UK Football

A little basketball talk during Kentucky football signing day? Of course there was.

Coach Mark Stoops and John Calipari introduced the rookie of the year award during the annual CATSPY Awards at UK held in Memorial Coliseum on Monday April 24, 2017.
Coach Mark Stoops and John Calipari introduced the rookie of the year award during the annual CATSPY Awards at UK held in Memorial Coliseum on Monday April 24, 2017.

You could say that the football Cats have gotten an assist or two from their basketball counterparts on campus.

At the University of Kentucky football team’s signing day news conference on Wednesday, recruiting coordinator Vince Marrow mentioned that he took three eventual signees — Brenden Bates, Darian Kinnard and Keaton Upshaw — over to a UK shoot-around while they were on their official visits recently.

It left quite an impression, especially since the locker room tour was given by John Calipari himself.

“Cal’s been awesome,” Marrow said of the UK basketball coach. “He’s been very effective in a lot of guys that we signed because I remember we took guys to junior days and we had basketball games. … And when they get down there and see Cal, they look at him like he’s a God or something. Then you see how down to earth he is.”

Calipari even got an unexpected reaction from the normally reserved Kinnard, an offensive lineman from Cleveland, who signed with UK on Wednesday with 19 other players.

“He was looking at Coach Cal and Kevin Knox, meeting them guys and saying, ‘Wow,’” Marrow recalled. “Cal does a good job with us. I can’t thank them guys enough.”

Basketball was mentioned a little earlier Wednesday, too, when both head coach Mark Stoops and Marrow said they like to recruit players who spent some time on the hardwood as well as on the football field.

“We have some pretty good basketball players on our team, and I think a lot of these guys either ran track or played basketball or did some other good stuff,” Stoops mentioned specifically of wide receiver Bryce Oliver, a late get out of Sunrise, Fla.

When Stoops and Marrow are on recruiting visits together, the recruiting coordinator said they often try to catch a player’s basketball game while there.

“You see guys’ hand-eye coordination, change of direction,” Marrow, a star basketball and football player at Cardinal Mooney High School, said of the other sport aiding in the assessment process.

“I wish a lot of guys played basketball. That’s when you get a true evaluation of how athletic they are.”

Jennifer Smith: 859-231-3241, @jenheraldleader

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