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Trying to pick top 10 UK basketball memories was no easy task

By LARRY VAUGHT

Recently former Kentucky basketball player Cameron Mills asked if I would consider writing a column about my 10 best memories from covering Kentucky basketball since 1975.

It turned out to be a much more difficult task than I envisioned because there were so many memories.

However, I finally got it down to 11 (no way I could have stopped at 10) and the story is now on his website if you would like to read it.

It may not be exactly what you expect but to me covering UK basketball has been more than scores and games. It’s been about the people I’ve had the privilege to meet along the way.

And huge thanks to another former Cat, Jon Hood, for his kind words today when I joined Johnny Pittman and him on the Cameron Mills Show on 1580AM.

Click here to read my column on Cameron’s website.

3 comments

  1. LindaS

    I would not have recognized you in some of the pictures…..you were a man of the times with that polyester. I really enjoyed it, maybe once a month you should pick a game from the past and go down memory land. I know I would enjoy it.

  2. KingGhidora

    Larry you named several of the same things that stand out to me also. First I’d like to point out that Mills was part of one of my best UK memories. He was a key factor in that 1998 title of course but after the season he went on a tour of area schools and my daughter got to meet him and hear his testimony which he clearly took very seriously. We were regulars in church ourselves and it made a big impression on my daughter that someone she saw on TV often was just as dedicated to serving God as we were. It made a big impression on a young girl and that made a big impression on me. I never saw Mills that day but my daughter gave me every detail. It was a great thing for him to do.

    I was almost a part of that 1978 team. It just wasn’t meant to be though. Still I knew Jack pretty well and we have some memories. He’s never forgot me and my brother which really seems strange to me. I lived in Holmes Hall and so did he and we spent more than a few nights in the rec. room. Jack always had a smile for everyone. But it was another guy who was on UK’s last freshman team that got Coach Hall to send people to watch me play when I tried out for the Holmes Hall intramural game. You might remember Gregg Gross. But I broke my leg that night. I did get to hear some words that still shock me to this day. A scouts said, “If your ankle is OK why don’t you show up for practice.” I thought it was a joke at first until Gregg convinced me it was legit. I’ll always have that moment even if my leg wasn’t OK and I didn’t get to play. Many things happened to keep me from giving it a try later on. But getting to see my friends win it all a few years later was off the charts special especially the way Jack played. I could go on about how my brother beat Jack playing one on one at one of the outdoor courts beside Holmes. It was a matter of my brother just playing smart and playing next to the edge of that court where there was a 18″ drop off just perfect for breaking a leg. That and a steel net just perfect for getting hands torn up on gave my brother the edge he needed. He could take risks. Jack would have been crazy to match him at it. That got my brother an invite to play on the team too. The crazy thing was that neither of us played basketball in high school. Football was our sport. We played in a pick up league though and we played an insane amount of games there. We knew thing or two about the game mainly because our dad taught us to play UK style basketball at an early age.

    I wish I could have gotten hooked up with someone with the character of Combs when i was an aspiring journalist. I was in my 4th year of studying to become a writer with an eye towards writing sports stories. I felt it would give me a chance to give the world some good news. But when I was taught by my professors that I had better get used to the idea of trying to bend the news to advance an agenda I decided I didn’t want to be a journalist after all. After 3 years of being taught about the integrity of certain publishers it was made clear to me that the sort of integrity I learned about was rare. I wanted no part of that. That’s a big reason I admire your work Larry. You make doing journalism right a viable thing. I do appreciate your work. I’d like ot have gotten a break like you did but I’m not bitter. I’ve had a fulfilling life of my own and finally got to work on my own terms in the journalism field. It didn’t last because my health gave out but I had it for a while. Just like my invitation to play at UK I have that memory.

    So many of the things your wrote match my experiences in a way. I grew up listening to Cawood and how he did things. He never had a bad word for anyone that he wasn’t 100% sure deserved it. Mostly he tried to build up the kids that play the sport whether they were Cats or competition. I know how people used to be obsessed with getting their monthly issue of Cat’s Pause too. My wife has worked at the Post Office many years and people got more excited about that magazine than people got excited about check day. Combs was very important to a lot of people and so were the other columns in his magazine.

    I could go on and on about UK memories. I guess I did come to think of it. But there is so much more that a single book couldn’t contain it. Rupp always talked about UK being a shining city on a hill. I still think that even though I’m not the wide eyed boy that kept track of every basket so I’d always know how many points Issel had. I actually go back to the Runts as far as knowing about UK but it really kicked in with Issel and that team. I remember how much it broke my heart to hear Casey had broken his leg. And when that team lost under dubious circumstances I was shaken up badly. I didn’t like what I saw. That’s been a common theme unfortunately. But not by UK. In spite of what the UK critics say UK is that shining city on the hill. The shut ins still hang on every play just as Rupp described. I know. I’m one of them now.

  3. Larry Vaught

    Great post King. I think you need to do some guest posts for the blog

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