“Nothing but joy” for Kyle Wiltjer despite not being drafted

Kyle Wiltjer and family celebrating NBA signing. (Twitter Photo)

Kyle Wiltjer and family celebrating NBA signing. (Twitter Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

One of the better stories from NBA Draft night to me was the way former Kentucky Wildcat Kyle Wiltjer handled not being drafted.

He transferred from UK to Gonzaga after his sophomore season but remains popular in the Bluegrass as shown by the way fans reacted to him last spring when he returned to Kentucky for two weeks.

And Wiltjer quickly signed a three-year contract with the Houston Rockets after the draft ended that will get him in the summer league and training camp. He could make the roster, end up in the developmental league or possibly play overseas.

Emmie Harris focuses on being good in whatever sport she is playing

HarrisVaught’s note: Sometimes in retirement I just miss writing about high school athletics, so today I have a feature on a special three-sport athlete from Boyle County who I think is being overlooked by Division I coaches in perhaps all three sports. Enjoy getting to know Boyle County senior Emmie Harris.

By LARRY VAUGHT

Emmie Harris really does not know what she considers her best sport or what sport she would like to play in college. But this much is clear — she’s a special athlete.

Kentucky NBA Draft notes

·         Kentucky has had 119 guys drafted 121 times (Johnny Cox ’58 and Roger Newman ’60 both drafted in Jr. eligible draft, but returned for senior year and were drafted again).
·         UK has had 42 players selected in the opening round (21 have come in the last seven years) of the draft.
·         Kentucky has had 28 players selected in the draft over the last seven years, more than double the next-closest school (Kansas).
·         Kentucky has had 11 players selected in the top 10, 14 in the top 15 and 21 in the first round of the draft in the last seven years.
·         The Wildcats have had at least one player taken in the top seven of the draft in seven consecutive seasons. Since the lottery began in 1985, only two teams have had more than one player taken in at least four consecutive drafts (Kentucky, 2010-16 and Kansas, 2012-15).
·         Calipari has had two or more players selected in nine consecutive NBA drafts dating back to 2008 with Memphis.
·         Calipari has had four players taken No. 1 overall in his career (Derrick Rose, John Wall, Anthony Davis and Karl-Anthony Towns). He’s the only coach in the history of the NBA to have three or more players selected No. 1 overall.
·         After never having a No. 1 draft pick in the history of its storied program prior to Calipari’s arrival, the Wildcats have had three selected in the last seven years (John Wall, 2010, Anthony Davis 2012, Karl-Anthony Towns 2015).
·         With Towns selected at No. 1 overall in 2015, Kentucky tied Duke for the most No. 1 overall picks in NBA history with three.
·         When Towns went No. 1 overall in 2015, Calipari claimed more No. 1 picks (4) than the entire Big 12 conference (3), Big East (2), American (2) and Pac 12 (1) since the beginning of the NBA Draft Lottery in 1985. Only the ACC (6) has more, while the Big 10 ties Calipari with four.
o   With LSU’s Ben Simmons drafted No. 1 in 2016, the SEC has had four of the last seven No. 1 selections. Five total players from the SEC have been drafted No. 1 overall. Simmons, the three UK players and NBA Hall of Famer and LSU alum Shaquille O’Neal.
·         In 24 seasons as a head coach, Calipari has coached 39 NBA Draft picks, including 27 first-round selections with 14 of those going in the top 10. He has had 28 selected in the last seven years as UK’s head coach, including 21 coming in the opening round.

Labissiere still believes he can be best player in this draft

Vicky Graff Photo

Vicky Graff Photo

Brooklyn, New York — Here is what Skal Labissiere had to say after being picked by Phoenix who had traded the pick to San Antonio where he’ll join three other former UK players.

THE MODERATOR: If you could start off with an opening statement, feelings about today, please.

SKAL LABISSIERE: You know, at first I was a little nervous, but after a while it was just — I was excited about the whole thing. I know that God has a plan for me and that I was going to fall into the right place, right team.

