By KEITH TAYLOR, Kentucky Today
LEXINGTON — Ben Jordan is enjoying his new routine as a two-sport athlete at the University of Kentucky.
Jordan admitted that “it’s different” when you compare baseball and basketball, but said both sports are a “passion.”
“I’ve loved baseball and basketball my whole life and to get to do it here is pretty awesome,” he said.
The 6-foot-9 forward joined the team shortly after practice began and said workouts have been challenging, going up against he likes of more experienced veterans in EJ Montgomery and Nick Richards.
“I haven’t played in a couple of years, but I’m getting the hang of things a little bit,” he said. “It’s been challenging but fun.”
Jordan’s main assignment is providing competition for Richards while Montgomery recovers from an injury.
“I guard Nick (Richards) every day, trying to push him and make him a better player,” he said. “I wouldn’t say the offense runs through me, but if I get the ball, I try to score. I’m just out there playing.”
Jordan said his current schedule doesn’t interfere with his baseball routine and is focusing mostly on basketball.
“Right now we’re not throwing so I’m not doing much (with baseball),” he said. “We’re just lifting and conditioning, so I get a lot of that stuff over here. I’m not doing much with the baseball team right now. We have it set up once the time arises that I’ll have my time to do baseball and basketball both.”
Jordan joined the team after attending practice and said Kentucky coach John Calipari needed “somebody to work out in practice.”
“(He needed) just another big body to do workouts and stuff and practice with the team,” he said. “I just came over one day and watched practice and he asked me, ‘Is this something you want to do?’ And I said yes and we went from there.”
Jordan’s baseball coach — Nick Migione — supported his pitcher’s decision to join Calipari’s squad.
“I think he was for it,” he said. “I was done throwing and really, we were just going to condition and run and he said, ‘You get a chance to listen to a Hall of Fame coach and play for UK basketball. I don’t see why you wouldn’t.’”
Jordan said the experience on the basketball floor will make him “mentally tougher” on the diamond.
“It’s a challenge. Going out in front of 20,000 people will make it easier when I go out on the mound,” he said. “I’m not saying it’s going to make any pitches better, but I think overall it will help.”
Jordan said the Blue-White game was an eye opener and became “real” and said he has gotten support from the Ashland region, where he played high school basketball at West Carter High School.
“It’s a basketball town that I live in,” he said. “I have played baseball here for two years and people thought it was cool, but I’m on the basketball team (now) and people are going nuts. I was like, this is my second sport, come on. They love it and it’s awesome.”
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Gametracker: Mount St. Mary’s at Kentucky, Friday, 7 p.m. TV/Radio: SEC Network, UK Radio Network.
Keith Taylor is sports editor for Kentucky Today. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter @keithtaylor21.