Kentucky coach John Calipari said on Monday that freshman forward Cam’Ron Fletcher is back with the team after being asked to step away a week ago to reflect and “get his priorities in order.” Fletcher was seen visibly upset during Kentucky’s 75-63 loss to North Carolina on Dec. 19, and Calipari explained after the game it was because Fletcher was dissatisfied with his playing time.
“I think the kid feels bad, but he had to have a wake-up call,” Calipari said Monday on the SEC’s weekly coaches teleconference. “He came in, hugged me and [said] ‘Coach, I’m tellin’ ya, I’m gonna be a different guy.’ Perfect. Because that’s why you do things. I’m not doing it to prove a point. I discipline kids and not one of you ever know. Why this [time]? It went to a length that disciplining within wasn’t working. He’s not a bad kid. He’s back now.”
Fletcher played just two minutes in UK’s loss to UNC and a combined five minutes in games against Notre Dame and Georgia Tech the two games prior, a stark decline in his role after playing no less than 13 minutes in games against Kansas, Richmond and Morehead State to open the season.
“You’ve got to accept your position on this team, whatever minutes you get,” Calipari said after the UNC loss. “Cam was mad he didn’t play more. And I’m like, ‘The guys in front of you are playing.’ Lance played out of his mind. I thought Devin played better. Cam came in and apologized after, but they don’t understand that with four minutes to go, we have a chance to win the game and you cop an attitude, it’s the immaturity of that.”
Fletcher issued an apology both publicly to fans and privately to his teammates for his actions. He explained that his emotions peaked because he was frustrated and felt he could do more to help his team, but he took responsibility for his behavior.
“I always feel I can help the team. I am a team player and it hurts to see my team struggle,” he said. “That’s why I was frustrated and my emotions peaked. There is no excuse for my behavior at all. I just want to make sure everyone knows I am fully committed to this program and am willing to do whatever I’m asked by my coaches. I will never let this happen again and this mistake in no way reflects who I am. I made a mistake and I take full ownership.”
Getting Fletcher back may not be season-altering for Kentucky, but at this point, it should be glad for the depth. The Wildcats are 1-6 on the season after falling to rival Louisville over the weekend, its worst start to a season since 1926-1927. They open up conference play on Saturday with a road game against Mississippi State.
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