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Does Ryan Harrow still have a future with Kentucky

By LARRY VAUGHT

He scored in double figures in 18 of Kentucky’s last 24 games, but the final two games exposed every weakness that point guard Ryan Harrow had and could turn into his last two games with the Wildcats.

Harrow started his collegiate career at North Carolina State, but transferred to UK last season. He practiced daily against Marquis Teague, a strong, defensive-minded player who became a first-round NBA draft pick. The plan was for that seasoning to give Harrow a chance to become another of the productive point guards to play for coach John Calipari.

But it went wrong. Terribly wrong.

In the season opener against Maryland, Harrow didn’t score and played just 10 minutes because of an illness. He missed the next four games — and even went home for a time — for personal reasons that were never revealed by Harrow or Calipari. His first three games back (Notre Dame, Baylor and Samford) he had a combined six points in 48 minutes.

Harrow, though, seemed to reassert himself. He had 17 points in a loss at Louisville. He had three assists and no turnovers against probably the most aggressive defense UK faced all year. Two games later he had 16 points and four assists at Vanderbilt. However, he was overmatched by Alabama’s guards in a road loss and went scoreless in consecutive road losses at Florida and Tennessee when he was 0-for-5 from the field with just one assist in 37 total minutes.

Even though he came back to score in double figures six straight games and played well in upsets of Missouri (16 points, six assists) and Florida (16 points, four steals), Harrow never seemed to earn back the trust of Calipari or his teammates.

Now his future at UK is in limbo after his performances against Vanderbilt in the Southeastern Conference Tournament and Robert Morris in the NIT. Kentucky already has seven players in its recruiting class and could well add Andrew Wiggins and Dominique Hawkins, too. That would be nine scholarships for next season. If freshmen Alex Poythress and Archie Goodwin return, that’s 11. If Kyle Wilter stays — and I think he will — that’s 12. If Jon Hood stays and used his extra year of eligibility, that’s 13. Or if Calipari wants to keep Jarrod Polson on scholarship because of the toughness he showed this year, that’s 13. And that doesn’t even take into account that freshman Willie Cauley-Stein could possibly return.

That could leave Harrow out after he went 2-for-15 from the field against Vanderbilt and had four points and four turnovers in 30 minutes. He followed that with five points and two turnovers against Robert Morris when he played only nine minutes because Calipari said he was just not tough enough to play more.

“(I did) things that I’ve never done before. One, I did things to try to help this team I’ve never done, but things that I did to try to save guys, when you have more people you just cut right then. Now you’re on the team, but you’re just not going play that much because you won’t change. Most of it is just accepting change. You can’t play this way and play,” said Calipari after the Robert Morris game.

Was he directing that at Harrow? Not entirely, but obviously playing him only nine minutes made it clear how unhappy he was with the sophomore point guard.

Are physical games like Robert Morris tough on Harrow? ““I would say. And that’s everybody’s MO on how to play us,” Calipari said.

What about his future with the team? “We’ll have an individual meeting and talk about it,” Calipari said.

Again, Harrow is not the only reason UK lost 12 games. But a veteran NBA scout told me that UK’s lack of a “quality” point guard impacted the way everyone else on the team played. It also could have led to Calipari having the softest team he’s had, or likely ever will have, because even Harrow would admit he was not tough enough.

He wept after the Vanderbilt loss in the dressing room and blamed himself for the loss. Teammates said it was not his fault, but no one rushed over to console him, either.

Harrow’s dilemma is that he cannot transfer to another Division I school without losing a year of eligibility since he’s already transferred once. He could go to Division II or NAIA and play two more years, but remember this is a player that Calipari noted several times could be “as good as any point guard in the country” when he plays the right way.

“I can’t go anywhere. So I’ll be here next year and just getting ready for next year,” Harrow said after the Robert Morris loss.

Not exactly a ringing endorsement about wanting to be back at UK to play behind twins Aaron and Andrew Harrison — or even Polson — next season.

When pressed, Harrow did say he wanted to be back.

“I definitely learned some stuff playing this year. Nobody’s ever questioned my ability or talent,” Harrow said. “It’s just been my energy and things like that. That’s easy to work on. Just got to get back to Kentucky and start working immediately, lifting weights and working on regular skill things.”

But does Calipari want him back? Does Kentucky need him back — what happens if one or both Harrisons would get hurt or even in foul trouble? Could Polson and Hawkins provide more than enough depth at guard? How will the numbers work out?

Those are all questions only Harrow and Calipari can answer, but based on the way Harrow finished the season it seems that it might be best for both UK and Harrow if the point guard finds a new place to play.

