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Where Are They Now: J.P. Blevins

jpblevins-uk

 

“Where are they now” is a series in which we at KSR get in contact with former players and ask them questions about their time at Kentucky, what they’ve been up to since they played, and find out about things they are currently involved in. 

 

JP beach

 

As a kid growing up in Edmonton, Kentucky, J.P Blevins probably never dreamed he would one day be more popular than the Kentucky Headhunters (country music sensations from Edmonton). But when he signed to play basketball for the Kentucky Wildcats, that all changed.  Forget the fact that the Kentucky Headhunters are listed on Edmonton’s Wikipedia page and J.P. isn’t, if you ask me about the most famous Edmonton native I’ll assume you’re talking about J.P Blevins.

 

WHERE ARE THEY NOW: J.P. Blevins

In third grade J.P. knew basketball was what he wanted to do. He also knew he wanted to play for the University of Kentucky. He worked everyday after school to get better to reach that goal. “Basketball was all I thought about,” he said. In seventh grade, he joined the high school varsity team and was the first guy off the bench. In eighth grade, he started at point guard and averaged 19 points a game. Newspapers took notice as his coach let him play pretty freely. Gyms all across south central Kentucky were packed. People wanted to see what this “kid” could do.

His freshman year he averaged 23 points per game. College coaches began to take notice and his recruitment began to gather steam. In the summer between his freshman and sophomore year of high school, Kentucky contacted him for first time. He went to national camps that summer and had a great camp in Pittsburgh. He was named MVP of the All Star game and the camp director, a friend of Pitino, told Rick he needed to go watch.

J.P. started going to UK camp in fourth grade, Pitino’s first year. Like most kids in Kentucky at that time, Rick’s style of play really appealed to J.P. and he became a die hard Cat fan. When Pitino came and watched him a few times his junior year, it was a big deal.

Around Christmas of his junior year he said his dad called him and said “Come up to my office, you’ve got a message to call Rick.” Like any high school kid in Kentucky who had a message from Rick Pitino, J.P. hurried up to his dad’s office to return the phone call. During the phone call, Rick offers a scholarship. “I immediately accepted.”

“The thing I remember most about that moment is just being there with my dad. When I got off the phone I said ‘Kentucky just offered me a scholarship.’ My dad says “Are you sure you heard him right?’ My dad had helped me so much in my development and gave me every opportunity to get better. I lost my dad six years ago, and that is one moment with him that will always stick with me.”

 

Q & A 

 

AF:  Thanks for taking the time to talk with me. Let’s start out with the main point of this interview: where are you now and what you are doing?

JPB: I live in Wilmington, NC. My backdoor is 30 yards from the beach. Wilmington is located in the southernmost tip of North Carolina. After school I stayed around Lexington for a little while, but two years ago one of my best friend’s Dad started a bank called Live Oak Bank in Wilmington. I never thought I’d leave Kentucky, but they gave me a fantastic job opportunity that included investing in the bank and I couldn’t turn it down. I am now a loan officer at Live Oak Bank. I lend money to dentists who are starting practices or expanding their practice. Our bank as a whole does commercial financing for several medical industires but my main focus is on dentists. I miss Kentucky, but it’s pretty good consolation to look out your back door and see the beach.

 

AF: Do you still watch games and follow the team closely? Have you been to any games recently?

JPB: Definitely. I’m still a big fan. In fact, I’m about to settle in and watch this McDonalds game. (Editors note: This interview was conducted Wednesday, April 3rd). There are four or five big Kentucky fans that work at the bank, which is good because there are Tarheels all around us. Occasionally we don’t get games because of regional coverage, but that’s rare. As far as going to games, I’ve only been back to Rupp once in the past couple of years, but I have gone to the Champions Classic in Madison Square Garden and Atlanta. I don’t get back as much as I like, but it’s still really special to go to Rupp.

 

AF: Do you still keep in touch with the guys you played with?

JPB: You’re closest with the guys who were in your class and maybe one class below. I still keep in touch with Tayshaun (Prince). I’ve gotten to go to a couple of his games. I caught up with Tayshaun and Keith Bogans a fews weeks ago in Brooklyn when the Nets played the Grizzlies, actually.

JP Nets-Grizz

I was roommates with Todd Tacket. Even though he ended up leaving to pursue baseball we were pretty close.

Also, all the guys from Kentucky who play at Kentucky share a unique bond. Ravi Moss, Matt Heisenbuttel, Josh Carrier, Brandon Stockton, and Bobby Perry are all good friends. Bobby isn’t from Kentucky but we became close friends after he stuck around after school.

