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Patrick Patterson

Patrick Patterson speaks to the media after being picked by the Houston Rockets at the NBA draft. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)

Patrick Patterson speaks to the media after being picked by the Houston Rockets at the NBA draft. He now plays for Toronto. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)

By LARRY VAUGHT

ATLANTA — Former University of Kentucky assistant coach Glynn Cyprien has not been surprised with the success Patrick Patterson has had in the NBA.

Cyprien helped coach Patterson two seasons while he was on Billy Gillispie’s staff at UK. Now Cyprien is an assistant coach at Texas A&M, but he still keeps up with former UK players he coached, especially those playing in the NBA.

“His play hasn’t surprised me because his work ethic was always phenomenal and he has a great motor,” Cyprien said about Patterson, who now plays for Toronto. “His skill level was good, so his success in the NBA has not surprised me. Great kid who is a gym rat. For me, I am not surprised by what he’s done and I am happy for him.

“He just worked. He really worked on facing the basket. When we were there, he was more of a back to the basket guy because we played high-low. Then the staff behind us came in and he worked facing the basket and now he is consistently knocking down jump shots. I couldn’t be more proud of what he has done.”

Same goes for Jodie Meeks, who now plays for the Los Angeles Lakers and recently had 42 points in a game.

“Forty-two. That’s unbelievable. Reminds you of that Tennessee game where he was just unstoppable (and scored 54 points),” Cyprien said before Texas A&M played Missouri Thursday in the Southeastern Conference Tournament here. “Again,you are talking about a guy that you really didn’t know who how he would do when he went to the NBA and he has had an unbelievable career to this point and was willing to put in time in the gym to get it done.”

He’s also proud that DeAndre Liggins has survived some off-court issues and currently is with the Miami Heat.

“He is hanging in there and again is a kid with a motor who has some athleticism. Thank God, he was able to land back on his feet and I think he will have a long career now because of things he can do,” Cyprien said.

Cyrpien helped recruit Daniel Orton, who played one year for current UK coach John Calipari after Gillispie left before going to the NBA. He has played for three NBA teams and started this season with Philadelphia before being sent to the Developmental League where he had 26 points and 16 rebounds in a game Wednesday.

“He is a guy we were really looking for big things from when we recruited him and then he kind of got hurt. He’s another kid we thought would have a great career at UK and I’m hoping he hangs in there and gets back in the NBA,” Cyprien said.

“I try to keep up with all those guys the best I can. I am so proud of them all, including Josh Harrellson for what he’s done. I am always bragging about them and try to reach out when I can.”

He also stays in touch with friends he made in Lexington.

“Lexington is a special place, and not just because of basketball. It is such a great place to live and really good people. They not only care about the program, but it is just a good community. We were blessed to be there a few years and I cherish our time there,” Cyprien said.

By LARRY VAUGHT

How does John Calipari compare the progress of this freshman class to other classes he has had?

“Well, the issue – my first year, we had Patrick Patterson and a couple veterans; the second year we had Darius Miller and DeAndre Liggins and some freshmen – Josh Harrelson, who hadn’t played the year before. The next year we had Terrence (Jones), Doron (Lamb) and Darius … we had three really good veterans who were the heart of the team,” Calipari sid.

“This is a freshman team. Willie (Cauley-Stein) played behind Nerlens (Noel) until Nerlens got hurt (last year) and then wasn’t able to – OK? And then you’ve got Alex (Poythress), who’s still coming and going. You know, he’s not like the guy. And so we’re doing it with basically all freshmen.

“I’ve never done this before, and one of the things I’m trying to tell them, but it’s also me: What got you here, won’t get you there. In other words, all the stuff you did to get you where you are, at Kentucky, that stuff’s not going to work now, because they’re just as big as you, just as quick as you, they’re just as long and they’re just as skilled.

“Now, what are you going to do to help you get where you’re going? Well, the same with me. What got me the Kentucky job is not playing all freshmen and doing what we’re doing right now. So I’m having to change and do different things. And that’s what I’m trying to do, and I’m trying to learn, and learn about my team as we go.”

