Welcome to another edition of Big Blue Banter: UK Sports Report. In this edition, I will break down what has been going on in UK Football, UK Basketball, UK Baseball, UK Baseball Stadium Construction, and UK Softball.
On the Kentucky front, not a whole lot new has happened. UK announced the support staff changes and additions last week. This is the complete rundown of the changes within UK Football support staff http://bigbluebanter.com/uk-football-kentuckys-mark-stoops-announces-staff-changes-and-additions/
UK is also in the process of adding seat backs to the north upper deck of Kroger Field. The project is expected to be completed before the start of this upcoming football season. The only area remaining without blue bench back seating inside Kroger Field will be in the east end zone where the student section is located.
UK Football Recruiting:
Kentucky landed a former four-star wide receiver from Ohio earlier today. Ahmad Wagner announced via Twitter his plans to transfer from Iowa to Kentucky. The 6-foot-7, 222-pound athlete played two years at Iowa as a power forward on the men’s basketball team. He will play wide receiver on the UK football team. Sources have told us he will eligible to play this upcoming season, plus during the 2019 season. His addition brings another playmaker for this offense and another huge target for the quarterback.
UK is also in a good position with an in-state linebacker from Louisville Dupont Manual high school. Aidan Robbins unofficially visited this past weekend and left learning more about where the staff envisions him playing in Kentucky’s 3-4 defensive scheme. Robbins told Big Blue Banter, Kentucky is in a very high spot in his recruitment with plans to visit Kentucky again this month.
Kentucky announced a foreign trip to the Bahamas, where the Cats will face off against four pro teams. With a good possibility of having six new freshmen, at least two sophomores and maybe a junior, this could be a great team building experience for this year team. A complete rundown of the Bahamas trip http://bigbluebanter.com/uk-basketball-uk-mens-basketball-to-return-to-bahamas-for-foreign-trip/
A lot still has to shake out with Hamidou Diallo saying all six UK players that entered the draft received NBA combine invites. Sophomore Wenyen Gabriel, Freshman Jarred Vanderbilt, and PJ Washington entered the draft but did not sign an agent. If all three return, Kentucky will bring back more experience than in years past and no longer be the youngest team in Division 1.
Coach John Calipari tweeted out earlier today about scheduling two power-five conference teams in at a destination spot for the UK fans is in the works. Sources have told us this hint is directed to playing out west. Places such as Las Vegas, Portland and/or Seattle were names the sources mentioned. Details are still being ironed out and are not finalized. There was some scuttlebutt of Kentucky and Gonzaga playing this upcoming season at Madison Square Garden with the following year game at Rupp Arena. However, a deal could not get done, so Seton Hall vs Kentucky at MSG instead will happen. Kentucky and Indiana have had talks to bring back the series with a Louisville and Indianapolis neutral court game. No deal has happened with that as well.
UK Basketball Recruiting:
2019 five-star point guard Tyrese Maxey plans to make an announcement this week if he’ll reclassify or not and may even announce his college decision. Kentucky is the perceived favorite and it’s believed he’ll reclassify to the 2018 class. Sources told us about a month ago, Coach Cal visited Maxey with the goal of him reclassifying and joining the Cats team. After SMU let his father go from the staff, the talk only got louder and I would be shocked if Maxey isn’t playing for Kentucky during the Bahamas trip in August.
Kentucky offered 2019 five-star point guard Jalen Lecque. He also has been mentioned as a potential 2019 recruit to reclassify into the 2018 recruiting class. With the likelihood of 2019 point guard commit Ashton Hagans and 2019 point guard target (likely a Kentucky Wildcat) Tyrese Maxey reclassifying, I would think Lecque going to Kentucky in the 2018 class seems unlikely with Quade Green returning for his sophomore year.
Coach Nick Mingione and several baseball players visited Lexington’s Shriners Hospital for the Shriners Baseball trophy presentation, but the team met with some patients before Kentucky started the three-game series with Missouri this past weekend. Regina Rickert was nice enough to send us a few pictures of the team with the Shriners patients. http://bigbluebanter.com/uk-baseball-kentucky-baseball-meets-with-shriners-hospital-patients/
Kentucky won the series in game three in a thrilling way with Kole Cottam’s grand slam in the eighth inning to put Kentucky ahead 11-10. Freshman mid-starter, pitcher Daniel Harper came in to get the save. The Cats will head down to Knoxville to face off the Volunteers in a three-game series starting on Friday night at 6:30 pm ET on SEC Network+.
Kole Cottam was named SEC Player of the Week. Other Kentucky Wildcats named Player of the Week or Pitcher of the Week this season are Luke Heyer (Named twice Player of the Week), Tristan Pompey, Troy Squires, Chris Machamer (Pitcher of the Week) and Justin Lewis has also been named Pitcher of the Week.
UK Baseball Stadium Construction:
With last week being a washout for most the week the construction has been at a snail’s pace. The hope was to have some of the playing field down last month, but that did not happen. However, today the playing area appears to be prepped for the artificial turf to be laid down and installed. Some drainage work in the outfield is still ongoing, but the infield appears to be already prepped for the turf. The only natural dirt of the new stadium playing field will be the Pitcher’s mound. Everything else will be artificial turf including the infield dirt. Sources who have played on artificial turf field said this is a player’s dream with no crazy bounces that natural fields might give to players. Everything is flat with minimal rocks so each bounce off the bat should make it easier to field in theory.
Kentucky softball lost the series down in Knoxville this past weekend, but they did win one game. The Lady Bat Cats will be back home for their final SEC series this season with the South Carolina Gamecocks finishing off this year regular season. First pitch is set at 7 pm ET on SEC Network Bases Loaded at John Cropp Stadium.