By LARRY VAUGHT
Eric Bledsoe and his mother, Maureen Reddick, have a special bond that he says helped him cope with the pressure of playing at Kentucky this year.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We are all close. We are best friends. I am his mother, but at the same time I am his friend because I want him to come and talk to me about anything. I have to have an open mind about it,Ã¢â‚¬Â she said.
Actually, she tried to mother other players as well. It was not unusual to see her hug Cousins before a game or talk to other players after games.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“They are all my babies out there. CanÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t you tell? I call them and they will call me,Ã¢â‚¬Â she said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“They talk when I come around. We just have fun. I want them to not look at me as mom but as a friend. I have kids at Mississippi State, Alabama State, Memphis that knew my son and they became close with me, and they will call me every day or check on me. I want them to do that.Ã¢â‚¬Â
For Bledsoe, heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s still dealing with the reality of becoming a college star.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I always watched basketball,Ã‚Â but I never thought I be out here in March doing what I did. I never thought it could happen. I always dreamed about it but I never did think I would be in this position. I dreamed about being on a team that could win it all, and I just wish we could have,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said.
What about making the shot to win the national championship?
Ã¢â‚¬Å“No, I didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t dream that,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“But this whole year has been crazy. My grandma told me to never give up and that I would get this kind of chance eventually, and I did even if we didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t finish the way I hoped we would.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Bledsoe also said he hoped Kentucky fans grew to understand that even when it might have looked like he was moping or pouting, it was merely because he was upset with his play and worried how it would impact the WildcatsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ chances of winning.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“When I am not playing well, I tend to get down on myself. Coach (John Calipari) told me I canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t be doing that or I hurt the team. I know that, but IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m emotional. I want the team to win. If I am mad, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s only because I think my play might keep us from winning and I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t want that to happen,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Not winning the title and making history really hurt.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Enough to make him come back to Kentucky?
Ã¢â‚¬Å“It could. Or at least it gives me more to think about,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said.