calipari

No. 11 Kentucky needs leaders to emerge at Missouri

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After winning three straight games, No. 11 Kentucky didn’t put its best foot forward, so to speak, in their 87-82 loss at LSU on Tuesday night. Defensively the effort wasn’t where it needed to be, with LSU shooting nearly 51% from the field and Johnny O’Bryant III torching the Wildcat big men for 29 points to go along with nine rebounds. Offensively the Wildcats forced shots and didn’t share the basketball as much as they should have, and those factors resulted in the team’s second conference defeat.

The effort issues don’t go for every player who saw time on Tuesday, with Dakari Johnson and James Young being two of the exceptions on Tuesday. And if Kentucky is to win at Missouri on Saturday, there cannot be any questions regarding the team’s effort or temperament.

For some teams a players-only meeting is the proper tonic, with players airing their grievances and committing to do whatever it takes to better the team. And that’s the path the Wildcats reportedly took in the aftermath of their loss to LSU, with sophomore Alex Poythress organizing the meeting.

That’s a move to be applauded by the head coach, right? Not if you ask Calipari, who voiced his opinion on the subject on Friday according to Kyle Tucker of the Louisville Courier-Journal.

On the players-only meeting and him typically not being impressed with those: “Don’t want to know. Don’t want to know, don’t care. Let’s play. This all is about what we do on the court, preparing to go to war, understanding that the other team is excited to play you. That’s all what this comes down to.”

On if it’s significant that Alex Poythress called the meeting: “You’re telling me stuff that I don’t know because I don’t care to know. All I want to see is that we’re prepared to play and that we’re understanding that the other team is absolutely excited to play you, and you have to be excited and energetic and passionate and that’s how you have to play basketball.”

During his press conference Calipari also noted that the players are the ones who need to step up and lead the team, something many have been waiting for with this current group. And that goes a long way towards solving problems on the court, as the presence of a leader (or leaders) usually ensures that there’s a collective effort to make things right instead of every man pulling in his own direction.

There will still be growing pains for this group regardless of the collection of individual talent, due in large part to the age of the players on the team. Outside of senior Jarrod Polson the entire rotation consists of underclassmen, and that can be an issue for some teams.

Kentucky needs to figure out its leadership issue, with Saturday’s road game being the first opportunity for players to step up in a hostile environment. NCAA tournament games may be played on neutral floors, but the magnitude of the moment makes leadership critical. And whether or not leaders emerge will determine just how far the Wildcats go.

Five-star 2017 point guard Trevon Duval down to 10 schools

CHARLOTTE, NC - JULY 9: Trevon Duval during the 2015  Under Armour All-America Basketball Camp on July 9, 2015 at Queens College in Charlotte, NC. (Photo by Ned Dishman/Under Armour)
(Photo by Ned Dishman/Under Armour)
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Five-star point guard Trevon Duval is the most electrifying lead guard in the Class of 2017. The native of Delaware dominated the Under Armour circuit this spring and is currently regarded by many as a top-five player in the class by most recruiting services.

Now he’s down to 10 schools as his recruiting is starting to become more of a focus. The 6-foot-2 Duval is down to Arizona, Cal, Kansas, Maryland, Oregon, St. John’s, Seton Hall, UCLA, USC and Villanova.

Things are still early in the process for Duval and it will be interesting to see if he schedules any official visits soon.

Ohio State gaining recruiting momentum with two 2018 commitments

DAYTON, OH - MARCH 24: Head coach Thad Matta of the Ohio State Buckeyes claps on the sideline in the first half against the Iowa State Cyclones during the third round of the 2013 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at UD Arena on March 24, 2013 in Dayton, Ohio.  (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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Ohio State has lost quite a few transfers and hasn’t had a lot go their way with regards to recent recruiting, but things could be changing after a good weekend.

The Class of 2018 is starting to look really good for the Buckeyes as they landed commitments from wings Darius Bazley and Justin Ahrens this weekend. The two in-state products are grassroots teammates together on King James and they give Ohio State three commitments in that class.

Bazley is considered a four-star prospect on Rivals while Ahrens checks in as a three-star. They join another Ohio native, guard Dane Goodwin, in the class as this could be the group that helps bring Ohio State back in regular Big Ten contention.

Butler lands commitment from four-star 2017 forward Kyle Young

Atlanta, GA - SUNDAY, MAY 29: Nike EYBL. Kyle Young #34 of King James Session 4. (Photo by Jon Lopez)
(Photo by Jon Lopez)
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Butler picked up an important commitment on Monday as four-star forward Kyle Young committed to the Bulldogs.

A Class of 2017 stretch forward who can hit jumpers and has an improving skill set, the 6-foot-7 Young comes from Massillon, Ohio and he’s regarded as the No. 109 overall prospect.

Young was impressive in the Nike EYBL this spring and summer with King James as he averaged 15.5 points, 8.0 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game as he shot 48 percent from the field and 36 percent from 3-point range.

This is a nice grab for Butler as Young is the type of versatile perimeter shooter that they like to utilize and he should be able to help a bit on the glass as well.

Young joins a class that includes guards Cooper Neese and Jerald Butler.

VIDEO: Collin Sexton with a trick shot for the ages

Screen Shot 2016-08-29 at 1.33.34 PM
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Earlier this summer, we told you the story of Collin Sexton, how the 6-foot-2 Georgia native went from being a mid-major recruit to a five-star prospect being courted by the likes of Kansas, Arizona, North Carolina and Villanova.

It’s because he’s a bucket-getter.

     RELATED: Making A Five Star

He averaged 31 points in the Nike EYBL circuit, nine points better than Michael Porter, who finished second in the league in scoring. No one puts points on the board like he does, so it’s only fitting that he was the guy that made a shot from the balcony during ‘The Trip’, Nike’s effort to keep kids associated with their brand from Elite 24:

Lonzo Ball struggled on UCLA’s Australian tour

Lonzo Ball (UCLA Athletics)
UCLA Athletics
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UCLA capped their three-game trip to Australia on Sunday night with a 94-91 win over the Brisbane Bullets, a game in which sophomore point guard Aaron Holiday finished with a team-high 17 points. Bryce Alford and Isaac Hamilton both added 16 points and freshman Ike Anigbogu finished with 13 points and 10 boards.

This win came just two days after the Bruins lost to Melbourne United, 89-84, when Hamilton — 18 points and five assists — and Holiday — 16 points — were both once again impressive. Alford also added 18 points in Friday’s loss.

It’s not surprising that the Bruins had some up and down performances abroad. Everyone does. It’s what happens when a team of college kids, with three freshmen playing key roles, heads to the other side of the world to square off against teams made up of professionals. Don’t go hanging the ‘Fire Steve Alford’ banners on anymore airplanes just yet.

There are, however, two interesting things to consider from this trip:

– Lonzo Ball, UCLA’s star freshman, was, at best, their fourth-best perimeter player. Seniors Isaac Hamilton and Bryce Alford and sophomore Aaron Holiday all played well and posted impressive numbers on the three-game trip. Ball? He didn’t shoot well. At all. In UCLA’s 47-point opening win, he was 3-for-9 from the floor and 1-for-3 from three, putting together was was by far his best shooting performance of the trip. In the three games, he shot a total of 25 percent (9-36) from the field and 19 percent (4-21) from three. He did average 5.0 assists and, in one game, notched 13 boards, but Ball’s ability to shoot will be something to keep an eye on.

– And then there’s this, from Bryce Alford:

UCLA needs to travel with more towels.