Monday, April 28, 2014

CATSPY Awards Results

University of Kentucky Athletics presented 35 honors at the 12th annual CATSPY Awards, held Monday in Memorial Coliseum to recognize athletic and academic performances during the 2013-14 year. With co-winners in some categories, a total of six teams and 28 individuals were recognized.
Men’s basketball and men’s tennis, along with softball and women’s track and field, were named Team of the Year for their achievements. The Kentucky men’s basketball team finished the season on a magical postseason run that resulted in the program’s 16th Final Four appearance and a spot in the national championship game.

Despite losing two all-Americans in singles and doubles from the year before, the UK men’s tennis team still never left the top 15 of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) rankings. Kentucky finished the season ranked in the top 10 of the ITA team rankings for the third straight season and was one of only four teams in the last three years to do so. Additionally, they reached No. 4 in the ITA rankings on March 6, 2013, achieving the program’s highest ranking since 2004.

The UK softball team tallied a school-record 41 wins, advancing to the second NCAA Super Regional in program history. The team earned a national seed and hosted an NCAA Regional for the first time ever, while finishing the season ranked inside the top 14 of both national rankings. UK softball also made its fifth straight NCAA Tournament appearance, becoming one of just 23 schools nationally to claim that honor.

The UK women’s track and field team enjoyed its best indoor season in generations in 2014, a feat all the more remarkable considering how far it’s come in just a two-year span. The Wildcats finished fourth with 72 points at the Southeastern Conference Championships this season, after finishing dead-last (12th) at the 2012 SEC Championships, which were held at home. UK had the 200m national champion and two individual SEC champions.

The Mr. and Miss Wildcat Awards are given for all-around excellence in athletics, academics, character and service. Avery Williamson (football) won the Mr. Wildcat award, while Lauren Cumbess (softball), won the Miss Wildcat award.

The Female Athlete of the Year was awarded to track’s Dezerea Bryant. Bryant enjoyed the best indoor season by a female sprinter in UK history. She became the first NCAA Indoor 200m champion in 2014, and was also the SEC 60m dash champion. She has broken six school records this year.

The Male Athlete of the Year was awarded to Matt Hillenbrand. Hillenbrand scored 20 points at the 2014 SEC Indoor Championships, the most by any individual at the nation’s most competitive conference meet. He won both the 3,000 meters and defended his mile title. Hillenbrand also broke the 24-year-old school record with a time of 3:58.77, becoming just the third Wildcat ever to break four minutes.

The Academic Teams of the Year were men’s and women’s tennis.  The Scholar-Athletes of the Year were Lindsay Hill (swimming) and Tyler Riggs (men’s soccer).
A complete list of awards is below:

Community Service Award
Kastine Evans (Women’s Basketball)
Max Godby (Football)

Wildcat Pride
Women’s Swimming and Diving

Female Rookie of the Year
Kelsey Nunley (Softball)

Male Rookie of the Year
Julius Randle (Basketball)

Bill Keightley "Assist" Award
Justin “Pemo” McKinley (Equipment Manager)

Blue Heart Award
Josh Clemons (Football)
Ashley VanLandingham (Women’s Soccer)

Female Scholar Athlete of the Year
Lindsay Hill (Swimming)

Male Scholar Athlete of the Year
Tyler Riggs (Soccer)

Female Academic Team of the Year

Male Academic Team of the Year

Mark Lane

Scratch Award
Micheal Thomas (Baseball)
Grace Trimble (Women’s Tennis)

Supporting RoleGriffin Joiner (Softball)
Alex Poythress (Men’s Basketball)

Heart of a WildcatTom Jomby (Men’s Tennis)

Female Performance of the Year 
Dezerea Bryant (Track)
Kendra Harrison (Track)
Jennifer O’Neill (Basketball)

Male Performance of the Year
Connor Davis (Rifle)
Aaron Harrison (Basketball)
AJ Reed (Baseball)

Female Athlete of the Year 
Dezerea Bryant (Track)

Male Athlete of the Year 
Matt Hillenbrand (Cross Country/Track)

Coach(es) of the Year
John Calipari (Men’s Basketball)
Edrick Floreal (M/W Track and Field)
Rachel Lawson (Softball)

Female Teams of the Year
Track and Field

Male Teams of the Year

Miss Wildcat
Lauren Cumbess (Softball)

Mr. Wildcat
Avery Williamson (Football)

Friday, April 25, 2014

College Basketball Coaches Reactions to Harrison Twins Return

Some of college basketball's best coaches reactions upon learning how Kentucky's roster will look next season. Can't say that I blame them at all.

James Young and Rihanna

(Photo courtesy: Drew Franklin of Kentucky Sports Radio)

James Young and Rihanna sitting together court side of the NBA Playoffs? Yeah, I'd forego my sophomore year to do that as well. Well done Mr. Young, Well done...

CATSPY Awards to Take Place Monday, April 28 at 7pm

The 12th annual CATSPY Awards, celebrating the 2013-14 athletics year at the University of Kentucky, will be Monday, April 28 in Memorial Coliseum.

The awards ceremony begins at 7:00 p.m., with doors opening at 6:30 p.m., and the public is invited. Tickets cost $5 each and may be purchased at the UK Athletics Ticket Office (Joe Craft Center) or by calling 800.928.2287. All persons must have a ticket to enter, regardless of age.  All general public will enter through the Lexington Avenue entrance of Memorial Coliseum.  

Public parking will be available in the E lot located on the west side (Lexington Avenue) of the Joe Craft Center. Additional parking will be available in parking structure #5 located near Kennedy’s Book Store.

A spin-off of the popular ESPY Awards held each year by ESPN, the CATSPYS feature 24 individual and team honors, chosen from UK’s 22 varsity sports. This event is dedicated to celebrating the 481 student-athletes that represent UK. Videos of the nominees in each category are shown. UK student-athletes and head coaches serve as presenters.

