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InsideHoops [NCAA HOME] July 31, 2004

David Padgett transfers to a better future





The story of the arrogant college player who jilts his team is unfortunately a familiar one. Just don't apply that to former Kansas forward David Padgett.

Padgett angered many Kansas supporters after deciding to transfer, eventually choosing Louisville and Rick Pitino. Making matters worse for Padgett was his declaration that coach Bill Self's style was a factor, bringing forth a stern response from Self in granting Padgett his wishes.

But consider that all of this was reported as simply "Kansas freshman David Padgett bolts." The fact that Padgett never felt truly comfortable with Self was never quite mentioned in the same breath. Neither was the fact that Padgett had been wooed to Lawrence by the charms of one Roy Williams, who wasn't around because of his exodus for North Carolina.

"I just think people got to understand that I went there to play for somebody else and he left and we got a new coach and I gave it a shot and I liked the players on my team and stuff," Padgett said. "It just wasn't for me. It just didn't work out."

Perhaps no freshman in college basketball endured the kind of year that Padgett went through in an uncomfortable setting. The Jayhawks graduated Nick Collison and Padgett was supposed to help fill the void.

Except the holdovers had trouble adjusting to Self, particularly Jeff Graves. The coaching staff had trouble adjusting to the players. And a failed December trip to Padgett's hometown of Reno, Nevada resulted in an embarrassing blowout loss to Nevada in which Kansas was left licking its wounds after unparalleled success under Williams.

"That was part of the deal when I went to Kansas I was going to play at home sooner or later," said Padgett, who admitted that the transition from Williams to Self was one that took time. "It was kind of rough and I was just figuring out the whole college thing too. It obviously wasn't a lot of fun because we lost."

Kansas rallied and used a favorable NCAA Tournament draw to eventually fall one step shy of a third straight trip to the Final Four despite the myriad of problems. Padgett was left with a difficult decision and one that became unpopular. Undaunted, he shopped for a new home.

"A lot of people say different things, some good and some bad," he said. "But I know what is best for me to lead me to my ultimate goal."

Despite some harsh words on both sides, Kansas recovered nicely to sign an excellent big man in C.J. Giles - a player Self recruited who should be a cornerstone for the Jayhawks. Louisville beat out North Carolina and UCLA to obtain Padgett, who can finally feel like he belongs.

"It just felt right to go to Louisville," said Padgett, who was also swayed by the Cardinals' pending move to the Big East. "It was a really tough decision and I just felt more comfortable at Louisville."

Perhaps Williams felt so bad about leaving Kansas that adding Padgett at North Carolina would have been too much for him. Whatever the case, Pitino is the fortunate one since 6-11 big men who can play inside and out are particularly rare commodities in college basketball.

"I think his size is always going to be a factor because he can play two positions," said Oklahoma coach Kelvin Sampson, who will coach Padgett in the upcoming World Championship of Young Men qualifying tournament in Canada. "Because he can score the ball on the block and he can step out and shoot. He is a size guy and he is not stuck around the basket - he can step out and make baskets. I always thought that was his strength."

Sampson's comments ironically confirm Padgett's thoughts that the Kansas system was not the best fit. It doesn't mean that Self did something wrong. It doesn't mean that Padgett did something wrong. It's just a case of a player transferring to a better situation and there is nothing wrong with that.

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