Former UK players have mixed feelings about NBA lockout

Bogans: 'extended vacation' good for him

jtipton@herald-leader.comAugust 15, 2011 

Former University of Kentucky players back in town for Monday's exhibition game voiced mixed reactions to the talk of the present labor lockout threatening to cancel much, if not all, of the next NBA season.

DeMarcus Cousins seemed most interested in continuing to play somewhere if the NBA season is shortened or cancelled.

"Overseas is definitely a possibility," he said Sunday. "As of right now, no. Probably later on, it will depend on how long this lasts."

When asked why he'd consider playing in a foreign league, Cousins said, "Basketball is my love. I want to be on some court."

Cousins is coming off a solid rookie season. By contrast, Keith Bogans and Tayshaun Prince, UK teammates a decade ago, had the perspective of veterans who've given their basketball itch a good scratch.

"I'm nine years in," Bogans said. "I'm looking at this as an extended vacation."

Bogans also noted how a delay to the start of the 2011-12 season could give him extra time to recover from the surgery he had performed on his right knee after this past season.

"It's all good for me," he said of the labor strife.

Prince, too, showed little enthusiasm for playing overseas.

"Not in my plan," he said. "I look at it as a chance to spend a little more time with my family. ... It's a time to relax (and) let old injuries heal, even though they've healed."

Prince acknowledged his concern with the possibility of an extended lockout.

"Both sides are far apart," he said. He voiced dissatisfaction with the NBA owners' stated views while acknowledging his bias in favor of the players.

Villanueva injured

The Dominican Republic team will probably be without NBA forward Charlie Villanueva. An Achilles' tendon problem makes him unlikely to play Monday and a question mark to be on the final roster, Coach John Calipari said.

Red carpet treatment

Players, coaches and guests posed for pictures on a red carpet Sunday evening before entering a Lexington restaurant for a reception.

This caused one reporter to ask a movie premiere question: Who are you wearing?

Not missing a beat, former UK Coach Joe B. Hall said of his white golf shirt bearing a UK logo, "I think this is Kennedy Bookstore."

Fair treatment

Calipari said he appreciated the kindness shown Hall by fans and media.

He asked that the same good will be shown former Louisville Coach Denny Crum, who will join Hall as co-coaches of the team made up of former UK players.

Hall the recruiter

Hall showed why he could sweet talk prospects into signing with UK. After noting that the Dominicans had 15 days to prepare while the ex-UK players will have nothing more than a 15-minute warm-up prior to tonight's game, Hall said, "We just have Jodie (Meeks). And we're going to get the ball to him."

The team would set three screens for Meeks every possession, Hall said.

Meeks could have a perpetual green light.

"He thought he put up a lot of shots against Tennessee," Hall said of Meeks' record scoring night at Tennessee. "He's going to double that effort against the Dominicans."

Then Hall turned to Meeks and said, "Can you do that?"Meeks said he could.

When Nazr Mohammed joined Hall on the red carpet, the former UK coach said, "He's going to enjoy my low-post offense."

To which, Mohammed said, "I do like that."

What might have been

One of the attractions for Meeks was to play with John Wall, Eric Bledsoe and Cousins. He reminded reporters that leaving for the NBA after his junior season deprived him of that chance in the 2009-10 season.

Etc.

The exhibition game will be televised by Lexington station WKYT.

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