On again, off again

By Steve LeMaster

Joe Crawford is back with the University of Kentucky men’s basketball team. Crawford, a freshman who missed the last two games while contemplating the thought of transferring, has made a return to the UK men’s team. Before making his brief exit, Crawford ranked as UK’s top reserve player. Kentucky Head Coach Tubby Smith and his staff welcomed Crawford back.

“We’re pleased that Joe is back with us and working out with the team,” Smith said. “As a leader, it’s important to have patience and give young people the space to make their own decisions. We’re glad Joe has chosen to rejoin us. Our commitment to Joe remains to help him become a better person, better student, and better basketball player. It’s the same commitment we make to anyone who is a part of Kentucky basketball.”

It is unknown at this time whether or not Crawford will face any disciplinary action. Crawford did return immediately to practice. UK fans should take into consideration the fact that Joe Crawford is a young, student-athlete. And young student-athletes often need time to grow and mature.

“I’m glad to be back and I’m ready to give this my all,” Crawford said, upon his return to the Wildcat basketball team. “I’m thankful that Coach Smith has given me a second chance, even though he didn’t have to. That shows me that he’s glad that I’m part of this team.”

The freshman guard went on to say pledge his commitment to the Wildcat men’s basketball program.

“I’m back and I want to finish my college career as a Kentucky Wildcat,” Crawford added.

Prior to his departure, Crawford played in all 12 of UK’s games before leaving the team on Jan. 10. He is averaging 13.3 minutes per game – the most by any UK reserve. The Detroit product is averaging 3.8 points and 2.4 rebounds per outing.

Kentucky born and bred player Patrick Sparks, a starting guard for the Wildcats, led UK to a 76-55 win over Georgia on Saturday. Sparks who transferred to UK from Western Kentucky University, scored 15 points in the win over Georgia and head coach Dennis Felton—the same coach he played under while a Hilltopper at Western Kentucky. Kentucky (12-2, 3-0 in the Southeastern Conference) led by as many as 30 points before beating the Bulldogs by just over 20.

The loss dropped Georgia to 0-4 in the SEC.

Kentucky did its most significant damage in the rebounding department, outrebounding UGA 44-18.

Senior Chuck Hayes chipped in 13 points and 11 rebounds in the win over Georgia. Kentucky took a 35-23 lead into halftime before blowing Georgia away in the second half.

From the field, Kentucky shot a blistering 54 percent. Earlier in the week, on Wednesday, January 12, freshman guard Rajon Rondo scored a career-high 18 points and led the Wildcats on a late run in a 69-54 win over Vanderbilt, another SEC rival. n