xt7qjq0srm23 https://exploreuk.uky.edu/dips/xt7qjq0srm23/data/mets.xml Wildcat News Company 1987 Volume 11 -- Number 23 athletic publications  English Wildcat News Company Contact the Special Collections Research Center for information regarding rights and use of this collection. The Cats' Pause UKAW University of Kentucky Men's Basketball (1986-1987) coaches Sutton, Eddie players Blackmon, James Davender, Ed UK vs. University of Alabama (February 7, 2007) Pitino, Rick Bell, Jerry University of Kentucky Football (1987) Claiborne, Jerry recruiting statistics schedules Cats' Pause Combs, Oscar The Cats' Pause,  "February 14, 1987" text The Cats' Pause,  "February 14, 1987" 1987 2012 true xt7qjq0srm23 section xt7qjq0srm23 Blackmon, Davender Pace UK To 2 Big Victories.
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'Cats Hope To Upend Feisty Gators In Gainesville Kentucky Hoop Statistics
PUBLICATION NO. USPS 707340 Published By WILDCAT NEWS COMPANY P.O.Box 7297 Lexington, Kentucky 40522 Second Class Postage Paid at Lexington. Kentucky 405H and additional Mailing offices
Editor and Publisher
Staff Writer NICK NICHOLAS Staff Writer MIKE ESTEP Staff Writer TODD HALLUM Composition Coordinator WINFRED JENNINGS National Recruiting Columnist BOB GIBBONS Columnist LARRY VAUGHT State Columnist BOB WATKINS National Basketball Columnist LARRY DONALD
Columnist MEL HOLBROOK SEC Columnist STAN TORGERSON Columnist DICKY BEAL Kentucky Basketball Recruiting RICK BOLUS Contributing Columnist
JAMIE VAUGHT Sport Hobby Columnist JACK MAIDEN Business Manager
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Date: 02-09-1987
(14-6 Overall', 7
(9-2 Home;    5-3 Away; UNIVERSITY OF KENTUCKY WILDCATS G       M     Mln     Ave       FG    FGA     Pet      3PT 3PTA   Pet     FT   FTA     Pet    Reb   AvR     PF   D   Aet JO.
-5 SEC) 0-1 Neutral)
Blk Stl
20 20 658 32.9 117 258 45.3 50 118 42.4 26 38 68.4 DAVENDER, ED
.   20       20     671 33.6      107    237    45.1 7      37    18.9    70     96 72.9
20       20      587 29.4       70    141    49.6       25      62    40.3    27      48 56.3
20       16     645   32.3       66    118 55.9
20       17     445   22.3       66    113 58.4
20        -     309    15.5       42    105   40.0       25     59   42.4     6     14 42.9
20        7 359    18.0       30     60 50.0
15        - 176   11 .7        8     15 53.3
14        - 115     8.2        3       8 37.5
_ - - 18 41 43.9 1 1 100.0 3 5 60.0 _      -        -     7       8 87.5
20 4.0
7 2.3
1       4 25.0
1       3 33.3
4000- 200. 511 1064 48.0 108 279 38.7 212 347 61.1 4000   200.     495 1078   45.9       60   173   34.7 231    330 70.0
50 2.5
74 3.7
16 1.1
18 1.3
3 .8
50   1   46 27
13 18
6 24
1 30
4 33
20 13
2 8
_P ts__.Avji,.
