As sophomore Stacey Poole stands at a crossroads about his basketball future, Kentucky Coach John Calipari said he will give the player time to decide.
"You need time to make a decision about being in this program; I'm fine with that," Calipari said Sunday. "It's a big-time decision. ... We all love the kid. It's been hard. He wants to play. I don't blame him."
Calipari suggested he would support Poole whether the player decides to stay or not.
"My whole thing with all these kids is, you want them to reach their dreams here," he said. "They've got to believe they can do that.
"We'll let him make his decision."
Poole, who played 45 minutes as a freshman, did not play in UK's exhibition game against Transylvania last week. His father, also named Stacey, said he advised his son to sit out that exhibition. The father planned to visit Poole this weekend to discuss the player's basketball future. Poole was not present when reporters did interviews prior to Sunday's practice
Cal welcomes Missouri
Calipari welcomed Missouri and Texas A&M as new members of the Southeastern Conference.
"You're talking NCAA Tournament programs," he said.
A smiling Calipari also noted that his wife, Ellen, grew up in Missouri and his in-laws still lived in the Show Me State.
The return of eight lettermen fuels optimism at Morehouse College. The Maroon Tigers won seven games two seasons ago and then 14 last season.
"This year, we expect to make another seven-game jump with the experience we have," Coach Grady Brewer said.
When asked how the players had improved, Brewer mentioned sharing the ball and holding each other accountable.
"We're going to scrap, and we're going to play as hard as we can," he said. "... Our thing is to keep fighting. You never know. If you keep swinging and fighting, you might throw one knockout punch."
Brewer acknowledged that Rupp Arena and the prospect of playing Kentucky would be awe-inspiring to his players.
"I'm sure I'm going to fight a little of that because they've never experienced that," the Morehouse coach said. "We're going to keep preaching to them as we do in practice: poise and confidence. Everything else is basic fundamentals, and everything else will work out."
Spike Lee iffy
Noted film director and Morehouse College graduate Spike Lee is iffy for the game, Brewer said. The Morehouse coach invited Lee to attend the game and sit on the Maroon Tigers' bench.
If it were a weekend game, Lee would attend, Brewer said. But Lee had an engagement on Monday that he might not be able to reschedule, the Morehouse coach said.
Freshman Anthony Davis noted how UK had already developed good team chemistry.
"Nobody is out here playing for themselves," he said, "or, 'Oh well, I want to go to the NBA, so I'm just worried about me.' "
Morehouse graduates include actor Samuel L. Jackson and Olympic gold-medal-winning hurdler Edwin Moses. Moses came on an engineering scholarship and perfected his hurdling technique at a high school because Morehouse did not have a track, Brewer said. ... Former SEC referee Andre Pattillo, now one of the league's supervisors of officials, is the Morehouse College athletics director.