Sidelines with John Clay

Links: Drew Barker returns; comparing hoop scandals; Jemarl Baker

Kentucky quarterback Drew Barker throws on the sideline just before kickoff of the UK-New Mexico State football game at Commonwealth Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016. Injured in that game, Barker missed the remainder of the season after undergoing back surgery. He has returned for limited work during UK’s spring drills.
Kentucky quarterback Drew Barker throws on the sideline just before kickoff of the UK-New Mexico State football game at Commonwealth Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016. Injured in that game, Barker missed the remainder of the season after undergoing back surgery. He has returned for limited work during UK’s spring drills. Lexington Herald-Leader

Big Blue Links for Wednesday:

Drew Barker had a lot to share on Tuesday, reports Jennifer Smith of the Herald-Leader. “I missed everything,” the quarterback said. “Just being out there with all my teammates, just being in the locker room at the same time as them. So it’s really just all the little things you kind of cherish now that you maybe didn’t appreciate before.”

New UK basketball commit Jemarl Baker is just what the Cats need, reports Ben Roberts of the Herald-Leader. “Jemarl brings shooting to the table,” said Scout.com national analyst Evan Daniels. “I think that was what Kentucky’s recruiting class was missing. He’s a really good shooter off the catch, and he has good range and a quick release. He’s exactly what Kentucky needed.”

Why John Calipari found his 30 for 30 doc hard to watch is why you should watch, says my column. “Put yourself in his shoes. ESPN has said that what was unusual about this particular ‘30 for 30,’ which debuts Thursday at 9 p.m., was that the subject is still well into his career. Usually their largely excellent pieces deal with past events or retired sports figures or moments that have shaped the sports world in one form or another. Calipari is one of those figures, depending on where you stand, for better or worse.”

Lynn Bowden is not focused on comparisons, reports Joe Mussatto of SEC Country. “Lynn Bowden, minutes after a shooting struggle in the Ohio-Kentucky All-Star Basketball Game, was greeted by a young Kentucky fan with an autograph request. The boy wore a blue Kentucky football jersey, and Bowden signed across the number on the front — No. 1. It’s a familiar figure for Bowden. Although he played in an all-star basketball game on Saturday, he’s the top-ranked football signee in Kentucky’s 2017 class. Recruiting coordinator Vince Marrow, who led the charge for Bowden, said he was the best player in Ohio.”

How do the North Carolina and Louisville scandals compare? asks Tim Sullivan of the Courier-Journal. “David Ridpath says North Carolina deserves the NCAA’s ‘death penalty’ and that he will eat his hat if it happens.The president of the Drake Group, an organization dedicated to academic integrity in college athletics, views the many educational corners cut in Chapel Hill as ‘10 times worse’ than the stripper scandal at the University of Louisville. Yet despite recent remarks by University of Maryland President Wallace Loh and the difficulties of digesting a size 7 3/8 hat, Ridpath remains skeptical the Committee on Infractions will use its nuclear option on the Tar Heels.”

LSU’s Antonio Blakeney announces he will enter draft, reports Sheldon Mickles of The Advocate. “I want to thank my coaches and LSU staff members for providing me with the opportunity to learn on and off the court,” he said in a tweet. “I appreciate the fans who took me in as family from the day I committed, which makes this bittersweet. After weeks of discussion, thoughts and prayers, I have decided to take the next step in my basketball career. With that being said, I would like to announce that I’m entering the 2017 NBA draft.”

Alabama remains the contender, writes Cecil Hurt of the Tuscaloosa News. “Alabama is the three-time incumbent. No one other than fans of rival teams are going to pick against them. That doesn’t mean Alabama is automatically going to win. All sorts of things, from injury to team chemistry to schedule, affect that. But we’re still not at a point where you can take another team’s talent, stack it up against Alabama’s and say the other team is going to win. Sometimes a contender doesn’t emerge until August, after all the practices are done. Sometimes it takes until mid-season before a real rival reveals itself. Rarely, you have seasons like 2016 in which there really was no other team that had a shot.”

Mississippi State’s Malik Dear is out after tearing ACL, reports Will Sammon of the Clarion-Ledger. “Dear made 23 catches with 264 yards and two touchdowns last season. He also rushed for 124 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries. In 2015, Dear was one of MSU’s top playmakers on offense despite inconsistent playing time for reasons ranging from injuries to inexperience. He finished with 22 receptions for 217 yards and two scores. He also had 11 carries for 110 yards and a touchdown.”

Isaac Nauta preparing for a bigger role at Georgia, reports David Paschall of the Chattanooga Times Free Press. “Isaac Nauta had no problem living up to expectations. As a five-star freshman tight end for the Georgia Bulldogs last year, Nauta joined a crowded position group and managed to make five starts in 13 games. He had 29 receptions for 361 yards and three touchdowns, with his catches and yards ranking third behind receivers Isaiah McKenzie and Terry Godwin.”

What’s next for Clemson’s quarterback competition? asks Dan Hope of the Anderson Independent Mail. “Clemson’s quarterback competition is nowhere near over. The spring game made that much clear, if nothing else. Saturday was the biggest opportunity yet for quarterbacks Kelly Bryant, Hunter Johnson and Zerrick Cooper to separate themselves from one another, but none of them did.”

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