310 15.5
58   4    15     35       4 12
I -
4 10
6 2
338 12 269 284 371 16 250 322
48 126
78 3.9
20 1.3
Record UK     Opp Opponent
Top Rebounder
Nov.	29	1-	0	71
Dec.	02	2-	0	66
Dec.	06	2-	1	66
Dec.	13	3-	1	71
Dec.	19	4-	1	75
Dec.	20	5-	1	81
Dec.	27	6-	1	85
Dec.	30	6-	2	65
Jan.	03	7-	2	63
Jan.	07	7-	3	55
Jan.	10	7-	4	68
Jan.	12	8-	4	57
Jan.	14	9-	4	67
Jan.	18	9-	5	41
Jan.	21	10-	5	71
Jan.	25	11-	5	80
Jan.	29	11-	6	65
Jan.	31	12-	6	50
Feb.	04	13-	6	75
Feb.	07	14-	6	70
Austin Peay
Texas Tech
Mississippi State
Vanderbilt Navy Ole Miss
Mississippi State Auburn
Alflb 3010
Tennessee Florida Vanderbilt LSU
Georgia Ole Miss Oklahoma
2	20	Davender,- Ed	6	Madison,Richard	22,630	(H)
6	23	Davender, Ed	7	Thomas, Irving	21,805	(H)
-5	26	CHAPMAN, REX	10	THOMAS, IRVING	17,232	(A)
16	19	LOCK, ROB	11	LOCK, ROB	22,723	(H)
34	26	CHAPMAN, Rex	17	MADISON, Rich	19,513	(A)
-4	16	DAVENDER, ED	9	MADISON,RICHARD	20,053	(L'ville)
3	24	CHAPMAN, REX	11	LOCK, ROB	12,347	(A)
8	16	CHAPMAN, REX	8	LOCK, ROB	4,714	(A)
5	16	CHAPMAN, REX	13	LOCK, ROB	23,215	(H)
4	27	BLACKMON, JAMES	7	LOCK, ROB	23,100	(H)
Oscar- Jfi (jom6&
Yes Folks, The Big Blue Is Alive And Well
The 'Cats on fire!
You'd better believe it. Since the infamous 76-41 bombing at the hands of Louisiana State. Eddie Sutton's club has been a different team, save the ll-point loss to Ole Miss.
In fact, the Wildcats have won five of six since than dark Sunday afternoon. And the 76-65 loss to Ole Miss wasn't all that big a major upset considering that Ole Miss has been giving most everyone on the SEC fits this season.
Still, make no mistake that the loss in Oxford was, and still is a bitter pill for Sutton to swallow.
But the past is history just like the so-called January slump which regained its reputation in 1987, thanks to a so-so 6-4 mark after a fine 6-2 December.
Now. Kentucky is beginning to put all the pieces together.
In other words, the Big Blue is finding ways, as in teamwork, to win.
Against Auburn, senior James Blackmon played the finest game of his career.
That victory wasn't a shocker, but when the 'Cats left Tuscaloosa Saturday by upending SEC leader Alabama, Kentucky had issued notice to the remainder of the league that the Big Blue is alive and well.
And yes, the 'Cats will show up in Atlanta next month.
In most everyone's book, the top three teams in the SEC are Alabama, Florida and Auburn. Kentucky has proven its worth against two of the three and will have a chance to make even bigger waves this Saturday when UK takes on SEC co-leader Florida in Gainesville.
First, Kentucky will entertain Tennessee Wednesday night and this one should be a dandy.
Hoping to get revenge for an embarrassing 75-68 loss in Knoxville last month, Kentucky can keep its drive alive to finish in the league's top four and a respectable seed in the NCAA tournament next month.
While Tennessee is still recuperating from the persistent rumors that Vols' coach Don DeVoe won't be around when the new 25,000-seat arena opens next season, the Vols have done anything but die.
After UT athletics director Doug Dickey announced at a press conference last week that DeVoe's status won't be reviewed before the end of next season, the Vols promptly hit the floor and turned back Vanderbilt in overtime and gave the LSU Tigers the scare of their lives before losing in the final minute in Baton Rouge.
Although the Vols are in ninth place with a 4-8 record, the Big Orange is capable of winning any time out. Only problem is that the Vols have not been very impressive on the road in the last couple years.
Last season, Tennessee lost all nine road games in the conference, and hasn't fared much better this season, although the Vols did break the string earlier this season by upsetting Vandy in Nashville. The Vols' four league wins are home court wins over Kentucky, Mississippi State and Vanderbilt and the road win at Nashville.
To keep in perspective the importance of the upset over Kentucky in Knoxville, it's necessary to point out that Mississippi State
has won only one league game all season. And you can imagine how the folks in Nashville are feeling since Vandy would be in third place with a 7-4 record had C. M. Newton's club won those two against Tennessee.
Tennessee has been playing a lot of people close, but DeVoe hasn't found the right combination with All-America Tony White. Things don't get any easier for the Vols.
After a visit to Lexington, Tennessee returns home but has to face two of the league's toughest, Auburn and Florida before hitting the road again to Starkville and and Tuscaloosa.
