A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Jamie Vaught: Calipari asks media, ‘What did you learn about my team?’ after scare from Vanderbilt

University of Kentucky head coach John Calipari loves teaching his players how to play and respect the game. He really enjoys his role. Instead of Coach Cal, we perhaps should start calling him Professor Cal. And he probably couldn’t resist an opportunity to teach the media folks a thing or two like he did after 13th-ranked Kentucky’s 71-62 comeback win over Vanderbilt at Rupp Arena Wednesday...

Jamie Vaught: Despite tougher schedule, Kentucky’s odds for winning 2020 football season look strong

The football Wildcats, who are coming off an electrifying Belk Bowl victory over Virginia Tech in Charlotte, now have posted four straight winning seasons. Will they have another victorious campaign in 2020? I think so, although the schedule may be a little bit tougher. But UK will have some experienced weapons coming back and that helps. In addition, the Wildcats have more talent than in the past...

Jamie Vaught: Saturday’s matchup with Georgia Tech gives Cats first big-name opponent in seven games

For the first time in over a month, Kentucky will finally face a big-name opponent in Georgia Tech on Saturday afternoon at Rupp Arena. Both schools are beginning a two-game series with next season’s matchup taking place at State Farm Arena (formerly Phillips Arena) in downtown Atlanta. After going through a series of seven straight home games against the so-called cupcakes, the Rupp Arena crowd...

Jamie Vaught: Combination of Hagans, Maxey and Quickley give Cats one of nation’s best backcourts

Ashton Hagans, Tyrese Maxey and Immanuel Quickley (Photos from UK Athletics) Kentucky has one of the nation’s best backcourts this season, featuring its three-headed monster lineup of guards Ashton Hagans, Tyrese Maxey and Immanuel Quickley. As far as preseason hype goes, Hagans and Maxey had much more attention or publicity than Quickley as they garnered preseason Watch Lists and All-SEC honors....

Jamie Vaught: Miss Basketball candidate Ally Collett looking forward to senior season at South Laurel

Ally Collett is a very personable athlete who wants to help her team flourish and give opponents a hard time on the hardwood floor. And the prep senior is actually a basketball superstar. Collett is ranked as the No. 1 girls’ player from the Class of 2020 in the state of Kentucky, according to a preseason Top 25 poll by Exposure2.0 and Pure Prospects. Ally Collett (Photo by Jamie H. Vaught) In a...

Jamie Vaught: UK sophomores Hagans, Howard will be key to success of respective teams this season

Ashton Hagans, in my opinion, is the most important player for the Kentucky Wildcats this season. As a valuable point guard on the hardwood floor, Hagans runs the show. The 6-3 sophomore from Cartersville, Georgia, will keep things going smoothly with his leadership. And Hagans sure can play sticky defense, creating chaos on his opponent. Last season, he was named SEC’s Co-Defensive Player of the...

Jamie Vaught: Calipari set to begin second decade at UK helm; Gators will give Cats a run for SEC title

Yes, it’s hard to believe that John Calipari is beginning his second decade at Kentucky. Yes, it’s been that long since he arrived on campus in 2009 to take over the coveted head coaching job at UK. Despite the constant turnover of “one-and-done” standouts over the years, the 60-year-old Calipari once again is expected to have another very good basketball team in Lexington this winter with...

Jamie Vaught: Cats should still fare well, despite loss of Wilson; Bob Stoops opens up about storied career

While it was heartbreaking to see quarterback Terry Wilson’s season-ending injury during Kentucky’s win over Eastern Michigan last weekend, I still think the Wildcats will be okay this season with backup QB Sawyer Smith, a graduate transfer from Troy who started the last seven games of the 2018 campaign, helping his team to a Dollar General Bowl victory, and earning bowl’s MVP honors. Before...

Jamie Vaught: UK football has tough act to follow, but look for Wildcats to finish 8-4 with another bowl trip

The football Wildcats from Lexington will have a very tough act to follow this fall. That’s after we saw a historical campaign by the 2018 University of Kentucky squad, which came up with the school’s best season in 41 years as the Cats posted a remarkable 10-3 record — including a New Year’s Day bowl victory over Penn State. Kentucky also finished with a winning league mark of 5-3 for the...

Jamie Vaught: Despite key personnel losses from 10-3 team, UK football should remain competitive in SEC

After enjoying a remarkable 10-3 campaign in 2018, including a victory over Penn State in a New Year’s Day bowl, will the University of Kentucky football team continue its winning ways this fall? Yes, but the Wildcats likely will regress some after losing megastars Josh Allen and Benny Snell Jr. to the NFL. UK won’t win 10 games this time, but it should remain respectable with a forgiving schedule...

