By KEITH TAYLOR
10:05 AM EST, January 31, 2013
I voted. Six of them counted.
The Lexington Herald-Leader Sportsman of the Year will be announced tonight during the Bluegrass Sports Awards banquet at the Marriott Griffin Gate Resort and Spa. Ten individuals — Teddy Bridgewater, John Calipari, Randall Cobb, Anthony Davis, Dermontti Dawson, Tom Jurich, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Darius Miller, Charlie Strong, A'dia Mathies — are among the finalists for the award.
The list of nominees on the mailed ballot featured 112 names of individuals deserving of receiving the prestigious hardware. Media members from across the state, including yours truly, narrowed the list to 10 names, not an easy task, considering the impressive list of names with ties to the Commonwealth. My list from top to bottom consisted of Davis, Miller, Calipari, Mathies, Matthew Mitchell, Strong, Steve Prohm, Dermontti Dawson, Rick Pitino and Angel McCoughtry.
One of those six names on the list of finalists will receive the award, given annually for the past 32 years. Certainly all 10 names are deserving of the honor but Davis, the national player of the year and Most Oustanding Player in Final Four last season after leading the Wildcats to their eighth national title, would appear to be the favorite to win the award. It would be hard to overlook the top pick in the NBA Draft and a player that made shot-blocking relevant again in college basketball during his short stay in Lexington.
The selection of Davis was a no-brainer but on second thought, Miller's resume certainly didn't make the selection an easy choice. The former Mason County standout made the 10th Region proud and ended his collegiate career with an accomplishment no other Kentuckian has ever achieved in state history.
Following a roller-coaster journey at Kentucky that included two coaching changes in four years, Miller rode out the storm and closed his career by becoming the first-ever Kentucky Mr. Basketball to win a national championship with the Wildcats.
Calipari was third on my choice of finalists, followed by Mathies. Calipari proved that you can win a national title with a mix of veterans and newcomers and put together perhaps the best coaching performance of his career as a college coach. Mathies was Southeastern Conference Player of the Year after leading Kentucky to the league's regular-season title.
Louisville football coach Charlie Strong proved his loyalty by turning down an offer to take over the program at the University of Tennessee and then guided the Cardinals to a win over Florida in the Sugar Bowl. Strong also led Louisville to a share of the Big East title. Not bad for a program that fell on hard times following former coach Bobby Petrino's departure as coach.
Dawson started his football career at Bryan Station, went on to play at Kentucky, enjoyed a stellar professional career with the Pittsburgh Steelers and was inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Not a bad list of credentials, either.
The ballot I submitted didn't include Jurich, Bridgewater, Randall Cobb and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Getting six of the 10 names on the final ballot is a difficult task, considering the abundance of talent with connections to the Bluegrass State.
All the finalists are winners and make Kentucky proud.