▪ Not long ago, Marcus Lee was dead-serious about going to the NBA. Now, after withdrawing his name from the draft and announcing his intention to transfer, Lee won’t be able to try the NBA Draft again for two more seasons.
That’s OK. Lee proved to be a good teammate and ambassador for UK basketball during his three years in Lexington. The guess here is he’ll go on to do great things, even if they might not be in the NBA.
▪ Meanwhile, Isaiah Briscoe is a key returning piece for the Cats. The sophomore-to-be brings experience to a backcourt that features newcomers De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk. If Briscoe improves his shooting, he can make another run at the NBA evaluation period next year.
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▪ Indiana came out a big winner in the NBA Draft process, Wednesday and long before. Center Thomas Bryant and forward OG Anunoby announced early on they would not put their names in the draft pool. Then Wednesday, James Blackmon Jr. announced he will return to Bloomington for his junior season. And Tom Crean has enough talent to absorb the loss of erratic forward Troy Williams, who is staying in the draft.
▪ Purdue was also a big winner with both Caleb Swanigan and Vincent Edwards withdrawing from the draft pool and returning to West Lafayette. Edwards averaged 11.3 points last season. Swanigan averaged 10.2 points and 8.2 rebounds last year as a freshman.
▪ You have to wonder what’s going on in Starkville, considering the news Malik Newman has decided to withdraw from the draft and return to school — he’s just not sure yet what school. Newman’s father was quoted as saying he wasn’t sure “we’re on the same page with Ben.” That would be MSU Coach Ben Howland.
▪ Give Matthew Mitchell credit. The addition of Hall of Fame coach Lin Dunn, who won a WNBA title with the Indiana Fever, to his staff was a much-needed piece of good news for Kentucky women’s basketball that came completely out of left field.
▪ Meanwhile, Vanderbilt hired current Indiana Fever coach Stephanie White as its head women’s coach, with ESPN analyst Carolyn Peck, who coached Purdue to the 1999 national title, as associate head coach. Lots of staff firepower in the SEC.
▪ I am not optimistic Kentucky baseball will hear its name announced next Monday during the NCAA Tournament Selection Show on ESPNU, starting at noon.
▪ Billy Donovan and Brad Stevens are making considerable cases that college coaches can make it in the NBA.
▪ After Tuesday night’s loss at Los Angeles, the Reds’ ninth straight, Cincinnati had used 24 pitchers this season. The franchise record is 30. They’ve used 24 without using Homer Bailey and Anthony DeSclafani, both on the DL. That should tell you all you need to know about how the season is going.
▪ Did you see where UCLA signed a 15-year, $280 million apparel and equipment deal with Under Armour? Even in college sports, big markets apparently matter.
▪ It came as no surprise that Nyquist isn’t running in the Belmont. Yes, I know, the Kentucky Derby winner spiked a fever after finishing third in the Preakness. Despite what his connections were saying, doubt that he would have run in the Belmont anyway. He would run the risk of losing two of the three Triple Crown races, plus his pedigree didn’t bode well for the mile-and-a-half distance.
▪ Fox Sports’ Clay Travis is reporting Brad Nessler is leaving ESPN for CBS. The Atlanta-based Nessler has done a ton of UK basketball games for the World Wide Leader. He reportedly will be groomed to take over the play-by-play duties on the Saturday SEC Game of the Week once Verne Lundquist retires.
▪ How come no one wants to know what jersey number I’ll be wearing next season?