Former college basketball coach and current ESPN analyst Seth Greenberg loved what Nate Sestina did for Kentucky last season and thought he was "terrific" for the Cats on the court and in the locker room.
However, Greenberg believes if UK can get Wake Forest transfer
Olivier Sarr eligible next season he'll bring a whole different level
of help than Sestina did after his transfer from Bucknell.
"Sarr has chance to be a really good piece for them because of the
players they will have around him," said Greenberg. "His style of
play, skill level really fits. He's active, does a nice job
rebounding and has a very high basketball IQ.
"I loved what I thought (Purdue transfer Matt) Haarms would have
added because of his defensive intensity if he had picked Kentucky
but he was not as skilled offensively as Sarr. This could be really
good for them. With the size of their wings and backcourt adding a
skilled front court player like him who can move his feet, has
experience at the highest level and has been productive is really big.
"This guy has proven himself in the ACC. Wake Forest did not win a
ton of games last year but he played at a pretty high level for a
long time and just seems like a really good get for Kentucky with his
skill, size and athleticism not to mention his experience and
The 7-foot center averaged 13.7 points, 9.0 rebounds, 1.2 blocks and
26.7 minutes per game last year while shooting 52.7 percent from the
field and 76.1 percent at the foul line. He also averaged just 3.1
fouls per game — or one per each nine minutes played. Those numbers
were big jumps from his sophomore season when he averaged 6.2 points,
5.5 rebounds, 1.0 blocks and 21.6 minutes per game and shot 47.4
percent from the field.
Greenberg doesn't like to compare players but says Sarr will have
more offensive skills than some centers Calipari has had at UK and
certainly was needed on a roster that lacked a true center.
"He can pass it. He can rebound and his rebounds per minutes are
really good. He can contest shots," Greenberg said. "He's not a 3-
point shooter but he won't need to be. He can finish at the rim and
get to the (foul line). Wake Forest was guard oriented but his shot
selection is good and he has a good feel for how to score.
"He can score around the basket, score off the baseline, play off
the elbow some, things John wants his center to do. You are not going
to get a ton of shots at Kentucky but he will be able to take
advantage of the shots he does get."
The ESPN analyst says the level of competition Sarr has faced makes
him even more valuable to UK.
"When you play in that league (ACC) there are no rocking chair games
(to take it easy). You have got to be ready to play every night.
Every game is big and that will serve him well at Kentucky because
every game Kentucky plays is big for the opponent. Expectations at
Kentucky are so crazy for everything but he's used to being in the
Greenberg hopes the NCAA gives Sarr a waiver to play after Wake
Forest waited until late April to fire coach Danny Manning knowing
Sarr would not have time then to enter the NBA draft. It's not a
given he will get a waiver but Greenberg thinks it is the right thing
Greenberg was a head coach for 22 years and remembers when he was
fired by Virginia Tech in late April of 2012.
"When you are let go in late April, it impacts so many things,"
Greenberg said. "A coach can't go get another job. It's impactful to
"They (Wake Forest) basically handcuffed that kid so he wouldn't put
his name in the draft. That's just wrong. How do you wait until the
end of April to fire him when the season ended in early March? It
took that long to make this decision. Come on. That is just wrong."
At least three other ESPN personalities—Jay Bilas, Dick Vitale and
Paul Biancardi—have all indicated they think the NCAA should allow
Sarr to play next year at UK. Greenberg believes new Wake Forest
coach Steve Forbes, who tried to keep Sarr, will be supportive of the
transfer because he told Greenberg he hoped Sarr gets to play.
"If he doesn't want to be here, he doesn't want to be here. We're
trying to rebuild a program and I want guys that want to be here is
what he told me," Greenberg said about Forbes. "There's a respect
among coaches and Cal has tremendous respect for Steve. Steve, I
know, has great respect for Cal. Sometimes you just gotta do what's
right. I hope the kid gets eligible."
Fletcher can be
He's not the highest profile player in Kentucky's 2020 recruiting
class but UK assistant coach Joel Justus believes 6-6 Cam'Ron
Fletcher of St. Louis could be a bigger difference maker than many
realize even if he's not a McDonald's All-American or even a five-
"Cam comes in with tremendous athleticism," Justus said. "He's a
live body that can be moved all over the floor. He seems to be high
octane. The fast-paced team we will potentially have next season
could be undersized and he will be ready to play fast and really help
Justus says Fletcher reminds him some of UK freshman Keion Brooks
Sr. He called him a "Swiss Army knife" who can move around and do a
variety of things to help a team win.
"He's going to get better because he's going to work on his skills.
I don't think he knows yet just how good he can be," Justus said. "I
can't wait to see what he can do with all that talent.
"He can almost be like Keion. He is the type player who can play
from the top of the key to the wing to the baseline. The last play of
the season turned out to be Keion posting up (at Florida) off the
block and going one on one. Cam could do the same because he fits
that same mode."
Justus said playing Brooks and Fletcher together could possibly
create havoc because of their long, athletic frames.
"Cam can guard multiple positions just like Keion," Justus said.
"Cam has to become better with his skills and shooting. But he gives
us versatility and a passion for the game that you really like."
UK gets its big man
With Kentucky now apparently having the big man it needs for next
basketball season in 7-foot Wake Forest transfer Olivier Sarr, that
makes the play of freshman Devin Askew and Creighton grad transfer
Davion Mintz at point guard even more important.
Former UK point guard Roger Harden understood his primary job was to
get the ball to Kenny Walker, Winston Bennett and Ed Davender when he
ran the offense for both coach Joe Hall and then Eddie Sutton.
"The teams that win have a point guard getting the most out of
everybody They are sacrificing field goal attempts to make the team
better," Harden said.
