VAUGHT: Prince has surprised me

Pardon me for ever doubting Tayshaun Prince. Yes, I knew he was a good basketball player at Kentucky. In fact, he was a very, very good player. But I vastly underestimated his pro potential mainly because I thought the physical play in the NBA would bother him.

Instead, he has flourished and certainly deserves the chance to make the U.S. Olympic team after recently being added to the list of players under consideration for a roster spot.

Kentucky has not had a player on an Olympic team since Sam Bowie in 1980 -- the year the U.S. boycotted the Olympics. The last Wildcat actually to play in the Olympics was Adrian Smith in 1960. But Prince could change that.

Just look at what he has done for the Pistons, who now look like geniuses for deciding not to draft Carmelo Anthony the year after they had picked Prince. Detroit believed in Prince — and he has more than justified that confidence. In fact, Sports Illustrated recently noted that Prince is a far better fit for the Pistons than Anthony would have been because of his all-around play.

Detroit coach Flip Saunders praised Prince's defensive skills and willingness to play a key spot in Detroit's zone defense. "Agile, long arms, smart and wants to play it," Saunders told SI. Prince has shown he can hit clutch shots — or provide sticky defense to a star like LeBron James. Prince has shown he is as happy grabbing a rebound as he is hitting a 3-pointer.

So forgive me for doubting whether he could flourish in the NBA. Obviously, I was wrong — again. And don't look for Prince to fade away anytime soon. He has a lucrative contract and immense skills. He's going to be a NBA fixture for years — and hopefully UK's first Olympic gold medal winner since 1960.


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