Good morning, ladies and gentlemen of the Big Blue Nation, and welcome to the Tuesday Morning Quickies.
There have been a lot of significant happenings in Kentucky sports over the last week, including multiple football commitments and one significant basketball commitment that I’d like to discuss today: The matriculation of Stanford graduate transfer Reid Travis to Kentucky.
In the article above, Drew Koch discusses some of the most important things that Travis brings with him from the west coast, including experience, rebounding and depth in the front court. But for my money, the most valuable part of Travis’ game is something that has been lacking at UK since Karl-Anthony Towns was here — effective aggression in the post.
Now, we have seen guys like PJ Washington try to be aggressive in the paint, but what resulted was a season full of charging calls from the freshman forward. Bam Adebayo suffered much the same problem when he tried to be aggressive. Not since KAT have we had a big man who was able to be effective while being aggressive around the rim, and understood how much contact was too much, and where.
Travis brings that to Kentucky. He’s been at Stanford since 2014, redshirting due to injury his sophomore season. In the last two seasons, Reid was the most efficient offensive player on Stanford’s team, the vast majority of that accomplished within bad-breath range of the rim. Travis understands how much contact, and where, you can get away with.
Where this is most valuable is for the young guys. Karl-Anthony Towns got to learn from older players like Willie Cauley-Stein and Alex Poythress what effective aggression looked like. Since then, Kentucky has been bereft of either a player capable of that kind of game (for example, Skal Labissiere in 2016) or without a mentor a la 2017 and 2018. The result has been the lack of a consistent, serious post threat. That’s about to change with Reid Travis.
Not only is Travis a full-grown man with about as much experience at the college level as it’s possible to have under NCAA rules, he has serious skills as a former five-star recruit who chose Stanford over Duke and who’s widely considered to be among the strongest players in the college game. But his value to Kentucky goes much deeper than his game and his skill. Along with his leadership, mentoring Kentucky’s young big guys, and showing them how to be effective in the college game may be his most significant impact of all.
Also, lest I totally neglect just how good he is, consider this from the Oregon Ducks’ 247Sports site:
Travis was in my mind the league’s best player set to return for the 2018-19 basketball season. He was in my mind the clear-cut Player of the Year going into the season, and a key piece to getting Stanford back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2014. Now the conference loses its best player coming back, Stanford goes from a team who should make the NCAA Tournament to a team who might make it, and the Player of the Year race becomes wide open. [my emphasis]
Obviously, the writer at the time had no idea Travis was considering Kentucky and he was writing from an Oregon post-season honors perspective, but this is a clear example of how highly esteemed Travis was among his peer school’s analysts. Landing a player like Travis for his senior season was a rare gem of a sales job even for a recruiter as accomplished as Coach Cal, and it has to make us a favorite for the 2019 NCAA Tournament title.
Tweet of the Morning
At 14 years old, Emoni Bates is just unfair. pic.twitter.com/YMuwOhMqBh— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) June 25, 2018
Coach Cal, your office on line 1.
- Who has committed to Kentucky’s 2019 class so far? Ben Roberts gives us a look.
- Nice piece from the Saturday Down South about Kentucky’s latest football signee, Travis Tisdale. You can read more about him here.
- Kentucky and Duke have dominated the college basketball recruiting scene in recent years.
- Mark Story wonders if the one-and-done battle between Duke and Kentucky are hurting both programs. I don’t think so, although there are signs that Calipari is trying to modify his strategy as the value of experience has shown itself to be more important in recent NCAA Tournaments.
- Paul Biancardi talks with Jay Bilas about Kentucky’s guards for next season. Yeah, baby.
- Cawood Ledford’s personal memorabilia to be auctioned off. Makes me sad, for some reason…
- Western Kentucky coach Rick Stansbury wants an All-Kentucky tournament including, Kentucky, Louisville, Western Kentucky and one other Kentucky university to be named later. Hey, I’m all in on that.
Other Kentucky sports
- SEC Network analyst Laura Rutledge and Alabama AD Greg Byrne appreciate Mitch Barnhart’s work at Kentucky.
- This is awesome. Kentucky Hoops walk-on LaShae Halsel is granted a scholarship from Matthew Mitchell, and her teammates go wild.
- UConn’s president says former coach Kevin Ollie committed “serious” NCAA violations. Is it just me, or is UConn an almost Louisville-esque dumpster fire these days?
- Speaking of UConn, Dan Hurley is now tasked with resurrecting the house that Jim Calhoun built. I can’t help but wonder if we aren’t seeing a preview of Duke after Coach K leaves…
- Chris Weber will return to Michigan this fall to be an honorary captain for a UM football game. Congrats.
- Kentucky recruit.
It's been a while since I've seen a rising junior PG play with the pace that Jeremy Roach does. Says he studies Chris Paul & Kyrie Irving | Story: https://t.co/BLSANDfcHN pic.twitter.com/pGTswB7VpR— Evan Daniels (@EvanDaniels) June 25, 2018
Other sports news
- Karl-Anthony Towns poses for ESPN’s Body Issue sans clothing. Naturally, these pics provoked… comments.
- Martian dust storm covers the whole planet. I blame global warming… or is it, global dusting?
- Despite it’s innocuous name, the Milky Way Galaxy is a hungry, hungry hippo.
- Has the Fermi Paradox been answered? Are we truly alone in the universe? Well, there’s a lot of real estate out there that needs people on it, then — let’s get going!