Sidelines with John Clay

Trey Lyles, Andrew Harrison summer standouts, and more Big Blue Links

Philadelphia forward Ben Simmons (25) and Utah center Tibor Pleiss battle under the boards for a rebound during a summer league game Thursday in Salt Lake City.
Philadelphia forward Ben Simmons (25) and Utah center Tibor Pleiss battle under the boards for a rebound during a summer league game Thursday in Salt Lake City. Associated Press

Big Blue Links for Sunday:

Trey Lyles impresses as scorer, leader. Jody Genessy of the Desert News reports, “The way Trey Lyles is playing — and the way the NBA is paying — the second-year power forward is bound to get a max summer league contract next year. To nip that tongue-in-cheek rumor in the bud, players aren’t actually paid for participating in summer league play aside from a daily per diem.”

Andrew Harrison impressing Grizzlies. Ronald Tillery of the Commercial-Appeal reports, “When a nondescript group of NBA Development League players turned a 30-point blowout into a semi-interesting 17-point game, Grizzlies combo guard Andrew Harrison fired another engine in his sneakers. Harrison held the basketball at the top of the key and then blew by a D-League defender. He jetted to the rim and scored easily as the Griz again pulled away Friday night and scored a 99-79 victory in the Las Vegas summer league.”

Devin Booker scores 28 in Phoenix win. The Las Vegas Review Journal has all the Las Vegas Summer League scores and recaps.

Another roundup of local players in Summer League action. Rick Bozich of WDRB reports, “Jamal Murray, Denver – Not a dazzling night for Murray, who missed nine of 11 shots, including all three from distance. He finished with 6 points in 24 minutes, turning the ball over five times. “

Andrew Harrison shut down Murray. Denver Stiffs reports, “On the other side, Murray struggled against Andrew Harrison, a former Kentucky Wildcat himself, who smothered him when he was off-ball and disrupted his rhythm when Murray had the ball in his hands. While Murray’s shot wasn’t falling, he stayed engaged in the game by working for rebounds and creating for his teammates, finishing with six total boards and four assists in 24 minutes.”

Kevin Knox doesn’t do package deals. Ben Roberts of the Herald-Leader reports, “Knox plans to cut his recruiting list down to 10 possibilities in the next few days, and — while he said no schools were locks to make the next cut — he mentioned UK, Duke, North Carolina and Florida State (his father’s alma mater) prominently. Ranked by as the No. 6 overall prospect in the 2017 class, Knox said he doesn’t intend on making a college decision until next year, which will give college coaches plenty of opportunities to watch him play during his high school season and make the trip to Florida for in-home visits. “

More on Kevin Knox. This time Andrew Carter of the Charlotte Observer reports, “Kevin Knox has heard from a lot of schools, a lot of college basketball coaches who have been trying to convince him that their particular program is the best college destination for him. Which schools has he heard from most often? Knox’s answer here on Friday included three of the most victorious schools in history: Kentucky, North Carolina and Duke. One of those is not like the other – at least when it comes to recent recruiting success and attracting prospects as heralded as Knox. “

Kentucky wants P.J. Washington for 2017. Roberts reports, “Washington called John Calipari “a great guy,” but it’s assistant coach Kenny Payne who is doing most of the work in UK’s recruitment of P.J. Washington, ranked by as the No. 1 power forward and No. 14 overall player in the class of 2017. P.J. told the Herald-Leader recently that Payne had become like another family member to the Washingtons.”

Meet Kentucky football’s other Timmons. Jennifer Smith of the Herald-Leader reports, “No. No. No. No. No. Those were the exact thoughts that ran through Ryan Timmons’ head when his baby sister (by one minute) said she might want to get a job in the Kentucky football office a few years ago. Working in a practice facility full of college football players was not the campus job the UK wide receiver had in mind for his twin sister when they arrived at UK together. “

New SEC coordinators are familiar with the league. David Paschall of the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports, “South Carolina first-year offensive coordinator Kurt Roper is at his fifth Southeastern Conference school, having worked on staffs at Ole Miss, Kentucky, Tennessee and Florida. Kevin Steele, Auburn’s new defensive coordinator, is at his fourth SEC locale after previous stops at Tennessee, Alabama and LSU. New Kentucky offensive coordinator Eddie Gran is at his fourth SEC school as well, having called Ole Miss, Auburn and Tennessee home, while it’s the third league stop for first-year Texas A&M offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone following stints at Ole Miss and Auburn.”

A question for each coach at SEC Media Days. Josh Kendall of The State writes, “Can Drew Barker save the day? The Wildcats recruited Barker, the top in-state quarterback prospect at the time, away from a strong push by South Carolina in part by selling him on the fact he could be the hero for the hometown team. Now’s his time, and the hometown team needs some help. Barker takes over the starting job this season as the pressure starts to rise on Stoops, who is 12-24 in three seasons at Kentucky. “

College football will have its best opening weekend ever. Pat Forde of Yahoo writes, “The sport continues to play better games in the NFL-free window of opportunity that Labor Day weekend presents. Schedules also continue to improve in direct relation to the advent of the College Football Playoff and the (theoretical) importance of quality competition. That combination has blessed us with an abundance of exciting games to enjoy right away. “

Four-star offensive lineman picks Auburn at The Opening. Mike Niziolek of the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer reports, “Auburn landed a high-profile recruit in a high-profile way Saturday night. Offensive lineman Nick Brahms verbally committed to the Tigers during ESPN U’s broadcast of The Opening, an annual Nike-sponsored recruiting showcase held at the company’s world headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon.”