Question: How would describe the leadership qualities of freshman Julius Randle?

John Calipari: “What’s happening right now, we’re playing him in a position as though he’s a two or a three. So he’s just now getting comfortable starting from 20 feet out. You still have to offensive rebound, which he is not. He’s not defensive rebounding the way he needs to. He is driving the ball better and recognizing better, trying to figure out when do I shoot jumpers, when do I drive?

“Yet that being said, he’s still playing hard. Yesterday, the thing, we had an unbelievable practice until 15 minutes to go, and then they all backed up, and it starts with one or two guys.  We didn’t finish the practice. But he is 6-9, 250, and he’s skilled. But I don’t want to play him under the basket. That’s not preparing him for what’s ahead for him. I could play him at seven feet and try to win college games, tell him, I’m really helping you, or I can make him play out on the floor like we did Patrick Patterson. Do you remember Patrick went from standing under the basket to playing at the top of the key offensively?  So it’s going to take him time.”

By LINDA SINCLAIR

My friend Christy Barger and I went to the Alumni Game together.  She got to our seats before I did.  TShe asked where the seat and row was when she was at the top of Rupp.  I was talking to a man too young to be wearing a blue coat and was telling him if he could wear a blue coat so could I, he agreed.  I want my BLUE COAT!  I asked him where the seats where, he said all the way down in front.  I said how far down, he said all the way down. I said where?  He said you see that concrete and the walkway, I said yes, he said that row of seats, the first row.

I thought I was going to give birth to the next 5 Five star recruits right there on the spot!  FIRST ROW, ALMOST UNDER THE BASKET, RUPP ARENA…I GOT DOWN ON MY KNEES WHEN I GOT DOWN THERE AND THANKED THE BASKETBALL GODS, BUDDHA, EVERY SUPREME BEING I COULD THINK OF, SAINTS, ANGELS, SERAPHIM’S, ARCHANGELS, COACH RUPP, NAISMITH and even my dearly departed.

Can you imagine?  It was only the Alumni Game, but holy moly, I, Linda Sinclair, little old lady from Lexington West was sitting in the first row at Rupp Arena.  OK, it was not center court, but boy oh boy.  It can’t get much better than this.  I have met my idols, Mickey Mantle and Ali.  I met Pete Rose, got kissed by the Lettermen, made Bill Medley blush, left Robic and Kenny Payne speechless.  I made Matt Jones night a couple years ago. I also made Mickey Mantle smile. BUT to have front row seats in Rupp Arena, to see AD, Josh ‘Never Keeps His Promises’ Harrellson, PPat, MKG, TJ, Ramon, Jared, John ‘The 23 Yr Old $80 Million Man’ Wall, etc up close and almost personal…someone pinch me please.

I think I have died and gone to heaven, my Blue Heaven!  Christy and I both looked at each other when I finally sat down and said the same thing at the same time, “Can you believe this?”  She was so nervous she could not hold her hand still to take a picture.  I was so elated I could not sit still in my seat…oh wait, that is me all the time!

I talked to MKG’s mother and thanked her for her son and for the fine young man he is.  She said she didn’t do it for anyone other than for him.  Well, I still thanked her any way, we need more like her, Mrs. Patterson, Mrs. Knight, Mrs. Davis, Mrs. Bledsoe and all the wonderful mothers who raise wonderful children.

I wish I could calculate how much money was on that floor tonight but I do not think it was anything close to the amount of pride if you could have measured the pride in Cal’s face.  I know how proud I am of all my boys and I can only imagine what he must feel.  I doubt if there are any words at all to describe it.  Some of the pictures I got of him I think reflect what he was feeling.

This game and evening may be a great recruiting tool, but to me, it is a great memory to carry with me when I’m rockin’ in the rocking chair at the nursing home and can’t remember much else.

I didn’t have to worry about losing, no matter the outcome, it was a win/win situation. Yes, in my heart I know it was not a ‘real’ game but you will not be able to tell me that tomorrow, next week or the week after or the week after. It was John Wall, it was AD, it was TJ, it was MKG, it was Brandon Knight, it was Patrick Patterson, it was so much more than those names. It was my boys wearing blue and white, running up and down the court at Rupp Arena again, enjoying themselves, feeling the love amongst themselves, feeling the love of the BBN, seeing the pride on Cal’s face and knowing that they had once played in the Cathedral of College Basketball, knowing they were still welcomed, still loved and still brothers. Most were only there for one spectacular year, a few for more than that. Some were there before Cal and Cal has embraced them and made them feel a part of this program again. He has invited them back home on more than one occasion. Doesn’t that just bring tears to your eye, it does to mine and I hope I will not bore you with another story about last night again too soon. I sure hope some of y’all start posting again. I think I am all used up right now! LOL Isn’t there some kind of game coming up this weekend?

I don’t want to forget, I don’t want the ‘glow’ to wear off for a long time.  They mean so much to all of us. There were so many of them in one place at one time, so many in the Cathedral of Basketball entertaining the Emperor and his subjects. We think we will never have another group like we have in the present year and Cal brings in a new group and what do you know, we have more special young men. Some of these young men Cal never got to coach but can you imagine if he had?

I think Jay is having a bro affair with Cal now. I know he is having a love affair with Kentucky and the BBN. Cal is a genius, he invites Jay to his home and Jay is mesmerized by him and his personality. Cal works his magic gives him some good old Kentucky cooking and bourbon and Jay is a fan for life. He got to see the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.  Cal has the biggest heart of anyone. He truly cares; sometimes I wonder how he finds time to do all he does and still have time to breathe.

BTW, Got to meet and talk with Tod Lanter.  Very nice young man and he had a smile on his face from ear to ear and he was very pleasant and kind to this old woman.

Thank you Coach Cal and thank you Coach Rupp.

Photos by Victoria Graff, and property of Schurz Communications, Inc., and vaughtsviews.com. All rights reserved; images may not be reprinted in print or online without permission of the owners. Reprinted images must be attributed to vaughtsviews.com and linked to the original site.

By LARRY VAUGHT

Terrence Commodore recently was sitting around with one of his mentors when it was suggested maybe he put together a summer basketball camp featuring some of the players he got to know when he was on John Calipari’s staff at Kentucky.

“I have a good relationship with a lot of guys that came through Kentucky and was good friends with them,” said Commodore, a former Mason County basketball player. “I just put a concept together and ran with it. They were all pretty open to it. The main part was just scheduling and making sure who was available when. But they all like to give back and help kids.”

What Commodore worked out was to have former UK players and current NBA players Patrick Patterson, John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Darius Miller and Eric Bledsoe agree to be part of the inaugural Camp One for kids ages 7-16 that will focus on “fundamentals, encouragement and development of children.”

There will be a camp at Lexington Christian Academy June 10-12 and another camp at HOOPS Academy in Louisville June 24-26. Players 7-10 will go from 9 a.m. to noon and those 11 to 16 will attend camp from 1-4 p.m. Cost is $175 per camper and includes Camp One T-shirt and an exclusive autographed Camp One team photo.

“There will be a limit, but we hope to have plenty of room for everybody that wants to come,” Commodore said.

The camp in Lexington will have Cousins, Wall, Miller and Patterson while Bledsoe, Cousins and Miller will be in Louisville. Players will appear on various days and not all together.

“There will be a little time each day for them to give a small lecture about what it takes to work hard to get to where you want to be and the importance of going to school,” Commodore said. “There will able be a Q&A each day. We want guys to interact with the kids and have fun. It’s not going to be a case where they just stop by for a few minutes. They will be there for the day.

“The main focus of the camp will be teaching kids fundamentals. A lot of kids just play and never learn the fundamentals. We will have stations to focus on fundamentals. We will also have a few competitions, play some five-on-five.

