[Moderated by Matt Jones]
Ideally we’d like to see every student athlete graduate or turn professional but with the news breaking earlier this week about Ridge Wilson being dismissed from the team we must face the sad reality. Wilson joins a long list of players whose time in Lexington had to be cut short. The Cats have lost a lot of great players over the years to many different factors. Once those players were gone we can simply wonder what might have been if they had the chance to finish their career with the Cats. Here are some of the players that have left me wondering what might have been.
Ridge is our newest member of this list and one of the most disappointing. There are so many questions with his situation. Why was he on that street in Louisville? Why did he have a bag of Xanax and two grand? Well I guess those two questions are pretty clear. But one question remains, what was he thinking?
What might have been: Being broke in college can make life hard, but there is no justification for a student athlete to be caught up in trafficking. Wilson had a chance to be one of our leaders on defense next season with Danny Trevathan’s departure. Now the future is unclear for our defense and for the soon to be senior linebacker. I wish him the best and a hopeful turnaround to his life.
Rodrick Rhodes just didn’t work out with the Cats. For more on the story check out the latest KSR podcast, it’s worth the $2.50 for every tale. The Rhodes story is one of the most interesting/funny.
What might have been: Rhodes’ talent was undeniable but for whatever reason he couldn’t gel with Pitino. Upon transferring to USC he became their leading scorer averaging 14 points per game. With the decreased pressure that came with Southern Cal. Rhodes found his way to the league and had a nice, if short career. Rhodes’ story has recently taken another interesting turn and he has made his way back to the bluegrass state and now is the head coach at Cordia High School.
When I arrived on campus in the fall of 07 Curtis Pulley was the next big thing. He was a Kentucky Mr. Football and had been named the starter in spring of 06. Andre Woodson beat him for the position that fall on his way to leading a renaissance of the program. After Andre Woodson graduated I remember talking with my brother about Pulley stepping in and continuing the football team’s recent success. Unfortunately it wasn’t meant to be.
What might have been: Pulley was cited in Louisville for marijuana possession. (Side Note: Can we keep our players out of Louisville?) After that arrest he found himself in even more trouble with the law when he was arrested for speeding and driving with a suspended license. The quarterback was dismissed from the team. Curtis then transferred to Florida A&M where he became the MEAC offensive player of the year. Cat fans where left to wonder what the 08 and 09 seasons could have produced with Pulley at the helm.
Jasper was a top forty prospect and the fifth ranked point guard in his class. Unfortunately for him he developed knee problems and ran into a coach name Billy Gillispie.
What might have been: It’s hard to play basketball when your knees are gone. Jasper had microfacture surgery following his freshman year and sat out the first ten games of Billy G’s first season. When he came back that season many had questions if his decision was rushed by the madman Gillispie. Jasper transferred the following season to UNLV where he averaged 23 minutes per game in two seasons but his production was never quite what is expected of a top 40 prospect. What kind of player could he have been without the injuries? How would he have fit in as a senior point guard under Coach Cal? Derricks’s story has recently taken an odd turn as he rejoined Billy G as a grad assistant at Texas Tech.
Darnell Dodson couldn’t stay out of trouble. Upon graduating high school he was declared ineligible by the NCAA clearinghouse and could not play for Pitt. That lead him on a path to Kentucky and Coach Cal’s first number one class. Dodson showed a couple of flashes of brilliance during his time at UK having 8 games with double digit scoring and averaging 6 points per game. He wasn’t quite the sharpshooter from three we hoped he would be shooting 34% from downtown with an abysmal performance in that year’s tournament that included 2-9 performance in the elite eight against WVU. Dodson was “released” from the team to work on his grades following his first season with the possibility to return this year. Following his release Dodson was arrested for fighting outside of two keys tavern and transferred to Southern Mississippi.
What might have been: Dodson found more trouble at Southern Miss when he was arrested for breaking into a So. Miss. fraternity house. He was dismissed from that team but his story has a happy ending. Dodson was allowed back on the team and made his debut this year with the Golden Eagles. In his first game he scored 17 points in fifteen minutes against Arizona St. He is currently averaging 11.2 ppg. We can only wonder the impact that Dodson could have had on this year’s team or even last year’s.
Sometimes things just don’t work out. All of these players could have done great things for the Wildcats. However their time was cut short by issues like chemistry, injury, or problems with drugs that ruined their chance for success. We are left wondering what the future could have held for those one time Cats.
So, do you wish you could’ve seen more of these Cats or were you glad to see some of them go? Was there a player I missed that you wonder what could have been had they not left the team?
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