LEXINGTON, Ky. — In the spirit of Kentucky basketball’s latest run to the Sweet 16, which inspires the entire campus here in Lexington, we at SEC Country wondered what kind of starting five we could assemble from Wildcats in other sports.
John Calipari might want to stick with Malik Monk, De’Aaron Fox, Bam Adebayo and company, but here’s a more unconventional lineup that would be just as fun to watch.
Point guard: Lynn Bowden (football)
Bowden had some high school football coaches saying he’s the best Ohio football product they’d ever seen, but he put up big numbers on the basketball court as well. Bowden is part of Kentucky’s 2017 recruiting class so he’s yet to arrive on campus.
Bowden, at 6-foot-1 and 190 pounds, was listed as an athlete as a recruit and coach Mark Stoops said he can play anywhere from wide receiver to running back to quarterback. Stoops didn’t mention his dunking skills.
We get up ? pic.twitter.com/YCQeSffMXw
— Lynn Bowden (@H_Huncho) February 15, 2017
Shooting guard: EJ Floréal (track)
We cheated a little with this pick. Floréal played three seasons on the Kentucky basketball team before switching to track where his dad, Edrick Floréal, is his coach. Both of his parents are former Olympians and his speed could be a game-changer on the court.
A former basketball walk-on, Floréal played limited minutes over the course of 29 games, but he’s remembered for his hops. Like the time he dunked over current Los Angeles Lakers power forward Julius Randle in the 2013 Blue-White scrimmage.
Small forward: Abule Abadi-Fitzgerald (football)
Abadi-Fitzgerald gives this team a strong wing at 6-foot-6 and 260 pounds. He averaged 19.5 points and 10.0 rebounds a game in his junior year at Dade Christian in South Florida. Abadi-Fitzgerald only played football in his freshman and senior years of high school.
He was offered shortly before National Signing Day and ended up picking Kentucky over Florida. Abadi-Fitzgerald isn’t on campus yet but he looks like he’ll be one of the most physically impressive players on coach Mark Stoops roster. Or on most basketball rosters.
— Steve Fitzgerald (@crusaderball23) March 20, 2017
Power forward: Nick Haynes (football)
SEC Country asked a few football players this question after Tuesday’s spring practice: Who would be in your starting five among your teammates? The only unanimous pick was 6-foot-3, 316-pound guard Nick Haynes.
Haynes might not fit the typical power forward physique, but he’d be a lot to handle inside. He seems like the guy to pull down a load of rebounds and do the dirty work for this team. And don’t underestimate his lift.
Hoop Mixtape Coming soon! pic.twitter.com/aE2JxZ9Pa7
— Nicholas Haynes (@The_NHaynes) January 11, 2017
Center: Sean Hjelle (baseball)
Hjelle was recently named SEC Pitcher of the Week for tossing a shutout against Texas A&M. He’s 3-1 on the season, but that doesn’t qualify him to be a basketball player. His 6-foot-11 frame sure does. He might need to bulk up a bit, but he can be the finesse to Haynes’ power inside.
Hjelle’s UK bio calls him a “baseball and basketball star at Mahtomedi High School” in Minnesota. His older sister Mara played basketball in college and professionally overseas. Hjelle averaged 15.2 points and 10.5 rebounds in his senior season.
According to the St. Paul Pioneer Press, George Palke, his assistant basketball coach in high school, told Hjelle he would write Calipari and “tell him to keep an eye on that 7-foot pitcher.”