Jeff Sheppard called in to Kentucky Sports Radio this morning to clarify his controversial comments about the one-and-done culture and John Calipari. When asked what he meant when he said there is too much focus at UK on first round draft picks than national championships, Sheppard backtracked a little bit and agreed with Matt that both can happen–and are happening–at UK:
“It is both. We are having first round draft picks and winning titles. After last season, if we can have two first round draft picks, Coach Cal is doing an amazing job. …I just wish that the one-and-done rule was different so they could play longer. I’m not against anything, I’m just saying my opinion on the current state of Kentucky basketball.”
One thing that Sheppard really wanted to clarify was his joke that he considers Cal the enemy because he used to coach at UMass during Jeff’s playing days:
“I misspoke when I said Cal is the enemy, he’s obviously not the enemy, but he was the enemy. In 1996 he was at UMass. It’s just different when you play for a coach, you go through battles with that coach, there’s a loyalty there.”
Because Rick Pitino is now at Louisville, Sheppard recognized that was a “lightning rod comment” for Kentucky fans, and joked that “only in Kentucky do we care what a washed-up bald former basketball player says.” For those fans calling him a traitor for his comments, he had this to say: “If I haven’t proven that I’m a Kentucky guy after all these years, then we’re missing something here.”
Just so we’re all clear, Sheppard is “all for Cal”: “I love [Cal]. He’s the coach at Kentucky, and I’m supporting him. But I still wish it was different.” Until the powers that be come together and find a better solution than the one-and-done rule, Sheppard says that he can’t question Cal’s methods:
“I can’t question anything that Coach Cal has done. He obviously does a great job recruiting. What I personally feel the right balance is for a national championship team in today’s environment is what we did in 2012.”
I think that’s something we can all agree on.