UK basketball notes: Ex-Cat Padgett returning to Rupp as assistant coach for Samford

jtipton@herald-leader.comDecember 3, 2012 

  • Kentucky vs. Western Kentucky

    When: 7 p.m. Saturday
    Where: LP Field in Nashville
    TV: ESPNews
    Radio: WBUL-FM 98.1; WLAP-AM 630; WWRW-FM 105.5

Former Kentucky basketball hero Scott Padgett returns to Rupp Arena on Tuesday night as an assistant coach with Samford.

"It's going to be kind of weird going and sitting on the other end of the court," Padgett said Monday with a chuckle.

He called it being on the "wrong" bench and the "wrong" locker room before catching himself and saying it is a different locker room and bench.

"That place is always going to be a special place in my heart," Padgett said. "It was great to me for five years."

Padgett, who grew up in Louisville, helped UK win the 1998 national championship. That kind of pedigree, plus the NBA career that followed, made him an estimable candidate for Samford's coaching staff.

But first-year Coach Bennie Seltzer said that wasn't why he hired Padgett.

"The thing that attracted me to him is that he's a really good coach," said Seltzer, a Tom Crean disciple. "He knows the game and does an unbelievable job teaching the game."

During the interview, Padgett made a good impression.

"It didn't take me five minutes to say, 'Hey, this is the guy I definitely want on my staff,'" Seltzer said. "He gets it."

Gets it?

"You would think a guy who's had all the success he's had in college and the NBA, he'd have some form of ego," Seltzer said. "He doesn't. He's one of the guys. He's a coach. He's a guy that's going to come in early and he's going to stay late. He's not looking for anything special simply because he's done all those great things. He works his tail off. ... He's a grinder."

Padgett, who had been an assistant for former UK teammate Steve Masiello at Manhattan, said Samford gave him a better chance to use his contacts in the South.

The game against UK helps give Samford players a lasting memory and, perhaps, a look at the kind of first-round opponent they might face in the NCAA Tournament, Padgett said.

"It's a great opportunity for our guys to go into what I consider the mecca of college basketball," he said.

Shooting woes

Because he scouted Kentucky, Padgett took a long look at the loss to Baylor. He dismissed the notion that UK's 29.6 percent shooting in that game holds long-term significance.

"They missed a lot of shots in close they don't normally miss," he said. "I hope they miss them against us. But I wouldn't count on it."

Similarly, UK Coach John Calipari did not sound alarmed by Kyle Wiltjer making one of 11 shots (one of nine from three-point range) against Baylor. That made Wiltjer three of 18 (and one of 13 from beyond the arc) in the past two games.

"He's fine," Calipari said. "He just missed a bunch of shots. Shooting's not easy. Not an easy skill. You're not going to make every shot."

UK went into the Notre Dame at midweek last week leading the nation in shooting at 55.8 percent accuracy. The Cats had the fourth-best accuracy from beyond the arc (46.2 percent).

Against Notre Dame and Baylor, UK made 40 of 118 shots (33.9 percent) and eight of 36 three-point attempts (22.2 percent).

Leaderless?

Calipari acknowledged that a Michael Kidd-Gilchrist-type leader had not emerged yet.

"You have some guys, you cannot lead," he said. "They negate that ability (by not playing hard). Other guys maybe don't think they're playing well enough to lead. And you have other guys who probably don't want to work that hard to lead. ...

"Eventually, somebody will step up."

Jaylen Beckham

The game marks a homecoming for Bryan Station High grad Jaylen Beckham. He's a 6-foot freshman point guard who started in Samford's most recent game, a 57-48 victory over Georgia Southern on Saturday.

"I'm really excited and happy for him," Seltzer said. "You know, he comes in and he works his tail off every single day on the court. And he's done the same thing in the classroom."

Out of AP Top 25

UK failed to make The Associated Press Top 25 for the first time since final poll of the 2008-09 season.

"It doesn't really matter," Willie Cauley-Stein said, "because we can beat anybody in the country if we put our minds to it and focus through practicing.

"Rankings are rankings. In college basketball, everybody has an opportunity to win."

Jerry Tipton: (859) 231-3227. Twitter: @JerryTipton. Blog: UKbasketball.bloginky.com.

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