Barnhart, Calipari on passing of Herky Rupp Jr.

The following are statements from Kentucky men’s basketball head coach John Calipari and UK Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart on the passing of Adolph “Herky” Rupp Jr. Herky Rupp was the son of legendary UK head coach Adolph Rupp. Herky Rupp, who died Wednesday at the age of 75, scored 11 points in 14 career games from 1959 to 1962.  

“Herky was a great supporter of not only our basketball program, but myself and my family. I loved being in his company. Herky always had great stories to tell and he would always set the record straight. He was immensely proud and honored that his father was one of the great coaches of all time. He’ll be missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with Herky’s family.” – John Calipari

Thon Maker big surprise going No. 10 in draft

Thon Maker (Larry Vaught/Verizon Photo)

Thon Maker (Larry Vaught/Verizon Photo)

Brooklyn, New York — One of the major surprises in Thursday night’s NBA draft was that Thon Maker was picked 10th. He’s a former teammate of Jamal Murray and played in Kentucky at Marshall County, McCracken County and Lexington the last two seasons in front of many UK fans who thought he might play college basketball at UK. Instead, he went straight to the NBA. Here’s what he had to say after being picked by Milwaukee.

THE MODERATOR: Thon, if you would start out with an opening statement about what you’ll bring to the Bucks, please.

Jamal Murray: “I always believe I am the best player”

Jamal Murray admits he sometimes takes shots he believes he can make that UK coaches don't consider good shots. (Vicky Graff Photo)

Jamal Murray. (Vicky Graff Photo)

BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Here is what Kentucky’s Jamal Murray had to say after being picked seventh by Denver at the NBA Draft here Thursday night.

THE MODERATOR: Jamal, start with an opening statement about what you’ll bring to Denver.

JAMAL MURRAY: A great attitude, and I’m very excited. So much to give to this game, just blessed to be in the NBA and helping this team in any way I can, and I know this team really wants me, so I’ll be delivering the most to them.

Pre-draft worries come true, Ulis drops to 34th pick

Tyler Ulis. (Vicky Graff Photo)

Tyler Ulis. (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

Point guard Tyler Ulis was mentioned as a potential lottery pick a few weeks ago. Then rumors surfaced that the former Kentucky point guard had a hip injury that had never been mentioned during his two years at Kentucky.

Finally, Kentucky coach John Calipari said during several ESPN appearances Thursday that he worried Ulis’ weight — less than 150 pounds — was costing him in the NBA draft and could force him to fall out of the first round.

Chip McDaniel Named Third-Team PING All-America

-1LEXINGTON, Ky. – Sophomore Tyler “Chip” McDaniel capped one of the most prolific single-season performances by a Kentucky golfer by helping lead his team to a 13th place finish at the NCAA Championships in May. Thursday he added PING Third-Team All-America honors by the Golf Coaches Association of America to his postseason honors.

He is just the second UK player to earn either first, second or third All-America distinction in the Brian Craig era. UK Athletics Hall of Famer, J.B. Holmes, claimed first-team honors in 2004, was a second-team member in 2005 and a third-team selection in 2002.

Janee Thompson Signs to Play Overseas for SV Halle Lions

Janee Thompson hugged coach Matthew Mitchell after a NCAA win. (Vicky Graff Photo)

Janee Thompson hugged coach Matthew Mitchell after a NCAA win. (Vicky Graff Photo)

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Former University of Kentucky guard Janee Thompson will start her professional basketball career overseas as she has signed with the Basketball SV Halle Lions in Germany, it was announced recently.

“I look forward to playing for my new team as I start my transition from college to professional basketball and begin to lay the foundation for my career,” Thompson said in a release by the club.

The native of Chicago, played in 119 games with 82 starts during her four-year career at Kentucky, averaging 8.6 points, 2.9 assists and 1.0 steals per game.

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