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- Swiss Cat – Vacation notes and photos from Larry from his trip to Switzerland.
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By LARRY VAUGHT
His motherâ€™s plans to be at tonightâ€™s game against Georgia to watch him play his final home game at Kentucky full through, but senior Eloy Vargas insists that wonâ€™t ruin his first starting assignment or moment in the spotlight with UKâ€ˆsenior teammate Darius Miller.
â€œIt has been great here,â€ said Vargas Wednesday. â€œKentucky is the best program in the world. It has made me feel good to be part of it.â€
Heâ€™s not been a huge part the last three years, playing just 499 minutes in 73 games, an average of 6.8 minutes per game. Heâ€™s scored only 88 points â€” or 327 less than freshman Anthony Davis has in 29 games this year. Yet he insisted heâ€™s never been frustrated over his lack of playing time.
â€œNah, Iâ€™m good because every time we win, everybody wins. Itâ€™s Kentucky and this is a family. Itâ€™s not about self, itâ€™s about us,â€ Vargas said.
He found out Wednesday morning that his mother â€œwould not make itâ€ because of travel complications out of the Dominican Republic. His father passed away while he was at UK, too. He said his mother and others in his hometown of Moca watch every game on ESPN and would be watching again.
Vargas says heâ€™s learned plenty from coach John Calipari despite his limited playing time.
â€œBeing in front of coach Cal, teaching me how to be a better player and a better person, and me pushing myself like before I came over here; I rarely saw how hard you had to work to be on the court, so I think Iâ€™ve learned a lot from being here and being a part of this program,â€ Vargas said. â€œI had kind of the big head when I got here (after Billy Gillispie was fired and Calipari hired). Everybody left.â€
However, Calipari recruited DeMarcus Cousins and Daniel Orton that year. He brought in Enes Kanter last year and when he was ruled ineligible by the NCAA, Josh Harrellson emerged. This season Calipari brought in Anthony Davis, a national player of the year candidate.
Vargas isnâ€™t sure how UKâ€ˆfans will remember him.
â€œI donâ€™t know how theyâ€™re going to remember, but I know I was part of the Final Four, so they will probably remember me, so thatâ€™ll be nice,â€ he said.
Heâ€™s also looking forward to the rest of the season, including tonightâ€™s game.
â€œThis is where the fun begins now. You donâ€™t know whatâ€™s going to happen. This is going to be a long season. Weâ€™ve got about five more weeks left and you donâ€™t know what can happen,â€ Vargas said. Somebody can get in foul trouble and I can maybe come out and do the right thing and make a play for the team and we can come out with a win.
â€œMy only real memory is going to be that I was part of a Final Four team. Not a lot of people can do that, but I did.â€
By LARRY VAUGHT
Not only is Georgia coming off its biggest win of the season, a victory over then No. 12 Florida, but Kentucky coach John Calipari says the Bulldogs have also changed the way they are playing since a January loss to the Wildcats.
â€œThey are playing a lot different than they were at the beginning of the year,â€ said Calipari. â€œThey are way more confident. They are shooting the ball extremely well. They are spacing the court and doing much more pick and roll. They are playing off hand-offs. They are bringing their four man (power forward) and making him like a three (small forward) in pick and pop.â€
Calipari says the way Georgia coach Mark Fox has adjusted his teamâ€™s playing style to best suit his players has impressed him despite Georgiaâ€™s losing record.
â€œThey are playing different and getting results,â€ Calipari said. â€œWinning at Mississippi State and winning against Florida, those are huge. Iâ€ˆknow we are going to face an opponent that is playing well.â€
However, Fox thinks his team might have a bit more difficult challenge. Kentucky has won 51 straight home games, including 50 in a row at Rupp Arena in Calipariâ€™s three seasons, going into Thursdayâ€™s Senior Night game where Darius Miller and Eloy Vargas will both be in the starting lineup for their final home game. Kentucky is also 14-0 in Southeastern Conference play and on a 20-game win streak.
