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My 2014 Kentucky Sportsman of the Year

Jan 15, 2015 -- 8:14am

By Andy Sweeney
ESPN 680 Host, Executive Producer
@TheOnlySweeney


Each year Mark Story of the Lexington Herald-Leader compiles votes from the states great media minds for their 'Sportsman of the Year'. In the past week I sorted through 2 pages of nominees to narrow my list to 10. I think who I picked at number 1 is a no brainer. Enjoy...

1. John Calipari
John Calipari is a no brainer at number one. Not only has he upped the ante in our state, but the entire country in how you mold and coach a team. By leading UK back to the Final 4 last year, he's only cemented his greatness in college basketball. There is no doubt he is the foremost athletic figure in the Commonwealth. As long ashe's in Lexington they have a chance to win the national championship. 
 

2. Rick Pitino
Nobody has won more over the last 4 seasons in college basketball than Rick Pitino. He came up short against Calipari last year, which is probably why he's second and not first this list. We love college basketball that's why these coaches are so high on the list. 
 

3. Devante Parker
I've struggled where to put Parker because his pure numbers aren't over the top due to his pre season foot injury. But I think we all saw the true 'Parker effect' when he was out the first 7 games of the season. In the final 6 he dialed up nearly 900 yards, 43 catches and 5 touchdowns. He's a top 10-15 pick in the upcoming NFL draft, which will mean he's the first player from the Commonwealth to sign on the dotted line this season. In a couple years we might look back and realize just how special Parker was. He could be THAT good in the NFL, but only time will tell.
 

4. Bud Dupree
Right behind Parker is Dupree. First team all SEC is as impressive as you'll get with Kentucky football...that's big time. I think Dupree is a late first rounder, maybe second. I think it's important you don't let Kentucky's dismal seasons overshadow Bud's production. He's a top 4-5 player to ever lace 'em up at Kentucky.
 

5. AJ Reed
Reed was the top baseball player in the state and a second rounder in the MLB draft. I think his ability to pitch and be a power slugger is what differeciates him from everybody else. I'm intrigued how the big leagues will transform his game at the next level. 
 

6. Gerod Holliman
Even if you think he struggles playing the run (which he does), Holliman's impact and nearly record setting season is something to behold. In all, Holliman was the best DB in the state and a top 3-4 player in the state. In one year he went from an unproven safety to maybe the best ball hawk in the country. I'm excited to see where he's evaluated at the next level. Could see him anywhere from 2nd - 4th round. Number 6 on this list might be too low.
 

7. Shoni Schimmel
Schimmel's legacy in the Commonwealth, specifically Louisville, is someting that won't go away anytime soon. Besides Angel, and maybe even moreso, Schimmel's impact on Louisville lingers. Plus, her fantastic rookie season in the WNBA coupled with her lights out performance in the WNBA all star game moves her up to 7th on my list.
 

8. Anthony Davis
Listen, I think Davis in the coming years could easily be first on this list every single year. We've waited the last couple seasons for Davis to make the jump to elite, and he's done that. He's arrived as a bonafide all star, now the wins must follow. In 10 years we'll look at Davis as the crowned jewel of Calipari's tenure in Lexington.
 

9. Damien Harris
In all honesty, I haven't seen as much of Harris as recruiting guys and those that follow high school football. But, Harris has been the focal point of high school football in this state for the better part of two years. His very public recruitment brought Mark Stoops up against the great Urban Meyer and Nick Saban. In my opinion, Saban grabbing Harris only raises his stock. If you excel as RB in Saban's system, the NFL awaits. That's what we could see in 4-5 years with Harris. I'll enjoy Uncle Verne and Gary calling his games in the near future. 
 

10. Bob Beatty
Let's be honest, winning yet another state championship (number 11) at Trinity is no easy task. There must be something said about consistency and taking on the state, not only the city of Louisville.

Louisville QB Will Gardner out for season with knee injury

Nov 11, 2014 -- 2:51pm

By Andy Sweeney
ESPN 680 Host, Executive Producer
@TheOnlySweeney

'Louisville QB Will Gardner out for season with knee injury'

UofL Press Release:

 

University of Louisville sophomore quarterback Will Gardner  suffered a season-ending left knee injury in the Cardinals’ 38-19 win over Boston College last Saturday. 

This injury will require surgery at some point in the next several weeks, but a date has not been set. 

