Big Blue Links for Tuesday:
Just a couple of days away from the NBA Draft, we’ve now entered the crazy rumors and wild trades zone. Example, there are reports the Los Angeles Lakers are trying to put together a deal that would pry DeMarcus Cousins from the Sacramento Kings. And the Phoenix Suns are dangling Eric Bledsoe at the Knicks in exchange for New York’s No. 4 pick overall.
UPDATE: Adrian Wojnarowski reports that George Karl is pushing for Sacramento to trade Cousins.
Meanwhile, ESPN’s Jay Bilas likes Duke’s Jahlil Okafor over Karl-Anthony Towns in the debate over whether the Duke center (Okfaor) or the Kentucky center (Towns) should be the No. 1 pick by Minnesota on Thursday night. Bilas likes both.
“But I tend to lean a little bit to Okafor because he’s a dominant low-post scorer,” he said on an ESPN teleconference Monday. “Towns is not dominant in any one area. Maybe he will become that. But Okafor is the superior low-post scorer.”
There are reports that the Timberwolves have told Towns he’s No. 1, but Towns denies that’s the case. This blog is guessing that Adam Silver will be calling Karl-Anthony’s name first on Thursday, which would give John Calipari three No. 1 overall picks since coming to Kentucky — John Wall in 2010; Anthony Davis in 2012 and Towns.
Willie Cauley-Stein penned a post for Players Tribune about being involved in this year’s draft. An excerpt: “For some reason, people love to project things onto your appearance. There’s definitely one thing I love more than basketball, and it’s proving to people that I can do the things they say I can’t do. The story on me going into this draft is that I’m an elite defender with a raw offensive game. In my head I’m thinking, How would you even know what I’m capable of offensively? At Kentucky, I shot about 25 jumpers my entire career. I didn’t major in statistics, but that’s a pretty small sample size, bruh.”
Mark Story argues that if Cauley-Stein’s stock is dropping because of worries about his foot, it could be good for Trill in the long run. “Slippage in Thursday night’s draft would cost Cauley-Stein money on his rookie contract. Yet a player whose calling card is his defensive versatility could prove more valuable — and earn a better second contract — on a stronger team that does not need him to score.”
The cupboard needs re-stocking and Canadian guard Jamal Murray is/was expected to make his announcement on Tuesday. Oregon is the favorite. There were reports late Monday that Murray will push back his pick. Stay tuned.
Kentucky is going back to the Bahamas. The UK basketball team will play Arizona State in November of 2016 in the Bahamas. Though the site is the same as the Battle 4 Atlantis, UK-Arizona State is a one-game only affair.
On the football side, ESPN has bumped up Kentucky quarterback commit Gunnar Hoak to four stars. ESPN ranks Hoak as the No. 15 pocket passer prospect in the nation.
Vanderbilt beat Virginia 5-1 on Monday night in the first game of the championship series of the College World Series. The Commodores are now just one win away from back-to-back national championships. That’s Vanderbilt. If you talk about Kentucky’s geography putting it at a disadvantage in SEC baseball, Nashville isn’t a whole lot farther south.
Florida football picks up a transfer. T.J. McCoy, a freshman center at North Carolina State last season, will play for the Gators. McCoy is the son of former Florida defensive tackle Tony McCoy, who earned All-SEC honors while in Gainesville.
The Kentucky Pro Football Hall of Fame holds its induction ceremony and golf outing this week. “Entering the Hall of Fame this year are Jacob Tamme from the University of Kentucky, Aaron Jones from Eastern Kentucky, Doug Buffone from Louisville and Gil Mains from Murray State.”
Ex-UK pitcher Joe Blanton outdueled Felix Hernandez on Monday night as Kansas City beat Seattle. Blanton allowed one run over six innings in running his record to 2-0. His ERA is 1.73.
Another former UK pitcher, Trevor Gott, pitched another scoreless inning Monday as the Los Angeles Angels beat Houston 4-3. In five appearances since being called up, Gott has allowed just three hits and zero runs in five innings. He has struck out three without walking a batter.
Missouri defensive lineman Harold Brantley suffered a broken leg and knee ligament damage in that Sunday afternoon car accident. Brantley’s condition has been upgraded to serious.
Photo of Kansas City Royals pitcher Joe Blanton by Elaine Thompson/AP.