After this weekend win at Arkansas, WKU has risen to number 71st. This is a rise of 8 spots from last week . With this week being a bye week we won’t see much of a movement for WKU.
In week 1 USA Today had WKU at 114, week 2 they had WKU ranked 130, week 3 they had WKU 116, in week 4 WKU was ranked 117, in week 5 WKU was ranked 117, and in week 6 WKU was ranked 103, in week 7 WKU was ranked 74th, in week 8 WKU was ranked 67th, and in week 9 WKU was ranked 69th, in week 10 WKU was ranked 79th. WKU is on a bye this week. WKU ranks 6th in Conference USA ahead of North Texas, FIU, Middle Tennessee, Charlotte, UTSA, ODU, Rice, and UTEP.
Coming up short for the second consecutive year in last years C-USA title game left many Hilltopper fans baffled. The same thing had happened the year before, and that team had more talent than the first. Top 10 recruit Charles Bassey stunned the country by choosing WKU, Taveion Hollingsworth was back for his sophomore year along with Josh Anderson. LaMonte Bearden was back for a senior campaign alongside graduate transfer Desean Murray. Not to mention a talented recruiting class behind Bassey. There was one player who was missing, the glue guy as most would say, Justin Johnson. The home state kid wore his heart on his sleeve every time he touched the floor. With the talent increase but confusing results, WKU looked lost without Johnson, who graduated and plays professionally in Italy. Just basing it off the first two games of the season thus far, it looks as if head coach Rick Stansbury, who fought plenty of roster turnover this offseason, has found his guys; both coming via transfer. Carson Williams and Cameron Justice. These two helped lead the way to victories over Tennessee Tech and Austin Peay.
Against Tennessee Tech in the Hilltopper’s opener Williams immediately showed his versatility. The 6’5 230 pound junior has been learning Stansbury’s style for a year now, transferring from Northern Kentucky before last season. In his first official appearance in Diddle Arena, Williams put up 16 points on 60% shooting to go with 9 boards, one dime, two steals and two blocks. He showed hustle on every play, crashing the glass to beat defenders for a board. Justice also proved to be a reliable shooter, knocking down two threes on his way to 15 points. Against Austin Peay Justice shot 8-10 from the floor including 5 three pointers to way of 22 points. Williams posted a modest 12-6-4 stat line in the same game. While not the two most talented players, both excel in their own areas. Justice is a knockdown shooter whereas Williams is a physical matchup for anyone who shows respectable offense and defense.
Of course, Charles Bassey returned for a sophomore season in hopes of boosting his draft stock as well as leading the Hilltoppers to a C-USA title and ultimately a run in March Madness. Bassey scored 16 and 10 respectively in the two opening games while pulling down 9 and twelve boards in the contest. With one double-double already he looks to has started where he left off last year. While the offense has a hard time finding Bassey inside (Not another year of this…) he looked solid in both contests. He had trouble finding a rhythm and getting tough shots to fall. IMO Bassey provides his value on the defensive end of the floor with 3 blocks and a steal already this season. He has put on muscle and looks the part, showing uber athleticism. He did go down early in the Austin Peay game but returned shortly after. This is where WKU could face problems. If Bassey deals with foul trouble or injuries, they will be shorthanded at the position. Matthew Horton and freshman Isaiah Cozart would replace Bassey if need be, but it doesnt look to be in Stansbury’s immediate plans. Horton did not appear in either game, but Cozart showed promise in limited minutes, scoring a bucket in each as well as showing physicality and looking the part on a D1 team.
