Category Archives: UK Basketball

Pro Sports – Aaron Harrison Named to Charlotte Summer League Roster

Seventh Wildcat from 2014-15 roster earns selection to an NBA squad

LEXINGTON, Ky. – And then there were seven. Aaron Harrison was officially tabbed to the Charlotte Hornets summer league roster on Wednesday, becoming the seventh Wildcat from the 2014-15 Final Four squad to earn selection to an NBA squad. Continue reading Pro Sports – Aaron Harrison Named to Charlotte Summer League Roster

UK Basketball: Wildcats Make History Again with Six NBA Draft Picks

they aint usWildcats Make History Again with Six NBA Draft Picks
Kentucky men’s basketball ties its own record with six picks in a single draft;  Towns goes No. 1 overall

BROOKLYN, N.Y. – Continuing a recent trend of making and breaking NBA Draft history, a record six Kentucky men’s basketball players were selected at the 2015 NBA Draft on Thursday at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., including the No. 1 overall pick in Karl-Anthony Towns. The six draft picks is the most in NBA history and ties its own record set in 2012.

Tying an NBA record, four Wildcats were selected in the NBA lottery (the opening 14 picks), which also tops a program record set by the 2010 Kentucky team for most picks in that range. Towns highlighted the night by becoming the program’s third No. 1 overall selection since 2010 when he was selected by the Minnesota Timberwolves. Towns was joined in the lottery by Willie Cauley-Stein (sixth – Sacramento), Trey Lyles (12th – Utah Jazz) and Devin Booker (13th – Phoenix Suns).

With Cauley-Stein going sixth overall, the Wildcats have had more top-10 picks in the John Calipari era than any other team in the country.

“Six guys get drafted and tie a record, four lottery picks and another No. 1 pick – it’s been another unbelievable night,” Calipari said. “I’m proud of the guys. Our job as coaches is to help these kids realize their dreams. I’m so happy that a lot of lives were changed tonight. I’m disappointed that Aaron (Harrison) didn’t get drafted, but he will be fine. I will tell you that he will be on a summer league team and fighting for a position on an NBA team. My guess is he will be on an opening-season roster even though he wasn’t drafted.”

 

Minnesota’s selection of Towns marked the first player taken by the organization in Kentucky’s program history.

 

“This is what you live for,” Towns told ESPN moments after being selected No. 1 overall. “You want to give back to your parents. They give you the world and being able to wear this hat and show them their son is doing well in life and that I can take care of myself. All the work and dedication that they put into me and all the time that they sacrificed for me – I’m sacrificing back for them. It wasn’t for nothing.”

The three No. 1 picks ties Duke for the most in NBA Draft history. Prior to Calipari’s arrival, the program had never had a No. 1 draft pick. Including Derrick Rose from Memphis, Calipari has coached four top draft picks, twice as many as any other coach.

“I’m going to go in right away and just be as versatile as I can be,” Towns said. “I’ll contribute by giving Coach (Flip Saunders) any option he needs for us to win. That’s the one thing that I want Timberwolves fans to know is that I’m coming with a winning attitude. I just want to win. I’m not looking for individual success. I’m looking for the team to have success.”

Three other Wildcats were taken in the lottery of the draft, tying an NBA record with four players taken in the lottery, which began in 1985. It’s the most selections in the top 13 in the draft in program history.

Continuing a historic night, Andrew Harrison went 44th overall to the Phoenix Suns and Dakari Johnson was selected 48th overall to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

“Our season will officially end tonight with seven of these guys (drafted),” Calipari said. “We want to win, but not at the expense of these kids. I want them to benefit more than the program. That’s what I want this to be. When the season’s over, you want to say, ‘They got more out of this than we did, I did, or the program did.’ If anyone wants to question me with results, please say it publicly. Final Fours, wins, and all of this stuff that we do, but it’s not about that; it’s about these kids.”

In six seasons with Calipari at the helm, Kentucky has churned out three No. 1 selections, 19 first-round rounders, 13 lottery picks and 25 total players in the NBA Draft. The 25 draft picks is more than twice as many as the next school (Kansas) since 2010. With another surge of first-round picks, Kentucky now has more first-round selections (32) than any other school in the NBA lottery era (since 1985).

It is the sixth consecutive NBA Draft that Kentucky was represented by multiple players in the first round of the draft. UK is the only program since the draft went to two rounds in 1989 to have multiple players selected in the first round in six straight years. Calipari is the only coach to have multiple players selected in eight consecutive NBA Drafts, dating back to his time at Memphis.

Kentucky has now had 116 players drafted 118 times in its illustrious history with 40 players selected in the opening round.

KARL-ANTHONY TOWNS

Towns became the third Wildcat to go No. 1 overall since Calipari’s arrival in 2010. He’s also the first player Minnesota has selected in UK program history. Minnesota was one of six franchises that had never drafted a Kentucky player entering the 2015 Draft.

In one year with Kentucky, Towns earned All-America distinction while hauling in Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Year accolades. He averaged 10.3 points and a team-high 6.7 rebounds per game while shooting 56.6 percent from the floor and 81.3 from the charity stripe.

Towns saved his best basketball for the biggest of games, logging 14.2 points and 6.8 rebounds throughout the NCAA Tournament. He was the 2015 Midwest Region Most Valuable Player after scoring a career-high 25 points and hauling in five rebounds on 10-of-13 shooting vs. Notre Dame.

WILLIE CAULEY-STEIN

Cauley-Stein was taken with the No. 6 overall pick by Sacramento. He’s the ninth player in program history to hear his name called by the Kings and the first since DeMarcus Cousins in 2010. He’s the first Wildcat to go No. 6 overall since former classmate Nerlens Noel was picked in the same position in 2013.

“I’m talented enough to do a lot of different things,” Cauley-Stein told ESPN. “When I get to Sacramento, I’m just going to work my butt off, try to become a complete player, and hopefully help bring a championship to the city.”

Cauley-Stein became UK’s 58th all-time All-American during his breakout junior campaign and its 25th consensus First Team All-American. The 7-foot forward from Olathe, Kan., averaged 8.0 points and 6.2 rebounds during his three-year career in Lexington.

Cauley-Stein finished his career as the only player in program history to amass 500 or more rebounds, 200 or more blocks, and 100 or more steals. He ranks second all-time in the UK record books with 233 blocked shots.

In addition to his consensus All-America honors, Cauley-Stein was the 2015 SEC Defensive Player of the Year, 2015 SEC Tournament MVP, an All-SEC selection, an All-Freshman Team selection in 2013 and a two-time member of the All-SEC Defensive Team.

TREY LYLES

Lyles is the fourth player selected by the Jazz’s organization and the first since Enes Kanter in 2011. He’s the first player in program history to go 12th overall.

“I didn’t need to do a lot of it at (Kentucky) because we had it at other positions, but now I’m on another level and I’ll be able to do more,” Lyles said. “I’m the guy that can come and contribute right away and will do anything he can to help this team win.”

Lyles, who Calipari described as the “X-factor” of Kentucky’s magical 2014-15 run, averaged 8.7 points and 5.2 rebounds in 36 games in 2014-15. An All-SEC Freshman Team selection, Lyles was also named the SEC Freshman of the Week twice during his career.

