Big Blue Links for Thursday:
– UK Video continues its profiles of the new coaching staff with offensive line coach John Schlarman. He follows follows Neal Brown, Bradley Dale Peveto, Jimmy Brumbaugh, Derrick Ansley, Chad Scott and Tommy Mainord.
– Ben Roberts writes that former UK center Nerlens Noel may be the No. 1 pick in tonight’s NBA Draft, but there are questions about whether Noel is the best player. ESPN analyst Jay Bilas thinks ex-Kansas guard Ben McLemore is actually the top prospect in the draft and would flourish if picked by the Cavaliers. “He would go into a situation where he’s playing alongside a franchise player in Kyrie Irving,” Bilas said. “They don’t need him to be the man right away. And I think that gives him a better chance to develop at a more leisurely pace.”
– Bilas is also prominent in my notes column for Thursday. The analyst says that just because Archie Goodwin didn’t meet expectations his freshman year, the former UK guard can still be a good pro. Bilas has Goodwin going early in the second round.
– Kyle Tucker of the Courier-Journal writes that Noel is ready for tonight irregardless of whether he is Cleveland’s choice.
– Adam Himmelsbach of the C-J talks to former Louisville center Gorgui Dieng, who for my money is one of the more underrated players in tonight’s draft. Dieng is still a relative newby by basketball standards and figures to get better and better.
– Dick Vitale has Noel, Victor Oladipo and Otto Porter going 1-2-3 tonight.
– Eric Lindsey of CoachCal.com writes that Goodwin is one of the most intriguing players in the draft. “Initially projected as a first-round pick when he declared for the draft back in April, Goodwin has slid in most mock drafts because of an inconsistent jump shot in workouts, including on the big stage at the NBA Combine. Nonetheless, Goodwin is still expected to hear his name called by the middle of the second round, and a couple of draft experts, including Ford, believe a team could snag him with a first-round pick because of his raw potential.”
– Mary Schmitt Boyer of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer says the Cavs are keeping everyone guessing. “It’s clear the team’s first preference was to trade the No. 1 pick — and maybe Nos. 19, 31 and 33 as well — in an effort to bring in veteran talent as the team strives to reach its stated goal of making the 2014 playoffs. Names like Paul Pierce, Shawn Marion and Thomas Robinson have been mentioned as the rumor mill picked up speed on Wednesday. But the No. 1 pick has been traded just twice since the lottery began in 1985, and the last time was in 1993, when Orlando took Chris Webber and traded him to Golden State for Penny Hardaway.”
– Meanwhile, former Georgia guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is poised to hit the lottery, reports Seth Emerson of the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer. “There’s a good enough chance that he will be picked in the lottery, or the first 13 picks, that the NBA has invited Caldwell-Pope to attend the draft in person. It’s rarified territory for the Georgia men’s basketball program, which last had a player go in the lottery in 2003, when Jarvis Hayes was No. 10 overall. Several mock drafts have Caldwell-Pope going higher, such as No. 9 to Minnesota.”
– Steve Jones of the C-J tweets that John Hardin five-star defensive tackle Matt Elam will visit UK again on July 18.
– It’s still 1. Texas, 2. Kentucky, 3. Tennessee and 4. Alabama in the Rivals recruiting rankings.
– Zagsblog reports that Kevin Pangos of Gonzaga hopes Kyle Wiltjer ends up with the Bulldogs. Pangos and Wiltjer are both on the Canadian National Team developmental roster. Pangos said of Wiltjer and transferring, ““He was talking about it, not a lot because he wanted to get his mind away from it, but he was thinking about it a lot on the trip (to China). I told him obviously I would love to have him at Gonzaga if he chose to leave Kentucky, but I’m not gonna pressure him too much.”
– Lakers exercised the contract option to retain former UK guard Jodie Meeks. From the release: “In 78 games (10 starts), Meeks averaged 7.9 points, 2.2 rebounds, 0.9 assists and 0.74 steals in 21.3 minutes. With 34 multiple three-point games, including a career-high tying seven three-point field goals made 11/30/12 vs. Denver, Meeks finished among the league’s top-50 in three-point field goals made per game (49th/1.6) as well as total three-point field goals made (43rd/122).”
– Louisville’s Luke Hancock is among the finalists for the USA’s World University Games team. Davidson’s Bob McKillop is the head coach. South Carolina’s Frank Martin is one of the assistants.
– Wildcat Blue Nation talks to UK pitcher and Oakland A’s draft pick Jerad Grundy.
– Neil White of The State paper in Columbia reports that Ryan Ripken, son of Cal, will not return to the South Carolina baseball team next year.
– Scott Rabalais of The Advocate thinks the College World Series needs to do something to beef up the offense. “The offense, or lack of it, was offensive. UCLA hit .227, the lowest average by a CWS winning team in the metal bat era, which dates to 1974. The Bruins only got “up” to .227 because they banged out 12 hits in Tuesday’s 8-0 championship-series clinching win over Mississippi State. Before that, UCLA was hitting an even more anemic .183.”
– Mr. SEC thinks it’s time for the league to hire a basketball czar. “The new head of hoops could also handle any complaints regarding officiating. The league made a change at the top of its officiating chain of command this offseason and neither the league nor Gerald Boudreaux has explained why he departed. One must assume that — barring some type of shady dealings — the league’s officials came under a bit more fire this year than usual. Road wins were tougher to come by inside the SEC and sources tell MrSEC.com there was a feeling amongst coaches that the league’s refs paid a bit too much attention to the hometown crowds.”