Most Recent Posts
- Video: UK softball coach Rachel Lawson previews the Super Regional clash against Arizona State
- ESPN.com’s Jason King seems to have logical rankings going into next season
- Mark Stoops on John Calipari: “I love being around him”
- UK football coach Mark Stoops understands that hiring Vince Marrow was a home run for Kentucky
- Video: Larry hears cowbells, makes a chocolate cow and soaks up the culture in Switzerland
- Video: UK offensive coordinator Neal Brown talks about recruiting the home state of Kentucky
- What role did Drew Barker’s mother play in his athletic development?
- Calipari will be keynote speaker at Iba Awards June 3 in Tulsa
By LARRY VAUGHT
Could Julius Randle be even better than many Kentucky fans believe? Could he even be a better player his freshman season than the more highly-touted Andrew Wiggins?
“Randle is terrific,” said Mike DeCourcy of the Sporting News. “He will be a load if he gets the ball in dangerous spots.”
That means if incoming UK point guard Andrew Harrison delivers the ball to Randle the way Marquis Teague did to Anthony Davis two years ago, Randle could shine.
“If Randle gets the ball in the right spots, he can score off the bounce, go to either hand, overpower guys. He is so freaking quick, too. You have to see him to appreciate how strong and quick he really is,” DeCourcy said.
DeCourcy still remembers the transition Randle made from his sophomore to junior seasons — he was hurt most of his senior year.
“As a sophomore, I thought he was a big, strong kid who wasn’t athletic,” DeCourcy said. “Then the next year I saw him and he was just unbelievable. He is a great athlete, too. He’s really got a chance to be special.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
Has John Calipari ever had a team as deep as the one he’ll have next season? Here’s what the coach said.
Calipair: “Well, we’re not deep at every position, but we’ve got a lot of good players, and just figuring out who’s who. But what I like is there’s going to be competition. Some guys are going to play. Some guys are not going to play. Who? No one’s been promised anything. That’s just how it is. They’re going to have to compete with each other. And you’re not going to play 13 guys. We all know that. Probably going to play eight or nine guys. Well, what does that mean? Well, let’s do the math. If we play eight or nine, that means four or five aren’t playing much. Well, who are those four or five? Well, it’ll be decided when we’re playing basketball.
“Will we play different? Absolutely. We’ll press more. We’ll foul more. Because that’s the way the game’s going. Now they’re saying all this stuff about the charge/block and, ‘We’re not going to let the fouling go.’ Do you really believe that? You watch the games. The more you foul, the more you shoot free throws. I don’t understand how that works. So we’re going to press and play more physical and bump and grind, and we’ll put our arms up in the air and we’ll hip-check guys. That’s how we’re going to play. Now we have numbers. Again, my philosophy had always been six fouls – that’s all you want to have in a half, because you don’t want them to shoot one-and-ones; we’re not playing to foul. But now we have numbers. We’ll play more toward our team, how this team needs to play.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
His football coach is not really sure what is his best sport or even what he does best on the football field. All Caldwell County football coach Davis Barnes knows is that sophomore Elijah Sindelar is special whether it’s football or baseball.
“I really don’t know what his best sport is,” said Barnes of the 6-4, 210-pound Sindelar. “This year he did not play basketball, but he’s good there, too. He’s just a gifted athlete. He excels in all three sports. In baseball, he pitches and plays either third base or first base.”
On the football field, Sindelar — who runs the 40-yard dash in 4.7 seconds — plays quarterback. He threw for 2,961 yards and 32 scores by completing 203 of 327 passes last year and ran for 447 yards and seven scores on 65 carries. In the Class AA state title game loss to Newport Central Catholic, he was 21 of 29 passing for 258 yards and two scores and rushed 14 times for 54 yards and a touchdown.
“He improved so much as a sophomore just by being able to see the field better and understanding coverages,” Barnes said. “He developed a knack for picking up and reading defenses. He ran the ball a little bit more this past year, but his pocket awareness was better. He had a good year as a freshman, but just having a year in this offense helped him tremendously.”
He’s been getting what Barnes calls “quite a bit of attention” from college recruiters, including those at Kentucky and Louisville. Murray and Austin Peay have expressed serious interest, too. Of course, he might get even more attention in baseball. Several pro baseball scouts says there is no reason to doubt his draft potential
“I think he’s going to get a lot of looks in football. He had a really good state championship game and a lot of coaches saw him play in that game,” Barnes said. “I think next year, he’ll get quite a few offers. I have really not talked to him about the baseball part. I have sat down with his parents and talked about the football part. They just want what is best for Elijah. They are very open about his future. I think his junior year in baseball will be big.”