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38 comments

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  1. grant

    I think the players are so used to saying P.C. thoughts. Like it was not Harrows fault that they lost at to Vandy, but no one rushed to console him. Him being Harrow. There just seems to be a selfish side to this UK team. I find it a bit perplexing that Harrow says his energy is what he needs to work on and thats easy. Really!!!! If it is easy , it should have been fixed already. He was here last year watching Teague wasn’t he? And practicing against him as well. Did he not see how hard Teague worked to get better? I am no expert, but energy should always be there, especially for a 20 year old. Energy should be there in spades at that age! If next years point guard is more physical and has more ENERGY than Harrow , good luck to him because he will be sitting down or will be gone.

  2. King Ghidora

    It is certainly possible to mature physically at some point around Harrow’s age. Some kids mature earlier than others and maybe he just doesn’t have that adult level of toughness and endurance that can make such a difference. Yes some kids can go all day but others can’t until their body lets them. It’s like they wake up one day and discover they can suddenly go hard all day where before they could only go half a day. It can change fast too. Sometimes it’s just a matter of working out the right training schedule. Look at the difference in Harrellson after his star crossed posting on Twitter. He was put to work by Cal and from that he blossomed into a pro level ball player. He was ready to accept that he would never be tough enough or have enough endurance to go pro or even play college ball. My what a difference a few months can make.

    Who knows if Harrow can ever become strong enough and that is what it boils down to. If he can’t then he’s wasting his time and the whole team’s time. He may need to prove he can get better in a big hurry or he could be dropped. It doesn’t seem fair but then again he didn’t really seem to work hard enough to get where he needed to be. He has his chances that’s for sure.

    1. grant

      Jorts is a great example, but I assume it was not easy, Josh probably worked his tail off. Point being King, Its like ahh hey I Can work on my energy , its simple. If it is simple , it should have been done already, Its UK not some rinky dink school with no expectations.

  3. Juan4UK

    I hate to say this. I do. Because this is a big deal in sports or life. Harrow freezes in the spotlight and that cant be fixed in his last remaining yr at UK. If he wants to play, he is best to drop a division and trust Cal to get him a look from scouts at the end of next yr if he wants a shot at the Nba or Europe. But his issues cant be fixed in one yr w the spotlight. UK will have next yr. Even on that team.

  4. Anonymous

    I think that Ryan is a decent guy and a average player, playing in a place that does not accept average.I believe that Ryan will come back and complete his degree and move on from there. As far as the NBA or playing in Europe, that seems to be a stretch. If Ryan stays, he will be a role player and he must accept that. The coaching staff committed to him and I believe you should be true to your word. What is acceptable at most schools just wont fly here.. Lets make the best of it…..

    1. Lolwha?

      You do realize harrow was only a sophomore? he redshirted when he first came to uk.

  5. cats79

    Got information that he was one of the few that wouldn”t listen to coach Cal, wanted to play his own style. This team had to many hard heads to take up coaches advice thats why the season play out as it did. Cal also hinted that during his end of the season comments.

  6. UKFMLY

    I for one hope he stays. Wouldn’t it be a great story if he stays improves and helps us win back to back Championships? I like stories where people over come and succeed. Liggins comes to mind right off the bat. Let’s not give up on this young man. Everyone DESERVES a chance for redemption. IMHO

    KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK

    GO BLUE OR STAY HOME

    1. Larry Pup

      Amen UKFMLY! All of these freshmen and Harrow have something to finish at UK.. I submit they all will be a lot better next year. Athletes almost always get better in year two. Plus with all the competition from the incoming kids, Wow. It is a good problem to deal with. I even hope Noel comes back.

      1. UKFMLY

        Thanks Pup. Looks like we are in the minority on this one. LOL

    2. YVETTE

      I agree. He will be much better next season!

  7. Kokamo Joe

    Ryan will soon be 22 years of age. If he were going to mature he would have done it by now. He had a good freshman year at North Carolina State. He started some games, especially those in the later part of the season. He did have some sickness. When he transferred to Kentucky it was assumed that he would be the point guard of the future, although he was barley 6-1 and only weighed about 160 pounds. We were told that he was a looking good in practice and was hanging well with Teague. Calipari must have saw something.

    Ryan was just a piece of what went wrong with this year. Early on it seemed that Calipari was not pleased. Throughout the season Calipari’s impression of Ryan seemed to grow worse. Calipari’s celebrated claim that UK is a players’s first school will be tested by Ryan. Will Calipari, who has openly criticized him often ask him to leave or will he encourage him to stay?

    I cannot see him playing much if any, unless there are massive injuries next year. He will be recruited over the next year. Ryan needs to look else where. Would he be willing to transfer and set out another year? Having already set out a year, would he even be eligible to transfer to a division 1 school? Hopefully he will consider a NAIA school.