The list of awards includes:

·         Community Service
·         Wildcat Pride
·         Rookies of the Year
·         Bill Keightley “Assist” Award
·         Blue Heart
·         Scholar Athlete
·         Academic Team
·         Impact
·         Scratch
·         Supporting Role
·         Performance of the Year
·         K Association Male and Female Athlete of the Year
·         Coach of the Year
·         Teams of the Year
·         Mr and Miss Wildcat

Lists of award winners and photo galleries from previous CATSPYS may be seen on under the ‘Fan Zone’ tab.

Harrison Twins To Return (TWITTER VERSION)

Well, as the kids say, shit just got real. This afternoon, Aaron and Andrew Harrison made it official and announced their decision to return to Kentucky for their sophomore year. 

This was an important decision because without them, the Cats would have been painfully thin and inexperienced at the guard position. With them, Kentucky becomes the most loaded team that I have seen in the last ten years. I'm not going to start with the 40-0 garbage (I was against that last time around), but this team has the potential to be one of the best in the history of Kentucky basketball.

Here are some of my favorite reactions from Twitter....

@KentMonroe:  Toughest game on the UK schedule next year will be the Blue-White game!

@KATis32 (Karl Anthony-Towns Jr.):  Popcorn anyone?

@ASmithRivals:  Tyler Ulis tells @TWalkerRivals that he "likes" the Harrisons returning. "I have always been a team player and this makes our team better."

@KySportsRadio:  Best part about all absolutely FURIOUS and BUTTHURT the UL fans are about this...and I love it...Calipari 6, Pitino !

@JonRothstein:  UK has become more than a basketball program under @UKCoachCalipari -- it's become an empire. And there is nothing anyone can do to stop it.

@dandackich:  Serious thought.. I do believe Kentucky will go undefeated next year.. Seriously

@SethDavisHoops:  Surprise and impressed Harrison twins are returning. Kids are getting a lot smarter. Kentucky is a no brainer for preseason No. 1.

@DanWetzel:  Calipari will coach nine McDonalds All Americans at UK next year. That Lakers job? Current roster has five. FWIW

@ASmithRivals:  Harrison Sr to ESPN: "They probably made up their mind last week."

ASmithRivals:  Harrison Sr to ESPN: "All the information they got from the (NBA) draft was that they were middle to late-first round."

@KySportsConnect:  At any given time next year a team better than Louisville will be sitting on Kentucky's bench. #RosterDepth #YouScared?

@RJinVegas:  Kentucky upgraded from 12/1 to a 4/1 favorite to win NCAA BB Title w/Harrison Twins decision to return - via @Sportsbook_com

@UKDeWaynePeevy:  Very proud of all our guys and their decisions. We are behind each one of the 100 percent. #WeAreUK

@AaronsUKBBBlog:  ESPN's Scott Van Pelt says UK will be an overwhelming favorite to win the national championship next year

Harrison Twins Return For Sophomore Season

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.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Dakari Johnson To Return For Sophomore Season

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 Year

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.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Quotes From Julius Randle's Press Conference Today

Julius Randle

Opening statement ...
“I’ve been blessed and fortunate to be put in the position to have decisions. Big decision for me is whether to declare for the NBA draft or not. (After) talking with my family, a lot of prayer I’m deciding to declare for the NBA draft. I’m a man of faith. A lot of prayer has gone into this situation, talking with my mom, my sister, the things they’ve done for me. I come from a really good background. Jeff and Thrya Webster over there, my godparents, I can’t thank them enough for what they’ve done for me. Mr. Troutt and Mrs. Troutt, Kenny and Lisa, they’ve been there for me. I started with the best program with Coach Scott (Pospichal) since fifth grade. That was kind of my foundation.

“To all the Kentucky fans, I really want to thank you all for what you all have done for me this year. I’ve had the best coaching staff in the country. They spent countless hours working with me, night in and night out, in the gym, preparing me to take this step. Also, my former high school, my former school, Prestonwood Christian Academy, they’ve been huge for me, just not as school and basketball but for my faith as well. I can’t thank them for having my back throughout this year and for everything, I can’t thank them enough. Like I said, I’m declaring for the 2014 NBA draft, and I’m pretty excited about it.”

On if there was a point where he thought about coming back ...
“Yeah. I did. It was just — you know this season, this year, the more I think about it, it just went by fast. I’m definitely going to miss it. Kentucky will always have a special place in my heart. Growing up as a kid, it’s always been my dream to play in the NBA, and there’s no better opportunity for me to achieve that goal than now.”

On what the incentives to come back were ...
“I came here to win a national championship. I came here to grow up and mature on and off the court, and I did that. I know I came one game short of winning a national championship – we did as a team – but everything we went through this year is just an experience that I’ll never forget. That alone was enough, kept me at peace to leave.”

On why not come back to chase that title ...
“This more was about me personally. Everybody’s dream, goal is to win a national championship. Like I said, we came one game short, but this decision was about me personally, what I felt was best for me to grow on and off the court. And also, like I said, there’s no better time for me to achieve my dream than now.”

On his one year at UK and if anything surprised him ...
“I would say my one year here was fantastic because Coach Cal goes into your home when he recruits you and he says, ‘It’s going to be the hardest thing you’ve ever done. You’re going to work the hardest you ever did.’ You say OK, but you may not believe it. But once you’re in the fire, what he said is true. And I think that’s really grown me as a person more than even as a basketball player, I think you can say, because I learned how to deal with things and I can apply it to life as well.”

On how much he looks forward to getting defended one-on-one in the NBA vs. double- and triple-teams here ... “(Laughing) Uh, it’ll be nice. It’ll be nice. If that’s what happens. The next level is going to be a challenge, but hopefully that happens.”

On what NBA feedback he got ...
“A lot of positive feedback. Enough positive feedback for me to decide that I wanted to enter the NBA draft.”

On how good UK could be next year with some guys returning ... “Our team next year? They’ll be amazing. I mean, we have so much talent. Willie (Cauley-Stein) coming back. We have Marcus (Lee). He was huge in the tournament. All the incoming guys. We have so much talent coming in next year. We’re definitely going to make another run. This team is definitely going to be deep next year, depending on who comes back. And you know Coach Cal is always going to do a great job of developing players.”

On how much the guys making NBA decisions talked to each other ...
“A little bit, but this wasn’t about — it was just about... each individual player personally, and what he thought was best for his future. Any decision any player made, we were gonna have their back 100 percent, and that’s the biggest thing. We became brothers throughout the year, and if it was time for somebody to leave or not, if they’re staying, we’re gonna have their back 100 percent, because we know they’re doing the best thing for them. You can’t go wrong with either decision.”

On what he’s heard about where he might go in the draft ...
“I mean, I’m not sure. I’m blessed to be in a position to be able to have a chance to get drafted, and I’m pretty sure when we start the combine and the workouts with individual teams I’ll have a better feeling of where I’ll go. But I was confident enough to enter the draft.”

On if he’s picked an agent ...
“I haven’t, but I’ve talked to my family about it, and we’re gonna continue to pray about it and go through the right process and I’ll come to a conclusion on what agent I want.”

On if the postseason run gave him any more peace about making the decision ...
“It was, like I said, an experience I’ll never forget. Just all the adversity that we went through all year, and to finally have the opportunity to play for a national championship and to see how we came together during a postseason run, it’s just something I’ll never forget. And like I said, it’ll always — I’ll grow old one day and I’ll be able to tell my children or grandchildren about something that I did when I was 19 years old. It’ll always be a memory for me.”

On how this year prepared him for the next level ...
“It just prepared me to learn how to deal with situations. Each day you have to take things a day at a time. You’re definitely gonna face adversity in your life, whether it’s basketball or not, so just facing this being basketball-related and all the doubt that you may have and the criticism, it just taught me how to deal with things and I can apply (that) to life as well.”

On what advice he would give to next year’s team ...
“Well me personally, I never—I think that’s why I was able deal with the criticism myself, because I never really fed into or really read anything or believed anything. I just tried to stay in my own little circle or little bubble and focused on the team and that’s all I really cared about. As long as you’re invested into the team and that’s your total focus, investing into being a student-athlete, then you really won’t waiver too much from the criticism or expectations.”

On how old he was when he started thinking about the NBA ...
“I don’t know an exact age, but probably when I started playing basketball, three or four years old. I grew up watching guys, grew up watching the NBA Playoffs and stuff like that and it’s just always where I wanted to be.”

On how his game will change at the next level after he played in the post mostly in college ...
“I’m not really sure. I wouldn’t necessarily say that. Coach Cal did a great job of using me in many different ways. It just happened that posting up and a low-post player, that was one of my strengths here and everybody had to sacrifice. Everybody had their role and once we bought into the role and believed in the role I think that’s why we made the postseason run and we just believed in each other and our role that coach had for us.”

On what he learned from the NCAA Tournament run ...
“It changed my game a lot. I didn’t have to worry about doing anything crazy or going out there and trying to score a lot of points or anything like that because we just had so much talent that, I mean, that’s the way it should have been. I wasn’t too much worried about it. Less is more. We saw what he did with Andrew (Harrison) and how it worked. I had all the faith in coach. That’s why I came here, because I trusted his advice and, you know, less is more. That’s how I was able to contribute to the run late in the season.”

On what stands out in his mind about things he did this season ...
“Just how we overcame things. We went through a lot personally and as a team. We took a lot of things – some of it was fair and some of it wasn’t fair – but at the end of the day, it never shook us. We always stayed together and it just lets you know about each individual on the team, how tough-minded they are. A lot of days I don’t go into practice or go into a game feeling well, but I look at those guys and I know that they’ve been through everything I’ve been through and just kind of gives you motivation to push through the day.”

On if he’s talked with Andrew or Aaron Harrison at all and where their heads are right now ...
“I can’t really speak for them. I haven’t given them any advice or anything like that. If I’m talking to anybody it’s just because I’m trying to see how they’re doing or we’re just talking about normal teenage things or whatever. I’m pretty sure they’ll make the best decision for them, but as far as where they’ll go or whether they’ll declare or not, I can’t speak on that.”

On what advice Coach Cal gave him ...
“As far as?” (Deciding which way to go ...) “He just—he gave me all the information — what NBA teams are seeing, the feedback he’s got — and I just took that information and talked with my family about it. He told me that he felt like I was ready. It was up to me whether I wanted to come back or not. He was my biggest supporter—or he was a big supporter for me throughout this process. He put me in a position to be able to declare and I’m happy for that opportunity.” 

Randle To Enter Draft; Still Waiting on Alex, Dakari and Twins

Today, Julius Randle made his decision and to the shock of absolutely no one, he has decided to enter the 2014 NBA Draft. You can't blame the kid, he has been projected as a top five pick all season long and when you're projected that high, you HAVE to go.

Now that Randle has made his decision, BBN waits to see what Dakari Johnson, Alex Poythress, but probably more importantly, Aaron and Andrew Harrison will decide to do. An argument can be made that they all should return for another season, but if one or all get a guarantee to be taken in the first round, you almost have to go. It only makes good business sense. 

