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“Just The Cats” Sports Figure of the Year is Unanimous

In this day and age, there are few things in life that everyone agrees on. So it’s a bit surprising that all the regular members of the Just the Cats crew unanimously agree on who should be No. 1 on the Herald-Leader Sports Figure of the Year balloting. It’s the late, great Coach John Schlarman.

The rest of our ballots are much more varied and unpredictable. Kind of like a Brandon Boston three-point shot–most likely off target.

For what it’s worth, here are our official picks.

Dr. John Huang

  1. John Schlarman—If sports is a microcosm of life, then John Schlarman just took that analogy and “pancake blocked” it into the Kroger Field turf. His fight against cancer was one of the most courageous acts I’ve ever witnessed in the annuls of sport. No need to count the ballots. The voting this year will be relegated to a distant 2nd place.
  2. Asia Seidt—In a normal year, Asia would be a hands-down winner. To be named NCAA Woman of the Year and the SEC Scholar Athlete of the Year puts her in rarified air—or in her case, water. Asia needs a bigger trophy shelf. She now has more medals than a war-decorated general.
  3. Justin Thomas—It’s not about the money, or is it? When you finish No. 1 on the PGA Tour Money list with over seven million dollars in prize money, you deserve a seat at the head of the table. Money always talks—especially in a pandemic-ravaged year.
  4. Walker Buehler—OK people, we’re talking Major Leagues here. Ace pitcher for the World Series winner automatically vaults Walker to the top of my list. Six scoreless innings in Game 3 against Tampa Bay? Might as well hand over that award right now.
  5. Rhyne Howard—Is “transcendent” too strong a word to describe her talents? From what I’ve witnessed so far, this megastar can do it all—shoot, score, pass, handle the ball, and defend. Everything except dunk—not yet at least. With talent like Rhyne has, it’s only a matter of time.
  6. Ja Morant—He’s a human highlight reel who singlehandedly put Murray State back on the basketball map. As the NBA Rookie of the Year, he generated a heck of a lot of excitement between the Commonwealth’s borders. If his rookie season in the pros is any indication, we’ll be hearing his name called for years to come.
  7. Anthony Davis—As if he didn’t already have enough awards on his fireplace mantle, AD gets to add one more championship to the impressive mix. The NBA title signifies the pinnacle achievement at the top of the mountain. Being the best of the elite is exactly where Davis belongs.
  8. Lamar Jackson—The guy won this same award when he was in college. How can he not be considered for it again when he’s now excelling at the top of his profession? The fraternity of NFL quarterbacks is extremely selective. Leading the Ravens into the postseason for the third straight year, Lamar has proven once again that he’s the best of the best.
  9. Harry Mullins—This might not be the most popular choice, but how can you argue against unbridled success? Mullins coached UK Rifle to an undefeated season, won both the regular-season and conference championships, and finished No. 1 in the final poll rankings. You gotta be kidding me. Find me someone better.
  10. Landon Young—This guy gets it. Not just solely for his exploits on the field either. His servant’s heart, charitable works, and loyalty to the Kentucky program are qualities that legends are made of. He’s also a heck of a great media interview. For that alone, he’s a gold-star winner in my book.

Michael Bennett

  1. John Schlarman
  2. Ja Morant
  3. Bob Beatty
  4. Jason Mays
  5. Corey Peters
  6. Brooke Forde
  7. Matthew Mitchell
  8. Rajon Rondo
  9. Will Smith
  10. Steve Asmussen

Shannon The Dude

  1. John Schlarman
  2. Walker Buehler
  3. Will Smith
  4. Ja Morant
  5. Adam Duvall
  6. Rajon Rondo
  7. Matthew Mitchell
  8. Lamar Jackson
  9. Za’Darius Smith
  10. Jamal Murray–I’ll admit, I only included Jamal Murray because of that Instagram video that leaked out. How could you not give him a vote for sportsman of the year after seeing that?

Larry Vaught

  1. John Schlarman
  2. Asia Seidt
  3. Anthony Davis
  4. Walker Buehler
  5. Bob Beatty
  6. Laura Hartlage
  7. Rhyne Howard
  8. Immanuel Quickley
  9. Mary Tucker
  10. Tyler Gaffalione

Keith Taylor

  1. John Schlarman
  2. Rhyne Howard
  3. Immanuel Quickley
  4. AJ Rose
  5. Asia Seidt
  6. Darrian Kinnard
  7. Matthew Mitchell
  8. Landon Young
  9. Nick Richards
  10. Josh Paschal

There you go. Like I said, we’re all over the place–injecting regional bias and personal preference as if we know what we’re talking about.

Exactly what you’ve come to expect from Just the Cats.

Dr. John Huang
Dr. John Huang is a retired orthodontist and military veteran. As a lifelong Wildcat fan, a fledgling author, and an occasional guest host of Just the Cats Radio, he's now living out his dream as a UK Sports columnist. Dr. Huang also covers professional sports on a regional level. You can follow him on Twitter @KYHuangs or contact him @KYHuangs@gmail.com. If you enjoy his writing, you can also read more at www.huangswhinings.com.
http://www.huangswhinings.com

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