite losing last year's star, Wayne Chism.


3. Florida

The Gators will be much improved from last season.

With great talent coming in, especially the likes of Kenny Boynton, I expect Florida to be with the top of the conference all season.


4. Mississippi

After being snubbed out of the tournament last season, Mississippi will bring in a better team, hoping to not repeat that fate.

They'll be atop the SEC East all season, and should be a team to watch out for in the tournament.


5. Vanderbilt

Despite losing star A.J. Ogilvy, Vanderbilt always finds a way to be at the top of the SEC.

This year won't be any different.

The Commodores will be there all season, and will be a team that can work a few upsets.


To read more previews and other topics, visit


Washington and Kentucky Battling For Top 2011 Recruit

July 9th, 2010

Lorenzo Romar and John Calipari are becoming recruiting rivals.

Over the past couple of months alone, Calipari has managed to steal top recruits from right under Romar's nose—the latest one being Terrance Jones.

A little over a month ago everyone believed McDonald's All-American Terrence Jones was going to be attending Washington and playing with good buddy Terrence Ross. But that was before Jones had a sudden change of heart and decided to play for Calipari.

Enes Kanter, the top big man in this past year's recruiting class, was another Romar recruit that was taken away by Calipari, helping to make this 2010 class the top in the country for Kentucky.

Lorenzo Romar now finds himself in a battle with Calipari over yet another top recruit. 

This time it is a 6'4" point guard out of Washington, Tony Wroten, Jr., a highly touted guard in the 2011 recruiting class.

If Wroten Jr. were to sign with the Wildcats, he would be joining Michael Gilchrist (ESPN No.1) and Marquis Teague as commits. Wroten Jr. and Teague would fill out the Kentucky guard positions. Depending on who returns for the Wildcats, they would possibly have Teague, Doron Lamb, Wroten Jr., and Brandon Knight all playing on the same team.

With Wroten Jr. down to his final two schools, I would be very surprised if he didn't end up signing with the Wildcats. Usually if you are recruited heavily by John Calipari, you tend to join his team.

It also seems to workout for the Wildcats because Gilchrist and Teague are both on Wroten Jr.'s USA U-18 team. Both players are undoubtedly recruiting Wroten Jr. for the 'Cats.

Washington, you might as well get used to being that ugly sibling that can only come out being second best. 

As for the Wildcats, their 2011 class looks like it has the making of being even better than the recruiting class from a year ago. All Calipari needs now is a big man to make it complete.

Kentucky Wildcats’ Miller Stepping Out of the Shadows

July 2nd, 2010

With four starters from last year’s University of Kentucky basketball team now in the NBA, and the number one ranked recruiting class entering again this season it is easy to see why Darius Miller, the lone returning starter, gets overlooked.

Entering last season, head coach John Calipari raved that Miller was the best suited for his Dribble Drive offense of any player left from the Billy Gillespie era at Kentucky. Miller possessed a mid-range game with a running floater that Calipari said would be hard to stop in his uptempo offense.

As his sophomore season came and went, Miller showed flashes of his scoring potential with a few breakout games. But, he never seemed to put it all together and become the player that most expected he would be. Most games, you would forget Miller was out on the floor, due to his lack of consistency on the court.

Last season, the Wildcats did not need Miller to always have his “A” game for them to be victorious. Behind the perimeter play of John Wall and Eric Bledsoe, the inside force of Demarcus Cousins, along with team leader Patrick Patterson, Miller only needed to be productive in spurts for the Wildcats to win.

This season, Miller will be asked to do more than just be one of the guys on the court for the Wildcats. Even with the top recruiting class, the Wildcats will not be able to count on Brandon Knight to be the next John Wall, Enes Kanter to dominate the paint as Cousins did, or Terrance Jones having the leadership abilities or the knack for hitting big shots as Patterson could.

In his junior season, Miller will have to be the guy that is the leader on and off the court. His experience the past two seasons will play a major part in how successful the Wildcats are this season, and more importantly, the NCAA tournament. The former four star basketball recruit will be the guy that is looked to to bring  stability that every young basketball team needs at some point during the season. 

