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UK players get eye-opening experience

Bob Watkins


 

 

At the opposite end of the show-me-the-money scale for one-and-doners are Danny Travathan and Stuart Hines. The UK football stars spent a week in Ethiopia recently visiting villages, helping distribute food, and spending time with children.

Travathan said in a release the trip was an eye opener, a reality check. People there have so little and are so happy for what they get. They appreciate things we take for granted like water.

About coach Joker Phillips, Mitch Barnhart and their wives, Travathan said, “I learned a lot about the people I went with and I have a different relationship with them now. I found out that they are into it for all the right reasons. I think that is the thing that really helped me and will continue to help me for the rest of my life.”

Hines on taking things for granted: “We’re here playing football and on scholarship. We have our school paid for, a roof over our heads and food provided for us. There are 500,000 kids living on the street in Ethiopia. (It) could have easily been one of us who ended up in a life like that.”

When Phillips asked him about making the trip to what Phillips called his “homeland,” Hines said “I was kind of like, ‘Are you kidding me?’ I wondered if he was for real or if he was just joking around. He asked me if I wanted to go to his homeland, and I thought he was talking about Franklin, Kentucky.”

Central to the trip was Barnhart. UK’s director of athletics said, “We get to play a lot of games and do a lot of things that (media) count in Ws and Ls, but at the end of the day, our job is to educate young people and to expand their horizons and their minds and their hearts.

“It was an amazing seven or eight days. It will change your thought process and the way you look at what you have every day.”

The college experience. Priceless.

NBA Season Done,

Thank Heavens!

Dallas, America’s new title town. The Mavericks are America’s Team and one that put a whuppin’ on the best team money can buy, Miami, in six. And, the Mavs gave Cleveland its revenge and got Anthony Weiner off the front page for a news cycle.

To a man, the Dirk Nowitzki(s) will receive championship rings with rocks the size of LeBron James’s headband, compliments of Mark Cuban.

Closer to home, the next big drama is next week’s NBA Draft followed by a parade of blabbing heads and doomsday columnists dispensing wisdom about a lockout. If the last of these happens, the what ifs kick in. What if Brandon Knight had stayed? DeAndre Liggins and Terrence Jennings too.

Ah, summer time. We move along to Joke-of-the-Week – John Calipari and Kentucky work on contract extension.

When you stop laughing and UK fans stop grimacing, answer this pop quiz question: Name a college coach this side of Matt Painter (Purdue) and Brad Stevens (Butler) who honored a contract, let alone an extension?

Give up? Like a host of others before him and since, Calipari walked out on recruits at UMass and Memphis and left both schools with NCAA headaches. Contracts and extensions are as honor binding for ball coaches as a campaign promise from a politician.

Given its weak credibility, a contract extension should be rejected by Calipari. Instead, he ought use his bully pulpit to reaffi rm his current commitment to UK and its (his) mission to educate and graduate studentathletes.

Pelphrey Question

Fan asked last week, “…curious why you think ( John) Pelphrey could be head coach at UK, say before Travis Ford? Ford has yet to be fired at any of his stops. Plus, he has more wins than Pelphrey.”

Ford’s climb to a Big 12 job and timing of when to job jump worked out. With Oklahoma State alum T. Boone Pickens’ support, Ford will be staying in Stillwater awhile.

Pelphrey left South Alabama too soon and for the wrong job (Arkansas). He should have waited another year, even two. But, the Paintsville native landed on his feet, returning to Billy Donovan’s staff at Florida. In a season or two the Pelphrey will back on the head coach carousel.

WORTH REPEATING

John Calipari’s reaction to his nomination for a special achievement Emmy for helping a Lexington television station raise money for Haiti relief last year, was spot on.

“Congratulations to everyone at WKYT on (its) Emmy nomination under the category of Special Achievement Community Service for our Hoops for Haiti telethon,” the UK coach said. “I’m extremely grateful to be listed among you and all the other nominees. But the real Emmy nomination goes to all the people (who) donated and made the telethon a success for the people of Haiti.”

PARTING SHOT

Mitch Barnhart on visit to Ethiopia: “ This was not a recruiting piece for us. It was an opportunity where, if people (studentathletes) come ( to UK), we’re going to try to expand these experiences. I saw the way it impacted (Travathan and Hines) and I think its what we’re supposed to do here. Part of what we are called to do.”


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