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Sports Notes: Murray State sharpshooter Payne has prominent position in NBA Draft

Cameron Payne, the OVC Player of the Year, is seen by many experts as a lock to be taken in the first round of the NBA Draft (MSU Athletics Photo)

Cameron Payne, the OVC Player of the Year, is seen by many experts as a lock to be taken in the first round of the NBA Draft (MSU Athletics Photo)


While Kentucky basketball fans continue to speculate about the upcoming NBA Draft and where their favorite former Wildcats may wind up, a couple of other players with Bluegrass ties figure prominently in most mock predictions.

According to Sports Illustrated, UK’s Karl-Anthony Towns and Duke’s Jahlil Okafor are neck-and-neck in the race for the No. 1 selection and three other Wildcats are considered fairly certain to be gone within the first 20 picks. A total of 30 players will be chosen in the first round on June 25.

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The magazine sees Willie Cauley-Stein going to Utah with the No. 12 pick, followed immediately by teammates Trey Lyles (going to Phoenix) and Devin Booker, the No. 14 choice, going to Oaklahoma City.

Interestingly, Aaron and Andrew Harrison and Dakari Johnson are not expected to be taken in the first round and are seen as late second-round picks, if they are chosen at all.

You probably won’t be surprised to hear that Louisville’s Montrezl Harrell was slotted into the No. 19 position, going to Washington, or that SEC Player of the Year, Arkansas forward Bobby Portis, is next, headed to Toronto.

But who’s that sitting at No. 21, possibly headed to the Dallas Mavericks?

Murray State’s sharp-shooting guard Cameron Payne, that who. He ranked ahead of not only the Harrisons, but Virginia’s Justin Anderson, Duke’s Tyus Jones and Notre Dame’s Jerian Grant.

Of course, if you followed the Racers last year, Payne’s inclusion among the nation’s top scoring guards won’t be a surprise. He was the OVC Player of the Year following his second season at Murray after earning conference Freshman of the Year honors a year ago.

The Memphis native averaged 20.2 points a game for the Racers to go with six assists. He became just the second Murray player to score over 700 points in a season while his 209 assists missed the school record by three.

According to KenPom.com, Payne was third ranked nationally in offensive efficiency, behind only Frank Kaminsky of Wisconsin and Tyler Haws of BYU. According to SI, the Mavericks don’t expect another former UK star, point guard Rajon Rondo, to return next year, opening a spot for a new point guard.

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You may have missed it, but Pete Rose is returning to baseball … sort of.

Fox Sports announced that Rose, who has been banned from baseball since 1989, will be a guest studio analyst for baseball pregame shows on the Fox Network and Fox Sports 1.

Rose retired as a player in 1986 as the Major’s League’s all-time hit leader with 4,256 and was manager of the Reds from 1984 until his banishment. New baseball commissioner Rob Manfred has indicated that he will review Rose’s recent request for reinstatement. Although baseball officials were informed of Fox’s decision to involve Rose in its telecasts, the network did not need to seek permission, officials said.

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Eastern Kentucky University senior Amandine Faouzi was recently named the 2015 Ohio Valley Conference Women’s Tennis Player of the Year after leading all conference players with 18 singles victories from the No. 1 position.

A native of Mareil Sur Mauldre, France, she was also the OVC Player of the Year in 2013 and Freshman of the Year in 2012. She was on the All-OVC first team four straight seasons.

Another senior, Kristina Labeja, also made first team All-OVC for the fourth straight year after posting a 15-4 at the No. 2 singles spot for the Colonels. Labeja teamed up with Faouzi to go 3-2 at the No. 1 doubles spot in OVC matches.

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The University of Kentucky ranks No. 15 in the most recent Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup Division I winter standings while Louisville is tied for 20th with Michigan. Arkansas and Florida join UK as SEC members listed while the Atlantic Coast Conference has six representatives in the top 20, the most of any league.

The Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup was developed as a joint effort between the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) and USA Today. Points are awarded based on each institution’s finish in up to 20 sports — 10 women’s and 10 men’s. The final winter ranking will be announced later this month.

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Melissa Kolbe was recently named assistant coach for the Western Kentucky women’s basketball program. Kolbe has been a Division I assistant for 14 years, including most recently at Mount St. Mary’s.

Kolbe was also an assistant at Eastern Kentucky University from 2008-14, helping the Colonels to back-to-back winning seasons in 2012-13 and 2013-14. EKU made its first appearance in the Women’s Basketball Invitational following the 2014 season.

Kolbe, who played for Wittenberg College, was also an assistant at East Carolina, Mercer and Valdosta State.

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