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Jordan Swindle addresses reporters at SEC Media Days on Wednesday. (Allen Sharpe, SEC) Jordan Swindle addresses reporters at SEC Media Days on Wednesday. (Allen Sharpe, SEC)
HOOVER, Ala. -- The talent infusion Kentucky football has gotten under Mark Stoops has been a constant theme throughout his three-year tenure.

UK's record-breaking success on the recruiting trail has been well documented. So too have the flood of freshmen making immediate splashes and the physical transformation of the players already on the roster through the High Performance program.

On Wednesday, Jordan Swindle put a number on the change.

This time two years ago, the senior offensive tackle revealed only five of his teammates topped 19 miles per hour at top speed according to UK's player tracking system. At last check, that total has grown exponentially.

"Just last week we had thirty-three people run nineteen miles per hour, so that's a huge improvement for our team," Swindle said at SEC Media Days on Wednesday. "There's guys running twenty-two miles per hour, just crazy speeds."

Stoops pays close attention to that kind of thing.

"That's the information that I got from our strength and conditioning people, and that's encouraging," Stoops said. "I know each year, as I look at the data, I see improvement; I see the strength and the speed improving."

And with that improvement in physical ability -- not to mention the $165 million in facility upgrades in progress -- come mounting expectations. Stoops won't hide from that either.

"We should be better moving into our third year," Stoops said. "Progress needs to be made. We said that from day one."

In the eyes of many, progress will be defined first and foremost by wins and losses. Considering UK went 5-7 a year ago, the six-win mark -- and the bowl eligibility that comes with it -- is a natural and oft-mentioned measuring stick.

"I don't if I see or feel the pressure, but I definitely know that's our goal and so we're striving for that every week," said Swindle, making his second appearance in as many years at the SEC's annual summer media circus. "We have meetings and every week we talk about going to bowl games."

"We're not making any predictions or anything, but it's a main topic around the team," senior safety A.J. Stamps said.

Consider the Cats fell a win shy of a bowl after starting the 2014 season 5-1, it makes sense getting that sixth win would come up often. They'll also be calling on the experience gained in coming up short as they look to get it done.

"We were young," Swindle said. "We had a lot of players last year that it was their first year playing and so they didn't know how to have success early and then once that grind comes in they kind of don't know how to handle themselves. They don't know how to take care of their bodies. They don't know to manage their time. That's why the decline at the end of the year I think happened. This year we're definitely more mature."

Maturity, however, means the Cats must not let visions of a 13th game in December or January consume them.

"We talked about a day-to-day approach and we still stay with that," Stoops said. "So we're never going to get ahead of ourselves. We have a long way to go to build the program to where we want to be."

"We talk about (reaching a bowl), but we just have to focus on getting better every day," senior defensive tackle Melvin Lewis said. "We have to start off with the small things and not think ahead and stuff like that. We just have to worry about working hard right now and playing Louisiana-Lafayette Sept. 5."

Lewis and his teammates have given Stoops reason to be feel good on that front.

"Year three, we should be better," Stoops said. "We are better. I think one of the big things that stands out to me is just the unity of our football team. They're all in together. They've worked hard throughout winter conditioning. They've worked hard this summer. They're anxious and more confident. The more work you put in, the more talent you have, the more confident you can be."

That speed doesn't hurt either.



HOOVER, Ala. -- Kentucky football -- represented by Mark Stoops, Jordan Swindle, A.J. Stamps and Melvin Lewis -- takes its turn at SEC Media Days on Wednesday. The interviews begin just after 10 a.m. ET, with Stoops taking the podium on the main stage at 11:35 a.m. ET (which will be broadcast on the SEC Network). Make sure to follow @UKAthletics, @UKFootball and @KYwildcatsTV all day for behind-the-scenes coverage.







