Category Archives: Ron Hamblin

Kentucky Sports Icon Passes away

Ira D. Combs recently passed away, He will be missed by everyone that came in to contact with him. (Photo by Ron Hamblin - Midwest News and Sports)
Ira D. Combs recently passed away, He will be missed by everyone that came in to contact with him. (Photo by Ron Hamblin – Midwest News and Sports)

Ira D. Combs, one of the most beloved people in the sports field Passed away Thursday March 19th, 2015 doing what he loved to do.Ira was on his way in to the Yum Center to get his media credentials when he collapsed and later died at a Louisville hospital. People across the state shared in the passing of Ira Combs as he was loved and respected throughout the state. Ira was a straight shooter and said what was on his mind. He did not sugar coat his articles nor did he have to make things up or sensationalize stories. He was one of the true “Old School” media people and those who had the chance to share time with Ira always walked away with a smile. On several occasions while sitting in U.K.’s media room, Ira would greet me and my brother Tim with, “there are them mountain boys.” A phrase  that gave us both a smile. We would share stories about High School basketball, behind the scenes stuff going on with the Wildcats and a lot of time just listening to Ira  tell stories from the good ole days. He will be missed by everyone who knew him.

UK Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart issued the following statement on the passing of legendary Kentucky sports figure Ira Combs:

“All of us at UK Athletics are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Ira Combs. Ira, a fixture at UK Athletics events for decades, loved this state and its people as much as anyone. Ira’s dedication and hard work in covering high school and collegiate sports in Kentucky were obvious, but his kindness towards the people he came into contact with and worked with will be what we will remember him for the most. Our prayers and thoughts are with Ira and the Combs family.”

WYMT, a local news station that often carried Ira Combs released the following article:

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WYMT) – Eastern Kentucky student-athletes have lost one of their greatest advocates.

Ira D. Combs, a longtime educator, coach, athletic director and sports commentator died suddenly after collapsing at the Yum Center Thursday, he was 61.

Combs was from Perry County. He is the brother of “Cats Pause” founder Oscar Combs and a fixture on press row.

He was a well known radio and television sports commentator and newspaper columnist.

After the news of Ira’s death, tributes began pouring in from journalists and sports fans across the state.

Former WYMT Sports Director Brian Milam said, “There was a thing he would always say as he ended his radio show or TV show. He would of he had you on as as guest he would say Brian we could talk to you forever. Its just kind of sad you will never hear that again and you will never hear his voice again, live and in person. He loved Eastern Kentucky. He loved the mountains and it’s athletics and the kids and the coaches and what not. He was just outspoken about how he felt about a lot of things. He would not shy away about being somewhat controversial at times. This is a tough day”. Combs was walking into the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville to pick up his media credentials for the Midwest Regionals of the NCAA tournament when he collapsed. He later died at a Louisville hospital.

Many Kentucky sports enthusiasts spent the day sharing their memories of Combs and sending prayers and well-wishes to the Combs family through social media on Thursday.

Coach Cal tweeted the following statement:

Just got back from shootaround and heard about the passing of Ira Combs. Total shock and just so sad. Prayers to him and his family.

We here at Camen Media are saddened by this tragedy but know Ira was UK Blue, through and through, and know he is looking down on his beloved Wildcats. Ira will be missed.

 

Men's Basketball – UK wakes up in time to "Roll Tide" 70-48.

UK was cruising at halftime and was up 35-17. That was the third straight half they held an opponent to under 20 points. As the 2nd half began, UK was a little lethargic as they let Alabama get within 9 points at 39-30. UK would then out score the Tide 29-10 for their largest lead at 68-40. Alabama would finish the game on a 8-2 run but the game was already in hand. Alabama, as well as many across the Nation thought this may be a trap game for UK and a possible loss the the undefeated Wildcats. Kentucky had other things on their mind though as they steadily pushed open their lead. UK is now 17-0.