“It is really unfortunate and disappointing for Will because of how hard he has worked and how respected he is in the locker room,” head coach Bobby Petrino said.  “Will will continue to be an integral part of our program moving forward because of his leadership he has displayed and the respect he has in the locker room. “ 

Gardner started seven games for the Cardinals, posting a 5-2 mark. He threw for 1,669 yards and 12 touchdowns this year, while tossing just three interceptions.

The Cardinals will play at Notre Dame on Saturday, Nov. 22 at 3:30 p.m.

 

10 Thoughts on UK Basketball's Bahama Extravaganza

Aug 13, 2014 -- 11:16am

By Andy Sweeney
ESPN 680 Host, Executive Producer
@TheOnlySweeney

Kentucky basketball is now 3-0 on their Bahamas trip. Sure, the record doesn't matter but at least they're not Indiana who lost to a Canadian pick up team earlier this week. Plus, if you're a UK fan you must be foaming at the mouth to get this season started. To say the Cats have looked good would be an understatement...especially since it's only mid August. Below are some thoughts on what we've seen thus far...

* Calipari could go 8-10 deep, but will he? This seems to be the big question mark heading into the season. We remember last year Cal stating he would go 10 deep and the practices would be tougher than most games. Not until he was forced by injury did he dig into his bench (and that was during the NCAA tournament). I said on air Tuesday that maybe having a starting 5 that you don't need to integrate to college hoops would greatly help Cal. He can focus on developing a bench for the first time in 5 years. 

* Tyler freaking Ulis. Okay, so we knew he would be good. After all, he was a 5 star point guard coming out of high school that everyone recruited. We all expected to Ulis to transfer nicely to Cal's system with the Harrisons most likely headed to the NBA. Fortunately for Cats fans, the opposite happen. Both Harrisons stayed in school and Ulis enters as a nice back up as a freshmen. Only now we watch him play in these first 3 games and without a doubt he is going to play major minutes and a major role in this year's team. Ulis said a couple weeks back he wanted to average 10 dimes per game...I think he'll be close to doing so. 

* Go small young man. Just think about what different lineups Calipari will be able to use this season. In years past he's been stuck with no reserves at various positions...not this season. Expect him to integrate Ulis into the lineup at a true point guard position and use the Harrisons' size to put Andrew at the 2 and Aaron at the 3. They'll be able to create match up issues all over the field. If a team thinks that they can be faster than UK due to the Harrison's speed, don't expect that with Ulis on this roster.

* Go big young man. Just like UK will have the ability to go small, the same is true with their front line. In fact, I think the frontcourt is their strength and one of the best we've seen in college basketball in years. Think about this...Kentucky has 6 big men that can fill the PF/C positions (7 if you count Derek Willis, which I do not). With the diverse abilities of their players they can throw Poythress, Lee, Caulley-Stein, Johnson, Towns and Lyles on the floor and use an infinite amount of lineups. And the beauty of these bigs is that they all have different strengths. Calipari will have fun mixing and matching his bigs this season. 

* Should we buy into the new look Alex Poythress? We know he's never been a pure scorer; it's not his strength. Even during last year's magical NCAA tournament run he averaged south of 6 points per game. But it's the other things that Poythress does that are irreplaceable. His motor, rebounding and effort play is what could make him great. Throughout three games in the Bahamas Poythress is averaging nearly 14 ppg with one of those being a double double. I'm not ready to buy in quite yet. I need to see it in non-conference play. I need to see him grab that starting spot and not let a freshman take it. If he finally does "get it", this team is more dangerous than we already think they could be. 

* Is Trey Lyles the odd man out? Unfortunately, Lyles hasn't been able to play in the Bahamas due to lingering injury issues. No doubt that will leave him a little behind in preparing for the upcoming season. I had Thomas Beisner from KSTV on earlier this week and he thinks Lyles could be the odd man out considering the insane frontcourt depth. Let's also remember this...Lyles said he chose Calipari/Kentucky over Pitino/Louisville because of what Cal does "with guys like myself". Of course, referring to being a one and done. With WCS/Dakari Johnson putting the NBA on hold, Poythress playing arguably the best basketball of his career, and Karl-Anthony Towns being possibly the top overall pick in the upcoming NBA draft it's easy to see that Lyles will be fighting for playing time. Either way, it's a luxury to bring along slowly off the bench. 

