John Calipari has been extremely lucky in that his Kentucky team’s haven’t had problems with injuries. The general bumps and bruises come with the season, but rarely has he had to deal with a major break or tear.
He may have gotten one of his biggest scares in the Wildcats’ 74-28 victory over cross-town college Transylvania. Fifth-year senior guard Julius Mays went knee-to-knee with a Pioneer’s player midway through the second half and went down to the court as a result. Staying down for a few minutes while trainers attended to him in front of a deathly-quiet crowd at Rupp Arena. He left the game and didn’t return.
It could’ve been a huge blow because Mays is one of the unsung tools of a Calipari attack, the shooter. Since his Memphis days, Calipari has always kept a dead-eye gunner who can stretch the defense and open the driving lanes for the wings and slashers. He’s had that with Kentucky in Darnell Dodson (albeit poorly), then Doron Lamb the last two years.
Fortunately for Big Blue Nation, Mays was checked out by team trainers postgame and his ACL and MCL both look good. He should be ready to go for the team’s regular season opener on Friday against Maryland at the brand-spankin’-new Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Great news for Mays, who could’ve been the man at Wright State as a senior, but wanted to win on a major level in his final collegiate season. And even better news for Kentucky and Calipari, who dodges the injury bullet in regards to his shooter.
David Harten is the editor of The Backboard Chronicles. You can follow him on Twitter at @David_Harten.
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) Duke and Cincinnati, 2016 NCAA Tournament teams, highlight the eight-team field for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament.
The participants for the Nov. 19-20 event were announced Wednesday.
Also in the field are Rhode Island, Penn State, Grand Canyon, Albany, Marist and Brown.
The teams, split into two four-team brackets, will play two doubleheaders at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut.
Duke, Cincinnati, Penn State and Rhode Island will meet in the Naismith Bracket, while the others will play in the Springfield Bracket.
The teams will play two early round games at campus sites from Nov. 11 through Nov. 16.
Brandone Francis-Ramirez is transferring out of the Florida program, the school announced on Wednesday.
A former top 40 recruit, Francis-Ramirez had his two seasons in Gainesville ruined by an academic issues and a loss of confidence. He was academically ineligible in 2014-15, practicing with the team during the second semester. He was granted a redshirt for the year, but he struggled to find any kind of a rhythm this past season. There was a two-month stretch in the middle of the year where he shot 6-for-58 from the floor and 2-for-31 from three.
On the season, he shot 20.2 percent from the floor and 16.9 percent from three.
“I want it to work out for him,” Gators coach Mike White said in a release. “We really appreciate what Brandone did here and wish him the best.”
The forgotten star of the national title game underwent an arthroscopic on his left knee on Wednesday.
Phil Booth, who scored a season-high 20 points in the 2016 National Title game, will be a junior next season and one of the guys called upon to help replace Ryan Arcidiacono, who graduated. He should be ready to go by the middle of the summer; according to a statement put out by the program, Booth will need 6-to-8 weeks to heal.
“Phil is as mentally tough a young man as we have had at Villanova,” head coach Jay Wright said in the release. “He continually impresses our coaching staff with his outstanding attitude. Phil will attack this recovery challenge with great determination, as he does everything in life.”
Booth averaged 7.0 points and 2.2 assists this past season.
LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell has announced that sophomore forward Alexis Jennings will transfer, the seventh Wildcat to leave the program since last fall.
Jennings’ departure comes a week after Mitchell publicly addressed the mass exodus of players and assistant coaches and stressed the need for building stability. Jennings figured to be part of that process and the coach said in a release Wednesday night that “it saddens us that Alexis did not see a path for her at Kentucky. … She felt it was in her best interest to finish her career elsewhere and we owe her that opportunity.”
The 6-foot-2 Jennings started 18 of 33 games last season and averaged 10 points and 7.1 rebounds.
Wisconsin guard John Diener has committed to DePaul, his grassroots program announced Wednesday night.
The 6-foot-4 Class of 2018 guard ends his recruitment rather early with offers also from instate schools Green Bay and Milwaukee. He’s known as a shooter and becomes the first commit for Dave Leitao in the 2018 class.
Diener, who plays with the Wisconsin Playground Warriors in the spring and summer, commits to the Blue Demons with them coming off a disappointing campaign, Leitao’s first in Chicago. DePaul went 9-22 overall and 3-15 in the Big East, finishing only ahead of St. John’s.
DePaul has been recruiting the Midwest hard with incoming 2016 recruits from La Lumiere School in Indiana, Sagninow, Mich. and locally in Chicago.