Glasgow Daily Times, Glasgow, KY

Sports

April 7, 2007

UK players like Gillispie

LEXINGTON — Throughout the 15 days Kentucky spent searching for a basketball coach, there was one discussion topic the players considered forbidden — even in their private meetings.

Under no circumstances, the players decided, would they talk about which candidate they wanted, for fear that information would slip out after someone else got the job.

But Friday, following Billy Gillispie’s introduction as the new coach, guard Ramel Bradley praised the choice and admitted there was at least one hotly recruited candidate he opposed — Billy Donovan, who opted to stay at Florida instead.

“To be honest, I’ve been here for three years,” Bradley said. “Florida’s a big rival, been beating up on us for three years. I really didn’t like that thought of having the Florida coach come in and coach us, so I’m kind of happy with that outcome.”

Guard Joe Crawford, the other returning member of Kentucky’s senior class next year, said it was good to finally have some closure after two weeks of speculation about what candidates might be in or out.

“It was very tough to hear some of those rumors,” Crawford said. “I’m just glad we’re headed in some sort of direction now. We have a coach to lead us.”

Despite rumors to the contrary, Crawford said the idea of transferring never crossed his mind.

Most of the returning players were on hand for the news conference introducing Gillispie Friday, and Crawford said everybody plans to be back.

The only defection is junior center Randolph Morris, who signed a contract with the New York Knicks after Tubby Smith left to take a job at Minnesota.

Although Smith recruited all of the players, some said they were excited about the up-tempo style Gillispie is promising.

“I was actually kind of excited,” forward Ramon Harris said. “I came to Kentucky to play for Tubby. Obviously he felt like it was the best decision for him to leave, but I think everything happens for a reason. With Gillispie coming in, having a fresh start, it can only be better.”

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