Tennessee won't finish last in the SEC because Mississippi State is 1-11 and probably won't win another game unless it is the one against the Vols. Depending on how the Vols fight back, Tennessee could finish as high as fifth or as low as No. 9.
As we said in this space a week ago. each and every game appears to be the biggest one
of the season. That's the why it is when you find yourself in a win-or-else situation with your back to the wall.
While any hopes of winning a league title would have to come under the "miracle" category, this Kentucky team has proven something I didn't think possiblethat is to beat a legitimate Top Ten team on the road.
After the horrendous 35-point loss at home to LSU. the Wildcats' worksheet showed a 9-5 mark and the appearance of a disappointing future with three of their next five SEC games on the road.
But a funny thing happened. Once again.
Kentucky apparently likes playing on the road better than Rupp Arena.
First the 'Cats upended a good Vanderbilt team 71-65. but lost to Ole Miss. Those of
little faith (tsk, tsk) were throwing in the towel after a very lackluster 50-36 ho-hummer over Mississippi State at home.
With Auburn coming to town in hopes of making atonement for an earlier loss in Tiger-town, Kentucky fans were ready to take another lumping like the likes of earlier duels with Alabama and LSU.
Kentucky simply turned the other cheek, put on a dazzling exhibition of play and then held on for dear life. The die-hards cheered up but it wasn't until the 'Cats delivered a knock-out punch to Alabama in Tuscaloosa that the fair-weather fens came home to roost.
Now UK has some of its fans thinking it can be a factor in upcoming post season play. Heaven forbid, but there are some who believe the 'Cats can actually win a couple games in the big one.
With that in mind, let's take a peak at what lies ahead.
In addition to home court games with Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Ole Miss, the 'Cats will also host Oklahoma on March 1.
After Wednesday's battle with the Vols, Kentucky will hit the road for one of the league's top games at Gainesville. After this week, the 'Cats have only two road games leftat LSU and Georgia.
Both were considered "sure" losses before last Saturday, but UK is finding the road more playable each time out.
Through Kentucky's first six league road contests, the Wildcats own a fine 4-2 mark. Ironically, the only road losses came at the hands of No. 8 Ole Miss and No. 9 Tennessee.
If the Wildcats play the remainder of their schedule (and that's a big if with this team), UK could go 3-0 at home. And then if UK should win one of the three road contests, the Wildats would compile a 11-7 league mark and that should be good enough for a third-place tie. Two wins on the road could give UK a
Jerry Bell	DL	6-3	260	Louisville DeSales
Steve Kelley	LB	6-2	225	Hopkinsville
Larry Jackson	DB	5-11	170	Mayfield
Courtney Longacre	C	6-2	223	Louisville Fairdale
Jim Graves	OL	6-6	240	Lexington Henry Clay
Shawn Evans	TE	6-6	220	Madison Central
David Scott	RB	6-1	195	Jeffersontown
Jeff Houk	QB	6-2	200	Louisville St. Xavier
Freddie Maggard	QB	6-2	180	Cumberland
Todd George	OL	6-5	235	Covington Catholic
Billy Swanson	LB	6-0	220	Paducah Tilghman
William Dishman	RB	6-0	198	Lexington Bryan Station
Derrick Thomas	LB	6-2	215	Lexington Bryan Station
Joey Couch	LB	6-2	225	Paintsville
Jeff Ellis	TE	6-4	230	Louisville Male
Frank Jacobs	TE	6-4	230	Newport Catholic
Phil Logan	RB	6-3	180	Louisville Holy Cross
12-6 mark which probably would not move UK up to No. 2, but would give the 'Cats a solid No. 3 finish.
Now if one of those upsets should come at Gainesville, then the knees at the top (specifically Alabama and Florida) could begin knocking just a tad.
It still figures to be a two-horse race for the top spot between Alabama and Florida and can you imagine the last time the Florida Gators were cheering for a Kentucky basketball team prior to last Saturday?
Well, you can rest assured Wimp Sanderson will return the favor this Saturday when the 'Cats try to upset Florida. Media types in Florida are playing this up as the biggest game in recent memory for any Gator fen.
For the Gators to have a shot at the league crown, a victory this Saturday is a must for Florida since the Gators cannot afford to drop a game off the pace.
