At this exact moment 48 hours ago, Kentucky was leading North Carolina by four at half and finally had some momentum going its way. Two days later, it feels like the wheels are falling spectacularly off the wagon. Not only are the Cats 1-5 for the first time since the 1926-27 season, John Calipari announced this morning that he has asked freshman Cam’Ron Fletcher to step away from the program to “reflect and do some soul searching to get his priorities in order.” Not great, Bob.
We may never know what happened in the locker room after the North Carolina loss, but it must have been bad if not a single active player, including seniors Olivier Sarr and Davion Mintz, was willing to do the postgame Zoom. Keion Brooks gamely stepped to the plate, but even he hinted that things weren’t going well, telling reporters, “stuff is hard, especially with what’s going on in the world, it’s tough.” When Calipari appeared on the Zoom, he looked a million years old, a ghost in front of UK’s bright virtual background. Instead of sticking to his usual talking points, Cal was sullen and honest, expressing his disappointment in this team’s start.
In reviewing the tape, it seems the drama started with about two minutes left.
3:19 – Fletcher comes out of the game
Fletcher only played three minutes vs. UNC, just over one in the second half. He came out of the game after a foul on Terrence Clarke, with Davion Mintz taking his place in the lineup.
2:33 – Team clapping after Askew scores
Fletcher (just under the net) applauds Devin Askew’s bucket with the rest of the team.
2:01 – Fletcher crying on the sidelines
UK strength coach Rob Harris holds a towel to his face and consoles him.
1:13 – Fletcher still on sidelines
1:09: Clarke fouls out
Clarke walks to the bench and there does not appear to be any drama. From the angle, you can’t see if Fletcher is still on the sideline or not.
1:02 – Fletcher not on bench
1:01 – Clarke notices Fletcher missing, mouths, “Cam left?”
Lots going on in this clip. Not only is Clarke surprised and unhappy that Fletcher went to the locker room, Calipari did not like his reaction.
59.9 – Cal talks to Clarke, points to locker room
While Askew is shooting his free throw, Calipari speaks to Clarke and then points to the locker room while Lance Ware tries to intervene. Is Cal sending Clarke to the locker room or just saying that is where Fletcher is?
43.4 – Ware consoles Clarke on the sideline
Clarke stayed on the bench, with Ware patting him on the shoulder.
27.6 – Ware talking to Clarke on the bench
I think we can all read Clarke’s lips there.
13.1 – Cal’s reaction says it all
All Cal can do is shake his head after looking up at the scoreboard.
4:22 p.m. – End of game
Kentucky heads to the locker room.
4:43 p.m. – Keion Brooks appears on postgame Zoom
Brooks, who hasn’t played all season due to injury, is the one to address the media on the postgame Zoom. When asked why, he gave this response:
“Because I’m one of the leaders of our team. My guys didn’t feel like they were up to it. They didn’t want to do it so I’ll take it on. I’m not going to put them out here in this vulnerable situation where emotions are high and you know, you never know what could go on, so I went out here and I’m just defending my teammates.”
4:55 p.m. – Calipari appears on postgame Zoom
Calipari said he was proud of Brooks for stepping up to talk to the media, but disappointed in his team for their performance in the final ten minutes.
“Well, you’re talking about guys that are going through stuff that’s really, really hard for them: to take responsibility, to own their performance, to accept where they are on the team. There’s a lot of stuff and he (Brooks), I guess Eric (Lindsey) said he just said, ‘Look, I’m going to do the media.’ I was kind of proud of him that he would step up and face the music, and he didn’t even play. I’m just so disappointed, especially with the last 10 minutes of the game. I’m just so disappointed.”
He had this to say when asked about Fletcher’s emotions at the end of the game:
“Again, you’ve got to accept your position on this team. Whatever minutes you get, and Cam (Fletcher) was mad he didn’t play more. I’m like, ‘Guys in front of you are playing.’ Lance (Ware) played out of his mind. I thought Devin (Askew) played better. Cam came in and apologized after. They don’t understand that with four minutes to go in the game we had a chance to win the game and you cop an attitude. It’s the immaturity of that.”
11:53 a.m. – Fletcher apologizes on Twitter.
LOVE BBN ? pic.twitter.com/udaLo0Cygf
— 21 (@CamRonFletcher1) December 20, 2020
Approximately 2:30 p.m. – Fletcher spotted (and heard) at Bluegrass Airport
A source tells Drew Franklin that Fletcher was at Bluegrass Airport yesterday afternoon. Before he boarded his flight to St. Louis, he was heard voicing his frustrations with the team on the phone.
11:35 a.m. – John Calipari announces he asked Fletcher to step away.
We have asked Cam Fletcher to take some time and step away from the team. He needs to reflect and do some soul searching to get his priorities in order. Any attitude or actions that are detrimental to this team will not be tolerated – and that goes for everyone on the team.
We have a culture here that’s been built over the last 11 years AND IT WILL NOT CHANGE. Through good times and bad, this culture is meant to change individuals and change maturity levels. This hurts our team, but this is about Cam and his future.
I talked to Cam and his mother and they know I care about him and I love him, but they also understand that there are changes that need to be made. It’s his job to decide whether he can perform within this culture both on and off the court.
2:01 p.m. – Kentucky beats Louisville