By LARRY VAUGHT
It really doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t seem that long ago that both Ed Davender and Derrick Miller were in my home when they came here for Danville-Boyle County Little League Recognition Day.
That was back in the era when it was okay for University of Kentucky basketball players to make trips for speaking engagement and then recreation director Richard Glasscock put on a first-class program here that usually attracted 1,000 young players, coaches, cheerleaders and family members.
Davender, who played from 1984-88, and Miller, who played from 1986-90, were both outgoing and perfect for the program. They talked to the youngsters about their playing experiences at Kentucky, signed autographs, posed for pictures and were perfect ambassadors for UK.
Now look at what has happened.
First it was Davender charged with taking money from at least three people in a scam to sell Kentucky season basketball tickets. He was charged last week with three felony counts of theft by deception and one count of trafficking in a controlled substance within 1,000 yards of a school.
Now Miller, 42,Ã‚Â has also been charged with one felony count of theft by deception for allegedly selling season tickets that werenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t available for him to sell.
Police indicated Tuesday that the charges were not related, but does it really matter. If true, both have certainly known each other long enough to believe that they hadnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t talked about something like this would be foolish.
How could this happen? Both were high school All-American players that were highly recruited. Both earned all-Southeastern Conference honors at Kentucky.
Davender is perhaps the most underrated player I have seen play at Kentucky. He was from New York and was a tough, physical point guard who could score. He had 1,637 points in 129 games while shooting 44.4 percent from the field and 79.2 percent at the foul line. But he also had 436 assists and 191 steals. He was a complete player.
Miller came out of Georgia noted for his shooting and didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t disappoint UK fans with his long-range accuracy. He scored 1,156 points in 105 games and shot 36 percent from 3-point range. He wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t the all-around player that Davender was as he had only 125 assists and 69 steals.
But he could score. When Jodie Meeks had consecutive 30-point games last season it was the first time a UK player had done it since Miller accomplished the same feat in the 1989-90 season.
Today, though, the on-court accomplishments of Miller and Davender are in jeopardy of being forever tarnished by their upcoming court appearances.
WhatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s gone wrong for each of them? What happened to UK basketball players being set for life after their playing careers ended? Could they really have been so desperate for money that they tried to scam UK fans with UK basketball tickets?
I hope thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s another side of the story weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve not heard. I liked them both. In fact, they were two of my favorite players and I still enjoyed talking to them when I would occasionally see them. Miller always called me Ã¢â‚¬Å“Mr. VaughtÃ¢â‚¬Â and I remember talking to him about his difficult home life and how much he overcame to succeed at Kentucky. Davender could be difficult for some to interview, but he was always gracious with me and often gave me tidbits of information he gave no one else.
Their plight certainly should be a warning for all UK athletes to pay attention to their academics and not take the future for granted after their playing days end.
These two guys were big names 20 years ago. Now their lives certainly are not what I would have envisioned when they came here to put a smile on so many young faces at those Little League Recognition Days in what may now have been the best of times for both of them.