The Indianapolis native averaged 10.6 points and 6.0 rebounds per game throughout UK’s NCAA Tournament run in 2015, which included his second career double-double effort with 11 points and 11 rebounds in the win over Cincinnati

DEVIN BOOKER

Booker is the fourth Wildcat to go to the Phoenix Suns and the first since Rajon Rondo in 2006. He’s the first Wildcat selected 13th overall since Derek Anderson in 1997. Booker will join three Wildcats in Phoenix as Eric Bledsoe, Archie Goodwin and Brandon Knight are all currently on the roster for the Suns, in addition to Andrew Harrison, who was also selected by the Suns.

“At Kentucky, we had a really talented team,” Booker said. “I fit in really well with the team and found my niche. I’ll have to create more for myself. I think I’m surprising people with my athleticism. Just stay tuned.”

Booker averaged 10.0 points and sunk 58 3-pointers during his freshman season. He was named the SEC Sixth Man of the Year by the league’s coaches and was also a member of the All-SEC Second Team and All-SEC Freshman Team.

The Grand Rapids, Mich., native was a five-time winner of the SEC Freshman of the Week honor while connecting on 41 percent of his shots from long range. Booker’s season highlights included a stretch of seven games in which he connected on 20 of 28 (71.4 percent) of his 3-point shots, beginning with the game vs. No. 18 North Carolina..

ANDREW HARRISON

Andrew Harrison was the first Wildcat to come off the board in the second round at pick No. 44. Harrison joined teammate Booker who was also drafted by the Suns. Harrison and Booker are the fifth pair of teammates to be drafted by the same team in a single draft in program history.

Harrison served as the floor general for two seasons at Kentucky. The 6-6 point guard averaged 10.1 points and churned out 298 career assists in 79 career contests, starting all but one game for the Wildcats during his tenure.

Harrison’s 298 career dimes ranks 16th all-time in UK’s record books, which are the most for a two-year player in program history. He earned a spot on the 2015 All-SEC Tournament Team and was a member of the Midwest All-Region Team after sinking the game-winning free throws against Notre Dame to send Kentucky to its 17th Final Four in program history.

DAKARI JOHNSON

Johnson was picked 48th overall by the Oklahoma City Thunder, joining former Wildcat Kanter who is on the roster. Johnson is the fifth player selected by the Thunder franchise in program history. Goodwin was the last UK player selected in 2013 by Oklahoma City.

Johnson appeared in 78 career games and started 18 contests during his two-year career in Lexington. The 7-foot center averaged 5.8 points and 4.3 rebounds in his career, logging career bests in points per game, rebounds per game, free-throw percentage, blocks, steals and assists during his sophomore campaign.

In UK’s Final Four game vs. Wisconsin in 2014, Johnson poured in 10 points and hauled in seven rebounds, including five offensive boards. Against Louisville in the Sweet 16 in 2014, Johnson played in a career-high 31 minutes and posted a career-high 15 points while filling in for the injured Cauley-Stein.

2015 NBA Draft Notes

 

  • Kentucky has had 116 guys drafted 118 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 40 players selected in the opening round (19 have come in the last six years) of the draft.
  • Kentucky has had 25 players selected in the draft over the last six years, more than double the next-closest school (Kansas).
  • Kentucky has had 10 players selected in the top 10, 13 in the top 15 and 19 in the first round of the draft in the last six years.
  • With four players taken in the NBA Draft Lottery in 2015 (Karl-Anthony Towns, Willie Cauley-Stein, Devin Booker and Trey Lyles), the Wildcats tied the record held by the 2005 North Carolina team with four lottery selections in a single draft since the lottery expanded to 14 selections in 2004.

o   The Wildcats have had at least one player taken in the top seven of the draft in six 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, 2010-15 and Kansas, 2012-15).

  • Kentucky has had five pairs of teammates taken in the top 10 of the draft in the same year: (Sam Bowie  – second, Melvin Turpin sixth in 1984; John Wall – first and DeMarcus Cousins fifth in 2010; Enes Kanter – third and Brandon Knight eighth in 2011; Anthony Davis – first and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist – second, Karl-Anthony Towns first and Willie Cauley-Stein sixth an in 2015).
  • Coach John Calipari has had two or more players selected in seven consecutive NBA drafts dating back to 2008 with Memphis. Following the 2015 draft, Calipari has had 12 players taken in the top 10 of the draft in the last six seasons and 19 taken in the first round overall.
  • Head coach John 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.

o   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 six years (John Wall, 2010, Anthony Davis 2012, Karl-Anthony Towns 2015).

o   With Towns selected at No. 1 overall, Kentucky ties Duke for the most No. 1 overall picks in NBA history with three.

o   With Towns going No. 1 overall, Calipari now has 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.

  • In 23 seasons as a head coach, Calipari has coached 35 NBA Draft picks, including 25 first-round selections with 13 of those going in the top 10. He has had 25 selected in the last six years as UK’s head coach, including 19 coming in the opening round.
  • Since 2000, only 15 coaches have had multiple players taken in the NBA Draft in more than one draft. Here’s a breakdown of coaches who have achieved the feat in multiple seasons since 2000. Calipari is the only coach to have multiple players selected in eight consecutive drafts.

o   Rick Barnes (2011, 2010 and 2006 with Texas)

o   John Beilein (2014, 2013 with Michigan)

o   Jim Boeheim (2010, 2000 with Syracuse)

o   Jim Calhoun (2009, 2006, 2004 and 2000 with Connecticut)

o   John Calipari (2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010 with Kentucky; 2009, 2008 with Memphis)

o   Jeff Capel (2010 and 2009 with Oklahoma)

o   Billy Donovan (2011, 2007 and 2000 with Florida)

o   Ben Howland (2011, 2009, 2008, 2006 with UCLA)

o   Bob Huggins (2010 with WVU and 2000 with Cincinnati)

o   Tom Izzo (2014, 2006, 2001 and 2000 with Michigan State)

o   Mike Krzyzewski (2015, 2014, 2013, 2011, 2006, 2004, 2002 with Duke)

o   Mike Montgomery (2001 and 2002 with Stanford and 2008 with California)

o   Rick Pitino (2015, 2013, 2009 with Louisville)

o   Lute Olson (2001 and 2005 with Arizona)

o   Bill Self (2014, 2013, 2011, 2008, 2003 with Kansas, 2002 with Illinois)

o   Jerry Wainwright (2001 and 2007 with DePaul)

o   Roy Williams (2010, 2009, 2007, 2005 with North Carolina)

For the latest on the Kentucky men’s basketball team, follow @KentuckyMBB on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, and on the web atUKathletics.com.

Kentucky Sports – Five-Star Recruit Murray Signs with Kentucky Men’s Basketball

UK recruiting class 2015Former Class of 2016 star has reclassified and will play basketball at UK in the fall

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Adding to what was already considered one of the top recruiting classes in the country, highly touted guard Jamal Murray has signed with the University of Kentucky and will join the Wildcats in the fall. Murray announced his decision at a press conferenceWednesday and signed on Thursday.

Murray, a 6-foot-5 guard from Canada, was originally a member of the 2016 recruiting class but recently reclassified to the 2015 class. As a member of the 2016 class, Murray was rated a top-15 prospect by nearly every recruiting service and tabbed a consensus five-star recruit.

