A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Brian Long, Sam Malone have enjoyed first-hand look at highs and lows of UK basketball

In their UK careers, junior walk-on guards Brian Long and Sam Malone have combined for eight points in 24 games, but they have had a first-hand look at some of the highest highs and lowest lows in recent UK basketball history.   [widgets_on_pages id=”Jon”] As freshmen, Malone and Long were along for the ride for UK’s 2012 national championship run. As sophomores, they were part...

Former practice player Tod Lanter hopes
to contribute for Cats before his career ends

It’s not often a UK men’s basketball player can fly under the radar, but that is what happened to redshirt junior walk-on guard Tod Lanter during his first season as a Wildcat.   [widgets_on_pages id=”Jon”] Lanter first joined the team as a practice player just before the start of the 2012-13 season before earning a spot on the roster.   He made it through his first...

Jon Hood focusing on having fun during final season of eligibility in five-year UK career

If there is an expert on the “John Calipari Era” at UK, it is likely senior guard Jon Hood.   [widgets_on_pages id=”Jon”] Hood is the only player to suit up for each of Calipari’s five UK teams.   In five years at UK, Hood has teamed up with 43 different players. He has already played alongside 17 NBA draft picks, including 13 first-rounders.   While Hood...

After carving out bench role, Jarrod Polson returns to UK for chance at second title

Senior guard Jarrod Polson has been a fan favorite since he stepped on campus as a walk-on from West Jessamine High School.   [widgets_on_pages id=”Jon”] But Polson’s status among the Big Blue Nation added a new dimension in the 2012-13 season opener versus Maryland when he posted a then career-high 10 points on four-of-five shooting in 22 minutes off the bench.   As a junior,...

Alex Poythress plans to carry forward lessons learned in up-and-down freshman season

On paper, UK sophomore Alex Poythress posted what most logical assessments would consider a successful debut collegiate season.   [widgets_on_pages id=”Jon”] But Poythress faced comparisons to the plethora of freshmen who have starred at UK in the John Calipari Era and frustrated fans and coaches by disappearing for long periods of time after showing glimpses of his immense talent.   “He...

Willie Cauley-Stein takes pride in defying stereotypes as he prepares for 2013-14 season

At 7-foot, 244 pounds, UK sophomore forward Willie Cauley-Stein is unlikely to be mistaken for your average college student.   [widgets_on_pages id=”Jon”] But if you expect Cauley-Stein to act like the stereotypes associated with big-time college athletes, you will probably be disappointed.   That is just fine with him.   “I love being different,” Cauley-Stein...

E. J. Floreal brings Olympic pedigree to UK
as freshman walk-on, son of track coach

E. J. Floreal is no stranger to stacked rosters.   [widgets_on_pages id=”Jon”] His father, UK track and field head coach Edrick Floreal, brought in 49 new athletes to his program this year. Comparatively, E. J.’s inclusion in the UK men’s basketball team’s nine-member freshman class does not seem as daunting.   Floreal joins the basketball team as a walk-on,...

James Young hopes to bring instant offense
to Wildcats after proving himself to Calipari

Ask UK freshman guard James Young what he envisions for his role on the 2013-14 team, and he has an answer ready.   [widgets_on_pages id=”Jon”] “If I get the ball, I’m going to score,” he said in a one-on-one interview with KyForward in September. “I feel like that’s what I do best, so why not keep doing it?”   Young arrives at UK as one of...

Dominique Hawkins hopes to carry his state tournament success over to college career

When talking to UK freshman point guard Dominique Hawkins one of the first things you notice is his ever-present smile.   [widgets_on_pages id=”Jon”] Since earning a scholarship offer from UK following a historic run to the Kentucky state high school championship with Madison Central in March, Hawkins has had plenty to smile about.   “I always wanted to play at Kentucky,”...

Derek Willis not focused on rankings as he plays with more highly touted Wildcats

One might expect a Kentucky native—who grew up less than 100 miles west of Lexington—who signs to play basketball with UK would have grown up an avid Wildcat fan.   [widgets_on_pages id=”Jon”] That is not the case for UK freshman forward Derek Willis.   “I was a Louisville fan, but we rooted for anyone in Kentucky, anyone who represented the Commonwealth,” he said...

Andrew Harrison looks to be next great ‘Calipari point guard,’ lead as a freshman

Entering the 2012-13 season, UK head coach John Calipari was working on a four-year streak of turning his point guard into a one-and-done NBA first-round draft pick.   [widgets_on_pages id=”Jon”] That streak ended, as did UK’s NCAA Tournament streak. Redshirt sophomore point guard Ryan Harrow transferred to Georgia State following an up-and-down season in his one year playing...

Kentucky’s Aaron Harrison hopes to show
he isn’t the second-best Harrison in town

UK freshman guard Aaron Harrison is used to being compared to his twin brother.   [widgets_on_pages id=”Jon”] Still, he might be the only basketball player who can say he is considered the consensus No. 1 recruit in the country at his position but not considered the best recruit in his house.   That’s the situation Aaron finds himself in after being ranked as the No. 1 shooting...

Kentucky not shying away from 40-0 talk,
still focusing on daily grind of season

For most programs coming off a first-round NIT loss, the goal might be to reach the NCAA Tournament or to simply show consistent progress on the court.   Not at UK.   [widgets_on_pages id=”Jon”] With the Wildcats just more than six months removed from a NIT loss to Robert Morris, fans are already talking about John Calipari‘s newest team reaching the Final Four, winning...

Dakari Johnson embraces center role, hopes to prove he was underrated in recruiting

If basketball does not work out for UK freshman center Dakari Johnson, he may have a future in an unlikely sport:   Ping pong.   [widgets_on_pages id=”Jon”] “I take that serious,” Johnson said with a smile in a one-on-one interview with KyForward in September. “At my high school, it was, like, 52-percent Chinese, and they play ping pong all the time, so I kind...

Awe-inducing haul of scholarship players has Kentucky’s John Calipari excited for practice

Ask John Calipari what he learned from the 2012-13 NIT season, and it does not take him long to come up with an answer.   [widgets_on_pages id=”Jon”] “You can’t do what I did last year and have eight kids on scholarship,” Calipari said in a preseason roundtable interview with local media. “It’s true: You can’t save these kids from competition. I...

Julius Randle ready to be Kentucky’s
‘alpha beast,’ challenge for Player of the Year

In a freshman class full of potential stars, UK forward Julius Randle may stand alone.   [widgets_on_pages id=”Jon”] Randle, who was ranked as the No. 2 recruit in the class of 2013 by Rivals.com, 247Sports and Scout.com, earned the moniker “alpha beast” from his new head coach this summer.   As several former Wildcats and current NBA stars played pick-up games with...

Kentucky freshman Marcus Lee hopes
he can be a ‘sponge’ for John Calipari

When Marcus Lee chose to attend Kentucky, he expected to be challenged on the basketball court. He did not necessarily expect that challenge as a volleyball player.   [widgets_on_pages id=”Jon”] Lee, who was a standout volleyball and basketball player at Deer Valley High School in the Bay Area, spent some time working out with the UK women’s volleyball team this summer.   “My...

Record-setting basketball class willing to face competition for chance to win NCAA title

The UK freshman class includes an unprecedented six McDonald’s All-Americans. (Photos by Jon Hale)   John Calipari has never been shy about saying the UK men’s basketball program is not for every player.   [widgets_on_pages id=”Jon”] In Calipari’s four years as UK’s head coach, highly touted prospects have had to accept smaller roles and fewer shots per...

John Calipari Q&A: Coach breaks down freshmen, returners, last season and more

Each year before the start of the basketball season, UK head coach John Calipari sits down for a roundtable interview with local reporters in September.   The reporters agree to UK’s requirement to embargo the interviews, and subsequent one-on-one interviews with each player, until Oct. 1.   You can read a transcript of the entire interview with a rejuvenated Calipari below in which...