Offensive tackle Jordan Swindle will be making his second appearance at SEC Media Days this season after attending last year as well. Swindle will be joined this year by fellow seniors A.J. Stamps and Melvin Lewis. Offensive tackle Jordan Swindle will be making his second appearance at SEC Media Days this season after attending last year as well. (Todd Van Emst, UK Athletics)
For the most diehard SEC football fans, there is no better indication that football season is coming then the annual Southeastern Conference Media Days. If you are one of those fans, you have one more week of waiting.

The SEC has announced the schedule and attendees for the four-day football overload that will run July 13-16 at the Hyatt Regency Birmingham - Wynfrey Hotel in Hoover, Ala.

Joining third-year head coach Mark Stoops to represent Kentucky at the event will be senior safety A.J. Stamps, senior defensive lineman Melvin Lewis and senior offensive lineman Jordan Swindle. The four will take the stage in Hoover on Wednesday morning starting at 10 a.m. ET and will be making the rounds until approximately 1 p.m. ET.

ESPN will once again bring SEC Media Days to a national audience, with the SEC Network having live coverage all four days. SEC Now will air live from Hoover every day and air every head coach press conference live in addition to live interviews with players and coaches. Save this link (http://es.pn/1NLVNaa) to watch SEC Now during Kentucky's appearance in Hoover.

Fans are also encouraged to follow @UKFootball on Twitter and Instagram and Kentucky Football on Facebook for behind the scenes photos and information. @KYwildcatsTV and Cat Scratches will also be on the trip for exclusive videos and insight before, during and after the Wildcats appearance in Hoover.

UK takes over draft night, again

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Karl-Anthony Towns poses with fellow draft picks before going No. 1 in Thursday's NBA Draft. (Barry Williams, UK Athletics) Karl-Anthony Towns poses with fellow draft picks before going No. 1 in Thursday's NBA Draft. (Barry Williams, UK Athletics)
The NBA Draft is known for its twists and turns.

There are more mock drafts than can be counted beforehand, mock drafts that are immediately busted by surprise picks and trades.

Really, there's only one given on draft night these days, other than unpredictability.

Kentucky.

At Thursday night's NBA Draft, UK once again took center stage. Six Wildcats heard their names called, tying a common draft-era record most recently achieved by Kentucky in 2012. UK has now had 25 draft picks in the last six years.

"Six guys get drafted and tie a record, four lottery picks and another No. 1 pick -- it's been another unbelievable night," Calipari said. "I'm proud of the guys. Our job as coaches is to help these kids realize their dreams. I'm so happy that a lot of lives were changed tonight."

As expected, Karl-Anthony Towns was taken by the Minnesota Timberwolves with the No. 1 overall pick. Towns is the third UK player taken with the top pick in John Calipari's six seasons and Coach Cal's fourth top pick overall, joining Anthony Davis (2012), John Wall (2010) and Derrick Rose (2008). Both are also common draft-era records.

"This is awesome, to have this moment be cherished where I'm from," said Towns, who took the stage not far from his home in Piscataway, N.J. "It's been a long road to get to this spot today, but with a lot of hard work, a lot of dedication, a lot of hours in the gym, a great support system that I've been fortunate and blessed to have, this moment has finally arrived."

Many experts forecasted Towns' teammate, Willie Cauley-Stein, would have to wait a while longer for his own moment. Mock drafts pegged the 7-footer's stock as slipping entering draft night, but Cauley-Stein paid the talk little mind.

"I wasn't nervous at all," Cauley-Stein said. "I'm a strong believer in whatever happens, happens. I was just riding the wave. Wherever I got picked up, that's the place I was supposed to be at."

He was rewarded for his approach.

Cauley-Stein was the second Wildcat off the board, heading to Sacramento to join fellow former UK big man DeMarcus Cousins as the No. 6 pick.

"To learn under Boogie and being in an organization that's up and coming, a lot of young guys, it's just cool," Cauley-Stein said.

Trey Lyles will join Cauley-Stein in heading west, becoming the No. 12 overall pick when he was chosen by the Utah Jazz. The 6-foot-10 forward, termed by Coach Cal as UK's "X-factor" throughout a 38-1 season, believes he will surprise his new fans with a diverse game of which he only showed glimpses in a single season at Kentucky when he reaches the next level.