“Jamal is one of the best guards in the country,” head coach John Calipari said. “He showed that in practice at the Nike Hoop Summit and in the game. I had so many people call me to tell me how unbelievable he was. You’re talking about a 6-5 playmaker that can score and can guard multiple positions. He can make an impact from anywhere on the floor. I can’t wait to start coaching him.”

Murray’s stock began to soar following a breakout performance at the Nike Hoop Summit against the USA Basketball Team. He scored 30 points against the United States prior to a 29-point, 10-assist, eight-rebound effort in the BioSteel All-Canadian Basketball Game. He was named the most valuable player in both games.

A big-time playmaker with great size, good ball-handling skills and a penchant for scoring in bunches, Murray is ranked the No. 10 overall player in the updated 2015 247Sports rankings and No. 12 in the 2015 Scout rankings. Prior to his reclassification, Murray was ranked the No. 15 overall recruit in the 2016 class by Rivals.

“Being able to stay a little bit closer to my parents (was important to me),” Murray said during his announcement on TSN. “After I looked at the history of Kentucky and the players they’ve had get to the next level, it made me want to go there even more and really set my mind to hard work and dedication to the game.”

A product of Kitchener, Ontario, Murray is the third Canadian-born player to sign with Kentucky in the last two seasons, joining fellow 2015 signee Mychal Mulder and 2014-15 forward Trey Lyles.

Murray will join an already stacked recruiting class that includes Mulder and fall signees Isaiah Briscoe, Skal Labissiere and Charles Matthews. The group includes three five-star recruits, one four-star recruit, a McDonald’s All-American, a junior-college All-American, three Nike Hoop Summit participants and three Jordan Brand Classic participants.

Prior to Murray’s signing, Kentucky’s 2015 signing haul was regarded a top-three class by virtually every major recruiting service. With the addition of Murray, 247Sports now ranks UK’s signing class as the top-ranked group in the country. Scout has Kentucky at No. 2. It marks the seventh consecutive recruiting class under Calipari to earn a top-three ranking.

For the latest on the Kentucky men’s basketball team, follow @KentuckyMBB on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, and on the web atUKathletics.com

Kentucky Sports – UK Men’s Basketball to Play Arizona State in the Bahamas in ‘16

Wildcats went 5-1 during the Big Blue Bahamas Tour in 2014

uk moonLEXINGTON, Ky. – The Kentucky men’s basketball team will return to the Bahamas during the 2016-17 season when it plays Arizona State in the second year of a two-year contract with the Sun Devils.

The Wildcats will return to Nassau, Bahamas, on Nov. 28, 2016, to take on Bobby Hurley’s Arizona State squad. The game will be played in the 3,800-seat Imperial Ballroom at the Atlantis Paradise Island resort on Nassau’s Paradise Island, site of the annual Battle 4 Atlantis tournament. The matchup is the second game in a two-year agreement, as the Sun Devils will visit Rupp Arena this upcoming season onDec. 12.

“We are thrilled to return to the Bahamas in 2016 to play Arizona State,” UK head coach John Calipari said. “The Bahamas bring back a lot of good memories for our team. It was there we built the foundation for our unforgettable 2014-15 season. I have a ton of respect for Coach Bobby Hurley and believe he’s going to take Arizona State to the next level. A great opponent coupled with a beautiful setting after the holiday weekend should make this an unbelievable trip for our fans.”

Kentucky is 3-0 all-time vs. Arizona State. This season’s matchup will mark the first meeting between the two schools since UK’s 82-65 victory in November 2002 in Maui, Hawaii. Two of the three previous meetings were neutral-site games. The lone matchup in Rupp Arena was a 94-68 Kentucky victory during the 1991-92 season.

UK’s return to the Bahamas in 2016 follows a memorable six-game exhibition tour to start the 2014-15 season. The Wildcats built the foundation for a special and historic 38-1 season with a 5-1 exhibition tour, including victories over the Dominican Republic National Team, the Puerto Rico National Team reserves, and Champagne Chalons-Reims Basket, a professional team from France.

Game time, TV coverage, and travel information and fan packages will be announced at a later time.

For the latest on the Kentucky men’s basketball team, follow @KentuckyMBB on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, and on the web atUKathletics.com.

Kentucky Sports – Wildcats Sign Highly-Touted Mulder for 2015 Class

Junior college All-American joins fall signees Isaiah Briscoe, Skal Labissiere and Charles Matthews

New Wildcat Mychal Mulder (Photo - Vincennes University}
New Wildcat Mychal Mulder (Photo – Vincennes University}

LEXINGTON, Ky. – The Kentucky men’s basketball team has added standout junior-college transfer Mychal Mulder to its already highly-rated 2015 signing class. Mulder signed a national letter of intent earlier this month and will join fall signees Isaiah Briscoe, Skal Labissiere and Charles Matthews for the 2015-16 season.

Mulder is a 6-foot-4, 185-pound shooting guard from Windsor, Ontario. He averaged 15.7 points and 6.4 rebounds per game while connecting on 46.3 percent of his field goals from 3-point range as a sophomore at Vincennes University. He will have two years of eligibility remaining.

“I’m so excited to be coaching Mychal,” head coach John Calipari said. “He’s been in a great program the last two years and been pushed hard by a terrific coach. His teams have won and he’s shared, yet he was still rewarded as a First Team All-American. He fits our program.”

A knockdown 3-pointer shooter with terrific athleticism, Mulder is rated as the No. 18 junior college prospect and the No. 5 junior college shooting guard by 247Sports. Mulder earned junior college All-America honors this past season while leading Vincennes University to a 33-2 during his sophomore season. During his freshman campaign, he averaged 8.6 points and 4.6 rebounds while shooting 38.3 percent from long range. He was originally a member of the 2013 class and was considered a top-10 prospect out of Canada at the time.

“A lot of great people recruited me and I had a lot of things to really weigh, but I just thought, at the end of the day, playing at Kentucky is probably my best chance of continuing my career after college,” Mulder said when he announced his commitment in late April. “I hope to play professionally one day, and I felt like that would probably be my best opportunity.”

Mulder is the first junior college addition to a Calipari team since Eloy Vargas joined the roster prior to the 2010-11 season. He joins Trey Lyles as recent Canadian-born players to join the Kentucky program.

“I think I’ll fit in well,” Mulder said of joining UK. “I’m going to bring a winning attitude that I learned (at Vincennes University) and try to carry over there. I know (Kentucky is) all about winning and that’s something I try to be all about too, so I’m going to try to carry that over and try to make an impact the best I can.”

Kentucky’s 2015 recruiting class is currently regarded as a top-three recruiting class by most major outlets. It marks the seventh consecutive recruiting class under Calipari to earn a top-three ranking.

For the latest on the Kentucky men’s basketball team, follow @KentuckyMBB on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, and on the web atUKathletics.com.

Kentucky Sports – Wildcats Unveil Formidable Non-Conference 2015-16 Schedule

Wildcats will play 10 teams that advanced to the postseason in 2014-15, including national champion Duke

Coach John Calipari
Coach John Calipari

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Seventh-year head coach John Calipari demands the gold standard in every aspect of the Kentucky men’s basketball program. The Wildcats’ 2015-16 schedule will once again meet that demand as Calipari announced a 13-game non-conference schedule on Thursday that features 10 games against teams who advanced to the postseason a season ago.

