Have you heard Kentucky football’s newest buzzword?
Can you actually believe there’s real buzz surrounding Kentucky football?
Well, there is, and well ... Yahtzee! They just landed another big-time recruit.
If you’re an avid follower of everything Big Blue on Twitter, you know the meaning of Yahtzee by now. Otherwise, you might be thinking about five dice, a ridged cup and, if you’re like me, days of your childhood enjoying a fun board game with your grandmother — I think she owned one of the very first ones on the market. I still remember the raggedy yellow box.
In the game, Yahtzee occurs when you produce all five dice alike within three rolls. It’s worth 50 points.
The game was invented in 1956, 11 years before Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops was born. That didn’t stop wide receivers coach Tommy Mainord from throwing the term out there to help excite and inform fans.
Mainord — and a slew of others now — uses the word Yahtzee every time the Wildcats reel in a highly touted recruit.
It’s become so regular that Full Houses (worth 25 points in the game) are going to be easy to come by when the September air greets Commonweath Stadium.
Stoops swooped in and immediately changed the complexion of Kentucky football upon his hire in November. Since then, his 2013 recruiting class climbed the chart to No. 29 on the Rivals list.
As for 2014, well, Stoops and company are entering John Calipari territory.
Highlighted by Conner High School quarterback Drew Barker and running back Stanley Williams (George Walton Academy - Bethlehem, Ga.), who are both four-star players, Kentucky is now ranked No. 2 behind only Texas on rivals.com for the Class of 2014. The Wildcats have 18 total commits.
It helps, too, that Stoops has some value across his staff. Not only does he have the marketing mind of Mainord, he’s also got Vince Marrow on his side.
Marrow, from Youngstown, Ohio, has dipped into the Ohio pool with his Buckeye pull. Of the 18 total commits for 2014, eight are from the state directly north.
One, in particular, I must mention because he’s from my alma mater is Jarrett LaRubbio — the 6-foot-5, 260-pound offensive lineman is from Lakota East High School in West Chester.
Just across Butler County at Lakota West High School is Mikel Horton, a four-star running back who gave Kentucky a Yahtzee.
With such a quick turnaround in recruiting, expectations will rapidly rise.
The results, though, have already happened on the field when a total of 50,000-plus spectators assumed positions inside Commonweath Stadium — the same place that welcome in a measly 18,000-some fans for the Vanderbilt game last fall.
Kentucky opens the season against Western Kentucky on Aug. 31 in Nashville.
How many more Yahtzees will be claimed before then?
Wiltjer May Stay?
While it’s been reported that Kentucky forward Kyle Wiltjer will transfer, his open letter to the fans actually left some wiggle room. As in, he may be back in Wildcat blue next season.
Doubtful? Yes, considering he’s openly talking about moving on. But, here’s a segment of that letter:
“During this next year, I will be working on my body so that I am able to compete the way I know I can. I want to find a situation that will help me do this as well as play a more significant role, wherever that may be. Even though I might physically leave Lexington, I will never forget the support and kindness that everyone has shown my family and me.”
Calipari has made it clear that Wiltjer’s body has to change in order for his game to expand. Can he do that at Kentucky? Sure, considering everything he has it his disposal (facilities, trainers, etc.).
The question is what kind of playing time will he receive with the Wildcats as the big dogs roll in from high school. Not much. He’d probably go back to the 3-point specialist that he was for the 2012 title team.
That wouldn’t necessarily be bad for Kentucky, but it’d be a step back for the 6-10 Wiltjer.
The Oregon native will likely land somewhere on the Pacific coast, which makes sense. Gonzaga is a popular name being thrown around as a possible destination.
All four of Kentucky’s 2013 MLB Draft selections have inked professional contracts. Three have already made minor league debuts.
Corey Littrell, a fifth-round pick, signed with the Boston Red Sox. Trevor Gott, of Lexington, inked with the San Diego Padres. Jared Grundy, a left-hander, signed with the Oakland Athletics after being selected in the 10th round. Also, J.T. Riddle signed with the Miami Marlins.