â€œWe get the daunting task of going into Rupp Arena on Senior Day to play a terrific team that I donâ€™t think has lost at home in three years,â€ Fox said. â€œThey are probably better in every way (from the first time the teams played). Iâ€ˆthink offensively they appear to be playing extremely well together. Defensively, they were dynamite before.
â€œThey can beat you so many ways. (Terrence) Jones appears to be playing pretty well. The first game he was not as hot coming in. When you look at Kentucky, it is hard to find any weaknesses and obviously they have a terrific home-court advantage to go with all that.â€
Fox isnâ€™t sure the Bulldogsâ€™ win over Florida Saturday will have any carryover impact at Kentucky.
â€œI donâ€™t think it will do much. I feel that our team has been pretty focused on taking one game at a time and not taking the previous game into the next game. Obviously a win over a great Florida team gives us confidence, but it will not have a lot to do with the outcome on Thursday. We are playing a different team and have to play extremely, extremely well,â€ Fox said.
Georgia made a believer out of Florida coach Billy Donovan with its spirited play against his team and gained even more of his respect.
â€œI think Georgia is a team that continues to improve and play hard and play with good passion and energy,â€ Donovan said. â€œIâ€ˆhave great respect for that. They play very hard and very physical. Thatâ€™s a great tribute to their kids.â€
Senior guard Gerald Robinson leads Georgia in scoring at 14.3 points per game and has 105 assists. However, freshman Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is the teamâ€™s most talked about player. Heâ€™s scoring 13.9 points and 5.1 rebounds per game.
â€œHeâ€™s had a very good freshman season. He has not had much chance to rest and come out of games and be coached,â€ Fox said. â€œHe has really been productive for us, but he has also made mistakes on the floor because he is a freshman and is just learning. We felt like he was an impact player, but he has been even better in some ways than we anticipated. In all honesty, he has handled the amount of expectations we had put on him better than I anticipated.â€
â€œHe is a terrific talent and is able to score in bunches because of his skill level and athleticism,â€ South Carolina coach Darrin Horn said.
However, Fox said the Bulldogsâ€™ improvement has been a team issue.
â€œOur focus has been to try and get better and win as many games as we can,â€ Fox said. â€œTheir ability to play the game the right way, play hard, act right and play with class is what we want to do. They are staying the course with the right attitude. But winning on the road in this league is a challenge. We won on the road at Mississippi State in a game we played very well. There have been other games away from home where I felt we did not play nearly as well and this is a game we have to play extremely well just to be in the game.â€
By LARRY VAUGHT
Darius Miller has compiled some impressive statistics during his four-year career that Kentucky and is the only UKâ€ˆplayer that has been part of every game in the current 51-game home winning streak going into Thursday nightâ€™s game against Georgia.
It will be Millerâ€™s final Rupp Arena appearance, the court where he starred in the state high school tournament for Mason County and has made numerous big plays for the Wildcats.
He has 1,139 career points, 456 rebounds, 258 assists, 104 steals and 96 blocked shots. Heâ€™s made 161 3-point shots, including 42 this season.
â€œNumbers really donâ€™t matter that much to me,â€ said Miller. â€œI just do what our team needs and what the coaching staff wants. Points and stuff just donâ€™t matter if you donâ€™t win.â€
Heâ€™s also mentored numerous players, especially the last two years.
â€œHe talks a lot, especially to me because I am so young as a player. He has helped me so much with just a lot of stuff. Iâ€ˆlook up to him not just as a player, but as a person,â€ Kentucky freshman Michael-Kidd Gilchrist said.
Here is what various media members that cover the University of Kentucky say they will remember most about Millerâ€™s career.
Tom Leach, UKâ€ˆRadio Network.
â€œResilient is perhaps the word that best describes Darius.Â Whether itâ€™s a person or a thoroughbred, I really admire that never-give-in quality and Darius is a player who has persevered through every setback heâ€™s had over four years.Â By my count, Kentucky is 20-1 when Darius scores 15 or more in a game and I think that stat underscores how much better the Cats are when Darius is playing at his best. Darius is easily the most versatile player on this team and thatâ€™s probably been true for every one of his four seasons at Kentucky. Weâ€™ve seen play the point and I remember Cal using him at the 5 spot in Canada two years ago.Â Tayshaun Prince had that rare kind of versatility â€”t he ability to be just as effective in the paint asÂ he was at the 3-point line â€” and thatâ€™s a pretty good guy to whom one can be compared in UK lore.