***
For information contact Commodore (606-584-1001, Commodore@TheCampOne.com) or Brandon Hutchinson (BHutch@TheCampOne.com, 304-638-9062).

By LARRY VAUGHT

NASHVILLE — He still calls his two years at Kentucky working on Billy Gillispie’s coaching staff a “good experience” but today Tracy Webster says he is “all orange” and enjoying life on Cuonzo Martin’s staff at Tennessee.

“It’s a good situation. A great place to be. Good players, good staff. My wife likes it. What more can you ask for?” said Webster Thursday.

Webster and Martin played against each other in college when Martin was at Purdue and Webster at Wisconsin.

“Basketball players enjoy being around basketball players. I was always a friendly guy. He was always a great guy. We are around the same age, so it is a good fit,” Webster said.

He had hoped Kentucky would be a “good fit” when he joined Gillispie. However, Gillispie was fired after the second season.

“It was a good experience. You had a chance to see what another school was like. A lot of things were great. I have not put too much thought into it. But it was a great experience for me and my wife,” Webster said. “I text that old staff at times. We talk on the phone a little bit. It is tough to do that during the season because we are all ripping and running.”

Webster says Calipari — who watched his team lose by 30 points at Tennessee last month — has done a “great job” in his four years at Kentucky. “He’s had NBA guys he has coached up well and he won a championship. That’s what is expected at Kentucky,” Webster said.

He’s been happy to see the success former Cats Patrick Patterson and Jodie Meeks have had in the NBA.

“They were good players. They worked hard, too, and they both are really good guys,” Webster said.

Meeks had a career game Jan. 13, 2009, when he scored 54 points in a 90-72 win at Knoxville with Webster on the UK bench.

“When he calls me and says something about it, I think about it,” Webster laughed and said. “Right now I am here and I am Tennessee orange. You work the job you have and try to do a good job. Jodie will call every now and then and, not that he would brag about it, but someone else will bring it up and he will call on 3-way and talk about it a lot.”

Photos by Victoria Graff, and property of Schurz Communications, Inc., and vaughtsviews.com. All rights reserved; images may not be reprinted in print or online without permission of the owners. Reprinted images must be attributed to vaughtsviews.com and linked to the original site. Victoria recently attended an NBA game between Anthony Davis’ New Orleans Hornets and Patrick Patterson’s Houston Rockets.

Photos by Victoria Graff, and property of Schurz Communications, Inc., and vaughtsviews.com. All rights reserved; images may not be reprinted in print or online without permission of the owners. Reprinted images must be attributed to vaughtsviews.com and linked to the original site.

By LARRY VAUGHT

Having Kyle Wiltjer score in a variety of ways against Tennessee did more than just add to the Kentucky sophomore’s confidence.

“It builds his confidence and builds our confidence, too,” UK freshman Alex Poythress said. “When he is out there, he brings a lot of things to the table.

He is 3-point shooter and is a great free throw shooter, too. But he showed he can score in other ways.

“I think he can be a good defender when he wants to be and when he chases down the ball screens. He’s working on getting rebounds and just getting better at that, too.”

Wiltjer had 17 points, five rebounds, two assists and two blocks in 26 minutes Tuesday in a 75-65 win over Tennessee. He’s averaging 10.9 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game going into Saturday night’s game at Auburn. He is UK’s top free throw shooter (80 percent), but has taken just 20 free throws in 16 games.

Kentucky coach John Calipari knows what it would take to get Wiltjer more free throws.

“You’ve got to be aggressive, play through bumps and be tough, ball fake and go in with the idea you’re going to get fouled, not going to avoid contact and say the guy grabbed me. They ain’t calling that,” Calipari said. “You’ve got to go in with an idea to hit baskets. Ball fake and go through, not ball fake and avoid, fadeaway, step back, all of that stuff that we’re doing. You can’t get fouled. They’re not going to just give us calls so you’ve got to create that contact, get a foul and get to the line.”

