Jason Jordan of USA Today Sports recently did an interview with Kentucky’s latest basketball commit, Tyler Ulis. It wasn’t a typical interview, however and the article was written around one question: “what sport has the best athletes?”
Ulis says basketball because “in most other sports you can get away without having one or two athletic attributes. Not in basketball. You have to have them all. I’m not saying basketball because I love it; it’s because it’s true…in basketball you have to be able to pass, shoot, dribble, jump, run and thank the game through. That uses every part of athleticism that you can think of.”
Ulis says that football comes after basketball in producing the best athletes. I would have to agree that football and basketball definitely dominate in the world of athleticism, and no disrespect to Mr. Ulis, but I would say that football actually produces more athletes than basketball.
Sure basketball players have to have more athletic qualities at their sport, but that’s the point. In football, you have 11 guys versus 5; there’s no need to block, tackle, run, catch and throw- you’ll never get the chance to do them all. Even in basketball, if you can’t dribble, pass, shoot, and jump you can still have success. In football you don’t need to be the jack-of-all-trades, just a specialist at a few. You either run and throw, you catch and run, or you block and tackle and if you can do more than that, kudos to you. Both sports require a high IQ of the sport itself.
Ulis said the best athlete in his sport; present or past was LeBron James. That, I can agree with. Notice he didn’t say “best basketball player”. He was asked BEST ATHLETE. I, along with many others, think that LeBron James could actually play in the NFL. At 6’8” and 250- pounds, I like to picture Bron as a tight end or a linebacker. Compare his size to a UK linebacker: Avery Williamson is listed as 6’1” 238. Or if we’re going with a tight end, UK’s Anthony Kendrick is listed at 6’3” 233, and Steven Borden is 6’3” 237. If you really want to use your imagination, lets make LeBron a defensive end. Za’Darius Smith is listed at 6’6” 254, and Bud Dupree is listed as 6’4” 252. This gives James several inches on some of UK’s top NFL prospects while remaining in the same weight range.
Basketball players can go into football; Pat Riley was taken in the 11th round of the NFL draft by the Dallas Cowboys despite only playing basketball at Kentucky, he also went on to have a (very) successful basketball career. The Baltimore Ravens also signed Murphy Holloway: a forward for Ole Miss basketball (but later cut him).
But what if the tables turned? Assuming they can shoot, can guys like Randall Cobb, Stevie Johnson and Wesley Woodyard have the physicality to be successful basketball players. Lots of NFL players were accomplished basketball players. Randy Moss was named West Virginia Mr. Basketball twice, Terrell Owens played basketball and football at University of Tennessee-Chattanooga, Donovan McNabb was a backup guard at Syracuse (For the team that eventually lost to Kentucky in the 1996 championship), Julius Peppers was 6th man at UNC (averaging 7 points and four rebounds)., and Jason Taylor (who recently played in the Calipari fantasy camp) played both football and basketball at Akron and started in both sports.
So what UK athletes could excel at the other big sport?
*picks based strictly on size, I don’t actually know if they can play another sport*
My UK Football to the NBA picks:
Jalen Whitlow (6’2” 220) forward
Jason Hatcher (6’3” 250) center/forward
Javess Blue (6’0” 190) guard
Max Smith (6’4” 218) guard
Steven Borden (6’3” 237) center/forward
Farrington Huguenin (6’4” 262) center
My UK basketball picks to the NFL:
Julius Randle- (6’9” 225) tight end/defensive back
Willie Cauley Stein- (7’ 244) WR (played in high school)
Dakari Johnson- (6’ 10” 250) linebacker
Alex Poythress- (6’7” 239) nickel slot
All in all, I think that more NFL players could play in the NBA than NBA players in the NFL. That being said, some people are just athletic and could probably excel at any sport they try, but its always fun to think about. What UK players do you think could dominate at another sport?