Daily double: Tyler Ulis SEC Player of Year as well as SEC Defensive Player of the Year

Tyler  Ulis (Vicky Graff Photo)

Tyler Ulis (Vicky Graff Photo)

Birmingham, Ala. – The Southeastern Conference unveiled its men’s basketball coaches’ postseason awards Tuesday to cap off another exciting season of SEC basketball.

Texas A&M’s Billy Kennedy earned SEC Coach of the Year honors while Kentucky sophomore Tyler Ulis was selected the SEC Player of the Year by the league’s coaches. Ulis was also named the SEC Defensive Player of the Year. Alabama’s Retin Obasohan earned SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year, LSU’s Ben Simmons was tabbed SEC Freshman of the Year and South Carolina’s Duane Notice was voted SEC Sixth Man of the Year.

Four UK signees named Naismith All-Americans

Wenyen Gabriel

Wenyen Gabriel

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Four University of Kentucky men’s basketball signees are among the Naismith Trophy All-Americans for high school boys basketball, announced Wednesday. De’Aaron Fox was a first-team selection. Edrice “Bam” Adebayo and Malik Monk earned second-team recognition, while Wenyen Gabriel was a third-team honoree.

With selection to the first team, Fox is now one of five players eligible for the Naismith High School Player of the Year award. That announcement will come later this week.

Cats have to find ways to build own confidence

John Calipari (Vicky Graff Photo)

John Calipari (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

Kentucky goes into Southeastern Conference play with more confidence than it probably has had since early November.

“They gotta understand, their confidence comes from within, not exterior. It’s not someone else that builds your confidence and it’s not someone else that takes your confidence away,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said.

“By working hard — what a coach can do is drive them to do more than they think they can do to push them so they look at themselves and say, ‘Wow, I didn’t know I could do this. Man, this is making me better. I love this.’ And you can be hard on them; you can challenge them. You can be tough. That helps them build their own confidence.”

Calipari on Kenny Payne: “He is not just a big man coach.”

Kenny Payne (Vicky Graff)

Kenny Payne (Vicky Graff)

By LARRY VAUGHT

After his second straight strong performance Saturday, Kentucky freshman Skal Labissiere credited assistant coach Kenny Payne for helping him.

He said that Payne “did a really good job” as did his teammates being physical with him in practice.

But coach John Calipari said Payne does more than just Kentucky’s biggest players.

“He’s working with guards and everybody on this team, but let me just tell you what he does: He has a great relationship with these kids. He doesn’t BS them. He doesn’t tell them what they want to hear. He tells them the truth. That’s one,” Calipari said.

UK Alumni Pregame SEC Party Friday at 2 CST

Traveling to the Music City to watch the Cats? Don’t miss the Greater Nashville UK Alumni Club Pregame Party on Friday, March 11, at the Wildhorse Saloon, located at 120 2nd Ave. North, Nashville, Tennessee. The event will begin at 2 p.m. CST. Cost is $10 for members and $15 for nonmembers who preregister and $15 for walk-ups.

Special musical guests include UK alumna Hannah Ellis and Halfway to Hazard. The UK Band, Cheerleaders and DanceTeam will also make a special appearance.

UK giveaways, including T-shirts, courtesy of UK HealthCare and UK Sports and Campus Marketing, will be available to attendees while supplies last. Visit www.ukalumni.net/secpeprally to make your reservations.

Another honor for Murray and Ulis

Jamal Murray (Vicky Graff Photo)

Jamal Murray (Vicky Graff Photo)

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Sophomore guard Tyler Ulis and freshman guard Jamal Murray, arguably the best backcourt duo in the country, have been recognized for their stellar regular seasons with All-America honors from USA Today Sports. Ulis has been named to the five-man First Team while Murray has been named to the Second Team.

Ulis joined Buddy Hield (Oklahoma), Brice Johnson (North Carolina), Jakob Poeltl (Utah) and Denzel Valentine (Michigan State) on the First Team. Murray made the Second Team along with Grayson Allen (Duke), Malcolm Brogdon (Virginia), Perry Ellis (Kansas) and Yogi Ferrell (Indiana).

UK fan J.D. Shelburne has four shows during SEC Tournament week in Nashville

J.D. Shelburne entertained UK fans at a pregame football concert last season. This week he'll have four shows during the SEC tourney in Nashville. (Larry Vaught/Verizon Photo)

J.D. Shelburne entertained UK fans at a pregame football concert last season. This week he’ll have four shows during the SEC tourney in Nashville. (Larry Vaught/Verizon Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

Kentuckian J.D. Shelburne has four shows scheduled in Nashville during the Southeastern Conference Tournament and couldn’t be happier that his Wildcats are playing as well as they are going into the tournament.

“I was down on them in January a little bit and that is when I was trying to book my SEC schedule then,” said Shelburne, a Taylorsville native and a rising country music star. “But I went ahead and booked four shows here in Nashville. I was starting to get worried about how the team was playing and that they might even end up playing Thursday and getting beat.

Tyler Ulis one of five finalists for Cousy Award

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Sophomore point guard Tyler Ulis has been named one of five finalists for the 2016 Bob Cousy Point Guard of the Year Award by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Named after Hall of Fame guard Bob Cousy, the annual honor recognizes the top point guard in Division I men’s basketball.

Ulis’ competition includes Yogi Ferrell of Indiana, Monte Morris from Iowa State, Oakland’s Kahlil Felder and Kris Dunn of Providence.

Help UK cheerleader Emily Sawyer cheer for USA team in April

Emily Sawyer, left, helped escort former coach Joe B. Hall during UK's Senior Day. (Vicky Graff Photo)

Emily Sawyer, left, helped escort former coach Joe B. Hall during UK’s Senior Day. (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

Kentucky senior cheerleader Emily Sawyer could not hide her emotions during UK’s Senior Day Saturday when she cheered in Rupp Arena for the last time.

This week she’ll be at her final SEC Tournament before she hopefully ends her Kentucky cheer career, which already includes two national championships, with a third Final Four appearance with the basketball team.

For UK fans, Brad Calipari could be John Calipari’s most important recruit

John Calipari joked last year that his wife, Ellen Calipari, told him if their son came to UK, the coach was not leaving. (Vicky Graff Photo)

John Calipari joked last year that his wife, Ellen Calipari, told him if their son came to UK, the coach was not leaving. (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

For Kentucky fans, the Wildcats might have landed the most important recruit of the John Calipari era Sunday.

He’s not a five-star player like the others in Kentucky’s 2016 recruiting class, but Brad Calipari’s announcement on Twitter that he would be part of Big Blue Nation.

“Blessed to be able to say I’ll be apart of the next year!” Brad Calipari tweeted.