That list includes national champion Duke in the third game of the season at the Champions Classic in the United Center in Chicago on Nov. 17. In all, the Wildcats will take on six NCAA Tournament squads, two NIT participants and two teams that advanced to at least the quarterfinals of the CollegeInsider.com Tournament. The average final RPI of the teams comes in at 105, with five teams in the all-important top 50 of the RPI.

“Putting a schedule together, especially one like this, is fun,” Calipari said. “Having to play those games is a different story. To understate it, this will obviously be a challenging schedule for a young team like ours, which lost more than 85 percent of its scoring and nearly 80 percent of its rebounding. We’re excited for the challenge.”

In addition to Duke, the Wildcats will also take on powerhouses such as UCLA, Ohio State, Kansas and the annual rivalry game with Louisville. Along the way, UK will make marquee stops in the aforementioned United Center, Brooklyn at the Barclays Center, and Miami in the Heat’s American Airlines Arena. Furthermore, the schedule features road trips to storied buildings such as Kansas’ Allen Fieldhouse and the first-ever meeting against the Bruins in Pauley Pavilion.

The schedule includes eight home games highlighted by dates with Louisville and Arizona State. The Sun Devils and newly hired head coach Bobby Hurley, who directed his former team Buffalo to one of the more exciting games against the Cats in 2014, will come to town on Dec. 12. The matchup with the Sun Devils begins a three-week stretch against power five conference opponents, followed by Ohio State in Brooklyn on Dec. 19 and the annual matchup with Louisville on Dec. 26 in Rupp Arena in a series in which the Cats have taken six of the last seven meetings.

The season kicks off with home games on back-to-back days for the first time since Dec. 6-7, 2008. UK will open the year against America East champion Albany on Nov. 13 before hosting NJIT the following day. The Highlanders are a CollegeInsider.com semifinalist and a team that upset Michigan in Ann Arbor a season ago.

The Wildcats will venture to Chicago for the Duke contest before returning home to host Wright State (Nov. 20) and Boston (Nov. 24) for the second consecutive season. A matchup with Illinois State concludes the month of November, while UK will have three home games in the month of December beginning with the second consecutive meeting against EKU on Dec. 9.

UK’s 2015 Southeastern Conference schedule will feature nine home games and nine away games, which will be announced at a later date. It’s the fourth straight year the SEC will feature an 18-game schedule.

Big Blue Madness, the Blue-White Scrimmage, exhibition contests, and complete game times and TV information will be released at a later date.

A complete team-by-team breakdown of UK’s non-conference foes is below:

ALBANY (Rupp Arena, Friday, Nov. 13, 2015)

Kentucky and Albany will meet for the first time in program history on Nov. 13, 2015 in Rupp Arena in the season-opening game. Albany is coming off its third consecutive American East Championship and NCAA Tournament berth. The Great Danes were a No. 14 seed in the NCAA Tournament after earning an automatic bid on a game-winning shot in the league’s championship game. This game will be a part of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Classic.

 

The Great Danes were 24-9 overall in 2014-15 under the direction of Will Brown. Brown has guided Albany to five NCAA Tournament berths in his 14 years as head coach. The No. 14 seed was the highest in the five tournament berths under Brown. The 2015 American East Coach of the Year owns the most league championships of any American East coach and is 5-0 in conference tournament championship games. The Great Danes will return two of their top three scorers from last season in Peter Hooley (13.7) and Evan Singletary (13.0).

 

NJIT (Rupp Arena, Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015)

NJIT will mark the second first-time opponent for the Wildcats to open the season when the Highlanders visit Rupp Arena on Nov. 14. NJIT is coming off a 21-12 overall record in 2014-15, which included an upset at No. 17 Michigan. The Highlanders participated in the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament and advanced to the semifinals before falling to Northern Arizona, 68-61. This game will also be a part of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Classic.

 

The Highlanders are coached by Jim Engles, who has been with the program since 2008-09 and helped the school to the Great West Conference championship in 2013. Damon Lynn and Tim Coleman highlight the returning players. Lynn was the team’s leading scorer at 17.5 points per game, while Coleman was one of four Highlanders to average double-figure scoring in 2014-15.

 

DUKE (United Center, Chicago, Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015)

Kentucky will take on the reigning national champions in Duke at the Champions Classic in the United Center in Chicago on Nov. 17. It will mark the 21st meeting between the two bluebloods and the first since a neutral-site meeting during the 2012-13 season in Atlanta. The Wildcats own an 11-9 overall record in the series, but the Blue Devils have won each of the previous three meetings.

 

Duke is coached by Mike Krzyzewski, who has garnered more than 1,000 career wins and four national titles. The Blue Devils will be paced by returning players Grayson Allen, Amile Jefferson and Matt Jones, who all played more than 20 minutes in the national title game.

WRIGHT STATE (Rupp Arena, Friday, Nov. 20, 2015)

The Wildcats will take on Wright State in Rupp Arena on Nov. 20. It will mark the fourth game in the series and the first since 1999. Kentucky is 3-0 all-time in the series with two of the three previous meetings taking place in Lexington.

 

The Raiders are coming off an 11-20 overall season under the direction of sixth-year head coach Billy Donlon.Donlon was named the Horizon League Coach of the Year in 2013 after the Raiders were picked to finish last, took the third seed in the league tournament and finished the season at 23-13, tying the school record for Division I wins and advancing to the semifinals of the College Basketball Invitational. Wright State returns its leading scorer in senior forward J.T. Yoho, who averaged 15.6 points and 6.4 rebounds as a junior.

 

BOSTON (Rupp Arena, Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2015)

Kentucky will entertain Boston for the second-consecutive season and the third time under Calipari on Nov. 24. UK is 4-0 all-time against the Terriers, which includes an 89-65 victory a season ago. Junior Dominque Hawkins had a career-high seven points in the win, including a highlight-reel alley-oop dunk in the second half. This will be the third game as part of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Classic.

 

The Terriers are led by fifth-year head coach Joe Jones. Jones has guided Boston to a pair of postseason appearances and a regular-season Patriot League championship in 2014. The Terriers will return leading-scorer Cedric Hankerson (15.9) as well as John Papale, who shared team most valuable player honors with Hankerson. Papale averaged 9.2 points and dished out a team-high 102 assists a season ago.

 

SOUTH FLORIDA (American Airlines Arena, Miami, Friday, Nov. 27, 2015)

Kentucky will travel to Miami to participate in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Classic at the American Airlines Arena on Nov. 27. UK’s opponent will be South Florida under the direction of former assistant coach Orlando Antigua. It will mark the first meeting between the two schools, as well as the first meeting between Antigua and his mentor in Calipari. Antigua spent six seasons as an assistant under Calipari including the first five years at Kentucky and one more at Memphis.

 

Antigua led the Bulls to a 9-23 record in his debut season in South Beach. The Bulls have nine returning players off of that roster, including Chris Perry who was second in scoring a season ago at 10.8 points per game.

 

ILLINOIS STATE (Rupp Arena, Monday, Nov. 30, 2015)

UK will meet its third first-time opponent of the season in Illinois State on Nov. 30 in Rupp Arena. The Redbirdsearned a 22-13 record in 2014-15, advancing to the second round of the NIT after falling short in the championship game of the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament. The Redbirds upset No. 8 Wichita State during their MVC Tournament run, and ISU has beaten at least one top-25 team in each of its last four seasons.