Kentucky at Alabama, Men’s Basketball – Coleman Coliseum, Tuscaloosa, Ala. – Jan. 17, 2015

FINAL SCORE: Kentucky 70, Alabama 48
*       Kentucky is 17-0, 4-0 in the Southeastern Conference. Alabama is 12-5, 2-2 in league play, and ended its 14-game home winning streak.
*       Kentucky leads the series 104-37, including 29-23 in Tuscaloosa. The teams have a rematch two weeks from today,Jan. 31 in Lexington.
*       Along with Virginia, Kentucky is one of two undefeated teams in NCAA Division I.
*       With 17 consecutive victories to begin the season, UK is off to the fourth-best start in program history.
*       Kentucky is 195-27 all-time when ranked No. 1 and has won 35 of the last 37 games as The Associated Press top-ranked team.
*       Calipari has led three teams to a No. 1 ranking (Massachusetts, Memphis, Kentucky) and has a 79-9 record as the top-ranked coach, including 38-4 at UK.
*       Kentucky returns to action Tuesday at home against Vanderbilt. Game time is 9 p.m. EST and it will be televised on the SEC Network.

Team Notes
*       Kentucky made 50 percent from the field, 23 of 46, the sixth time this season the Wildcats made at least half their shots.
*       UK made 8 of 17 (47.1 percent) on 3-point shots today. Over the last seven games, Kentucky has shot 44.2 percent on 3-pointers, 61 of 138.
*       For the second consecutive game, Kentucky shot a season-best at the free throw line. After making 80 percent of their foul shots vs. Missouri, the Cats canned 88.9 percent today (16 of 18).
*       UK has made at least 70 percent of its foul shots in five straight games.
*       In a mostly halfcourt game, UK averaged 1.25 points per possession.
*       Kentucky dominated bench points, 37-16.
*       Second year in a row that UK held Alabama to 48 points. UK won 55-48 last season in Lexington.
*       UK is 101-5 in the John Calipari Era when holding opponents to 63 or fewer points, including 13-0 this season.
*       UK is 51-0 in the John Calipari Era when holding opponents to 55 or fewer points, including 13 times this season.
*       No drama today in extending Kentucky’s streak of 917 consecutive games with a 3-pointer as Aaron Harrison connected a triple at the 16:24 mark of the first half.
Kentucky_Alabama
First-Half Facts
*       Kentucky’s opening lineup featured Andrew Harrison, Aaron Harrison, Trey Lyles, Karl-Anthony Towns and Willie Cauley-Stein.
*       Kentucky big men passed the ball well early, getting all five of the team’s assists in the first 10 minutes.
*       Kentucky had three big runs on the first half:
*       Trailing 4-2, UK jumped ahead with a 10-0 run
*       With the score 13-9, the Wildcats put together an 8-0 run for a 21-9 advantage
*       At 21-14, a 10-0 spurt gave the Cats a 31-14 lead.
*       UK’s largest lead of the half was 18 on two occasions — at 33-15 and the halftime score of 35-17.
*       It is the 14th time this season that Kentucky held an opponent under 20 points in a half.

Second-Half Story
*       Kentucky started the second half with the same lineup that opened the game.
*       Switching to a man-to-man defense, Alabama scored the first seven points of the second half.
*       Alabama eventually got as close as 39-30 before the Wildcats put the game away with a 16-2 run to make it 55-32.
*       Kentucky’s largest lead was 28 points at 68-40 with 4:09 to play.

Player Notes
*       Devin Booker led the Wildcats with 13 points, including three of six on 3-point shots.  He has made 20 of 28 3-pointers (71.4 percent) over the last seven games.
*       Tyler Ulis tallied 11 points, including 3 of 4 on 3-pointers. It’s his third double-figure game of the season.
*       Dakari Johnson also had 11 points, his first double-figure game since notching 11 vs. Texas on Dec. 5.
*       Willie Cauley-Stein, Karl-Anthony Towns and Dakari Johnson shared game-high rebounding honors with five caroms each as the Wildcats won the rebounding, 30-21.
*       Dominique Hawkins sat out the game because of a medical procedure earlier this week.

The Ten Dumbest Fan Bases in America: #2 The Kentucky Wildcats

(The following article was written by what I believe to be the single dumbest sports writer in the world, CLAY TRAVIS for Fox Sports. We will not give his Twitter account or Facebook since we do not want to add traffic to this moron’s accounts. We will however give you his email for those of you who want to message him. clay.travis@gmail.com. The actual link to this absolutely asinine article can be found HERE)

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The Ten Dumbest Fan Bases in America: #2 The Kentucky Wildcats | FOX Sports

Battle of the Bluegrass, and the Emmy goes to……

UK vs UL

The Battle of the Bluegrass was everything it was expected to be. #1 U.K. Wildcats vs in state rival and #4 Louisville Cardinals. Both team tops in the Nation defensively, both crowned National Champions in past 3 years. U.K. has been beating it’s opponents by an average of 29.1 points per game and hasn’t allowed any team closer than 10 points. This also included beat downs of Kansas, North Carolina and UCLA. UK would end up winning the game 58-50 ending their double digit win streak. This was after Kentucky, twice, fouled three point shot attempts by U of L late in the game to give the Cardinals a chance to get the final tally under 10.

Louisville at times, must have thought there were judges for TV Emmy’s in the crowd as Cardinal players put on performances worthy of an acting award. The best “FLOP” was when Wildcat center Dikari Johnson was trying to clear space after a rebound and U of L player Chris Jones fell as if he were shot with an elephant gun. Several angles on replay showed Jones was no where near Johnson’s elbow. To compound this acting job, Jones carried on for several minutes as if his jaw were broken. This if nothing else was an absolute embarrassment to college basketball as a whole.

U.K. ready for next "tough" test

cbs sports classicU.K. has defeated all eleven of it’s opponents by at least 10 points and leads the nation with an average margin of victory of 28.2 points. U.K. also ranks at or near the top in several defensive categories. Next up for U.K. is UCLA as part of the CBS SPORTS CLASSIC today in Chicago. UCLA’s depth may be an issue against the vaunted Wildcat “Platoon” system.