It’s always great to run into anyone you played with, but you have closer relationships with some than you do with others.

 

JP tayshaun

 

AF: I’m sure not too many people in North Carolina recognize you, but when you are back in Kentucky do people still know you’re J.P. Blevins, former Kentucky Wildcat?

JPB:  Right out of school they did, but I knew it was all over a few years ago when I was in a Walmart in Campbellsville. A lady walked up to me and said “you look a lot like J.P. Blevins?” I said “Yes ma’am, that’s my name.”

She appeared startled and said “YOU MEAN YOU HAVE THE SAME NAME AS HIM TOO?!?”  That’s when I knew my so-called “fame” was over.

 

AF: Let’s shift gears a little and talk about your time at Kentucky. What happened when Pitino left and Tubby took over? Did Tubby have to “re-recruit” you?

JPB: To be completely honest, when Rick left to go to Boston I was CRUSHED. Kentucky fans were crushed, and I know because I was a Kentucky fan. But it was even tougher for me because I was really looking forward to playing for Rick so it was magnified for me. I didn’t know what Tubby was going to do. Tubby had recruited me at Georgia. Sean Finney had been to watch me, so there was some familiarity. They came back out and watched again.  They said they knew I committed to Rick but they still wanted me.  My dream had always been to wear the Kentucky jersey and I was comfortable with Tubby so I stayed committed.

 

AF:  How big was the adjustment from high school to college for you on both a personal and basketball level?

JPB: On a personal level, basketball players go through the same adjustments as normal college students, but in my case it wasn’t a huge adjustment. I was still two hours from home and had friends at UK already. For guys like Tayshaun, who came to Lexington from Compton, the adjustment is a little tougher. As far as the basketball adjustment, the first thing you notice is that the speed of the game is totally different. Passes you made in high school are getting tipped. You’re getting bumped by Wayne Turner instead of a kid from Edmonson County. You have to get your shot off quicker. Finishing in the paint is different. In high school you’re trying to score over guys that are 6’3″. In college those guys are 6’10”.  It’s an initial shock, but you adjust to it and you’re fine.

 

AF: What was the best team you were on at Kentucky?

JPB: Most people would expect me to say the team from my freshman year that had Heshimu Evans, Scott Padgett, and Wayne Turner that lost to eventual champion Michigan State in the Elite 8.

But to be honest, the team that I thought was going to do the most damage was our team my senior year in 2001-2002. Jason Parker was killing people in the paint during the summer. He was a beast. Then he tore his ACL and things didn’t end up going like we had planned. We ended up as Team Turmoil.  But that team was great. It was the same core of the team that went undefeated in the SEC the following year. Imagine adding Tayshaun and a healthy Jason Parker to that team.

 

AF: What are your best memories of your four years playing basketball at UK?

JPB: My sophomore year against Michigan State they came in ranked #1 and they were the defending champs. I think I hit 4 threes in the game and I hit a 3 in the last minute to put us ahead for good. You always dream about making big shots, so that was really special. It was right around Christmas time, so I got to go home for about four days and celebrate that time with my family.

And as is the case for everyone who does it, Senior Day was very special. Standing out there at center court with my family and realizing the thing I had worked for and dreamed about since 3rd grade (playing for Kentucky) had actually happened was a moment I’ll never forget. My dream had come full circle. I look over and my brothers, who had pushed me and made me tough, are there. My Dad, who had supported me all the way, was there. My Mom was there. All the people that helped me the most were out there with me. Despite the roller coaster career I had, it was really special. I’ll never forget the feeling standing there with my family and the band playing My Old Kentucky Home. It made my knees shake.

 

AF: That’s awesome. Senior night at Glasgow High School didn’t stir up those same emotions for me. We had 6 seniors and I didn’t even get to start. I had to start at a road game at Cumberland County. But whatever. I’m not bitter, I swear.

Moving along… I know there are lots of stories you probably can’t tell, but is there a funny story you can tell about yourself or one of your teammates?

JPB: Yeah I’ve got three for you. Two about Gerald Fitch and one is about being in the locker room after a home loss to Tennessee.

(read the stories and the rest of the interview after the jump)

 

Story 1:

Everyday after practice you huddle up and coach talks and then you go back to the lodge. Coach always had a theme for practice. The theme this day was “No Days Off.” We were all just wanting to get out of there and go eat, but Tubby starts talking about his father.

Tubby says: “Guys, the state of Maryland just honored my father. My father was a bus driver. Can you think of any reason why the state of Maryland would honor my father, a bus driver?