Both Alabama and Florida have three road games left, but the schedule favors, ever-so-slightly, the Crimson Tide because the final game of the season has Florida going against the Tide in Tuscaloosa.
Florida's two other road trips are at Tennessee and Vanderbilt while Alabama's road contests are at Vanderbilt, LSU and Auburn.
Bama's biggest challenge is staying even till the season finale because three of Bama's next four games are on the road before concluding the season with three of four at home.
Florida, meanwhile, plays three games at home this week winding up with UK on Saturday. Then the big crunch arrives as the Gators must wind up the SEC slate with three straight road contestsat Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Alabama.
Norm Sloan certainly doesn't want to be in the position of trying to catch up on the road and that would be the situation the Gators would fece if they stub their toes this week.
By the time most of you read this issue of TCP, most of the nation's prep football stars will have been inked to national letters-of-intent and hopefully coach Jerry Claiborne and his staff will harvest their finest crop ever.
At presstime, three of the biggest catches were still undecided, at least publicly, as to where they would be attending college this fell.
The recruiting battles for the services of Newport Central Catholic's Frank Jacobs, Lousville Male's Jeff Ellis and Holy Cross' Phil Logan apparently were going to the wire.
For Kentucky to have a great recruiting campaign the 'Cats needed to sign all three. And with none of the three having announced with less than 72 hours prior to signing, the prospects of such a sweep seemed like a longshot.
Jacobs made his official visit to Penn State over the weekend during the Nittany Lions' so-called "super" sweep. Coach Joe Paterno had all the highly-ranked non-Pennsylvania prepsters in for their official visits.
Just so happens that the 1987 Penn State
[Continued On Page 5] (&yte 4
We/>raaryf4, (9$7
Sutton Uses Some Psychology; Had UK Ready For 'Bama
By Nick Nicholas
Eddie Sutton a psychologist?
Although he might not be licensed to practice, the Kentucky coach had his team in the right frame of mind for last Saturday's UK-Alabama game.
Mentally, the Wildcat players were loose as a goose, fit as a fiddle. And it showed as Kentucky ousted No. 9 Alabama before a packed house in UA's Memorial Coliseum, 70-69.
During practice Friday night in Tuscaloosa, Sutton, was kidding around with the Wildcat players. Sure, UK worked on
James Dickey
Recruit Jerry Bell Is 'Into Football'
some particular plays for the Alabama. . . . . .But during practice there was:
a) A free throw shooting contest pitting NBC's Bucky Walters against Richard Madison and NBC's Tom Hammond taking on Derrick Miller.
b) Another free throw shooting exhibition as seniors James Blackmon and Paul Andrews picked sides. Not only did the two upperclassmen pick their respective teammates, but most of UK's traveling party as well. Some of those picked to try their luck at the charity stripe included superfan Steve Rardin, along with WKYT's Rob Bromley and 101 president Van Florence.
And c) Sutton asked everyone to come out to midcourt and watch Irv Thomas and Steve Bruce give their best imitations of the Wildcat head coach.
While the Wildcats were facing a team which had humiliated them by 14 points last month at Rupp Arena, perhaps Sutton used a little psychology on his pupils, enabiling his team to be relaxed the next day.
"Coach Sutton has so many great qualities as a basketball coach," said James Dickey minutes after UK knocked off the SEC leaders. "One of them is having the great feeling about practices at different times. Sometimes he'll come on the court and he'll just junk our practice schedule and go with what he would call a 'gut feeling.' That's what he did last evening (Friday).
"We felt like one of the things that really helped us, as far as this game, was a win against Auburn at home (75-71). That gave us a lot of momentum. Our players came in with a lot of confidence and they were loose."
Kentucky came out hot early, hitting its first four shots on the way to an 8-2 lead. The feeling was in the airKentucky had come to play. And despite Derrick McKey's 12-foot jumper putting the 'Cats behind
[Continued On Page 10]
Bell, 6-3, 262 Pounds, Decides On 'Cats
When it comes time to beat a few football prospects out of the recruiting bushes it always seems like Wildcat coaches are looking for "Mr. Big". You know, that big dude which can set anchor on either side of the line of scrimmage.
