John Clay: Prince, Knight proud to be part of Kentucky family

Former players return for Cal's annual camp

jclay@herald-leader.comJuly 29, 2011 

Tayshaun Prince did not even play for John Calipari, but you would never know that by the correspondence the former Kentucky basketball star receives from the current Kentucky basketball coach.

"The good thing," said Prince on Thursday, "is Coach Calipari and his staff have done a wonderful job of staying in contact with the former players."

In fact, there was Prince himself sitting next to another (barely) former UK player in Brandon Knight holding a news conference while participating in the John Calipari ProCamp at the Joe Craft Center.

The two could soon be Detroit Pistons teammates, provided the NBA at some point in the not too distant future ends its lockout and enters a new collective bargaining agreement with its players and, Prince, as an unrestricted free agent, re-signs with the only team he has played for in his nine NBA seasons.

But they are also UK alumni, a distinction that has meant even more now that the NBA has banned players from practice facilities, etc.

That prompted Calipari to invite all former UK players in the NBA to return to Lexington to work out and train at the university's facilities.

"I think you're going to see over the next few months here, guys are going to start rolling in, doing workouts," Prince said.

Some of those ex-players will be rolling in for the now-finalized Aug. 15 exhibition game between former Kentucky players and the Dominican Republic National Team that Calipari is coaching on a moonlighting basis.

Just to be clear, and to satisfy the NCAA, that game is not associated with the University of Kentucky. It is the Kentucky Pros, not the UK Pros. The former players are allowed to play, but former coaches such as Joe B. Hall, or former players, such as Sam Bowie, are not allowed to coach.

The duo on hand on Thursday were not allowed to answer questions about the event. Nor is Knight scheduled to play. The former freshman said he has been spending most of his time back home in Florida, but he would be returning to Lexington to train.

"I definitely plan on coming in and working out with the guys in August, early September," he said.

Knight said he didn't know much about the lockout, but he did know this: "It's funny saying I used to play at UK, when I feel like I should be at the University of Kentucky."

He's not second-guessing his decision, however. This was his time, he said. His stock was high enough he did not believe it would go much higher, even if on draft day he somehow slid to No. 8.

"I think the Pistons were pleasantly surprised about Brandon falling to the eight spot," Prince said. "They thought he would go either five or six, or possibly even three to Utah."

Never mind where they are going, it's where they are coming back to that matters now. Prince didn't play for Calipari, but he has returned as if he did. Knight just stopped playing for Calipari, yet he has returned, as well.

"Even though I just left," Knight said, "I still feel like I'm part of the family."

Reach John Clay at (859) 231-3226 or 1-800-950-6397, Ext. 3226, or jclay@herald-leader.com. Read his blog at Kentucky.com. Follow him on twitter at @johnclayiv.

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