 

The Redbirds are led by fourth-year head coach and former Illinois State star Dan Muller. In his first three seasons as head coach, Muller has upset three top-25 ranked teams and is the only coach in program history to achieve that feat. Senior guard DeVaughn Akoon-Purcell highlights the returners for Illinois State after ranking second on the team with 12.8 points per game in 2014-15.

 

UCLA (Pauley Pavilion, Los Angeles, Thursday, Dec. 3, 2015)
Kentucky and UCLA signed a two-year home-and-home series in December of 2014 set to begin on Dec. 3, 2015in Pauley Pavilion on the campus of UCLA. It will mark the Wildcats first visit to UCLA’s storied facility. UCLA will return the trip on Dec. 3, 2016 in what will be the first matchup of the two bluebloods in Rupp Arena history.

The Wildcats own an all-time record of 7-4 against the Bruins, which includes an 83-44 win in 2014-15 at the United Center in Chicago. UK’s Tyler Ulis scored seven points and dished out six assists in that meeting. UCLA went 22-14 overall a season ago and advanced to the Sweet 16 in each of the two seasons under the direction of head coach Steve Alford. The Bruins will be led by junior guard Bryce Alford who averaged 15.4 points per game as a sophomore.

EASTERN KENTUCKY (Rupp Arena, Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2015)

UK will take on EKU for the second consecutive season in Rupp Arena on Dec. 9. The Wildcats are 11-0 all-time against the Colonels with all but one meeting coming in Lexington. UK claimed an 82-49 victory a season ago. Kentucky’s Marcus Lee scored a season-high 10 points in the victory to help lead the way for the Cats.

 

Eastern Kentucky went 21-12 this past season and made its third straight appearance in a postseason tournament. Eastern finished first in the Ohio Valley Conference East Division and the Colonels have finished in the top three in the conference each of the last three seasons. First-year Eastern Kentucky head coach Dan McHale is a Kentucky graduate, and the former men’s basketball manager will face his alma matter for the first time this season. The Colonels have 10 returning players from its 2014-15 roster.

 

ARIZONA STATE (Rupp Arena, Saturday, Dec. 12, 2015)

Kentucky is set to host Arizona State under the direction of first-year head coach Bobby Hurley on Dec. 12 in Rupp Arena. The Wildcats own an all-time record of 3-0 against the Sun Devils with the last meeting coming in 2003 in Maui, Hawaii. The teams have met just once before in Lexington in a 94-68 win during the 1991-92 season.

 

Hurley takes over the Sun Devils program after leading Buffalo to its first-ever Mid-American Conference title and NCAA Tournament berth. His 42 wins at Buffalo were the most ever for a head coach through their first two seasons, including a record-tying 23 wins in 2014-15. Hurley’s Bulls lost to the Wildcats in Rupp Arena, 71-52, in 2014-15. Arizona State earned an 18-16 overall record a season ago.

 

OHIO STATE (Barclays Center, Brooklyn, N.Y., Saturday, Dec. 19, 2015)

Ohio State and Kentucky will meet in the second annual CBS Sports Classic in the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Dec. 19. UK owns an 11-8 all-time mark against the Buckeyes with the last meeting coming in 2011 during the NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats knocked off the No. 1 seeded-Buckeyes in that meeting to advance to its second consecutive Elite Eight and eventually its first Final Four under Calipari.

 

The Buckeyes were 24-11 overall in 2014-15 before falling to No. 1 seed Arizona in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Ohio State lost its top two returning scorers from a season ago, but head coach Thad Matta is a proven winner who has led the Buckeyes to nine NCAA Tournament berths and an NIT championship as he enters his 12th year as head coach of the program.

 

LOUISVILLE (Rupp Arena, Saturday, Dec. 26, 2015)

The Wildcats will host instate rival Louisville on Dec. 26 in Rupp Arena. UK is 33-15 all-time against the Cardinals and has won seven of the last eight meetings in the series, including two wins in the NCAA Tournament. Kentucky and Louisville met for the first time as top-five ranked teams and unbeatens in 2014-15 and UK prevailed in the Yum! Center by a 58-50 score. Ulis enjoyed the best game of his young career with a career-high 14 points and two assists.

 

Louisville went 27-9 a season ago and advanced to the Elite Eight before falling to Michigan State. Rick Pitino’s top four leading scorers will not be among roster members in 2015-16 but reinforcements are on the way with a highly touted recruiting class. Pitino will enter his 16th year with the Cardinals’ program and has led them to 12 NCAA Tournaments, including the 2013 NCAA title.

 

KANSAS (Allen Fieldhouse, Lawrence, Kan., Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016)
The two winningest schools in NCAA Division I history will meet during the 2015-16 season when Kentucky plays Kansas as part of the Big 12/SEC Challenge on Jan. 30. The Wildcats will visit Lawrence, Kan., for their first trip to Allen Fieldhouse since 2006 and just their second since the 1989-1990 season. Kentucky is 22-6 all-time against the Jayhawks, which includes last season’s 72-40 win at the Champions Classic in Indianapolis. Returning Wildcats Hawkins, Alex Poythress, Ulis and Derek Willis combined for 17 points, 13 rebounds, six blocks and three steals in that victory.

The Jayhawks were 27-9 overall in 2014-15 and advanced to their 26th consecutive NCAA Tournament after winning their 12th consecutive Big 12 title under 13th-year head coach Bill Self. Leading scorer Perry Ellis (13.8) will pace the returning players in 2015-16.

Kentucky Sports – Seven Wildcats Declare for NBA Draft

Booker, Cauley-Stein, Harrisons, Johnson, Lyles and Towns to put their names in annual draft

uk moonLEXINGTON, Ky. – An unprecedented seven Kentucky Wildcats announced they are declaring for the NBA Draft at a press conference at the Joe Craft Center on Thursday.

Junior Willie Cauley-Stein, sophomores Andrew and Aaron Harrison and Dakari Johnson, and freshmen Devin Booker, Trey Lyles and Karl-Anthony Towns, will forego their future eligibility at UK and put their names in the upcoming draft, to be held June 25 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.

“It’s about each individual up here making a decision – not based on what’s right for this university, not based on what’s right for me and our staff – but what’s right for them and their families,” UK head coach John Calipari said at Thursday’s press conference. “The way this works, I meet with each player after the last game, and truly it’s the morning after the last game. I ask, ‘Do you want me to explore your options?’ They all said yes. A few said no. We gather the information. We talk to about 20 NBA teams, maybe more. We let the parents talk directly to the NBA so there’s no confusion. We have about a five-minute meeting – maybe. I’m not convincing them to stay and I’m not pushing anybody out the door. This is their choice.”

Kentucky is coming off a record-setting season in which the Wildcats became the first team ever to post a 38-0 record. UK’s 38 victories tied the most in NCAA history, tying Calipari’s 2012 national championship team and his 2008 Memphis squad.

The Wildcats, who captured both the Southeastern Conference regular-season and tournament crowns, made it to the Final Four unblemished, the first team to accomplish that feat since UNLV in 1991.

“We didn’t quite get our goal of winning a national title and 40-0, but it can’t and it doesn’t take away from what these people have accomplished,” Calipari said.

Booker averaged 10.0 points and sunk 58 3-pointers during his freshman season. He was named the SEC Sixth Man of the Year by the league’s coaches and was also a member of the All-SEC Second Team and All-SEC Freshman Team.

