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KSR Today: NBA Draft deadline, On3 Elite Series Day 2

Zack Geogheganby:Zack Geoghegan05/29/24

ZGeogheganKSR

Good morning, folks! Today is 2024 NBA Draft deadline day. Any player still in the pool of draftable players has until 11:59 p.m. EST tonight to pull out their names and still be eligible to play in college during the 2024-25 season. A trio of Kentucky transfer commits all removed their names on Tuesday: Amari Williams (Drexel), Lamont Butler (San Diego State), and Andrew Carr (Wake Forest). The expectation is that Koby Brea (Dayton) will do the same ahead of tonight’s deadline.

But the players that Kentucky fans will really want to keep an eye on are BYU’s Jaxson Robinson and Miami’s Wooga Poplar. Neither are currently considered as projected picks in June’s draft, but the allure of going pro is always tough to turn down. Robinson is the priority and has been since Mark Pope arrived in Lexington. If the sharpshooting guard does pull his name out of the draft, don’t be shocked if Kentucky is the landing spot.

Poplar is on the radar, but could be more of a backup situation depending on what Robinson decides to do. Although not expected to return to Kentucky, sophomore center Ugonna Onyenso will also have to decide if he wants to go to the NBA or come back to college. With the deadline going right up until midnight, official announcements from the likes of Robinson and/or Poplar could come sometime on Wednesday. Or, they could drop the moment I finish writing this post. Regardless, we’ll have you covered here at KSR.

Now let’s dive into the rest of this morning’s news and notes. (It’s also my sister’s birthday. Happy Birthday, Josie!)

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On3 Elite Series in Nashville continues

For the second year in a row, our parent company On3 is hosting an invite-only event for the top 2025 high school football prospects in the country. The purpose of this event “is to educate and inform high school athletes how to safely and successfully navigate the NIL era.” But it’s also a great chance to talk with some of college football’s future stars. The popular Cavinder twins are in attendance, too.

KSR’s Tyler Thompson and Nick Roush were on location in Nash Vegas yesterday for the first day of the event. Unfortuantely, no Kentucky commits were invited, but Nick did interview Top 50 recruit Tavion Wallace, the younger brother of Trevin Wallace who won’t be following in the same footsteps to Lexington. Tha toughest part to swallow? If their age gap wasn’t as big, Tavion could be wearing the blue and white.

“I wanted to start my own journey,” Wallace told KSR. “Say if Trevin was like a sophomore, I probably would have went there if I could have played with him. But when I knew he was declaring for the draft, I was like, yeah, I want to start my own journey.”

Trevin did his best to pitch Kentucky, but in the end, he wasn’t going to make Tavion do anything he didn’t want to. Florida State is the current leader for the younger Wallace brother.

Nick also spoke with On3’s Charles Power and Cody Bellaire, who are responsible for ranking and evaluating prospects, about what goes into their craft. You can read that here. Tyler also has plenty of notes from everything she saw on Tuesday that you can find here. The event really picks up speed today.

Look at this picture RIGHT NOW

Kentucky football SID Susan Lax posted a picture on social media last night that will surely make you smile. With SEC Spring Meetings ongoing in Destin, FL, the Wildcats had plenty of familiar (and yet still new) faces make the trip down south.

We’ve got Mitch Barnhart, Mark Stoops, Mark Pope, and Kenny Brooks (among others) all in Destin. Those smiles could cure all the world’s problems.

via @slax0 | X/Twitter

Mark Pope’s contract details

Details of Mark Pope’s contract with Kentucky were leaked a while back, but the university released them in full on Tuesday. Pope’s deal with Kentucky began on April 12, 2024, and will end on March 31, 2029. Over that five-year span, he’ll earn $27.5 million ($5.5 million per year) with his first-year salary set at $5 million. Pope’s salary will increase by $250,000 per season throughout the duration of the deal.

There are plenty of incentives baked into the contract, most notably a $250,000 bonus and an extra year on his contract if Kentucky makes the Sweet 16. He also has plenty of tickets to spread around to friends and family, along with 30 in-flight hours for private aircraft use each year.

A pair of Pope’s assistants, Cody Fueger and Mark Fox, also have their contracts publically available. Fueger will make just over $1 million over two years while Fox will make $200,000 over one year. Contracts for assistants Alvin Brooks and Jason Hart have yet to be released.

Jasper Johnson to represent Team USA

A 28-man roster has been cut down to just 12 players. Lexington’s own Jasper Johnson ultimately made the final cut and will represent the United States at the 2024 FIBA U18 Men’s AmeriCup in Buenos Aires in June (3-9). Another Bluegrass native, Great Crossing’s four-star center Malachi Moreno, was part of the initial 18-man roster, but didn’t make it all the way to the finalized version.

Playing alongside Johnson in Argentina will be a handful of Kentucky targets. The likes of ’25 five-star wing Nate Ament, ’25 five-star guard Mikel Brown Jr., ’25 four-star wing Shelton Henderson, and ’25 five-star guard Trey McKenney all made the 12-man roster.

  • June 3: vs. Argentina | 7:10 p.m. EST
  • June 4 vs. Belize | 4:40 p.m. EST
  • June 5 vs. Brazil | 4:40 p.m. EST

Nate Bargatze at the Joe Craft Center (?)

Nate Bargatze was in Lexington earlier this month for a sold-out show at Rupp Arena. And what does any 45-year-old comedian do when visiting a college town? Get up shots at the local team’s practice gym. Bargatze familiarized himself with the fancy NOAH shooting system, which tracks every shot taken by someone playing on the Joe Craft Center courts.

One thing I didn’t realize is that the machine can actually talk to you and give you live feedback. Do you think you could beat Bargatze in a game of H-O-R-S-E?

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2024-06-20