Calipari was set to have a meeting with Aaron, Andrew and their father today to discuss their options. If you have paid any attention to social media you would know that their draft status isn't the best so to speak. Now, that's not to say that their return is all but certain, that's just saying that as of yesterday they have not heard what they expected they would hear at this juncture of their career. If I had to bet, I'd say that they will return for another season at Kentucky, but again, that's just a guess just like everything else that's out there. NO ONE knows what these kids are going to do and anyone claiming they know for certain are making themselves look foolish to say the least.

As for Alex and Dakari, I'd say smart money is on Alex returning for his junior year. The kid actually enjoys school and really wants to earn his degree, but Dakari is a different story. I think Dakari likes school and the whole college experience just fine, but some have said that he may have gotten some information about his draft probabilities that is really making him take a long serious look at entering the draft.

The good news is, we should know what everyone will be doing by this weekend so the wait is almost over. Until then, enjoy the rest of your work-week.

Also, congratulations to Julius Randle on making his decision and we wish him nothing but the best and look forward to watching him tear it up in the NBA.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Mitch Barnhart and UK Need Your Help

Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart wrote a letter to the Big Blue Nation introducing a fan initiative called BBN First on Monday afternoon. In the first phase of the initiative, fans are being asked submit suggestions for how to enhance their experiences by visiting a new website,, or emailing

Below is Barnhart’s complete letter.

As I rode with our men’s basketball team from the airport to the celebration of a remarkable NCAA Tournament run, I was reminded of the deep ties we share with our fans. I saw the blue you wore and the pride on your faces and couldn’t help but think about how important the Big Blue Nation is to all we do.

It’s a fact we have never forgotten, but it bears repeating: None of this is possible without you, the fans. Without you, none of us – student-athletes, coaches, staff – would be here.

With that in mind, I am asking everyone involved with UK Athletics to make a renewed commitment to our fans. We will honor those deep ties by making sure you have great experiences when you invest time and money to support your Wildcats. We are going to put you, the Big Blue Nation, first.

Three core concepts will guide this effort:

1.       We will compete for championships and make our fans proud.

I am incredibly proud of the work our Wildcats have done to make Kentucky as strong overall as it has ever been, culminating in the first top-25 finish in national all-sports standings in school history. For them to do it while also excelling in both the classroom and the community is even more impressive.

Now, just as I am asking my staff to take the fan experience to the next level, I am challenging student-athletes and coaches to build on that solid foundation and work to be the best department in the country and to continue to do it the right way. That’s what the Big Blue Nation deserves.

We all share in this.

As a department, it is our job to give our teams the resources they need to compete for championships. With new and under-construction facilities across campus, I believe we are doing this. In all those venues, I ask you to help us create the best possible home-field advantage for all of our teams. I have seen and heard our fans be the difference in more games than I can count. We need you now more than ever.

2.       We will provide a first-class game-day experience.

We know your experience on game day begins well before you enter the stadium. It starts when you are making plans to attend a game, continues when you are parking your car and doesn’t end until the moment you arrive at home. For that reason, we will be intentional and transparent in all we do, from our ticketing process to enhancing the action on the field with music, audio and video.

No matter the venue, we want to create an atmosphere that tells fans they are at a Kentucky event. We will strive to create memories for fans, not only through the action on the field but also through one-on-one interactions with each and every one of you.

3.       We will create a shared family atmosphere.

From children experiencing their first UK event to students supporting their school to fans who have been attending games for decades, we will create an atmosphere everyone can share. In doing this, we will ask fans to take an ownership role in the game-day experience by observing good sportsmanship, interacting positively with fellow fans and helping to take care of our facilities.

We have the best fans in the world and that will shine through in all we do. We truly appreciate you, the members of the Big Blue Nation. We will demonstrate this appreciation by connecting you to Kentucky like never before, using technology to supplement the game-day experience before, during and after events.

Though we will strive to be on the cutting edge, we will never forget where we come from. We share an incredibly special history and tradition and will always honor what it means to wear a Kentucky uniform.

Guided by these concepts, I formed a Fan Experience Committee with staff members from event management, marketing, ticketing and communications as we began the new year. We are meeting regularly to assess all aspects of our fan experience, but we need your help.

We want to know how we can best serve you. We want to know what we can do to give you the game-day experience you deserve. We are already investigating and refining on our own, but we need your input.

What can we do better? What are we already doing well? What have you seen at other sporting events that we should implement?

No suggestion is too big and none too small. From concessions to promotions to music selection, we want to know what matters to you. We are going to use every outlet available to us to listen to your feedback.

·         Visit our new website,, and submit your feedback.
·         Email us at
·         Continue the conversation by tweeting with the hashtag #BBNfirst and by visiting our Facebook page (

We are looking forward to hearing from you. Through our fan experience committee, we are taking a hard look at everything we do and your feedback will play an important role in this process.

We hope you notice improvements at the next UK event you attend, but BBN First is only just beginning. 

‘Til the Battle Is Won,
Mitch Barnhart

Randle to Announce Decision Tomorrow

There will be a press conference tomorrow at 1:30pm where Julius Randle  will make his NBA decision. 

Just guessing here, but you don't call a press conference to announce you're staying another year. But, we will wait and see what happens. 

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Karl Anthony-Towns Jr. Makes ESPN Top Ten Plays During Jordan Brand Classic

Future Cat, Karl Anthony-Towns made tonights Sport Centers Top 10 Plays with this nifty behind the back assist from half-court during tonights Jordan Brand Classic game. Kentucky is getting a good one in Towns... Watch the video below for proof...

Friday, April 18, 2014

Marcus Lee to Return For His Sophomore Year

I'm a little late to the party on this one, but here is my take on Marcus Lee's decision to return to Kentucky or his sophomore season.

After his brother told that Marcus Lee would return to Kentucky for his sophomore season, Marcus decided to make it official today by having UK send out an official press release with the following statement from Marcus...

"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."

Calipari also had something to say about Marcus' decision to return for another season...