Kentucky desperately needs to sign some of these men to keep up with the Joneses of the SEC. If not, then the Wildcats will continue to get pushed around by the Alabamas. Auburns. Georgias. LSUs and the rest of the bullies on the block.
What the 'Cats could use is another recruit like a Mike Pfeifer or a Dermontti Dawson. That is, a person who is big in stature
1	Nick Nicholas Cats' Pause Columnist
and can be a positive factor in the trenches. However, throw in a guy whose emotional level cranks up a notch when someone out of the blue mentions "Big Oranage," "L-S-U" or "How 'bout them Dawgs." You know the type, someone like former Wildcat Cam Jacobs who thrived on excitement and enthusiasm while in a UK uniform.
Meet Louisvile DeSales two-year all-stater Jerry Bell. . .he's just what the Wildcats have been searching for. You can't miss him6-foot-3, 262 pounds. And most of all, according to his high school coach Don Hettich, Jerry Bell is "into football. He's an extremely intense young man when he lines up for 48 minutes."
Last week Bell verbally committed to Jerry Claiborne's Wildcat program. If things go as planned he'll make it official when he signs the dotted line sometime this week.
Whether on the field or in the recruiting wars, Kentucky always has a fight on its hand when battling against the nation's premier Division I programs.
But it was Kentucky who landed Bell, not tradition-rich Michigan or '86 Sugar Bowl champion Tennessee, the other two schools previously in hot pursuit of his services. According to Bell, UK's program compared favorably to the nation's best.
"I wanted to play in the SEC," Bell said, reflecting back on his decision. "Kentucky is just lacking a few positions that's keeping them from competing in the SEC or in the country. Hopefully, I can be a factor in (helping) them go to a bowl game. I've been to places like Michigan and I think Kentucky's program is second to none in the country."
So, after he returned from his official visit to Michigan (three weeks ago) it was then he felt destined to join the Big Blue.
"I was really impressed with both of their programs," Bell said about his recent visits to Ann Arbor and Knoxville. "I liked the people there and the coaches, but I had a feeling deep inside that kept telling me Kentucky was the best place for me.
"Some places you go and you feel like you're an outcast. At Kentucky I felt like I was just 'one of the guys.'"
Even during his sophomore year at DeSales, Kentucky assistant Bill Glaser had his eyes on Bell. And while UK already has two DeSale products on the teamScott Endris and Tony Nashit will gladly add a third. . .even though his previous college exam scores currently aren't up to par.
Needs To Pass College Exam
To be eligible for a scholarship Bell must make a 15 on his ACT (though on a sliding scale a 14 is acceptable if he has a 2.1 GPA or higher) or 700 on the SAT (sliding rule applies here, too). However, the new addition to Prop 48combining best scores of from separate test sittingsgives Bell and all student-athletes a better I chance.
"I'm taking another ACT Saturday (Feb. 5) and I'm signed up for the SAT," Bell said. "I'm going to keep taking 'em and keep taking 'em until I get it. I've been taking the prep (ACT) courses and I feel real good about this next one."
Pressure sometimes plays a big role. Taking the test for the initial time, students sometimes are intimidated. They can become frustrated when seeing a question they no nothing about. At age 17 or 18 they see a big part of their life go out the window because of a low test score.
Student-athletes, who wait till the last minute, are to blame. Beginning their junior year, students are advised to take the test as many times as they can. And when a senior takes the test, say in spring, he or she faces a win-or-lose situation. Hey, when you have the
opportunity to take an ACT or SAT test during your junior year, especially with the new rule, do it!
Just ask Jerry Bell.
"T've talked to the guys who have taught me how to take it and they said there's stuff on there (tests) that you've never had. It's I like they try to intimidate you to see how you can adjust during a lest.
"They've got it set up to where there's enough on the test to where you can pass. What I did (previous two attempts) was I got in there and saw all this stuff I didn't know. I got so choked up and nervous I that I couldn't figure out the stuff that I did know. Now, I'm learn ing how to put the things (questions) I don't know aside and take care of the ones I do know. Then I'll come back to the ones I'm not too sure of.
"They've already offered me a scholarship. . .He (Glaser) is pretty confident that I'll pass."
According Hettich. Bell is a good student and he, too, believes the senior will pass the test and be ready to suit up for the 'Cats next season. And if Bell is eligible to play in 1987, don't look for him to be redshirted.