* What about the competition? We keep hearing the same murmurings that Kentucky isn't playing anybody in the Bahamas, which is mostly true. We all understand the level of competition isn't what they'll see in their non-conference or conference schedule. But let's not forget 3 years ago when Louisville went to the Bahamas. And almost forgotten Russ Smith averaged 18 points per game in those contests and turned into a team leader and legit NBA player. Moral of the story..... don’t sleep on what this trip could mean for the younger Wildcats. They get extra practices and can mature in game settings. The competition may stink but at least they're not bellhops. 

Upcoming Bahamas Games
Friday August 15 -  Dominican Republic National Team (Reserves), 1pm on ESPN U
Saturday August 16 - Champagne Chalons-Reims, 1pm on ESPN U
Sunday August 17 - Dominican Republic National Team (Reserves), 1pm on ESPN U

96th PGA Official Participants

Jul 23, 2014 -- 4:54pm

Field for the 2014 PGA Championship

Here’s a look at the field – as of July 22, 2014 – for the 96th PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, KY, August 7-10, 2014. The final field will be released on July 28, which will included players from the PGA Championship Points List and other Special Invites.
 

Beem, Rich – Austin, Texas

Bjorn, Thomas – Silkeborg, DENMARK

Blixt, Jonas – Hammaro, SWEDEN

Block, Michael – Aliso Viego, California

Bowditch, Steven – Queensland, AUSTRALIA

Bradley, Keegan – Woodstock, Vermont

Broce, Jamie – Ottawa Hills, Ohio

Brooks, Mark – Ft. Worth, Texas

Cabrera, Angel – Cordoba, ARGENTINA

Cabrera-Bello, Rafael – Gran Canaria, SPAIN

Casey, Paul – Surrey, ENGLAND

Castro, Roberto – Atlanta, Georgia

Clarke, Darren – The Astbury, ENGLAND

Coetzee, George – Pretoria, SOUTH AFRICA

Corcoran, Rob – Melbourne, Florida

Crane, Ben – Westlake, Texas

Daly, John – Dardanelle, Arkansas

Day, Jason – Queensland, AUSTRALIA

Deane, Stuart – Arlington, Texas

DeLaet, Graham – Saskatchewan, Canada

Donald, Luke – High Wycombe, ENGLAND

Donaldson, Jamie – Pontypridd, WALES

Dubuisson, Victor – Cannes, FRANCE

Dufner, Jason – Auburn, Alabama

Els, Ernie – Johannesburg, SOUTH AFRICA

English, Harris – Sea Island, Georgia

Esposito, Frank – Florham Park, New Jersey

Every, Matt – Jacksonville, Florida

Fernandez-Castano, Gonzalo – Madrid, SPAIN

Fisher, Ross – Cheam, ENGLAND

Fleetwood, Tommy – Southport, ENGLAND

Furyk, Jim – Ponte Verde Beach, Florida

Gallacher, Stephen – Linlithgow, SCOTLAND

Garcia, Sergio – Castellon, SPAIN

Grace, Branden – George, SOUTH AFRICA

Hadley, Chesson – Raleigh, North Carolina

Harrington, Padraig – Dublin, IRELAND

Hearn, David – Ontario, CANADA

Helminen, Ryan – Menasha, Wisconsin

Henley, Russell – Kiawah Island, South Carolina

Holmes, J.B. – Campbellsville, Kentucky

Hronek, David – North Port, Florida

Hyung-Sung, Kim – KOREA

Ilonen, Mikko – Lahti, FINLAND

Ishikawa, Ryo – Saitama, JAPAN

Jacobson, Freddie – Hobe Sound, Florida

Jaidee, Thongchai – Bangkok, THAILAND

Jimenez, Miguel Angel – Malaga, SPAIN

Johnson, Dustin – Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Johnson, Zach – Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Jones, Matt – Scottsdale, Arizona

