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The Ones that Got Away


A few weeks ago, I wrote about how one of the big things this team is missing is a player from the state of Kentucky. A few of you commented, letting me know that there is in fact a player from the state on the team in walk on Dillon Pulliam, but you get my point. Last night was just another example of this team playing more for the name on the back of the jersey than the one on the front.

Each one of Cal’s successful teams has had a player from the state. What would the 2012 National Championship team have been without Darius Miller? In 2013, what player did we see possibly the most fight from? Jarrod Polson. Where would last year’s team have been without Derek Willis and Dominique Hawkins?

Putting on the Kentucky jersey for someone who grew up with Kentucky basketball in their blood is just different. Does this mean a player who had no true connection to the state/program can’t truly understand it? Obviously not. Tyler Ulis, Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Davis all understood it.

For most of us, we dreamed while growing up of putting on a Kentucky jersey and leading the Cats to a National Championship. The dream for the players on Calipari’s teams has changed. It is simply to go to the NBA. Don’t get me wrong, that SHOULD be their dream and should be a goal for the program, but when did we stray away from the true goal. Recruiting players that care about not just themselves, but their teammates and the jersey they put on.

Calipari has been open into admitting that he will only recruit players from the state if he feels they are good enough to play at Kentucky. I don’t disagree with his philosophy, but he has let a lot of players go to other schools. These are players that could not only just be playing on this team, but also helping it be more successful.


Credit: Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

Taveion Hollingsworth

High School: Paul Lawrence Dunbar (Lexington)

Current Team: Western Kentucky

Stats: 13.2 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 1.8 apg

Taveion Hollingsworth is a star in the making in Bowling Green. The freshman from Lexington is averaging over 13 points per game and has scored in double figures in 18 of his 25 games. After Thursday’s win over Florida Atlantic, where Hollingsworth played with a broken nose and scored 20 points, WKU head coach Rick Stansbury said that Hollingsworth has one thing that he cannot teach… “toughness.” If there has been one MASSIVE criticism of this year’s Kentucky team it is just that. They are not tough.

Hollingsworth is also a candidate for the Conference USA all-defensive team. Stansbury consistently gives the WKU freshman the assignment of guarding the opposing team’s best player. He has consistently impressed.

Hollingsworth committed and signed with WKU on November 9th, 2016. He was thought to be a Kentucky lean throughout most of his high school career, but Calipari could never fully commit to giving him an offer. You can’t tell me this is a decision that Calipari doesn’t regret. Hollingsworth has been huge for the Hilltoppers this season and will be for the next three years.

Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

James Bolden

High School: Holmes (Covington, KY)

Current School: West Virginia

Stats: 9.8 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 1.0 apg

As Kentucky fans learned last month, James Bolden can play basketball. In the Mountaineers loss to the Cats, Bolden scored 17 points in as many minutes to give Bob Huggins’ team a nice spark off the bench. Fans of high school basketball in the state have known his name for a lot longer.

As a sophomore, Bolden led Holmes to the KHSAA Sweet 16 where in the second round he went head to head with a familiar name… Dominique Hawkins. John Calipari and Orlando Antigua were both in attendance to admittedly evaluate Hawkins, but as an article by Ben Roberts of the Herald Leader said, they were blown away by Bolden. You can read that in its’ entirety by clicking here.

As we all know, Kentucky did not really continue to recruit Bolden despite his desire to play in Lexington. Just think what he would mean to this team.


Credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

Quentin Goodin

High School: Taylor County (Campbellsville, KY)

Current School: Xavier

Stats: 8.3 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 5.0 apg

Goodin is the starting point guard for a team that will very likely end up with a #1 or #2 seed when Selection Sunday comes around next month. His scoring might not blow you away, but his nearly 2.5-1 assist to turnover ratio should.

To me, Goodin is the player that this Kentucky team needs more than anything else. He is a guy that is truly okay with being the facilitator. Or in other words, he doesn’t have much of an ego.

