Reggie Hanson Chillin' in South Florida

Coach Reggie Hanson was relaxed and all smiles during the Kingwood Tournament in Houston this weekend. He said his first year outside of Kentucky basketball was a real learning experience.

Coach Reggie Hanson was relaxed and all smiles during the Kingwood Tournament in Houston this weekend. He said his first year outside of Kentucky basketball was a real learning experience.

"It was a wonderful seven years for me at Kentucky," Hanson said. "I would not trade that time for anything. But things change and we all move on. South Florida has been a good experience for me."

South Florida had a tough year, finishing 12-19 overall and an abysmal 3-15 Big East record. But Hanson does not seem discouraged at those results, "It was our first year (Hanson's and Head Coach Stan Heath's), we play in a really tough conference and we are building."

Hanson likely refers to the return of freshman guard Dominique Jones, who scored more than 30 points in back-to-back games, the first Big East freshman to do that since Allen Iverson at Georgetown and the addition of SEC transfer in guard Mike Mercer coming in from Georgia.

On a more personal level, Hanson says he really misses the people and the state of Kentucky but that he and his family have settled into a very nice lifestyle in Tampa, "To make the most of a difficult situation, it's nice to live in a city where my family has vacationed several times over the years," Hanson said, smiling.

"After seven years at Kentucky, I have to say I am really enjoying the most relaxed atmosphere in Tampa," Hanson said, "At Kentucky the pressure and scrutiny can get to you, no question. Every fan on the street, every member of the media – everything you do or say gets analyzed over and over. Here, the atmosphere is different. You go out and you coach. Then you go home."

Hanson still keeps up with the Wildcats and had heard the rumors that Jasper was considering a transfer, "I hope that this is not the case. That would be a big blow to the program," the former Wildcat said, "he was really starting to hit his stride and was becoming the player we all knew he would be when we recruited him."

"Sometimes those players who are playing a long way from home feel it (homesickness) a little more than say a kid from Georgia," Hanson added, "Prince was that way too, but he stayed. Hopefully Derrick will stay too."

Of the players Hanson helped to recruit while at Kentucky, he says he felt the most pride in Perry Stevenson's development, "I was really proud of the way Perry came along," Hanson said, "I knew he'd do it. He took a little longer than I had hoped but he really stepped up this year. I was particularly happy to see how he stepped up when Patrick Patterson got injured. Stevenson is never going to gain a lot of weight. But he has a lot of talent. If he can learn to compensate for the lack of bulk and continue to improve, he is going to be a great player in the next two years."

Hanson doesn't stay in touch with the Kentucky players but thinks of them often, "When you leave, it's best to let the players move on with their lives and their new coach, but I still think about those guys a lot and follow their progress in the paper."

Of next year's team Hanson said he believes the Cats will be a solid team but is anxious to see how coach Gillispie will replace Joe Crawford and Ramel Bradley, "Those two seniors meant a lot to that team and their leadership and their productivity will be hard to replace."


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