UK ‘takes over’ SEC Network on July 4

ESPN released a schedule Thursday of the programming for the SEC Network on July 4. That’s the date the SEC Network will devote to Kentucky athletics.

The UK day will include John Calipari and Mark Stoops being available on social media (@SECNetwork Twitter handle throughout the day).

The list of games and events scheduled to air include:

  • Kentucky vs. Kansas (Nov. 11, 2011): Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist had a coming-out party on the national stage at Madison Square Garden.
  • Kentucky vs. Tennessee (Sept. 26, 2012): For the first time since 1995. juniors Whitney Billings and Alexandra Morgan combined for 19 kills without committing a single error in one of the more dominating volleyball performances in program history.
  • Kentucky vs. Arkansas (Feb. 20, 2015): Sparked by a season-high vault score, the Kentucky gymnastics team rallied from behind on the final rotation to topple No. 14 Arkansas.
  • Kentucky vs. Florida (Oct. 19, 2014): Coach Jon Lipsitz and his women’s soccer team secured their first victory over a top-five opponent in program history.
  • Kentucky vs. Mississippi State (March 14, 2010): DeMarcus Cousins forced overtime against the Bulldogs with a put-back shot as time expired in regulation to steal all of the momentum and set the stage for a Wildcat victory in overtime in the SEC Tournament.
  • Kentucky vs. South Carolina (March 16, 2012): Catcher Luke Maile crushed a two-run, walk-off home run to centerfield to lift the No. 16 Kentucky baseball team to a series-opening 4-3 win over No. 2 South Carolina.
  • Big Blue InterNATIONal: Kentucky Volleyball to China: A documentary-style video showcases a two-week trip to China, where the team combined competition and culture into an once-in-a-lifetime experience.
  • Big Blue (P)Review: Eleven two-minute hits with Kentucky’s head coaches will allow fans to relive the 2014-15 season and look ahead to 2015-16.
  • Kentucky vs. LSU (May 9, 2014): A first-ever advancement to the Women’s College World Series began with an improbable run to the SEC Softball Championship game highlighted by an exciting victory over LSU in the semifinals.
  • Kentucky vs. South Carolina (March 1, 2015): SUK’s women’s basketball team beat No. 2 South Carolina on Senior Day.
  • Kentucky vs. Kansas (Nov. 18, 2014): Kentucky  humiliated Kansas, handing Bill Self his most lopsided loss in 12 seasons as Kansas coach.
  • Kentucky vs. Louisville (Sept. 15, 2007):  Kentucky rallies late to beat Louisville on a special night that made the entire Big Blue Nation believers.
  • Kentucky vs. South Carolina (Oct. 4, 2014): One of only two victories over a Steve Spurrier-coached team. A fourth quarter rally nets the biggest victory thus far in the Mark Stoops era.
  • Kentucky vs. Louisville (Dec. 27, 2014): In the final non-conference game of the men’s basketball season for the historic 2014-15 Wildcats, UK traveled to Louisville in a top-five matchup just days after Christmas. Both teams entered the game undefeated. Only one emerged unscathed.



Time (ET) Programming
midnight 2011 Kansas vs. Kentucky (Men’s Basketball)
2 a.m. 2012 Tennessee vs. Kentucky (Volleyball)
3:30 a.m. 2015 Arkansas vs. Kentucky (Gymnastics)
5 a.m. 2014 Kentucky vs. Florida (Women’s Soccer)
7 a.m. 2010 SEC Basketball Tournament Championship Game: Kentucky vs. Mississippi State
9 a.m. 2012 South Carolina vs. Kentucky (Baseball)
11 a.m. Big Blue InterNATIONal: Kentucky Volleyball to China
11:30 a.m. Big Blue (P)Review
noon 2014 LSU vs. Kentucky (Softball)
2 p.m. 2015 South Carolina vs. Kentucky (women’s Basketball)
4 p.m. 2014 Kansas vs. Kentucky (Men’s Basketball)
6 p.m. 2007 Louisville vs. Kentucky (Football)
8 p.m. 2014 South Carolina vs. Kentucky (Football)
10 p.m. 2014 Louisville vs. Kentucky (Men’s Basketball)


Cal supports removing Confederate flags

Kentucky Coach John Calipari said Monday that he supports removing Confederate symbols, a topical issue throughout the Southeast after a racist-motivated killing if nine African-Americans at a Charleston, S.C., church earlier in the month.

“Obviously, it offends a portion of our society, so people are deciding to take them down,” Calipari said. “That’s how I feel.”