After a couple moments of silence, Gerald has it figured out and decides to speak up.

Gerald: “Uh Coach, was it for picking up the most kids?”

Tubby: “No Gerald. No. It’s because he hasn’t missed a days work in 35 years. No days off!”

 

Story 2:

We were on the bus headed to play Vandy. We were watching “Pearl Harbor” on the bus.  We’re at the part where the Kamikaze pilots are bombing Pearl Harbor.  Gerald, who was sitting in front of me, turns around and says “Damn dude did we get these guys back for this!?”

 

Story 3:

My freshman year we got beat at home by Tennessee and had basically been booed off the court. We got embarrassed. I’m a freshman, I didn’t play at all. I am still trying to figure Tubby out, but I know something bad is coming. Tubby goes to the chalkboard. He’s pacing back and forth. FUMING. He starts mumbling to himself, something like “yeah I know what the problem is, I know. I got these boys figured out.”

He then grabs the markers, looks up and yells “I know what it is! Coach Sutton, I got it figured out! These boys got it too damn good! You know what!? NO MORE FOOD!!” It was at this point that he began throwing our post game meal (philly cheese steaks) out the locker room door. I’d had many punishments for bad play, but “no food” was a new one.

 

AF: Who is the best player you ever played against?

JPB: Jason Williams, the one from Duke. He scored 41 on us in the Meadowlands. I knew when I tried to guard him that he was the best I’d ever played. He was strong and fast. He had it all. He could shoot over you or go dunk on you. It’s a real shame he didn’t get to have a pro career.

 

AF: Who is the best player you ever played with?

JPB: Has to be Tayshaun Prince considering what he did at Kentucky and the fact that he won both an NBA title and a gold medal. However, I’ll give Wayne Turner an honorable mention. Playing against him in practice was no treat.

 

AF: I heard from a mutual friend that you were quite the golfer in high school. Is this true?

JPB: You were lied to. I do enjoy playing though. I’m probably about a 10-12 handicap, which I don’t consider very good.

 

AF: Talk about the number 2,996.

JPB: I assume that is in reference to how many points I scored in high school. It’s a sore subject. I missed most of the season my sophomore year with mono, or I would’ve gotten 3,000. My friends like to joke about it. Me? Not so much.

 

AF: Basketball was obviously a major part of your life. Are you still involved in basketball at all?

JPB: I come back every summer and do a camp in Lexington at LCA. It’s a Monday thru Thursday deal and we have over 100 kids. It’s fun to do basketball stuff and come home to see friends and family. Richard Grier helps me with it. I coached a little 7th and 8th grade at LCA when I first got out of school, but I realized pretty early on coaching wasn’t something I wanted to do for a long time.

 

AF: Do you ever play anymore? Rec leagues or pick up?

JPB: Let me put it this way. If you’ve got nine and need one more, don’t call me. I might play once or twice a year, but I pretty much hung the shoes up after college. I enjoy excercising and staying in shape but I’d rather do it running, playing flag football, or playing golf.

(The most recent picture I could find of J.P. playing basketball) jp shooting

 

AF: That’s all I’ve got for you. I appreciate you taking the time and opening up. Hope to see you around in the future.

JPB: Enjoyed talking with you. Thanks for having me.

—————————————————————————————————————————————————–

J.P. mentioned his basketball camp during the interview. This year will be the 6th year for the camp. If you or someone you know has kids that would be interested in going, the dates are July 22nd-July 25th. The camp will be held at Lexington Christian Academy. For more information visit www.gettheedgebasketball.com. You can follow J.P. on twitter @JP_Blevins.

If you’re a former player who would be willing to share what you are up to with KSR, email me at [email protected].  I speak for myself and the fans when I say we’d love to hear from you.

Thanks again to J.P. Go Live Oak Bank!!

 

@AFlenerKSR

Article written by Aaron Flener

John, I was first team All-State. I can put the ball anywhere I want to. I'll make it rain out here.

42 Comments for Where Are They Now: J.P. Blevins



  1. Ryan
    9:51 pm April 5, 2013 Permalink

    Great write up. I grew up in Mefcalfe Co watching JP play. He was my childhood hero. I always wished he could have played for Pitino I stead of Tubby. He always had to look over his shoulder when he made a mistake knowing Saul was about to come back in. I still think he would have been a different player under Pitino. Keep these articles coming. It’s nice to see where these guys end up at.