Kaymer, Martin – Mettmann, GERMANY

Kirk, Chris – Milton, Georgia

Koepka, Brooks – Palm Beach Gardens, Florida

Kok, Johan – Brentwood, Tennessee

Krueger, Aaron – Norwalk, Iowa

Kuchar, Matt – Sea Island, Georgia

Lahiri, Anirban – Bangalore, INDIA

Larrazabal, Pablo – Barcelona, SPAIN

Leishman, Marc – Victoria, AUSTRALIA

Love III, Davis – Sea Island, Georgia

Lowry, Shane – County Offaly, IRELAND

Luiten, Joost – Bleiswijk, THE NETHERLANDS

 Manassero, Matteo – Verona, ITALY

Martin, Ben – Greenville, South Carolina

Matsuyama, Hideki – Miyagi, JAPAN

McDowell, Graeme – Portrush, NORTHERN IRELAND

McGinley, Paul – Dublin, IRELAND

McGovern, Jim – Oradell, New Jersey

McIlroy, Rory – Holywood, NORTHERN IRELAND

McNabb, David – Newark, Delaware

Micheel, Shaun – Memphis, Tennessee

Mickelson, Phil – Rancho Santa Fe, California

Molinari, Edoardo – Turin, ITALY

Molinari, Francesco – Turin, ITALY

Montgomerie, Colin – Dunning, SCOTLAND

Moore, Ryan – Las Vegas, Nevada

Noh, Seung-Yul – Seoul, SOUTH KOREA

Norman, Brian – The Colony, Texas

Oda, Koumei – Fukuoka, JAPAN

Olesen, Thorbjorn – Copenhagen, DENMARK

Oosthuizen, Louis – Albertina, SOUTH AFRICA

Perry, Kenny – Franklin, Kentucky

Perry, Rod – Port Orange, Florida

Pesta, Matt – Wixom, Michigan

Piercy, Scott – Las Vegas, Nevada

Poulter, Ian – Woburn, ENGLAND

Reed, Patrick – Houston, Texas

Rose, Justin – London, ENGLAND

Schneiter, Steve – Sandy, Utah

Schwartzel, Charl – Johannesburg, SOUTH AFRICA

Scott, Adam – Queensland, AUSTRALIA

Senden, John – Brisbane, AUSTRALIA

Simpson, Webb – Charlotte, North Carolina

Singh, Vijay – Nadi, FIJI

Smith, Jerry – Oskaloosa, Iowa

Snedeker, Brandt – Nashville, Tennessee

Sowards, Bob – Dublin, Ohio

Stadler, Kevin – Scottsdale, Arizona

Stallings, Scott – Knoxville, Tennessee

Stenson, Henrik – Gothenburg, SWEDEN

Sterne, Richard – Stellenbosch, SOUTH AFRICA

Streelman, Kevin – Wheaton, Illinois

Stricker, Steve – Madison, Wisconsin

Tentis, David – Woodbury, Minnesota

Todd, Brendon – Atlanta, Georgia

Toms, David – Shreveport, Louisiana

Volk, Dustin – Layton, Utah

Walker, Jimmy – Boerne, Texas

Warren, Marc – Glasgow, SCOTLAND

Watson, Bubba – Bagdad, Florida

Watson, Tom – Bucyrus, Kansas

Weekley, Boo – Jay, Florida

Westwood, Lee – Close House, ENGLAND

Wiesberger, Bernd – Oberwart, AUSTRIA

Williamson, Eric – Shoal Creek, Alabama

Wood, Chris – Bristol, ENGLAND

Woods, Tiger – Hobe Sound, Florida

Yang, Y.E. – Jeju Island, SOUTH KOREA 

Playing the Draft Lottery

Jun 19, 2014 -- 4:05pm

By Andy Sweeney
ESPN Executive Producer, Host
@TheOnlySweeney

Where will they land? That will the talke for the next week as we lead up to June 26th's NBA draft. Below are my thoughts on the best and worse case scenario for Julius Randle, James Young, Noah Vonleh and Russ Smith.

Julius Randle, 6’9 250
BEST CASE SCENARIO: Obviously, if someone loves Randle top 3 then go ‘succeed and proceed’ young man. But, in reality, Randle won’t be top 5, meaning the Boston Celtics would be my pick here. You have a young team whose rebuilding but doing it the right way. The franchise is solid from ownership to GM Danny Ainge and newly appointed Brad Stevens. If he doesn’t win the starting job, look for him to get major minutes alongside Jared Sullinger and Brandon Bass. If not Boston there’s a strong move Randle could drop (with the foot issues) to 8-10. If that happens then Randle landing alongside Nerlens Noel, MCW and whoever Philly takes a # 3 would be a fun group to watch.

