Fate brought Gillispie to UK, says Howard

Jerrance Howard, UK's director of basketball operations assistant, discusses his boss and mentor, UK coach Billy Gillispie.

If Jerrance Howard is right, fate brought Billy Gillispie to Kentucky when Tubby Smith left for Minnesota and Billy Donovan wouldn't leave Florida for the Bluegrass.

"I think coach Gillispie was born to coach at Kentucky. It was in the making for a long, long time," Howard, UK's director of basketball operations assistant, said. "He's been a manager, junior college coach, high school coach, assistant college coach and head college coach. It was just scripted out. There was no better plan than the one to bring him to Kentucky.

"He is a guy that is so driven. I have the best job in the world because I get to learn from one of the best, and now he's at Kentucky. Players and fans are going to enjoy him and what he has to offer."

Howard says Gillispie feels every player is either an overachiever or underachiever. His goal is to make every player an overachiever. "He takes players that are mediocre and brings them up. He is a guy that is going to get the maximum out of everybody from Mr. Keightley to the managers," Howard said. "I can't wait for everyone to see the little things he pays attention to. He'll also treat the managers just like another guy on the team. Same with walk-ons. He treats them all with the same respect.

"And you can never outwork him. I've tried, but it is impossible to do. The good thing is that it doesn't feel like work when you are working for him. Coach is hard. He expects so much out of everybody, but he also gives so much to everyone."

Players will learn that Gillispie means business off the court as well.

"He will check your class schedule and beat you to class to make sure you are there," Howard said. "The great thing is that all these players have embraced us since day one. It wasn't that way when we went to Texas A&M. Those guys were not confident. But these guys love Coach and all he is doing. I don't know how it was in the past, but we bowl together, eat together. Coach believes the closer you are, the better team you are."

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