  2. VeryCool
    9:55 pm April 5, 2013 Permalink

    Very cool interview. I was at the first ever Tubby Smith basketball camp (when I signed up it was the Rick Pitino basketball camp) and saw and played with J.P. At the time I was only 16, and didn’t follow recruiting so I had no idea who J.P. was. I just remember Tubby constantly pulling J.P. from the crowd of hundreds of kids to demonstrate drills and he seemed to get a lot of attention. He was good of course, but I still couldn’t figure it out. The following season when I went and bought a Cats Pause from the grocery store I saw his picture. Been a huge fan ever since. Glad to see he’s doing well. I hope you guys continue doing more of these types of stories.



  3. Shelbyjoe
    9:57 pm April 5, 2013 Permalink

    That was good, jappy that jp is doing well



  4. SMH
    10:07 pm April 5, 2013 Permalink

    Who is JP Blevins?



  5. Jax Teller
    10:09 pm April 5, 2013 Permalink

    Can anyone tell me where the Bachelor blogs are?



  6. Lex Campbell
    10:10 pm April 5, 2013 Permalink

    I really, really enjoyed this. I am a graduate of UK (1956) when we only had about 4000 students and I think I had classes with and knew everyone of the basketball players. And I have remained a rabid fan all these years. I would love to see interviews like this with some of the older players although I know that some of them are now gone. I’d also like to say that the players in my day were students who happened to play basketball. We loved them and cheered for them, but didn’t get so upset with them when they lost. It bothered me this year that so many fans expressed almost bitterness toward most of the players. Knowing the nature of players, I am sure they tried their best but were a bit lacking in talent and experience. I hope that our fans can get back to supporting the team without becoming so upset with them when they don’t perform like all americans.

    Lex Campbell



  7. Tampa Satchel
    10:12 pm April 5, 2013 Permalink

    Good story. Next time you should try to find Mike “3-toed sloth” Scott.



  8. Steve
    10:16 pm April 5, 2013 Permalink

    One of the best things KSR has done in a long time. Thank you JP Blevins for everything you have done and will do for Kentucky basketball.



  9. Jason
    10:31 pm April 5, 2013 Permalink

    6- wow… Mr. Campbell, this is definitely a different day and age. I am of a younger generation and can only imagine. I very much enjoy the game on a personal level, but with the way things are today it is almost impossible to see the players as students that play basketball… They are much more than that anymore. Truly they are not, but the way the university works and the money generated from the game puts it all in a different perspective. It was great to read your post, as the rest of us truly do not get the legacy of Kentucky basketball the way you would have experienced it. I hope to come across another one of your posts soon.



  10. MS CAT
    10:37 pm April 5, 2013 Permalink

    I was at the game vs Sparty
    Mateen didn’t play due to injury. Tayshaun tipped in game winner



  11. gotsh$tright
    10:43 pm April 5, 2013 Permalink

    Hey Aaron, that was good. Keep ’em coming.



  12. Slim
    10:43 pm April 5, 2013 Permalink

    #7. Mike Scott had the best hands in collage basketball. He battled brad Daugherty and all those big acc guys before comming to uk. He was going win us a championship.

    Great story. Like to see more of the.



  13. The Bank is Open
    10:44 pm April 5, 2013 Permalink

    I bet I know who the guy from Edmonson Co. is that he’s referring to- Nathan Vincent.



  14. mikey
    10:53 pm April 5, 2013 Permalink

    I live near Wilmington so I just may stop in and introduce myself. Can you imagine how excited he would be? There’s a great outdoor court very near his home; I might try to get him out there and show him some of my stuff.



  15. mikey
    10:54 pm April 5, 2013 Permalink

    I’ve always thought Jason Parker was a total beast. It’s very nice to have someone who actually knows something confirm it.



  16. comeonnow
    11:07 pm April 5, 2013 Permalink

    more please



  17. FeedMeSeymour
    11:11 pm April 5, 2013 Permalink

    Love these interviews!! Ready for some more.



  18. nybrasky
    11:14 pm April 5, 2013 Permalink

    Good interview & write-up.

    No one slept through class as well as Jason Parker.



  19. Wildcat 44
    11:23 pm April 5, 2013 Permalink

    Great story. Would love to see more of these. A lifelong Wildcat Fan.



  20. The Real Pioneer
    11:26 pm April 5, 2013 Permalink

    I concur, what a great interview…..can’t wait for the one with Troy McKinley.



  21. KNOFFS
    11:35 pm April 5, 2013 Permalink

    I have a friend who once played against Blevins in High School. According to him, it was the only game Blevins was held scoreless. Somehow the college scouts missed D.W. and he never played college ball.