Miami should remember Dwyane Wade’s journey, not ending. Greg Cote of the Miami Herald writes, “Dwyane Wade and I had a cordial, business-like relationship. Professional. I’ve not been one to get chummy with players I cover the way many younger journalists seem to. For me there should be a line. Anyway, Wade called me once and only once over the years, unsolicited, to thank me for something I’d written.”

If you missed it, UK extended Mitch Barnhart’s contract. Jen Smith reports, “Much was made of Mitch Barnhart’s contract extension in 2011, just months before the retirement of president Lee Todd. At the time, the outgoing University of Kentucky president said he was “doing a heck of a favor for the next person to be president of this university” by retaining Barnhart for three more years and giving him a salary bump. But there was zero fanfare this time, with the university simply posting Barnhart’s latest deal on its contracts website on Friday. It’s his first amended contract since 2013.”

Kentucky back in the mix for No. 1 recruit, reports Ben Roberts of the Herald-Leader. “A couple of months ago, high school basketball star DeAndre Ayton raised some eyebrows when he said that Kansas was the only program showing any interest in his recruitment. That’s not how it normally works for a talent the caliber of Ayton, a 7-footer who is considered to be the No. 1 overall prospect in the class of 2017 by all of the major recruiting services.”

Calipari’s “positionless” pitch resonates with Bamba, reports Roberts. “There’s seemingly no college decision coming from five-star recruit Mohamed Bamba any time soon. The 7-footer from Harlem, N.Y., reiterated Thursday that he doesn’t plan to cut his list of possibilities until next month. Even when he does make that cut, he’ll still be considering 10 schools. “

Keni Harrison fails to make Olympic team. Mark Sonka of the Herald-Leader reports, “Keni Harrison picked the wrong day to have her worst performance of the season. In perhaps the biggest upset of the U.S. Olympic Trials, the former University of Kentucky standout and current American record-holder in the women’s 100-meter hurdles finished sixth in the finals on Friday in Eugene, Ore., and failed to make the Olympic team. “

UK alum makes Olympic Team. WKYT reports, “The Kentucky track and field program had a day of highs and lows on Friday at the United States Olympic Team Trials in front of 22,356 fans inside Hayward Field. Class of 2014 alumnus Andrew Evans became the first Wildcat to qualify for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team by placing third in the discus. Evans capitalized on a solid throw of 200-feet, 10 inches/61.22 meters on his first attempt.”

Larry Brown cares only about Larry. Dana O’Neil of writes, “When the NCAA last year meted out its sanctions against the SMU Mustangs, sanctions that included a postseason ban and suspension of head coach Larry Brown, I posed a simple question: What did the school expect when it hired Brown? Nine months later as Brown announces his sudden resignation, reportedly over a contract dispute, it’s time to ask the same question.”

John Calipari writes about his mentor. “Larry Brown – a mentor to me, a friend, a supporter, a confidant and a basketball lifer – has resigned and is stepping away from SMU. There’s no doubt in my mind that he still has gas left in the tank. My guess is his next stop will be with an NBA franchise in some capacity. He’s one of the most self-disciplined, driven and curious people I’ve met, which has kept him young beyond his age.”

Kelsi Worrell chases butterfly’s monarch. Tim Sullivan of the Courier-Journal writes, “Kelsi Worrell has a month to find half of a second. If the University of Louisville’s Olympic swimmer is to compete for a gold medal at the Summer Games of Rio de Janeiro, she will need to narrow the fractional gap that separates the rest of the world from Sweden’s butterfly monarch, Sarah Sjöström.”

The Vertical has sprung to the forefront of NBA news. Chad Finn of the Boston Globe reports, “Adrian Wojnarowski — known as Woj to his 1.43 million Twitter followers — breaks quality NBA news in such a high quantity that anticipating him getting a scoop has become an essential part of following the league. NBA news — such as his seismic tweet Wednesday night that revealed Dwyane Wade had joined the Bulls — doesn’t seem official until he reports it, and he almost always reports it first.”

Joakim Noah sent a farewell letter to Chicago. An excerpt: “Thank you, Chicago!! I moved here nine years ago and quickly got an understanding of what the city was about. Hard work. No nonsense. Grind. Loyalty. Passion. I wanted to represent those qualities every time I stepped onto the court and competed for the Bulls. Thank you to every teammate I battled with. We won and we lost, but I have love and respect for every single one of you. One day this basketball journey will be over and all we will have are memories. The best times in my life took place on the United Center floor. You are all my brothers.”

Saturday Down South Top 25

  • 1. Alabama
  • 2. Clemson
  • 3. Oklahoma
  • 4. Florida State
  • 5. Ohio State
  • 6. LSU
  • 7. Notre Dame
  • 8. Tennessee
  • 9. Stanford
  • 10. Michigan
  • 11. Michigan State
  • 12. Washington
  • 13. UCLA
  • 14. Baylor
  • 15. Louisville
  • 16. Houston
  • 17. Ole Miss
  • 18. Iowa
  • 19. TCU
  • 20. Georgia
  • 21. Nebraska
  • 22. Miami
  • 23. USC
  • 24. Oklahoma State
  • 25. Texas A&M
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