UK Men's Basketball

UK baseball fans let Meeks know how they feel

Jodie Meeks threw several warm-ups in the home team's bullpen before throwing the ceremonial first pitch in Kentucky's baseball game against visiting Louisville on Tuesday night.

Where Meeks stood for the first pitch served as the first sign that the flame-throwing days of youth baseball were gone. He stood a good 5 feet in front of the pitching rubber.

Even from that distance, the "pitch" only got within one hop of the catcher.

"I tried to lob it instead of throwing a strike," Meeks said with a smile. "But I threw it in the dirt. Oh, well. I'm sticking to basketball."

Unlike his official duties at Cliff Hagan Stadium, Meeks' basketball future remains in the air.

In a brief interview with reporters before the game, Meeks said he wasn't sure whether he would keep his name in this year's NBA Draft or return to Kentucky for his senior season.

The crowd let Meeks know how they felt. After the first pitch, they chanted "one more year."

"It was fun," Meeks said of hearing that sentiment. "Everybody wants me to stay one more year. I have no problem with coming back for one more year. I have to see where I am in the process."

That process really hasn't begun. Meeks said he would not know for another week or two which teams will want to watch him work out.

"I'll try not to work out for all 30 teams," he said. "I'll try to narrow it down to what I can do and what's best for me."

What's best for the individual — not necessarily UK — will guide the process as he and teammate Patrick Patterson test their draft statuses, Meeks said.

Meeks acknowledged that UK would benefit greatly if he and Patterson return.

"If we both come back, I think we'll have a great team," he said. "If we get the point guard we want (NCAA rules prohibit the mention of mega-prospect John Wall), all the pieces to the puzzle come together. I think we'll have a magical year.

"It's hard to say what's going to happen. We'll have to wait and see."

Meeks said he's ignoring the various mock drafts that have him taken either in the middle of the second round (Draftexpress.com) or not at all (NBAdraft.net).

But he noted that Patterson should not ignore turning pro if the mock drafts are accurate: first round as high as 18th (NBAdraft.net) and 21st (Draftexpress.com).

"If everybody tells us we should come back, we're not ready, we'll come back," Meeks said. "If they tell Patrick to stay (in the draft), first round, I'd encourage him to stay."

A moment later, a reporter asked Meeks whether he really meant he'd encourage Patterson to turn pro under those circumstances, he said, "Oh, definitely. If he's in the top 20, I'd definitely tell him to stay and do what's best for him."

For Meeks, such a decision is not so clear cut. When asked whether he'd stay in the draft if projected anywhere in the first round, he said, "I don't know. It'd be a hard decision."

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