"I'm excited for Marcus and think he’s barely scratched the surface of what he’s capable of. 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."

Not that my opinion matters at all to someone like John Calipari, but I agree with him when he says Marcus has only scratched the surface. When you look back on how he came in and performed when Willie Cauley-Stien went down with an ankle injury during the NCAA Tournament, you can't help but get excited at what this young man could possibly brign to the table next year.

A lot of people, some that I know personally, thought it was senseless to think that Marcus could have entertained the thought of entering the NBA Draft. After the athletic plays he had during the NCAA Tournament, him going to the draft became a real possibility. All it takes is one play for scouts to notice something in a player, like the dunk James Young had against UConn in the championship game. That one dunk probably moved James up the draft board a good three to four spots in some scouts minds and got them to take a closer look.  So it wouldn't have been the craziest thing to see Marcus enter his name into the draft. Hell, you don't have to look no further than one Daniel Orton to see that you don't have to do a whole lot to be taken in the first round of the draft.

Congratulations to Marcus on making his decision...

Thursday, April 17, 2014

John Calipari's Post Season Press Conference QUOTES (FULL TRANSCRIPT)

John Calipari

Opening Statement …
“I apologize for being a few minutes late, I was a little under the weather this morning. Let me – I’ll just say a couple things and then you guys can ask questions about the book. Yesterday, the experience for me was the full gambit of being able to sit down with President (Bill) Clinton for nearly two hours, talk about everything. I asked him a lot of questions, he asked me some things. I asked him this question, what would you do if you were in my shoes coaching Division 1 college basketball right now? And you could almost predict this answer because he’s always been about people. I think part of his campaign was ‘People First.’ So then I leave that meeting – or that lunch – and I get to go see Michael Kidd (-Gilchrist), Chris Douglas (-Roberts) and Derrick Rose. And it was like homecoming for all of them for me and the people with me, they could feel what was there. And it’s amazing because people say, ‘well you need four years to have a relation.’ No you don’t. It’s do they trust that you had their back. You ask them to sacrifice, did you – were you there for them, most importantly as an individual. And again, I go back to that’s basically what the book is about, talking about how we get to that point. So it was a good day, even though it was an extremely long day.”

On if he knows who is leaving yet …
“The book … (laughter). You know, what we did was I did what I always do. I sit down with all of the kids. Some of them I met down in Dallas, all of them I met and said do you want me to explore the NCAA – er, the NBA stuff with you. And a couple of them said no, a majority of them said yes. I then proceeded to; I ended up talking to or touching about 19 GMs. One of the players that said no, I received information not even trying, they gave it to me, that he potentially is a first round draft pick so I called him back in and said, you need to get with your mother and we need to talk about this because I need you to know what you’re passing on by coming back. And what I told him and his mother, I gotta live with myself. I told him, I want you to come back, I think you need to come back but you need to know what’s out there. So I’ve had to walk through that. The others, again, I talked to the NBA again yesterday as a whole, there was information given to me that I need to go directly to the parents and the reason is because I don’t want there to be any filter. This is what is, this is it, happy, sad, angry, whatever. This is it. And then I told all the kids when we met back on campus when I had the information that I had and it was pretty accurate from what I learned yesterday, whatever decision you make, to leave, to come back, this basketball program 50 years from now will be fine and so will this institution. You don’t make it because of me; you make it because it’s right for you, whatever you do. Willie (Cauley-Stein) said – I said Willie – raise your hand if you were stunned that he said he’s coming back. So, I never even talked about him coming back. My talk to him was about – you know what I said to him – Willie, you know when I went to your high school the first time, you had a tennis racket in your hand. The second time I went to the high school you were playing whiffle ball and the third time I went to your high school you were playing kickball, I never saw you with a basketball. I saw you play two football games where I had a seven-foot corner back and wide receiver and I’m on the sideline just – and I said, you right now are in the middle of this draft, maybe as low as the lottery. But, can you imagine? And that was our talk. And when he came back he basically said, ‘you know, coach, I’m in no hurry to leave. I love going to school, I’m going to be really close to my degree, I still have to grow as a player and we left something on the table there that I’d like to try again. That’s a good answer for me if you want to come back. If you say, I think it would be easier to come back I’d say, you need to go. It’s not easier to come back. There’s a reason why you do this and I want to make sure they’re thinking it through.”

On if Willie Cauley-Stein will be ready to work out in the summer with his injury …
“Yes. He still has a month or two to go, couple months but he’ll be fine.”

On if he had surgery …
“He did have surgery. The best doctor in the world did it, kind of like we did with Nerlens (Noel). No, different. They’ve got knee guys, they’ve got ankle guys, they’ve got shoulder people, they have elbow people, he was with the best that there is in the world to have the thing done and it was a procedure that is done a lot so he’ll be fine.”

On how surprised he was from the questioning from Bill O’Reilly and how O’Reilly perceived his job …
“First of all, I want to tell you, most of the interviews I walked in, I knew people, I was very comfortable, you could tell. With Mr. O’Reilly, I was scared to death, yes. When I sat down with him, you know, because I’ve watched and I love when he gets after people, I just don’t want him to get after me so, you know, he came at me with some questions. You have to understand at the time I didn’t care, I was just trying to protect myself, my – just, you know – and I didn’t know what the dialogue would go because I didn’t know him that way, I’ve never interviewed with him. He asked a couple questions that, you know, I could see someone that reads outlying stories would believe that’s what college athletics are about but let me give him his due this way, before we sat down to talk, I said, so were you rooting for Connecticut? He said, ‘I’m not a big college basketball fan so no.’ Kind of leads you to understand that he’s not into all the nuances of college basketball. That’s my defense of the question but I hope when he left, he said, ‘you know maybe I gotta step back and look at this a little different.’ And the second thing he said, ‘I want to come to a game.’ Yeah, so he wants to come down to Lexington to a game. So at some point we’ll have Bill O’Reilly in the first row having to have police around him because he is a rock star.”

