Assistant coach brings UK to community

What's going on with the UK basketball team that doesn't meet the watchful eye of the community? Plenty! One very important cog in the UK basketball family that has gone virtually unnoticed is someone that has been on board since day one of the Billy Gillispie regime. This important cog is the "Athletic Assistant," and the one that fills that role is a young man by the name of Jerrance Hall.

Hall's responsibilities are to be the caretaker of the basketball team. Hall was an assistant on Gillispie's staff last year at Texas A&M University. He said his responsibilities here at UK are to take of care of the players twenty-four hours a day. "I work them out and, make sure they go to class, and whatever other personal needs," Hall said. Hall said in addition to hard work in recruiting, he (Gillispie) keeps real and is a straight shooter. "He is really big on getting involved in the community," Hall explained. "You are not going to just see us on court and on the TV."

One of the long-standing facets of the community that players were not seen with any regularity was the NCAA sanctioned Dirt Bowl in Douglas Park. Over the last two weeks, Jodie Meeks, Ramel Bradley, Joe Crawford, and Alex legion have been regular visitors to Douglas Park. Coach Hall has been there to oversee them. While the status quo is being pushed aside in favor of more involvement in the community, Billy Gillispie has been working the recruiting trail tirelessly, and had five players in this past weekend, receiving a commitment from another sophomore.

How and when did Hall, who is African-American, get his start in basketball? Hall, who is from Peoria, Illinois, played at the University of Illinois and graduated in 2004. "When coach Lon Kruger left Illinois to take over the Atlanta Hawks, Bill Self took over and coach Gillispie came aboard as an assistant. At the time I was a sophomore and I made it known that I wanted to coach someday. It was then that coach Gillispie told me that if he ever got a head coaching job he was going to hire me as an assistant," Hall explained.

He said when they first went to Texas A&M, the Aggies were 0-16 the year before. The first year they lost to LSU on a last second shot in the NIT. In the three years they were there things got progressively better and they went to the round of sixteen in the NCAA tournament last season.

"In the time I have been here in Lexington, I have grown to like it here very much. There are many good people here and they make you feel at home," Hall said. As time and events revolving around the UK basketball reveal themselves, we are finding that the status quo is being pushed into the background. Bringing the face of the program to the community will no doubt pay big dividends in the future.

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