Some think his junior football season could be just as big. As good as Patrick Towles of Highlands and Drew Barker of Conner have been in recent years, some veteran high school football analysts believe Sindelar could be the top quarterback the state has produced in 20 years or more.
“There are a lot of good quarterbacks who throw the ball around,” Barnes said. “A lot of people are talking about him. He does throw a nice deep ball with good touch. He’s special, but we’ll see how special.”
Barnes also says he is a “great kid” with a perfect 4.0 grade-point average.
“He’s a student leader with a great and supportive family,” Barnes said. “He’s a young man who knows right from wrong and does things the right way. He’s very coachable, but still has that certain attitude the great athletes have. He can do things on the field you can’t coach. I have a weightlifting class at 6:30 (a.m.), and he’s in that class. He gets his lifting in each morning and that helps him tremendously. But that’s the kind of kid he is.”
Barnes isn’t sure of Sindelar’s summer plans because he plays on a traveling baseball team. He thinks he might opt to attend several one-day junior camps.
“I know probably UK will be one and Louisville probably will be one of them. After that, I don’t know. But he has a lot of options,” Barnes said.
By LARRY VAUGHT
Now that you have had time to share Mother’s Day with your mom — or remember her in your prayers if she’s no longer with us — how about sharing the best Kentucky memory/experience you have had with your mother.
It would be anything from attending a game together to watching the Cats play on TV to naming a child or pet for a particular UK player.
No right or wrong answers here, just a way for us all to enjoy a little bit of what Mother’s Day is all about.
LEXINGTON, Ky. – University of Kentucky Athletics presented 24 honors at the 11th annual CATSPY Awards, held Monday at Memorial Coliseum to recognize athletic and academic performance during the 2012-13 year. With co-winners in some categories, a total of four teams and 18 individuals were recognized.
Gymnastics and Rifle were named Team of the Year for their achievements. The gymnastics team posted the program’s highest-ever NCAA Regional team score with a 195.575. Competing in the nation’s top gymnastics conference, Kentucky finished the Southeastern Conference schedule with three wins, the most in school history, highlighted by a home-opening victory over then-No. 9 Arkansas. UK also beat then-No. 13 Auburn twice, and tied then-No. 6 Georgia at home. The rifle team posted its second consecutive national runner-up finish, while claiming a Great America Rifle Conference regular season championship and a second-place finish at the GARC Championships. The season also included a record-setting win over Army, a match in which Kentucky broke the program records for total aggregate score, aggregate smallbore, individual aggregate score and individual smallbore.
The Mr. and Miss Wildcat Awards are given for all-around excellence in athletics, academics, character and service. Luis Orta (cross country/track) won the Mr. Wildcat award for the second consecutive year, while Chelsea Oswald (cross country/track), won the Miss Wildcat award.
The Female Athlete of the Year was awarded to Cally Macumber, who finished sixth at NCAA Cross Country Nationals, fewer than 15 seconds behind the race winner. She became just the ninth woman to be named All-American in program history. She also became the first woman in UK history to record a sub-20 minute 6K with her performance at Nationals. Macumber was the highest NCAA finisher for the Wildcat women since Valerie McGovern was the national runner-up in 1989.
The Male Athlete of the Year was awarded to Greg Ferrucci, who had garnered multiple SEC Diver of the Week honors as well as being named SEC All-Second Team. After claiming both the 1-meter and 3-meter springboard titles at the Zone C Diving Championships, Ferrucci finished off the most impressive season in Kentucky diving history with nine individual event victories on the year.
The Academic Teams of the Year were men’s cross country and women’s tennis. The Scholar-Athletes of the Year were Ashley Frazier (volleyball) and Jon Keltner (swimming).
