Highly touted Hammond picks U of L over Connecticut
When Sara Hammond gets to college, she wants to look up in the stands and see the familiar faces of family and friends.
That is one of the many reasons Hammond, one of the state and nation's top seniors, decided to say no to Connecticut and say yes to Louisville on Tuesday.
"I love where I'm from," the Rockcastle County standout said. "I wanted my family, friends and community to be able to see me play as much as they can."
Hammond, rated the nation's 12th-best player overall and the fourth-best forward according to ESPN's Hoopgurlz.com, didn't mince words. She grew up bleeding Kentucky blue and wanted to play for the Cats when they started recruiting her as a sophomore. But she said UK never made a formal offer and Louisville was aggressive from the start.
"They were the first to offer me a scholarship, the first to call during the period when they could call," she said. Coach Jeff Walz "was the one who recruited me the hardest."
When UK still hadn't offered her junior year or this summer, Hammond said she decided to move on.
The 6-foot-2 senior forward had her final list down to Connecticut and Louisville, but she also had offers from Vanderbilt, South Carolina, North Carolina, Texas, Notre Dame, West Virginia and Western Kentucky.
UK coaches aren't allowed to comment about high school players they are or aren't recruiting before they sign, per NCAA rules.
"It was always a dream of mine to play there," she said of UK, "I'm thankful they were interested in me, but in the end I just wanted to go to a school where I was wanted."
The Miss Basketball front-runner said she was relieved that the process was completed and that she could focus on playing for the Rockets, who advanced to the state semifinals last season.
Hammond has played five seasons for Rockcastle County, helping lead it to three region championships in that span.
She averaged 15 points, 10.8 rebounds, four blocks and two steals last season, while shooting 58.7 percent from the field.
About 100 excessive calls made by Vols
The Tennessee basketball program reported several NCAA violations committed under Coach Bruce Pearl, including nearly 100 excessive phone calls to recruits and permitting families of recruits to stay longer than allowed by the NCAA when visiting Knoxville. In memos from Tennessee to Southeastern Conference Commissioner Mike Slive, Tennessee cited poor record keeping, miscommunication and carelessness in documenting the number of phone calls made to 10 recruits.
The recruits mentioned in the memos included Elliot Williams, who played at Duke and Memphis; Kansas' Josh Selby; Florida State's Chris Singleton; Ohio State's Aaron Craft; Xavier's Justin Martin and Griffin McKenzie; and Rico Pickett, who signed with Alabama but now plays professionally in Europe. Names of current Tennessee players involved were redacted from the documents.
Tennessee also acknowledged assistant coach Jason Shay approved the lodging expenses for the families of three recruits who stayed in Knoxville for their official visits longer than the 48 hours allowed by the NCAA.
Award in case vs. Tubby Smith reduced
A judge reduced the amount of money the University of Minnesota must pay to a former Oklahoma State basketball coach who sued the school and Coach Tubby Smith after they decided not to hire him. Hennepin County Judge Regina Chu reduced the money award for Jimmy Williams from $1.25 million to the $1 million limit of the university's insurance policy.
Blue-White tickets available Oct. 5
Tickets for the University of Kentucky men's basketball Blue-White scrimmage will go on sale on Tuesday, Oct. 5. Tickets for the game, scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 26, will cost $10.
Bowyer's team close to breaking rules
NASCAR warned Richard Childress Racing that Clint Bowyer's car came close to failing inspection after his Chase-clinching drive at Richmond. NASCAR scheduled a Tuesday meeting with RCR officials to go over the No. 33 Chevrolet and determine if the team had not made a mistake in its own calculations.
"They were in the box, but getting close to some of the tolerances and we asked them to come in to see if they aren't getting off on one of their build sheets," NASCAR vice president of competition Robin Pemberton said.
"We have had their cars in quite a bit, and they were always spot-on. This one just seemed to be different, and we felt we owed it to them to make sure they just aren't off in one area."
Even if Bowyer's car had failed inspection, it wouldn't have changed the Chase field. The penalty for failed inspections runs anywhere from 50-to-100 points, and Bowyer had a 142-point cushion over Ryan Newman at the end of the Richmond race.
Charlotte to get world's largest HD screen
Come next April, not everything will be bigger in Texas. Charlotte Motor Speedway officials on Tuesday unveiled plans to build what will be the world's largest HD video board.
The video screen, which will be 200 feet wide and 80 feet tall and weigh more than 165,000 pounds, will stretch across the track's backstretch between Turns 2 and 3.
It will supplant the HD video board at the new home of the NFL's Dallas Cowboys in Arlington, Texas, as the world's biggest. Cowboys Stadium's $40 million board is 160 feet wide and 72 feet tall.
"This is the biggest announcement we've ever made," said Charlotte Motor Speedway owner Bruton Smith. "This is not Texas-sized. This is Charlotte Motor Speedway-sized. I don't see a lot of places doing this. It's a little expensive."
How expensive? Smith declined to provide any cost estimate but did joke to his son and speedway president, Marcus Smith, "You didn't spend $40 million, did you?"
So, just how big is this HD TV?
The 16,000 square-foot screen will feature 720P high-definition visuals illuminated by more than nine million LED lamps. It's taller and wider than the White House. "It's really going to bring a lot to the pre-race, to the race itself and after the race, with a focus on the Victory Lane celebration," Marcus Smith said.
The last word
PGA Tour golfer Dustin Johnson:
"I was always a fast player. There's only two things that can happen — you hit a good shot or a bad shot. So why waste time doing it?"