Justus: Kentucky a place where you get better and play around great players
▪ Odd factoid: Of all the players John Calipari has sent to the NBA during his time at Kentucky, not one of his former Wildcats has won an NBA title.
That could change this year thanks to DeMarcus Cousins being on the Golden State Warriors roster. We don’t know if Cousins will be able to play, however. At NBA Finals Media Day on Wednesday, Cousins said he was questionable for Thursday’s Game 1 because of the quad tear he suffered in the opening round of the playoffs.
It has been a rough patch for the former UK center. Cousins signed with the Warriors after rupturing his Achilles last season in New Orleans. But he’s played just 30 games with the Warriors, averaging 16.3 points and 8.2 rebounds per game. If healthy, he could be the X-factor for Golden State, and pick up his first championship ring.
▪ As for the NBA Finals matchup, I think it’ll be closer than some expect. In fact, I think Toronto will push Golden State to six games before falling. Kawhi Leonard is just that good.
▪ According to Jonathan Givony of Draft Express, there will be approximately 43 spots for underclassmen in the NBA Draft and there are around 100 leaving their names in the draft. Says Givony, “The market for NBA two-way contracts will be very strong, and the G League will have a big influx of young talent.”
▪ Among the most important returnees is Jarron Cumberland, who pulled out of the draft to return to Cincinnati. Cumberland was arguably the best player in the American Athletic Conference last season. Welcome news for new UC coach John Brannen.
▪ After another horse death Sunday at Santa Anita, the 26th since Dec. 26, the Los Angeles Times editorial board has called for the track to cancel the rest of the meet.
▪ Never mind the Reds’ minor league system. Instead, pay attention to the off-season signings of other team’s discards. In 2017, Cincinnati signed Scooter Gennett, who had been released by the Milwaukee Brewers. Gennett has hit 50 homers with 189 RBI over the past two seasons. This February, the Reds signed Derek Dietrich, released by the Florida Marlins. Dietrich has hit 17 homers already this season, including an MLB-high 12 in May.
▪ Heading into Wednesday’s game against Pittsburgh, the Reds were fourth in Major League Baseball in ERA at 3.66. Cincinnati finished 24th last season in that category at 4.63.
▪ LSU basketball coach Will Wade is officially back from his late-season suspension after being reportedly caught on an FBI wiretap discussing a “strong-ass” offer for a recruit. And it looks like the Tigers will be strong again this year now that Skylar Mays, Emmitt Williams and Javonte Smart have all withdrawn from the NBA Draft with the intention of returning to Baton Rouge.
▪ Ex-Bengals coach Marvin Lewis is joining the Arizona State football staff as a special adviser to head coach Herm Edwards.
▪ Ex-Kentucky defensive back Champ Kelly is in the running to be the new general manager of the NFL’s New York Jets. Kelly is currently assistant director of player personnel with the Chicago Bears.
▪ Remember Tevin Mack? The Alabama guard made six three-pointers in the first half of the Tide’s 77-75 win over visiting Kentucky last season. Mack has entered the NCAA’s transfer portal, which caused Bama Coach Nate Oats to say, “If after two months with a staff, you still have questions about whether it’s the right place, it’s probably not the right place.”
▪ Records show NCAA President Mark Emmert earned $3.9 million in 2017, a 60 percent increase from the year before. But as Jay Bilas keeps (sarcastically) pointing out, there’s not enough money to pay the student-athletes.