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By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky assistant basketball coach John Robic emphasized that junior Darnell Dodson will be playing for the Wildcats next season during his time Saturday at the UK Ohio Convention in MIddletown, Ohio.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Dodson is eligible. DonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t believe everything you hear,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Robic.
Rumors have swirled since the season ended that Dodson would not be back with the Wildcats. Rumors speculated that it could be anything from academics to off-court problems.
But when asked if Dodson Ã¢â‚¬Å“definitely would be at Kentucky next season,Ã¢â‚¬Â Robic quickly said yes.
He added that Dodson, like other returning players, needed to have improved their skills and strengthened their bodies during the offseason.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We need him to be a better 3-point shooter, a better defender, a better player. But thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s true with all five guys coming back,Ã¢â‚¬Â Robic said.
Here are a few other insights Robic shared with about 150 UK fans at the 21st annual convention in Middletown:
Ã¢â‚¬â€ Passion of Kentucky fans.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“In Kentucky, this state is blue. We enjoyed those little camps across the state just to see the people. From kids camping out for Big Blue Madness tickets to camping out for game tickets to waiting in line to get into Rupp Arena. ThereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s nothing like Kentucky fans. It is a great place, but it is a different place because of the passion you people have.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬â€ On the incoming players.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Enes Kanter you have to keep out of the weight room. He is a big, big young man. Terrence Jones is an exceptional player. The weight and strength coaches love him. This group has bought into weights and conditioning. We want to be in better shape this season because of the way we will play.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Eloy Vargas is not here yet. He is still finishing up course work. He will not go on the trip to Canada with us next month.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Stacey Poole, Doran Lamb and Brandon Knight have all been good. They are all good on paper. They seem to get along very well. ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s why we had success last year was because the freshmen got along and got along with returning players and I think that will happen again. These kids really seem special. They have done an outstanding job adjusting to college life and with their academics.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬â€ On KanterÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s eligibility.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“It is in the final stages right now, but we think he will be fine,Ã¢â‚¬Â Robic said.
Ã¢â‚¬â€ On scheduling.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I do all the scheduling. I remember watching games Kentucky used to come up and play (in Cincinnati). We have to play the one game in Louisville every year. There was talk about the Indiana series rotating, but the head coaches decided to keep the games on campus. The biggest thing about scheduling is when we have 24,000 in the building (Rupp Arena), we need to play as many home games as can. We would like to scrimmage another college team like you are allowed to do, but we canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t because of what a home game is worth to university
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Scheduling is probably as difficult, or just below, recruiting. I finished (the UK schedule) a long time ago. It should be released fairly soon. We are supposed to get the SEC schedule next week. It should be out next week.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬â€ On last yearÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s team chemistry.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I get text messages from all the players who were first-round draft choices. DeMarcus (Cousins) sent me a text at 2:30 the other night. Ã¢â‚¬ËœDo you see your boy tonight.Ã¢â‚¬â„¢ He had 22 (points), 12 (rebounds) and hit the game-winner.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“They were just great young men. They were really good ambassadors for our program, for their families, for the university. Well-mannered. They stayed out of trouble. We didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have one issue with anybody. They enjoyed playing together. They truly were brothers.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Mark KrebsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ mother recently passed away. All the returning guys went to the viewing. Everyone of the players who just left (for the NBA) had flowers at that viewing. That is a neat, neat thing. Obviously, they couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t be there, but they were really tight and they all sent flowers.Ã¢â‚¬Â