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Dontaie Allen is among UK players returning

Vaught’s Views


Dontaie Allen finished his redshirt freshman season averaging 5.4 points, 1.5 rebounds and 14 minutes per game. He made 31 3-pointers and shot 39.7 percent from 3-point range despite having to deal with the pressure of being a UK fan favorite even in his limited playing time.

Allen had an interesting message for UK fans after he scored 23 points in Kentucky’s SEC Tournament loss to Mississippi State.

“Obviously I’d say to stay with us for the following seasons. That’s one thing, if you really look at the team, you can say they didn’t have the best of records, you could say they weren’t good. You can have any excuse you want,” Allen said. “This team fought every single game. That’s something you can’t say we didn’t do. You can look literally, there was fight every time. I would just say to stay with us.”

“Stay with us” certainly made it sound like transfer speculation regarding Allen is just that, especially when he talked about his offseason plans.

“I’m going to stay in the gym. The last month I’ve been in the gym. I’m feeling really good, really confident. I’m just going to stay in the gym literally all summer. I’m going to work to exhaustion,” Allen said.

Allen is proud that he kept doing that this season even when he was not playing and never quit believing in himself or his team.

“I think a big thing for me was it showed how resilient I was. I’ve always known I was resilient, but after going through things I went through this year, it just shows I’m resilient, I’m a strong person,” Allen said. “I just hate that me and the team had to go out like this. I’m still kind of stuck on that.”

On Monday, Allen’s hometown newspaper, the Falmouth Outlook, announced that Allen will, in fact, be staying at UK.

His mother, April Allen-Thomas, confirmed to the Outlook that her son remains locked into continuing his playing career in Lexington.

“He is definitely returning! His plan is to come home and work harder than ever before and return to UK for his sophomore season, and I fully support his decision,” she said. s

If you are an optimistic University of Kentucky basketball fan you have to hope that the struggles of this 9-16 season can somehow benefit the Cats next year.

Senior guard Davion Mintz — who is not sure about his timeline to decide if he might return to UK for another year — said feeling so low definitely resonated with the players.

“I’ve never lost this many games in my life in basketball, I mean, just consecutively like this. I know other guys on this roster haven’t either,” Mintz said after the SEC tourney loss to Mississippi State. “Now you know. You know how it feels. You don’t want to climb back into that hole.

“Like now, once you dig in, you know exactly how to escape. You just don’t want that pain to come back. It’s terrible. Whether it’s my last college game or not, you just don’t want to go out like that. I know a lot of guys are feeling terrible. I mean, even if that’s the next level or not, you know how it feels to lose like this.” s

Shaedon Sharpe, a 6-4 shooting guard for Dream City Christian (Arizona), is one of the top players in the 2022 recruiting class and a player many seem to think is a definite lean to Kentucky.

“I would not say Shaedon is a lock for Kentucky,” said Rivals.com recruiting writer Krysten Peek. “He’s what I would call a sleeper in the recruiting class who still has options but does seem to really like Kentucky.

“I have not seen him a lot in person but when I have I have been overly impressed with his athleticism and the type of player he is. He just jumps out of the gym. He does things you do not expect to see. He is becoming a real star and has kind of blown up in this world we now know.”

Peek said he is not yet a great shooter but has “great shot mechanics” to indicate he will be a terrific shot maker.

“With his athleticism, he does not have to shoot well in high school to score,” Peek said. “He can get to wherever he wants on the court. He does know he has to fine-tune his shooting and he will.” s

Don’t expect new Kentucky offensive coordinator Liam Coen to name a No. 1 quarterback when spring practice ends.

“I am looking for guys to improve and for growth in the offense,” Coen said. “We are not going to name a starting quarterback after spring practice. We have (Penn State transfer) Will Levis coming in to compete this summer. The spring will be more of information gathering rather than evaluation.”

Joey Gatewood and Beau Allen are expected to be the two contenders with Levis for the starting spot but Nik Scalzo and true freshman Kaiya Sheron will also be participating in spring practice.

“We have not had a ton of time with the guys since I got here to get things installed (on offense). We are still learning about systems and the core principles,” Coen said. “Right now I am just trying to help the quarterbacks get better and try to improve their fundamentals.

“Just trying to give the quarterbacks some coaching and learn what makes these guys tick, what is underneath the hood. How do I connect with these kids? When it comes to on field throwing, how does he take coaching and what is the best way to get through to each player?

“All the guys are going to have a chance to compete. Beau and Joey have each played a few snaps but not really enough to judge anything off of.”

What about Levis? What did Coen like so much about him that he recruited him when he announced he was leaving Penn State?

“The first thing that sticks out is his intelligence. He is graduating from Penn State with a finance degree in three years,” Coen said. “You always like your quarterback to be smart.

“There is some untapped potential there with things he can do throwing and physically running the ball. He is a weapon that can come in and run the football, too. He wants to be a full-time guy and wants a chance to … be that guy.” s

He barely played after the first two games of the season when he had 13 points and 11 rebounds and he even got sent home for several weeks by coach John Calipari for an attitude adjustment. So it was not a shock when freshman Cam’Ron Fletcher announced he was putting his name into the transfer portal and would not be back at UK.

He was a top 50 recruit. Calipari said Fletcher had “matured as a person” and Fletcher said he had a “great experience” at UK. However, parting ways seems best for both him and UK.

Kentucky assistant coach Jai Lucas had said just recently that Fletcher was improving.

“I think he’s understanding the game a little bit better. And that’s been the biggest thing with the team this year and the freshmen we’ve had is just getting them to understand the game a little bit better,” Lucas said.

“He’s in good shape, playing with high motor, high energy, and that’s the big thing for Cam and how he’ll be successful, just the energy and the effort he plays with. So, understanding how to put that with thinking through the game and understanding new terminology and stuff like that, he’s done a good job.”

Just not good enough to stay at Kentucky. s

Quote of the Week: “He was the reason I was a All-SEC player. I never liked the return game but he made me fall in love with it. I’m going to miss Coach,” former UK cornerback David Jones on the passing of former UK special teams coach Steve Ortmayer.

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