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- Colts DL Bjoern Werner gave “words of wisdom” to Cats, liked way Bud Dupree was “coming off ball”
- SI.com’s Brian Hamilton ranks three Kentucky wins among four best NCAA tourney games this year
- Stan Van Gundy tells Mike Bianchi that John Calipari “had more NBA players” at UK than Lakers do
- Mike Douglas feels like “old man on the block” but knows he can help defensive line
- Trey Lyles has 17 points, Tyler Ulis goes for 9 points, 9 assists in Jordan Brand Classic
- Blue-White Game will be on live TV, delayed on Fox Sports South; Dusty Bonner, Freddie Maggard will join TV/radio call
- Marcus Lee to Return for Sophomore Season at UK
- Mark Stoops says offense “took a little step back” in Friday’s practice
By LARRY VAUGHT
First came the DraftExpress.com speculation that Kentucky signee Karl Towns Jr. could possibly develop into the top pick in the 2015 NBA draft.
Now this week’s issue of Sports Illustrated lists what it considers the top five recruits for the next college basketball season. Towns is not one the list, but Indiana Mr. Basketball Trey Lyles — another UK signee — is along with Jahlil Okafor of Duke, Cliff Alexander of Kansas, Stanley Johnson of Arizona and Myles Turner, who has not picked a school (and remember that UK was actively involved in the recruiting of all five).
Here’s what Sports Illustrated had to say about Lyles: “Combines a diverse repertoire in the post (6-10, 245 pounds) with an advanced perimeter game. His strong ballhandling makes him an intriguing point-forward prospect.”
I got to watch Lyles play in three different events, including the Indiana state championship game, last season and came away more and more impressed. He will rebound. He will handle the ball. He will pass. He will make free throws. He can make 3-point shots. He will play defense.
And he understands the team concept because his father as well as his high school coach always emphasized that to him.
So while he’s not been as highly touted by some as say Anthony Davis or Julius Randle were, Lyles continues to impress more and more who see him and the idea of a point-forward in indeed intriguing.
By LARRY VAUGHT
While looking back through some information on the Nike Hoop Summit, I came across this evaluation of the game’s most undervalued players by Jamie Cooper of dimemag.com.
Kentucky signee Karl Towns Jr., the 7-foot player from New Jersey who played on the World team for the second straight year, was one of the players mentioned. Here’s what Cooper wrote before the game:
“ESPN has him ranked ninth, while DraftExpress has him at number six, but the growing perception seems to be that Towns could potentially end up as a top-three lottery pick next summer. In fact, by the second practice session this week, one scout was already half-joking that the top two prospects were actually on the World Select Team (Towns and UK signee Trey Lyles) and not, in fact, hailing from the Windy City. I’m not completely sold on Lyles just yet, partially because I just haven’t seen enough of him, but Towns, on the other hand, is already showing signs of the type of physical maturity that will ultimately set him apart from someone like Okafor, who has a much less impressive physique.
“Beyond that, Towns is arguably the most versatile player of the bunch. He has solid footwork and a soft touch around the rim (with plenty of room for improvement), unlimited range on his jump shot, and great rebounding and shotblocking instincts. Don’t be surprised if he ends up as the No. 1 pick (in the NBA draft) next summer (2015).”
PORTLAND — Breaking open a 61-all tie heading into the fourth quarter, the USA outscored the World team 23-11 in the final 10 minutes of the 2014 Nike Hoop Summit game for an 84-73 victory. The USA now holds a 12-5 record in the annual event.
Leading the way for the USA was two-time USA Basketball gold medalist and Duke-bound Justise Winslow, who shot 7-of-15 from the field and finished the night with 16 points and six rebounds. Winslow’s future Blue Devil teammates, also multi-gold medalists with USA Basketball, Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones scored 14 and 13 points, respectively; and Kansas signee Kelly Oubre notched 14 points, five rebounds and three steals.
Kentucky signee Trey Lyles, Indiana’s Mr. Basketball, had 9 points and 11 rebounds for the World team. He was 3-for-11 from the field and 3-for-5 at the foul line in 25 minutes. He also had one steal and two turnovers.