The Grand Rapids, Mich., native was a five-time winner of the SEC Freshman of the Week honor while connecting on 41 percent of his shots from long range. Booker’s season highlights included a stretch of seven games in which he connected on 20 of 28 (71.4 percent) of his 3-point shots, beginning with the game vs. No. 18 North Carolina.

“We all wanted a national championship, but I feel like we made a lot of history here, did a lot of great things,” Booker said. “These are memories that I’ll never forget. People always ask what my hardest decision was, and it’s the decision to leave Kentucky, not to come here. That was the easy decision, to come here and be a part of this program. Great fan base. That was an easy decision and leaving all of that will be the hardest.”

Cauley-Stein became one of UK’s 58 all-time All-Americans during his breakout junior campaign and its 25th consensus First Team All-American. The 7-foot forward from Olathe, Kan., averaged 8.0 points and 6.2 rebounds during his three-year career in Lexington.

Cauley-Stein finished his career as the only player in program history to amass 500 or more rebounds, 200 or more blocks, and 100 or more steals. He concludes his career ranking second all-time in the UK record books with 233 blocked shots.

In addition to his consensus All-America honors, Cauley-Stein was the 2015 SEC Defensive Player of the Year, 2015 SEC Tournament MVP, an All-SEC selection, an All-Freshman Team selection in 2013 and a two-time member of the All-SEC Defensive Team.

“It’s the start of something big for all of us,” Cauley-Stein said. “It definitely is a tough decision, especially with how young we are and everything, but it’s a decision that everybody and their family, they got to make. We think it’s the time to go.”

Aaron Harrison will forever be remembered for his three straight game-winning 3-pointers during UK’s thrilling 2014 NCAA Tournament run. The sophomore averaged 12.4 points in his two-year career with the Wildcats and sunk 121 career 3-pointers, a mark that ranks 22nd all-time in Kentucky’s record books.

Aaron Harrison started all but one game in his 79 career appearances. He was a Second Team All-SEC selection as a sophomore and a two-time All-SEC Tournament Team selection. For his career, he shot 41 percent from the field and 33.5 percent from behind the arc. He finishes just 21 points shy of joining UK’s 1,000-point club.

“It was just time for me to go to the next level,” Aaron Harrison said. “I think I’m ready for the next level. I haven’t really heard much with draft projections, but I feel like I’m one of the best No. 2 guards. I had an up-and-down season, but I still think I’m one of the best No. 2 guards in the draft. I just have to go out there and prove it.”

Andrew Harrison served as the floor general for two seasons at Kentucky. The 6-foot-6 point guard averaged 10.1 points and churned out 298 career assists in 79 career contests, starting all but one game for the Wildcats during his tenure.

Andrew Harrison’s 298 career dimes ranks 16th all-time in UK’s record books, which are the most for a two-year player in program history. He earned a spot on the 2015 All-SEC Tournament Team and was a member of the Midwest All-Region Team after sinking the game-winning free throws against Notre Dame to send Kentucky to its 17th Final Four in program history.

“It’s really cool, but it’s just now beginning,” Andrew Harrison said. “Like they say, you’ve got to fight for what you want and don’t worry about what anybody says about you and just fight and believe in your talent. Obviously, we are all pretty talented in our own rights and it was fun. This was the best experience of my life playing basketball here at the University of Kentucky, and I’m so thankful for them for having me here these past two years.”

Johnson appeared in 78 career games and started 18 contests during his two-year career in Lexington. The 7-foot center averaged 5.8 points and 4.3 rebounds in his career, logging career bests in points per game, rebounds per game, free-throw percentage, blocks, steals and assists during his sophomore campaign.

In UK’s Final Four game vs. Wisconsin in 2014, Johnson poured in 10 points and hauled in seven rebounds, including five offensive boards. Against Louisville in the Sweet 16 in 2014, Johnson played in a career-high 31 minutes and posted a career-high 15 points while filling in for the injured Cauley-Stein.

“I just feel like it’s my time,” Johnson said. “Growing up as a kid, you always wait for this moment. I just think I’m prepared. These last two years here have been great. When you go up against people every day that’s going to be pros one day, I think it just made me mentally stronger, and stronger as a player and person. After the meeting me and my mom had with Coach Cal yesterday, I just told my mom I’ll call her this morning and tell her my decision. Last night, I just prayed on it. God told me it’s my time.”

Lyles, who Calipari described as the “X-factor” of Kentucky’s magical 2014-15 run, averaged 8.7 points and 5.2 rebounds in 36 games in 2014-15. An All-SEC Freshman Team selection, Lyles was also named the SEC Freshman of the Week twice during his career.

The Indianapolis native averaged 10.6 points and 6.0 rebounds per game throughout UK’s NCAA Tournament run in 2015, which included his second career double-double effort with 11 points and 11 rebounds in the win over Cincinnati.

“It was a really tough decision,” Lyles said. “The bonds that I built with a lot of coaches and teammates here makes it hard to say goodbye, but I know this is the next step for me to reach my goal. It’s been my dream since I was 7 years old, and now that it’s time for me to make that move, it’s crazy for me to think about. I would shoot in the driveway or mimic game-winning shots at the park and it’s just crazy to think about the fact that it’s happening now.”

Towns earned All-America distinction while hauling in SEC Freshman of the Year accolades during his freshman season at UK. The 6-11 Piscataway, N.J., native averaged 10.3 points and a team-high 6.7 rebounds per game while shooting 56.6 percent from the floor and 81.3 from the charity stripe.

Towns saved his best basketball for the biggest of games, logging 14.2 points and 6.8 rebounds throughout the NCAA Tournament. He was the 2015 Midwest Region Most Valuable Player after scoring a career-high 25 points and hauling in five rebounds on 10-of-13 shooting vs. Notre Dame.

“It’s surreal,” Towns said. “You never think of this moment; you dream of this moment when you’re young, when you’re playing on the court and you just think about these moments, like the one today – like hopefully I could be in the same league as the greats like Michael Jordan, Hakeem Olajuwon and Sam Bowie. All these great players, you just want to be a part of the fraternity that they are a part of.”

All seven of Kentucky’s early-entry players are on the majority of NBA mock drafts.

Coach Calipari has placed 31 players in the NBA during his college coaching career (30 of them via the draft), including 19 over his first five seasons at Kentucky. The 19 draft picks over that five-season span is the most of any coach.

Included in the Wildcats’ recent draft success includes two No. 1 overall draft selections (John Wall in 2010 and Anthony Davis in 2012). Toss in Derrick Rose in 2008 at Memphis and Calipari has coached three top draft picks, more than any other coach all-time.

In 2010, five UK players were selected in the first round for the first time in NBA history, and the Wildcats’ six selections in the 2012 NBA Draft are the most in the two-round era.

All told, UK has had 15 first-round draft picks in the Coach Cal era, two No. 1 overall selections, five top-five picks and nine lottery picks.

For the latest on the Kentucky men’s basketball team, follow @KentuckyMBB on Twitter and on the web at UKathletics.com.