    IMO, if he does not transfer, Calipari will have to realize that having him on the roster for another two years would be a waste of Ryan’s time and a valued spot on the UK roster. He needs to be gently sent on his way. That just might be the most player friendly move for Ryan at this point.

  8. Anonymous

    I want him back…nothing like failure to set some people straight. He is no different than a lot of kids that learn the hard way and if he lives in the weight room this summer he can still be a success story down the road. I believe in you Ryan, now just believe in yourself, and never, never forget those tears!

    1. YVETTE

      YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  9. Mike

    I will stay with my earlier comments that he needs to go. He is almost 22 now and has had 2 yrs. at UK already. If he couldn’t get his $hit together by now, if probably won’t happen, and he would continue to be a chemistry problem for the team. It would be nice if he and Poy could transfer to the same school.

  10. BobbyBlue

    I’ve been told Harrow could graduate before the fall semester,if he wanted to push it, and complete the right courses. If thats true,he could take the Julius Mays route and transfer to a grad program,at another D-1 school and be instantly eligible,with two years left. The only problem would be finding a school that offers a grad program thats not offered by UK. Personally I don’t think he’ll have a choice, in the matter.

  11. The truth

    Of course Hawkins can provide enough back up of the twins got into foul trouble, people seem to forget Hawkins dropped 30+ points on the twins and 20+ on Wiggins.

  12. HONDO2

    GETTING THE BODY PREPARED TO COMPETE WITH THE “BIG BOYS” IS VERY IMPORTANT—BUT THAT MUST BE BLENDED WITH BECOMING MENTALLY –EMOTIONALLY PREPARED TO COMPETE WITH THE BIG BOYS–ONE WON’T WORK WITHOUT THE OTHER–

    HARROW WENT MISSING LAST FALL–CAME BACK AND BEGAN TO LOOK LIKE ONE WOULD EXPECT A “CAL” PG TO LOOK–BUT HE NEVER IMPROVED–BEGAN TO SLIDE DOWN IN BOTH PLAY AND MINUTES PLAYED

    WITH ALL THE TALENT COMING IN[HOPEFULLY WIGGINS AND ANOTHER]PLAYING TIME IS GETTING SHORT–SO IS THE SCHOLARSHIP MATTER–

    I AM SURE CAL WILL BE “BRUTALLY HONEST” WITH HARROW AND ALL PLAYERS–IT’S A TOUGH WORLD OUT THERE–NOT ALL PLAYERS ARE SUITED FOR UK BASKETBALL[CAL TELLS THEM ALL THAT]SO DID COACH RUPP AND COACH LANCASTER–SO DID PITINO[I THINK COACH HALL TOLD THEM THE SAME THING]

    THE BIG THING CAL HAS TO GET BACK IS “PLAYERS WITH ABILITY WITH THE WILL TO WIN” –WHEN NOELS WENT DOWN SO DID “THE WILL TO WIN” LEVEL OF THIS TEAM–“NO GUTS NO GLORY”

  13. David

    It was said in this article, “Could Polson and Hawkins provide more than enough depth at guard? How will the numbers work out?” James Young is suppose to be the #2 shooting guard in America, along with being the #3 small forward and Julius Randle’s coach said he is so talented that he could play point. I remember Jamal Mashburn handling the rock like he was Pistol Pete.

    I for one will not worry if Ryan does not return and if he was a problem and did not listen to instructions then he should be let go, so not to taint this incoming class. I along with many others do not know what went on with this years team, but I witnessed this team self destruct. The only positive I really saw on the court this year was Nerlens.

    I will trust in Cals decision, and will be pulling for a championship in 2014! Go Big Blue!

  14. goUKats

    Hopefully this will play out,and Hawkins can come on board.

  15. GrampyBlue

    This year’s team had issues. One issue was players being uncoachable. Anyone who doesn’t think Ryan Harrow was smack dab in the middle of the whole uncoachable issue raise your hand. I for one was really excited when Coach Cal let him return to the team and all the rumors point to Harrow’s attitude being the problem why he left the team in the first place. He had his first chance when he got an offer to play @ UK and his second chance was being allowed to return to the team & he didn’t take advantage of that. When he sulked and pouted it changed the attitude of the entire team. It’s a mistake to bring back a problem player with the special team we have coming in. All the players we have coming in next year are great kids with great attitudes and we don’t need a cancer in that locker room!

    1. David

      I have to agree with you GrampyBlue.

  16. lunchbox

    I kinda fill he left his team hangin when they needed him. kinda think the unknown illness was him missing mama.noel got hurt an he didn’t run home he stayed behind the bench with hes team.

