BOZICH | Monday Muse: Bad news for Kentucky roster; Tweets Terry Rozier regrets
Kentucky's basketball roster drain could accelerate. Terry Rozier has a history with LeBron James. Mitchell Robinson to Lakers. Fond farewell to Bret Bearup.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The clock always ticks. NBA Draft stay-or-go decisions are due May 30. College football pre-season magazines should arrive this week. The field of challengers for Justify's Triple Crown push at the Belmont Stakes June 9 should shake out.
The Monday Muse can't wait for June 9, May 30 or May 22. The Monday Muse waits for no one.
1. Kentucky Basketball Roster Drain
There they go again. Taking off for the National Basketball Association.
Before the top 2018 NBA Draft prospects gathered in Chicago for the scouting combine last week, the feeling was two or perhaps three of John Calipari's underclassmen could return to Lexington next season.
That was not the projection from Jeremy Woo of Sports Illustrated Monday morning. Woo posted his post-Combine mock Draft -- and five Kentucky players are listed in the 60 picks.
As expected, Kevin Knox and Shai-Gilgeous Alexander will go back-to-back in the first round. Woo wrote that Knox and Alexander will remain teammates with the Clippers, who will pick 12th and 13th.
A year after he was a possible first round pick, UK guard Hamidou Diallo has disappeared into Round Two, despite his prodigious vertical jump. Not surprising. Diallo has an agent. He must leave -- and Woo places him in Denver with the 43rd pick.
Here is what is surprising. Woo projects that UK freshmen P.J. Washington and Jarred Vanderbilt will remain in the draft and be called in the second round -- Washington at 48 by Minnesota and Vanderbilt at 50 by Utah.
That would leave Kentucky with -- let's say it together -- the youngest team in the country. Even if Wenyen Gabriel returns for his junior season.
But remember: Washington has said that he planned to return to school if he was not projected as a first-round pick. This isn't over until it's over.
2. Terry Rozier Vs. His Idol
I have a story coming this week on former Louisville baseball pitcher Josh Rogers, who has been making his case for a promotion to the New York Yankees all spring.
Rogers told me that one of his best friends is former U of L basketball star Terry Rozier. They hooked up as early enrollees at Louisville and hung out the summer before their freshman seasons.
One interesting thing Rogers said was Rozier once cheered for LeBron James, which is not surprising considering Rozier grew up in northeast Ohio near Cleveland. Rogers said he's had fun the last 10 days teasing Rozier about the Boston Celtics battling James and the Cavaliers in the NBA Eastern Conference semifinals.
Rogers has not been the only one. Old Tweets never die. They just return on some funky website. A Twitter account named @OldPlayerTweets found some things that Rozier had to say about the guy he's trying to eliminate from the playoffs, back when Rozier was a high school star.
Here is your link.
3. Farewell Friend
Sad news last week that former Kentucky star Bret Bearup passed away at 56. Bearup was one of my favorite people in the game -- smart, analytical, self-critical, imaginative, networked and always willing to talk hoops.
I met him when I was the Kentucky beat writer for the Louisville Times for the 1980-81 season after Bearup arrived from Long Island as a McDonald's all-American. Bearup was a full-sized power forward with a nice perimeter shot.
I never understood how he read my stories. The Times did not circulate in Lexington and this was pre-Internet. But he'd usually have a word about whether a story was good, bad or blah. He loved to give people the business about stories that could have been better reported or written -- and he was generally correct.
Bearup understood the media game. He knew the people game. He knew the financial game -- and he created a great career for himself, eventually teaming with Stan Kroenke, owner of the Denver Nuggets. Bearup was one of the brightest people around, a guy who routinely understood the basketball culture several steps ahead of the competition.
For many years, Bearup was a fixture at the Final Four, sitting in the lobby of the coaches' hotel, smoking cigars with his good friend Bob Huggins.
My favorite Bearup story was one he told on himself from the 1984 NCAA Final Four in Seattle, the 3-for-33 game that Kentucky lost to Georgetown.
During one second-half sequence as the game slipped away from the Wildcats, Bearup found himself parked on the foul lane next to Georgetown bad boy Michael Graham. As the first free throw went up, Graham nearly leveled Bearup with a vicious elbow.
Bearup meekly complained.
"My bad, my bad," Graham said.
