Whitesburg KY

UK’s Stoops praises Kentucky’s high schools

Vaught’s Views



Kentucky’s disappointing 3-point shooting this year has sparked a lot of conversation about how 3-point shooters Johnny Juzang, Jemarl Baker and Mychal Mulder never were significant contributors at UK. Baker transferred to Arizona and Juzang to UCLA. Mulder stayed at UK after transferring in from a junior college and is now with the Golden State Warriors.

“The guys they were playing behind, it’s like I could have said, ‘They’re going to take 20 of your minutes. How would you feel about that?’ That’s the hard thing about this,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said.

“I wish Johnny well. We did everything we could to help him play right away, knowing that we were going to play him. I still hope he does well.”

Same for Mulder.

“Happy for Mychal Mulder. It’s a great story. The hardest thing in college basketball is being a junior college player and then going to a high major, major school. Because normally it takes you time to get adjustments,” Calipari said.

“Mychal Mulder toughed it out, fought like heck. Wish he would have done more. I wanted him to do more. He wanted (to do more here). But he had a good career here. And now sticking it out, fighting it, he’s on a (NBA) roster. I couldn’t be more happy for him.”

This season former Kentucky Mr. Basketball Dontaie Allen, a prolific scorer in high school, has played just 19 minutes in four games. He did not play in last week’s loss to North Carolina.

“I could have done it today,” Calipari said after the North Carolina loss.

He didn’t because he was “giving guys in front of him the room they need to miss shots” and see if they could start making shots.

“I go in practice and they (UK players) make shots,” Calipari said. “Not coming out every time I miss a shot. That’s not how I coach. I am trying to give them room and encourage them to shoot. We have some guys in huddles I tell if they do not shoot they are coming out. Dontaie just has to stay ready so when the opportunity comes, he is ready,” Calipari said.

Keaton Belcher, Allen’s coach at Pendleton County, went on social media after the game in response to so many questions from UK fans and speculation Allen might transfer over his lack of playing time.

“I just keep telling DA (Dontaie Allen) to work harder. He will get his shot eventually,” Belcher said. “He’s not going anywhere. Whole state is rooting for him.” s

Kentucky coach Mark Stoops let everyone know what the biggest storyline should be from national signing day — Kentucky signing seven in-state players.

“Kentucky high school football is really getting good,” said Kentucky recruiting coordinator Vince Marrow.

He didn’t mean Kentucky high school football had not been good before but that it was getting good at a new level

“It’s getting good to where we can recruit our own kids here and sign about seven or eight kids from the state. I think the athletes are better,” Marrow said. “A lot of Power Five schools really wanted those guys (Kentucky signed).”

Stoops said Kentucky high school coaches were doing an “exceptional job” and it’s easy to see that paying off on the field.

“It’s so much better from top to bottom than it was early on and I think that’s the big storyline with this class,” Stoops said. “The past three years we have signed difference makers in this state and want to continue that.”

Mercer County coach David Buchanan did not have a Kentucky signee but he is president of the Kentucky Football Coaches Association. He appreciated Stoops praising the work high school coaches do, especially during this stressful COVID-19 2020 season.

“Kentucky high school coaches do work hard and we appreciate coach Stoops saying that,” Buchanan said. “It means a lot for him to say that. I think the athletic training and individual training for players is better than it has ever been and that is part of coaching. The numbers (running, jumping, etc.) are better and that’s because people spend more time on training. People are better at teaching speed and explosiveness than ever before.”

Kentucky signed four-star offensive lineman Jager Burton and four-star receiver Dekel Crowdus, both of Frederick Douglass, along with three-star players Jordan Dingle (tight end) of Bowling Green, La’Vell Wright (running back) and Jordan Lovett (safety) of North Hardin, and Kaiya Sheron (quarterback) of Somerset. The other addition was Georgia Tech transfer Justice Dingle (linebacker) of Bowling Green.

“It has been a priority to concentrate on this state. Hopefully some of the work we have done at the college level is caring down and inspiring some of the youngsters at middle school and grade school and helping in some small way,” Stoops said. “We are always open to the high school coaches, always invite them here and have a great relationship with them.”

Many of the state’s high school coaches were at Kroger Field last weekend for the six state championship games.

“We work extremely hard to keep the best talent at home and we want them here, and I think that’s evident by the way we’ve been working it the past couple of years,” Stoops said.

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