I grew up following 10th Region basketball, where Darius played for Mason County, so heâ€™s always been one of my favorites for that reason, too.Â I remember interviewing Pittâ€™s Jaime Dixon after he coached Darius in the under-19 tournament a few years ago and he kept coming back to a statement about what a quality person Darius was â€” Iâ€™m guessing thatâ€™s how his teammates will remember him,too.â€
Mary Jo Perino, WLEXâ€“TV, WVLK.
â€œWhat I am going to remember most about Darius Miller â€¦.Â Darius is still the same person I started covering in the eighth grade. He is humble, smart, dedicated. Darius has always been, from the outside looking in anyway, the best teammate you could have. Unselfish, but always there in the clutch when you need him. He doesnâ€™t care how many points he scores, he just wants to win a national championship. I will remember Darius as a hell of a ball player and an even better person.â€
Ryan Lemond, Kentucky Sports Radio.
â€œThere have been times that I didnâ€™t have a lot of confidence in Darius Miller, but as soon as that happens, he always did something to get my confidence in him back. He flat out carried the Cats during the SECTtournament and for most of the second half of the season last year.Â This year he really struggled shooting the basketball to start the season, but he worked at it and got his shot back. I would now want the ball in his hands to take the last second shot for the Cats.
â€œThe thing Iâ€™ll remember about him most is his character. There were times when he didnâ€™t play well, but he never got down. There were times when his shot didnâ€™t fall, but he never pouted or got mad.Â He lost his starting job his senior year after being a starter for most of his career, but he that didnâ€™t change him, his game, or his approach to the game.Â This entire season, heâ€™s been the first guy out of the floor getting up some shots at Rupp Arena on game nights.Â I like to see that. Thatâ€™s the kind of teammate I want on my team. I can only hope my three sons can some day grow up to be like Darius Miller, more as a person than the player.â€
* * *
To come: see what Larry Glover, Mike Pratt,Â Keith Taylor and Alan Cutler will remember most about Miller.
By LARRY VAUGHT
Some might consider it â€œweirdâ€ that Stevie Johnson has turned into the NFL star he has. He only played two years of high school football becauseÂ Angelo Rodriguez High School in Fairfield, Calif., didnâ€™t have a team until his junior year. He became an all-state player and went to Chabot Junior College in California before transferring to Kentucky. His first season at UKâ€ˆin 2006, he had 12 catches for 159 yards. However, his breakout game came in the Music City Bowl win over Clemson when he caught three passes for 67 yards. As a senior, he had 61 receptionsfor 1,052 yards and 13 touchdowns and became a star on a team that also had Andre Woodson, Keenan Burton,Â Jacob Tamme, Rafael Little, Wesley Woodyard and Dicky Lyons.
The Bills made him a seventh-round draft pick, but he didnâ€™t get his first scoring catch until week 15. He finished his rookie season with 10 receptions for 102 yards and two scores. The next year, though, he managed just two catches for 10 yards after battling a severe rib injury most of the year.
â€œI have come a long way in the last four years,â€ Johnson, a free agent, said. â€œI have seen it all in my four years. Iâ€ˆhave had ups and downs. When you flat line, it all comes down. Everything has been crazy the last two years especially, but that makes you appreciate the good times more. I am coming of age as a NFL player. Outside of football, I am going to always be the same. I will have fun and talk to everyone. Iâ€™ve had my celebrations and all that stuff (in the NFL). I will continue to have fun, but itâ€™s more business now. My name is known now. Now it is time to get to the next level. I want to play in the Pro Bowl, go to the Super Bowl.â€
He became a starter in 2010 and his breakout game came when he made eight catches for 158 yards and a score against Baltimore midway of the season. Two weeks later he had a career-high 11 catches for 145 yards against Chicago.