"My playmaking ability offensively," Lyles said. "I didn't need to do a lot of it at (Kentucky) because we had it at other positions, but now I'm on another level and I'll be able to do more."

Devin Booker, on other hand, won't sneak up on anyone with his offensive ability. The shooting guard was taken just a pick after his UK classmate by the Phoenix Suns on the strength of his pure shooting stroke, but he looks forward to showing off a multi-faceted game.

"At Kentucky, we had a really talented team," Booker said. "I fit in really well with the team and found my niche. I'll have to create more for myself. I think I'm surprising people with my athleticism. Just stay tuned."

Though he's leaving his 2014-15 teammates, his new running mates have a distinct Kentucky feel of their own. The Suns' backcourt features former Wildcats Brandon Knight, Eric Bledsoe and Archie Goodwin.

"I'm loving it," Booker said. "Big Blue Nation everywhere. I wouldn't want it any other way."

After Booker's selection -- which gave UK a record-tying four lottery picks -- there would be a bit of a wait. When it was over, it looked like another Kentucky guard was headed to the desert. The Suns took Andrew Harrison with the No. 44 pick, but news quickly leaked that he would head to Memphis in exchange for Jon Leuer.

Four picks later, UK tied that 2012 record when Dakari Johnson was taken by the Oklahoma City Thunder.

That left only Aaron Harrison as undrafted among the seven Wildcats eligible, but Coach Cal is confident the clutch shooting guard will get his chance and capitalize.

"I'm disappointed that Aaron didn't get drafted, but he will be fine," Calipari said. "I will tell you that he will be on a summer league team and fighting for a position on an NBA team. My guess is he will be on an opening-season roster even though he wasn't drafted."

Calipari, there in Brooklyn to support his former pupils, watched as Kentucky made history once again. Though the competitive portion of UK's 2014-15 season ended in a fourth Final Four trip in five years less than three months ago, Thursday marked its true conclusion.

"We want to win, but not at the expense of these kids," Calipari said. "I want them to benefit more than the program. That's what I want this to be. When the seasons over, you want to say, 'They got more out of this than we did, I did, or the program did.' If anyone wants to question me with results, please say it publicly. Final Fours, wins, and all of this stuff that we do, but it's not about that. It's about these kids."

The whole process begins again soon.

Draft night social media round-up

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It's NBA Draft night, which means it's one of the busiest days of the year for Kentucky basketball. Add in the fact that seven Wildcats could hear their names called and it's almost impossible to keep up. That's why we're compiling the best tweets and more from throughout the night right here.

Wrapping it up









Johnson picked by Thunder, UK ties record





Andrew Harrison selected in the second round




Booker makes it four lottery picks









Lyles picked by the Utah Jazz




Willie joins Boogie in Sacramento




Towns goes No. 1






Pre-draft


@ukcoachcalipari and @karlito_towns Selfie game too strong!

A photo posted by Karl Towns (@karltowns) on


















Recent Comments

  • samy: Thank God for your work. read more
  • mimi: a very touchy story. in life, its so easy to get caught up with the glitz, look at people who read more
  • Berdj J. Rassam: Media days are mixed bags - sometimes good and interesting, and sometimes dull and boring. read more
  • BBN#1Fan: Was the first time I EVER watched the draft! It was great to see BBN doing great on this nite! read more
  • Berdj J. Rassam: Another great night for UK in the NBA draft. read more
  • Brooklin Lee: One loss does not mean you lose anything. Just try again in the next matches. I know the Wild Cats read more
  • Floyd Ballard: CONGRATULATIONS!! I watched the run Saturday on TV, and you looked fantastic. read more
  • Walter Leonard: President? Why would Cal want to take such a drastic pay cut? As long as he can still coach here, read more
  • BJ Rassam: Many of us are looking forward to the team Coach Cal will be putting out this upcoming season. read more
  • Tom Minney: Nice story about 3 outstanding young guys and the power of love. Debre Libanos is an outstanding place to visit, read more