DeMarcus Cousins

Associated Press

VIDEO: UNC vs. Kentucky alumni game highlights

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After not holding an alumni game last year the Kentucky basketball program welcomed home some of its best players of the John Calipari era for a charity game against former North Carolina players. The event was a success on multiple levels, as $1.1 million was raised for multiple charities with the final count expected to approach $1.5 million.

And the day also served as another celebration of sorts for recent Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame inductee Calipari. Calipari, who was inducted Friday night in Springfield, Massachusetts, was presented with a picture of himself that was a mosiac of every player he’s coached. And the game was entertaining as well, with the former Wildcats beating the former North Carolina players by the final score of 122-115.

Among those who played in the game were former Wildcats DeMarcus Cousins, Eric Bledsoe and Karl-Anthony Towns, with Harrison Barnes (also the team head coach) and Jerry Stackhouse suiting up for the UNC team. Anthony Davis served as head coach for the former Kentucky players. Above are highlights from the game, courtesy of KYWildcatsTV.

Among the charities that will benefit from this game are the Naismith Hall of Fame Legacy Fund (which will receive a $200,000 donation in the name of late UNC head coach Dean Smith), Samaritan’s Feet and the St. Jude Childrens Research Hospital.

Kentucky to host telethon to raise proceeds for those affected by Superstorm Sandy

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Two-plus years ago (January 2010) Kentucky head coach John Calipari organized a telethon to help out those affected by the earthquake that ravaged Haiti.

On Wednesday night Calipari and the Kentucky program will do the same, as players will work the phones to raise proceeds to help those in the Northeast who were hit hard by Superstorm Sandy.

According to Calipari donations made by callers will be matched, and 100% of the proceeds raised will go directly to the Sandy relief efforts.

“We’ve got some great ideas of things to either bid on or give this amount of money,” said Calipari during the announcement according to the Associated Press.

“When we did it with Haiti, 70,000 calls came in and we couldn’t take them all. We could only take 2,000. So we’re going to hope to have it so that whoever calls in, that phone will be answered somewhere. This was devastating.”

According to the school release the telethon, which runs from 7 to 8 PM EST on Wednesday, will air on affiliates of the UK/IMG Sports Network as well as online at WKYT.com.

And maybe this telethon will supply a ligher moment like this one involving former Wildcat DeMarcus Cousins during the Hoops for Haiti telethon.

For those who would like to donate at any time, the American Red Cross is accepting donations as well.

Raphielle is also the assistant editor at CollegeHoops.net and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

Could this be the start of Kentucky’s greatest recruiting class ever?

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Generally speaking, when a program brings in a pair of players as talented as twins Aaron and Andrew Harrison, their recruiting class is all but set.

Yes, some holes will get filled in and there will likely be a couple of other names that end up on the roster, but at the end of the day, those two top five talents are usually end up being the meat of the class.

Not Kentucky.

Not under John Calipari.

And while we’ve seen him put together some incredible classes in his three years in Lexington — last year’s crop of newbies included three of the top six players nationally and a fourth that was in the top 25 and his first class included DeMarcus Cousins, John Wall  and two other five-star players — they pale in comparison to the kind of class that Coach Cal has the chance to put together for 2013.

Of the top seven players in the Class of 2013, according to ESPN, the five that remain uncommitted are Jabari Parker, Julius Randle, James Young, Aaron Gordon and Noah Vonleh. (The other two are the Harrisons.) Kentucky is involved with all five, and probably the favorite, at this point, for at least two of the them.

And that doesn’t include Andrew Wiggins, the best high school player in the country who is expected by most to reclassify to 2013 from 2014, or Marcus Lee, a top 30 recruit who has whittled his choices down to Cal and UK.

Is it possible that we could be heading for a 2013-2014 season where Kentucky’s starting lineup is completely made up of players who were ranked in the top ten nationally?

As for the Terps, missing out on the Harrisons is a major disappointment, but they still have some promising recruits to chase.

Rysheed Jordan (Philly) and Roddy Peters (Suitland, MD) are both four-star point guards that the Terps are currently pursuing, while forwards Cameron Blakely and Junior Etou and shooting guard RJ Curington are involved with Turgeon’s team. Maryland already has a commitment from Damonte Dodd.