But he also had his cantankeous monents. He imitated a Minuteman firing a rifle and fell to the ground backwards pretending to be shot after scoring against New England and was fined $10,000. He had eight catches for 137 yards and three touchdowns against Cincinnati, but also poked fun at Cincinnati receivers Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco with a message he revealed on his T-shirt under his jersey and was fined another $5,000. He had two more controversial moments in 2011. The first came when he pretended to shoot his leg and then fly like a Jet and pretended to crash, imitating Jets receiver Plaxico Burress. The second penalty called on Johnson was in week 17 against the New England Patriots. Johnson lifted his jersey, revealing “Happy New Year” written on his undershirt. Coach Chan Gailey benched Johnson for the rest of the game.
â€œYou can learn from anything and I have been through a lot of things,â€ Johnson said. â€œPeople who know me know the things I did were not personal against anybody. You go through things and it will mold you. I feel like Iâ€ˆlisten and learn from everything. I listen to the good and the bad. If you listen to too much good, you never learn. If you take all the negative attention and mix it in with what you need to do, it shows you how to grow up, something we all have to do sometime. The NFL is going to be there forever. Iâ€ˆhave to change to last longer. I want to continue to be there and help people. Thereâ€™s a lot I can still do and a lot of people I can help.â€
Johnson knows heâ€™s already surprised many people, including UKâ€ˆfans who probably didnâ€™t think he might turn out to be the biggest NFL star off that 2007 team.
â€œI came to Kentucky out of junior college and nobody knew me,â€ he said. â€œI was not expect to shine. Keenan had been here since his freshman days and playing with big dogs like Glen Holt. He was established. Tamme was the man. Rafael was a star. They were all talented guys. I guess I was just blessed to be in a great spot. Itâ€™s all about where you end up. Those guys (from UK) are still probably better or at least equal in talent to me, but itâ€™s about where you end up. I was fortunate to end up in Buffalo and got to play. The coaches saw something in me and I got an opportunity. Itâ€™s a weird league. Thereâ€™s a lot of talent you never get to see because of the teamâ€™s style of play where a guy lands.â€
Where Johnson lands next year remains in doubt. He insists he would like to stay in Buffalo where quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick has signed a new deal. Buffalo could use the franchise tag on him to keep him, or let Johnson test the free agent market.
â€œI was already planning on making a change as far as the type of mentality I have on and off the field,â€ Johnson said. â€œI have put in time with my quarterback. I know my quarterback will be there for the long run. If I sing a long-term deal, Iâ€ˆcan do all I can to build up the organization. I am going to change and become a better player and person around the (team) facility.â€
He says the expected financial windfall wonâ€™t change his personality or hunger to star on the field.
â€œI am not going to relax because of the money,â€ Johnson said. â€œMy family will be good. The main thing is to take care of my family. I have a lot of couins, aunties, mom and dad. Iâ€ˆwant to make sure they are all taken care of and with the new contract that happens and then I can just focus on my craft and getting to a Super Bowl. The only change with the contract will be for the good.â€
The contract negotiations have not deterred him from one thing â€” following Kentucky sports.
â€œI try to keep up with as much Kentucky sports as I can. I try to watch the girls hoops team, and they are really good,â€ Johnson said. â€œI was at the basketball game (in Rupp). I saw the Mississippi State game on ESPN. I try to keep up with the football team. They beat Tennessee and nobody cared what happened the rest of the season. I try to do as much as I can to check out Kentucky all I can.â€ˆI love Kentucky, and thatâ€™s what made getting to go out there at Rupp Arena (Saturday) so cool. Iâ€ˆjust never thought Stevie Johnson would ever get to do that.â€
story courtesy UKAthletics.com
LEXINGTON, Ky. â€“ On Sunday, the University of Kentucky womenâ€™s basketball team won its first Southeastern Conference Championship since 1982. On Tuesday, the SEC coaches honored three Wildcats for their part in helping make that possible. Junior guard Aâ€™dia Mathies was named SEC Player of the Year, freshman guard Bria Goss was named SEC Freshman of the Year and senior guard Keyla Snowden was named SEC Co-6th Woman of the Year. Mathies was also named to the All-SEC first team and the SEC All-Defensive Team for the second consecutive season.