Guard play should be the strength on this team by the end of the year. Given that Kenny Cooper has yet to be cleared by the NCAA to play this year, it allows experimentation of lineups featuring Hollingsworth, Justice, freshman Jordan Rawls, Jared Savage and Josh Anderson. Hollingsworth, Savage and Justice have recieved the starts thus far. Hollingsworth has been the primary PG when Rawls is not in the game. While he is better suited to play off ball, he demonstrated his passing ability with several behind the back and no look passes in the opener. Against APSU he found his rhythm offensively, scoring 21 points. He knocked down two threes and attacked driving lanes and getting to the free throw line where he was 9/10. He also grabbed 7 boards and 3 assists. Savage has looked good defensively but his 20% 3 point percentage certainly leaves room for improvement. The best part about this lineup is the pressure in forces on top. The long wingspans and help defense clog up all passing lanes, making it difficult for their opponents to get into a rhythm. Rawls went for 8 points and 5 assists Saturday, taking 4 shots and hitting 3 of them, including two threes late in the game. He looks to takeover this team at the PG position whether it be this year or next.
The Hilltoppers look to stay on course on a trip to Richmond this Friday to face the Eastern Kentucky Colonels. EKU runs a fast paced offense that focuses on getting lots of shots up, so this should give us an idea for how WKU can control their pace while in a true road environment. Until then the #FreeKennyCooper train will be on the lookout and hoping to add another big threat to this Western backcourt.
Western Kentucky graduate transfer Ty Storey is no stranger to Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville Arkansas, but Saturday he experienced a new first on that field; a win. He appeared in 15 games over three seasons with Arkansas, starting nine a year ago, but he never won a game as a starter. From the opening kick you could tell he had the leadership and energy to fire his teammates and finally walk off a winner. WKU showed poise on both sides of the ball against an SEC opponent, regardless of their record. This led to a 49-19 beatdown on the road that ensures them a 13th game.
Opening the game, Western Kentucky’s Antwon Kincade picked off the Hogs second pass of the game, giving WKU the early momentum they would not relinquish. The ensuing drive would set the pace for the game as Storey and Co steadily marched down the field, converting two fourth downs before Jacquez Sloan took the double option handoff 19 yards for the Toppers first score. Shortly afterward Arkansas RB Rakeem Boyd broke through the Hilltopper line for a 76 yard touchdown that would be their lone score of the half. Western Kentucky meanwhile, would get 7 on each of their remaining four drives in the first half. Ty Storey ran in touchdowns in each of the next two drives, on his way to 77 yards rushing. Jacour Pearson got in on the fun the next time around, getting wide open in route to a 69 yard touchdown pass from Storey, who finished with 213 yards and one touchdown passing, as well as protecting the ball and not taking any sacks. Gaej Walker pushed the score to 35-7 to go to the locker room on his lone touchdown run of the day, but put up 129 rushing yards on the day to lead his team. Pearson led all WR with 10 catches for 120 yards, including a few early fourth downs. Lucky Jackson added 7 catches for 70 yards.
Defensively, the Tops looked to be their old selves for the most part. Two 70+ yard runs by Rakeem Boyd are the only reason this game looked as respectable as it did, and even they were blemished by missed PATs qnd a two point conversion. After Kincade’s interception to start the game, Devon Key one upped him by catching a bad pass and running it in for the Tops lone TD in the second half. WKU was able to contain Arkansas all game no matter who they played. Cory Munson, the kicker, was perfect today with one field goal and six PAT. His best play of the game though might not even be a kick. After kicking a squib kick down the middle, Munson raced to the returner before tackling him on the Arkansas 14 yard line. It was an all around good day for the Tops.
With bowl eligibility already in grasp and a quarterback who is one of the most accurate in all of College football, WKU will look to stay explosive on offense and precise on defense. Next week the Hilltoppers have a bye before traveling to Mississippi to take on the Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles before closing the season out at home vs. MTSU.
We’re almost through the first week of the season and there is still no sign of the NCAA granting WKU Basketball PG Kenny Cooper a wavier to be eligible this season.