Coach Cal’s Pregame Comments –

On how the current team ranks with other teams he has coached … “It’ll be interesting to see how we finish, but the best teams I’ve had, like just unbelievable teams – I’m not saying the most talented teams – but I’m telling you the best basketball teams we had were when I was playing five and six guys.” On Tyler Ulis’ health … “He’s got to make sure he takes care of himself. It’s like when you go in an NBA locker room. Every one of them, I think 75 percent of the NBA has tendonitis so you can figure out how to play with it or don’t play. Get another job.” On if Ulis has tendonitis … “No, but it’s the same idea. There are certain things you have that you have to deal with. You have to learn to play with.” On the common characteristics between players who played for him that are from Chicago … “They were all different. I mean Derrick (Rose) played at one of the best high schools as far as the tradition of the program. Anthony (Davis) played at one of the worst high schools traditionally. Tyler played at a private school so it’s all different. What they all had in common is a desire to improve, a comfort-level in their skin, which made them very good teammates, great guys to be around. It’s funny how they won’t ever change. The injury that Derrick has, his team fully supports him because they know what a great guy he is and that he’s there for them. The same with Anthony. I mean, I’ve watched him play where Tyreke Evans – he played for me too – had like 35, and he (Davis) was fine with it. It never bothered him. He’d just keep feeding him the ball, chesting him. He’s one of those guys. This kid (Ulis) is the same way. I mean he’s cheering for Andrew (Harrison) to do well. And he knows how good Andrew is. And even though they run the different teams and they go at each other, he has great respect and he’s a great teammate.” On how well he knows UCLA head coach Steve Alford … “I’ve known him for years and years. We’ve become close, but I knew him when he was at Southwest Missouri State. I did things for him. My wife grew up an hour and a half from there on a dirt farm. You guys didn’t catch that. That’s what I told her. She grew up on a dirt farm. He and I have been close when he went to Iowa. I think we played. They beat us when I was at Memphis one of my first years, but he’s a terrific coach. Just a great guy. Great family. Tanya (Alford) is a great lady. His kids are great kids. And he now has that opportunity to be there in that job, which is one of the premier jobs.” On the idea of a grace period in a new coaching job … “There are two things. The kids remember the last three years. The families remember the last 30. The kids remember when they were 13 and 14 and before that they don’t have any idea. I think what Steve (Alford) did last year I think they won 30 games or 29 games or whatever it was. Walked right in and developed guys that people did not think would be able to go right to the NBA, and they did. Three of them after one year, one of them the (a high) pick in the draft. He’s also now done it with Kevon Looney. I mean, they’re telling me he’s the fourth or fifth pick in the draft. So he has developed players, but I think in our case we were prepared to lose a bunch of guys. I don’t think they knew that that many guys would leave them. And so that one guy missing has made it so they’re playing five and six guys. They would have played seven and they would have been fine. But I think he’s done a great job. He’s on the West Coast. He’s rebuilding the image of what they want there. We want to tie to programs like that. That’s what we want, both of us. Does that answer it?” On coaches like Roy Williams, Rick Pitino and Larry Brown this team to some of the all-time greats … “For a minute there I thought you were going to say all-time coaches. I understand that’s not going to be said. What were we talking about? No, I’m just kidding. What I really like is Willie (Cauley-Stein) has taken on a different persona. I sat him down about a month ago and said, ‘Why don’t you want to be the number one pick in the draft?’ He asked me what I meant. ‘Well it’s obvious you don’t want to be the number one pick. Why wouldn’t you? You have this team around you. All you have to do is perform and improve and improve in a couple areas and you’re on the page.’ He said, ‘I do want to.’ Then do more. Come into practice longer. Come in here at night. Spend more time at this – the sport. He has been. I think when you start talking about the teams that were the great teams, they had hall-of-fame players. We have yet to prove where we are in that regard. I think we’re a terrific team. I think what we’ve been doing to keep reinforcements coming has made us even better and made it easier for each guy to perform at a higher level. Let this season play out before they talk in terms of those teams because again some of them had three hall of famers on their team. In Springfield, their college team had three and to compare us to those teams. Come on. Maybe they’re looking at us compared to the other college teams in the last couple years. I don’t know.” On lessons taken from North Carolina game … “Toughness, rebounding, breakdowns defensively, and not sprinting back. Those are things that will cost you basketball games and we’ve focused on that now this week and for the next three. We’re the 13th best defensive rebounding team out of 14 in our league. Really? The tallest bad defensive rebounding team in the history of the game. There are things that I look at right now and I’m like, ‘Come on.’ We turn it over with just a little bit of pressure like token traps. We threw the ball all over the place. I would say if you watched our game, you have teams licking their chops saying, ‘We’re going to run, press, and trap these dudes. Try to get free baskets early and when we shoot it we’re sending four the glass. Forget about them.’ If you watched that game, then that’s what you’d do. Teams that will push you in the back on shots so they can get and edge and teams that just crash and bang and grab are looking at this and licking their chops.”

On how big the rebounding aspect is with a guy like Kevon Looney on their team … “It’s more than just him. I’m talking about my team. Our guards right now, we may have the worst group of rebounding guards in the country, too. So we’re doing stuff to hold them accountable. We started two days ago. Yesterday was an individual work day because we’re in finals, but we’re going to go back at it today. And I told them, ‘From here and through what we call Camp Cal, we’re doing this stuff every day.’ I said, ‘The stuff we’re not doing – the physical play, we get bumped, we hit the ground, we start throwing balls to a guy next to us, we throw it – well, we’re going to be playing in games where they grab, they hold, they kick, they push, they bite. Can you play in that type of game? If you can’t play in that type of game, you can’t win that game.’ ”

On how Alex Poythress is doing … “He and I met today. He’s doing good. He has a great frame of mind. He and I talked a little bit about Derrick Rose’s mental approach when it happened to him. He’s going to have the surgery after Christmas, so he has time. We talked about what his options could be and some things that we should think about.”

