Heading into the weekend, Evansville transfer DeAndre Williams announced his commitment to Memphis, choosing the Tigers over fellow finalists Arkansas, Baylor, and Kentucky.
Following the announcement, though, attention turned to the ongoing back-and-forth between Kentucky and Memphis fans and media members regarding UK’s true contact and interest heading into the home stretch of Williams’ recruitment.
Kentucky’s side argued John Calipari and the UK coaching staff backed off in Williams’ recruitment, while Memphis’ side argued it was a hard-fought win for Penny Hardaway and the Tiger coaching staff over the Wildcats.
Today, Williams’ former head coach and mentor Kenneth Roy joined the Jason & John Show in Memphis to sort through the rumors and clarify Kentucky’s side of things, where he threw multiple jabs at the UK’s recruiting tactics in the process.
He began with an analogy comparing Kentucky’s late arrival to Williams’ recruitment to a boy arriving late to a dance simply assuming he can steal someone else’s girl. Especially not the one and only Penny Hardaway’s girl.
“Once DeAndre hit the portal, [Hardaway] was there from the very beginning until the end. Kentucky came a week later. You have to look at it that way,” Roy said on the show. “They’re Kentucky, they think they can show up [late] to the dance and steal your girl. I guess they had another thing coming when it came to [recruiting against] Coach Hardaway. Coach Hardaway won’t [allow] no one stealing his girl.”
When asked about Kentucky potentially backing away from the table on Williams late in the recruiting process, Roy said those reports were incorrect, adding he had evidence the UK coaching staff was texting the versatile forward “until the very last day.”
“Do not believe any of the literature that Kentucky backed off. Kentucky didn’t back off no way, no shape, no form,” Williams’ mentor said. “DeAndre was receiving texts until the very last day about how much they wanted him. That’s just their spin that they’re putting on it. And it’s a shame they would have to do something like that knowing the stature of who Kentucky is. Hey, if they lost out, they lost out. They don’t need to spin it. We have evidence that they were in it right until the very end. I don’t know why they would do that. Are they ashamed in losing to Memphis?”
The frustrations also come from Kentucky failing to “play by the rules” laid out by Roy in Williams’ recruitment. From the start, the Evansville transfer’s mentor demanded all communication go through him, not Williams.
When Calipari and the UK staff began going straight to Williams and his mother – essentially cutting Roy out of the recruiting process – the coach and mentor was not happy.
“I look at it this way with Kentucky. Kentucky showed up a week later. We gave everybody the ground rules of how to play ball,” Roy said. “Kentucky, they started doing their own thing, dealing with DeAndre directly, not coming through me. … That played an important part, as well, because they didn’t play by the rules correctly. They thought they could go directly to DeAndre, they thought they could go directly to mom.”
Despite laying the “ground rules,” Roy spoke with Kentucky directly just one time.
“They only talked to me one time during the whole process. If I’m a part of the process, why do you think you can eliminate me and get the prize? That’s not going to happen like that. Why are you not talking to me? I’m a part of the situation. Kentucky, again, they didn’t play by the rules, they were in it right until the very end, and Memphis won out. That’s all I can say about that.”
At the end of the day, Hardaway’s pitch was “second-to-none,” something Williams and his camp couldn’t refuse.
“We went in and looked at all four programs, and we did the pros and the cons of each program. We did a process of elimination. What stood out, just head and shoulders above everyone, is how Coach Hardaway handled the recruiting process,” Roy said. “His recruiting process was second-to-none, and that’s what we loved about him and the program. I enjoyed the Zoom call we had with him and his coaching staff. He got to know us and who we are as individuals, between [DeAndre’s] mom, DeAndre, and myself. He wanted to show his genuine self, and that’s what took us from the beginning. … We couldn’t turn it down.”
To listen to the entire radio segment, listen below: