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By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky cornerback Fred Tiller has always been a basketball fan.
“My first sport was basketball when I was 10 and it is still my favorite sport to this day,” said Tiller. “I knew I was better at football and would make a living out of football, so that it what I really focused on. I played football, basketball and ran track in high school.
“I never really gave up my basketball dream. I finished my senior year and was top 50 in state. But at 5-11 1/2, you are not going to get looks in basketball. I was getting looks in football, so I focused on that.”
However, that doesn’t mean he has lost any confidence in his basketball skills and he tries to play whenever he has a chance even now.
What does he think of the talent on Kentucky’s basketball team?
“We barely see them now. When we go to JC (Joe Craft Center) and just shoot around and play around, I really have never seen one of them,” Tiller said.
Could he take one or more of them one-on-one?
“I would try, but they are like trees. They are 6-10 and I am like 5-11, so they are a foot taller than us,” Tiller said. “We could try.”
“We have some hoopers on the team. Bud Dupree, he is 260, 6-4 and has 40-inch vertical. He’s a player,” Tiller said.
He could even rattle off a starting football five on the basketball court.
“It would be me at point guard, J.D. Harmon at shooting guard, Ashely Lowery at small forward, Josh Forrest at the four and Bud at the five. Josh is a baller, too. He could more than hold his own,” Tiller said.
While that type of matchup is likely never to become a reality, Tiller says basketball seriously is a way for football players to relax.
“Playing basketball does take a lot of stress off us. You shouldn’t always think about football,” Tiller said. “If you think about football too much, you will worry yourself a lot. If you get your mind off that, then when you come out here on the field you should worry about football. But when you are off, you should learn your plays but not think about being out there on the field.”
Does he really foresee the day he’ll be in the NBA and get paid to play as he hoped when he chose football over basketball?
“It is like my least worry right now. I am just trying to better my team, be a better person and player,” Tiller said. “So I can’t be thinking that far ahead. But once I get a thought in my mind, I don’t give it up. I will admit that.”