Teammate Karl Towns Jr. added 6 points and 8 rebounds along with 2 blocked shots in 17 minutes.
“We came out strong and we just couldn’t finish out today. Like coach said, everything goes to the USA team today. They had a great strategy, they stuck by it and they kept playing it out through four quarters,” Towns said. “We did a great job this week. We had great practices. Everything led up great to this day, we just had to execute and we didn’t execute for four quarters.
“We did a great job. I’m proud of everyone here I met. I’m happy to have made the friends I made this week and I can’t thank Coach Roy enough for helping us gel together and make this week even more memorable.”
Towns, who also played in the game last year, won’t forget the outcome even when he gets to Kentucky.
“For me personally, right now the USA team has the bragging rights and we’re just trying to get it back for next year, especially we’re going to have to step on the court and it’s going to be different. It’s not going to be Nike, it’s going to be college and this counts for everything, but right now, it means a lot that they have the bragging rights and the W today. It’s going to motivate me even more to try and beat them,” Towns said.
By LARRY VAUGHT
Future Wildcats Trey Lyles and Karl Towns have been roommates at the Nike Hoop Summit in Portland, Ore., this week and will play against Team USA tonight.
Towns measured 7-foot without shoes and weighed 248 pounds. Trey Lyles was 6-10 without shoes and 250 pounds.
So Kentucky obviously has size in this recruiting class.
Towns had a wingspan of 7 feet, 3.5 inches and a standing reach of 9-5, one of the top standing reaches for any recruit kept by various recruiting services. His height and wingspan also were even a bit better than many suspected.
Lyles had a measured wingspan of 7-3.5 and standing reach of 8-11.5. Lyles length and strength are a rare combination that made him so attractive to coach John Calipari.
And what I really like about both players is that they can shoot from outside as well as score inside.
The 17th Nike Hoop Summit will be on ESPN2 tonight at 7. This will be Towns’ second year to play in the game as he also was on the team last year.
Photos by Brian Spurlock-McDonalds and Matt Hernandez Creative, and property of those photographers. All rights reserved; images may not be reprinted in print or online without permission of the owners.
By LARRY VAUGHT
Chicago point guard Tyler Ulis, who signed with Kentucky in November, also wanted to be a McDonald’s All-American — and now he is. He’ll be one of four future Cats — Gatorade Player of the Year Karl Towns, Devin Booker and Trey Lyles will also play in Wednesday’s game in Chicago — playing at the United Center in the all-star game.
But the 5-9 Ulis has also been chosen to play in the upcoming Jordan Brand Classic in Brooklyn, another huge honor that many thought would not have been possible going into his senior season.
“I think making the Jordan Brand was exciting more for him than anybody,” said James Ulis, Tyler’s father. “Whenever you can get awarded and recognized for something you love doing and have a chance to go to a prestigious game like that, you have to be thrilled. The Jordan game is recognized as where the best play. Some of the best ever have played in that game. It’s an honor for him and as a father, you are always happy to see your son live out his dreams.
“I have been watching him since he was 4 years old and for him to get to this point, I am really happy for him. What I liked about it is that he has turned some heads with his play and has earned everything he’s got. A lot of kids who are good players don’t get to play in these games. A lot of people have been surprised by him, but if you watch him play enough, and I watch him a lot, you get where he is now.”
The guard’s father said his son took advantage of opportunities to play on a well-known AAU team (Meanstreets) and in a competitive Catholic league in Chicago for Marian High School.
“He took advantage of those opportunities. If he was in Los Angeles, he played well. If he was playing in Minneapolis, he played well. He’s had a lot of dreams come true and it starts with his high school team winning like they have the last two years. People in this state never thought Marian could win like it did the last two years. He had trust in what we wanted to do for him and put him on a team not known for basketball without recruits and a lot of size. But the kids were determined to play together and play hard and he fit perfectly.”
Still, few would have predicted a year ago that Ulis would have signed with Kentucky, led Marian to another banner season and now getting set to play in the McDonald’s All-American Game before going to the Jordan Brand Classic.
