Has Kentucky opened a Dominican big man pipeline?

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This just in: every move John Calipari makes pays recruiting dividends.

Hanging with Charlie Sheen? Money.

Posing with arch-nemesis Rick Pitino? Also gold.

Being chosen to drive the Kentucky Speedway pace car? Got his name in the papers.

Not getting to drive the pace car after all? Ditto.

Losing in his hometown in the first round of the NIT? OK, maybe I’m stretching the premise here.

But you have to admit, choosing to coach the Dominican National Team – a lesser light in international basketball circles – has paid off in a big way for Calipari. And it may be the gift that keeps on giving, according to Ben Roberts of the Lexington Herald-Leader.

John Calipari and Orlando Antigua coached [Karl] Towns for two summers with the Dominican national team. That relationship helped them land the 7-footer, who remains UK’s only commitment in the class of 2014.

Now another 2014 prospect with Dominican ties is emerging as an elite player in the class, and Kentucky’s coaching staff is in a prime position.

Angel Delgado — a Dominican native — came to the United States last year and has been steadily climbing the recruiting rankings.

Delgado is 6’9″ and reported to be a great rebounder with a motor that doesn’t quit. That may not be enough to jump him over the likes of Cliff Alexander and Trey Lyles on Coach Cal’s big board, but it wouldn’t exactly hurt the program to nab an athletic project who might stick around and be a glue guy for more than two semesters. Then again, says Delgado is coming on like gangbusters, so let’s not underestimate him.

One thing seems sure, Coach Cal has the first shot at Delgado if he wants him. All because he – and now his assistant Orlando Antigua – have put in some time coaching basketball for a small Caribbean nation.

All I can say to that is: Get on his level. The guy is in another time zone in terms of recruiting.

Eric Angevine is the editor of Storming the Floor. He tweets @stfhoops.

Illinois’ injury woes continue as starting center needs knee surgery

George Niang,Abdel Nader,Mike Thorne, Jr.
AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser
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Illinois suffered another blow in what has already turned out to be a brutal season.

Mike Thorne is expected to miss the rest of the season after tearing his meniscus. He reportedly underwent surgery on Monday to repair the injury.

Thorne, a transfer from Charlotte, was starting at center for the Illini and doing a good job of it as well. He was averaging 13.4 points and 8.4 boards, although Illinois has started off the season 3-4.

The reason for that slow start has mainly been those injuries. Tracy Abrams is already out for the season after tearing his achilles, and the Illini training room looked like a M.A.S.H. unit. Kendrick Nunn just returned two games ago from surgery to repair a torn thumb ligament. LeRon Black is still getting back to speed after offseason knee surgery. Jaylon Tate is back after dislocating a finger. Jalen Coleman-Lands was slowed by a stress fracture.

John Groce entered this season on the hot seat, and dealing with all of these injuries certainly isn’t helping his cause.

NEW PODCAST: Recapping Feast Week

Kris Dunn
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
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We talk about a lot of stuff of the podcast today, mainly because a lot of stuff happened since we last spoke with you all.

For starters, we need to discuss the ‘realness’ of Syracuse and Xavier. Are they both truly top 15 teams, or do they just have top 15 resumes? We also dive into Chris Mack’s epic troll-job of Dayton at the Advocare Invitational final.

Other topics we touched on: Whether or not Scott is ever going to apologize to Wayne Selden, Wichita State’s tournament hopes, Texas A&M and whether we’d take Ben Simmons, Kris Dunn or Denzel Valentine today.

As always, you can subscribe to the podcast in iTunes right here. It’s the quickest way to get access on your cell phone or tablet.