Former Kentucky guard Jodie Meeks did not say exactly why he decided to stay in this year’s NBA Draft rather than return to UK for his senior season.
ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Bilas wondered if part of the reason was the prospect of playing for a third new coach in four college seasons. Meeks played for Tubby Smith as a freshman, then played for Billy Gillispie as a sophomore and junior. John Calipari would have been Meeks’ third UK coach.
“I played for three coaches in four years of high school,” Bilas said. “I didn’t particularly like it. I can understand why that might be a factor.”
Bilas had not spoken to Meeks about the decision. The ESPN analyst simply considered the chore of re-introducing yourself to a new coach and again going through the unknowns that come with a new personality in the coach-player relationship.
It was no secret that Meeks had a less-than-ideal relationship with Gillispie. Nothing illustrated that problematic coexistence better than the now famous (or is that infamous?) T-shirt story. Nike produced a T-shirt for the team commemorating Meeks’ school record 54-point performance at Tennessee in mid-January. But Gilispie chose not to distribute the T-shirts to the players.
The T-shirts sat in a box in UK’s Craft Center for more than two months before Calipari became coach and OK’d the distribution of said shirts.
But back to the dynamic of a new coach, Bilas said, “Having to prove yourself all over again for a new coach is not always something guys want to do.”