QUOTES AND COMMENTS – Kentucky Men’s Basketball

Opening statement … COach John Calipari

“Let me welcome everybody on this special day for these young people and their

families. We had a meeting to begin our year, and the meeting was based on them. My

comment was ‘I’m on a mission. My goal is to have eight of you have an opportunity to

be drafted if you chose to put your name in the draft.’ That was from the beginning of

the year. They also knew that meant they would have to be the most selfless, sharing,

sacrificing group of young people ever in this game if that were to happen. And they

were. They also knew they’d have to do some historic things. Even at this crazy

university. Historic things and they did. Thirty-eight and zero to start a season. Thirty-

eight wins, the most ever. I can go on and on what they did defensively. Things that are

historic. We didn’t quite get our goal of winning a national title and 40-0. It can’t and it

doesn’t take away from what these people have accomplished. They had a 3.13 grade

point average. They had a 3.0 last year, the guys that were with us. They look after

each other. They’re their brothers’ keeper. The keep them – each of them – walking the

right path. Keeping themselves together. They also know if they chose – I’m hoping they

all stay – if they chose to leave, their scholarship is here waiting on them when they

chose to come back. During this year it’s about team. I think you all saw that. They

shared, they sacrificed. It was about team. Now it’s about each individual up here

making a decision not based on what’s right for this university. Not based on what’s

right for me and our staff. What’s right for them and their families? The way this works: I

meet with each player after the last game, and truly it’s the morning after the last game.

I ask, and this is every year, ‘do you want me to explore your options?’ They all said

‘yes.’ A few said ‘no.’ We gather the information. We talk to about 20 NBA teams.

Maybe more. We let the parents talk directly to the NBA so there’s no confusion. We

have about a five-minute meeting. Maybe I’m not convincing to stay and I’m not pushing

anybody out the door. This is their choice with their family. We’ve done that, and now

it’s time for these young people to let us know what they’re going to do. I think maybe

the easiest way is if you’ve decided to put your name in the draft why don’t you stand

up?”

On if the number of players declaring for the draft surprised him …

“Well I probably shouldn’t say this, but if Alex (Poythress) didn’t get hurt it would have

been eight. So no, it doesn’t.”

On if Poythress has decided if he is declaring for the NBA draft …

“Alex is going to go home and meet with his family. We have done some research for

him. It’s unfortunate. It’s a tough deal because he would be sitting here too. (If) Alex

comes back, he will graduate in three years. He will have his college degree and he has

an opportunity to do the things he wants to do and reach his dreams too.”

On how long it took to make his decision to declare …

“It was a long thought-out process, but it was kind of quick too because we’re not

focused on it during the season, and the season just ended, too. We gathered

information and I feel like I made the best decision for myself.”

On his relationship with Tyler Ulis and how it affected his decision …

“I talked to him [Tyler] a lot about it, but Tyler wanted me to do what’s best for myself

too. Everyone knows we’re going to be best friends for life. Me moving on, that’s not

going to change anything, really. I’d love to play with him more, be on the court with him

again, but hopefully [we will again] one day in the future.”

On what helped him make his final decision …

“I talked to my parents about it, I talked to the coaches about it, and they all felt the

same way so we came to a conclusion [to enter the draft].”

On what he needs to improve on moving forward before the draft …

“I need to get more explosive and defend better. In the Wisconsin game there were a lot

of mismatches where I was getting scored on, but that just comes along with getting

stronger and that’s what I’m going to work on over the summer.”

On his time at UK and how it feels leaving …

“We all wanted a national championship, but I feel like we made a lot of history here, did

a lot of great things. These are memories that I’ll never forget. People always ask what

my hardest decision was, and it’s the decision to leave Kentucky, not to come here.

That was the easy decision, to come here and be a part of this program. (A) Great fan

base. That was an easy decision and leaving all of that will be the hardest.”

On his decision process …

“Probably from the get-go. I was going to leave last year, but I broke my ankle. I didn’t

get a chance to play in the Final Four so that was my whole motive coming back. This

year I got a chance to play in it. I’m healthy, and my whole thing coming back is if I

stayed healthy I was out. There is no reason to come back, if you are healthy and you

can go, you should go.”

On Alex Poythress’ decision …

“It could go both ways. He can think about it like how I thought about it which is, if I

come back I am doing something that has never been done. I am trying to make my

name and I feel like I did that. If I’m coming back it’s for a purpose, and to be better than

what everyone thought I was going to be. If he is going to come back that has got to be

the motive. I came back and took this year like it was my rookie year.”

On starting a new life outside of UK …

“I am excited. It’s a chance to start your life. There’s going to be a lot of speed bumps

along the way. You know those are going to be the things that make you who you are.

It’s going to build your character so I’m excited to take a leap of faith and if I fall the

pick-up is going to make your name so you have to fall sometime. Whatever you do to

pick it up, that’s your name and I hope mines big.”

On his decision to enter the NBA Draft …

“It was just time for me to go to the next level. I think I’m ready for the next level. I

haven’t really heard much with draft projections, but I feel like I’m one of the best No. 2

guards. I had an up- and-down season, but I still think I’m one of the best No. 2 guards

in the draft. I just have to go out there and prove it.”

On the most memorable part of this season …

“The fun that we had this last run. There was electricity around Lexington. We made a

deep run in the tournament and were just at the top of college basketball. It’s one of the

best feelings ever.”

On if there was ever a chance, when it came to him and his brother, of one staying and

one entering the draft …

“No. We made the decision together. We’re pretty much in the same boat with this.”

On if it scares him that he won’t be with his brother next year …

“I wouldn’t say it’s scary. I think we’re excited to break apart and live our own lives. Of

course I’ll miss him a little bit, but I don’t think it will affect us.”

On the toughness of his decision to enter the NBA Draft …

“It was pretty tough. Just being somewhere where you’re loved and treated really well. I

love Lexington, but it was just time to chase my dream.”

On how Kentucky will be in the future …

“They’re in great hands. Tyler (Ulis) is a great point guard and is definitely a great

leader. I think they’ll be a good team next year with the returning guys and the freshmen

coming in. They’ll have a great season.”

On being able to declare for the NBA Draft …

“It’s really cool, but it’s just now beginning. Like they say, you’ve got to fight for what you

want and don’t worry about what anybody says about you and just fight and believe in

your talent. Obviously, we are all pretty talented in our own rights and it was fun. This

was the best experience of my life playing basketball here at the University of Kentucky,

and I’m so thankful for them for having me here these past two years.”

On what he wants to show NBA teams before the draft …

“I want to show them how big I am, how fast I am, how athletic I am.”

On the possibility of separating with Aaron Harrison …

“We are prepared for that. We are not even together all of the time here, so it’s not that

bad. We’ll be alright.”

On the feedback he has received from NBA teams …

“I didn’t really get a lot of feedback, my parents got it – and mostly my dad. They said

that you can’t really worry about mock drafts and things like that. They just said that you

have to show them in the workouts, show them in the combines and in the team

workouts. I think it will be fine. I’m not worried about it.”

On the mock drafts and what he has learned from them …

“People try and act like they don’t pay attention to them, but don’t let all the freshmen

fool you. They pay attention to them. Myself, I’m not worried about it. I feel like I’m the

best player on there, so it doesn’t matter.”

On his decision process …

“I just feel like it’s my time. Growing up as a kid, you always wait for this moment. I just

think I’m prepared. These last two years here have been great. When you go up against

people every day that are going to be pros one day, I think it just made me mentally

stronger, and stronger as a player and person. After the meeting me and my mom had

with Coach Cal yesterday, I just told my mom I’ll call her this morning and tell her my

decision. Last night, I just prayed on it. God told me it’s my time.”