On if he was surprised that that image is still out there …
“No, and again – you know – people have an image of this program or me that I know is off base, that’s not accurate. But they have it, how was that generated? By stories, by agendas, people have an agenda, they write a story, they, ‘I’m going to make this program or this guy look this way and everything I write I’m not changing. Even if I look ridiculous and my own credibility is at stake, I’m still going to do it.’ Well you’re going to lose your job. ‘I don’t care.’ It’s what we all deal with.”

On where they are going this summer …
“We’ll probably do something this summer but I haven’t made a total decision of what it will be. It will probably be something to do with the World Games. You know, trying to play teams from the World Games, which means we’d probably get beat up each game because you’ve got NBA players on every one of those teams but it would be a great experience. Listen folks, I haven’t slowed down right now. And it’s really good, why is it good that I haven’t slowed down? (Because if you did, you’d keel over) Yeah – no that and the fact that I’d think about that last game where we had a chance to win the national title and it’s a one-point game for five possessions, we miss a lay-up, we miss free throws, we miss a 3 and all of a sudden they make a 3 because eventually they were going to make a shot and it change – and then I want to jump off a bridge. So just keep running and I’m not looking back. Until May 2nd, I’m having my hip replaced here in town, one of the best hip doctors is right here in Lexington and so I’ll do it here, take a month to recuperate and then try to get back.”

On if he thinks the twins will be back …
“I have no idea.”

On if the guys who haven’t made decisions yet have given him any sort of time frame and if he has to look at adding players …
“They have ‘til the (27)th. No, I don’t – well we may – but this is about them, not me and the program. They have ‘til the 27th to make a decision. I don’t even know what the NCAA date is because we don’t worry about it. It has nothing to do with us. The only date they have to be concerned about is the 27th, when they have to put their name in or they don’t put their name in.”

On if he’s done recruiting at this point and if he would restart …
“Well, we’re recruiting but it’s – we’re not really recruiting anybody for our team right now but there are some names out there if this thing in the next week or two – and I would imagine there are players out there waiting to see, if these guys leave I’m going because I’ll be able to step in. And we still have some guys that have decisions to make.”

On how making it to the championship game really changed the process of guys going to the NBA …
“What – and Kenny Payne says this all the time – you guys don’t understand, people want winning players. So winning matters. It does. If our team had gotten in the NCAA Tournament last year and we had advanced, it would have been different for some of those guys, that’s just how it is. Winning matters and that’s why you keep convincing them, you’ve got to do this together, you’ve got to give up some of your game. Let me tell you, last night I go to watch that Bobcat game and Michael started and played nine minutes and then they played Chris Douglas and some other guys and then in the second half he started and played his nine minutes or whatever and I’m telling you the biggest cheerleader on the Bobcats was Michael Kidd. And I can’t tell you how proud that makes me. He is the greatest teammate and there is a value, there is a skill to that. We all know how hard he works, we know what a defender he is, we know all that. There is a skill to that. And so to see that means he learned it, he understands it and I believe he learned it here. You know, again, in the book – by the way – I tell the story about the Vanderbilt game in the (SEC Tournament) championships where he comes into me 30 minutes before the game and he says, ‘You need to start Darius (Miller).’ I go, what are you talking about? He said, ‘coach, the kid hasn’t scored in the first two games, you’re killing him and we need him to win a national title.’ So I do start him and I tell Darius why he is starting, Michael wants you to start in his place. Darius takes 17 shots, which you all know means we were not going to win. Michael comes off the bench which he hadn’t done all year and gets in foul trouble because he didn’t know how to come off the bench. We lose the game, but we win the national title because of a player who said, ‘let somebody – I’ll step back so they can step forward.’ That’s the kind of stuff that’s in the book because people don’t understand we’re teaching servant leadership here. We’re teaching guys to do less, which is more. To be wrong so that someone else can be right. To take responsibility, which takes it off someone else. Well, how do you do it with guys that are all coming in here as the star and the only guy, the center of attention and you’re asking them to do less. Well you know what it is? They have to know, ‘I’ll do this but coach you’ve gotta have my back because my family’s life is at stake. Do you have my back? Are you going to be there for me because you want me to be there for everybody else but I’m trying to survive. I haven’t made it yet coach, I’m trying  survive.’ That’s what we talk about, the one-and-done, the NCAA stuff, it was just a coincidence that that food thing changed yesterday. Just a coincidence. But it did change so I’m happy. So now we’re down to 12 more things they have to do instead of 13 and I have another 15 but that will be for another book after they get through these 12.”

On Mark Stoops saying yesterday he’s had players send meal money home for their families …
“Yeah, oh yeah. They get their – maybe their grant money and they send half of it home to help their family. Oh yes, sometimes more than half. They feel responsibility to their family. Absolutely happens. See, in all this, the food was one part of it, it just showed you how ridiculous some of these things are and they’re not ridiculous because they’re dumb people in the NCAA, they have three degrees – well that doesn’t make them intelligent, let me stop right there. But they are people that have common sense so why would they have these kinds of archaic rules? Because there are people within the NCAA that can’t afford to feed their kids right and those of us that can, can’t feed our kids right because they can’t feed their kids right. They can’t do that, so you can’t do that. That has to end, that is what is ending. It’s what I’ve talked about for the last five years that has to end. The second thing is you cannot call a player professional if he is – we’re flying his family in an expense to a game, to the NCAA Tournament. We fly them home a couple times a year to come to school, to go home to go to Christmas that makes them professional? Stop it. It doesn’t. These people can’t afford to do it so you cannot do it. That’s what’s got to end. We can’t afford to have a cost of living or cost of attendance stipend so you can’t have it. It’s gotta stop. You gotta stop. That’s why this thing is starting to separate, which I talked about five years ago. And then everybody says, ‘he only does this because he’s got an axe to grind with the NCAA.’ Really? Really? I owe a lot to the NCAA. I was able to play basketball, to get a scholarship to go to college, to work in this profession and the NCAA is overseeing it all. No. But – and I don’t agree with all the critics who trying to take people up – but I do have a feel for where this needs to go.”

