John Wall, Anthony Davis finalists for NBA Cares Community Assist Award

Anthony Davis (Vicky Graff Photo)

Anthony Davis (Vicky Graff Photo)

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Two former Kentucky men’s basketball players aren’t just NBA All-Stars on the court; they’re also considered two of the best in aiding the community. For their extraordinary efforts in the community, Anthony Davis and John Wall were named two of 10 finalists for the NBA Cares Community Assist Award on Monday.

Each month during the NBA regular season the NBA Cares Community Assist Award is awarded to an NBA player in recognition of his outstanding commitment and dedication to making a difference in his community. Davis was the recipient of the March NBA Cares Community Assist Award, while Wall earned the distinction in October.

QB Stephen Johnson “knows exactly where he stands” at UK

Stephen Johnson (Vicky Graff Photo)

Stephen Johnson (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

When Mark Stoops was recently asked about the perception that a Southeastern Conference school would recruit a junior college player only for immediate help, he said was not sure that was true — and obviously is not when it comes to UK quarterback Stephen Johnson.

Johnson transferred to UK in January and came out of spring practice No. 2 behind sophomore Drew Barker.

Derek Anderson has no doubts about Tyler Ulis’ ability to succeed in the NBA

Derek Anderson (Wade Upchurch Photo)

Derek Anderson (Wade Upchurch Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

With the NBA Draft approaching, I wondered how former Wildcat and NBA player Derek Anderson might see Tyler Ulis fitting at the next level.

I always admire Anderson’s honesty and willingness to share that information.

Dorian Hairston’s homer gives UK 5-4 12-inning victory

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Senior outfielder Dorian Hairston hit a solo home run to lead off the bottom of the 12th inning, lifting 28th-ranked Kentucky to a 5-4 win over second-ranked South Carolina on Sunday at Cliff Hagan Stadium.

With the win, Kentucky claimed the series over South Carolina after the two teams split games on Friday and Saturday.

Sean Hjelle (4-0) pitched the final four innings of the game in his longest outing of the season. The freshman right-hander limited South Carolina to two hits and three walks while striking out five to pick up the win.

Sweep caps best regular season ever for UK softball

By GUY RAMSEY, UK Athletics

LEXINGTON —Kentucky softball has had the best regular season in its history in 2016.

The Wildcats closed it out with a sweep on Sunday.
No. 12 UK took the third of three games against Mississippi State on Mother’s Day by a 4-0 margin, capping a regular season that saw the Cats post both their best overall record (43-11) and best SEC record (17-7) in school history.
The win came in familiar fashion, as UK once again found itself locked in a low-scoring pitcher’s duel with the Bulldogs after extra-inning games on Friday and Saturday. This time, the Cats broke a scoreless tie in regulation with a four-run sixth. Christian Stokes provided the first run with a go-ahead fielder’s choice RBI and Kelsey Nunley knocked in two more with a single to follow.
Nunley was in the lineup for all three of UK’s wins this weekend and totaled three hits and three RBI. Expect to see her with the bat in her hands pretty much every time out from this point forward.
“As far as a competitor and an athlete in the box, you can’t have anybody any mentally tougher than Kelsey,” Lawson said.
UK would add another run on a Mississippi State error, which was more than enough support for Nunley. She tossed a shutout in the circle, allowing five hits and striking out eight.
“She was awesome today,” Lawson said. “She was awesome on the mound; she was awesome when she came up to bat. So it was a fitting day for her last regular-season game on her field.”
With the win, UK locked up its first-ever bye in next week’s SEC Tournament and at worst a three seed. And pending the result of Alabama’s game against Georgia, the Cats could finish as high as second in final SEC standings behind only top-ranked Florida. At last check, the Crimson Tide trailed 9-2 in the sixth inning.
“This is by far top to bottom the toughest league in the country,” Lawson said. “There are certainly very, very good teams in other leagues, but as far as the depth of our league there’s nobody even close to us. And the fact that we were able to win so many series and so many games against awesome opponents at their field, it just says how far this program has come. Because when this staff got here nine years ago, we were lucky to sneak a game here and there.”
Lawson wasn’t particularly interested in reflecting on a successful regular season and the progress of her program though. There’s too much work ahead.
“We have goals and we want to get to the Women’s College World Series,” Lawson said.
With the postseason set to begin on Thursday and the spring semester over, the Cats’ routine changes slightly. They will take advantage of a couple extra practices to focus on fundamentals and travel to Starkville, Miss., for the SEC Tournament on Monday, but things aren’t changing a whole lot with the stakes raised.
“Other than that, we’re going to relax, rely on the people that have gotten us here,” Lawson said. “And we’ve gotten a lot of production from a lot of different people, so I feel pretty good about that.”
Why mess with a good thing?

