John Calipari doesn’t know when Cam’Ron Fletcher’s next opportunity will come, but the freshman forward will be ready when his number is called.
After being asked to step away from the program back in December due to “actions detrimental to (the) team,” Calipari says Fletcher has had “the greatest attitude” since returning to Lexington and waiting patiently for his turn.
“I told Cam today, “I don’t know if it’s going to come, but you’ve got to be ready and you’ve got to be ready to step in and go do something.” He said, “Coach, I’m ready,”‘ Calipari said during his call-in radio show Monday evening. “He’s had the greatest attitude since he’s been back. He’s working out half an hour before practice, conditioning, training, and then he practices. He is cheering, all the stuff that you want a young man to do while he’s waiting for his opportunity. What we did was not about the program, it was for him to change, and you know what? He’s been unbelievable.”
Now, the UK head coach feels Fletcher will appreciate his time on the floor and role inside the program more than ever.
“You know how hard it is for him to sit there and now have to wait his turn, which means he’s got to wait, he’s got to wait, and when he has an opportunity, it’s hard because he’s got to step in and do it,” Calipari said. “I cannot wait for him to get on the court and watch what he does, because he is going to appreciate the moment. “Give me some time, let me go out there and show…” Again, because there may be other people in front of him, it may take time and you may say, “Why is so and so in front of him?” Because the guy has earned that right in practice and he’s done it that way.”
Calipari says after a rough start to the season, the team’s issues inside the locker room are now gone.
“(His positive attitude) is amazing, it’s a transformation,” Calipari said. “That was something we were dealing with early in the first three or four games, and that hasn’t been an issue at all for our team as a whole (since).”
Upon returning to the program back in late December, Calipari said Fletcher was back with better attitude and a smile on his face, telling his teammates to avoid walking in his footsteps.
“Cam came back (Sunday). I talked to his mom, talked to his coach and him together, we set the parameters,” Calipari said at the time. “I told him and the family, “Here’s the expectations.” He was so good today, came in and hugged me, told the team, “You don’t want to do what I did. Don’t do it. You don’t want to go home. I am so happy to be back.” Today in practice, he was like a cheerleader on the sideline, I was so happy. You want it to work for every kid.”
His return to game action may not come anytime soon, but Fletcher’s return to the program has certainly been a net positive.