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Kentucky basketball’s John Calipari pushes back on critics: ‘They’re not fans’ of UK

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Kentucky basketball’s John Calipari pushes back on critics: ‘They’re not fans’ of UK


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LEXINGTON — Less than an hour after Kentucky’s latest NCAA Tournament berth was revealed, John Calipari didn’t mince any words when it came to — in his mind — so-called “supporters” of the Wildcats.

“When we’re going into this or any other tournament, (you say), ‘We gotta win this. You gotta play your best,’” Calipari said Sunday evening. “That’s how you want me to coach? Now there are people (who) do that. (They say), ‘If they don’t do this, and they don’t do that.’ They’re not fans of this program. Or these kids.”

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But he wasn’t finished. Far from it.

“What they’re trying to do is put more pressure on them so they don’t play well, so they can double down on what they’ve said,” Calipari continued. “I don’t buy into it. My job is to get them fresh and loose, and then be focused and locked down when we practice. And then let’s see where it goes.”

His comments came after criticism flooded social media following UK’s latest early flameout at the SEC Tournament. Kentucky lost its opening game to Texas A&M, the second straight time Calipari’s club went one and done at the event — and the third time in four seasons the Wildcats failed to advance at a tournament the coach has won six times.

“If anybody has those things, (saying), ‘What if (this)? What if (that)?’ They’re not a fan,” Calipari said. “And they’re trying to get this off point. So I’m good.”

Which mirrors the way he feels about his team, which begins its NCAA journey as the No. 3 seed in the South Region Thursday night, facing No. 14 seed Oakland in Pittsburgh.

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“I think I got a good team,” he said. “But they’re going to have to go perform.”

Reach Kentucky men’s basketball and football reporter Ryan Black at rblack@gannett.com and follow him on X at @RyanABlack.



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Kentucky

Kentucky Basketball might hire a Baylor coach after all, and he has a connection to Billy Gillispie

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Kentucky Basketball might hire a Baylor coach after all, and he has a connection to Billy Gillispie


Remember when Scott Drew turned down the Kentucky Wildcats to remain with the Baylor Bears?

Well, Kentucky may hire a Baylor coach after all.

On Monday, Mark Pope announced the hirings of Cody Fueger and Jason Hart to his coaching staff. That leaves just one of the three primary assistant coaching roles unfilled, and it sounds like we have a candidate for it.

Per The Athletic’s Kyle Tucker, Baylor associate head coach Alvin Brooks III is in the running to be on Pope’s staff.

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The 44-year-old Brooks just completed his eighth season with the Bears after previously working at Kansas State (2012-16), Sam Houston State (2010-12) and Bradley (2007-10). He was part of the staff that brought home Baylor its first national championship in program history.

As Tucker alluded to, Brooks’ father, Alvin Brooks, worked as the director of operations at Kentucky from 2007-09 under then-head coach Billy Gillispie.

According to 247 Sports, Brooks was the lead recruiter for 5-star recruits VJ Edgecombe, Keyonte George, and Ja’Kobe Walter. Getting that caliber of players to Baylor is no small feat, so it’s easy to see why he’s a well-regarded name in the coaching ranks.

Come on down?

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First Down Kentucky: Canceled Visits

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First Down Kentucky: Canceled Visits


Things happen fast in the transfer portal, for better or worse. It’s been more of the latter for the Kentucky football program as the second week of the spring transfer portal window kicks off.

Late Sunday night we learned Greedy Vance would not be making his way to Lexington after committing to USC during a visit to the West Coast over the weekend. The Cats took another swing on the highest-ranked available in the portal. Despite making some early contact, a home run is not on the horizon.

Former Oregon State running back Damien Martinez initially planned to make trips to Kentucky and Tennessee. The Knoxville trip was quickly scratched. This morning we learned Martinez will not be traveling to Lexington this week.

Entertaining the thought of adding a piece like Martinez was exciting, albeit a long shot. Kentucky added Chip Trayanum this offseason, while Miami just lost their top rusher to the portal. The Hurricanes are willing to spend more to make Martinez the man, which is why he’ll likely commit to Miami this weekend.

