Cats earn academic excellence award

Jarrod Polson

Kentucky's men's basketball team has been honored with a Team Academic Excellence Award, the National Association of Basketball Coaches announced Thursday.

Kentucky's men's basketball team has been honored with a Team Academic Excellence Award, the National Association of Basketball Coaches announced Thursday.

The awards recognize teams which earn a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or better during the 2012-13 season. UK posted a 3.23 team GPA in the spring, which set a new team record.

Kentucky is the only team from the SEC to earn the inaugural award and one of only six BCS-level institutions to earn recognition.

"I'm proud of the hard work our guys have put in both on and off the court," UK coach John Calipari said in May when the team GPA was released. "When you come to Kentucky, you are either going pro or getting a degree — or both. We call it the success rate, and right now we're batting 100 percent. When you run a players-first program, it's not just about loving to play basketball; it's about teaching our kids the love of learning."

Twany Beckham and Jarrod Polson were honored individually by the NABC for academic excellence.

Beckham earned a degree in communications in May while boasting a cumulative GPA of 3.391. He was a national finalist for the Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholar award, while also being a member of the Southeastern Conference's Academic Honor Roll twice at Kentucky. Beckham appeared in 21 games as a Wildcat after transferring from Mississippi State.

Polson graduated in three years with a degree in Business-Finance and earned a 3.457 GPA. He has earned SEC Academic Honor Roll accolades three times. Polson will return to the court in 2013-14 after turning in a career-best season as a junior. He averaged 3.1 points and 1.7 rebounds per game while appearing in all 33 contests.

Beckham and Polson were two of 12 Kentucky players who tallied a 3.0 GPA or higher during the spring 2013 semester.

Under Calipari, the Wildcats have tallied a 3.0 or higher cumulative team GPA during the spring semester in each of the last three seasons, including during the 2012 national championship run. Since Calipari's arrival in 2009, all seven players who have exhausted their athletic eligibility have graduated from UK including: Beckham, Josh Harrellson, Ramon Harris, Mark Krebs, Darius Miller, Perry Stevenson and Eloy Vargas. Additionally, Patrick Patterson and Polson completed degrees in just three years. Current senior Jon Hood has also received a bachelor's degree and will have another year of athletic eligibility.

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