Kentucky Basketball: And The Winner Is…


With the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences having recently passed out the Oscar Awards for the 87th time and the Grammys having been presented by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences for the 57th, I thought it would be appropriate to look at this historic, yet still unfinished season and pass out some awards. It’s time to hit the red carpet and open the envelopes.

Mandatory Credit: Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

Best Director: John Calipari. With an ever-changing cast, Calipari has worked magnificently since arriving in Lexington. And except for the one season when he lost his lead actor to injury, his box office results have been infallible. There’s been the drama of the 2014 tweak. He’s had the blockbuster film in 2012. He had the star driven, Ocean’s 11 style ensemble cast in 2010. And he even had the small, low budget film in 2011, a team that surprised everyone. And here Coach Cal sits on the verge of delivering his epic masterpiece, the still undefeated 2015 team.

Best Actor, Lead Role: Karl-Anthony Towns. Over the last few weeks, Towns has proven his worth on the court and off it. He’s finally become the dominant low post scoring presence that the team needed. Towns is still rebounding and blocking shots at a high rate and his interior passing has led to many wide open looks for teammates. And as the originator of the Coach Cal postgame photobomb, it’s obvious KAT loves the spotlight.

Best Actor in a Supporting Role: Devin Booker. For any other team in America, Booker is a starter and is averaging 20 points a game. But he’s instead chosen a lesser role with the Cats. Like any good supporting actor, he’s a scene stealer. Whether it’s from three point range or driving to the basket, his range of skills is unquestionable and this team wouldn’t be the behemoth it is without his contribution.

Best Performance, Duo or Group: Andrew and Aaron Harrison. The pundits will say that this current team hasn’t been tested. They say that the Cats haven’t played strong competition in the SEC. I say that the Wildcats have the only starting backcourt in the country that has led their team to an NCAA title game AND currently sit at 27-0. With Andrew putting together his most consistent play since last year’s title game run, opponents should beware. And is there anyone else in the country besides Aaron Harrison you want taking a last second shot? Me neither.

Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Producer of the Year: Willie Cauley-Stein. WCS has turned it up a notch. For all the praise Coach Cal receives for producing top guards (and rightfully so), Cauley-Stein is cementing his place among the great big men that Calipari has tutored. He’s showing that he’s defensively as flexible as Anthony Davis was and may be a better perimeter defender than a lot of the smaller players around the country. Plus, there was the dunk vs. Florida.

Best New Artist: Tyler Ulis. Ulis’ arrival on campus gave Cal, for the first time at Kentucky, a smaller guard to counteract the one weakness in his roster construction. In the losses to UConn in the 2011 Final Four and 2014 NCAA Title Game, the Huskies smaller, quicker guards proved difficult  for the Cats to stop. No longer. Tyler Ulis has proven his worth as a floor general and a strong change of pace from Andrew Harrison. And if you doubt the little guy’s toughness, recall that image of him from the Louisville game with that trickle of blood above his eye.

Best Actor in a Guest Starring Role: Dominique Hawkins. As players have been injured or out with various illnesses, Hawkins has been thrust into the starting lineup some games and barely registering any playing time during other. But this can be said about Dominique Hawkins, whenever he’s been called on, he’s produced. His on-court energy is contagious. Defensively, he’s everywhere. And offensively, he’s made key shots and key plays to keep the “and 0” part of the record intact.

The best thing about this team is that, it is in fact, a team. A lot of people wondered whether or not a team constructed of 9 McDonald’s High School All-Americans could play as a cohesive unit. Would the desire for playing time or stats be enough to drive a wedge between the players. As of yet, 27 undefeated games in, we can see those thoughts and worries were unfounded. These guys are playing for each other. They’re playing for Coach Cal. Come March, they’ll be playing for history and the ultimate award: the program’s 9th NCAA Title.