On whether making the decision was scary … “Growing up as a kid, it’s just been my dream. I don’t think I’m really scared. I’m confident in my ability. I’m just ready to compete, and go out there and just try to reach my goals and live my dream.”

On the tipping point in his decision … “Everybody was just saying either way I’ll be fine. Coach Cal said either way I would go is fine. He has a lot of confidence in me. Yesterday, I just did a lot of thinking with my mom and stuff like that, and just prayed on it.”

On evaluating the past season … “It was a lot of ups-and-downs, but I still learned a lot. I was just happy to be around this group of guys, and we had a great season.”

On the meeting with Coach Cal … “If I came back it would be great. But either way, I would be fine. He just wanted me to know that either way, I’m going to have to go and work hard. He thinks I’m a great person, and just making sure that I’m built for this. I think I am.”

On the difference between last year’s decision and this one … “Last year, I felt like my body just wasn’t all the way there. I don’t think I was mentally prepared for that step. I think I got older. I’m more mature now, so I just feel like I’m ready to just go out there and just get better as a player.”

On his assets as a potential NBA player … “Being an all-around good player offensively and defensively.”

On his process deciding to enter the NBA Draft … “It was a really tough decision. The bonds that I built with a lot of coaches and teammates here makes it hard to say goodbye, but I know this is the next step for me to reach my goal. It’s been my dream since I was 7 years old, and now that it’s time for me to make that move, it’s crazy for me to think about. I would shoot in the driveway or mimic game-winning shots at the park and it’s just crazy to think about the fact that it’s happening now.”

On considering coming back for another season … “The bonds I built here had a big effect on me, but I had to make the right decision for myself and this was the right one.”

On the day feeling surreal … “It’s surreal. You never think of this moment. You never think of this moment; you dream of this moment when you’re young, when you’re playing on the court and you just think about these moments, like the one today – like hopefully I could be in the same league as the greats like Michael Jordan, Hakeem Olajuwon and Sam Bowie. All these great players, you just want to be a part of the fraternity that they are a part of.”

On being No. 1 in some mock drafts and whether it is important to be drafted No. 1 … “The one thing I worry about is what I can control. Work hard every day, and get my game better every day and be the best player I can be. That’s all it’s about, and that’s all I’m really worried about and I’m just so happy with this moment not just for myself. It’s not even how happy I am for myself but how happy I am for all the other ones that get to chase their dreams also.”

On what he brings to the table as a potential professional… “Just, play my game. Just trying to be a versatile big man who could block shots, rebound, also can shoot the J even though I didn’t shoot much, but I was very effective inside so I’ll take that.” On the type of bond he will have his teammates five years down the road after one season together …

“Lifelong, lifelong. We’ll be having dinners 30 years from now together just joking and just having fun remembering the times we had this year. You know it’s a blessing we have the group of guys like I was able to have, the group of brothers and family I was able to make here. These bonds will never be broken. In other words they’re deep in our blood.”

Kentucky Sports – John Calipari Wins Associated Press Coach of the Year

Cal Coach of Year

 

Sixth-year UK head coach has already won the same honor from the NABC and Sporting News

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Already named the National Coach of the Year by the National Association of Basketball Coaches and Sporting News, Kentucky men’s basketball head coach John Calipari picked up another prestigious honor for leading the undefeated Wildcats to a 38-0 season, entering the Final Four, when he was named the Associated Press National Coach of the Year on Friday.

It’s the first time in Calipari’s illustrious career he has been named AP Coach of the Year. He’s the third UK coach to win the AP honor, joining Eddie Sutton (1986) and Tubby Smith (2003 and 2005).

Calipari, now in his sixth season at Kentucky, has led UK to a second straight Final Four this season and the fourth in the last five years. Kentucky is the first team to enter the Final Four undefeated since 1991.
Calipari’s 2014-15 Wildcats have tied his 2007-08 Memphis team and his 2011-12 national championship Kentucky team’s NCAA Division I record for single-season wins (38) with last week’s Elite Eight win over Notre Dame on Saturday. UK is the first team in NCAA Division I history to post a 38-0 record.

Kentucky has spent 19 straight weeks at No. 1 in the Associated Press Top 25 this season, tied for the fourth-longest streak in NCAA history. UK now owns the NCAA Division I record for most appearances at No. 1 in the AP poll in a single season at 19.

UK also set the school record for home wins with 19 this season.

Earlier this week, Calipari won NABC Coach of the Year honors for the third time in his career. Only legendary UCLA head coach John Wooden, with five, has won more.

Calipari was named Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year by the AP for the third time in his career earlier this season. He is also one of four finalists for the Naismith Men’s College Coach of the Year.

The 55-year-old is one of 12 finalists eligible to go in to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in September. The Class of 2015 will be announced on Monday at a press conference in Indianapolis, prior to the national championship game.

For the latest on the Kentucky men’s basketball team, follow @KentuckyMBB on Twitter and on the web at UKathletics.com.

NCAA Tourney – Wildcats have all the luck as they beat the Irish to Advance to the Final Four

By Rick Blair – March 28, 2015, Cleveland, Ohio

These Cats have nine lives and they used one of them to come from behind and defeat Notre Dame 68-66 in the closing seconds of Saturday’s Midwest Regional Final. After trailing most of the second half, the Wildcats did not miss a shot in the final ten minutes of the game. Freshman Center Karl-Anthony Towns was unstoppable as he made all eight of his shots in the closing half and scored a game high 25 points in leading the Wildcats to the two-point win. Towns’ was not alone in making big plays down the stretch.

Tyler Ulis sits in locker room with net from Regional Championship - Photo by Dr. Michael Huang
Tyler Ulis sits in locker room with net from Regional Championship – Photo by Dr. Michael Huang

Freshman guard Tyler Ulis hit a three-pointer with the Wildcats trailing by six with six minutes to go in the game. Aaron Harrison who hit several big threes on UK’s magical run the championship game last year, came through again when he nailed a long three-pointer to give the Wildcats the lead with three minutes left in the contest. But Notre Dame would not go away easily and the Irish regained the lead. After Towns tied the game win one minute left, it was defense and Willie Cauley-Stein who blocked Notre Dame’s Jerian Grant’s three-point attempt that set up the final heroics.

Only 33 seconds remained in the tied tension filled game, as Sophomore Andrew Harrison held the ball, looking for the clock to count down. With about eight seconds remaining in the game Harrison drove to the basket and was fouled. Having the pressure of a trip to the Final Four hanging in the balance, Harrison calmly knocked down both free throws and clinched a trip to Indianapolis and a spot in the Final Four for a second consecutive year. Notre Dame had one last attempt, but the shot fail harmlessly to the ground and the celebration began. Nine appears to be a special number for these Wildcats. In addition to the nine lives, the Wildcats went nine for nine from the field in the last ten minutes of the game and are seeking to make it number nine, when it comes to the schools number of NCAA national championship banners that are hanging from the Rupp Arena rafters. The Wildcats will take on the Wisconsin Badgers this coming Saturday in a rematch of last year’s Final Four semi-final contest won by the Cats 74-73. Kentucky is now 38-0 on the season and are going to their fourth Final Four appearance in the last five years.