A complete list of awards is below:
Kastine Evans (Women’s Basketball)
Luis Orta (Men’s Cross Country/Track)
Community Service Award
Megan Moir (Women’s Golf)
Natalie Horner (Women’s Soccer)
Female Scholar Athlete of the Year
Ashley Frazier (Volleyball)
Male Scholar Athlete of the Year
Jon Keltner (Swimming)
Female Academic Team of the Year
Male Academic Team of the Year
Female Rookie of the Year
Nadia Ravita (Tennis)
Male Rookie of the Year
Connor Davis (Rifle)
Female Performance of the Year
Cally Macumber (Cross Country/Track)
Male Performance of the Year
Greg Ferrucci (Diving)
Shannon Mitchell (Gymnastics)
Bill Keightley “Assist” Award
Brian Wiese (Athletic Training)
Blue Heart Award
Arin Gilliland (Women’s Soccer)
Lifetime Achievement Award
Coach(es) of the Year
Tim Garrison (Gymnastics)
Gary Henderson (Baseball)
Harry Mullins (Rifle)
K-Association Female Athlete of the Year
Cally Macumber (Cross Country/Track)
K-Association Male Athlete of the Year
Greg Ferrucci (Diving)
Teams of the Year
Chelsea Oswald (Cross Country Track)
Luis Orta (Men’s Cross Country/Track)
Dominique Hawkins, Dakari Johnson and Julius Randle have officially signed to play basketball at the University of Kentucky beginning in the 2013-14 season, head coach John Calipari announced Thursday. The trio joins fall signees Aaron Harrison, Andrew Harrison, Marcus Lee, Derek Willis and James Young to form the consensus top-ranked class in the nation.
“The thing I like most about this group is its competitive spirit and its will to win,” Calipari said. “These guys are All-Americans and award winners, but more importantly they’re world champions, national champions and state champions. They know what it takes to win. The size and talent of the group will allow us to have tough, hard-nosed practices which will carry over to the games. I’m excited for the opportunity to coach this group.”
Hawkins is an in-state player who hails from Richmond, Ky. The guard was named the 2013 Kentucky Mr. Basketball and is the 17th player in UK history to claim the honor. He directed Madison Central to the state championship and captured most valuable player honors after averaging 20.4 points, 5.6 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.8 steals per game throughout the Kentucky Boys Sweet Sixteen. Hawkins is rated as the No. 44 point guard by 247 Sports. Rivals and Scout rank him as a three-star player.
He joins Derek Willis as the two state-of-Kentucky signees. Both will take part in the Derby Festival Classic Friday.
“I kept hearing about Dominique from Marquis Estill and my good friend Dr. Robert Palmer,” Calipari said. “When I watched him play, lead his team, and play with a will to win and fight, I was totally sold. At the Sweet Sixteen, he made sure he got his teammates involved and was always happy with their success, but when it was time to take over the game – when it was winning time – everyone in the building knew they were going to play through Dominique, which they did, and they won. The last player who was named Kentucky Mr. Basketball and won a state title in the same year was Darius Miller. He went to two Final Fours, won a national title and is now playing in the NBA. My hope is Dominique will be on the same path.”
Johnson is a 6-foot-10 center from Brooklyn, N.Y. He played his senior season at Montverde Academy in Montverde, Fla. Johnson is rated as the No. 11 overall player by ESPN and the top player at his position. Rivals ranks him as the No. 9 overall player and Scout lists him at No. 18. Johnson led his high school squad to a national championship at the National High School Invitational where he claimed MVP honors after logging 18 points and eight rebounds.
Johnson was a McDonald’s All-American as well as a Jordan Brand Classic selection. He notched 12 points and five rebounds in the McDonald’s game, while pouring in eight points and snagging four rebounds at the Jordan Classic. In addition to his high school accolades, Johnson suited up for Team USA Basketball’s U17 squad in the summer of 2012 where he averaged 20 points and five boards a game for the world champions.
“Dakari’s improvement over the last year and a half has been phenomenal,” Calipari said. “His ability to be a true low-post threat adds an important piece to what our team will really need. He’s patient when he gets the ball on the block and has a great understanding for how to use his size for a kid his age. Dakari is a great student and a great kid. He’s won a high school championship, a world championship with Team USA, and he said he wants to win a national championship with us and an NBA championship. That statement says a lot about the type of winner he is.”
Randle is a 6-9 forward from Plano, Texas. He helped lead Prestonwood Christian Academy to three state titles including one his freshman year and back-to-back titles in junior and senior seasons. The nation’s consensus top power forward is ranked the No. 2 overall player by Rivals, the No. 3 overall player by ESPN and the No. 5 overall player by Scout.
The McDonald’s All-America selection posted 11 points and seven rebounds in the annual all-star game last week. He earned co-MVP honors of the Jordan Brand Classic game with 19 points and seven rebounds. Randle played in the FIBA tournament with Team USA’s U18 squad where he averaged 14.2 points and 6.6 rebounds per game. In his final three high school contests he poured in 34 or more points and 15 or more rebounds in each contest.
“Julius is another hard-working player who is a great student and person along with being a dominator on the court,” Calipari said. “He has that will to win that the players I’ve had who have become special have all had. That motor will be important to our success next year. Julius has the skill set to be an inside-outside guy for us. He has the ability to put it on the floor and beat guys off the dribble, but he’s also got the toughness, size and ability to score against bigger defenders. At the end of the day, he’s a true leader whose personal drive is off the charts.”
