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By LARRY VAUGHT
HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s contemplating his future not only as a basketball player, but also has a father. However, Kentucky junior DeAndre LigginsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ fiancee, Jasmine Horton, wants to make sure everyone understands that he is making sure to be a supportive father for their young son, Braycn DeAndre Liggins.
She took the time to post on vaughtsviews.com earlier this season after Liggins shared his feelings for his son in a February interview and talked about how much he loved him.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“He is an amazing dad and although he has been very busy, he does whatever he can for our son,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Horton. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Our son is very alert (for being three months old) and likes to watch games on TV whenever Dre comes up. Dre has taken extra time to be there for his son since his father is deceased and I want everyone to understand that.Ã¢â‚¬Â
The couple met two years ago at a dorm cafeteria at UK.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We started out as friends and then began dating,Ã¢â‚¬Â Horton said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“He was really a nice guy. I am a year ahead of him in school and I didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t even follow basketball until I started dating him.Ã¢â‚¬Â
SheÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s seen a huge transformation in Liggins on the court. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s gone from struggling to get along with coach Billy Gillispie his freshman year to maturing and improving the last two seasons under John Calipari to where he was regarded as one of the nationÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s best defensive players this season.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I am very, very proud of him. Him and Gillispie were not that close, but with Cal he is a totally different person,Ã¢â‚¬Â Horton said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Cal has brought out the best in him. There were a lot of down times with coach Gillispie.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I think it is too bad that more people do not see all of DreÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s personality like I do. He is such a kind, caring person. He would give you the shirt off his back. People judge him too often on his attitude on the court, which for a long time was based on how he was treated by his other coach.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“But if you could see him with his son. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s funny to see them together. The baby is huge. He is going to ball, too. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s already 14 pounds and 24 1/2 inches long. I am very short, but the baby is going to be taller than Dre. His hands and feet are big. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s very alert and he watched games Ã¢â‚¬â€ DeAndreÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s family got him a bunch of UK outfits Ã¢â‚¬â€ to see his dad play. When they are together, if he cries, DeAndre turns on basketball or cartoons on TV to make him stop crying. He likes his ball already.Ã¢â‚¬Â
The infant went to several late-season games, but the normal ritual for Horton and her son was to watch Liggins play on TV and then wait for him to come see them in Cincinnati.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“He would always call right after the game to see if we watched and for me to critique him. Then when I tell him he laughs and says I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know anything about basketball,Ã¢â‚¬Â she said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“But I do know how little time he had. I am very understanding and I always knew he would take time to come or do whatever he could to help.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Horton credits Calipari and his staff for also making sure Liggins had time to be involved.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“His coach would make sure he would get here and back to see the baby. If his schedule was stressful, the coaches knew it was important for him to see his son,Ã¢â‚¬Â Horton said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“The baby even got to meet coach Cal and everybody with the team when we went to the game, and DeAndre had a great game that time. Coach Cal even told him he played so well because the baby was there.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Liggins is debating what to do about his future. He averaged 8.6 points and 4.0 rebounds per game last season and led UK with 43 steals. He dramatically improved his 3-point shooting and shot 39 percent (36-for-92). He also had 96 assists, second on the team.
However, his forte was becoming a lockdown defender and as valued as that trait is in college, it doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t translate to becoming a first-round draft pick. Liggins is not listed in the first two rounds of any NBA mock draft and would likely have to go overseas to play if he decided to give up his final year at Kentucky.
Horton doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know what heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll do. However, sheÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s returning to classes at UK this summer.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“That way we will both have our degrees,Ã¢â‚¬Â she said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“My plan is for us to both be back there full-time together unless something happens I am not expecting.Ã¢â‚¬Â