Mathies is UKâ€™s second SEC Player of the Year as voted by the league coaches, joining former Wildcat great Victoria Dunlap, who earned the honor in 2010. Goss is the second SEC Freshman of the Year in school history, joining Mathies on the elite list. Mathies was named the SEC Freshman of the Year in 2010. Overall, this marks the ninth consecutive season UK has had at least one player selected to the All-SEC teams, and the third consecutive season a freshman has been named to the All-Freshman team.
Mathies leads the Wildcats in scoring (15.3 points per game), 3-point field goals made (44), 3-point field goal percentage (.370) and steals (2.7 steals per game). The Louisville, Ky., native is second on the team in rebounds (5.3 rebounds per game) and assists (2.6 assists per game), and is tied for second in blocks (18).
Amongst her SEC peers, Mathies is second in the league in scoring, second in steals, third in 3-point field goal percentage, tied for eighth in 3-point field goals made and 11th in offensive rebounds. Mathies has reached double figures in scoring in every game but six this season, and has 10 games of 20 or more points. Her best game of the season came against Tennessee as she poured in a career-high 34 points and hit the game-winning basket with less than five seconds left to snap Tennesseeâ€™s 36-game SEC winning streak. Mathiesâ€™ 34 points were the most points scored by a Wildcat since 1987.
In addition to being named the SEC Freshman of the Year in 2010, Mathies was an All-SEC second team and SEC All-Defensive Team selection in 2011.
Goss becomes Kentuckyâ€™s second SEC Freshman of the Year in three years, while also being named to the All-Freshmen team. The Indianapolis native was second on the team in scoring and first in the SEC among freshmen, averaging 11.6 points per game. Goss was also a consistent scorer, reaching double figures in scoring in 21 of 29 games. The freshman star shot the ball well from beyond the arc, ranking ninth in the SEC in 3-point field goal percentage (.337), and also got to the foul line well, making 76 of her 105 free-throw attempts (.724), the seventh best clip in the league. A fearless defender, Goss also took a team-high 18 charges.
In the UK freshman record books, Goss is on pace to have the sixth highest scoring average and already has the fourth most double-figure scoring games. She is tied for the fifth most 3-pointers made.
One day after being named to the SEC Community Service Team, Snowden was named the SEC Co-6th Woman of the Year. Snowden shares the honor with Deana Allen of Florida. Snowden is the Wildcatsâ€™ third leading scorer with 8.9 points per game. The Lexington, Ky., native is 10th in the SEC in 3-point field goals made (43), and 11th in 3-point field goal percentage (.331). In SEC play, Snowden has been clutch from the foul line, making 34 of 40 attempts (.850), the second best mark in the SEC.
Together, the trio helped lead Kentucky to its first SEC regular season championship since 1982 behind a 24-5 record and program-best 13 wins in conference play. Kentucky defeated a program-record tying five ranked teams, including three top-10 teams.
Mathies, Goss, Snowden and the rest of the No.10/9 Kentucky Wildcats will play again Friday at 1 p.m. ET in the quarterfinals of the SEC Tournament. UK will play the winner of the first round matchup between Florida and Auburn. The Wildcats swept the regular season series against Florida this year, and defeated Auburn in their only matchup of the season.