The class of 2013 joins returning players Willie Cauley-Stein, Alex Poythress and Kyle Wiltjer who combined for 949 points, 40 percent of UK’s offensive output in 2012-13. The trio also accounted for 515 rebounds or the equivalent to 41 percent of the team’s total rebounds.
The spring signing period runs from April 17 through May 15.
By LARRY VAUGHT
His twin brother, Andrew Harrison, is regarded as the nation’s best prep point guard and is already projected as a high pick in the 2014 lottery even though he won’t play his first game at Kentucky until November.
Yet it was his brother, 6-5 shooting guard Aaron Harrison, who was named the top boys basketball player in Houston for his play this season. Aaron Harrison, who has also signed with UK, averaged 23.1 points, 5.2 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.0 blocks to help Travis High School win the Class 5A state championship. He had seven games with at least 30 points.
Last year’s award winner, Rasheed Sulaimon, 11.6 points per game this season at UK and started all but three games for a team that reached the Elite Eight.
Aaron Harrison could make the same impact at Kentucky because he’s also rated as the nation’s best shooting guard by ESPN.com and Rivals.com and is a prolific 3-point shooter. Both Harrisons played in the McDonald’s All-American Game last week and will be in the Jordan Brand Classic Saturday in Brooklyn.
“Winning state this year meant everything to me. Of course, it is great going to college and playing, but that is winning a state championship with the friends you grew up with in the neighborhood. That was an amazing feeling,” Aaron Harrison said. “In the preseason we were ranked pretty high but we took some losses and people counted us out after that. We all knew what we could do and could win if we kept our heads down and kept moving. That is why it meant so much.”
He knows expectations at Kentucky already are that the Wildcats will win the national title despite having a roster with perhaps eight or more freshmen.
“We like all of it. Great players thrive in great moments. We want everybody to be out there. Just wait and see,” Aaron Harrison said. “Last year I really don’t think they had a leader on the team and I feel like we need to establish a leader on the team. Guys that are going to push everybody, guys that will be ready to make sure everyone is practicing and playing hard all the time. I think they lacked that last year.
“Definitely me and Andrew are used to being leaders on the team because of high school and AAU teams. If that is a role we take, we’ll take it and gladly run with it. We won’t be afraid of that role.”
That relentless attitude is what Kentucky coach John Calipari may like best about the Harrisons. They respect opponents, but fear no one and that attitude goes from practice to games.
“The goal is to win a national championship,” Aaron Harrison said. “It’s not to be 40-0. It’s to win our last game. That is what our goal is. It would be nice to go 40-0, but that is not our overall goal. The expectation of all six (UK recruits playing in the McDonald’s and Jordan games) is that we love to win. We think we are a great team. Just want to go out there and prove it to everybody.”
He’s not worried about UK fans being more demanding because this year’s team lost in the NIT’s first round or that Louisville won the national title.
“We kind of like the pressure, so it is not pressure. It is more of a chip on our shoulders that we would just like to get off and go out and play hard. It is really a learning situation that we can’t take anything for granted,” he said. “We all have the confidence we can do it. We just have to go out there and prove it to everybody else. We know we can get it done if we work hard. It is not about words. It is about what you do out there on the court.”
Vaught’s note: Kentucky fan Todd Keelin took his Little League baseball team to watch UK play Georgia Saturday. I asked him to share that experience. Enjoy the comments and photos.
By TOOD KEELIN
I would also like to tell you about the wonderful experience our boys and their families had. Our team is from Ashland, . We are the Ashland American Little League Yankees. Our boys are ages 9 to 12 years old. We were not the only team from our Little League in attendance as we were joined by the White Sox and their coaches and families as well.
From start to finish our experience was wonderful. After making the two hour trip from Ashland we met with the event staff to obtain our tickets and passes. The event staff was very nice and helpful and went out of their way to take care of our group. The coaches and teams were then escorted down to the field to watch the Cats warm up and take infield practice.
The players and coaches would come over and interact with the boys and even gave them baseballs. When it came time for the National Anthem, the boys were taken on the field and got to stand with the team during the playing of the National Anthem. As if that wasn’t enough, the entire UK team began to huddle around our boys to where you could not even see them and they began to jump up and down getting pumped for the game and then let out a big Go Cats!!! The boys loved it.
We then went back to our seats and enjoyed the game. After the game ended we took our team down to where the UK players exit the field. The players were so nice to our boys. They took time to sign autographs and take pictures even though they were visiting with friends and family. All in all it was a great day and a day these boys will never forget.