On how Poythress can still make it to the NBA Draft even though he’s going to miss the season and workouts … “He has more time than Nerlens (Noel) had, so he’s going to have an extra two months, really a month and a half. I would tell you that there will be an option for him if he chooses to (go). But we only talked (about it) slightly. We talked a little bit. I said, ‘The other side of it is being mentally tougher. Why? Because you’ll never get through the rehab (if you’re not). Pushing through a comfort level, which you struggle with. Well, you’ll have to through the rehab. You have no choice. Coming back with that increased motor. And then we’ll work on some skills.’ I told him about getting his wrist back on every shot. No more of this (hand straight up and down). Now we have time. Wrist is going to be back. You’re going to be up and off instead of that (straight up and down). I said, ‘We have time now.’ ”

On what it would be like to have him back as a senior … “A young man that they all respect and a young man that’s a straight-A student and a guy that can do things that normal players can’t do, it would be nice. But, if it’s in his best interest to put his name in the draft, I would support it and help it along and do that. He’s going to do what’s right for him. It’s tough. But he was really good today. I mean, I think he’s coming back to the reality of this happened, it’s not a dream, it’s real, now I’ve got to deal with it. He looked like was at ease with what was going forward.”

On if his hip is still bothering him … “I’m fine. The biggest thing is I’m sleeping at night. I’m working out every day. I still need to lose 20 pounds, which I gained – very happily – when I couldn’t do anything last year. But it’s a little harder getting it off. But like I told my team, I’m not supposed to have a six-pack. I’m 55. You’re supposed to have a little belly when you’re 65. Now I don’t want to have a big belly, but a little one.”

On if he was a “root for UCLA” kid when he was growing up a “root against UCLA” kid growing up … “I liked North Carolina growing up. I liked UCLA. I watched more basketball that way. I didn’t have a (team). Pitt, because Pitt wasn’t when I was younger the Pitt is now, but we had some guys from our high-school team play on that team so you followed Pitt and some of that stuff. West Virginia and all that because of where I grew up. UCLA, they were like faraway lands. I mean, I didn’t even go on vacation until I was 19, and that was to Maryland. Maryland. We drove to the Maryland shore. I was not on an airplane until I was 20. So when you start talking UCLA, ‘Where in the world? Is that in our country?’ Yeah. ‘Like, near Youngstown? Where is it?’ It’s just different than it was. So I wasn’t (a huge fan), but I liked them, respected them.”

Wildcats makes it 11-0 with easy win over North Carolina

UK is making it look a little too easy.  North Carolina fell victim to this new breed of Wildcat as UK dominated NC 84-70. UK has not allowed an opponent closer than 10 points in any game this season. They have defeated 4 ranked teams, at the time they played them. Kansas, considered by many to be a contender, Providence, Texas, also considered to be a championship contender and now North Carolina. None of those teams could come any closer than 12 points, that being Texas a few nights ago. Right now, it appears, the only thing that can cause a UK loss, will be UK coming out and beating themselves. Next up for the Wildcats is a game against UCLA in Chicago, followed up by a game with in state rival Louisville. Should they pull off those two games, all that stands in front of UK is a SEC sweep to give the Cats a real chance to go, dare I say it, “Undefeated”.