Is Kentucky recruiting 7-foot standout DeAndre Ayton?

DeAndre Ayton signing autographs. (Larry Vaught/Verizon Photo)

DeAndre Ayton signing autographs. (Larry Vaught/Verizon Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

DeAndre Ayton is ether the best player in the 2017 recruiting class or at worst one of the top three players.  He’s a 7-footer with the ability to score inside, but also hit a 3-point jump shot. He runs the floor well and can use his athleticism on defense.

He’s still progressing and should only get better.

So why isn’t Kentucky recruiting him? Will he really bypass college to play overseas a year and then go to the NBA?

Calipari now helping Mark Stoops recruit

Coach CalBy LARRY VAUGHT

Mark Stoops may have found an even better recruiter than Vince Marrow in Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari.

According to Josh Edwards of CatsPause.com, Calipari told Florida defensive end Jordan Wright that he could join the UK basketball team as a walk-on if he signed to play football with the Cats and Stoops. It is the same offer that Syracuse had already made to the 6-6, 220-pound Wright.

Wright, a point guard in basketball, has football offers from Alabama, Arkansas, Michigan, Miami, Oklahoma, Southern California, Mississippi State and more.

Dustin Beggs’ 3-hitter leads UK to 6-0 win over No. 2 South Carolina

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Senior right-hander Dustin Beggs pitched a three-hit, complete game shutout as the 28th-ranked Kentucky baseball team blanked No. 2 South Carolina 6-0 on Saturday night in Southeastern Conference action at Cliff Hagan Stadium.

Beggs (8-1) did not allow a hit in the game until South Carolina’s Dom Thompson-Williams singled in the top of the sixth inning. Prior to that, Beggs had retired 16 Gamecock hitters in a row after running into a bit of trouble in the first inning. In addition to the three hits, Beggs gave up just one walk and struck out seven, throwing 117 pitches in the game.

Another day, another walk-off win for UK softball

LEXINGTON, Ky. – For the second-consecutive day the No. 12 Kentucky softball team earned a dramatic walk-off victory, 1-0, in extra innings over Mississippi State. The win clinched the final regular-season series of the year for the Wildcats.

Senior Sylver Samuel reached base to lead off the bottom of the eighth inning and was able to shift into scoring position on an errant throw by Mississippi State’s pitcher. Samuel, now one of UK’s all-time leaders in stolen bases, baited the Bulldogs’ catcher and as she took off for third, the catcher sailed the ball into centerfield and the speedy Samuel rounded third in stride and came home for the winning run.

Former UK assistant Camryn Whitaker new head coach at Northern Kentucky

Camryn Whitaker (Vicky Graff Photo)

Camryn Whitaker (Vicky Graff Photo)

HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. – Northern Kentucky University Director of Athletics Ken Bothof announced Camryn Whitaker as head coach of the women’s basketball program Friday morning.

“I am delighted to welcome Camryn to Norse Nation,” said Bothof. “As I have gotten to know more about Camryn over the last two weeks it became clear that she is the right fit to lead our women’s basketball program. Camryn not only has a great basketball IQ, she has also excelled in recruiting and developing her student-athletes on and off the court. Combining those elements with her ties to Kentucky and Ohio make her the right coach for NKU.”