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Web Wednesday: Kentucky Combine edition

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Each Wednesday here at Cat Scratches, we're going to take a look back at the latest week's news in UK Athletics from around the web.

Best on the 'net

Men's basketball: NBA checks out UK's draft hopefuls at "Combine" (Chip Cosby, Lexington Herald-Leader)

NBA personnel from 20 teams rolled into the Joe Craft Center on Monday to check out Knight, Jones, Liggins and senior Josh Harrelson. Included in that group was former Kentucky Mr. Basketball Allan Houston, now an assistant GM with the New York Knicks. Calipari noted that the NBA personnel consisted of mostly general managers and directors of player personnel.

"These are guys who are going to make decisions," Calipari said. "There's not a bunch of scouts here."

Men's basketball: A salute to Jorts (Ken Howlett, CoachCal.com)

The kid who, during his sophomore year (his first year at UK) was banished from the locker room at halftime of a game, became the catalyst behind the biggest, most impressive in-season reversal of bad fortune in recent UK history.  For without Harrellson, no way UK wins 29 games, without Harrellson, no way UK wins the SEC Tournament, without Harrellson, no way UK makes the Final Four.

Simply put, a bona fide Big Blue hero was born.  The one-time mystery man from the Show Me State, through his commitment to be the best basketball player he could be -- instead of settling for pine time -- became universally adored and admired among those who cheer the 'Cats.  Fighting through the temptation to call it a career, Harrellson showed us all what hard work and dedication to an ideal can produce.

Newly-named president Capilouto meets with UK campus (Rachel Aretekis, Kentucky Kernel)

During the forums, Capilouto spoke about his experience last Tuesday when he and his wife, Mary Lynne, toured campus.

"Why am I coming? Because I believe in you," he said. "I felt an immediate bond and connection with these people."

He spoke about how he and his wife toured the W. T. Young Library, which Mary Lynne Capilouto called a "sanctuary of learning."

"There and everywhere, what I saw most was the color blue ... that is a great builder of community," he said.

Volleyball: UK reloads in spring (Kentucky Kernel)

The UK volleyball team concluded its 2011 spring season with an impressive 4-2 win-loss record as it focuses on continuing the program's success, trying new strategies and filling the holes of its departed seniors.

"Spring has really been about getting our systems foundation in place for the fall and working on some new things," UK head coach Craig Skinner said. "We want to be successful, but winning and losing isn't the most important part. It's how well we develop and how we integrate some of those news things into what we want to do."

Softball: Alabama softball looks to regroup after story, series cancelation against Kentucky (Graham Hays, ESPN)

Alabama's three-game series against Kentucky was the only athletic event scheduled for campus over the weekend (in the wake of the storm, the school canceled the remainder of final exams and postponed commencement until August), but playing in Tuscaloosa was ruled out in deference to becoming a potential logistical distraction so near the devastation. There was discussion about playing the games in Birmingham, an hour north, or even at Kentucky, but in talking to his players, at least four or five of whom knew people killed in storm, it was clear to Murphy that playing anywhere was the wrong choice. For people who have put as many hundreds of hours into a task as the softball team, essentially surrendering any chance to repeat as conference champions was consequential. Just not on the same scale as what players saw when they set out on foot and carried cases of water into ground zero the day after the tornado. The players would then head home -- their real homes out of town -- asked to assemble again for practice the following Tuesday.

Men's basketball: Spurs' George Felton a fan of Kentucky Combine (Mike DeCourcy, Sporting News)

The event didn't really have a name, because Kentucky was instructed by the NCAA to make it a private event involving only the players and representatives of NBA teams. Felton represented the Spurs and said he expected that by the end of Tuesday afternoon's session more than two-thirds of teams would have visited one or both sessions.

"I thought it was a tremendous concept that Coach Cal came up with," Felton said. "To have an opportunity to get another look at these young men, and also to have an opportunity to interview them -- I would love to see more universities do this."

Football: Woodson turns attention to coaching (Matt May, The Cats' Pause)

Now Woodson is back walking the same halls and charged with helping make sure the gap between back-to-back impressive seasons isn't nearly as long. Woodson joined the UK coaching staff as a student assistant this spring and has drawn rave reviews for his early work with quarterbacks Morgan Newton and Maxwell Smith.

Football: Derrick Locke drafted in UFL's ninth round (Lexington Herald Leader)

Former Kentucky running back Derrick Locke finally got drafted, just not by an NFL team. Locke was picked in the ninth round of the United Football League's draft on Tuesday by the Omaha Nighthawks. Locke, a 5-foot-9, 190-pound speedster, wasn't selected in the NFL Draft last week after rushing for 887 yards and 10 touchdowns in his senior season despite missing four games because of a shoulder injury.

 

Former Wildcats making headlines

Celtics-Heat hinges on Rondo (Shaun Powell, NBA.com)

So what we have in Heat-Celtics is a player who both sides agree can tilt an otherwise tightly-contested series one way or another. Rondo is that valuable to the Celtics, that dangerous to Miami. If he has a superb game, then the Celtics are most likely headed to the East finals. If he gets whistled for fouls and trapped by an assortment of Heat players, as he was in Game 1, then the Heat's path will be that much smoother.

Rondo is not the best player on the floor, not even close, really. Just the most important.

Packers bite on Cobb in run on skill guys (Mike Spofford, Packers.com)

The Packers remained patient, then added to that run at the "glamour spots" by taking Kentucky receiver Randall Cobb, who brings kick-return ability along with his pass-catching skills.

In a seven-pick stretch leading up to Green Bay's spot at No. 64 overall, five running backs or receivers were selected after just two went off the board in the first 23 picks of the night. The board was deep enough at those skill positions, though, and Cobb is the kind of multi-purpose athlete the Packers were happy to take.

Checking in with Daniel Orton (Zach McCann, Orlando Sentinel)

His left knee, which forced him to miss his senior year of high school and most of this year, needs to get better. He tore his meniscus a little more than two years ago while a senior at Bishop McGuinness High in Oklahoma City, and then underwent arthroscopic surgery after his second D-League game this season.

The knee is OK now and hasn't limited him in workouts, but he hasn't played at full-speed with the team since the scope surgery in December.

Full-speed play will happen this summer.

Kings, DeMarcus Cousins will stay in Sacramento (Jason Jones, Sacramento Bee)

 

News from UKathletics.com

Gymnastics: Tim Garrison named head coach

General: Athletics a vital partner with university

Men's tennis: UK to host NCAA regional

Men's tennis: Wildcats well represented in latest ITA rankings

Women's golf: Moir selected to SEC Community Service Team

Track and field: UK hitting its stride just in time for SEC's

Women's soccer: UK names captains for 2011

Video of the week

From being drafted first overall in the NBA Draft to playing against superstars he idolized growing up, John Wall has gotten to do some pretty cool things since departing UK after his freshman season. Now, Wall can add attending the White House Correspondents Dinner to the list.

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