Schedule courtesy of ESPN.com

2014-15 KENTUCKY WILDCATS SCHEDULE
DATE OPPONENT RESULT RECORD
Fri, Nov 14 1-0 (0-0)
Sun, Nov 16 2-0 (0-0)
Tue, Nov 18 3-0 (0-0)
Fri, Nov 21 4-0 (0-0)
Sun, Nov 23 5-0 (0-0)
Tue, Nov 25 6-0 (0-0)
Sun, Nov 30 7-0 (0-0)
Fri, Dec 5 8-0 (0-0)
Sun, Dec 7 9-0 (0-0)
Wed, Dec 10 10-0 (0-0)
Sat, Dec 13 11-0 (0-0)

WHY NOT KENTUCKY

The UK Wildcat football team is riding high after a hard fought victory over the South Carolina Gamecocks in Lexington. The Cats fought back on three different occasions to include trailing by 14 in the 4th quarter. JoJo Kemp nearly single handedly carried UK to their win. Kemp,

Why Not UK
Why Not UK

running the Wildcat offense, ran at will through the Gamecock defense. UK overcame a horrible call on a South Carolina fumble and a defense that allowed 500 yards in total offense and 282 yards rushing. South Carolina would go away from their running game when it mattered in the 4th quarter only to have UK intercept a SC pass for a pick 6 to take the lead for good. UK would intercept another pass in the waining moments of the game to seal the victory.

Kentucky is 4-1 and could easily be 5-0 if not for a missed call at Florida. It is still early on in the season, but the Wildcats have shown they have changed the atmosphere in Lexington in regards to their football program. Kentucky will now face UL Monroe before they start the true tough part of their schedule that includes 4 of their last 6 games on the road. Their remaining schedule has UK at #15 LSU, at Home against #12 Mississippi St., at #24 Missouri, home against #13 Georgia before traveling to Tennessee and at Louisville. Assuming UK can win next week at home against UL Monroe to go to 5-1, they would have to win at least one of their remaining 5 games to qualify for a bowl bid. Not bad for a team who hadn’t won an SEC game since 2011 and only won 2 games all of last year. Things are looking up for the Kentucky Wildcat football team and has fans throughout the State of Kentucky saying, WHY NOT KENTUCKY!!!

Cats looking like favorite for 2014-2015 Champions

Fans who were disappointed in this years Wildcats, that is until they made their NCAA Tourney run, will have yet another Calapari team loaded with talent and high expectations from BIG BLUE NATION. UK was expected to lose as many as 6 players to the NBA this year, but only Randle and Young decided to forego their college careers and move on to the NBA.

UK Wildcats celebrate as they make it to yet another Final Four - Photo Michael Huang - East KY Media
UK Wildcats celebrate as they make it to yet another Final Four – Photo Michael Huang – East KY Media

 

The Harrison twins were the final piece to fall into place in next years star studded team filled with McDonalds All-Americans. Along with the “Twins”, Willie Cauley Stein, Dakari Johnson, Marcus Lee & Alex Poythress all are coming back. That coupled with big man Karl Towns, Guards Ulis and Booker  along with Trey Lyles, Dominque Hawkins & Derek Willis, UK is as deep as anyone in the country and have the tournament experience to beat anyone in the Country.

Kentucky will be one of the biggest if not the biggest team in the country with Johnson, Stein and Towns up front and the Harrison twins in the back court. How many teams in the NCAA would like to have Ulis, Poythress, Lee, Booker, Hawkins, Willis or Lyles starting for them, lit alone coming off the bench? UK has at least 12 players than can start for 95% of the teams in the country.

Calipari’s biggest problem next season appears to be how to play everyone and who to fit in with Stein, Johnson and the twins. The Wildcats have been in 2 Championship games, won one of those, 3 Final Fours and one Elite Eight, all  in 5 short seasons at UK. No other team in the Nation can even come close to those lofty achievements. Once again, UK is expected to make a deep Tournament run and quite possibly their 9th NCAA Championship.

Below are Press Releases for UK players making announcements on their future with the Wildcats.