First Team All-SEC
C’eira Ricketts, Arkansas
Jennifer George, Florida
Anne Marie Armstrong, Georgia
A’dia Mathies, Kentucky
LaSondra Barrett, LSU
Glory Johnson, Tennessee
Shekinna Stricklen, Tennessee
Christina Foggie, Vanderbilt
Second Team All-SEC
Sarah Watkins, Arkansas
Jasmine Hassell, Georgia
La’Keisha Sutton, South Carolina
Jasmine Lister, Vanderbilt
Tiffany Clarke, Vanderbilt
Ieasia Walker, South Carolina
Markeshia Grant, South Carolina
Valencia McFarland, Ole Miss
Diamber Johnson, Mississippi State
Calli Berna, Arkansas
Hasina Muhammad, Auburn
Erika Ford, Georgia
Bria Goss, Kentucky
Martha Alwal, Mississippi State
Aleighsa Welch, South Carolina
Ariel Massengale, Tennessee
Kady Schrann, Vanderbilt
Anne Marie Armstrong, Georgia
Porsha Porter, Mississippi State
Glory Johnson, Tennessee
A’dia Mathies, Kentucky
La’Keisha Sutton, South Carolina
Coach of the Year
Tom Collen, Arkansas
Player of the Year
Aâ€™dia Mathies, Kentucky
Freshman of the Year
Bria Goss, Kentucky
Defensive Player of the Year
Glory Johnson, Tennessee
6th Woman of the Year
Deana Allen, Florida
Keyla Snowden, Kentucky
Scholar-Athlete of the Year
Blanche Alverson, Auburn
By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky has won 20 straight games going into Thursdayâ€™s final regular-season home game with Georgia and freshman Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has seen several changes in UKâ€™s overall play.
â€œThere is a lot of swagger on the court now that I see. A lot of guys have a lot more confidence now than they did earlier in the season. We are working hard every day, and itâ€™s showing on the court,â€ said Kidd-Gilchrist. â€œWhen you have confidence and success, you get that swagger to have even more success.Â Besides itâ€™s almost March, so we have to all suck it up and play even better. This is not the time of year to get satisfied. So even though we have a swagger, we still have a hunger to win more.â€
Kidd-Gilchrist has added to that swagger by ranking among the top three in minutes played (31.2 per game), free throw percentage (74.8), rebounds (7.8), assists (62), blocks (31), steals (35) and points (349).
He insists postseason play will not impact the way he plays or approaches games, either.
â€œI donâ€™t ever get nervous, but I donâ€™t know about my teammates. Iâ€ˆjust know I donâ€™t ever get nervous,â€ he said.
â€œBecause I believe in my teammates. We work so hard that Iâ€ˆreally donâ€™t get nervous or have any reason to be nervous,â€ he said. â€œI know what we can do. Iâ€ˆthink it will be that way in March, too.â€ˆReally, I canâ€™t wait until March because this is one of my dreamsÂ to play in the tournament. I really canâ€™t wait.â€
Kidd-Gilchrist has been a major factor in what coach John Calipariâ€™s calls his teamâ€™s will to win and ability to overcome adversity to win.
â€œJust our will to win carries us in close game. I think it is the will to win we have now that keeps us going,â€ Kidd-Gilchrist said. â€œI donâ€™t think it is luck.â€ˆItâ€™s just heart, I think, and a whole bunch of confidence. Thatâ€™s how I think of it now when we find ways to win.â€
He admits that has changed since the season started.
â€œNo, we didnâ€™t start the season that way. It was already there but I donâ€™t know where it was at the beginning of the season. We just had to bring it out,â€ Kidd-Gilchrist said.
By LARRY VAUGHT
He had three game-winning touchdown catches his senior season at Kentucky, including one against Louisville. Heâ€™s had back-to-back 1,000-yard receiving seasons for the Buffalo Bills and now has 170 catches for 2,189 yards and 19 touchdowns in his NFL career.
Yet Stevie Johnson says getting a chance to go to midcourt at Rupp Arena Saturday during the UK-Vanderbilt game ranks among his â€œtop five best feelings by farâ€ and was something he never imagined possible.
â€œJust the whole flight back to Kentucky and going through the airport and seeing all the blue was great,â€ said Johnson. â€œIt was just crazy coming back. I got to the Campbellâ€ˆHouse, and that is where we stayed before all our home football games. It all came back to me. I was thinking back to me and Dicky (Lyons) fighting our room before games.
