2012 Kentucky Sportsman of the Year Ballot: Thomas Beisner

01/11/2013 07:08 PM

cn|2’s Chip Cosby, Thomas Beisner and Leslie Neeley were all asked to vote for the 2012 Kentucky Sportsman of the Year Award, which will be announced Jan. 31, 2013, simultaneously on Kentucky.com and at the second annual Bluegrass Sports Awards Banquet in Lexington. These are their picks.

1. Anthony Davis (University of Kentucky basketball player)

UK’s freshman center packed an entire career’s worth of accomplishments into one calendar year as he was named National Player of the Year, National Defensive Player of the Year, Freshman of the Year, SEC Player of the Year and Final Four Most Outstanding Player. He set NCAA’s single-season records for blocked shots and finished fifth on the school’s all-time list in only one season, while also obliterating freshman records for double-doubles and rebounds. Throw in UK’s first national title in 14 years, an Olympic gold medal and being the first pick of the NBA Draft and the question isn’t just if he’s the Sportsman of the Year. Is he the Sportsman of the Decade? The last 20 years? The last 50 years? There’s probably a case to be made for all of those.

He was a once-in-a-generation talent for UK that shined on the brightest stage and became as much of a pop culture phenomenon as he was a basketball star.

2. John Calipari (University of Kentucky basketball coach)

I have a theory that Kentucky basketball fans generally have only three desires of a basketball coach. It’s a theory we’ve discussed on KSTV as “The Three E’s”. They want excellence, they want to be the envy of other fan bases and, perhaps most importantly, they want to be embraced by the coach as the heartbeat of the program. John Calipari has masterfully delivered in all three regards and never more so than last season when Kentucky won a national title with a team that not only defied traditional basketball logic by celebrating youth, but by also winning in a way that allowed them to enter the conversation of the greatest teams of all-time. Factor in his unparalleled charity work that raised money for tornado victims, hurricane victims and scores of people in between and you have the recipe for the Sportsman of the Year 99 times out of 100.

3. Tom Jurich (University of Louisville Athletic Director)

The profitable exploits of the UofL athletics program is well-known, but Jurich’s reputation as possibly the best AD in the country climbed to a new level in 2012 when the basketball program reached the Final Four and Charlie Strong’s football team became a national media darling after capping off their season by dismantling Florida. But Jurich’s biggest accomplishment may have been guiding Louisville out of the sinking ship that was the Big East – when the Cards appeared to be going down with it – and landing in the ACC, where they’ll continue to have a chance to compete for BCS games in football and play at the highest level in basketball. Much was made of the Big 12’s decision to pass on UofL, but Jurich not only responded by finding another home. He also found a better one. Keeping Charlie Strong after a very public flirtation with an SEC school only cemented what was a great year for the Louisville athletic director.

4. Michael Kidd-Gilcrist (University of Kentucky basketball player)

If Anthony Davis was the face of what many consider the greatest UK basketball team of all-time, Kidd-Gilchrist was certainly the heartbeat. The freshman forward will be viewed years from now as Davis’ esteemed #2 on UK’s dominant basketball team, but he served as its #1 in many regards. MKG set the tone for the season as he helped shape the identity of UK’s basketball team as one that was not only talented, but also hard-nosed. When the Cats found themselves with their backs against the wall, Kidd-Gilchrist always rose to the occasion and found a way to make a timely defensive stop or get in the lane for a key basket. When Davis was knocked to the ground by Thomas Robinson early in the year at Madison Square Garden, it was MKG who confronted the Kansas power forward and helped forge an identity for the remainder of the year. Plus, he played maybe his best game of the year against Louisville and any UK fan will tell you, that alone deserves an award.

5. Randall Cobb (Green Bay Packers wide receiver)

The former Kentucky wide receiver/quarterback/running back/kick returner emerged as one of Green Bay’s biggest stars in 2012, setting a franchise record for total yards with 2,342. He added 80 receptions for over 900 yards and 8 touchdowns. At only 22 years old, Cobb’s future alongside Aaron Rodgers is bright.

6. Peyton Siva (University of Louisville basketball player)

Someone deserves recognition for UofL’s surge out of mediocrity and into the Final Four and as easy as it would have been to put Rick Pitino in this spot, it was Peyton Siva who sparked the turnaround that now has UofL in the conversation for a national championship. As a junior, Siva was mired in yet another inconsistent season as a player whose body language often told the story of how the Cards would play. When Siva was having fun, Uof L was rolling. But, as was too often the case, when the point guard was frustrated or lost, the Cards were a mess. With the season appearing to be lost, Siva somehow managed to carry the team to a Big East Tournament title, where he was named Most Outstanding Player. That momentum spilled into the NCAA Tournament where Siva was the catalyst for a team that reached the Final Four and put a brief scare into the Cats before fading. He was named to the West Region All-Tournament Team and changed the direction of the Cardinal basketball program.

7. Charlie Strong (University of Louisville football coach)

If you take away disappointing losses on the road to Syracuse and at him in three overtimes to Connecticut, Charlie Strong may be fighting for top billing on this list. Those two letdowns in the tenth and eleventh game of the season kept the Cards from an undefeated regular season, but he rallied his team in the final week with a BCS bid on the line against Rutgers. The team went on to demolish Florida, giving the school it’s second BCS win and making Strong one of the hottest coaching names in the country.

8. Isaiah Canaan (Murray State basketball player)

For a good part of the regular season last year, Murray State was one of the biggest stories in college basketball as the Racers jumped out to a 23-0 record. Canaan was the star of the group, averaging 19 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists and emerging as an All-American candidate. The Racers fell in their second tournament game to Marquette and Canaan passed on the NBA to give it one more run for coach Steve Prohm. This season, he’s upped his scoring and was tabbed as a preseason First Team All-American.

9. Angel McCoughtry (WNBA basketball player)

The former Louisville star led the WNBA in scoring at 21.4 points per game and won a gold medal as Team USA’s second-leading scorer.

10. Bob Beatty (Trinity High School football coach)

State champion. National champion. That’s about all you can ask for.

About Thomas Beisner

Thomas Beisner is the Host of KSTV. Before joining cn|2 in August 2011 Thomas was Senior Managing Editor at Kentucky Sports Radio and was a regular presence on Lexington’s WLGX sports radio covering UK football and basketball. Thomas graduated from the University of Kentucky in 2006 with a degree in journalism and says he loves the creative nature of putting the show together as well as getting paid to write and talk about sports all day. Follow Thomas on Twitter @beisner_cn2.

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