VAUGHT: Gillispie has future leaders

Listening to Kentucky coach Billy Gillispie talk about the leadership contributions he has received from seniors Ramel Bradley and Joe Crawford this season made me wonder exactly who the coach thought might be his best leader, or leaders, for next year.

So rather than speculate, I asked him if sophomore Derrick Jasper was the most logical player to assume that role next year based on the way he plays.

"I see a lot of guys that could," Gillispie said with no hesitation. "I could see him as a great leader.

"I think Patrick Patterson will be one of the better leaders I have ever been around. His high school coach first told me that. The first couple of months he was trying to learn things and just catch his breath. But he's become a good leader already.

"Derrick could be a great leader, too. But they are responsible for all being leaders. No one can do it by himself."

Then Gillispie surprised me.

"Ramon Harris has been a good leader. He's done a lot of neat leadership things to help the team improve," the Kentucky coach said.

But wait. There's more.

"Jodie Meeks will be (a great leader) when he is out there. Guys like him and he is not one to run from responsibility," Gillispie said. "We've got a lot of guys that can be leaders."

And that could be the big difference going into next year. Even with Crawford and Bradley missing, the Cats will not be leaderless — and that's no knock on the two seniors — going into the season. It took time for all the players to adjust to the new coach but now Jasper, Meeks, Patterson and even Harris know what he wants and how to meet those demands.

It's an intangible that won't show in the statistics, but it could be the most important asset the Cats will have on their side when they start year two under Gillispie.

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