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Friday Quickies: Karl-Anthony Towns (and Zach Lowe is Back!) Edition

Zach Lowe covers KAT for ESPN, SEC basketball is bad so far, UK LB Jason Hatcher is healthy, Rawle's blogtastic, SEC Heisman contenders, White Chocolate, etc.

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

The best NBA writer on the planet, Zach Lowe, has resurfaced post-Grantland with this fantastic piece on the Minnesota Timberwolves and Karl-Anthony Towns.  Lowe provides perspective on Towns' personality and his place in the organization, and reiterates many things we already knew about the 6'11'' center:

Towns was at the practice facility by 9 a.m. "I work hard on my game," Towns told "I want to be the strongest player, the most intelligent player and the most skilled player on the court at all times."

I don't think any of us, who have been getting to know KAT for over three years now (he committed to UK in December of 2012), have any doubt that he has the tools to achieve his goals.  These are incredibly impressive numbers for a kid who just turned 20, is just 12 games into his career, and is only playing about 30 minutes per game.

Hat tip to Zach Lowe Fanboy Insider Nick for the heads up on Lowe's return.


*Ricky O'Donnell has a laudatory take on the 'Cats' season thus far, via SB Nation.  I concur with O'Donnell's bottom line wholeheartedly:

For the vast majority of last season, Kentucky was unanimously considered the best team in America. It just didn't win the national title thanks to a loaded Final Four and the variance that comes in a single elimination format. The rest of the country might not be so lucky this time around.

*Check out '16 SG Rawle Alkins' most recent blog for USA Today.  We never know about the scholarship situation until spring, but there should be room for one more in Cal's next class.  I hope Alkins is it even though it might be a tough sell with Malik Monk, a fellow shooter, already signed.  Further, though Cal has signed more than one top recruit at other positions (Wall/Bledsoe, PGs in '09, MKG/Wiltjer, PFs in '11, etc.) in the same class, he has never done so at the SG position.

Shot out to Team Rawle members, especially the homie beremy, who's been in it since the beginning.

*In case you haven't been paying attention to the rest of the SEC, the basketball resurgence most SEC fans, as well as much of the media, have been predicting is apparently still a work in progress.

This past week, #17 Vandy (a trendy pick for second place in the league) was taken to overtime at home by Stony Brook, Ole Miss got stung by George Mason (who have lost to Colgate and Mercer), Arkansas fell to Akron, Mississippi State lost to Southern on Monday and then got crushed by Miami last night, and Alabama looked hapless against Dayton, losing 80-48.

*Regarding Vandy, I've said it before and I'll say it again, look out for Wade Baldwin IV.  If not for him, Vandy would have almost certainly lost to Stony Brook.

*Myron Medcalf is among a number of national writers praising Kentucky after Tuesday's decisive victory over Duke.

*Bleacher Report's takeaways from the 'Cats' first three games.

*LSU's Ben Simmons, NBA megaprospect, is living up to expectations.  I haven't had a chance to watch him yet; has anyone else?  Leave your impressions below.  The Cat's don't take on LSU until January 5.


*According to Jon Hale, UK LB Jason Hatcher is finally healthy and ready to consistently contribute like many expected him to this season.  The junior is one of the highest-rated recruits in the Stoops era, a top 250 4* out of Trinity.

*Campus Insiders previews this Saturday's tilt with Charlotte in Commonwealth Stadium.  I like their prediction.

*Notorious chubette (and Arkansas football coach) Bret Bielema has proposed a Big Ten-SEC football challenge.  I think the SEC has lost a bit of ground and the Big Ten is on the rise, especaially with Michigan's ascension under Jim Harbaugh, but as a SEC guy based in Columbus, I'd love to see the SEC put B10 programs (and their fans) in their place.

*ESPN's most recent Heisman Watch.  Alabama's Derrick Henry is the favorite.  I don't buy it.  LSU's Leonard Fournette, currently in fourth place, would still have my vote, if I were a voter instead of a just a neurotic weirdo.  The only advantage that Henry has is that his team possesses a better record.  The individual numbers are extremely comparable, Fournette has played in one fewer game than Henry, and Henry has the benefit of a more adept offensive line.

*Houston has given head coach Tom Herman a massive raise.  Herman, the former Ohio State offensive coordinator, has led the Cougars to a 10-0 mark this season.  That's big money and it might prevent Herman from leaving unless one of the really big boys come calling with a massive sack of cash in hand.

I am a massive Herman fan, but if I'm doing the hiring at Southern Cal, Miami, Virginia Tech, Mizzou, etc., I don't know if one big season in Houston (as well as his impressive work with OSU's offense last season) is enough for me to offer $4 million to him.  It'd be a gamble, for sure.


*Michael Lee posits that Brandon Knight has become a Phoenix mainstay.  I'd agree.  His numbers, especially the PER, are impressive.  Statistically, Knight is having a season similar to John Wall's.

*Mark Harris addresses why Devin Booker hasn't seen the floor very often in his rookie season for the Phoenix Suns.

*Jason "White Chocolate" Williams, a former Gator, may be the greatest basketball magician in NBA history.  No one except Williams even dared to try these playground moves and passes, but when Williams did, they never appeared reckless and always seemed to work.  Here is a great highlight reel posted at Deadspin.  Another hat tip to Nick "Brant" for the heads up.

*Detroit Pistons veteran Andre Drummond has quietly become one of the best centers in the NBA. Remember when it appeared somewhat likely that he'd come to UK?  I know I do.  Honestly, putting aside how the player did in college and after, Drummond was the guy I most wanted at UK who ultimately went elsewhere (UConn).


*In light of his recent struggles, people forget just how good Peyton Manning has been.  Here's some data to support the contention that Manning is truly one of the greatest of all-time.

*Sadly, the Seattle Seahawks released former 'Cat Chris Matthews earlier this week.  Matthews' situation illustrates a hard truth of the NFL -- a player can go from a 109 yard and one touchdown performance in the Super Bowl to unemployed within the span of nine months.  Matthews has presumably cleared waivers and remains unsigned.


*The AP Stylebook addresses murky issues of sportswriting and does not include UK in its list of teams that can be referred to by their initials on first or second reference.  Everyone burn your AP Stylebooks!

*Walt Hickey at FiveThirtyEight examines the 20 most extreme cases of 'the book was better than the movie' and other related topics. Hickey takes a very creative route to arrive at his list(s).  The impetus of the research was the adaptations of The Hunger Games trilogy, which I have yet to see or read (and probably won't, honestly).

*Richard Brody discusses the new reissue of John Coltrane's "A Love Supreme" for The New Yorker.  I hope it gets released on vinyl.  It's a must-have, no matter what kind of music you typically prefer.