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By LARRY VAUGHT

With speculation swirling about who will or will not be back on the Kentucky basketball team next year, ESPN’s Andy Katz recently projected what John Calipari’s 2013-14 roster would be.

“If everyone returns and no one else arrives (see: Andrew Wiggins), then Kentucky is set at 13 (scholarships). There are six returning players on scholarship in Nerlens Noel, Archie Goodwin, Alex Poythress, Ryan Harrow, Willie Cauley-Stein and Kyle Wiltjer. There are seven incoming freshmen — five are signed in Andrew and Aaron Harrison, James Young, Marcus Lee and Derek Willis — and two are committed in Julius Randle and Dakari Johnson,” Katz wrote on ESPN.com.

“The odds of Noel returning are slim, even with the torn ACL, freeing up at least one scholarship. There is always the chance someone else will transfer or decide to declare for the draft even with the prospects of making a team slim. This could actually work out for the Wildcats if the returning players accept roles and become mentors to the star-studded freshmen as rotation players in a year.”

All that goes along with what Archie Goodwin, Alex Poythress and Willie Cauley-Stein said about returning to UK for their sophomore seasons after the Cats lost to Robert Morris in the NIT.

But what about juniors Jon Hood and Jarrod Polson?

Polson came to UK as a walk-on player from West Jessamine. He’s been on scholarship the last two seasons, but even though he’s on track to graduate I don’t think he would have a problem going back to walk-on status to continue to be a part of the team.

Hood? That’s different. He came to UK on scholarship. He’s played in 73 games in three seasons — he was injured during UK’s national title season and redshirted — but has scored just 80 points and grabbed 62 rebounds in his limited playing time. By comparison, Polson had 101 points and 55 rebounds this season.

Still, would UK really yank Hood’s scholarship — every scholarship is technically renewable after one year — just to create roster space?

When a UK fan questioned Katz on Twitter about Hood not being a scholarship player, his reply was, “Reporting what UK says for ’13-14.”

Normally when Katz talks Big Blue, it’s golden because his information likely is coming straight from Calipari. However, this time UK says his information is not accurate.

“We have not announced any roster decisions for next season. Only discussed this year’s roster. Told him Polson and Hood are on track to graduate and neither has made a decision going forward or has it even been discussed with the staff,” said UK executive assistant athletics director DeWayne Peevy when asked about Hood’s status based on what Katz reported.

Hood likely will not play much next season with the recruiting class Calipari is bringing in. He may opt to transfer to another school where he could have a chance to play more since he’ll have his degree and could do that like Julius Mays did this season when he came to UK from Wright State as a fifth-year player and was eligible immediately. Maybe he would agree to stay on the UK roster as a walk-on in hopes of getting another national championship ring.

But here’s hoping he’s not cut. Calipari has done few things wrong since his arrival at UK, and he knows Hood is a fan favorite because he’s an in-state player who grew up loving the Wildcats. He’s always said all the right things during his playing time at UK and done everything right off the court. He was Kentucky’s Mr. Basketball in 2009 and was ranked as the nation’s 40th best high school player that year by Rivals.com. He picked UK over Mississippi, Tennessee and Georgia.

Going through Senior Day at UK will be a huge deal to him, and it seems like he’s earned the right to get to do that and be part of the team for one more year if that’s what he wants to do. Calipari talks about running a players’ first program and being the gold standard for college basketball. If that’s right, then Hood deserves to have a chance to be part of the 2013-14 team even if he’s not a future NBA star because a players’ first program does what is fair and best for players.

20 Responses to Despite Katz report, UK says Hood and Polson have not made decisions about next year

  • Jim Boyers says:

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY LARRY !!!!!

    Thanks for all you do and all you mean to BBN.

  • TheProfessor says:

    http://bigbluefans4uk.com/2012-13DataandWritings/2012-13ROSTER_RECRUITING.htm

    A good time to look forward to the roster for 2013-14. Use the link above for a full presentation, and the following link for the table only.

    http://bigbluefans4uk.com/2012-13DataandWritings/Current_And_Projected_Roster_2012_13.jpg

    If no one leave, including Nerlens, the roster is full, but Jarrod will have to give up his scholarship. If only Nerlens leaves, Jarrod can keep his scholarship, and the roster is full.

    To add 1 or 2 more, 1 or 2 more current players must leave. That could be Willie, Ryan, Kyle, Jon, or Jarrod. Jarrod has said that if his scholarship is needed, he will step aside, and move on to the next phase of his life, and his future. Jon Hood has said he plans to return for his senior season, and I believe him. I believe he wants to have the experience of his senior day, and he deserves no less from this program. We will know soon enough about Willie’s decision, as well as Nerlens’ decision (*which I believe has already been made).

  • P90XDude says:

    Happy Birthday Larry – I don’t want to know how many but I can guess.

    Andy Katz was just expressing his opinion.

    • larryvaught says:

      Except he said that is what he was told by UK (meaning Calipari) and now UK is saying that is not what he was told

  • Juan4UK says:

    Happy Birthday Larry!

  • Love SEC F-Ball says:

    Larry is right – Katz is usually quoting from the source.
    Looks like he messed up this time.

