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
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
"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.