Meet the Cats: Experienced depth

November 7, 2011 

Eloy Vargas

Age: 22

Height, weight: 6-11, 244

Position: Forward

Class: Senior

Hometown: Moca, Dominican Republic

High school: American Heritage in Plantation, Fla.

About Vargas: He filled a valuable role last season by playing in every game, usually giving Josh Harrellson a brief rest or filling in when he was in foul trouble. Vargas, a transfer who started his college career at Florida, averaged 7.7 minutes for the Cats last season and again figures to provide valuable depth. Vargas gained off-season experience during a Sports Reach USA trip to China and by training with the Dominican Republic National Team.

Vargas on his role this season: "My role is to come back and prove a lot of people wrong. Every time I used to come in a game (fans thought) I was going to mess the game up. This year, I'm going to prove people wrong."

Coach Cal on Vargas following Harrellson's rags-to-riches story line: "Josh came in and changed how he worked, changed his attitude toward basketball, changed all his habits ... and he just took off. (Vargas and Stacey Poole), both of those guys are better. Now, are they good enough to be in that rotation? I don't know yet. I would hope so."

Stacey Poole Jr.

Age: 20

Height, weight: 6-4, 200

Position: Guard

Class: Sophomore

Hometown: Jacksonville, Fla.

High school: Providence

About Poole Jr.: Poole was a top-50 recruit coming out of high school, and it's too early to tell whether he can tap into that potential. Poole played in 16 games, logging a total of 45 minutes as a freshman last season. Coach John Calipari said over the summer that Poole was among a group of players who will have an opportunity to make a greater impact on games this season, but at the time this section went to press, Poole Jr. was trying to decide whether to remain at UK or transfer. Poole's father was a standout at Florida who ranks as the Gators' No. 4 all-time scorer with 1,678 points.

Poole on what he calls a "burning desire" to play more this season: "It put me in a situation to be reckless, to do anything and everything I have to do. I don't care if I have to kill myself, ... I'm going to do what it takes."

Coach Cal on Poole: "When you talk about Stacey, this is an opportunity for him, now. ... He should be the first one (in the gym). He should be in at night. He should be physically in the greatest shape of his life. He wasn't last year. He knows that."

Jarrod Polson

Age: 20

Height, weight: 6-2, 185

Position: Guard

Class: Sophomore

Hometown: Nicholasville

High school: West Jessamine

About Polson: He committed to Kentucky as a walk-on after a stellar high school career at West Jessamine during which he led the Colts to back-to-back Sweet Sixteen appearances. He was later awarded a scholarship and earned praise from Coach John Calipari for his attitude and work ethic. He played some key minutes against South Carolina, Vanderbilt and Florida and played fearlessly last season.

Polson on mostly sitting at UK rather than playing at a lower level: "Kentucky is going to give me more opportunities than just basketball. And I'm not going to play basketball all my life."

Coach Cal on the possibility of Polson filling the void at backup point guard: "It could be Jarrod. Now, (the candidates) have to go early, and I'm not going to give it to somebody."

Twany Beckham

Age: 22

Height, weight: 6-5, 205

Position: Guard

Class: Junior

Hometown: Louisville

High school: Ballard

About Beckham: Beckham transferred to UK from Mississippi State at last school year's semester break, meaning he won't be eligible to play until this school year's first semester ends. The first game Beckham will be available is Dec. 17 against Tennessee-Chattanooga. He'll have one season of eligibility left after 2011-12. Beckham played in 14 games as a sophomore last season for Mississippi State before transferring. He started five of those games and averaged 2.9 points, 2.2 rebounds and 2.1 assists.

Beckham on UK's freshmen: "One thing I like about them is they're highly competitive. When we're (weight) training or playing pickup, none of them wants to lose. That speaks highly of our freshmen."

Coach Cal on Beckham: "Twany may have an opportunity to play. When I tell you we're looking for a backup point guard, it could be Twany."

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