On looking at the roster for next year …
“Did you read that last chapter of the book, by the way? (No) OK, did anybody read the last chapter of the book? You didn’t read it? OK, you guys read slow, I know that. Maybe have someone read it for you. They also have, you can put it in the cassette form. Like they have it where you can put it in your car and listen to it. But anyway, the last chapter I talk about this year’s team before the season started and it was very dangerous because I knew it was dangerous, we didn’t know where the season would go, I had no idea. But when you read what we were talking about and where we were trying to go, there is a process and there are steps but the end result if it looks like this, we will still be playing in April, basically what I said. Which was dangerous and ended up playing out pretty good because it was about accurate. But there’s a process to what we’re doing. There’s a process now, after the season it’s very simple what we do, we get the information, we let every player know that I would really love to coach him more but you have a decision to make, here’s your information. Whatever decision you make, I will fight for you, coming back or leaving. Don’t make it because of our university, you won’t believe this but 50 years from now the University of Kentucky will still be here. This basketball program that Adolph Rupp built will still be what it is. The ground he built it on, the cement he built it on, what he did to have it sustain this long, think about it. His legacy lives on and it will live for another 50 years so make it for you and your family. We don’t know what each of these families is going through. We’re not living their lives. It’s easy to say, ‘well he should go four years.’ What if your son were Bill Gates? You’d make him stay in school four years? Or Jordan Speith, you’d make him stay in school? ‘Son, you don’t need to keep playing, you don’t need that professional golf crap. You need that degree.’ Really? He can go back and get a degree. Why do you have to do it in four years, you can’t do it in 12 years? Tell me, tell me what – ‘and they gotta do it on the campus.’ Yeah, now they’re saying you don’t need college campus, you can do it on the internet. Why waste all that money? I mean, this stuff is changing right before our eyes? Are we staying up with it? The social media, ‘you shouldn’t let those kids tweet, Facebook…’ Why? Why don’t we teach them? It’s not going away.”

On what it would be like to have a couple of juniors and a couple of sophomores if players return … “Well, obviously it makes my job different than my job has been the last four years. And that means--every one of these kids needs me in a different way. It’ll be even more of a challenge in that regard because I’ve got juniors, sophomores and freshmen. And they all need you different. They need you in a different way. You also have a really talented team of—look, our young players coming in wanted kids to come back. They were calling kids and telling them to come back. So it’s not any of that. Someone would say, ‘Well, would someone leave because of who you have coming in?’ Oh, it’ll be easier against those guys in the NBA than a high school guy? What are you nuts? It has nothing to do with that. It becomes what is best? What is best for that family? You may look at it and say that’s ridiculous, but you don’t live their life. You haven’t done what they’ve done.

“So what you have to do is accept their decision, understand it’s been well thought out, they’ve gotten the information, they know the downside because I gave it to them. They see the upside. I have to remind them of the downside of what could happen. And when they make that choice, you gotta live with it. It’s them; it’s their families.”

On if he got a call from Rex Chapman … “I haven’t talked to Rex but I’m fine. Look, there a couple of other rumors that I’m glad he didn’t talk about on radio. It’s fine. I mean, we didn’t hear it, I didn’t hear it. The only time I learned about it is when the game ended and then Anthony Davis and Darius (Miller) and John Wall and the guys were in there. I can’t remember if one of them said to me, ‘You’re going to Lakers.’ It might have been Anthony. I said, ‘Come on, no, I’m not going to the Lakers.’ And then I looked at him and I said, ‘Unless you’ll come with me.’ As I joked, please. (Pause.) Maybe. (Laughing.)”

On repeating himself and if he believes he’s changing minds and if he even cares about that … “No, I think—the haters are not changing. They don’t care what I say. They turn the TV off and I’m fine with that. The lovers accept whatever I say. It’s all those independents out there that are looking at this in a different light and saying, ‘Well.’ And then the question is: Am I making sense? Is this common-sense stuff?

“I even think the NBA and the NCAA should get together and plan on the players’ association saying, ‘We’re not changing.’ And then I think the NCAA and the NBA should get together and say, ‘How do we encourage kids to stay in school longer, which is good for you and good for us and good for kids.’ It’s not the baseball rule. Would you really want to be a part of the decision that took a whole generation of ninth and 10th graders that said, ‘Forget about education, you’re going directly to the NBA,’ when, in fact, of those 50,000, one or two may do it – maybe, maybe do it. Would you really want to be that person? Or do you want to be that person that encouraged a whole generation of young people, ‘If you want to play pro basketball, you’re going to have to go to college for two years.’ Then by the time they figure out they’re not good enough, they’ll have a college degree and can get on with life. Would you rather be that guy?

“The guys that say let them go out of high school don’t want to coach against them. It’s simple as that. They don’t want to coach against them. For anybody to say Brandon Knight or any of my kids have no business being on a college campus, you’re old, you’re grumpy, go away. You don’t understand what we’re dealing with. We’re dealing with young people and families that have goals and aspirations; that have done right by raising their kids the right way, give them an academic base. Every one of these parents wants their kids to go to college, just like my parents. The goal of my parents is to have all three of their children college educated so they know they did their job to give us the start we needed. My parents, everybody in our family were laborers. They wanted us to be professional people. So I know where these families are coming from.