Goodin was a four-star coming out of Taylor County High School in Campbellsville. He held offers from schools like Louisville, Tennessee, Florida and Indiana before ultimately signing with Xavier. His Crystal Ball prediction had Kentucky at 20% with the Cats not even offering him.


These are just three players that could easily be getting quality minutes on this year’s Kentucky team. There are obviously plenty of players in the state that are talented enough to take the floor at Rupp. Calipari needs to lose the notion of waiting until March/April to recruit players from Kentucky. The top players in the state will not wait. Instead, they will continue going to programs like Xavier, West Virginia or even to other in-state programs like WKU.

Looking ahead to next year, there are five players listed as D1 basketball recruits from the state of Kentucky. Why can’t the Cats just get one? Someone who truly knows what it means to put on the uniform. Even if they average five minutes a game, Calipari’s teams need a leader from the state that can fully explain what it means to wear the jersey. We know, but will they? That is up to Calipari.

Article written by Sam Gormley

Follow me on Twitter @GormleyKSR; "The Whitest Man in the World"-JRock

48 responses to “The Ones that Got Away”

  1. ilovekaturday

    We have a player from this state Brad?????? I still can’t figure out why he don’t play more

    1. chris gettelfinger is not walking through that door

      Likely because you’re the latest in a long line of UL fans posing as UK fans.

    2. ilovekaturday

      Because I think Brad shouldnplay I like Louisville?

    3. chris gettelfinger is not walking through that door

      No…well yes partially…but mainly because you never have one positive word to say. Maybe I’m wrong.

      So, tell me one thing Brad has done to EARN (see what I did there?) more PT?

    4. ilovekaturday

      What has anyone else besides sga and Knox done to EARN (see what I did there?) PT? At least he could knock down a jump shot now many corner threes were shot off the side of the back board last night? Why would I be positive this team is going the wrong direction. Yes I hope they turn it around but give me a reason to be positive then I will be. So know what you’re talking about before you came at me thanks.

    5. Ez21

      When in the hell has Bras ever made a 3? Please tell me bc for all this great shooter he’s supsd to be, he never makes 1. Like ever.

    6. ilovekaturday

      He’s only got 5 shots up all year. We gotta give him a chance.

    7. ilovekaturday

      The more Home town kids that rep the blue and white the more love the fans give and the more love those kids show the community.

    8. chris gettelfinger is not walking through that door

      If I’m wrong I apologize, but Brad has shown nothing. If he had he would play more. I hope he does because we need it!

    9. chris gettelfinger is not walking through that door

      I hope he does show more that is.

    10. Rembrandt

      This column is another click piece, appealing to everyone’s restlessness. Now, an unrecognizable KSR writer purports to understand more about basketball recruiting than Cal. The idea that our basketball team just needs more Kentuckians is exactly the same kind of pontificating that is going on with our football fans after signing day. It doesn’t really make any sense, and its soundness can’t be tested, but it provokes a lot of unproductive reaction.

  2. Blublood41

    I knew hollinsworth was a player that would come back to bite us.

    1. CombatMedic_98

      Harlan County KY native too…whole family has been good at sports, all sports! Speaking of toughness, can’t get any tougher than a Harlan County kid…sure need that this year!

  3. chris gettelfinger is not walking through that door

    I thought I heard Matt say that Cal offered all of the first 3, did I not? It was just over the last few days, but I don’t remember if it was the daily show or a pre/post game show. He said that some of these guys don’t want to be recruited over so they go where they can play.

    1. Rabbi Li

      None of that matters because it’s all lip service.

      If Cal had one of the assistants keep an eye on Kentucky talent from 9th – 12th grade and he got into the discussion early with them (and they were true ‘Kentucky’ boys) he could walk them down the carpet.

      Offering a kid late in the game or with an insincere effort doesn’t check the box. To suggest it is fake news (that’s to Matt).

    2. Rabbi Li

      Nick Saban doesn’t lose Alabama boys even if they are recruited over. If it happens it’s not statistically significant enough to mention.

      So to suggest that Cal loses them ‘with the same effort’ is a big old bunch of b u l l s h i t.

