John Clay

Is the NCAA slowly taking another step in the right direction?

Pelicans win Zion sweepstakes, will choose first in NBA Draft

The New Orleans Pelicans won the rights to the first pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. It is widely believed the team will select Duke superstar Zion Williamson.
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The New Orleans Pelicans won the rights to the first pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. It is widely believed the team will select Duke superstar Zion Williamson.

Random notes:

Where the NCAA is concerned, progress is always grudging and slow. Yet there was another sign this week that the powers that be in Indianapolis are in fact loosening their rigid view of amateurism.

The body announced Tuesday it has put together a working group to “examine issues . . . related to student-athlete name, image and likeness.” That could be the first step toward allowing student-athletes to receive money for endorsements, jersey sales, autographs and etc.

Big East commissioner Val Ackerman and Ohio State athletics director Gene Smith were named co-chairs of the committee, a sign that maybe the NCAA is serious about the study. We shall see.

Speaking of the NCAA, count me as all in on the recent proposal to move the three-point line back to the international rules distance. I’d be OK with adopting the international rule doing away with goal-tending, as well.

Were I Anthony Davis, I’d be very tempted to rescind my trade demand and play with probable No. 1 pick Zion Williamson next season. So far, anyway, Davis is sticking to his original deal-me stance.

By the way, I like the new lottery system which takes a little less weight away from the bottom four teams. There’s less incentive for teams to out-and-out tank, and it brought more mystery to Tuesday night’s drawing.

Call it the Zion Effect: But the overnight TV ratings for the lottery were up 77 percent from last year. Do you remember who the No. 1 pick in the draft was last year? (Answer: Phoenix took Arizona center DeAndre Ayton.)

Kentucky baseball has a tough task this weekend. The Cats need wins to qualify for the SEC Tournament, but Nick Mingione’s team is facing No. 2-ranked Vanderbilt, starting Thursday at Kentucky Proud Park. Maybe the Cats can finish with a bang in what has been a disappointing first season in their new stadium.

Gary and Mary West are trying every avenue possible to overturn the disqualification of their colt Maximum Security in the Kentucky Derby. The Wests filed a lawsuit in federal court on Wednesday. I get it. But I fail to see how prolonging the ordeal helps horse racing.

Speaking of horse racing, RIP Tim Conway. Yes, Tim Conway. The comedic actor, who died Tuesday at age 85, was a huge horse racing fan who helped start the Don MacBeth Memorial Jockey Fund with co-founder and Hall of Fame jockey Chris McCarron.

Kentucky football solved a problem and sent a signal with the signing of former Troy quarterback Sawyer Smith this week as a graduate transfer. Smith gives offensive coordinator Eddie Gran an experienced backup behind Terry Wilson. And Smith showed that UK football has reached the point where it is a landing spot for grad transfers.

It should come as no surprise to Kentucky basketball fans that Auburn point guard Jarred Harper was one of 10 prospects who played so well at the G League Combine they were invited to this week’s NBA Combine.

Good luck to former UK guard Jemarl Baker, who announced this week he is transferring to Arizona. Talk about your weird college paths, Baker did not play as a freshman because of knee surgery. He missed the first part of his sophomore season with knee troubles. And now he’s headed to the Pac-12. Not your normal path.

Wild story out of Florida where the Gators lost highly-touted freshman cornerback Chris Steele. Seems Steele reportedly asked to be moved to another dorm room almost as soon as he arrived on campus in January. His roommate, quarterback Jalon Jones, was later accused of sexual assault. Though Jones was not charged, he left the program. Steele apparently thought Florida was too slow to act on his request. He’s transferring to Oregon.

The Cincinnati Reds have the fifth-best run differential (+28) in the National League, but just the 12th-best record.

It is the 30th anniversary of the 1989 Preakness which saw Kentucky Derby winner Sunday Silence beat Easy Goer by a nose. Easy Goer then spoiled Sunday Silence’s Triple Crown bid by winning the Belmont Stakes.

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