Already one source close to the UK program has said, "He's a good one and he can come in and contribute as a freshman."
With schools like Michigan. Tennessee, UCLA, Alabama and Mississippi calling, no one doubts he can play Division I ball.
"He's definitely a big-time player," Hettich said. "In high school is was capable of dominating a football game on defense from a defensive line position. That's not an easy thing to do."
Domination and intimidation seem to go hand-in-hand when Bell gets in position to nail the opposition. In fact, he admits that he 1-o-v-e-s to hit. When someone loves to hit who is the size of Bell and can bench 340 pounds, it's like trying to stop a Mack truck with wooden barriers.
Intense Customer On The Line Of Scrimmage
Although Hettich says his former star performer has learned to control his emotions, Bell says differently. In fact, "getting mad" is his main weakness.
"I get real mad sometimes and do some stupid things (on the I field)," said Bell, who is more mild-mannered when he is off the I gridiron. "That's one of my weakenessesI kinda loose my head. Sometimes I forget about playing football, I just think about getting those guys back over there (offensive line). It makes me mad.
This guy an intimidator? It's difficult to imagine when you consider Bell in his spare time enjoys quiet afternoons at the nearest | fishin' hole with his father, and "just being with the guys".
On the football field he's not just one of the guy. He's Jerry Bell | an all-State lineman.
"I won't allow myself to be intimidated; I won't put my tail between my legs and run off," Bell continued. ' I'm the kind of person if I get up in their face I'm ready to fight. Really, I want to I play football but I'm more interested in whoopin' that guy's butt on the play than getting to the ball carrier.
"Towards the end of the season my coach helped me correct that | a lot. I don't think I'll have any problems adjusting to it (at UK).'
Hettich disagrees with Bell. For example not once, Hettich mentioned, was Bell whistled for an "extra-curricular" penalty in his last two seasons. As a sophomore the coach noted Bell would "mentally get taken out of the game."
But now. . .
"He's come a long ways; he controls it well," Hettich pointed | out. "(He knows) if you lose your composure then you're not going to help your team in the ballgame.
"Jerry's a very, very powerful kid. He's a boy in a man's body."
Kentucky desperately needs players like Bell, who is enormous in size, very talented and is ignited because of his enthusiasm for football.
Enjoys UK's Defensive Scheme
When Kentucky recorded a 9-3 season in 1984, Cam Jacobs, through his enthusiasm and hustle, paced the 'Cats on defense. Yes, you could say he was an arrogant or flamboyant character. But J remember it was Jacobs who gave the Wildcats' defense spark, allowing them to beat a more talented Wisconsin club in the Hall | of Fame Bowl.
"I like their defense," said Bell, especially after being at Commonwealth Stadium to watch UK shut down Florida last year, 10-3. "It's real agressive; a lot of people fly to the ball."
So, UK has shaken loose and landed a big prospect from the state's recruiting crop. And Bell just may be the shot in the arm which Claiborne and his staff have been looking for. &7i& (Dates' ($cuiA&
Blackmon, Walls Take 'Different' Paths
Readers Like Three-point Shot
One break. It can make all the difference in going in opposite directions. Unpredictable as college basketball has been this season, the expression "going in opposite directions" is a cliche much in demand in sports these days.
Ironic then that two college players with whom most of you are acquainted by way of sports pages and television are going the same way. In opposite directions. James Blackmon and Kevin Walls.
Walls quit the University of Louisville team last week. And 24 hours after the door at Crawford Gym closed behind Walls, a
	Bob Watkins Cats' Pause Columnist
few miles down 1-64 James Blackmon ran and jumped and swished his way to the pinnacle of his college career. A personal-best 27 points led Kentucky past Auburn, 75-71. It was Blackmon's second straight MVP performance.
The similarities between Blackmon at Kentucky and Walls at Louisville are striking really. Both were high-school heroes.
At Marion High in Indiana, Blackmon scored 52 points in the last game of his senior year. For the season he averaged 32.6 points, was Marion's all-time leading pointmaker, was the co-darling of Hoosierland (with Steve Alford) and was recruited by all the majors.