â€œThen being right there in the student section with all the students going crazy.â€ˆIt was amazing. Itâ€™s not completely like being there and going on the court showed that Iâ€ˆhad finally made it, but in a way it does mean I have made it big if I got on the Rupp Arena court. Itâ€™s a lot of work. People see games on Sunday and all the fun, but itâ€™s a lot of work and getting introduced to the crowd like that makes me legit.â€
Johnson said he had â€œno ideaâ€ he would be brought on the court. Actually, he didnâ€™t even plan to be part of the E-Rupp-tion Zone, either. Kentucky had provided his with tickets in the upper section of the lower arena, but coming into the game he ran into UKâ€ˆfootball coach Joker Phillips, his position coach when he was at Kentucky.
â€œI told himâ€ˆI wanted to sit in the student section.â€ˆHe pulled some string and got me in there,â€ Johnson said.
Johnson came to the game wearing a Demarcus Cousinsâ€™ Sacramento Kings jersey.
â€œIâ€ˆam from San Francisco but I bought a place in the Sacramento area. Iâ€ˆlike the Warriors, Kings, Clippers, Lakers,â€ Johnson said. â€œBut when Demarcus was drafted by the Kings, it was so sweet. We hung out a couple of times. Iâ€ˆwanted to show my support for him and Kentucky because he represents Kentucky in Sacramento. Why not wear a Boogie Cousinsâ€™ jersey?â€
Ironically, he has a Golden State Warriors tattoo.
â€œThatâ€™s one of my favorite tattoos, too,â€ Johnson said.
He found a familiar face in the student section, Vincent Swope.â€ˆHeâ€™s the student always wearing the referee shirt and is the one who hit the midcourt shot earlier this season that won him $10,000 from Kroger.
â€œWhen I was at Kentucky,â€ˆIâ€ˆhad this kid hit me up on the Internet. I am sociable and he told me he was a fan and liked how Iâ€ˆplayed,â€ Johnson said. â€œWe had a relationship. I ended up seeing him in the student section and was hanging with him and having a good time. Itâ€™s pretty weird that I ran into him of all people.â€
More coming later today with Johnson on the ups and downs of his NFL career, contract hopes and what lies ahead for him.
Scheduled for Friday and Saturday June 15-16 (Fatherâ€™s Day Weekend) the John Calipari Father & Son Camp offers a unique father & son bonding experience that only Kentucky Basketball can provide.Â This yearâ€™s father and son participants will be treated to instruction from the UK coaches, staff, along with current and former Wildcat players through detailed skill work and competitions in the best facilities in college basketball. Father and son teams will compete with fellow campers of appropriate age groups (based on sonâ€™s age/grade level) in competitions that incorporate skills learned throughout the camp. The skill work is designed to give both father and son drills and techniques to take home and continue working on together. This camp is open to all fathers and sons ages 6-17, regardless of previous basketball experience.
The Coach Calipari Overnight Basketball Camp is scheduled for June 17-20 (Sunday to Wednesday) and is open to boys ages 7-17. This camp offers four days of skills training, team games, individual competitions, and Division tournament. Campers will be pre-assigned to appropriate age/grade level divisions in which all skills work, competitions and games will take place.Â Skills work will be taught by UK coaches, staff and current and former Wildcat players. Each camper will be assigned a team within their respective age groups. Complete camp itineraries, gym schedules, and Day Camper drop off and pick up will be included in the confirmation email sent toÂ parents prior to the start of camp, and parents are encouraged to visit any of the gym sites to watch their children participate in camp activities.
A limited number of spots are available for all camps and are based on a first-come, first-serve basis, with online registration (http://www.ukathletics.com/
Both camps will be held on the University of Kentucky campus. Buses will be provided to transport campers to all of the basketball facilities. Full-time athletic trainers will be stationed at each site throughout the duration of the camp, along with UK basketball staff members in all dorms to accommodate any questions or concerns campers may have.
For more information, interested parties or registered campers can call 859.257.9457.
