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Thursday night notes: Kentucky Combine, video boards and more

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A lot of news from Thursday to catch up on. Here are the basics:

- From the Dribble Drive Motion Offense to hauling in unprecedented recruiting classes to his success on Twitter, Kentucky coach John Calipari has always been a pioneer of sorts as a college basketball coach. But he may have outdone himself with an innovative announcement Thursday. On his website,, Calipari announced the "Kentucky Combine," a two-day series of private workouts at the Joe Craft Center for Kentucky's draft-eligible players that will be conducted by NBA personnel. Calipari outlines three reasons why he decided to create the "first-of-its-kind combine" on his website, but the main reason is to give underclassmen Brandon Knight, Terrence Jones and DeAndre Liggins, senior Josh Harrellson, and student volunteer coach Enes Kanter a chance to work out  and receive feedback from NBA teams before the May 8 deadline to withdraw from the draft. As Calipari said on his website, his "hope is this will allow our players to get direct feedback from NBA decision-makers and hopefully create a clearer picture of what their NBA potential may be. Instead of us telling them what we are hearing, they can hear directly from the clubs." The combine will take place Monday and Tuesday. For more information, read the full post here.

- The combine could be of even bigger importance next year following Thursday's NCAA (head-scratching) announcement that moved up the final withdraw date for the NBA Draft. Starting next year, college basketball players must decide before the first day of the spring signing period, typically mid-April, to pull out of the draft and retain their college eligibility. That means, if Kentucky were to go to the Final Four next year, those players would have less than a week and a half to make a potentially life-altering decision. The full story can be read here. Feel free to make your own conclusions in the comments section.

- UK is still planning on getting new video boards and a sound system installed at Commonwealth Stadium this summer, but some of the funding will not come from the University of Kentucky. UK is no longer asking the Council on Postsecondary Education or UK Board of Trustees for approval of an internal loan to help pay for replacing the existing video boards at Commonwealth Stadium. Frank Butler, executive vice president for finance and administration, said the UK Athletics Department will seek to fund the project entirely with private funds. Full story on the Courier-Journal's website.

- The first round of the 2011 NFL Draft came and went Thursday night without a Randall Cobb selection. Cobb, UK's career touchdown leader, shouldn't be discouraged though. Most mock drafts had him going in the second round, which will take place Friday at 6 p.m. If Cobb goes in the second round, he will be UK football's highest draft pick since defensive tackle Dewayne Robertson went fourth overall to the N.Y. Jets in 2003.

- The devastating tornado damage in Tuscaloosa, Ala., forced the cancelation of this weekend's UK-Alabama softball series. It goes without saying, but it was the right thing to do given what's going on in the South. Having said that, you have to wonder how the cancelation of a second-straight series (Wednesday's doubleheader with Ole Miss on Wednesday was canceled because of inclement weather) will affect Rachel Lawson's club. UK doesn't play any midweek games next week, meaning Kentucky will have gone 13 days from its last game on April 24 until the start of the regular-season series with Auburn. There's a chance Lawson could try to schedule some games this weekend with some local teams to keep her team fresh, but if she doesn't, you have to wonder if the break will have some type of effect - positive or negative - on the 35-11 Cats.

- Big opportunity missed by the Kentucky baseball team Thursday night. Leading 5-1 in the eighth inning on the arm of another dominating pitching performance from Alex Meyer, UK allowed eight runs in the bottom of the eighth frame for a devastating 9-5 loss to LSU on the ESPN Thursday Night Game of the Week. The loss drops Kentucky into a tie for dead last in the Southeastern Conference. If UK is going to make any type of run at making the SEC Tournament, it cannot afford to drop another game in Baton Rouge, La.

- Dick Vitale is encouraging fans to make donations for the sixth annual Dick Vitale Gala, which raises money for the V Foundation and cancer research. Calipari is one of the featured speakers at the event, which will take place May 20 at the Ritz Carlton in Sarasota Fla. You can donate $10 by texting JimmyV to 85944. 

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