It's Honors Time
Seniors Roger Harden and Kenny Walker came away with 10 of the awards presented at the annual Committee of 101 post-season awards banquet at the Lexington Hyatt Regency Tuesday night, April 15.
Walker was named UK's Most Valuable Player and received awards for committing the fewest turnovers per minutes played (54 in 1,254 minutes), most rebounds (276), sacrifice (taking the most charges), outstanding senior and scholastic achievement during a four-year period.
Harden received the leadership award, the best free throw shooter award (83.3 percent), most assists (232 a new UK record) and the Christian Athlete award.
Walker, Harden and Leroy Byrd, the three seniors on the 1985-86 squad who served as tri-captains during the season, were presented with the traditional senior cups.
Byrd was also presented the Wildcat Award by Coach Eddie Sutton, who said the Lexington native received it because he was "the only player I have been able to post-up against." Byrd is 5-foot-5.
"I'm just kidding him about that." added Sutton. "Believe me, I'll miss him next year. He has the heart of a Wildcat. This award goes to a person who goes beyond the call of duty."
Junior forward Winston Bennett and sophomore Ed Davender shared the top defensive player award. Bennett also won the 110 percent award. UK's sole freshman. Irving Thomas, won the freshman leadership award. Lexington's Jerry Healy was named Fan of the Year. The Wildcat cheerleaders were also recognized. Captain Kym Hand was selected this year's outstanding cheerleader.
The banquet included a 20-minute slide presentation that relived Kentucky's surprising 32-4 season, including the 69-64 victory over cross-state rival and national champs Louisville.
Sutton, who won national Coach-of-the-Year honors from the Associated Press and the National Association of Basketball Coaches, was greeted with a standing ovation when he was introduced to the crowd of about 500.
"I want to thank all of you for making this a memorable year," Sutton told the audience. "I want to thank my family, and I have to thank these players here. If we have one wish, we wish we could relive this season one more time and get a better draw in the NCAA."
The Wildcats were forced to play SEC rivals Alabama and LSU in the semifinals and finals of the NCAA Southeast Regional. LSU knocked off Kentucky in the championship game, 59-57, to advance to the Final Four in Dallas.
Letters of congratulations were read from two people not in attendance SEC commissioner H. Boyd McWhorter and NBC commentator Al McGuire.
McGuire's message to Kenny Walker provided one of the humorous moments of the evening, as the college basketball announcer wrote, "Kenny, you're my Player-of-the-Year. Congratulations. Send money."
Walker is expected to be one of the picks in the NBA draft June 17.