When Calipari was named head coach after Billy Gillispie was fired, the players and fan base were anxious for him to turn the program back around. Gillispie had gotten a bad rep from not only failing to keep UK basketball at national prominence, but for the way he treated the players. Billy G isn't a name that holds a lot of good connotation, but there is also another side of Gillispie that managed to take a backseat to all of the negativity. Many people were under the assumption that Calipari came into town with plans to get rid of all of the walk-ons, but that wasn't the case.
I talked to both Dakotah Euton, who was recruited by Gillispie and offered a scholarship to play at UK, and Adam Delph, who was a walk-on during the Gillispie era and was asked to leave when Calipari became coach, who both are currently playing down the road for Asbury University.
A major reason players choose to come play at Kentucky is because of the great tradition and where they think it will take them. Schools like Davidson, Nevada, and Akron all showed interest in Dakotah coming out of high school, but he chose Kentucky because he liked the program and because it was "Kentucky". Gillispie offered Euton a scholarship when he was a Sophomore, and he said that he didn't get to know Gillispie on a very personal basis, but from recruiting and interacting with him he found him somewhat likable.
Unfortunately, Dakotah never got the opportunity to play at Kentucky. When Gillispie was fired Dakotah decommitted and chose to play at Akron. He didn't enjoy playing there as much as he thought, and said he wasn't having fun with basketball anymore, he then decided to transfer to Asbury where he starts and averages 14.9 ppg.
Adam, however, was fortunate or perhaps unfortunate enough to get to play at Kentucky and under Gillispie. Adam sees both the good and bad in him however, and enjoyed his time while he was here. Everyone is aware that Billy G doesn't have the social skills needed to coach at UK and he's not a very personable person, something Delph recognized. There were many incidents that occurred during Delph's Sophomore year at UK under Gillispie that he didn't agree with. We've heard the stories of how he made Jorts sit in a bathroom stall, and how he made him ride in an equipment van home, these are just a few of the incidents that made players uncomfortable playing for him. Delph said that when Gillispie was fired, he called him and told him that if there was anything he could do to help Delph or if he ever needed anything that he could call him. Although Gillispie wasn't very personable, Delph said he has tried to be there for him and help him out any way he can.
While the business aspect of basketball, and everything that occured off the court was what Delph imagined it would be, on the court was a different story. He didn't expect everything that Gillispie had done in his tenure, and thought they would win a lot more than they did.
When he learned that Calipari was named the head coach, he was excited to get he chance to play for him and was excited for Calipari to turn him into a better player. Unfortunately, however, Delph never got the chance. A couple of weeks before school began, a walk-on, Dwight Perry, got into a scuffle with DeMarcus Cousins during a game of pick-up that resulted in all of the walk-ons with the exception of Krebs being asked to come to the Director of Basketball Relations, Martin Newton's office and ultimately asked them to either become managers or leave the team. With 3 weeks left, finding scholarships to play at another schoool was basically impossible. The majority of scholarships by that point had already been given away, leaving the walk-ons in a tough situation.
Even though he didn't get to play under Calipari, who he admires and respects, he understands that Calipari deciding to let go of the walk-ons was strictly a business decision.
Had Perry not managed to get into an argument with DeMarcus and cause problems, Cal would have been more likely to keep them. When the incident occurred though, and the walk-ons didn't have a clear cut role in Calipari's system, he had to let them go. Although Delph thought he would play at Kentucky all four years, he's happy that he's now at Asbury.
Asbury was a last resort school at first, but Delph saw what he could potentially do there and wanted to help the program. Even though he is now playing for a different team and graces the court with different teammates, the BBN and his previous teammates still have an important role in his life. Delph is still close with a lot of the players that he played with at UK. He said it surprised him that players of that caliber would be that humble to hang out with, but that he still talks to some of them. He also said that the BBN has been very supportive through his time at Asbury.
Delph managed to tear his ACL last season and had to sit out and said that many members of the BBN were very encouraging and uplifting over Facebook. When he plays a good game he will get a number of messages from UK fans congratulating him. Although Euton nor Delph got to experience Kentucky's success under Calipari, they are both excelling at Asbury and are happy finishing out their college careers in starting positions and helping the team reach new heights.
You can follow Delph on Twitter at @AdamDelph10