It’s back to the drawing board for Turgeon, but on some level he had to have known: he wasn’t getting the Harrison twins out of Calipari’s grip.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

 

Please don’t count John Calipari and Kentucky out of the race for the Harrison twins

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Yesterday, NBCSports.com took a look at the recruitment of the Harrison twins, Aaron and Andrew, and the possible connections that could land them at Maryland when they announce their decision Thursday evening.

But what about the other horse in the race for their commitment? If we have learned anything, it’s not to bet against John Calipari and the Kentucky Wildcats.

Maryland might have deep connections from Texas, close ties to the family, a geographic advantage, and the Under Armour card in its back pocket, but the defending national champions have ruled the recruiting world since Calipari took over in Lexington.

The fact of the matter is, aside from Shabazz Muhammad, the Calipari we’ve come to know at Kentucky has never lost out on a prospect that he truly wanted. If a top prospect hears Kentucky calling, he usually answers with a verbal commitment.

Say what you will and allege what you will about Calipari’s behind-the-scenes recruiting tactics, but there’s plenty to legitimize the flood of recruiting heading to Calipari’s program.

Plainly put, Calipari and Kentucky turn the nation’s best players into NBA first-rounders.

Don’t believe it? Ask John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Terrence Jones, Eric Bledsoe, and the list goes on.

The same way that the country’s top students flock to the Wharton Business School because it’s almost a guaranteed ticket into their desired field, Calipari is now running the equivalent in basketball.

And that’s the draw for the Harrison twins.

Under Armour aside, personal relationships dismissed, Calipari would give the twins an opportunity to be surrounded by some of the country’s best talent for (if all goes as likely planned) one season, compete for a national title, and be NBA lottery picks.

Perhaps that can pull harder than anything Mark Turgeon could do at Maryland.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Video: Drake admits association with UK inspired him to graduate HS

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Drake’s been closely involved with the Kentucky basketball team since John Calipari took over, and it shouldn’t be any wonder why.

Drake, who is a protege of Lil’ Wayne and currently one of the most famous and popular rappers, not only received a championship ring from the school, but he returned to the campus this weekend to take part in an alumni game as a celebrity head coach, opposite John Wall. His team — which included Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins — went on to win, but, as Drake tells it, he’s gotten something even bigger out of his association with the ‘Cats.

“Kentucky gave me a real home. I actually dropped out of high school,” Drake told CN2 in Kentucky (video below). “I don’t know if a lot of people know that. I never really got like, a great school experience. When coach Cal asked me to come out here for the first Midnight Madness, it just really gave me a sense of school, a sense of love, a sense of belonging to something. That’s why I feel like I belong to the UK family. That’s why I’m graduating high school this month. I’m definitely inspired by UK.”

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=42GVMICvI2A]

With the amount of money he’s got coming in, I doubt that he’ll ever need that education, let alone to actually work a day in his life. That said, good for him. Valuing education is important, and I hope that he makes a big deal out of this. If it, in turn, inspires just a handful of his fans to stay in school and graduate, than it was the right decision to make.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

National champs raise big bucks for charity

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Whatever knock you might want to put on John Calipari, his heart is often in the right place. Yes, he blinged out the Wildcats’ locker rooms, but he also went to great lengths to put together this weekend’s charity basketball game, which brought former ‘Cats back to Rupp for a couple of basketball games that served a dual purpose – to make fans happy, and to raise big bucks for charity.

Per Kentucky.com, several charities will benefit from the reported $400,000 raised.

  • West Liberty, KY tornado relief: $110,000
  • $60,000 to provide service dogs for wounded veterans
  • $55,000 to Starkey Hearing Foundation, which provides hearing aids to those who need them
  • $50,000 to improve financial literacy in the Commonwealth
  • $25,000 to the Lexington/Fayette County Urban League.

Kentucky beat writer Jerry Tipton provided some details from the game action via his Twitter feed. The first game, which pitted fantasy camp schlubs against veterans from the ’96 national title team, ended in a 103-43 rout, despite the fact that, according to Tipton, the campers put 12 men on the floor against the Tony Delk-led old-timers.

The second game was headlined by a more competitive group of recent ‘Cats.

DeMarcus Cousins was the star of the second game, on the court and in print. According to Tipton, he scored 42 points and hit five three-point shots. He quipped afterward that Cal “finally admitted he was holding me back,” while Cousins was playing center for the Wildcats. Cousins also gave his shoes to fans after the game.