“If you asked him, he would have said he played like this the last two years, and he did to some extent,” James Ulis said. “He has raised his level and the best get better as they go on and work on whatever there opportunities are. But a lot of things led to this. He had a great high school season as a junior, played well in AAU and really showed as a point guard how good a leader he is. If you have seen him the last two years, you cannot question his leadership ability. That’s his biggest strength and he has shown he can play with anybody, any size. It doesn’t matter.
“When you are a point guard on a team, you are judged by how much you win. He is 56-6 (29-4 last year, 27-2 this year). That’s a lot of wins. He plays stiff competition every game here in Chicago. But he just has played at a high level and never worried about where he was rated. I always told him to be ready when he got opportunities, and he has shown he was.”
Tyler Ulis’ only personal goal this season was to play in the McDonald’s All-American Game in his hometown as he will do Wednesday night. All his other goals — conference, region, section championships — were team oriented.
“It’s a dream come true for him to play in this game,” James Ulis said.
Tyler Ulis will have a lot of family, including some from Ohio, and friends at the game as will Chicago players Cliff Alexander and Jahlil Okafor, both one-time UK targets who picked other schools.
“A lot of coaches who used to train him will be here. A lot of Marian fans and teammates have tickets. He has a great following here and deserves it. He is fun to watch and root for,” James Ulis said. “He’s so excited about this, but he felt two years ago he should have been a McDonald’s All-American because he played as well as any point guard then.
“But making McDonald’s All-American has not changed who he is. He didn’t talk McDonald’s, but getting Marian to the state. He’s always had his own following and been a basketball star in a smaller area. But instead of going nuts, he kept the same demeanor. He acted the same and treated us all the same.
“A lot of that just came from feeling he deserved this honor. Not in a selfish, arrogant way but he’s played with these kids since he was 11-12 years old and always held his own. He just never knew if we could get his chance because of where he was ranked. However, he just stuck to his plan, did what he was supposed to do and good things happened.”
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (March 31, 2014) – The 10-member World Select Team, featuring four players who play for U.S. high schools, was announced today for the 2014 Nike Hoop Summit, the premier annual basketball game featuring many of the world’s leading basketball players age 19 years old or younger. The 17th annual Nike Hoop Summit will take place at 4 p.m. (PDT) on Saturday, April 12 at the Moda Center, in Portland, Ore.
The annual game, which sees the World Select Team take on the USA Basketball Junior National Select Team, which is comprised of elite American high school seniors, has been staged on 16 previous occasions and has given an extraordinary number of talented players the chance to showcase their abilities. As of 2013, an incredible 151 Hoop Summit alumni have been drafted into the NBA.
The World Team, which will be seeking to record an unprecedented third straight victory in the series after beating the USA in 2012 (84-75) and in 2013 (112-98) in front of a crowd of 6,265 and a national television audience, has unveiled a strong roster for the 2014 Hoop Summit, including one player returning from last year’s victorious squad.
Center Karl Towns, Jr. (St Joseph High School, N.J./Dominican Republic) returns for his second Nike Hoop Summit appearance, having scored seven points to go with four rebounds and four assists in the 2013 victory.
The World Team has named two other centers to its 2014 roster – Clint Capela (ES Chalon-sur-Saone/Switzerland) and Trey Lyles (Arsenal Technical H.S., Ind./Canada).
The team also features forwards – Damien Inglis (Chorale de Roanne Basket/France), James Metecan Birsen (Fenerbache Ulker/Turkey) and Nikola Jokic (Mega Vizura/Serbia).
The global squad is completed by guards Emmanuel Mudiay (Prime Prep Academy, Texas/Democratic Republic of Congo), Brandone Francis (Arlington Country Day School, Fla./Dominican Republic), Jamal Murray (Athlete Institute/Canada) and Gao Shang (Guangdong Southern Tigers/China).
By LARRY VAUGHT
INDIANAPOLIS — Future Kentucky basketball player Trey Lyles was up a bit late Friday night watching TV to see UK’s dramatic NCAA Tournament win over Louisville here in Indianapolis.
