- Mississippi State Bulldogs - January 17, 2017 - 7:00 PM EST - Humphrey Coliseum, Starkville, Miss. - ESPN
While I was on the road recruiting this weekend, it occurred to me that as much as we are evaluating and looking at all these talented kids and their terrific families, they are looking right back at us and what we’re doing here at Kentucky.
When we walk into a gym and players start to stir, I know they are looking at us because of what we have done on the court over the last few years. When they see us, they realize we will have produced 17 draft picks over the last four years after the upcoming draft. They know we’ve averaged more than 30 wins over the last four years. They remember our national championship. They know about our Final Fours. They understand we are on national television every single week.
But why is that the only thing people talk about with us? Why just one-and-done? Why don’t we ever discuss the incredible academic marks we have achieved over the last four years?
Of our 10 players who have been eligible to graduate by the end of their senior years, all 10 will have graduated after this weekend. For you math majors out there, that’s 100 percent. We’ve also had a 3.0 cumulative grade-point average over the last three years.
It’s the norm, not an aberration.
Our latest graduates are Jarrod Polson, Jon Hood and Twany Beckham, all of whom will walk across that stage this weekend to receive their degree. I couldn’t be more proud of all three.
With Wayne Turner and Marquis Estill, who we invited to come back to finish their degrees, we’ve actually graduated 12 people over the last four years. We will continue to invite any and all players to come back and finish their degree.
We’re waiting on the spring semester to conclude, but we had five players on the Southeastern Conference Winter Academic Honor Roll this year, which doesn’t include freshmen. If you want to judge us by the NCAA’s Academic Progress Rate, we had a four-year composite score of 963 last year, well above the NCAA’s cutoff mark of 930.
I’m proud of what we’ve done on the court over the last few years. Few things make me happier than seeing our young men achieve their dreams on the court, whether that’s cutting down the national championship nets or seeing them hold up NBA jerseys with their names on it.
Are we proud of our players making it to the NBA? Of course. Are we happy about averaging more than 30 wins over the last four years? You bet.
But we’re about more than that here at Kentucky. When you run a players-first program, it’s about helping kids reach their dreams both on and off the court and preparing them for the rest of their lives. You can do both at the University of Kentucky. It’s a standard that’s been set.
It’s players first, not player first