If Miller becomes the leader off the basketball court, the pressure will not be solely on the shoulders of the incoming freshmen to lead this season. Every team needs a workhorse player that may not be the guy with all the headlines, but the guy that does a little bit of everything to help put his team over the top.

For the 2010-2011 season to be as successful as Wildcat fans would like, Miller is going to have to be the guy hitting big shots, grabbing important rebounds, and most importantly letting this new crop of freshmen teammates know what to do in tough, stress packed situations.

Big East/SEC Invitational Preview

June 20th, 2010

In the event's fourth year, the Big East and SEC will go head to head with double headers on December 8 and 11.

The challenge tips off with Arkansas and Seton Hall at Freedom Hall in Louisville, followed by SEC powerhouse, Kentucky, and the Fighting Irish from Notre Dame.

Kentucky will come out with a completely new roster from last year after losing the core of their team. John Wall may be gone, but next season will feature a new Calipari-style guard in Brandon Knight from Florida.

Knight, who might not be the great athlete like Wall and Rose were before him, is a different kind of guard who plays with smarts and a great shot. His physical strength and great ball handling are what let him do what he needs to do on offense.

On the other side of the ball, Knight is also a rebounder and an agressive defender.

The Notre Dame and Kentucky match-up, which is the highlight of the night, brings back an old tradition.

While Kentucky owns the series at 41-18, the Irish took the last when in the 2009 NIT.

As for the next day of the invitational, Rutgers will take on Auburn followed by Pittsburgh and Tennessee.

Pittsburgh looks to be a preseason pick to be at the top of the Big East all season and Tennessee will be coming off a tough Elite Eight loss from last season.

The Big East holds the slight edge in the challenge at 7-5, and next season's campaign promises to be a good one.


Western Mustangs to Face Kentucky Wildcats

June 12th, 2010

LONDON, Ont. - The Western Mustangs men's basketball team will travel to Windsor, Ont., to play John Calipari's Kentucky Wildcats on Monday Aug. 16 at 6 p.m. at the St. Denis Centre.

Kentucky will be in Windsor from Aug. 15-17 and will also play the Lancers men's team Aug. 15 and 17. The Wildcats should be an intriguing matchup for both the Mustangs and Windsor. 

"The opportunity to play a team the calibre of a Kentucky does not come along very often," said Mustangs' head coach, Brad Campbell. "Our guys are very excited to play against some of the best players in the NCAA and future NBA prospects."

Kentucky finished the 2009-10 season with a 35-3 record and was one of the top four seeds at the NCAA tournament, falling in the Elite Eight to West Virginia. They will return to action in 2010-11 with a strong group of players including forward recruit Enes Kanter and rookie point guard Brandon Knight. 

In addition, the Wildcats have landed Miami-Dade junior college transfer Eloy Vargas who was named the 2010 Southern Conference Player of the Year. 

The matchup against two of the CIS's top programs will rival the August 2008 clash between NCAA champion Kansas and perennial CIS powerhouse Carleton, which the Jayhawks won 84-83.
Last year, Western played Ohio State in pre-season. The previous season Western faced Morgan State and Southern Illinois.

"This game continues our annual commitment to play top level NCAA opponents," Campbell said. "These NCAA August games are a great way for our team to get to know each other and start the bonding process early on."

Ticket prices are $10 for adults/youth and $5 for children. Advance ticket information is expected to be released soon through the Windsor Lancers website.  Only 2,500 tickets available for each game.
Advance tickets can be purchased starting Monday, June 14 by phone at (519) 253.3000 ext. 2437.

Kentucky Wildcats Team Profile
2009-10 Record:
35-3 (Elite Eight)
Lose: John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Patrick Patterson, Eric Bledsoe, Daniel Orton, Ramon Harris, Perry Stevenson
Key Returnees: Darius Miller, DeAndre Liggins, Darnel Dodson, Jon Hood
Newcomers: Brandon Knight, Enes Kanter, Doron Lamb, Stacey Poole, Terrence Jones, Eloy Vargas

Game schedule (all at St. Denis Centre)
Sunday, Aug. 15 - 7 p.m. - Windsor vs. Kentucky
Monday Aug. 16 - 6 p.m. - Western vs. Kentucky
Tuesday, Aug. 17 - 11 a.m. - Windsor vs. Kentucky

Ticket Information
Ticket Prices:
$10 (Adult/Youth) and $5 (Children under 12)
Advance Tickets: Available starting Monday, June 14 by phone at (519) 253-3000 ext. 2437

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Can Brandon Knight Follow in the Footsteps of Other Calipari Greats?

