In the news:
Kentucky coach John Calipari welcomes another talented freshman class
Kentucky coach John Calipari might start five freshmen this season.
Kentucky’s Calipari welcomes another talented freshman class
Kentucky coach John Calipari stops just short of calling his latest freshman group the best ever because previous classes have featured top NBA draft picks and won an NCAA championship.
This class has yet to play a game for Kentucky.
Calipari’s eight-player freshman contingent includes six McDonald’s All-Americans — Dakari Johnson, twins Andrew and Aaron Harrison, James Young, Julius Randle and Marcus Lee. In-state players Dominique Hawkins, who was Kentucky’s Mr. Basketball, and Derek Willis round out the group.
Time will tell whether they can match the achievements of the 2012 national championship or past Calipari squads that produced first-team All-Americans such as John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis.
This class does present a scenario where Calipari could start five freshmen.
“I’d like this to play out a little bit and look back, but I will tell you this team is deeper,” the coach said Tuesday during media day, comparing it to his first squad that narrowly missed the Final Four in 2010.
Kentucky was 21-12 last season and wasn’t selected for the NCAA tournament.
UCLA’s Bail has full eligibility
Freshman forward Wanaah Bail has been granted full eligibility by the NCAA to play the upcoming season for UCLA.
Bail, a 6-foot-9 forward from Houston, is recovering from left-knee surgery and hasn’t been cleared to practice. He signed to play for Texas Tech but left that school after summer classes in 2012. Bail enrolled at UCLA this year and appealed to the NCAA to be immediately eligible.
Warriors defeat Lakers in China
David Lee scored 31 points to lead the Golden State Warriors to a 100-95 exhibition victory over the Los Angeles Lakers in Beijing.
Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant was in a dark suit on the bench. He is recovering from a torn Achilles tendon, has knee pain and might not be ready for the start of the regular season.
Before the game, Bryant said hello to the crowd in Chinese and, in English, added, “I hope we put on a really great show for you guys and hopefully I’ll get back out there soon.”
Fans started chanting Bryant’s name in the first quarter and his image was on the video board several times during the game.
Pierce’s Nets edge Celtics
Paul Pierce made one basket in his first game against his former team, but had 10 rebounds and five assists to help the host Brooklyn Nets beat the Boston Celtics 82-80 in an exhibition.
Brook Lopez scored 20 points and Andray Blatche had 14 starting in place of Kevin Garnett for the Nets. It was the first meeting between the teams since their trade on draft night sent Celtics standouts Pierce and Garnett to Brooklyn.
Pondexter has big night
Quincy Pondexter, a former Washington Husky, scored 24 points on 9-for-14 shooting to lead the Memphis Grizzlies past the visiting Milwaukee Bucks 102-99.
Grizzlies controlling owner Robert Pera, 35, evidently was feeling good about his own game.
Pera, who had a one-on-one challenge against Grizzlies guard Tony Allen canceled several weeks ago, said he is seeking a game against basketball legend Michael Jordan — with $1 million going to charity.
Jordan, 50, owns the Charlotte Bobcats.
Shock fires coach Kloppenburg
The Tulsa Shock fired coach Gary Kloppenburg, 60, a former Storm assistant coach.
Kloppenburg was hired in January 2012 and inherited a team that was 9-59 in its first two years in Tulsa. During Kloppenburg’s tenure, the Shock had a 20-49 record.
“I’m very disappointed with the Shock’s decision to move in another direction,” Kloppenburg was quoted as saying in the Tulsa World.
Streak adds pressure at Ohio St.
Ohio State is a long way from Oklahoma’s major-college record of 47 consecutive victories.
But the fourth-ranked Buckeyes might be feeling the pressure of having the nation’s current longest winning streak of 18 games.
“I can feel sometimes pressure mounting on players when you (are on a) streak,” coach Urban Meyer said.
“You start hearing about streaks. And it’s my job as a coach and our coaching staff (to make sure) it’s all about today.”
Ohio State (6-0 overall, 2-0 Big Ten) can tie for the second-longest streak at the school when it hosts Iowa (4-2, 1-1) on Saturday. The longest OSU winning streak is 22, with some of the victories by the team that won the 1968 national title.
Rose leads small and select field
U.S. Open champion Justin Rose shot a 4-under-par 67 for a two-shot lead over Jason Dufner after the first day of the PGA Grand Slam of Golf, a 36-hole exhibition in Southampton, Bermuda.
Dufner, who won the PGA Championship, shot a 69 in the event designed for the four major champions of the year. British Open champion Phil Mickelson opted not to play and was replaced at Port Royal Golf Course by three-time major champion Padraig Harrington.
Masters champion Adam Scott had a 70. Harrington, who won the PGA Grand Slam last year as an alternate, shot a 74.
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