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By LARRY VAUGHT
When Kentucky players came out for their pregame shootaround Wednesday before playing Eastern Michigan, there was a familiar face with them — Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
He had a night off from playing with the Charlotte Bobcats and came back to see UK play for the first time since he helped the Wildcats win the national title last year and was the second overall pick in the draft.
He joked with UK assistant coaches and hugged various players as they came over to see him. He sat on the bench for most of the pregame warmups and then was on the front row to watch the game.
“Yeah, he surprised us. He’s such a great kid,” UK coach John Calipari said after the 90-38 win. ” He knew that there was a plane coming from Charlotte. He just said, “Hey, can I jump on it?” And he came in, and they beat Chicago. They practiced today and he comes in to watch the guys play.”
Calipari joked that Kidd-Gilchrist was not happy to see the renovated locker rooms at Rupp Arena.
“He was really, really angry when he saw the locker room. He was smoking. He walked in my office, and he said, this is BS. What we had last year. Look at this. So he did it in fun, but he was like — but it was good to see him,” Calipari said.
Kentucky fans gave him a standing ovation when he was escorted to midcourt by two cheerleaders to do the “Y” in a traditional Kentucky cheer.
Surprise: Calipari has a surprise planned for UK fans today.
“So what I’ll do is tomorrow you’re going to have a good idea of what we’ve done that is unique, out of the box. We’re a non‑traditional program. We’re doing things that we have to do that have never been done, based on the fact of what we’re doing with young guys. We’ve got to try different things. So it will be out tomorrow sometime,” Calipari said. “I’m basically doing it for the Big Blue Nation to see, but since I told all you in the media, I’m telling you now it will be out tomorrow.”
He indicated his surprise would be posted on his website at www.coachcal.com.