June 9th, 2010

John Calipari has had his fair share of superstar guards. Two years ago, he had Derrick Rose; we all know how that turned out. Last year he had Tyreke Evans, and this year, he worked with John Wall.

All three of these guards are on to their NBA future, and will be, or were selected, in the lottery of the NBA draft.

What makes these guards so interesting is that each of them came in back-to-back years. It almost seems like the new trend. Coach Calipari attracts the top point guards in the recruiting class and helps them curb flaws to become potential lottery picks.

I believe that theory is the reason why Brandon Knight is under Calipari’s wings. Not only did he like the fact that he could be working with a great coach, but his parents also liked the cycle of guards Calipari has produced.

Can Brandon Knight follow in the same footsteps as other great players coached by Calipari?

Brandon Knight is a lot different from the former Calipari greats. He is equipped with the ability to knock down jumpers consistently. This is something that most of the guards still lack and have yet to improve. 

He likes to shoot long-range bombs a lot, but is more comfortable shooting off the dribble, or in mid-range. This is why some scouts would rather see him play at the two because he is something like a combo guard.

He has great ball-handling skills that he uses to get in the paint as he pleases. Many scouts thought that this was going to be a problem transitioning to college because he was much smaller before, but now he has continually added bulk and his frame is looking better than ever.

Standing at 6'4'', he has the size advantage over most point guards in the NBA and college games. With that, he uses his body to advantage. He goes up strong at the rim and finishes off plays consistently.

He also uses his frame defensively to knock point guards out of their sets. He gets down low and prevents dribble penetration as well as creating turnovers with his length.

Many scouts still question his true point guard ability. They believe he is just a scorer in every sense of the word. 

However, I remember watching the Nike Hoops Summit where he put on a show. He played the point most of the time in the scrimmage and showed every doubter what he was able to do.

Knight was more of a leader running the point guard position. He looked more in control than I have ever seen him and he displayed some athleticism that everybody said he lacked.

Now answering the question in the title: Yes, Brandon Knight will follow in the footsteps of other Calipari Alums.

Knight needs to improve his vision and passing techniques and he will no doubt become one of the better players in this upcoming college basketball season.

(This article was originally written on the Collegiate Hoops  blog)

Man Of Mystery: Who Is World Wide Wes?

June 8th, 2010

Over five decades ago, American sociologist C. Wright Mills famously wrote The Power Elite . His book asserted that a minute sliver of the population—the elite—held a tremendously disproportionate influence over the decision-making in the military, corporate, and political realms.

Now, you may or may not entirely agree with the validity of Mills’ thesis. However, if we apply Mills’ notion to the world of sports, William Wesley was the type of person he had in mind.

Or maybe you know Wesley simply as World Wide Wes.

You probably don’t know him at all.

But despite his relatively low-profile, you can safely bet that all 30 NBA owners are keenly acquainted with Mr. Wesley. They keep a close eye on his movements.

Even if nobody is quite sure what he does or why he is so damn powerful.

Here’s what I gather—through the smoke and mirrors—derived in part from an uncommonly insightful and foreshadowing GQ profile on Wes, as he is affectionately referred to, from three summers ago.

Wesley is like a modern-day sports’ Forrest Gump, magically popping up at championship celebrations from Cowboy Super Bowls to Miami Football National Championships, to Team USA practices in 2004, to the floor during the infamous Malice at the Palace.

But the story really starts in Cherry Hill, N.J., a city of about 85,000, located roughly five miles east of Philadelphia. Wes worked at Pro Shoes, a small sneaker-shop, in the early 1980s, around the same time Leon Rose and Milt Wagner played local prep hoops.

To make a long and convoluted story short, Wes essentially began making friends in high places, following Wagner to Louisville and the NBA, chumming it up with Rick Mahorn, and 2 Live Crew, and ultimately meeting His Airness himself. Michael Jordan.

Later in the ‘90s, Wes offered his considerable expertise and vast network as an aide to Allen Iverson during one of "the answer's" troubling legal ordeals—his arrest on marijuana and concealed weapon possession.

When Wagner’s son, DaJuan, was pegged as the best high school player in the country, Wes allegedly guided the high-scoring guard to Memphis, to receive tutelage from renowned friend-of-Wes, John Calipari—a recurring theme.

Perhaps Wes’s biggest connection, however, was made around the turn of the century when one LeBron James was bursting onto the national prep scene as the prodigy to top all prodigies.

GQ writes that Wes buttered up Eddie Jackson, a former boyfriend (and ex-convict) of LeBron’s mother, Gloria, gaining access to the King's invaluable inner-circle.

In fact, Wes introduced James to Jay-Z.

According to the GQ piece, Wes moved into an apartment across from James during Lebron's rookie year in 2003. He steered LBJ to agent Leon Rose—yep, the Leon Rose from Cherry Hill, N.J.—when James separated from his original professional agent, Aaron Goodwin.

There are indications that Wes was instrumental in Memphis, and Calipari, signing both Derrick Rose and Tyreke Evans.

It wouldn’t be overly surprising to hear Wes had a similar role in recruiting John Wall and Brandon Knight to Kentucky.

But no direct links or wrongdoing has ever been proven. And as far as I can see, no explicit accusations are thrown around.

Gregory Dole, a basketball scout and coach in Brazil, recounts the summer when he first came into contact with Wes, through the conduit of Leandro Barbosa—who at the time was a raw, non-English speaking, unknown 20-year-old prospect.

Dole says that in the process of touring the States with Barbosa to introduce him to various NBA personnel people, he and the young Brazilian crossed paths with Wesley.

According to Dole, Wesley took the two out for dinner at a Cleveland fine-dining establishment, where their meal was picked up by none other than Carmen Policy, the former front-office executive of the San Francisco 49ers and the Cleveland Browns.

Throughout the course of the evening, Dole writes, Wes dialed both Michael Jordan and Jay-Z for Barbosa, resulting in the honor of hearing MJ’s voice-mail. And Barbosa sang “Hard Knock Life” for Jay-Z and Beyoncè.

Among many other interesting anecdotes, Dole implies that Wes can demonstrate a short fuse for anyone he isn't friendly with. Dole states that the basketball world string-puller has a deep-seated dislike for Adidas, or as Wesley calls it, “that three-striped shit.”

Basically, though, Wes works behind-the-scenes, yet is always at the heart of them.

His Rolodex seems to be chocked full of a veritable who’s who in basketball—the players, coaches, executives and corporate big-wigs.

What's clear is that Rose, Wesley’s Cherry Hill friend, has represented Wes as an attorney for over two decades, and that Rose’s client list went from low-profile to "my goodness" status pretty quickly early in this decade.

Now, Rose’s stable of clients includes Carmelo Anthony, Andrea Bargnani, Jonny Flynn, Rip Hamilton, Allen Iverson, and, of course, LeBron James.

The most recent news regarding these various linkages involves newly-tabbed Bulls’ head coach (and current Celtics’ assistant) Tom Thibodeau. Thibodeau is a freshly signed CAA client, a highly influential Hollywood talent agency—a firm that features Leon Rose among its agents.

The speculation is that Thibodeau’s CAA signing was a gesture to Wesley, and, as a direct result, to LeBron James.

Obviously, I have no real clue what Wesley’s day-to-day activities are comprised of, what the extent of his influence actually is, or how the NBA “system” is really organized.

What I do know, however, is that World Wide Wes’s sphere of influence appears to be just that—and he is clearly established among the league’s power elite.

I know Wes is rumored to be quite friendly with New York Knicks’ president of basketball operations, Donnie Walsh, and that Walsh was the one who asked LeBron to work out with failed big man Eddy Curry this summer.

I know that as we approach the biggest summer of NBA free agency ever, Wes seems to be the only man around whose ear is more highly-sought than LeBron’s.

And I know that however the blue chips fall this summer, Wes will most likely have been involved.

The rest is just a mystery.

And I think that’s how World Wide Wes likes it.

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