WORSE CASE SCENARIO: Hear me out. They may be legendary but Randle would be better off not landing with the Lakers. Here’s why: first, LA has made it known they want to use their 7th pick as part of a trade, potentially for Kevin Love. This would mean Randle would land ultimately in Minnesota or be sitting behind Love. Second, the Lakers are still without a head coach, meaning no set philosophy as we’re under a month from the draft. Even if they hire Byron Scott, most likely Randle enters a pivotal year 3 or 4 with a new coach who DIDN’T draft him. Even though living in LA would be a dream, let’s remember Kobe has just 2 more years left on a mega deal. You’re talking full rebuild when you’re trying to earn that second (more lucrative) contract. (Let’s also not forget, if Randle goes 7 it probably means he’s the 3rd PF off the board)

NBA Draft Net - #7 Los Angeles Lakers
NBA Draft Express - #7 Los Angeles Lakers
ESPN - #10 Philadelphia 76ers

 

James Young, 6’6 215
BEST CASE SCENARIO: Let me first say I think Chicago would be a fantastic spot, but it also would mean falling out of the lottery, which I don’t think happens. With that being the case, give me the Phoenix Suns. You’re talking about a team on the cusp of the postseason (would’ve had home court had they been in the East this year). You’re also talking about a team with no real SF. They have a stable of bigs and a nice backcourt that includes Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic, but no SF. Young could flourish in a wide open system in which he could play and where there’s a glaring need.

WORST CASE SCENARIO: This is easy, it’s the Atlanta Hawks. Sure, Atlanta limped into the post season as an under .500 team and took Indiana to game 7. And sure, there’s a glaring need at the 3 spot (ATL roster has many holes), much like we see in Phoenix. But, let’s be honest, Atlanta is a dead franchise with dead fan base. You get drafted by Atlanta you might make the postseason a few times but you’ll be clamoring to get out by year 3. Not to mention you’ll probably play for 2-3 different coaching regimes. 

NBA Draft Net - #22 Memphis
NBA Draft Express - #19 Chicago Bulls
ESPN - #14 Phoenix Suns

 

Noah Vonleh, 6’9 247
BEST CASE SCENARIO: Sure, Dante Exum is probably the logical choice at 4 for the Orlando Magic given their need for PG, but Vonleh could really beef up an already nice front court. When healthy, Nikolva Vucevic is a fantastic young rebounder, same with Andrew Nicholson. Adding Vonleh to this front court would really give the Magic some depth. Plus, I’m not sold Exum is ready from day one to be a starter. 

WORST CASE SCENARIO: The Utah Jazz would be a bad landing spot for anyone, especially Vonleh. It’s no secret the Jazz covet Jabari Parker, but he won’t slip that far. Meaning, Utah will be stuck in a position where they’re taking the “best available” and not necessarily a need. Unfortuantely for Vonleh, it’s a real possibility he ends up here despite the organization paying Derrick Favors in the offseason and already have Enes Kanter on the roster. 

NBA Draft Net - #5 Utah Jazz
NBA Draft Express - #5 Utah Jazz
ESPN - #5 Utah Jazz

 

Russ Smith, 6’1 160
BEST CASE SCENARIO: If Russ gets drafted it will be at the back end of round 2. With that being said, I’m looking for a good team who needs help at the PG position and doesn’t mind taking a chance. That team is the Miami Heat. First, Mario Chalmers is going to request 7 plus mil in his next deal. Miami, of course, isn’t paying that. They’ll still have Norris Cole but will be looking for a cheap option coming off the bench. Russ could develop slowly and even play off the ball since Cole/Lebron/Wade would handle many of the point duties. (Also look at Chicago in round 2. They have a propensity to stash European players overseas to let them develop but it’s no surprise with D-Rose injury issues, they’re usually light at PG. Plus, Kirk Hinrich and DJ Augustine probably won’t be resigned.)

WORST CASE SCENARIO: Many think if Russ goes undrafted that would be a bad thing. I’m not so sure. If you go in round 2 there are zero secrutiies. Much like an undrafted in the NFL who get to choose their team, same is true in the NBA. Russ’s agents will find the perfect spot for him, instead of letting a team roll the dice on a guy they’re not sold on.

NBA Draft Net - Undrafted
NBA Draft Express - Undrafted
ESPN - U/A

Eli Capilouto Statement

May 22, 2014 -- 3:25pm

Read the entire statement from UK President Eli Capilouto as he responded today to the Lexington Center Corporation. CLICK HERE

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