 

The Harrison Twins will be coming back for another chance at an NCAA Title. Photo by Michael Huang - East KY Media
The Harrison Twins will be coming back for another chance at an NCAA Title. Photo by Michael Huang – East KY Media

Harrisons to Return for Sophomore Seasons

Freshman guards join Cauley-Stein, Lee, Johnson and Poythress among returnees

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Freshman guards Aaron and Andrew Harrison will return to the Kentucky men’s basketball program for the 2014-15 season, they announced Friday.

Aaron Harrison started all 40 games for the Wildcats during the 2013-14 season and averaged 13.7 points and 3.0 rebounds per game. He knocked down three of UK’s all-time most memorable shots in three consecutive games in helping UK past Louisville, Michigan and Wisconsin in the NCAA Tournament to reach the national championship contest.

“I’m coming back for a second season in large part because last year’s title run was special, but we still have unfinished business,” Aaron Harrison said.

Andrew Harrison started 39 games for UK and poured in 10.9 points and added 4.0 assists per game. He dished out three or more assists in seven of UK’s final nine games. His-20 point performance led all Wildcat scorers in an upset of No. 1 seed Wichita State in the NCAA Tournament.

“I’m returning for my sophomore season because I want to win a national title.” Andrew Harrison said.

“I’m excited about Aaron and Andrew’s decision to return for next season,” head coach John Calipari said. “Their postseason play was a result of the improvement they made all season and displayed what they’re capable of doing on the court. I look forward to having the opportunity to work with them during the summer and watch them lead next year’s team.”

Sophomores Willie Cauley-Stein and Alex Poythress and fellow freshmen Dakari Johnson and Marcus Lee have already announced their intentions to return for the 2014-15 season.

With the announcement of the Harrisons, Kentucky is set to return 67 percent of its assists (300), 65 percent of minutes played, 59 percent of its scoring (1,773) and 54 percent of its rebounds (872) produced from its Final Four squad.

Additional returnees include freshmen Dominque Hawkins, Derek Willis and EJ Floreal, who all saw action this season. The Wildcats will also welcome the No. 2 rated recruiting class in the nation that sports four McDonald’s All-America and Jordan Brand Classic players in Devin Booker, Trey Lyles, Karl-Anthony Towns and Tyler Ulis.

Johnson to Return for Sophomore Season

Freshman center joins Cauley-Stein, Lee and Poythress among returnees

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Freshman center Dakari Johnson will return to the Kentucky men’s basketball program for the 2014-15 season, he announced Wednesday.

“After looking at the information provided to me by Coach Cal and the NBA committee, my family and I made the decision for me to return to UK for my sophomore year,” Johnson said. “Returning to school allows me to build on my leadership skills, improve my individual basketball strength and conditioning skills, and have another opportunity to accomplish one of my individual goals: winning an NCAA national championship in college.”

The 7-foot center started 18 of Kentucky’s last 20 games, averaging 5.8 points and 4.6 rebounds per game during that stretch. Johnson tallied nine points and a career-high 11 rebounds in UK’s postseason-opening win over LSU in the Southeastern Conference Tournament.

“I’m happy to have Dakari back with us for next season,” head coach John Calipari said. “Despite being the youngest player on the team this season, he continued to improve every day on the court and it showed. We look forward to seeing his improvement over the summer and throughout next year.”

The Brooklyn, N.Y., native grabbed six or more rebounds four times during UK’s postseason run, while shooting better than 62 percent from the field during the NCAA Tournament.

Sophomores Willie Cauley-Stein and Alex Poythress and fellow freshman Marcus Lee have already announced their intentions to return for the 2014-15 season.

Poythress to Return for Junior Season

Sophomore forward joins Cauley-Stein and Lee among returnees

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Sophomore forward Alex Poythress will return to the Kentucky men’s basketball program for the 2014-15 season, he announced Wednesday.

“Playing in the NBA has always been a dream of mine, but I want to make sure that I’m NBA-ready before I make that jump,” Poythress said. “By coming back, I’ll be so much closer to earning my degree in business and it will give me another year to prepare my game and my body for the next level.”

