Former player, assistant remember Eddie Sutton

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ)-On Saturday, former Kentucky basketball head coach Eddie Sutton passed away at the age of 84.

Sutton’s time at Kentucky may have ended in turmoil, but those closest to him while in Lexington still say he impacted their lives.

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ESPN college basketball analyst Jimmy Dykes may be known for being on the sidelines for televised cats and SEC games, but years ago he laced up his sneakers to play and later grabbed a clipboard to coach, both under the late Eddie sutton. Dykes played under Sutton at Arkansas from 1981 to 1984. He remembers Sutton cared a lot for his players, but he was old school.

“We played in the Hawaii tournament and lost two out of three games there and the last game we lost, we drove straight to the airport in Honolulu, took a red eye flight all night long to Dallas, Dallas to Fayetteville and got off the plane…got to campus about 8 o’clock that next morning and practiced three times that next day and didn’t think anything of it. We lost. Coach wasn’t happy with us. We had to take 100 charges over a period of three practices,” Dykes said.

Dykes’ time with Sutton wouldn’t end there. After Joe B Hall, Sutton would get the Kentucky job in 1985. Dykes joined him as an assistant in ’87.

Coach Sutton kind of changed the way things were done at Kentucky when he got the job and it wasn’t really popular with those who were close to the program early, but I think they realized what he stood for. He wasn’t going to vary from how he thought that program should look, should feel and what it should be grounded in,” Dykes said.

Former UK star Reggie Hanson played his first two years at Kentucky under Sutton and one thing he remembers most, the three ‘Ds’.

“It was discipline, dedication and defense. Obviously the defense is for on the court, but the dedication and discipline was about life, about academics, the type of people we were trying to be so he really taught us about being men,” Hanson said.

Something else Sutton taught Hanson at Kentucky: everyone wants to beat you.

“Coach Sutton always said, ‘You always have a target on your back. No matter what team you’re playing, you’re going to come out and have somebody drop 30 on you and you’re going to be like where did this guy come from and it’s going to be like a tough game. It could be like a lower division one team,'” Hanson said.

Sutton’s time in Lexington wouldn’t have a storybook ending. He would resign amid allegation the program paid recruit Chris Mills $1,000.

Dykes says it may be hard to see, but maybe it was always meant to be. After Kentucky, Sutton would coach his alma mater Oklahoma State to two final fours. Just two months ago, Sutton was voted into the Naismith Hall of Fame, a moment Dykes knows meant a lot to his former coach.

“I got to speak with coach after the ceremony. They held the phone up to his ear and he couldn’t really communicate back with me, but I know at that point you felt that, you know what? It’s complete now. And for him to be able to get that recognition before his passing was really special to a lot of people,” Dykes said.

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Bryan Kennedy hails from the Bluegrass State. He was born and raised in Owensboro, KY where he graduated from Apollo High School in 2006. Bryan graduated from the University of Kentucky with a degree in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in Spanish in 2010. He also received his master's degree in Sports Media and Branding from Western Kentucky University. While at UK, Bryan was the general manager of the on-campus TV station. He also did sports reporting, anchoring, producing and even the weather for UK Student News Network. While working for UKSNN, he also had the pleasure of covering Coach John Calipari's first press conference when he was introduced as the new head coach of the Kentucky Wildcats; easily one of his favorite moments as a young sports reporter. Before coming to ABC 36, Bryan was a morning anchor and reporter at WXXV News 25, our sister station in Gulfport, MS. He anchored more than four hours of news every day, including morning shows on NBC and Fox. While down south, Bryan had the opportunity to cover the Sugar Bowl, New Orleans Saints and the New Orleans Pelicans. After spending a little more than two years at WXXV, Bryan is extremely excited to return home. In his spare time, Bryan enjoys playing sports, especially rugby. He also enjoys crossfitting and watching sports (obviously). He's extremely excited to cover Central Kentucky. Feel free to say hello and send story ideas toBKennedy@wtvq.com