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To Few Kentucky Fans Surprise – Rondo Called A Draft Surprise


We talked a little about this last week after all four of Kentucky’s players heard their names called during the NBA draft, but Dana O’Neil works to cement the point today with her collection of ‘draft surprises.’ Before Calipari got here, Kentucky players were consistently being over looked when it came time for draft day.  They were talented, but they weren’t getting the respect they deserved, often found their stock slipping, and were forced to work their way in to the NBA.  Rajon Rondo didn’t fall all that much – he went 21st in the 2006 draft – but that puts him after JJ Reddick, Adam Morrison, Andrea Bargnani (1st pick,) and even Renaldo Balkman.  I feel confident in saying there isn’t a team out there that wouldn’t trade any of those players one-for-one with Rondo tonight, if they had the chance.

Still, Rondo came as a surprise to many that didn’t follow Kentucky closely.  Here’s what O’Neil had to say:

Rajon Rondo: If this list had a poster child, it would be Rondo. From 21st pick to elite player, from embattled college player to NBA champion, Rondo’s rise has been as meteoric as it’s been unpredictable… But before all this Boston glory, there were considerable doubts. At Kentucky, Rondo was a savant of a player, blessed with big hands and nimble feet but cursed with a stubborn streak. He was headstrong, a kid who liked to play by feel tethered to a coach, Tubby Smith, who liked to dictate play. The relationship destined for disaster failed to produce a UK Final Four and, in the end, probably cost Rondo more than a few draft spots. Among the players drafted ahead of him: Rutgers’ Quincy Douby and Memphis’ Rodney Carney. Neither is in the league now. In the meantime, Rondo — after some serious growing pains as a rookie — is a two-time All-Star with a championship ring.

Those of us that followed Kentucky can attest to what O’Neil was saying.  Rondo and Tubby never seemed to be on the same page, and that lead to both of theirs early departure in one way or another.  But from day one you could tell Rondo would be a super star – he was too much of an Athletic Freak of Nature not to be.  It just took the league a little longer to notice.

Article written by Will Lentz

15 responses to “To Few Kentucky Fans Surprise – Rondo Called A Draft Surprise”

  1. E Cat

    First, Tubby was a great ambassador for UK basketball and a great person. But if you want to know why elite players weren’t coming to UK, the handling of Rondo and others is one big reason.

    That said, Rondo actually had a very good freshman year as a starting PG. Had a really good NCAA Tourney. But lots of issues (with both Rondo and Tubby to blame) that second year.

  2. SexnNursinHomes

    tubbi was keeping Rondo as a secret weapon for the NBA.

  3. SexnNursinHomes

    Plus I knew Rondo had ridiculous talent when he pulled down 18 rebounds as a point guard. what PG snags 18 ‘bounds in a game?

  4. goboxoutorgogetinbox

    yeah..tubby had rondo walking the ball down the floor

  5. PillowTalk

    Rondo coached by Cal… (what could have been… sigh)

  6. boomdaddy

    I always knew Rondo was a star on a team devoid of talent, during his time at UK. Tashaun Prince was the guy that suprised me. I didn’t think he coculd hang, as skinny as he was at the forward spot. But for Rondo, I thought he was a future all star.

  7. Theghostofbillspivey

    I don’t get this article ….. Rondo had more steals in two years than anyone ever at uk. When he left he had the the most assist for a frosh and 2 nd most for a soph. And during the mich state game in the NCAA tourny he put on the greatest dribbling exhibition I ve yet to see in college… The problem with rondo was a azibuke left early, a fat out of shape pat sparks and a Joe Crawford that had his head up his ass his frosh n soph season….., in essence he was a point guard that couldn’t shoot and a team with STREAKY shooters ….., but I guess he showed us how important shooting is

  8. tdogg4033011

    I knew Rondo was good, just had a ball & chain on him while under Tubby. With that
    being said, I never thought he would be an NBA all star though.

  9. Brewer

    Similar to the “Kentucky Effect” we see now, the “Tubby Effect” also had an impact on our player’s draft position. Opposite of the “Kentucky Effect”, the “Tubby Effect” caused players to regress from highly-rated prospects to secound-rounders/undrafted.

    Tuck Fubby

  10. SexnNursinHomes

    8- I agree. I think it’s how quick Rondo has gotten to the elite status that has people more suprised.

  11. catmandoo

    Rondo as good as he was few don’t realize how good. He lead the team at 6 foot in rebounding for a full season a feat that never will be matched, that same season he also led the team with a all-time UK record in steals while also leading the team in assists. He did this with a coach that preached defense and a deliberate offense which at times looked like he actually had a rope around one of Rondo’s legs. In Tubby’s defense he has always said Rondo was the most talented player he had ever coached.

    Wall was and is a terrific player but until he makes a NBA 1st and 2nd team defensive team and is named a NBA All Star a couple of times he won’t be as good as Rondo. Oh yes he has to come up with at least 12 triple double too..

  12. Dave

    Tubby did not and still does not know how to deal with elite talent. He wants to fit round pegs into his square holes. Tubby has no imagination. He knows Ball Line D and refuses to consider anything else. That’s why no one developed into a Super Star or a high Draft pick under TLT. The guy was terrible with Elite Talent.

    Bogans, Prince, Rondo, Morris, Crawford and others suffered and were hindered and pestered under Tubby. He hurt all of them.

  13. Marcus L. Owens

    When Rondo had talent around him (his freshman year) we were elite. Future Pros like; Hayes, Morris, Azibukie and Crawford along with solid role players like Bradley and Sparks with Rondo at the point were ONE rebound away from the Final 4. That year Rondo was obviously the most talented player on that team to anyone who had eyes and broke the freshman steals record and was first team ALL SEC freshman team. Dana O’Neil probably never heard of Rondo until he was draft. But I get tired of hear the Rondo at UK was a failure, it was not. We were up 4 over Michigan ST when we could not get a rebound, they got it made a 3 cut it to one then scored again and went on to win the game. The follow year we return Sparks, Crawford, Bobby Perry and Wu along with Rondo as the starting 5 and Rajon’s play suffered. Those 4 with John Wall and Tubby would have lost 10m games. Still every time some one speaks of Rondo at UK its negative give me a break I was there and the kids was a stud and elite athlete with great skills. He slipped due to coaching but it not a surprise to true UK fans that this young man is succeeding.

  14. BBCatfan

    Plain and simple Tubby was never a players coach and never got the most out of a team as a result. His focus was never about getting players better individually but primarily team focused. Obviously a big difference in he and Cal…no joke!

  15. Roll Tide

    Very few players improved under Tubby.
    Why was he considered such a nice guy?