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Keith Taylor: Dakari Johnson enjoying success in summer league; Duvall honored to be an All-Star

The NBA season has been over for more than two weeks but that doesn’t stop players from competing in the summer months.

Two summer leagues began this week in Orlando and Utah, giving players an opportunity to earn roster spots and further develop their skills. Several former Kentucky standouts are playing in the two leagues, including Dakari Johnson and Trey Lyles.

Dakari Johnson is enjoying a successful stint in the Orlando summer league

Dakari Johnson is enjoying a successful stint in the Orlando summer league

Johnson (Oklahoma City) is second in the Orlando league in rebounding with nine boards per game and is averaging 13 points per contest. Lyles scored 26 points for the Utah Jazz Tuesday and tallied 13 in the league opener Monday in Salt Lake City.

In Orlando, Aaron Harrison (Charlotte) is averaging 15.3 ppg, while Marquis Teague (Dallas) has scored an average of 13 points per game. Alex Poythress, who went undrafted in last month’s NBA Draft, is scoring five points per game for the Orlando Blue squad.

James Young (Boston) is scoring 25.5 points per outing in the Utah summer league.

Former Murray State standout Cameron Payne is posting breakout numbers for Oklahoma City in Orlando and is second in the league in scoring at 20.5 ppg.

The Orlando and Utah summer league games conclude this week, while the Las Vegas event is set for July 8-18.

Duvall an All-Star

Cincinnati Reds left fielder and former Louisville standout Adam Duvall was named to the National League All-Star team Tuesday.

Duvall was drafted by the San Francisco Giants in the 2010 Major League Draft, was traded to the Reds a year ago and has made an impact in Cincinnati, especially this season.

In 79 games this season, Duvall is batting.252 and has hit 22 home runs and has driven in 59 runs. He is second in the league in home runs.

Duvall landed a roster spot following a vote by the players in majors.

“I just try to play the game hard and try to earn the respect of my peers,” Duvall said on the team’s website. “Obviously, they thought a lot of me by voting me in, and I appreciate that. I think that’s one of the best ways you can get voted in — by your peers.‑ I’m pretty proud of that.”

Cincinnati manager Bryan Price was pleased Duvall made the NL roster.

“Very well deserved,” Price said on the Reds website. “Really, a nice honor as a manager to be able to give that type of news to a young guy like Adam who is in his first full season in the big leagues and has had a huge first half—22 homers and 59 RBIs – really a superior left field and a guy that has made the position his own and carved out a nice niche on the ball club for us. We’re all happy for him. It’s a great thing for our organization, and certainly for Adam.”

Speedway has new look

When the sixth edition of the Quaker State 400 takes off this weekend, NASCAR drivers will notice a difference in the track surface. The track has been repaved and features some upgrades to the surface.

Turns 1 and 2 of the track were configured, which increased the banking from 14 to 17 degrees. The pit exit lane has also been widened from 14 feet to 30 feet and the width of the racing surface in Turns 1 and 2 has shrunk from 74 feet to 56 feet.

Kyle Busch and Brad Kesolowski are two-time winners of the race, while Matt Kenseth crossed the finish line in 2013. Kesoloski won his first race at Daytona last weekend, capturing the Coke 400.

The Quaker State 400 is set for 7:30 p.m. Saturday in Sparta and will be televised on NBCSN.

Keith Taylor is a senior sports writer for KyForward, where he primarily covers University of Kentucky sports. Reach him at keith.taylor@kyforward.com or @keithtaylor21 on Twitter

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