The professionalism that the UK staff, coaches, and players showed was phenomenal. It speaks very well to the job well done by Mitch Barnhart and the people he has put in place to run the sports programs. I can’t say enough about the wonderful time that we all had.
Winners of its first two Southeastern Conference series tests of 2013, No. 8 Kentucky will host Georgia in a three-game set, starting on Friday at 6:30 p.m. ET at Cliff Hagan Stadium. The series will resume on Saturday at 2 p.m. ET and conclude on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
All three games will be broadcast live on the UK IMG Radio Network, with Dick Gabriel voicing the action. Fans in Central Kentucky can hear the games on Friday and Sunday live on WLAP 630-AM and on Saturday on WWTF 1580-AM. All three games are also available in Louisville on WKJK 1080-AM and online at UKathletics.com.
Kentucky (19-5, 4-2 SEC) is coming off a pair of SEC series wins to open the year, claiming two games at Florida and picking up the series win over No. 14 Mississippi State last weekend. The Wildcats have now won nine of their last 12 SEC weekends, dating back to 2012. Last week, UK dropped the series opener after three errors in the sixth erased a lead and led to an 8-4 MSU win. UK swept a pair of one-run games in a doubleheader on Saturday, claiming the first game 3-2 and getting a walk-off single in the ninth in the finale, 4-3.
The Wildcats will send the weekend rotation of sophomore southpaw A.J. Reed (2-3, 2.94 ERA) on Friday, senior lefty Jerad Grundy (5-1, 1.99 ERA) on Saturday and junior left-hander Corey Littrell (3-0, 2.56 ERA) on Sunday. Georgia will counter with freshman righty Sean McLaughlin (3-2, 2.81 ERA) on Friday, junior southpaw Patrick Boling (1-3, 3.93 ERA) on Saturday and senior right-hander Bryan Benzor (1-1, 5.57 ERA) on Sunday.
WASHINGTON (AP) — John Wall finished Washington’s last game on the bench after getting two technical fouls. He stuck around for the finish of his best NBA performance Monday, scoring 17 of his career-high 47 points in the fourth quarter as the undermanned Wizards beat the Memphis Grizzlies, 107-94.
“I was just in a zone. I made my first couple of shots and I knew I was in a great rhythm. Ten points in the first quarter, I knew I had it going,” Wall said after posting the third-highest point total in the NBA this season.
Wall, who added eight assists and seven rebounds, shot 13 of 22 from the field and made a career-high 19 free throws on 24 attempts.
“That was an incredible performance for him. We jumped on it and he carried us. It felt to me that it was all under control. All within our offense. All within what we were doing,” Wizards coach Randy Wittman said.
Emeka Okafor added 21 points and nine rebounds for a Washington team that was without five members of its rotation.
The Wizards (26-44) are 21-16 since Wall returned from a left knee injury.
“When somebody has it going like that, there’s really nothing you can do. You just put a hand up and hope that he misses,” Memphis’ Mike Conley said. “He had one of those nights where he was feeling it. We threw everything we had at him and he made the plays.”
With just over four minutes to go, Wall hit a jumper as the shot clock expired to make it 94-83. The lead grew to 13, but Memphis rallied and twice got within four in the final minutes before the Wizards scored the final nine points.
It was a much different ending than Saturday’s loss, when Wall was ejected in the third quarter against Golden State.
“I feel like I really let the team down,” Wall said. “I already had one technical and you’ve got to be smarter than that. We still had a chance to win that game. Right now, we’re just trying to salvage the games we can win and finish the season strong, so I knew tonight I had to step up big.”
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Even Brian Roberts couldn’t believe the performance he delivered to help end Denver’s 15-game winning streak. Starting for only the second time, the rookie doubled his season high with 18 assists, and the short-handed New Orleans Hornets beat the Nuggets 110-86 on Monday night.
Anderson was 5 of 11 on 3-pointers, and the Hornets sank 14-of-25 3s overall. Darius Miller, starting in place of injured shooting guard Eric Gordon, was 4 of 5 behind the arc and had 16 points as seven Hornets scored in double figures.
New Orleans won its third in a row and was in control all the way. The Hornets led by nine at the end of the first quarter, by 21 at the half and by 18 entering the fourth.
Roberts, who added 13 points for his first double-double, and Miller, who was 6 of 7 from the floor, excelled in their absence.
“A lot of times this year we’ve let teams come back after we got ahead of them,” Darius Miller said. “We didn’t want to do that tonight. They went on a great run and had us on our heels a little bit, but we bounced back.”