A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Former University of Kentucky basketball stars Hawkins, Willis part of TBT Bluegrass Boys Squad

By Keith Taylor Kentucky Today Kentucky will be well-represented in The Basketball Tournament next month. Former Kentucky players Derek Willis, Dominique Hawkins, Josh Harrellson, Marcus Lee, Ramon Harris, Kevin Galloway and AJ Stewart will form the Bluegrass Boys organized by former Kentucky player Mark Krebs and will be coached by Wayne Turner. The Bluegrass Boys will compete with seven more teams...

Former UK guard Hawkins pondering future as NFL teams showing interest in his talents

By Keith Taylor Kentucky Today Dominique Hawkins is known for his basketball skills, but his football talents are getting a look from trams in the National Football League. Hawkins, who just concluded a four-year career at Kentucky, wasn’t selected in the NBA Draft last spring, but participated with the Sacramento Kings in the Las Vegas Summer League. Dominique Hawkins likes football, but considers...

Three former Wildcats jumpstart NBA careers through participation in Orlando Pro Summer League

Former Kentucky men’s basketball players Bam Adebayo, Dakari Johnson and Derek Willis will play in the NBA’s Mountain Dew Orlando Pro Summer League, which begins Saturday at the Orlando Magic’s Amway Center practice court. The league will jumpstart a busy summer for former UK players either making their professional debuts or looking to enrich their opportunities in the NBA. In addition...

Beyond one and done: Calipari creating a love for learning for current, former Wildcat players

By Keith Taylor KyForward Senior Sports Writer John Calipari never wants his players to stop learning. “Our job as coaches is to create a love for learning,” the Kentucky coach said on his web site, coachcal.com Thursday. “We must promote lifelong learning, encourage young people to have curious minds and to want to read.” Kentucky coach John Calipari wants his players to learn beyond the basketball...

Ex-Wildcat Derek Willis chooses agent, starts preparing for next phase of basketball career

By Keith Taylor KyForward Senior Sports Writer BEREA — Derek Willis is ready for the next phase of his career. Nearly a month after his collegiate career at the University of Kentucky ended, Willis is preparing for the next step, one he hopes leads to a successful career in the professional ranks. Former Kentucky standout Derek Willis signs a basketball for a young fan during a visit to Kingston...

Wildcat senior Hawkins visits elementary, middle school students in return to his hometown

By Keith Taylor KyForward senior sports writer BEREA — Dominique Hawkins returned to his hometown Friday. The University of Kentucky senior guard and Madison Central graduate visited four Madison County schools — Kit Carson, Kingston, Daniel Boone and Madison Middle — as part of the #KyBoysTour along with classmate Derek Willis. Derek Willis, left, and Dominique Hawkins, right, sign autographs...

After tough draw, defensive play the key for Wildcats making deep run in NCAA Tournament

Kentucky got a tough draw in the NCAA Tournament with six teams in its region ranked in the latest Associated Press Top 25, and two more listed at the top of the others receiving votes category. Among those six ranked teams is 10-seed Wichita State, the No. 8 team in the latest Ken Pomeroy rankings, which Kentucky could potentially face in the second round should both the Shockers and Wildcats win...

Senior night will be special for UK trio

Senior night is special. Although the tradition has somewhat taken a backseat to the one-and-done era under John Calipari, there’s just something about that last home game of the season at Rupp Arena – the singing of “My Old Kentucky Home” the tears, the parents and the seniors receiving their framed jersey. It’s an emotional and sometimes tearjerking experience. Tonight instate heroes...

Hawkins doesn’t plan to get emotional, but could be ‘in trouble’ if his mom sheds a tear on Senior Night

By Keith Taylor KyForward Senior Sports Writer Dominique Hawkins wants to remembered as a player that gave it his all during his four-year career at Kentucky. “I feel like I definitely will be remembered for my fight and my heart, always giving 100 percent in each game and diving for loose balls,” he said Tuesday. Dominique Hawkins, along with teammates Derek Willis and Mychal Mulder will be honored...

More than just another game, Kentucky-Louisville rivalry more meaningful to Hawkins, Willis

By Keith Taylor KyForward senior sports writer No one understands the Kentucky-Louisville rivalry more than Dominique Hawkins. “It means a little more to me since I’m from the state,” the Kentucky senior guard said Tuesday. “I guess guys that are new here or from different states don’t really know about the Kentucky-Louisville rivalry but it’s going to be a great game (Wednesday).” Kentucky...

