The Herald-Leader's 2013 Kentucky Sportsman of the Year will be named during the third annual Bluegrass Sports Awards banquet Wednesday night.
The Sportsman of the Year award, given annually since 1981, is voted on by sports media statewide. The 2012 winner was ex-Kentucky basketball star Anthony Davis.
Finalists for this year's award, in alphabetical order, are Antonio Andrews, Teddy Bridgewater, Makayla Epps, Dominique Hawkins, Tom Jurich, A'dia Mathies, Kenny Perry, Rick Pitino, Russ Smith and Charlie Strong.
The Bluegrass Sports Commission announced last month the winners of four other awards highlighting the achievements of sports figures who have made a difference in the lives of Kentuckians. Those awards also will be handed out during Wednesday's banquet presented by Alltech at the Marriott Griffin Gate Resort and Spa in Lexington.
Two awards will be presented that are named for Lexington native and NBC broadcaster Tom Hammond.
The Tom Hammond Award will go to the longtime voice of the Cincinnati Reds, Hall of Fame broadcaster Marty Brennaman. The Tom Hammond Kentucky Sports Media Award will be presented to three-time Kentucky Sportscaster of the Year Dick Gabriel.
Two additional awards will be presented in the name of National College Basketball Hall of Famer Jim Host.
The Jim Host Sports Business Award will be presented to baseball executive and entrepreneur Alan Stein.
Dave Kerchner will be honored with the Jim Host Youth Sports Award. Kerchner held the position of president and chief executive officer of Special Olympics Kentucky for 39 years.
Proceeds from the evening will benefit the Bluegrass Sports Commission and its efforts to expand the economic impact sports tourism has on Central Kentucky.
We are revealing, in alphabetical order, the 10 finalists for the 2013 Lexington Herald-Leader Sportsman of the Year award. The winner will be announced on the night of Jan. 29 simultaneously on Kentucky.com and at the Bluegrass Sports Award Banquet. Complete results will be in the Jan. 30 Herald-Leader.
SPORTSMAN OF THE YEAR FINALISTS
What he did in 2013: Coached Louisville football to a 12-1 season and a victory over Miami (Fla.) in the Russell Athletic Bowl.
Voter comment: “(In the same calendar year), led U of L program to second-ever BCS bowl win, then second-ever, 12-win season.” — Fred Cowgill, WLKY-TV, Louisville
What he did in 2013: Louisville shooting guard (18.7 ppg) averaged 22.3 points in six NCAA Tournament games to help the Cardinals to their first national title since 1986.
Voter comment: “(Smith’s) ability to create (invent?) shots added offense and excitement to Louisville’s championship team.” — Keith Elkins, Lexington Legends radio play-by-play announcer
What he did in 2013: Coached Louisville (35-5) to the NCAA men’s basketball championship and was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. His year also included victories with Goldencents, a horse he co-owned, in the Santa Anita Derby and the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile.
Voter comment: “National title, Hall of Fame and a (Kentucky) Derby starter — not a bad year for the coach.” — Jody Demling, CardinalAuthority.com, Louisville
What he did in 2013: Western Kentucky University product and Franklin resident was named Champions Tour Player of the Year after winning two majors, the U.S. Senior Open and the Senior Players Championship.
Voter comment: “What a wonderful ambassador for the state Kenny Perry is.” — John Herndon, The Anderson News, Lawrenceburg
What she did in 2013: University of Kentucky women’s basketball star (2,014 career points) led the Cats to the NCAA Tournament round of eight for third time in four years and was named second-team All-American by the Associated Press.
Voter comment: “A’dia Mathies is essentially the Jamal Mashburn of modern-day UK Hoops.” — Lee Cruse, WLEX-TV
What he did in 2013: In the calendar year, the U of L Athletics Director watched coaches he had previously hired win the NCAA men’s basketball championship and the Sugar Bowl and advance to the NCAA women’s basketball title game and the baseball College World Series.
Voter comment: “Hard to believe any athletic department could accomplish more in one year than the one led by Jurich.” — Rob Bromley, WKYT-TV
What he did in 2013: Madison Central guard averaged 27 points and nine rebounds in the Sweet Sixteen to lead the Indians to the state championship and help Hawkins earn Mr. Basketball and a UK scholarship offer from John Calipari.
Voter comment: “Unselfish, level-headed, a great kid. ... (Hawkins) embodies a true sportsman.” — Tim Carper, WGOH
What she did in 2013: Marion County guard (22.8 ppg) led Knights to undefeated state championship (39-0) and earned Miss Basketball and McDonald’s All-America honors.
Voter comment: “An undefeated season, a Sweet Sixteen championship and she represented the state well at the McDonald’s All-American Game in Chicago. A perfect finish to her high school career.” — Ben Roberts, Lexington Herald-Leader
What he did in 2013: U of L QB (3,970 yards passing) set a new school record for TD passes in a season (31) while leading Cardinals to 12-1 record.
Voter comment: “Bridgewater is an exceptional athlete, and a true sportsman, too; Humble, likeable, respectful, hard-working.” — Paul Rogers, Louisville Cardinals radio play-by-play announcer
What he did in 2013: Western Kentucky running back led the nation in all-purpose yardage (2,336) for a second straight year and was fourth in the country in rushing (1,730 yards).
Voter comment: “UK and U of L would have been immeasurably better with Andrews in their backfields.” — Darrell Bird, The Cats’ Pause