VAUGHT: Crawford addresses future with Cats

"It was hard, real hard. People hate to be wrong, but I realized I was wrong and made an emotional decision (to leave)," Crawford said after Friday's 76-62 win over Tennessee in the Southeastern Conference Tournament. "It was tough to come back and say I was wrong, but once I got back everyone accepted me. To be honest, I didn't know it would go this smooth."

Having to admit to Kentucky coach Tubby Smith, his teammates and Kentucky fans that he was wrong to consider transferring from UK was not easy for freshman Joe Crawford.

"It was hard, real hard. People hate to be wrong, but I realized I was wrong and made an emotional decision (to leave)," Crawford said after Friday's 76-62 win over Tennessee in the Southeastern Conference Tournament. "It was tough to come back and say I was wrong, but once I got back everyone accepted me. To be honest, I didn't know it would go this smooth."

It apparently has gone so smooth that Crawford has no doubts about his future even though UK will also return four other guards next year.

"I am committed to Kentucky and staying here," Crawford said. "No, I don't regret what happened. It made me refocus and realize what I wanted to do.

"I am a strong believer in the Lord. I know if I keep working hard in practice, things will work out. Everyone takes a different road. The door was always open for me to come back, but the team was playing well and coach Smith did not want me to come back and be a distraction. I'm grateful he let me come back. It showed me why he not only was a great coach, but also the kind of person he is and how much he cares about you."

Crawford was upset with his lack of playing time when he left the team and considered transferring in January. He was watching freshmen Rajon Rondo and Randolph Morris start every game and wondering why he couldn't play more even though he says he was never guaranteed any playing time by Smith when he came to Kentucky.

"What I went through has made me a better person. It's crazy. People forget because we are always on TV and stuff that we are also young. When I made the decision to leave and then decided to come back, I wasn't sure what would happen," Crawford said. "It meant a lot to me that the fans welcomed me back the way they did. I knew my teammates would, but I didn't know what the fans would do. When they welcomed me back, I knew this was the only place for me."

While he's still not playing as much as he would like, he's accepted his role and is waiting a chance to show what he can do.

"I am practicing better. When I was not playing as well, I lost my confidence," Crawford said. "Now I am treating practices like my games to show I still have it. I know my time will come at Kentucky. Me, I am thinking it will be the next game. If the opportunity arises, I know I am ready to take it."

This was the first time Crawford and freshman guard Ramel Bradley were allowed to talk to the media since Smith put freshmen off limits to the media in early November.


Be sure to check out our SEC Tournament "blog" with Matt Jones.


AllWildcats Top Stories