By LARRY VAUGHT
Just a few weeks ago Camryn Whitaker was recruiting for next season and seemed perfectly happy coaching at Kentucky, the school the former Harrison County standout grew up cheering for.
That’s the same impression I had in mid March when I interviewed her for a feature I told her I wanted to save for June during the offseason.
Not once did she mention she might not be at Kentucky then and she even invited me to come see her any time during the summer.
Yet Whitaker is part of the purge at Kentucky women’s basketball. She has resigned even though coach Matthew Mitchell said Wednesday he wanted her to stay. Reports are she is pursuing two head coaching jobs in Kentucky — and I hope she gets one.
Here’s part of what she told me in March that made me think she had no intention of leaving UK any time soon.
Question: What has it been like to be back close to your home in Cynthiana?
Whitaker: “Just being around family and friends, there is a certain comfort level you have just knowing if you need something, they are 30 minutes away. This is really home. Cynthiana is a small town, so we had to come to Lexington for everything. I grew up with my grandfather bringing me to games here and watching the men play. Of course, coach Mitchell has done wonders with the women’s program and when I was growing up, it wasn’t what it is now. That speaks of him and what he has been able to do. It is nice being home. I really enjoy seeing my family after every game. That’s what is really important to me. Of course, Kentucky is a place I love so it makes it really easy to coach here.”
Question: Is it true when Mitchell says there is not a calm bone in your body?
Whitaker: “I get pretty excited. I am competitive. It tends to come out in games. It is hard for me to control. I don’t know how calm I stay on the bench because I get after the girls. I don’t feel calm. I was never calm as a player and I coach very much like I played — tense, competitive and hard-nosed. That’s the way I think our kids play.”
Question: Is your goal to eventually be a head coach?
Whitaker: “Right now I just really enjoy my position as an assistant. Coach Mitchell has given me a lot of room to grow and given me a lot of voice and freedom to coach. I am really enjoying that. I just want to work hard for Kentucky. I want to see our team get to Final Fours because I think this is a place you should do and I think that is becoming the expectation here. I know that is Coach’s expectation and that is mine. We want to win. We want to win a national championship. We feel like this is a place where it can be done with hard work, honesty and all the things that we teach on a daily basis. I am just enjoying being at Kentucky. This is a place that I love and that means more to me than moving on and being a head coach somewhere. I don’t think you can teach the passion that you have for a school you grew up around and grew up loving.”