"A point guard has to give you stability, low turnovers, high
assists and if he's open be able to make a shot. But the best ones
get the ball to the right people to get you the best chance to win."
Harden says that's what Marquis Teague did so well in 2012 when he
got the ball to Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Terrence
"And never think that DeAaron Fox could not have had a lot bigger
numbers at UK but he sacrificed his numbers for the team," Harden said.
"Fox could create his shot and get to the hole but he made sure
others were content with what they were getting. That's the attitude
you want in a point guard to have a really successful team."
Watson not expected to be the player he has been
He was not quite the unknown Josh Allen was when he came to Kentucky
or totally ignored by Division I football coaches like Calvin Taylor
was in high school but senior linebacker Jamar "Boogie" Watson was
not expected to be the player he has been or could become next season.
He was a three-star recruit out of Maryland who did not play
football until his junior year of high school when he had 74 tackles
and a 75-yard touchdown return for a score. He was also a standout
basketball player who earned several Division I scholarship offers.
Watson had a huge junior year for Kentucky. He started 11 games and
had 36 tackles, including a team-high 11.5 tackles for loss and a
team-high seven quarterback hurries. He also had 6.5 quarterback
sacks (tied for sixth in the SEC), forced a fumble and recovered a
Just how good could Watson be as a senior? Kentucky coach Mark
Stoops said it was "definitely a possibility" that Watson could have
a Josh Allen type of season. In case you forgot, Allen was the
consensus national defensive player of the year in 2018 when UK won
the Citrus Bowl. He became a first round pick of Jacksonville.
"I know Boogie is highly motivated. He's worked really hard," Stoops
said. "Just like any player, you go through some ups and downs,
mentally, physically. I know he was highly motivated to put it all
together this last year, to be a great leader, to be a great
teammate, to do everything necessary to prepare himself for this year.
"There's a guy I have full confidence in. During this time he's
doing everything he can to make sure he's ready to play. I do expect
big things out of Boogie."
Ziesmer already has six Division I offers
He won't turn 16 years old until November, but Boyle County freshman
Tommy Ziesmer already has six Division I football scholarship offers.
"I think it is flattering. I like having offers and coaches seeing
me as a person who as a senior can produce a lot more than I did as
a freshman," said Ziesmer
Kentucky is one of the schools that has offered him along with
Louisville, West Virginia, Tennessee, Eastern Kentucky and Western
"People told me the first offer was really hard to get. I was
thinking maybe I would get one my junior year or at least senior
year," the 6-2, 220-pound Ziesmer said. "But once Louisville offered
me, I got a lot more offers and hopefully will get more."
He started at defensive end for Boyle County and coach Chuck Smith,
a former assistant coach at Kentucky under Rich Brooks and Joker
Phillips. At UK he coached linebackers Bud Dupree, Wesley Woodyard
and Danny Trevathan all NFL players. Dupree recently signed a $15.6
million deal for 2020 with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
"At first it was kind of intimidating playing for him because he is
a very intimidating guy," Ziesmer said. "But he helped me a lot with
my techniques and moves. He helped me a lot mentally, too. I know he
has coached great players, so you have to be impressed with that. I
was just lucky he taught me to do a lot of things last year."
Smith resigned after Boyle's 14-1 season ended with a loss in the
Class AAA state title game but Ziesmer knows he can lean on Smith for
help if needed.
"I got a lot more comfortable with him as the year went on and know
if I needed him, he would be there to help," Ziesmer said.
KHSAA leaders say 2020 fall sports may look very different
Kentucky High School Athletic Association commissioner Julian
Tackett warned last week that there's likely no way the 2020 high
school fall sports season would look anything like the 2019 season.
He wouldn't rule out sports like golf and cross country being able
to start before football, soccer and volleyball.
"The first barrier is to get people back on campus. When can
athletes get into training facilities and into locker rooms?" Tackett
said. "How confident do you feel that most high school weight rooms
can have social distancing? There will be a challenge to that part."
It would be the same if high schools tried to play games without
fans or just limited fans.
"You could have a potential disaster at the gates because who is
going to say who gets in and who does not," Tackett said. "There
would be some dynamics where (players') relatives should be upset.
It's not as easy to do as just say let 140 fans per team in."
Tackett said he's had numerous inquiries from schools about moving
football games to bigger venues to make social distancing more
practical for fans.
"People are talking about moving games to Saturday where they can
use a larger facility," Tackett said. "We have so much (artificial)
turf in the state now and so many opportunities where that could
Tackett did say last week he was more optimistic about fall sports
being played than he was a week before and believes my mid-June
decisions will have to be made about when or if fall sports will be
"It's more important to know when we can practice than when we can
play," Tackett said.
He said he knows there are a "bunch" of high school football bowl
games in August that provide significant revenue for schools and also
many of those game involve teams traveling longer distances to play
than they would once school starts.
"So there already has to be some contingency planning by schools now
about that," he said.
Quote of the Week: "He bulked up during the summer heading into his
sophomore season and became a dominant presence in the post late last
season. He has a vast array of post up moves and is solid from 15-
feet in. Good footwork and soft hands. He'll fit in nicely in
Lexington," Demon Deacons publisher Les Johns on UK transfer Olivier
Quote of the Week 2: "I haven't had to do anything worse in my 11
years as commissioner and certainly in other positions where I have
had to make a decision that was that difficult. We live every day and
we work every day to create opportunities for students," KHSAA
commissioner Julian Tackett on having to cancel the boys and girls
state basketball tournaments.
Quote of the Week 3: "As hard as theses times are for all I think
from a sporting sense it's shown us to appreciate just how unique and
special an opportunity it is to play sport and compete in front of
thousands and to never take that for granted. A perspective usually
only gained post career," UK All-American punter Max Duffy on
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