Wiltjer did ask twice late in Tuesday’s game to have plays run for him — and he scored both times.

“Kyle is always hitting shots in practice. If he wants to shoot the ball, he can. Nobody on this team has a problem with anybody taking shots. We can all hit shots. We are all unselfish players. If one person says he can hit a shot, we are going to get him the ball like we did Kyle,” Poythress said. “We just pass to him if he’s open and we know he will hit the shot. We have confidence in him.”

Here’s what Wiltjer had to say after Tuesday’s win.

Question: Did you make a conscious effort to be more active on defense in this game?
Wiltjer: “Yeah, that is a new way to play on defense with me hedging on the ball screen. It kind of takes the pressure off me. I think we are going to stick with that. It has worked the last two games and that’s the main thing.”

Question: Do you and Julius Mays work a lot on plays together?
Wiltjer: “We run a lot of handoffs and stuff together. When you have two shooters, it is hard to defend and something we want to use more.”

Question: Why did you attack the rim more in this game?
Wiltjer: “Coaches have just been on me to drive every day in practice. I kind of had that mentality in practice and I guess it carried over. They were playing my (outside) shot pretty heavy.”

Question: How is it to see what Nerlens Noel has done in recent games?
Wiltjer: “His intensity has been great on both sides of the ball. He’s been active and when he’s like that, we are lot better.”

Question: Have you changed anything in your workouts recently?
Wiltjer: “Every day in practice just going hard. Coaches have been really on me to be aggressive and look for my shot and using that to kind of get in the lane a little more.”

Question: Why did you ask for the first time to have plays run specifically for you?
Wiltjer: “I was just feeling it a little bit. I knew we had plays in for me. I knew it would be open. I just called it. I have been working hard in practice and trying to stay positive even though my shots have not been going down. Staying confident is the key.”

Question: How hard was it to stay confident overall after Calipari and others questioned your defensive play at Vanderbilt?
Wiltjer: “We have a great coaching staff and it is really easy to just forget about it when you go in the gym and work hard. (Assistant) Coach (Kenny) Payne does a great job of working us out and just taking the pressure off by putting in the work.”

Question: But is it easy to forget when you are reading about it in the newspaper or hearing about it on sports talk shows or TV?
Wiltjer: “I don’t read a lot. I just live my life, go to school and play basketball sometimes.”

Question: How different is it this year to have to win games like this compared to last year when some victories came easier?
Wiltjer: “We know every game is going to be close. We can use that as motivation because we want to be a team that can womp down on people. We still have things where we break down that hold us back, but I think if we keep improving we will be okay.”

Question: How is your role changed from last year to this year?
Wiltjer: “Coach Cal knows what I have been through, so not only does he want me to lead every day in practice, but wants me to be confident. I have put in a lot of work, so he wants me to be a better player. I just see my role expanding more and I want to keep improving.”

Question: What have you told the freshmen about expectations here and the type of questions they would get when the team was not winning?
Wiltjer: “I am keeping the guys focused on getting better and not reading stuff. We are a hard working team. There’s no question about that. We just need to keep coming together. We have taken a little longer (than last year) but coach Cal has done a good job of coaching us every day in practice.”

Question: Are the practices harder this year?
Wiltjer: “They have been very hard. This is the hardest we have played in our lives. Just getting that mentality of going hard every drill is big for us.”

Question: How big could this game be for your confidence since you scored in a variety of ways and did more than just hit 3-pointers?
Wiltjer: “It is important. Coaches have done a good job of working me out every day and getting my mentality to not just be a shooter. I have been doing other things. If I can do more than just shoot, it will help my team a lot.”

Question: How do you react to people saying this team lacks a Patrick Patterson or Darius Miller type of leader?
Wiltjer: “We don’t really try to compare to last year’s team or any past team. We just try to focus on ourselves.”

Question: Do those type questions annoy you?
Wiltjer: “Not really. We just try not to compare is all.”

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