The 6-foot-7 forward averaged 5.9 points and 4.5 rebounds in helping lead the Wildcats to the NCAA title game. He shot better than 68 percent from the field in the NCAA Tournament, including an eight-point, seven-rebound performance in the Final Four against Wisconsin.

“I’m excited for Alex and the decision he’s arrived at,” head coach John Calipari said. “I’m proud of the work he committed to this past season, on and off the floor, and think he’s ready to take that next step and lead this team next season.”

The Clarksville, Tenn., native tallied a double-double (10 points, 13 rebounds) in UK’s season-opener against UNC Asheville and pulled down 12 rebounds two games later against second-ranked Michigan State.

Fellow sophomore Willie Cauley-Stein and freshman Marcus Lee announced their intentions to return for the 2014-15 season last week.

Lee to Return for Sophomore Season

Freshman forward joins Cauley-Stein among returnees

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Freshman forward Marcus Lee will return to the Kentucky men’s basketball program for the 2014-15 season, it was announced Friday.

“I’ve really enjoyed my college experience and I’m looking forward to continuing to develop as an all-around player,” Lee said. “Playing in the Final Four was such an amazing feeling, but I want to come back and help win that final game this year.”

The 6-foot-9 forward was called upon in Kentucky’s Final Four run and he answered the call with a 10-point, eight-rebound, two-block performance in the Elite Eight against Michigan. He finished the tournament shooting 70 percent from the field and was named to the Midwest Regional All-Tournament team.

“I’m excited for Marcus and think he’s barely scratched the surface of what he’s capable of,” head coach John Calipari said.  “In addition to his athleticism and the energy level he brings, the experience he gained in the NCAA Tournament this year will be immeasurable for us next season.”

The Antioch, Calif., native tallied 17 points in UK’s season-opener against UNC Asheville and pulled down a then-career-high six rebounds against Northern Kentucky.

The NBA Early Entry deadline is at 11:59 p.m. ET Sunday, April 27.

UK in Final Four …. AGAIN!!!!

Since Calipari has arrived at UK, he has made it to the Final 4 three of the last four years and also throw in an Elite Eight. Last years debacle not withstanding, the Calipari led Wildcats have made it deep in to the NCAA Tourney every year.This years team was supposed to go 40-0. At seasons end, they were thought to be an early exit. Unfortunately for most people filling out their brackets, Kentucky has managed to bust everyones bracket. It took awhile, but these young Cats have rounded in to form and look like a favorite to win another Title. UK will face a good Wisconsin team and have eyes set on a Championship game against either UConn or Florida. How sweet would it be for the Cats to avenge three losses to Florida this season with a win in the National Championship game over the Gators? Apparently the SEC isn’t as weak as most experts thought. All three SEC teams made the Sweet 16 and two made the Final Four. GO BIG BLUE!!!!!

UK looks to win yet another National Championship
UK looks to win yet another National Championship

 

UK to face Louisville in Sweet 16 in Indianapolis

UK was the team that was supposed to be undefeated going in to the NCAA Tournament, not Wichita. UK was supposed to be the favorite this year, not Wichita. After a so so season by Kentucky standards, the young Wildcats appear to have hit their stride after beating Kansas State Friday, then defeating #1 seed and undefeated Wichita State in a thriller.

UK fans are hoping for another win over Louisville
UK fans are hoping for another win over Louisville

UK will continue the gauntlet, called the Midwest Region by taking on in State and bitter rival, Louisville in Indianapolis next weekend. In what has been the worst Region seeding in a long time, the Midwest was loaded with such powers as Michigan, Duke, Louisville, Kentucky, Kansas State, Undefeated Wichita State and a red hot Tennessee squad.

For UK to make the Final Four, they will still have to beat Louisville and either Michigan or Tennessee. Kentucky fans are ready for another run to the Final Four and it will have to continue by beating the hated Cardinals.

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