Keith Taylor: On a mission, Willis gives young Wildcats soothing presence in season-opener

Kentucky coach John Calipari didn’t want to start four freshmen Friday night and turned to Derek Willis to provide the leadership necessary in the team’s season-opener. Willis did just that and much more. The senior forward scored 10 of Kentucky’s first 14 points that helped set the tone in the Wildcats’ 87-64 win over Stephen F. Austin. Willis, who led all scorers with 10 points in the first...

Keith Taylor: Ex-Cat Darius Miller ends the season winner; Lee to finish college career at Cal

Darius Miller ended the season a winner. The former Mason County and University of Kentucky standout led the Brose Baskets to a three-game sweep of the Ratiopharm Ulm in the German finals. Miller averaged 18 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.7 assists and was named Most Valuable Player of the series. Miller also made 16 of 19 shots from long range. Darius Miller was named MVP of the German Finals last weekend...

Jamie Vaught: Wildcat fans might not be too crazy about the call, but sometimes a rule is a rule

No matter when you read this column, folks will still be discussing that infamous technical foul at the end of last Saturday night’s Kentucky-Texas A&M showdown. If you were watching, you saw, it was a costly technical on UK’s Isaac Humphries when the 7-0, 260-pound freshman spiked the basketball on the floor in an emotional act of celebration. The call was just like the controversial...

Keith Taylor: Willis turns in stellar performance with 25 points to lead Kentucky past Tennessee

Rick Barnes knew what to expect from Kentucky’s top two players but wasn’t sure about the rest of the team’s roster. As expected, Tyler Ulis paced the Wildcats’ offense with 11 points and nine assists, while Murray scored 28 points and tied a career-high with nine rebounds. Ulis and Murray had their share of contributions, but junior Derek Willis was the main spark, scoring...

Keith Taylor: Veteran Derek Willis the ‘x-factor’ for UK in 88-54 rout of Missouri

It would be easy for Derek Willis to get caught up in his own hype but he’s “playing to win right now.” “I don’t think about that stuff,” Willis said. “If it happens, it happens. It’s just how I take it. For right now, I’m just doing what I can for the University of Kentucky. That’s all that’s important to me.” Derek Willis scored 18 points and grabbed 12...

Bounce-back success: Wildcats recover from Auburn loss with 80-66 win at Arkansas

By Keith Taylor KyForward senior sports writer Kentucky has been successful in bounce-back games under John Calipari and Thursday night was no exception. The 23-ranked Wildcats (14-4, 4-2 Southeastern Conference) bounced back from a five-point loss to Auburn in their previous outing with an 80-66 win at Arkansas. Skal Labissiere scored 11 points in UK’s win at Arkansas Thursday night (UK Athletics...

Keith Taylor: Kentucky’s overall lack of offensive consistency is driving Calipari ‘nutty’

After watching tape on his team’s 80-74 win over Mississippi State earlier this week, John Calipari was at a loss for words after the Wildcats nearly blew a 20-point lead down the stretch. “We’re playing pretty good – and then the last 10 minutes we gave up 30 points,” the Kentucky coach said. “Are you kidding me? You understand that’s 120 (points) if we played the basketball game...

Keith Taylor: Calipari expecting another ‘dogfight’ against Ole Miss in SEC opener

With the exception of an overtime win over Ole Miss, Kentucky had little trouble disposing of Southeastern Conference foes last season, winning 21 league encounters, including 18 games during the regular season. Although the 10th-ranked Wildcats (10-2) have run the table twice in the conference in John Calipari’s tenure, the Kentucky coach doesn’t expect anything to come easy when the Wildcats...

Keith Taylor: Briscoe records double-double, Wildcats a ‘different team’ when he’s on the court

Isaiah Briscoe added a new dimension to Kentucky’s lineup Saturday night and it showed. Briscoe, who sat out the Wildcats’ season-opening 78-65 win over Albany Friday night because of a knee bruise, recorded a double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds in second-ranked Kentucky’s 87-57 rout of NJIT at Rupp Arena. Kentucky guard Isaiah Briscoe scored 11 points and had 12 rebounds...

Keith Taylor: Calipari looking for more toughness and fight following victory over Albany in season opener

Kentucky has never lost a season opener under John Calipari. The trend continued Friday night. Although not a blowout, the second-ranked Wildcats, 7-0 under Calipari in season openers, began the new campaign with a 78-65 victory over Albany at Rupp Arena. After two exhibition blowouts and a double-digit win over the Great Danes, Calipari knows his team isn’t in March mode and is looking for more...