PIKEVILLE, Ky. – When the Lexington Herald-Leader announces the Kentucky Sportsman of the Year tonight at the Bluegrass Sports Awards Banquet, one of the 10 finalists will look very familiar to fans of Pikeville athletics.
On Wednesday, the last finalist for the honor was announced – they did so alphabetically – and it was Kelly Wells.
Wells is being honored for leading the men’s basketball team to the 2011 Buffalo Funds-NAIA Division I Men’s Basketball National Championship last March in Kansas City. The Bears beat the defending national champion in the opener, the runner-up in the second round and the No. 1 seed in the quarterfinals. After a win over the No. 5 seed in the semifinals, the Bears beat No. 3 Mountain State 83-76 in overtime in the championship game.
“Coach Wells is in some mighty tall cotton and deservingly so,” said Dr. Reginald Overton, director of athletics at Pikeville and a former instructor of Wells at Morehead State. “He is a wonderful asset to the entire Commonwealth and I’m honored to call him a friend.”
Among Wells’ notable accomplishments last year include:
• The Bears became the first team to beat five seeded teams to win the championship in the 74-year history of the tournament. The five teams were all seeded in the top nine in the field
• The Bears finished 30-7 on the season, establishing a new school record for wins in a season
• The 83 points in the championship game was the 30th time the Bears scored 80 or more points in a game. The record in those? 29-1
• The Bears led the country in total points, points per game and three-point shots made
• The championship was the first NAIA title in school history, and the third national championship for the school. Women’s bowling won titles in 2004 and 2008
After the championship game, Wells was named the 2011 national coach of the year. It was the second time he’d been honored as such. After the 2003 season, during which he coached Mason County to the Kentucky state championship, he was named national high school coach of the year.
Wells has a record of 120-66 in his tenure as coach at Pikeville, and his current stretch of four consecutive seasons of 20-or-more wins is the longest in school history.
The other finalists, listed alphabetically, are:
• Bob Beatty, head football coach, Trinity High School
• John Calipari, head basketball coach, University of Kentucky
• Randall Cobb, football player, Green Bay Packers
• Scott Davenport, head basketball coach, Bellarmine University
• Victoria Dunlap, basketball player, University of Kentucky
• Kenneth Faried, basketball player, Morehead State/Denver Nuggets
• Josh Harrellson, basketball player, University of Kentucky/New York Knicks
• Shelvin Mack, basketball player, Butler University/Washington Wizards
• Danny Trevathan, football player, University of Kentucky
The 2011 Lexington Herald-Leader Kentucky Sportsman of the Year will be announced tonight. A link to view the ceremony live is below. It can also be seen at www.ihigh.com.