No. 1 Kentucky’s offensive rebounding prowess once again its greatest weapon

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To this point in the season No. 1 Kentucky has been, in the eyes of many, the best team in the country. With their ten-man rotation chock full of highly talented players, the Wildcats entered Wednesday’s game against Columbia having won all nine of their games by 12 points or more. Yet even with that being the case there’s still plenty of room for improvement for John Calipari’s team, with perimeter shooting being the issue of late.

Kyle Smith’s Lions were able to effectively slow down the pace at Rupp Arena, with each team getting a paltry 52 possessions on the night. The combination of the slow pace and Columbia’s outscoring Kentucky by 12 points from beyond the arc in the first half led to Columbia leading 25-23 at the intermission.

However Kentucky’s ability to hit the offensive glass ultimately made the difference, with the Wildcats grabbing 21 offensive rebounds on their way to the 56-46 victory.

It should be noted that the Wildcats played without guards Tyler Ulis and Devon Booker (and Columbia is playing this season without Alex Rosenberg, who’s their best player), and that did impact the way in which Kentucky shot the ball from the perimeter. Overall the Wildcats shot 2-for-17 from beyond the arc, and over the last four games (playing three with their full rotation) Kentucky’s made just eight of their 49 three-point attempts. Yet even with their struggles in making perimeter shots the Wildcats have remained one of the best offensive teams in the country with regards to efficiency.

Why? Because they’re the best offensive rebounding team in America.

Prior to Wednesday’s game Kentucky was rebounding 45.5% of its missed shots, and against Columbia the Wildcats posted an offensive rebounding percentage of 52.5%. And while Kentucky may have scored “just” 15 second-chance points those extra possessions add up, and given Kentucky’s total scoring output that isn’t a figure to scoff at.

Willie Cauley-Stein was responsible for five of those 21 offensive rebounds, and he combined with Trey Lyles to grab 20 of Kentucky’s 41 total rebounds. The size and athleticism of the Wildcat big men produces extra opportunities against most opponents, and that will likely be the case throughout the 2014-15 season.

On nights when that doesn’t occur and they’re dealing with teams who can take away the lob without giving up the offensive glass, which Columbia was unable to do, Kentucky will need to hit some perimeter shots to loosen things up. However given the pieces at Calipari’s disposal, that strategy is far easier to plan than it is to execute.

Kansas lands second commitment in the Class of 2018

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Kansas landed their second big man in the Class of 2018 on Sunday, as David McCormack, a top 50 prospect, announced that he will be a Jayhawk when he plays his college ball.

The 6-foot-10 center picked Kansas over Xavier, NC State, Oklahoma State and Duke.

A product of the famed Oak Hill Academy, McCormack averaged 15 points and 10 boards on the Adidas Gauntlet circuit this spring. He joins fellow four-star big man Silvio de Sousa in the 2018 class for Bill Self, although the Jayhawks will get three players eligible after they sit out the 2017-18 season as transfers: Dedric and K.J. Lawson, who transferred in from Memphis, as well as Charlie Moore, a point guard from California.

Report: North Carolina won’t attend White House

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After capturing a national championship earlier this year, the North Carolina men’s basketball team will not be visiting the White House, a North Carolina spokesman said to Andrew Carter of the The Charlotte Observer.

Although the Tar Heels were invited to go to the White House from the staff of President Donald Trump, the team couldn’t figure out a date that worked.

“We couldn’t find a date that worked for both parties,” North Carolina team spokesman Steve Kirschner said to Carter. “We tried about eight or nine dates and between they couldn’t work out that date, we couldn’t work out that date, so – we would have liked to have gone, but not going.”

According to Carter’s report, Kirschner also said that North Carolina players, “were fine with going.”

With Trump’s recent comments towards NFL players and the national anthem and his Saturday morning tweet at Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors, there has been a lot of controversy surrounding the President with regards to athletes over the past 24 hours.

Although the timing of this may seem like North Carolina is making some sort of political statement, the school is downplaying any sort of politics by focusing on the bad timing.

Xavier freshman forward Jared Ridder will transfer

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Xavier freshman forward Jared Ridder will transfer from the program to move closer to home, according to a release from the school.

The 6-foot-7 Ridder hails from Springfield, Missouri as he was regarded as a top-150 prospect by Rivals in the Class of 2017.

“After much consideration and talking with my family, I have decided that it is in my best interest to move home,” Ridder said in the release.

“Jared has indicated to the coaching staff that he has a desire to be closer to home,” Xavier head coach Chris Mack said. “While we are disappointed, we all want Jared to be happy moving forward. We wish him nothing but the best.”

A potent scorer and noted perimeter shooter at the high school level, Ridder helped MoKan win the Nike Peach Jam during the summer of 2016 playing alongside talented players like Missouri’s Michael and Jontay Porter and Oklahoma’s Trae Young. With a desire to move closer to home, could Ridder potentially land at a spot where one of his talented former teammates is playing?

Ridder averaged 24.2 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.8 assists during his senior season of high school ball at Kickapoo as he was a first-team, All-State selection in Missouri.

Four-star 2018 forward Ian Steere decommits from Creighton

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Creighton took a big hit to its recruiting efforts late this week as Class of 2018 forward Ian Steere is decommitting from the Bluejays, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com. Steere’s decommitment was first reported by Julius Kim of Elevate Hoops.

The 6-foot-8 Steere is considered a four-star prospect by Rivals as he is coming off of a very solid spring and summer playing with Team Charlotte in the Under Armour Association. A plus athlete who isn’t afraid to bang on the interior, Steere showing an improving skill level throughout the spring and summer as he could see his recruiting soar after opening things up.

According to a report from Jon Nyatawa of the World-Herald, one of the reasons that Steere is opening up his recruitment is his desire to be closer to his native North Carolina. With so many top programs looking for quality help on the interior, it’ll be interesting to see which programs jump in and try to recruit Steere the second time around.

John Wall emotional in Kentucky Hall of Fame induction speech

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John Wall was inducted into the University of Kentucky Athletics Hall of Fame on Friday night as he delivered an emotional speech while talking to his mother.

The first inductee into the Hall of Fame to play for current Wildcat head coach John Calipari, Wall only spent the 2009-10 season in Lexington but he became the first national player of the year to play at Kentucky before becoming the No. 1 pick in the 2010 NBA Draft.

Thanking his mother, Calipari, his family, friends and Big Blue Nation, the Washington Wizards guard gave a very moving speech, including an emotional part directed to his mother at around 4:35.