  • trublususu says:

    I agree with the last 2 paragraphs of your article. It would be a crime if Polson, and especially Hood, don’t get to return next yr. to go through senior day, etc. Both are KY kids and their desires should definitely be considered. “Players first.”

  • Rod says:

    Happy bday Larry. Love hoodie n polson. Great job on Tom leach show as usual.

  • Karen Sprinkle says:

    I would be a bit disappointed if Polson and Hood do not get to participate in Senior Day ceremonies next season. It seems to me that both young men have earned that right. I truly think that both these young men could provide leadership for our young team (whether or not it includes our current freshmen or not) next year both on and off the court.

  • Scott says:

    I read an interesting take on Noel’s situation yesterday from the NBA perspective (wish I could remember where and attribute it, but those are the perils of aging). For a bad team with a long-term outlook, drafting Noel will be like getting two lottery picks. Because he’ll be out (or at the very least extremely limited) next season, he won’t be able to help lift your team out of the lottery. Then you get another high pick and start the following season with two high-level rookies to build around.

  • Pacman says:

    Why is everyone giving Ryan Harrow a pass to keep his scholarship. My feeling is once you are a scholarship player (even Polson and Hood), then you are always a scholarship player. They are 1 year renewable and as such you should have to re-earn them each year by your play (and effort) . Polson and Hood earned theirs last season. Some of the other players did not. Don’t take advantage of Polson and Hood being KY guys so you expect that they will sacrifice for the “good ol’ Blue and White”. Make Harrow and one of the other players be walk-ons for a year and if they don’t like it they can transfer. Cal doesnt play more than 8 or 9 (at the most) players during a season so if you are below that line (ie Harrow) you wont be getting on the floor anyway. UK needs some Senior players next year and Polson and Hood should be them. Just my two cents.

  • anthony says:

    UK will have plenty of scollys because when its all said and done Goodwin,Noels, and Cauly-Stein will all go pro..Harrow most likely will be gone..UK will add at Dom Hawkins to this incoming class

  • Kyblugrass says:

    I don’t see anything wrong with asking Hood to walk on if he wants to stay on the team…he’s scored 80 points in 4 years of free education. Graduate school classes would be good for him and probably pretty inexpensive given that he is in-state. Not a bad deal for a second ring?!

    Polson deserves that scholarship more than him, but I think he should walk on too for the future of the program. Hopefully that would make room for Wiggins (or Gordon – though unlikely) and Hawkins (or a Mays-like transfer).

  • coldspringmike says:

    Including scholarship and walk-ons how many may you carry on a roster ? if Hood and Polson both accept walk=ons they can still take part in senior day.

  • Larry Pup says:

    Who knows but the main man. I am just going to wait and see how it plays out. Looks like Katz sort of stepped in it. To many names and not enough rides.

  • UKFAN197TONE says:

    I hope they both are on the roster next year and as far as Hood growing up a Wildcat fan, you can throw in dook. He was a fan of that team, somehow, not that I care. He’s a Wildcat and that’s all that matters.

  • Kokamo Joe says:

    Although Calipari often uses the phrase “this is a kids first program”, I very much doubt that Calipari will keep kids who will play little on scholarship if he can get more first rate recruits.

    Polson and Hood played this year because Calipari had no one else to play. That will not be the case next year. Since both are Kentucky boys the fact that the were on scholarship at UK will guarantee a lifetime of employment and other goodies. Both young men have already established that they have been Cats, sitting on the end of the bench will do them little good.

    Ryan Harrow is another case altogether. Ryan will be the forgotten man if he returns. If the kid wants to play he will need to transfer to a NIAI school. If he tries to stay, Calipari will possibly pull the scholarship. He has proven that he will pull scholarships when he cleaned the Gillispie chalf out his first year.

    That leaves Wiltjer, Poytress, Cauley-Stein and Goodwin. Some say that they are going to stay. If they do I can’t see them playing ahead of our new freshmen. Will they be content to wait until they are juniors to move into a more active role? Will Calipari play them enough next year to at least keep them engaged? Will Calipari recruit another number one class in 2015 and recruit over them? If they come back the direction that Calipari takes will determine if he will opt for a total one and done philosophy or if he will move toward cultivating experienced players to mix with a reduced number of super freshmen.

  • Quick Billy says:

    I know this is way ahead of things, but if Polson gives up his scholarship for the good of the team, he should be allowed to participate in the Senior Day festivities anyway. That would be a classy move on the part of the coaches and the fans would eat it up.

  • King Ghidora says:

    Hood has been hobbled by injuries his entire career at UK. That’s what has held him back. It was not a lack of talent or desire. I think UK really owes him his scholarship. If he decides to give it up freely that’s one thing. But to take it from him is not one of the prettier pictures in college sports. He was asked to play for the Cats. It’s not his fault he’s had injuries. Not being loyal to a guy who was loyal to the program is not my idea of a good thing.

    To be honest there are other players I would ask to give up their scholarhips first. The ones that didn’t show up to play last year really shouldn’t expect a second chance IMO. If you are given a valuable scholarship and you don’t work hard to repay that favor then I have little sympathy for you.

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