Cooper, a Lipscomb transfer, averaged 9.8 PPG, 4.5 APG, & 2.0 steals per game for a Lipscomb roster that made the NCAA tournament and NIT final four in the previous two seasons. With Lipscomb’s head coach taking the job at Belmont, Western Kentucky felt good about Coopers wavier being approved by the NCAA. Rick Stansbury even had this to say earlier in May to the Bowling Green Daily News-
We feel good about (Cooper) applying for his waiver and we feel good about the waiver,” Stansbury said. “These kids nowadays, these waivers, they pass them out like Halloween candy a little bit. There are some other mitigating factors in his situation too. So we feel really good about him.”
Rick Stansbury (via: BGDN)
Well we’re a week past Halloween and we still have no word on Cooper’s eligibility.
Hilltopper fans have seen this before, most recently in the 2017 season when former Hilltopper Moustaphia Diagne and current Hilltopper Josh Anderson went until December until the NCAA ruled both eligible. Ridiculous.
Moving forward without Cooper for now Western Kentucky will turn to junior Taveion Hollingsworth to run the point. While Hollingsworth is not a natural point guard he can get the job done through the next 4 games until WKU faces off with Louisville in Nashville on November 29th. To increase their chances against the cardinals Western Kentucky will likely need their senior point guard to be eligible.
The longer this decision lingers, the more of a joke the NCAA becomes. Your move NCAA.
Well after back to back losses in conference play WKU has dropped in the rankings again to 79th. This is a fall from 69th last week. Hopefully this week WKU can get back in the winning column and rise back up in the rankings.
In week 1 USA Today had WKU at 114, week 2 they had WKU ranked 130, week 3 they had WKU 116, in week 4 WKU was ranked 117, in week 5 WKU was ranked 117, and in week 6 WKU was ranked 103, in week 7 WKU was ranked 74th, in week 8 WKU was ranked 67th, and in week 9 WKU was ranked 69th. WKU is on the road at Arkansas. WKU ranks 6th in Conference USA ahead of North Texas, FIU, Middle Tennessee, Charlotte, UTSA, ODU, Rice, and UTEP.
With the start of the season just around the corner WKU Basketball has had some prospect news break over the past few days.
J.J. Traynor Picks Louisville
No surprise here, in a post last week we mentioned that Traynor was most likely headed to Louisville because of his strong connection with the university and it seemed that ever since he received an offer from UofL he has his sights set on the Cards.
WKU Men’s basketball Head Coach Rick Stansbury was early on Traynor, offering him his first division 1 scholarship offer back in late April. WKU was in the lead mostly for Traynor until Louisville stepped in an offered him earlier this month. Since the Louisville offer it had been all cards by every service that follows recruiting.
Stansbury will have to turn elsewhere for his center piece of the 2020 recruiting class. As of right now Dayvion Mcknight remains the only commitment the Hilltoppers have inline for 2020. If we know anything about Rick Stansbury it is that he has shown the ability to go out and find grad transfer in his time on the Hill. I wouldn’t worry to much about the 2020 recruiting class if he can continue to bring in high level grad transfer to Western Kentucky.
Zion Harmon picks up an offer from Maryland
You may be asking yourself, why is this significant news? Simply put, Harmon is originally from Maryland (D.C. metro area) and he even added Maryland to his top list of schools after receiving the offer last week. Easy to see why Marlyand could be a contender in landing a commitment from Harmon. They were even in to visit him this morning according to his social media feed.
Since taking an official visit to Western Kentucky Harmon has also attended Meet the Racers, Murray States form of Midnight Madness. As of right now the 2021 guard has not said where he will be taking an official visit to next. A rumor is going that Harmon is a lock to reclassify to the class of 2020 pending that he be eligible for the 2020-2021 college basketball season.
Kyree Walker is still a mystery
A 5 star talent from Arizona,Western Kentucky was in to visit Walker the end of last month. Then,Kyree was still a part of his High School team Hillcrest Prep, now news has came out that Walker has left the school and is exploring his options with potentially college and overseas teams interested in his services. As of right now, I don’t think even Kyree Walker knows what his next move is.