  17. lunchbox

    I still hope he comes back an if he doesn’t do better hell half to sit

  18. trublususu

    I don’t want him to return at the expense of Hood, Polson and Dominique Hawkins having scholarships. Hood and Polson have shown how much they value playing in the blue and white. Hawkins is just waiting to be offered a scholarship. Harrow had his chance this year and was wishy-washy.

  19. David

    I believe in giving someone a chance to redeem themselves, but it seems he had that chance and something was dragging this team down and all signs point to him. I think it is not worth the expense and gamble to allow him to get into the heads of incoming players.

    I also think Ryan did a horrible job trying to get others involved in the offense. It seemed like Ryan and I hate to say it Archie seemed like the other culprit with his hogging the ball and forcing bad shots. IMO they needed to kick the ball outside for open 3’s to people like (Mayes, Wiltjer and Poythress) and they would refuse to do that but instead force up contended shots, one after another. I can understand trying to get teams to foul but for heaven sakes you have to hit your free throws and Archie could not deliver on most of his charity line shots. I think Archie and Poythress should come back and backup the new starters unless they can prove themselves as starters before the beginning of next year.

    Go Cats!!!

  20. Mack

    A lot depends on how the scholarship numbers work out; would it be possible for Polson and Hood to have full academic scholarships to free up some basketball scholarships? They would want to have room for Wiggins and Gordon if they both wanted to be CATS. I don’t think Noel will return if he is going to be top 3 in the draft and I do not know about WCS for sure and most likely 50/50 with Alex and Archie. Of course Coach will make the correct moves. The new guys coming in from Texas seem to have the same type of toughtness as the Cousins, Wall, and Bledsoe class had, not sure how Harrow will standup to that on a daily basis.

  21. Gene T

    Would be a good back up, just too soft. He would be better off tranferring. I hope he leaves. Could be a problem in the locker room

  22. Charles Babb

    It is past time for him to go

  23. Anonymous

    I hope he stays, I think he could do well in a role player situation….plus, I never was a fan of how R. Rhodes was shown the door.

  24. Jim

    Toughness. Mental and physical. It is lacking with that young man. He has two years left. I wonder if he will be kept on the team. Whatever Cal decides is fine with me.

  25. Rex

    Let”s sign Wiggins and it won’t matter what Ryan does. I don’t see him getting any time next season. I think Poulson did a better job with less talent. If it comes down to those two I would rather have Jarod due to his effort.

  26. Ken Grizzle

    Maybe Mathew Mitchell could use him that seems to be his level of competence.

  27. grant

    The mere fact that Harrows future is in” limbo” after playing 1 season for Cal says a whole bunch, considering how many point guards have played for Cal just 1 year that have gone pro the next year ,and this one is nowhere close to that. I am not sure that to be an effective point guard at UK you have to be a one and done potential 1st rounder, but it certainly doesn’t hurt.

  28. todd b

    I think harrow and Goodwin should be gone. Goodwin was out of control and played selfish.Goodwin didn’t seem on timeouts to listen to coach Cal .He was not a team player

  29. jcc

    Unless I have missed, something NN could also be back next season. He may want to work on that knee and win a championship, be a lottery pick and get a little better money and respect vs. sitting on the bench as a 3rd round pick because some team will try to get him cheap, say he is not ready for the league ………The kids that can survive without scholarship money should allow the family or Pell grant money kick in and lets have the most talent that has ever hit the floor on 1 team. As we have witnessed so many times there is plenty of room for what we depth!

    1. BobbyBlue

      Larry,
      I firmly believe NN will go in the top 2….Lottery teams get to pick the best players,and hope to utilize their pick, to move up in the standings,which of course stops them from being in the lottery the following year.
      NN may play next season…maybe he only sees limited action,or doesn’t play at all,ala
      D Rose. Any of those three possibilities is a win win, for the drafting club.The team that drafts him still has him no matter what…, if he plays a full season it’s great….if he doesn’t play,they don’t move up enough to get out of the lottery…so another lottery pick,and suddenly they have added two lottery picks in two years . Bob

  30. Sporty

    I winced for weeks as Harrow would get sent to the bench next to Wiltjer, and Wiltjer would say to Harrow, “Don’t listen to him (meaning Cal).” Game after game. Not what you want to see on your team, especially not from a guy who’s been there a year already talking to a guy that needs to listen to his coach. I hope Harrow stays and works through it, but I don’t feel the same way about Wiltjer. He could’ve been a great player, but his attitude towards Cal seems to be hurting the team. I don’t see how KW is going to grow into a defensive player by next year either.

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