    3. chris gettelfinger is not walking through that door

      Much of that is factually incorrect. Saban doesn’t sign players just because they’re from Bama, but the fact is Bama produces more big time football talent than Kentucky does in basketball.

    4. University-6 aka Scandal U

      Not sure about the other two, but Hollingsworth didn’t receive an offer. It makes no sense to me why Calipari kept two unused scholarships going into this year. He could have used at least one of those and then if he wanted to wait on a top ranked players to decide, he would still have one left to do so. Hollingsworth was quoted as saying UK was his dream school. I doubt there was much they had to do, but show up in his house, take a couple of pics and offer a scholarship in the fall.

      Matt would chastise BCG for going into a season with two unused scholarships, but it seems fine for Cal to do it. Don’t get me wrong, I love Cal—but this was a blatant mistake on his end. Hope he learns from it.

    5. UKfanman01

      @Chris G. Saying that Bama is producing more players than Kentucky is ignorant. Football has over 100 players on a roster where basketball has 13. Your offence and defence have a starting line up of 20. Basketball has 5. You’re comparison is ludicrous at best. Apples and oranges bro

    6. Rabbi Li

      chris gettelfinger is not walking through that door – You said, “Much of that is factually incorrect. Saban doesn’t sign players just because they’re from Bama, but the fact is Bama produces more big time football talent than Kentucky does in basketball.”

      1. “Saban doesn’t sign players just because they’re from Bama” – This is not a fact. You can’t prove the statement. It’s your opinion.

      The sole purpose of this article is…
      – WE KNOW THAT KENTUCKY PLAYERS WILL TRY HARDER FOR KENTUCKY BASKETBALL
      – THEY WILL FIGHT HARDER
      – THEY WILL NEVER QUIT
      – THEY WILL BE FUNDAMENTALLY SOUND
      – THEY WILL HAVE HIGH BASKETBALL IQ’S

      Alabama is the equivalent of Kentucky basketball in football. Kids who were born and raised in Alabama are no different (than KY boys) toward their home school.

      This phenomenon is nothing new and is certainly not unproven.

      Saban will always have Alabama players on his teams. And he signs them ‘because’ they are from Bama. Yes Alabama produces talent, but it is no Florida or Texas. So why does Saban being the top recruiter in the game not just have benches loaded with Florida and Texas players? The proof is in the pudding.

      –> MOST <– of the players on Alabama's roster year in and year out are from Alabama and not first string and are recruited over. Get yourself back into school to relearn the meaning of the word fact.

      Alabama's 2017 roster:
      AL ….. 38
      CA ….. 5
      CO ….. 1
      DC ….. 1
      FL ….. 8
      GA ….. 9
      HI ….. 1
      IA ….. 1
      KY ….. 2
      LA ….. 10
      MD ….. 2
      MI ….. 1
      MN ….. 1
      MS ….. 4
      MO ….. 1
      NJ ….. 2
      OH ….. 1
      OK ….. 1
      PA ….. 2
      SC ….. 1
      TN ….. 1
      TX ….. 13
      VA ….. 1

      2. You then admit the case I was making and counter it with… "Bama produces more big time football talent than Kentucky does in basketball."

      So now you are suggesting that 'big time talent' is or was ever part of the discussion.

      At no time did any Kentucky fan who sees the value in having 1 or several Kentucky players on the bench suggest that A) 'they need to be big time talent,' B) 'Kentucky doesn't have at least 1 player each year that is worth having on the Kentucky bench.'

      The reality is we wouldn't even need one a year. The point is Cal doesn't even have 1 in 4 classes (Fr, So, Jr, Sr).

      The list of players that were not big time recruits who stepped up for Kentucky when needed throughout history "is the storied history of the program." Dominique Hawkins, Darius Miller, Ravi Moss, Cameron Mills, Scott Padgett, Patrick Sparks, Anthony Epps,Travis Ford, Richie Farmer, John Pelphrey, Deron Feldhaus.

