Kentucky fans aren’t the only ones who are sad to see Kentucky’s five stellar underclassmen leave the program. Both during and after their draft declaration press conference last night, the players themselves were revealing how much Kentucky basketball means to them. Their positive attitudes towards the school, the coaching staff, and the fans showcases how wonderful Big Blue nation is, and why it’s become the premier example of college basketball being done right.
It’s all centered around head coach John Calipari. “This is a players’ first program,” Calipari said. “I said it three years ago. During the season, it’s about our team. You saw it in this year’s team. They were about each other.” The love starts with coach Cal. He may not especially love the state of Kentucky or the program, but he’s using both as a platform to love his players and do everything he can for them. His desire to make young men succeed breeds a positive attitude for everyone involved.
Anthony Davis has been at the forefront of this team’s popularity, and it’s fitting that he best-captured the love among them. “It’s been a great opportunity playing here. I’ll miss this team, the way we played together,” said Davis. We all love each other.” Davis may have claimed every personal award available in college basketball, and will undoubtedly be taken the number one overall pick in the NBA draft, but it’s clear he’ll miss his adopted Kentucky home. “I’m just going to miss this place. We won an NCAA championship here and did a lot. We all did a lot for this school and I’m going to miss it.”
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has often been a man of few words, and it was clear how emotional he was during the press conference. He seemed to choke up anytime he realized his ride at Kentucky was over, but he had one beautiful statement that might bring a tear to Kentucky fans’ eyes. “I’ve got friends for eternity here.” Kidd-Gilchrist will be making millions of dollars for the next 10-15 years, and all he’s concerned about are the friendships he made with his time in Lexington.
Marquis Teague was asked what he’ll miss about Kentucky. “Playing with these guys, brotherhood.” Marquis has a literal brother in the NBA, but he still recognizes his teammates have become true brothers over the course of the last year. They struggled together, and they triumphed together. They were champions together.
These young men may be leaving Kentucky basketball to move on to bright futures, but they’ve each clearly enjoyed their stay. They will be a part of Kentucky no matter where the world takes them, and it seems they love that fact.
Filed Under: Basketball
About the Author: Corey Tincher is a lifelong Kentucky fan and professional writer who couldn't keep the two worlds apart. He is the lead contributor for StraitCats.com and literally wrote the book on the 2012 NCAA Tournament Championship run, Big Blue Articles: Kentucky Basketball in the 2012 NCAA Tournament. Follow @Corey_Tincher on Twitter for more Kentucky news and discussion.