“Now there are ways that we can encourage, but the NBA’s going to have to work closely and move the NCAA where they need to be so players and families say, ‘It’s not going to hurt you staying another year in school; you need to stay.’ And the players say, ‘I’m fine.’ You can stay in school. And then the families know after two years and three summers, they’re a year away from a college degree. An educated man, even if they didn’t get their degree, they’re educated to the point (where) they’re not going to get fooled, they’re not going to get robbed. They don’t have to give power of attorney to somebody because they can’t read a contract and don’t know what it means and then they give power of attorney and they have no money at the end of their career and they don’t understand why. Well, can I explain it why? Or you’re going to get into all these deals and ‘I’m telling you, you’re going to triple your money.’ An educated man says, ‘There’s nothing for free. If it doesn’t sound real, it’s not real.’ But that’s why you mature and you educate.”

On what he was looking for in filling vacancies on his staff … “I haven’t—everybody’s already named assistant coaches, they tell me, and I haven’t gone through the process. I’ve called some people up. I still—I have work to do but I haven’t had time. I mean, I’ve not done—like, there’s no one I’ve sat down and said, ‘Hey, I want you to do this.’ But I will.”

On how to get past kids thinking they have failed if they return to school … “Well, you have to convince each kid that everybody’s different and we got your back, that you have to trust the process of how we do this. Because the bottom line of the process is developing people and players. That’s what we do. And there’s no skipping steps. Some are mature physically. Some are mature emotionally. Some are both. The ones that are both can go. The ones that are one better be physically and then emotionally you better grow. If you’re emotionally ready and you’re not physically ready and you go, you’re out of your mind. If you’re both, you’re the No. 1 pick in the draft, which we’ve had. So why is one year a failure? ‘Because so-and-so made it.’ You’re not him; you’re you. And he’s not you; he’s him. You have to look at each of these situations, and I’m even doing it in recruiting now where I’m going into homes and one of the things I started saying was, ‘You’re not a failure if you come back two, three or four years. You’re not a failure. You cannot plan on coming into this university for one year and thinking you’re going to get out. If it happens, hallelujah, I’m happy for you. But if it doesn’t happen, you understand, ‘I’m maturing. I understand the grind. I’m physically getting better.’ But it can’t be me just doing it. It’s gotta be everybody out there. Staying in school more than one year is not a failure.”

On how often he mentions Terrence Jones and Doron Lamb, players who came back and won a title … “Well, they both did the right thing and, again, what’s wrong with Patrick Patterson? He’s going to get a big contract, folks. What’s wrong with him? You know what he said? ‘The best thing I did was go back to school and learn how to play out on the floor. It’s changed my life now.’ Well, what’s wrong with that? Now he gets his contract, he gets success. I mean, it’s just—we’re developing people. You know, these guys are up there, freshmen, and I’m stunned because I don’t do it an outward way, but they say, ‘He’s teaching us life skills, too. He’s teaching us about life.’ And I don’t sit there and have a meeting about life. I do it through the context of basketball and tell them how—I’ll give you an example. When you’re worried about yourself, life is really difficult and it’s really lonely. If all you’re focused on is you and how you’re going to do this and what you’re going to do. If you focus your life on everyone around you and less on yourself or not on yourself at all, well, life just became easier. That’s no different as a basketball player. And that’s why I loved it when John (Wall) and DeMarcus (Cousins) did what they did with charity, a million dollars each. When I see these kids tell me, ‘Coach, I’m going to Children’s Hospital,’ or they’re doing stuff on their own or when Jon Hood comes up to me and says, ‘That’s the best thing I’ve learned while I’ve been here.’ And now he wants to get on teaching after he’s done playing or coaching or whatever job. He wants to get involved at any point with helping children with special needs. I mean, that’s what this is about.”

On the argument that players develop better in the D-League … “Ask the guys that all played in the D-League. Ask Terrence Jones. Ask those guys. Don’t ask somebody that’s speaking. ‘I’m gonna tell you that it’s better.’ Really? Have you done it and played it? Let’s all ask the guys, ‘Would you have been better off playing or when they sent you down to the D-League what was better?’ Ask those guys. All I can tell you is its not wasted time if you take advantage of all the stuff that we’re trying to do. But I’m going to come back to we have to make decisions for these kids while they’re here. We can’t make them for us. I made a statement: We’ve gotten into the business of running the railroad instead of moving people. And the minute you do that, the railroad goes out of business. If you’re in the business of moving people, it prospers. It prospers. It feeds on itself. ‘We’re in the business of running the railroad, getting up at 8, leaving at 5.’ Really? ‘Well, we can’t do this.’ Why aren’t you doing it? ‘Because we don’t.’ Really? I presented this to the NCAA, my wife and I: We wanted to start a fund. We’ll fund it; we’ll put the money in. That every player that’s ever played for me, whether they be at Mass, Memphis or Kentucky, can request a grant for their children’s education. And that fund would peel off that money for that reason. And when I stop coaching 25 years later, the money that’s left in that fund would be split between Memphis, Massachusetts and Kentucky. What was the response? ‘It’s an extra benefit.’ My wife and I sat there and said, ‘We’ve been thinking about this for five years. This is what we want to do. So why can’t we put five or 10 million in an account that spills out money that all those players that have played for me?’ ‘Because you’ll use it in recruiting and you’ll have an advantage.’ Well I won’t if 50 other coaches do the same thing. Now if 50 of us do it. We can afford—I’m not the only guy that’s done well and been blessed. Well 50 of us do it. ‘That’s bad.’ That’s the kind of common-sense stuff. Like, they want to act like I don’t want—‘Well how much does he make?’ Well how much have I leveraged this position to do for other people? You all know it. No one else knows it. Now you want to go a step farther and that’s what we fight.”