The Lexington Herald-Leader will soon announce its 2013 Kentucky Sportsman of the Year, and once again, I was not invited to participate in the voting process. Shocker, right? But that didn’t keep me from putting together my own ballot for you here on KSR this evening. Give it a read and submit your own nominees in the comments section, and, who knows, maybe one day we’ll matter in the newspaper world. Probably not.
Ladies and gentlemen, my 10 finalists in order of awesomeness in 2013…
Dominic is John Calipari’s hardest worker on the hardwood, despite being the lowest ranked player Calipari has recruited since arriving in Lexington. Known to everyone except Calipari as Dominique Hawkins, Dominic was a very late addition to Kentucky’s 2013 basketball recruiting class after he led nearby Madison Central to a state championship, earning him Mr. Basketball honors and the coveted UK scholarship offer.
Once on campus, Dominic averaged a surprising 13 minutes per game in his first 11 games as a freshman at Kentucky in 2013 and Calipari often referred to him as the only player who does everything right in practice. If only the potential NBA talent surrounding him exuded half the energy and heart Dominic does every time he puts on the uniform, the Wildcats would be much further along in the “warped speed’ process of one-and-done basketball.
2.) Vince Marrow
The University of Kentucky football program has seen an incredible spike in its incoming talent since Mark Stoops took over as head coach a few weeks before the new year, a little over one year ago. The credit goes to everyone on Stoops’ hardworking staff, but if one man gets a bigger pat on the back than the others, it is tight ends coach Vince Marrow.
What makes Marrow such a great recruiter is his fearless attitude and ability to connect with the players he is recruiting. He can relate to athletes from all backgrounds and he isn’t going to let any of the naysayers get in the way of what he and his fellow coaches are trying to accomplish at Kentucky.
“Let’s roll up our sleeves and see what happens,” Marrow told KSR last summer. “We might shock the world. I made it very clear that we’re not taking a backseat to nobody.”
DeMarcus Cousins had a pretty good 2013, considering he signed a four-year max contract extension worth $63 million and earned the trust of the Sacramento Kings’ new brass, which includes his new mentor, Shaquille O’Neal. Shaq said he sees DeMarcus as a young Shaquille O’Neal and they plan to build the Kings franchise around him.
Cousins ranks seventh in points and fifth in rebounds in the NBA since inking the new deal.
4.) Drew Barker
Vince Marrow gets a lot of the credit for building Kentucky’s highly-ranked 2014 recruiting classes, but Drew Barker is the glue that keeps it together. A Top247 player in his class, Drew Barker is one of the most important signees in Kentucky football history. Not only is he expected to compete for the starting quarterback job as a true freshman, but Barker was instrumental in recruiting other elite talent and maintaining relationships once they committed to keep the class intact. Barker is also the highest ranked player in Kentucky’s 2014 class and a KentuckySportsRadio.com Blogger of the Year nominee.
5.) Anthony Davis
The 2012 Kentucky Sportsman of the Year winner, Anthony Davis is one of my finalists for 2013 because he is already one of the best players in the NBA in only his second year. After losing the Rookie of the Year award to Damian Lillard, the only trophy he didn’t win last year, Davis started the 2013-14 season with a bang with six double-doubles in his first nine games, including a 26 and 17 night in the second game of the season at Orlando. He’s on his way to superstardom, if he’s not already there.
6.) John Robic
Coming in at No. 3 on my 2013 Kentucky Sportsman of the Year ballot is UK assistant coach John Robic. Robic single-handedly won Kentucky’s home basketball game against LSU in January when he pulled Nerlens Noel off the floor milliseconds before UK inbounded the ball with a one-point lead and three seconds on the clock. Had Robic not intervened, Noel would’ve been the sixth player on the court for Kentucky, a technical foul, and LSU would’ve been allowed two free throws and the ball. Instead, Robic saved the day and the Wildcats escaped with a victory.
Robic was also the star in UK basketball’s dodgeball game in the Joe Craft Center and he is always the fan favorite off the court at events like the women’s clinic, John Calipari’s fantasy camp, and on Kentucky Sports Radio.
7.) Jared Laurenzen
Jared Laurenzen makes my ballot for the great commentary he gave on the KSR football pregame show in 2013. The former Kentucky quarterback, known as Jared Lorenzen to most, made his KSR pregame show debut this past season, providing football knowledge and insight that Matt, Ryan and I couldn’t even Google the night before. He carried the show at times while never saying no to a photo request or a sausage biscuit.
Maybe next year the folks in the orange lot will learn how to spell his name of the Wall of Fame.
8.) Dr. Doron
Dr. Doron, Doron Lamb’s alter ego, burst onto the social media scene late in 2013 with lessons in life, love, time and money management, the pursuit of happiness, and, of course, cuffing season. Whenever Doron wasn’t tweeting photos of his socks, pancakes, or socks and pancakes, Dr. Doron would chime in with daily inspiration and motivation for his followers.
However, the question still remains: “Who up?”
9.) Angry Stoops
Angry Stoops, not to be confused with kind, good-hearted Mark Stoops, debuted on the Kentucky football sideline in the fall during Stoops’ first season as head coach. His most memorable appearance came in Columbia during the fourth quarter of UK’s loss to South Carolina, when the Wildcats were incorrectly flagged for too many men on the field, giving South Carolina a first down on a critical possession. We would see Angry Stoops several more times throughout the year.
10.) Rick Pitino
The University of Louisville’s head basketball coach had a very successful twenty thirteen, capped off by a second place finish in the December 28th game against the University of Kentucky. It wasn’t just his runner-up trophy in that game, though, Pitino had several other shining moments last year, including tattoo and back hair modeling; providing second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth chances for a troubled college student; and releasing a popular fiction book about being humble.
And you all thought I wouldn’t put any Louisville Cardinals on my ballot. Ha. I’m not that biased.