By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky freshman Anthony DavisÂ was named Southeastern â€ˆPlayer of the Week after averaging 20.5 points, 11 rebounds, 3.5 blocks and two steals in wins at Mississippi State and over Vanderbilt. Davis posted his 12th double-double at Mississippi State and then scored a career-high 28 points to go with 11 rebounds and five blocked shots against Vanderbilt. Davis hit 91 percent of his shots (10-for-11) against Vanderbilt, the highest single-game percentageÂ (minimum 10 attempts) for UK since the 1994-95 season.
Davis leads the nation in blocked shots with 138, including 71 in SEC play.
â€œI think he is definitely one of the best all-time. You start talking about Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain. I probably canâ€™t go back that far, but he is as good in the last 20-25 years as anybody out there,â€ Florida coach Billy Donovan said of Davisâ€™ shot blocking.
â€œThe thing very unique about him is that he is not 7-1, 7-2, but he is a quick jumper and has long arms. I think the thing that is very, very difficult with him is that there are times guys shoot balls or go to the basket or have jump shots, he has the ability to become a lot longer than he appears very quickly.
â€œAnthony is not a guy 7-1 and also not a guy 285 pounds. He can bea little bit unassuming physically. But he is a tough kid and has great timing and is very deceptive in how long he can be when he leaves the floor. And he is as good as Iâ€ˆhave seen at shot blocking in this league in a long time.â€
By LARRY VAUGHT
Two years ago Patrickâ€ˆPatterson played his final game in Rupp Arena for Kentucky and went through an emotional pregame ceremony with his parents, Tywanna and Buster. He was only a junior, but was set to graduate and knew he was going to the NBA, so Kentucky included him in the special ceremony.
At that time, Darius Miller was a sophomore. On Thursday, heâ€™ll go through his Senior Night with his parents, Brian and Nicole, and Tywanna Patterson and her husband will be there to celebrate with them.
Here are some thoughts Tywanna Patterson shared about her memories from that game two years ago.
Question: What do you remember most about Patrick’s Senior Day experience and how emotional was it for you?
Patterson: â€œI remember it well, especially how emotional it was for me being that it was Patrickâ€™s final home game. What made it even more special was that Patrick was graduating in May and the finality of it all made it even more emotional and special. It was great having our family there and Patrickâ€™s grandparents as well. It was also great getting to share it with the fans and other teammates and their families.â€
Question: How does that game rank among your Kentucky memories?
Patterson: It ranks very high among my Kentucky memories. It makes it even more special to win the game for us and for BBN. Some of the clips is also on www.youtube.com under The Patrick Patterson Story, so I can always see some of his Senior Night online!â€
Question: What do you think Thursday night will be like for Nicole and Brian Miller, Darius Millerâ€™s parents?
Patterson: â€œI think Thursday night will be very special and very emotional for Nicole and Brian Miller. It will be a happy occasion to be able to share it with their family, friends and the fans. BBN will enjoy being a part of it as well. I even sent them a copy of the wwwyoutube.com video clip from The Patrick Patterson Story on Nicoleâ€™s face book page reminding her of how we did it and they were also in the video.â€
Question: How proud are you of what Darius has done since Patrick was like a big brother to him?
Patterson: â€œBuster, Patrick and I are very proud of Darius and all that he has accomplished at Kentucky. I am especially proud and happy as a mom that he is getting his degree as well and that he has stayed in school all four years to obtain this. Education is very important and a great milestone. Not all athletes stay in school and finish their degree. I know Brian and Nicole will be beaming with pride and happiness. I look forward to being there and sharing in their happiness as they were there to share in ours.â€
Question: What advice would you have for the Millers about Senior Night and life after UK basketball?
Patterson: â€œEnjoy each and every moment of Senior Night. It is Darius and their family night to be acknowledged and to stand before BBN and be recognized and honored. I am getting emotional just thinking about it. I know I will cry just as I did with Patrick. There is still much to do after UK basketball. The sky is the limit. Darius will have his degree and the NBA is waiting as well. So many more opportunities and they can always come back for games at UK as Buster and I do. Once UK â€¦ always UK â€¦ the door remains open and we are here for them whenever they need us. WOW! Time has flown by, but lots of good memories. Go CATS and Go BBN!!