    7. chris gettelfinger is not walking through that door

      TLDR. I live in Bama and so I know a little about Bama football recruiting. If you consider that my opinion only, fine, but it’s your opinion too then.

    8. Rabbi Li

      You don’t have to read it. Just look at the Roster and the location the kids are from.

      Yes Alabama produces talent, but it is no Florida or Texas.

      Also, your knowledge of Alabama football is meaningless in this discussion.

  4. Rabbi Li

    It’s sad that we have to lose in order for this type of an article to be written.

    HAMMER THIS HOME Sam Gormley!

    Kentucky kids don’t go pro after 1 year because they want to stay at Kentucky for 20 years. They fight harder than Texas A&M was fighting last night.

    Repost this article every day Sam until Calipari comments on it.

    We know Matt doesn’t have the balls to ask Calipari this question in a post game interview:

    “You know your struggling with virtually no fighters on this team or bench. You’ve decided to go against tradition and have no Kentucky boys on this team or bench. You know Kentucky boys stay more than 1 year. You know that you got this one wrong. So admit your wrong and incorporate what works in this state.

    Instead of calling it ‘The Tweak’ call it “The Fix.'”

  5. bigbluenation90

    We think we’re bad st basketball. Wait until football smh

    1. cats646

      I can’t wait until football actually. We ARE going to be good. Go cheer for Louisville since you like shakin your head so much.

    2. bigbluenation90

      How are we going to be good clown?

    3. cats646

      Well we weren’t bad last year and those players can only get better and we got a lot of good recruits soooo. Put 2 and 2 together. Clown

  6. Alleykat16

    Sorry but Brad is not a Kentucky kid wasn’t born or raised here and didn’t graduate from a Kentucky school and I know there is kids from this state that can play winning basketball at UK and football too and not be a walk on. I dont understand why they dont recruit Kentucky kids for either team. I’m not suggesting every player but I know there’s at least one kid every 4 years from Kentucky can play here

  7. stevemotley

    Goodin or Bolden should be in Blue and White. Everytime Calipari comes in I want to throw my remote through the tv.

  8. ilovekaturday

    Brads jump shot is wetter than a cup of water. Give him a chance.

  9. luke_emberton

    Seeing a kid from Kentucky playing for the Wildcats is literally the best thing ever I miss Willis Hawkins Miller and the ones that get away Martin from Butler is a beast and should be at Kentucky Cal needs to change his ways that aren’t working anymore Coach K made the change Cal should too

  10. UKfanman01

    I’m a Cal fan…. Buuuuut when he says he will only recruit and offer a good player from Kentucky but allows his son on the team….. Just being honest when I say this, but to put it quite simply Brad Calipari sucks at basketball. He’s touted as “The Best Shooter on the Team” every time he checks in and NEVER hits a shot, nor a free throw. I don’t wanna hear about Kentucky players not being good while his son is wearing a jersey

    1. cats646

      ^^agree

    2. Rabbi Li

      I agree with you but we can make the case for Kentucky kids without trashing a player on our team wearing a legitimate jersey (and yes, all the jerseys are legitimate).

      To be honest with you… none of the freshmen will pass him the ball on offense when he’s open. They drive into congestion and take bad shots (basically playing 4 vs 5).

      If you were the opposing teams coach and Brad entered the game… would you not have all your players play everyone tight but sag on Brad? Just clog the paint until Brad can pull the sword out of the stone from 3.

    3. za

      Yep!

  11. shelby

    I think we’re being arrogant to assume that all these ky kids want to go to UK. Maybe they don’t. Who would’ve sat to let goodin play? How about Bolden? Maybe these kids want to go somewhere they can get minutes and not sit behind a 5-star or two every year.

  12. binarysolo

    Just a reminder to everyone: Cal’s primary goal isn’t to bring wins to Kentucky, it’s to provide McD’s AA kids a fast lane to the NBA. If we win games along the way, great, but he’s here to put kids in the League first and foremost.

  13. kuhlkat

    Great article Sam.
    Can u make sure Cal sees it?