Meanwhile, at Camden High in New Jersey, Walls rang up 52 points in a game during his senior year too ... twice. In other games that winter he scored 81 and 62 and 50 (twice). Walls was voted all-everything. Who recruited him? Pick a school. But it was only natural that Walls would follow Billy Thompson and Milt Wagner on the glory road to Louisville.
Time marched on. Adjusting to college life is tough for any kid. It is doubly so for sports heroes, particularly those who zoom in from the Swish Zone where celebrities named McGuire, Packer and Vitale hold sway. Al, Billy and Dick were goo-gooing and ga-gaing about how great Blackmon and Walls were going to be. Eighteen-year-old kids believe "experts." Two winters went by and college sophomores Blackmon and Walls were averaging 5.4 and 2.1 points respectively.
In fact, as incomprehensible as it might seem, Walls would never score in double figures at UofL. And, to date, Blackmon's three-season average at UK is only 9.4.
Each player became unhappy early in his sophomore season, being out of the limelight, having to endure the intensity and drudgery of practices and compete for, but to not get, play time. And, as much as anything, not getting any shots might have been toughest of all. The chance to prove something. So, Blackmon and Walls quit their teams. Walls stayed on campus at UofL, thought about things, got some good advice, changed his mind, and returned to the team.
Down the road, Leonard Hamilton, then a UK assistant, drove to Marion and persuaded Blackmon to return to Lexington.
Much the way Walls must have been, Blackmon was told to forget about what McGuire, Packer and Vitale had said. The advice must have gone something like this: "Go to school, play the game. Be yourself, try and fit in. Wait, and 'things' will come."
Sounds remarkably like the real world, doesn't it? In short, Blackmon and Walls were encouraged to "grow up."
But growing up is tough. When you're a stallion in sneakers, accustomed to swishing 40 a game, well, it must be scary tough.
Blackmon settled down, started to fit in, waited. A coaching change at Kentucky opened a new vista for him. By last Wednesday night against Auburn he was glowing. Running ... passing ... swishing ... high-fiving. Going in the right direction.
Walls? He settled down to college life, or seemed to. But echoes of glory times at Camden never went completely away because the sound of swishing nets never does. His bum knee made things harder. The coaches tried to make him a playmaker. A passer.
Walls a point guard? It was like asking a bird not to sing, instructing a point machine who had once upon gunned enough to score 81 and 62 and 52 twice, to "give the ball up."
Even before a knee injury that probably doomed his NBA dreams, the program at UofL was never right for Walls. The chemistry wasn't there because among the things he wanted to do (shoot it), could do (make it), versus the things Coach Denny Crum wanted done (fit in, play defense), Walls simply chose the wrong glory road.
So, Kevin Walls quit Louisville's team last week. It was all he could do. In retrospect, he should not have gone to UofL. Having made that mistake, he should have transferred last season. The echoes from Camden High never went away.
Blackmon. There he was after the Auburn game smiling and talking with Joe Dean in front of a television camera. Prime time.
Blackmon stuck it out and got the one break that didn't come Walls' way. For Blackmon it was a new coach with a different approach to the game.
For Walls the break never came and now he's on the road.
One break. It can be all the difference in going in "opposite directions."
Readers (write) right
Reaction to a survey last month on what you think of the three point shot in college basketball, has been brisk. Results will be tabulated and reported later. Meanwhile, here are some comments received.
Steve Hurt of Burksville in Cumberland County "It's the best rule change since reinstatement of the dunk. The rule has and will continue to spread the players out and make the game less like a football game."
Rick Mercader of Albany in Clinton County "I think the 3 point shot is good for the game because it has stopped the traffic in the lane. Kenny Walker would have broken Dan Issel's scoring record if it had been adopted last year."
Richie Phillips of Radcliff in Hardin County "At the high school level it would be a tremendous boost for the fans who (are now) staying at home. It will get them out more to watch their favorite sport."
Sid Rogers of Clarkson in Grayson County "I like the new rule it makes the game more exciting. It helps the smaller, finesee-type player besides helping the big man by keeping defenses from collapsing. I believe it takes more skill to hit one from 19-9 than it does for a 7-footer to tiptoe and dunk. And, 20 feet, five inches (international distance) might be okay, but the pro distance (23-9) is to far."
R.L. Doris of Frankfort in Franklin County believes the shot will bring the little man back into the game, but the