When asked directly if he’d support removing Confederate symbols, Calipari said, “Sure. . . . They offend, and I would say do it. Yeah.”

Calipari seemed taken aback by the question, which came on an annual Southeastern Conference coaches’ summer teleconference designed to promote the league’s basketball programs.

Calipari asked if Kentucky displayed Confederate flags?

When told that a statue of Confederate general John Hunt Morgan stood on the grounds of the old Fayette County courthouse in downtown Lexington and that a statue of Confederate president Jefferson Davis stood in the Kentucky capitol in Frankfort, Calipari said, “Wow.”

The UK coach then added after a pause, “Since I’m not running for public office, I will let the powers that be decide those matters. I was thinking of running for president, and I was discouraged from that.”

Within the hour, Calipari issued a clarification about his stance on the Confederate flag via twitter.

“I don’t want any confusion,” he tweeted. “I think we should take it down!”

Later in the teleconference, South Carolina Coach Frank Martin, Auburn Coach Bruce Pearl and SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey all called for Confederate flags to be removed from public grounds.

UK players well suited for NBA draft

Kentucky players made a fashion statement at the 2015 NBA Draft.

Devin Booker, picked 13th by the Phoenix Suns, wore a Kentucky blue suit.

“I’m kind of a fashion guy,” he  said. “But, obviously, it’s Big Blue Nation.

“This is Kentucky right here,” he added as he fingered his lapel. “I owed it to them after this great season that they gave to us. I gave them a little tribute with my suit color.”

Incidentally, Booker’s middle name is Armani.

“I’ve actually met Giorgio before,” he said. “My dad played for Armani Jeans overseas.”

Overall No. 1 pick Karl-Anthony Towns wore an unusual jacket that might be described as pinstripes on acid.

“My stylist was telling me the story about how it’s eight meters of (this) fabric . . .  in the world,” Towns said. “And this suit is two and a half of it.  So he’s really blessed me with a one-of-a-kind suit for this special day in my life.”

WCS’s interest in art returns after NBA Draft

When he met with reporters at the NBA Combine in Chicago last month, Willie Cauley-Stein denied any interest in art. Coincidentally or not, NBA teams wondered about his desire to excel in basketball.

After being selected with the sixth pick of the 2015 NBA Draft Thursday night, Cauley-Stein apparently had a relapse. He showed his artistic side. Actually he wore it around his neck in the form of a medallion.

“A little something you spoil yourself with,” he said of the medallion, which had his initials. “I got a couple of them made. It’s just good fun. Branding. It’s a little logo that me and my boys put together, so it’s something that we’re pushing, and hopefully it takes off.”

Cauley-Stein said he participated in the design.

“I’ve been working on it for weeks now,” he said. “My friend and I designed it together.”

4 UK players make history, money being among first 14 picks

No college team had ever placed four players among the first 14 picks in a NBA Draft . . . until Thursday night.

Karl-Anthony Towns (No. 1), Willie Cauley-Stein (No. 6), Trey Lyles (No. 13) and Devin Booker (No. 14) made history in the 2015 NBA Draft.

The foursome also made a lot of money. According to the salary scale for NBA rookies, the four UK players will collect more than $11,000,000 next season.

When asked what he would first purchase, Cauley-Stein said in a conspiratorial whisper, “Well, I already bought the stuff I already needed with the money I already had.

“So I already have a car and clothes. I don’t really need anything else.”

A reporter asked Towns, who will receive a rookie salary of almost $5,000,000, about not being able to negotiate a contract.

“Life has just never been fair,” Towns said before adding, “I’m just happy with any card I was given today, whether it be from two to a jack. I was going to be happy regardless.”

Despite projections, first pick still shocked Towns

Former Kentucky standout Karl-Anthony Towns was widely projected as the first pick in the 2015 NBA Draft.

Yet, when the Minnesota Timberwolves made it official Thursday night, being the first overall pick shocked Towns.

As NBA Commissioner Adam Silver approached the podium to announce Minnesota’s pick, Towns turned to UK Coach John Calipari sitting across the table.

“I was trying to drink the water and I was shaking,” Towns said. “I told him, ‘Coach, don’t give me the ball right now for the last-second shot. I wouldn’t make it.'”

Towns saiId he had no assurance he’d follow John Wall (2010) and Anthony Davis (2012) as UK players who have been the first overall pick.

“You have no idea,” he said. “You’re talking about the NBA. It’s the greatest coverup.”

Towns said he had not spoken to Wall, Davis or any other former overall first pick.

