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Vaught's Views: Barbour adds to UK's woes

August 13, 2003|LARRY VAUGHT

No matter how hard Tubby Smith seems to try, the off-court distractions keep coming for the University of Kentucky basketball team.

This time it involves senior Antwain Barbour, who is expected to be a key player on Smith's upcoming team. He was stopped June 22 on Interstate 64 between Lexington and Frankfort for speeding. However, marijuana was also discovered in his car. He was cited, but not arrested and/or taken to jail, for the marijuana offense.

Barbour's attorney managed to work out a deal where the marijuana possession charge was dropped. Barbour paid a fine for speeding.

Rumors were rampant earlier this summer that Barbour had been arrested. When no confirmed reports of the arrest surfaced, the rumors went away.

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Barbour spent the summer in Lexington and played in a summer league. He set a Kentucky Basketball Academy scoring record in one game and often played against players from Centre College in the KBA league.

No announcement of any disciplinary action, or even confirmation of the problem, came from Kentucky. That didn't change Tuesday when the only comment Kentucky had was from athletics department spokesman Mandy Polley saying that UK had been aware of the problem since June 22 and that it had already been handled.

It was no surprise that Smith had no public comment and probably never will.

Barbour averaged 3.4 points, 12 minutes per game

Barbour averaged only 3.4 points and 12 minutes per game last year following a stellar junior college career. He often seemed unsure of his role on the court and never was the same after injuring his wrist early in the season. But Smith is expecting Barbour to be a bigger scorer this season to help offset the loss of Keith Bogans and Marquis Estill.

More importantly, Barbour was expected to again be a good fit on Smith's team-first philosophy. He was one Wildcat who had not been in trouble.

Following a year of turmoil during the 2001-2002 season when players were suspended for fighting and breaking curfew and three eventually left the game, last year was a peaceful season. No fights. No second-guessing the coach. No finger-pointing. No turmoil. Perhaps that had as much to do with UK's 32-4 record, which included a perfect Southeastern Conference mark and trip to the Midwest Region title game, as anything.

Barbour's transgression may not turn out to be a sign of another tumultous year. However, it certainly is another worrisome incident for the Kentucky basketball program and has to make one wonder if this will be the start of more problems or merely an isolated incident.



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