Kentucky men’s basketball coach John Calipari has welcomed back freshman Cam’Ron Fletcher a week after asking him to step away from the team to “reflect and do some soul searching to get his priorities in order.”
Calipari said Fletcher was back with the team during the weekly SEC coaches teleconference on Monday. Via CBS Sports:
“I think the kid feels bad, but he had to have a wakeup call,” Calipari said. “He came in, hugged me and [said] 'Coach, I’m tellin’ ya, I’m gonna be a different guy.’ Perfect. Because that's why you do things. I’m not doing it to prove a point. I discipline kids and not one of you ever know. Why this [time]? It went to a length that disciplining within wasn't working. He's not a bad kid. He's back now.”
Calipari asked Fletcher to ‘step away’ from program
Fletcher, a 6-foot-6, 210-pound forward was seen crying at the end of the bench and was comforted by a strength coach toward the end of a loss to ranked North Carolina on Dec. 19.
He played two minutes in the loss and averaged 8.7 minutes of playing time through Kentucky’s abysmal 1-5 start. The Wildcats have since lost by three to Louisville and are on a six-game losing streak.
Fletcher apologized that night on Twitter for the outburst, saying he “let my emotions get the best of me.”
Calipari wrote a tweet thread on Dec. 21 announcing he had asked the four-star recruit to do some soul searching and take time away from the team. He said he spoke with both Fletcher and Fletcher’s mother.
“It’s his job to decide whether he can perform within this culture both on and off the court,” Calipari wrote. He added that the culture he’s had at Kentucky over the past 11 years “WILL NOT CHANGE.”
Calipari outlines expectations for Fletcher
Calipari said on Monday’s call that he had a group call with Fletcher, his mother and his high school coach to go over the program’s expectations. Via Adam Zagoria for ZagsBlog.com:
“And I’ll just go over one. I told him, ‘You may not play a minute this year. How are you going to deal with that? What if you don’t play?
“And I wanted everyone to hear that so that we understood this is for the long haul, this is to get you to change. And there were a couple other things that I said to him, that I absolutely expected that if you wanted to be a part of it, this is how it would be. And he was great.”
Fletcher spoke highly of Calipari’s honesty when he signed to play for the Wildcats. His signing presumably came with an expectation of the continued success Kentucky has had. That hasn’t been in the case for the 2020-21 season. Kentucky (1-6) is out to its worst start since the 1926-27 season and the six-game skid is the longest of Calipari’s 12-year tenure.
The coach ripped his own schedule-making after the loss to Louisville, but teams like Richmond and Georgia Tech shouldn’t be high-caliber challenges for a program like Kentucky.
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