NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. — The Kentucky Travelers got off to a challenging start in their Peach Jam opener on Thursday.
Beetle Bolden made sure they finished the night on a high note.
The Holmes point guard drove the length of the floor and hit a game-tying layup during the final seconds of regulation to force overtime against the Oakland Soldiers.
With less than 10 seconds left and the game tied in the extra period, Bolden took his defender on a crossover dribble, moved across the court and hit a step-back three-pointer with .3 seconds remaining to give the Travelers a 79-76 victory over the defending EYBL champions.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Lexington Herald-Leader
"(I was thinking) I had to hit this shot. I had to get open somehow," Bolden said. "I nailed it."
Soldiers star (and UK recruit) Stanley Johnson made a 70-footer on the ensuing inbound play, but the referees ruled that Johnson did not get the shot off in time.
The Kentucky team started the day with a disappointing 95-63 loss to the CP3 All-Stars. Bolden had zero points, zero assists and three turnovers in that game. Against the Soldiers, the 5-foot-11 guard tallied 12 points on 5-for-7 shooting, with many of his scores coming at the end of the game.
After the game, the class of 2015 prospect said that Xavier and Purdue are still the main two schools that have offered him a scholarship. He said West Virginia has made it sound as if an offer is coming soon, and Oklahoma State and Tennessee have been in regular contact.
John Calipari watched some of Thursday night's game, and Bolden said UK assistant Orlando Antigua is keeping in touch.
During the state tournament, Bolden expressed his delight at playing in Rupp Arena for the first time. He said Kentucky was the school he had rooted for growing up. "It's still a dream school," he said Thursday.
Oubre in the mix
John Calipari has been tracking 2014 small forward Kelly Oubre all week. The UK coach also had a lengthy phone conversation with Oubre and his father in the days leading up to the Peach Jam.
Oubre — a 6-foot-6 prospect from Texas who will play for Findlay Prep next season — said he recently talked to Calipari for 15 minutes or so, and his father talked to the coach for about an hour.
The phone calls didn't result in a UK scholarship offer, but Calipari gave Oubre reason to think one was coming soon.
"Coach Calipari hit me up a couple of weeks ago," Oubre said. "He said they're recruiting me pretty hard now and, after the live period, he should shoot me an offer."
Oubre plans to cut his list to five schools after the Peach Jam, which wraps up Sunday. He doesn't have any plans for official visits or a college decision, but UK's coach seems to have piqued Oubre's interest. "He produces pros and he gets wins. There's nothing really more to ask for," Oubre said.
When asked about the other schools recruiting him, Oubre mentioned Kansas, Louisville, Georgetown and Connecticut.
Oubre is ranked among the top 20 prospects in the class of 2014 by 24/7 Sports (11th), Rivals.com (19th) and ESPN (20th).
Lyles sets it straight
Class of 2014 forward Trey Lyles cut his list to four schools Thursday: UK, Louisville, Butler and Florida.
Before he did that, he caused a mini-stir on Twitter when he was quoted as saying U of L develops its players better than UK.
Lyles expounded on that thought Friday.
"Louisville develops them better because they have them for longer periods of time," he said. "When Kentucky gets them they get them for usually one year. Louisville gets them for three or four years. They have more time to develop their players."
He said UK's recent success with one-and-done players is a selling point.
"Kentucky, they've had a lot of guys go one year and done," he said. "A lot of guys want to do that. They're getting guys into the league, and when they're in the league they're actually doing something for their teams."
Lyles — the No. 4 overall recruit in the class of 2014 — said he'd like to explore the one-and-done route. But he added that he thinks he could do that at both UK and U of L.
Philadelphia wing Derrick Jones received a scholarship offer from Kentucky earlier this week.
The 2015 prospect drew attention at last month's NBPA Top 100 Camp for his athleticism and highlight-reel dunks.
Jones is playing in a Reebok event in his hometown this week, and UK assistant Orlando Antigua watched one of his games Friday.
The mother of 2015 big man Elijah Thomas told the Herald-Leader on Thursday night that John Calipari had recently called to offer her son a UK scholarship.
Thomas is considered one of the top 10 overall players in the class. He attends Prime Prep Academy in Texas along with top UK target Emmanuel Mudiay.