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By LARRY VAUGHT
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — He’s not mentioned as having the same talent as freshmen teammates John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins. He’s not mentioned for providing the leadership that junior teammate Patrick Patterson does.

Yet when it comes to freshman guard Eric Bledsoe, opponents believe he’s more valuable to the Wildcats than some realize.

“He is a a big factor for their team. With all the attention John Wall gets, Eric Bledsoe has to step up and make plays. He is very important and is a very good player,” Alabama guard Anthony Brock said.

Bledsoe averages 10.4 points — fourth best on the team — and is second in assists (90) and steals (40). He’s a 35.5 percent shooter from 3-point range and 70 percent shooter at the foul line.

He went through a difficult five-game stretch where he averaged only 7.4 points and was 13-for-41 from the field and 3-for-18 from 3-point range. However, he had 14 points on 4-for-5 shooting against Florida to end the regular season.

“Everybody on that team can’t get the attention they deserve and he might be a little underrated, but he is still a very good player,” Brock, who had to play against Bledsoe today, said.

“He plays with poise and keeps his head. He has been keeping his head even though he probably wasn’t getting the attention he deserved. He just goes out and plays every night without complaining.”

Bledsoe, an Alabama native, played on the same AAU team with Alabama’s JaMychal Green.

“We were always close. We went on the same trips together,” Green said. “I knew he was a great player and could shoot and was athletic. He could also always play defense. He’s an all-around good player.

“He is very competitive. He never liked to lose. He has been like that all his life. He just wants to win and will do anything it takes to win. He’s always been tough and physical. He could always shoot and score. He’s just very talented and probably is better than even Kentucky fans know.”

Both Brock and Green said Bledsoe’s toughness is often overlooked because of his size.

“He has always been tough for a guy his size. He will battle you all the time. He might have some breakdowns, but everybody does and he comes back fighting,” Brock said.

“If you look at him, he is well built. He has a little muscle and is pretty tough,” Green said.

“I wish he had came here, but I am just glad that he is doing well. When we went to Kentucky and played, we got to talk some,” Green said. He is lot better now. He developed a consistent jump shot now and he’s got great teammates. I think he’s very, very happy.”

Green even admits if he’s not playing Kentucky, he watches at times to see how Bledsoe and DeMarcus Cousins, another Alabama native whom he played against in AAU, fare.

“I don’t wish nothing bad on them even though they do not come to Alabama,” he said.

However, he was anxious to play against both of them today.

“To be the best, you have to play the best. I am glad we are playing them,” he said. “They are just a great, solid, sound team. They have no real weakness. You just have to go after them, play hard and hope for the best.”

10 Responses to Foes say not to underestimate Bledsoe’s value to UK

  • BarryRussell says:

    If Bledsoe stays one more year I think CATS!!he would be top 3 in next year’s draft. I love the way he plays! GO

  • Jonathan says:

    Been hearing a lot of rumors that Bledsoe is unhappy and looking to leave for the NBA after the year. Any truth to it that you know of Larry?

  • Alan L says:

    Yo Jonathan,

    Stands to reason Bledsoe isn’t happy. Cal rips him HARD when he makes mistakes, but not so with Patterson or Wall. Bledsoe watches this prima-donna treatment of those guys, along with the fact that he is instantly benched when he hiccups (vs. Wall or Patterson), and you better know that it boils his blood by just looking at his face as the season has progressed.

    Bledsoe knows another D1 team isn’t an option because he would have to sit, but he also knows that Cal’s inequity in how he treats players is too much for him to tolerate for another season.

    Cal of course has a lot to offer as a coach, but coaches seem not to get the power of positive reinforcement, treating players consistently, and allowing all of them to play through their mistakes, not just the prima donnas.

    However, think Bledsoe’s not happy? Consider Hood, Harris, Stevenson, and Harrellson. They did not come to UK to practice basketball. I’m not saying those players are better than our starters, but Cal needed to find a way to get them more time because no doubt their self-esteem is in the toilet.

  • Larry Vaught says:

    I don’t think he will be back for a variety of reasons. We’ll just have to wait and see, but it would surprise me to see him back

  • Ransmith says:

    I really do not understand most of these comments? Why would he rationally not be happy? These comments of Cal treated him worse are insane. I mean sure Bledsoe gets upset at time, you can see that, it is part of being young. As for him going into the NBA, no way does he leave after this season if he is wise, he needs a couple more years. Now do I think he may not return, yes, I think there is a good chance, but not the reasons listed in above comments. My gut feel is the temptation of playing for money some where in the world will be more than he can resist, and he will end up in Europe, etc. But personally I hope he is back and stays until he has matured and grown into an NBA player.

  • Alan L says:

    For Ransmith…..insane, really? Watch how Cal immediately benches and goes off on Bledsoe when he hiccups vs. when Wall hiccups.

    I can only surmise you’ve not seen too many UK games this season or not paid too close attention.

    Bledsoe was the third ranked PG from last year’s class, and though Wall is better, Bledsoe has deserved better.

    Wall is great, but he needs a lot of maturing also. Seriously, how many times per game does he run into multiple defenders, in lieu of dishing the ball, only to turn it over?

    The point is, Wall and Bledsoe both make lots of mistakes as you would expect from freshmen, but Bledsoe always gets yanked and berated when he hiccups, and Wall doesn’t; Bledsoe knows this, I know it – and I’m hardly insane.

  • larryvaught says:

    I think Europe is a real possibility

  • Jimbo says:

    Ransmith you are correct. How would anyone know the relationship between Cal and Bledsoe? Did any of you ask Bledsoe? Do any of you know Bledsoe? Bledsoe shouldn’t be worried about John. If he can’t handle the coach yelling at him he’s in trouble. I am sure he gets frustrated when Cal yells at him. He is 18 and he thinks he knows it all. I would hope his main focus is on becoming the best basketball player he can be. He has some more work to do. This is all a bit silly. Go Bledsoe, Go Cats!

  • larryvaught says:

    Bledsoe is just an emotional kid who wears his emotion for all to see. Just the way he is

  • Alan L says:

    Larry……you’re right…..since Bledsoe wears his emotions for all to see, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to be able to tell how he’s feeling. Jonathan made mention that he’s heard “lots of rumors” that Bledsoe wasn’t happy, and as Larry has acknowledged, it’s quite easy to see how Bledsoe’s feeling b/c he wears his emotions for all to see, except apparently Ransmith and Jimbo?

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