VAUGHT: Crawford can learn lessons from Carrier

If I was Tubby Smith and wanted to make a case to Joe Crawford about why he should stay at Kentucky, I would simply sit him down and let him watch a videotape of Josh Carrier's press conference last week.

Carrier came to talk about his final game in Rupp Arena Wednesday against Tennessee. However, what he ended up doing was making a case for all that is good and right about the Kentucky basketball program.

First, Carrier is going to graduate in four years. “I’m most proud that I am coming away with a degree in four years,” Carrier said.

Second, despite his lack of playing time for four years — not one year as Crawford has endured — Carrier had nothing but good things to say about Smith. “The number one thing he taught me is to do the right thing all the time. If you miss a class or tutor, he’s one you. He cares about everybody,” Carrier said.

Third, while he briefly considered transferring after his sophomore year, he’s glad he stayed at Kentucky. “Time will tell, but I am a big believer that all things happen for a reason. God put me here and kept me here. I had a great career and could not have asked for much more,” Carrier said. “I decided I still wanted to be part of something special and not complain. My career has exceeded all of my expectations of the program. It’s top-notch all the way.”

Fourth, he learned how to be a leader. “I had to watch what I was doing. I did not want to set a bad example,” Carrier said. “I wanted to do the right things.”

Crawford might be more talented than Carrier, but he should have learned a lot from this Kentucky senior the last few months. Carrier showed Crawford how to be a productive teammate without playing extended minutes. He showed what being a part of a team should mean. He showed that winning should be the first priority and that being part of the UK program means making sacrifices.

That’s why I hope Crawford pays special attention to the ovation Carrier receives Wednesday as well as the one Chuck Hayes does, too. If Crawford does and understands what playing at Kentucky has meant to Carrier, it should show him that the only sensible decision he can make is to stay at UK where he’ll have a chance to get his education, play for a coach that cares about him and be part of a program that knows how to win. If he can’t understand that, then maybe heading somewhere else is the right decision because as Carrier as shown, the Kentucky program is about far more than any individual player.

LARRY VAUGHT is the one of Kentucky's most well-known sportswriters in the state of Kentucky and Sports Editor for the Danville Advocate Messenger. He has been a columnist for 28 years covering Kentucky Wildcats sports.  You can read Larry Vaught articles here on Kentucky Sports Report several times a week as well as Kentucky Sports Report - the magazine.  If you have a question or comment, ask him on the message boards.

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