“But I know the one thing I have to do,” he said. “I have to live up to the expectations and goals. Lofty expectations people are going to have for being the No. 1 pick.

“Through my life, there’s always been expectations and goals. I’ve always had to exceed them and jump over.”

Towns spoke of being an example for kids.

“A boy from Piscataway, N.J., and the Dominican Republic can make it,” he said.  “. . . (I’m) able to  show kids around the world what a little hard work, determination, a little bit of luck and some guidance (can do). You can really make it far in this world.”

Cal ‘really nervous’ as NBA Draft is about to begin

What could be a record night for Kentucky at the NBA Draft Thursday did not ease Coach John Calipari’s nerves.

“I’m really nervous right now,” he said about an hour before the draft was to begin. “Guys are moving a little bit. It’s a little more fluid. We’ve had this before, and I can tell you I’m excited but I’m nervous. I haven’t eaten, so I’m kind of like — I’m ready for it to be over so I can get in the car and just go.”Most projections had Karl-Anthony Towns as the first pick. If that came to pass, he would be the third UK player to be the first overall pick, following John Wall in 2010 and Anthony Davis in 2012.

“There’s a lot of stuff that I’ll struggle now if I try to think of it,” Calipari said. “Having kids in the lottery, having guys like Willie (Cauley-Stein) who there was no talk of him when he came being a NBA player, or Devin Booker. You see some of the stuff that’s going on. I’m anxious to see where Dakari (Johnson) and Andrew and Aaron (Harrison) go just as much as these four. And it is fluid. I’m telling you, there’s no – I don’t know. I know Karl. I feel really comfortable about that, but other than that I just don’t know.”

When UK had five players drafted in 2010, Calipari famously called it the greatest night in the history of the program. That raised eyebrows.

Would seven players drafted become the new greatest?

“I would say it changes things again,” Calipari said with a grin. “Now all the sudden it’s like, ‘Holy cow, just being on the team you can be drafted.’ Marcus Lee’s in a position. Tyler’s in a position. Alex. And then if you’re afraid to come, you shouldn’t. Then I’ll go get players from Canada, New Zealand. We go where we gotta go, but it’s interesting and exciting and I’m just happy for these kids and their families.”

WCS: Cal made UK a ‘mini NBA program’

Seven players in this year’s NBA Draft reinforces Kentucky’s reputation as a prolific training program for would-be pro players.

Speaking to reporters Wednesday, Willie Cauley-Stein endorsed that perception.

“Coach Cal runs his program like a NBA program,” he said of UK Coach John Calipari. “There’s, like, college basketball. Then there’s, like, Kentucky basketball. And then there’s the league.

“I mean, it’s like a little mini NBA program in itself. That’s why I think dudes that come out of Kentucky come to the league prepared already.”

Cauley-Stein attributes questions about ankle to ‘politics’

Reports early this week said NBA teams were concerned with Willie Cauley-Stein’s surgically repaired ankle. Kentucky’s latest All-American might see his draft stock suffer.

“It’s politics,” Cauley-Stein said of the supposed questions about his ankle, which he injured against Louisville in the 2014 NCAA Tournament.

“People are going to put the stories out there, but, I don’t know, I don’t feel any pain. My game didn’t looked hindered at all. I increased my vertical by five inches. Like I’m putting my chin on the rim.

“So I don’t think anything’s wrong with it. A lot of it is just talk.”

When asked why he thought such reports had surfaced, Cauley-Stein said, “Who knows? It’s a dirty business. Who knows?”

Picked 1st or not, Towns relishes being home for draft

Karl-Anthony Towns is projected to be the third Kentucky player chosen first in a NBA Draft since John Calipari became coach in 2009.

In a media session on the eve of the Thursday’s 2015 NBA Draft, Towns downplayed the significance of being the No. 1 selection.

“It’s not that important,” he said. “I just want to go and make my mark for any organization I’m picked to and fortunate enough to play for.”

Former Duke center Jahlil Okafor, the only player mentioned as possibly being picked before Towns, also downplayed the significance of being the first player picked.

Towns welcomed the possibility of being taken by Minnesota, which has the first pick. He said he would be “blessed, honored and privileged” to play for the Timberwolves. If picked by Minnesota, Towns said “I just can’t wait to add my contribution” to a team effort that includes Andrew Wiggins and Ricky Rubio.

But Towns gushed about seeing his NBA dream come true in Brooklyn, which is less than 60 miles from his hometown of Piscataway, N.J.

“I can’t believe everyone is here,” he said of the familiar faces that gathered to speak with him. “It’s like a family reunion. I’m back home again. This is crazy.”