Big Blue Links: Kentucky basketball picks up a commitment; C.J. Johnson gets serious about football

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Playing catch-up with Big Blue Links for Friday:

Kentucky has a new basketball commitment, reports Ben Roberts of Next Cats. “A day after a face-to-face meeting with Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski — and a few days after an official visit to Kentucky — one of the best high school players in America decided he’d seen and heard enough. On Wednesday night, Wenyen Gabriel called Coach John Calipari and told him he wanted to be a Kentucky Wildcat. On Thursday afternoon, he told everyone else.”

C.J. Johnson is starting to reveal on-field talents, reports Jennifer Smith of the Herald-Leader. The defensive tackle loves to joke around off the field, but now that he has learned the defensive system, Johnson is making life uncomfortable for opposing offenses on the field.

Newcomers and veterans have John Calipari feeling comfortable, reports Jerry Tipton of the Herald-Leader. “The last time we went through this, and lost this many guys, the issue we had (was) we didn’t have any guards,” Calipari said, who has guards on this team. “So I feel pretty comfortable because of that.”

Kentucky basketball fans make camp to get Madness tickets, reports Herald-Leader. “A limited number of cards will be handed out at 2 p.m. Friday in advance of the ticket distribution at 10 p.m., UK announced earlier. The ticket distribution was switched to Friday instead of the typical Saturday, so fans can also attend Saturday’s UK football game against Eastern Kentucky University.”

Ethan Thomas making most of his opportunity at Eastern, reports Nathan Hutchinson of the Richmond Register. “The EKU coaching staff normally prefers to redshirt all incoming freshman. But, the first time they saw Ethan Thomas, they knew it would be hard to keep him off the field this season.”

Mark Stoops makes trip to see Kash Daniel, reports Next Cats. The Kentucky coach departed practice a little early Thursday for the trip to Paintsville to see linebacker and UK commitment Kash Daniel.

Minor adjustment yields major improvement, reports Jennifer Smith of the Herald-Leader. A tweak to Patrick Towles’ throwing motion yielded big dividends last Saturday. “His overall comfort level Saturday was higher than it’s been,” offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson said of Towles. “We fine-tuned some things that he likes doing and focused on those things and put him in a good place mentally, and he was able to perform. I think that it was a combination of his side and my side probably coming together a little bit.”

Gabriel came on strong this summer, reports Adam Finkelstein of ESPN.com. “Gabriel was one of the summer’s biggest risers — he went from No. 84 to No. 23 in the latest ESPN 100 — and had arguably the biggest line of head coaches tailing his every move during the final week of the July evaluation period in Las Vegas, when he led the Mass Rivals to a spot in the final of the Adidas Summer Championships while averaging 17.4 points and 8.6 rebounds in eight games.”

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