Less than 24 hours later, he led Arsenal Tech to its first state championship with a 63-59 victory over Lake Central where the Titans came close to blowing a 23-point lead before Lyles clinched the win with a late free throw. He finished with 16 points (3-for-9 from the field, 10-for-14 at the foul line), 12 rebounds, three blocks, three assists and two steals in 30 minutes.
“We left our legacy tonight. This is the best way to end is win a state championship. I am just happy for myself, happy for my teammates,” said Lyles. “We have been playing together for four years. They are my brothers, my family and will be hard to leave them. We brought basketball back to the community.”
His father, Tom Lyles, is also an assistant coach for Tech. He was excited that his sons and teammates reached the goal they set. He also didn’t worry that watching UK’s win would be ane motional drain on his son.
“Normally he is even keeled. I do think he got caught up in the moment that it had not been done in our district for almost 40 years. He wanted to do it so bad tonight,” Tom Lyles said. “ A couple of situations I felt he forced the issue and wanted to make something happen too bad that wasn’t there. I don’t think it was one of his best games, but he played a good game enough for the win and that’s all that matters.”
Both Lyles noticed that a large number of UK fans in town for the NCAA came to Bankers Life Fieldhouse where the Pacers play — and where UK was working out on the practice court during the game — to watch the game.
“It’s great to now the fans came to show support and I am happy they came,” Trey Lyles said. “I didn’t get to talk to coach (John) Calipari today, but I watched all the game. They got a win, we got a win, so I am happy. It has been an exciting 24 hours.”
Tom Lyles admires what Calipari has done with his team going into today’s Elite Eight battle with Michigan.
“They are doing what people thought they could never do. For them to make the Elite Eight, I am sure at least half of basketball community never thought these young guys could do what they are doing,” Tom Lyles said. “They are shocking the basketball world and also showing that coach Calipari can coach.
“It’s not just about getting a lot of talent. You can get talent, but can you get talent to play together. That’s what he has done, what he is doing and what he has consistently done over the years, so may hat is off to him because that man knows how to get guys to step up to the moment and then play.
“I also saw all those UK fans here tonight that came out to support us. Believe me, as a coach and parent of a future Kentucky player, it was very humbling and quite impressive to see them come out the way they did.”
After the game, Trey Lyles — a contender for Indiana Mr. Basketball honors — was named the winner of the Arthur L. Trester Mental Attitude Award in Class 4A. The award is given to a senior who best demonstrates mental attitude, scholarship, leadership and athletic ability. He became only the second African-American player to win the award.
He ranks in the top five academically in his class of 446 students. He gives motivational speeches to elementary students, teaches basketball skills to younsters at various camps and visits children at Riley Children’s Hospital.
“I am happy my academic success has been recognized. I am proud of myself. I am just happy with this success on and off the court. That just makes this night even more special,” Lyles said after the game.
By LARRY VAUGHT
The way Tom Lyles sees it, destiny brought Kentucky to Indianapolis to play in the NCAA Tournament the same weekend his son, Trey, will be playing for a state championship in downtown Indianapolis also.
“If you look at from day one to now, on day one everybody gave Kentucky a chance to win the national title and by day 45 nobody believed. With us, nobody believed on day one and day 45 everybody believes,” Tom Lyles said. “It was just meant for these two to align. You have got an 8 seed playing in the NCAA Sweet 16 and then you have Arsenal Tech going for a state championship, something that has not been done in 34 years right across the street from Lucas Oil Stadium. Not a car drive, but just a short walk. It was meant to line up that way. Now both programs have to get it done.”
Trey Lyles signed with Kentucky in November. The 6-10 Lyles is averaging 24 points, 12.9 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 2.4 blocked shots per game going into Saturday night’s 4A title game at Bankers LIfe Fieldhouse against Lake Central, a team Tech beat by 19 points in January. He’s made 209 of 353 shots, a 59 percent mark, and is 208 of 281, 74 percent, at the foul line. He’s even hit 22 3-pointers.
Central (22-3) has 6-7 Butler recruit Tyler Wideman (15.7 points, 7.1 rebounds) and 6-5 senior Tyler Ross (8.8 points, 5.5 rebounds). Senior Tye Wilburn (12.3 points, 4.5 assists) ranks as one of state’s best point guards and senior Matt Meneghetti is a 44 percent shooter from 3 for Lake Central.