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Kentucky is not completely empty-handed. The Wildcats are hosting Rutgers FL Rene Konga today, however, this Martinez development is what you would call “bad news” and I’m afraid there’s a little bit more of that to share Monday morning.

Kentucky Playing Catch Up with Tavion Wallace

Following last year’s victory over Florida, Trevin Wallace said he wasn’t the best athlete in his family. Tavion Wallace was sitting just off to the side, ranked as one of the top 50 players in America. The younger Wallace always enjoyed his time in Lexington, but it’s becoming clearer that he’s ready to take a different path at the collegiate level.

The No. 41 player in the 2025 recruiting class tells On3’s Chad Simmons he will be taking four official visits this summer and Kentucky is not one of them. That shouldn’t be too alarming. After all, he’s been to Kentucky so many times, does he really need an official visit? The problem is that Florida State is leading the charge, as they seemingly have been for most of his recruitment. He reiterated that the Seminoles are the team to beat and it’s hard to see a path where Kentucky can catch them.

“Florida State makes me feel special…,” he said. “What makes Florida State my top school is the consistency. It feels like family every time I go back for a visit. The coaches are great, their message is always the same and they want to make me a better man and better player. That always stood out to me.”

Not All Bad News

Elsewhere around the world of Kentucky football recruiting, the Wildcats are gaining even more ground for Marquise Davis. Sources tell KSR the Top 200 running back had a great unofficial visit to Kentucky over the weekend, his second straight week in Lexington. He could become a blockbuster addition for the program when Davis is expected to announce his commitment this summer.

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Brock Vandagriff Bagged a Bird

I would never consider myself an avid outdoorsman. Kentucky QB Brock Vandagriff is keeping up to date with the latest hunting schedule. Over the weekend Vandagriff enjoyed one of his favorite hobbies by going into the woods and retrieving a turkey. Is this an impressive haul? You tell me.

A Louisville Product goes Re-Portaling

Terez Traynor has multiple stops throughout his college career. The Louisville Doss product initially attended WKU. He went west and put up numbers at Idaho, then jumped up a level to Tulane this winter. After one spring practice, he’s back on the move. The timing is not coincidental. Shortly after this news surfaced, On3’s Pete Nakos predicted Jon Sumrall would land Khai Prean, a former LSU wide receiver who was a four-star talent coming out of high school.





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Johnell Davis drawing interest from Kentucky

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Johnell Davis drawing interest from Kentucky


Mark Pope is making moves in the transfer portal, and he reportedly has Kentucky in the mix for arguably the best player in it.

According to JJ Metz of FAU Owl’s Nest, Florida Atlantic guard Johnell Davis is considering Kentucky. Trilly Donovan has since confirmed on Discord that Kentucky is in the mix.

Davis, a four-year player with one year of eligibility left, was instrumental in helping the Owls make their magical Final Four run in 2023. That season saw the 6-foot-4, 203-pound guard average 13.8 points on 48.6% shooting (35.7% from deep), 5.4 rebounds, 1.6 assists, and 1.5 steals per game.

This past season, Davis averaged 18.2 points on 48.3% shooting (41.7% on 3s), 6.3 rebounds, 2.9 assists, and 1.4 steals per contest. He is CBS Sports’ top-ranked transfer in this cycle.

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It initially looked like Davis would follow former FAU head coach Dusty May to Michigan. However, 247 Sports’ Travis Branham said that was no longer the case.

The Wildcats have landed Drexel center Amari Williams and are making a push for Utah State forward Great Osobor. However, it’s unclear what backcourt options they’re strongly in the mix for. They’ve reached out to a host of players, but in the public eye, there hasn’t been anyone they appear to be at or near the top with.

Davis would certainly come out of left field, as there were no previous reports of interest in him, though we can be sure Mark Pope found a way to contact him since he’s reached out to just about every notable transfer.

A Sea of Blue comes jam-packed with the best Kentucky Wildcats links, news, analysis, and some other fun stuff for our readers, so make sure you like our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter. GO CATS!!!

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