Jamie Vaught: With basketball season winding down, it’s time to discuss SEC’s top individual award

With UK basketball’s regular season nearly over, we can now start discussing one of SEC’s top individual awards. Who is going to be the 2019 SEC Player of the Year? Tennessee’s 6-7 junior star Grant Williams, who captured SEC Player of the Year honors last year, is attempting to make history by becoming the 10th player to win SEC Player of the Year in back-to-back seasons. The other nine SEC...

Jamie Vaught: Despite early season setbacks, Cats rebound, make basketball in Kentucky fun again

UK Basketball is fun again. After that ugly season-opening loss to Duke in Indianapolis back on Election Day in early November, the Big Blue Nation suffered a horrible spell for nearly two months. The rabid fans had seen the Wildcats, a preseason No. 2 team behind Kansas, fall from grace. Kentucky was no longer a serious Final Four contender. Three days later, UK bounced back and defeated Missouri...

Jamie Vaught: Cal’s gesture an honorable one, Pitino should be recognized for accomplishments at UK

Rick Pitino was nowhere to be seen in the Big Blue Nation last month when UK basketball coach John Calipari reached out to the former Wildcats boss for the celebration of UK’s 1993 Final Four team’s 25th-year anniversary held in Lexington. It was Pitino who took that team to the school’s first Final Four trip in nearly 10 years. But Pitino — who in 1989 took over the Kentucky program in...

Jamie Vaught: Looking ahead to 2019 after ‘Amazing Cats’ add exclamation point to outstanding season

Before New Year’s Day in 2019, like many fans, I only saw ONE great UK football team during my career as a sportswriter. But that statement changed after the 16th-ranked Wildcats ended their stunning 2018 campaign with an exciting 27-24 victory over No. 12 Penn State on Tuesday in a sunny Citrus Bowl in Orlando, finishing with an amazing 10-3 mark, including three wins over nationally-ranked teams...

Jamie Vaught: Sharing memories of former Wildcats coach Joe B. Hall as he celebrates his 90th birthday

As you’ll recall, former Kentucky basketball coach Joe B. Hall recently celebrated his 90th birthday. He is a beloved celebrity in the Big Blue Nation. He was coaching the Wildcats when I was a student at the University of Kentucky back in the late 1970s. And, through my sportswriting career, I have lots of good memories of Coach Hall and interviewed him a few times. I’ll share some of my favorite...

Jamie Vaught: Kentucky’s weak non-conference football schedule highlights need for solid rivalry

Except for its annual rivalry showdown with U of L, UK’s non-conference football schedule hasn’t been very attractive in years. But, to be fair, Kentucky isn’t the only school guilty of having a weak non-league, four-game schedule overall. As you know, SEC and ACC schools, looking for near-guarantee victories, will usually feature three cupcakes and one attractive non-conference showdown like...

Snell: Cats feeling like ‘Superman’ following second scrimmage of camp

By Keith Taylor Kentucky Today The Kentucky football team was soaring following its second preseason scrimmage Saturday at Kroger Field. Unlike last week’s scrimmage, this one produced rave reviews from the coaches and players. Standout running back Benny Snell said the team’s performance a week ago served as a motivation to get better within a seven-day window and the Wildcats did just that. “The...

Jamie Vaught: Game-by-game forecast for the University of Kentucky 2018 football schedule

Are you ready for the college football campaign to kick off? Well, I am. Here’s my annual game-by-game forecast of UK’s 2018 schedule. • CENTRAL MICHIGAN (Sept. 1, Lexington): The Chippewas, who are coming off an 8-5 mark last fall, have been showing up for post-season bowl parties five times in the last six years. However, since Central Michigan has lost several key players, the Chippewas...

Jamie Vaught: Kentucky sophomore PJ Washington settling into role as one of the ‘old guys’ for Wildcats

In the one-and-done era, especially at Kentucky, PJ Washington is now considered one of the old guys. Even though the 6-7, 236-pounder from Dallas will be a sophomore, he will be expected to provide some guidance and leadership for UK’s 2018-19 squad which is loaded with a super crop of highly-regarded freshmen as well as a couple of key sophomore returnees Quade Green and Nick Richards. In addition,...

Jamie Vaught: Former Wildcat Bret Bearup an outgoing person who never knew a stranger

Bret “Bear” Bearup was one of the most charismatic UK basketball players ever to wear a Kentucky Wildcat jersey. And it’s still hard to believe that Bear is gone.  I was at my hotel room in Louisville last Thursday evening (May 17) when I learned through social media on my smartphone that he had died suddenly at the age of only 56. Like the faithful fans from the Big Blue Nation, his UK teammates,...