“We know it is going to be a great game. We are doing our best to prepared. We have to be ready to show up and win, not just show up and play,” Tom Lyles said.
Tom Lyles, a Tech assistant coach, says playing in the same arena where the Indiana Pacers play — and beat Miami Wednesday — doesn’t matter as much to his son and his teammates as a chance to win a state title.
“In four years with the talent we’ve had, we’ve only been here once. They know the struggle to get here,” Tom Lyles said.
That’s why Trey Lyles won’t be at Friday’s UK-Louisville game — and remember he picked UK over Louisville.
“We would love to go, but we will be focused on what we have to do Saturday,” Tom Lyles sad. “I am not saying Kentucky winning is not important to us because it is, but we want that state championship. But we certainly will be watching the game.”
Tickets remain for Saturday’s state title game and Tom Lyles is counting on UK fans in Indianapolis this weekend to be at the game.
“It would be great for UK fans to see us and I will be disappointed in anything less,” Tom Lyles said. “This is one of their own who will be suiting up in a few months in the blue and white to represent them.”
The Jordan Brand All-American Game will take place at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., on April 18. In 2013, the event was headlined by Jabari Parker and Julius Randle, who shared co-MVP honors.
The rosters for both teams:
Grayson Allen, SG, 6-foot-4, Providence Christian School (Riverview, Fla.), signed with Duke
Joel Berry, PG, 6-1, Lake Highland Prep (Orlando, Fla.), signed with North Carolina
James Blackmon, Jr., SG, 6-3, Marion H.S. (Marion, Ind.), signed with Indiana
Justin Jackson, WG, 6-7, Homeschool Christian Youth Association (Spring, Texas), signed with North Carolina
Tyus Jones, PG, 6-1, Apple Valley Senior H.S.. (Apple Valley, Minn.), signed with Duke
Trey Lyles, PF, 6-9, Arsenal Technical H.S. (Indianapolis), signed with Kentucky
Jahlil Okafor, C, 6-11, Whitney Young Magnet H.S. (Chicago), signed with Duke
Kelly Oubre, WF, 6-7, Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.), signed with Kansas
L.J. Peak, SG, 6-4, Gaffney Senior H.S. (Gaffney, S.C.), signed with Georgetown
Karl Towns, C, 6-11, St. Joseph H.S. (Metuchen, N.J.), signed with Kentucky
Reid Travis, PF, 6-7, De La Salle H.S. (Minneapolis), signed with Stanford
Rashad Vaughn, SG, 6-5, Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.), signed with UNLV
Isaiah Whitehead, SG, 6-4, Abraham Lincoln H.S. (Brooklyn, N.Y.), signed with Seton Hall
Shaqquan Aaron, WG, 6-7, Rainier Beach H.S. (Seattle), signed with Louisville
Cliff Alexander, C, 6-9, Curie Metropolitan H.S. (Chicago), signed with Kansas
Devin Booker, SG, 6-5, Moss Point H.S. (Moss Point, Miss.), signed with Kentucky
Kameron Chatman, WG, 6-7, Columbia Christian School (Portland, Ore.), signed with Michigan
Daniel Hamilton, WG, 6-7, St. John Bosco H.S. (Bellflower, Calif.), signed with Connecticut
Stanley Johnson, WG, 6-6, Mater Dei H.S. (Santa Ana, Calif.), signed with Arizona
Chris McCullough, PF, 6-9, IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.), signed with Syracuse
Emmanuel Mudiay, PG, 6-4, Prime Prep (Dallas), signed with SMU
Theo Pinson, WG, 6-6, Wesleyan Christian Academy (High Point, N.C.), signed with North Carolina
D’Angelo Russell, SG, 6-4, Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.), signed with Ohio State
Myles Turner, C, 7-0, Trinity H.S. (Euless, Texas), undecided
Tyler Ulis, PG, 5-9, Marian Catholic H.S. (Chicago Heights), signed with Kentucky
Justise Winslow, WF, 6-6, St. John’s School (Houston), signed with Duke