When the second free throw went up, Graham blasted Bearup harder than he hit him the first time. As Bearup went to the floor, Graham turned to run downcourt and yelled, "Sucker!!!"
RIP, my friend.
4. Mitchell Robinson to the Lakers
One of the hottest NBA Combine rumors was the Lakers have made a promise to Mitchell Robinson that they will select him with the 25th pick in the first round. Yes, that is the same Mitchell Robinson who committed to play center for Western Kentucky to 17 times but never played a second for the Hilltoppers.
The rumor likely explains why Robinson changed his plans and did not participate in the games in Chicago. No need to risk damaging his stock -- or playing his way out of the Lakers’ range. Guys who get promises usually sit.
I just hope the Lakers’ promise to Robinson is more valuable than Robinson's promise to Western Kentucky.
5. Lamar Jackson Gets It
I’m not sure if former Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson can complete 60 percent of his passes with the Baltimore Ravens in his rookie season, but I do believe that Jackson already has more than 60 percent of Ravens' fans on his side.
Even Mr. Raven -- former linebacker Ray Lewis -- agrees after Jackson delivered this ode to Lewis at the NFL rookie symposium.
6. Louisville > Baltimore
Interesting viewership numbers from the Preakness on Saturday.
In other words, folks in Louisville were more into the race than folks in Baltimore. Maybe they should also run the second leg of the Triple Crown in Louisville.
Without the rain -- and BLASTING INFIELD CONCERTS.
My sidekick John Lewis helped me understand several other cities on the Top 10. Folks in Tampa, Washington, D.C. and Ft. Myers likely turned to NBC early to join coverage for the Tampa Bay-Washington NHL playoff game, which aired directly after the Preakness.
Folks in Buffalo and Richmond might also be hockey fans.
I'll give folks in New Orleans and Tulsa credit for being horse racing fans. See you at Belmont.
7. The Nick Solak Show
With all the talk about Brendan McKay, Corey Ray and other former Louisville baseball players celebrating solid seasons in minor league baseball, don’t sleep on Nick Solak.
Solak shows up at least once a week in the Baseball America Prospect Report e-mail. He pushed his way into the discussion again Monday morning after he delivered another solid game for the Montgomery Biscuits, the Class AA farm team of the Tampa Bay Rays. Here is what Baseball America said:
"Nick Solak, CF, Rays. The Rays have worked to increased Solak's versatility. He began the season playing second base and left field but recently the Rays have started getting him time in center field. Wherever he's playing, he's continuing to hit. He went 2-for-4 with a double and a home run yesterday, raising his averages to .322/.421/.520."
The Rays are rebuilding. Don't be surprised if Solak makes the big leagues this season. Dude can hit.
8. The Other Side of Legalized Gambling
The push is on for expanded legalized sports gambling in the aftermath of the U.S. Supreme Court decision last week.
Why should Las Vegas dominate all the action? States everywhere are crying for revenue to deal with financial shortfalls. Lawmakers lack the will to debate tax increases. Gambling revenue could help solve problems.
But this is a story with many layers -- and one is the social costs associated with people who cannot control their gambling impulses.
Kevin Pendergast, a former Notre Dame kicker, was one of those guys.
As the legalized gambling debate picks up, Chicago Tribune columnist David Haugh thought Pendergast had an important story to tell.
9. WDRB Roster Moves
In case you missed it, Sunday night was Mike Lacett's final appearance with WDRB. After nearly four years, Lacett is off to Grand Rapids, where he'll work as a weekend anchor and sports reporter for WZZM, Channel 13. I'll miss him, and I wish Mike and his wife, Abby, the best in western Michigan.
Aaron Matas has arrived from Denver to replace Mike. After growing up in Minneapolis and graduating from Indiana University, Matas worked at KUSA in Denver, where he was an Emmy-award winner.
Aaron will start during the first week of June. He’s a bright, funny guy, who can report and tell stories with humor and emotion. He’s also an entertaining follow on Twitter — @aaronmatas. Trust me.
10. Poll Results
Which former Louisville athlete will have the best pro career?
Donovan Mitchell, Jazz 77.7 percent
Lamar Jackson, Ravens. 10.2 percent
Brendan McKay, Rays 9.3 percent
Jaire Alexander, Packers 2.8 percent.
Copyright 2018 WDRB Media. All Rights Reserved.