  14. ilovekaturday

    I would love to see more home town kids rep the blue and white. Those kids will always do more for the team and the community.

  15. dollaz

    Enough with the Brad should play…
    Brad didnt even start for LCA, no way he is going to go out there and “light it up”.
    Also most of the team probably doesnt even like brad. Everyone from lexington hates the kid. I’ve even heard a few players talk bad about him behind his back.

    We do need to start going for instate athletes though. We also need to start getting some decent walk-ons. Our walk-ons are absolute cupcakes. We need people that can come and compete, not people like brian long, dillion pulliam, johnny david…

    1. ilovekaturday

      Who did you hear this from directly?

  16. Speed0652

    Braxton Beverly anyone? Or too lazy to check out kids from eastern Kentucky? Seems to be doing a decent job as a freshman at NCSt. Has beaten Duke and UNC this year.

  17. John Henry

    For the record, Brad Calipari doesn’t even claim to be from Lexington. If you check the roster he lists some God forsaken place in New Jersey as his home town. So the one player on the team that has parents living in Kentucky and is also a resident of Kentucky doesn’t even claim the state. Go figure that. And also for the record I agree with the article it is time somebody call Cal out.

  18. Blue Raider

    I believe that who ever is chosen Mr Basketball in Kentucky should get a scholarship offer. I don’t care if he is 4’8″ tall with 1 eye and a wooden leg, he will play with heart.

  19. marion county

    Anthony Epps, John Pelphrey, Richie Farmer, Deron Feldhaus, Charles Hurt, Dirk Minifield, Derek Anderson, James Lee, Jack Givens, Dominique Hawkins, Derek Willis, Jerrod Polson, Cameron Mills, Scott Padgett, and Darius Miller and plenty of others were key to their teams success. Most did not play in the NBA. I have been a fan since 1975 and dont tell me Kentucky kids cannot play, because they are not going to be NBA players.Who cares. They have the heart that matters. Many Kentucky kids grow up dreaming to play for UK. That doesnt mean they get a scholarship or a chance to walk on, but if they are talented, they are never recruited anymore. We are recuiting kids who care about next year, not this year. That is not negative anymore, that is honest. Talent without gumption means nothing.

    I love Cal, but everyone seems to be scared to death to ever question him.He has changed the culture in many positive ways, but he would never recruit a Charles Hurt, or a John Pelphrey anymore. Simply because they are not one and done. But why do we have walk ons who cannot play on the D1 level. Not every Kentucky kid can play at the D1 level, but a good number can. I like Johnny David, but really?

    Dominique Hawkins cried last year at the SEC Tournament when he won the Tournament award, it spoke volumes. He also cried when he got a scholarship offer. He cared, he played hard and he is NOT in the NBA now. That is ok. Hawkins was as big a success as any player who has ever been at UK. He hustled because the front of the jersey was more important than the back. Kentucky fans love a player who hustles. They do not forget that, because secretly they are living thru that Kentucky kid. It is one of the reasons that fans loved Bill Keightly. Mr Bill, loved Kentucky basketball deep in his heart and Kentucky fans could understand and feel that.

    Its time we recruit a Kentucky kid who can play, and they exist, and can contribute to our team on a yearly basis. Cal should also kick kids off the team who talk back to him like Hami does. I have no time for that type of disrespect. Kids who care about the front do not do that.

  20. BillytheUkkid

    What people don’t realize (except Kentuckians) is our boys will always play with heart! It’s a little known fact that Richie Farmer played with a prosthetic leg during that epic Duke game. Not to mention he was still recovering from besting a wild kodiak bear in a no holds barred wrestling match the night before. Tell me we don’t need someone like that this year.

  21. brainesman

    As a Xavier alum and season ticket holder (and UK football ticket holder too), there’s no way Goodin shouldn’t be a Wildcat. But I love him at X and the author is wrong, now that he has his three point shot down he is very much a good scorer, who gets to the lane at will. He will be a star once Blueitt and Macura leave.