  22. dude
    11:35 pm April 5, 2013 Permalink

    I had to guard him in high school when he was a freshman. Holy crap I’ve never seen so many picks set for one guy.



  23. KNOFFS
    11:37 pm April 5, 2013 Permalink

    #22 D.W., is that you?



  24. EC Wildcat
    11:46 pm April 5, 2013 Permalink

    #13—I know who it is also.



  25. dog
    11:50 pm April 5, 2013 Permalink

    i played against him in high school for 4 years and always thought he was a douche. damn good player tho



  26. JasonL
    12:06 am April 6, 2013 Permalink

    Great interview! I played golf in high school (Allen County) and played with JP two different times. He beat me once and I beat him once. He had already committed to play at UK and I was nervous as heck.



  27. kwc28
    12:17 am April 6, 2013 Permalink

    JP’s dad was also a very good player. He was 6’6″ which was BIG back in 1962. He had a nice soft touch for a big man. He became a lawyer and one of the community leaders in Edmonton. I loved the article on JP. He is a good young man and I’m happy to hear he is doing well.



  28. Reed
    2:18 am April 6, 2013 Permalink

    Grew up in Edmonton and still live there today. Played high school basketball from 04-07 for the same coach JP played for and he still was telling stories about how teams would prepare and play JP and he would still put up 30 against them. Just wish he would have won a National Title while at UK, for a Kentucky boy it can’t get any better than that

    Great read



  29. ibescootch
    2:25 am April 6, 2013 Permalink

    Haha! Ever since Flener told that story on the live blog the other night about Fitch, I keep thinking of that line, “Uh Coach, was it for picking up the most kids?” at random times, and break out laughing. And Tubby’s response, “No Jurrld… “



  30. Arms of Delk Legs of McCarty
    2:43 am April 6, 2013 Permalink

    Really well done. I’m thrilled that KSR is doing this type of story.

    Honestly, though, I’d like more. It was just a bit on the high school paper / get to know you side of things. Would love for more length and the addition of deeper questioning assuming the interviewee is amenable. May be easier with those further removed by time. For example, a deep look at JP’s personal views on what happened with team turmoil. Why did they fall apart? Or questions about life in the fishbowl, that is, the good and bad of BBN’s obsessive fans. I realize they are different forms but, at least by analogy, I’m thinking of the great writing of ESPN’s Wright Thompson – the MJ story or the story about Bear Bryant’s driver.

    Again, loved it. But also believe this could be something really special.



  31. big Willie
    3:23 am April 6, 2013 Permalink

    Kyle Cassidy is the one who knocked his lights out. DW was to busy chilling with Jennifer!lol



  32. WestWorld
    7:27 am April 6, 2013 Permalink

    Nice feature Aaron. Looking forward to more of these.



  33. Dr. Pheel
    8:17 am April 6, 2013 Permalink

    Splendid article. Loved the stories. Especially in re his father; had me welling up.



  34. Matt
    9:34 am April 6, 2013 Permalink

    Time to catch up with Gimel Martinez



  35. Bruno
    9:40 am April 6, 2013 Permalink

    I love this feature! Great job, Aaron.



  36. blueblue
    10:04 am April 6, 2013 Permalink

    Would like to see a Where are they now on Jeff Brassow.



  37. Nashville Cat Mama
    12:33 pm April 6, 2013 Permalink

    Loved this story. Already looking forward to the next one. I hope it’s soon. Thank you!



  38. Dennis Smith
    1:02 pm April 6, 2013 Permalink

    #6, I was at UK 1n 1967 when the student population was 12,000. I don’t recall ever seeing a basketball player on campus but I did run into Rupp twice. Great article Aaron, KRS is the best



  39. yeahright
    2:14 pm April 6, 2013 Permalink

    Great piece! Thanks for the work on this article!



  40. marty
    9:09 pm April 6, 2013 Permalink

    I’m also from Edmonton I always loved going to games and watching JP. He was my childhood hero and was always the talk of the area. Everyone around here was so excited he was going to play for UK and so was I. Glad to see he is doing good and just want to say thanks to his late father who got me and my family tickets for the only UK game that I have ever been able to make it to. He was a great man. Thanks to you and your father JP..



  41. J Jones
    8:13 pm April 7, 2013 Permalink

    Loved the article keep them coming.



  42. PB3
    9:26 pm April 7, 2013 Permalink

    Can we get a catch up article with Rashaad Carruth?