Littrell has yet to make his debut.
AARON SNYDER can be reached at email@example.com or (606) 326-2664.
Have you heard Kentucky football’s newest buzzword?
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VIDEO: 16th Region semifinals highlights
Fleming County defeated Lewis County, 66-58, and Ashland beat Greenup County, 81-61, on Monday night at Morehead State University to set up tonight's championship matchup. Tipoff is set for 7.
Ashland cruises past Greenup to 16th Region championship game
Tyler Stewart is known for his unrelenting hustle as one of Ashland’s glue guys.
When the senior guard can pitch in some offense too, as he did Monday in the 16th Region Tournament semifinals, that’s just one more problem for Tomcats opponents.
Stewart scored 20 points, senior Steven Friley posted a double-double with 21 points and 14 rebounds, and Ashland outscored Greenup County 21-9 in the third quarter to break open what was a seven-point game at halftime and cruise past the Musketeers, 81-61.
Fleming battles back to 16th Region final
A healthy Wilder Williams this season has given Fleming County a whole new dimension.
Prior to his sophomore year, Williams sustained a football injury that resulted in three ankle surgeries and limited him to bench duty last season while the Panthers made their run to the 16th Region championship.
A physical 6-foot-3 player, Williams is making his presence felt around the basket as Fleming County looks to return to the Sweet Sixteen.
AARON SNYDER: Will the next hero be unmasked?
Who will the bat signal shine for tonight?
Or, should I say, the Cat signal?
In the third installment of a trilogy that might rival the Batman three-pack of “Batman Begins,” “The Dark Knight” and “The Dark Knight Rises,” Fleming County and Ashland will battle in a matchup that has produced a classic clash in each of the last two 16th Region Tournaments.
If the first two collectively served as a gradual progressions to tonight’s scene, the climax could be off the charts.
Corey Gregg was Ashland’s superhero in 2012, when the senior confidently fired a perfect 3-point shot from the right corner. The triple thrust the Tomcats and Panthers into overtime, from which Ashland emerged 79-73 in a first-round game.
Central wins, Lawrence falls in 15th
The biggest concern for Lawrence County coach Josh Cook was staying out of foul trouble.
His team stayed in it all night, and it cost them a spot in the 15th Region title game.
Shelby Valley senior Tyler Carr led four players in double figures with 19 points as the Wildcats knocked off Lawrence County, 72-60, in the semifinals of the 15th Region Tournament at the East Kentucky Expo Center.
“This one hurts,” said Cook. “We’ll learn from this, and I have no doubt that our kids will get back here and finish the job.”
- Fleming hangs tough to beat Lewis Fleming County locked into another fight against Lewis County, which beat the Panthers earlier this season, before winning 66-58 on Monday in Morehead. Wilder Williams posted a double-double of 19 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Panthers, who face Ashland on Tuesday at 7 p.m.
- GALLERY: Ashland gets by Greenup County, will meet Fleming in region final Ashland's Steven Friley scored 21 points Monday to lead the Tomcats to an 81-61 win over Greenup County in the 16th Region semifinal in Morehead.
Kittens clamoring for more at state
Ashland girls basketball coaches went the extra mile, and a whole bunch more, to get a first-hand scouting report on the Kittens’ opponent for the State Tournament.
Head coach Bill Bradley and assistant Phil Wittich drove all the way to Henderson — 5 hours, 20 minutes one way Bradley said on the way home — to take in Sunday’s Second Region championship game.
Henderson County, playing on its home floor, defeated University Heights 67-54. The Lady Colonels went unbeaten in their region this season and are 24-5 overall.
EKC hands out hardware
The Eastern Kentucky Conference handed out its 2014 awards on Monday afternoon at a luncheon at Carter Caves.
Barracudas earn kudos from coach
Ashland Area YMCA swimmers impressed coach Ryan Ferguson from start to finish in the three-day Kentucky Y Competitive Swim League State Meet.
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- VIDEO: 16th Region semifinals highlights