Kentucky coach John Calipari asks freshman Cam'Ron Fletcher to 'step away' from team

John Calipari in despair.
Kentucky coach John Calipari has asked a star recruit to step away from the program. (AP Photo/James Crisp)

Kentucky men’s basketball head coach John Calipari responded to Cam’Ron Fletcher’s emotional outburst on the bench by tweeting news that the star freshman has been asked to step away from the team.

Calipari said Monday that the program asked Fletcher “to take some time” and gather his priorities. Fletcher, a four-star recruit, was seen crying at the end of the bench and being comforted by the strength coach toward the end of Saturday’s 75-63 loss to No. 22 North Carolina.

Kentucky is on a five-game losing streak. At 1-5, the Wildcats are out to their worst start since the 1926-27 season.

Calipari asks Fletcher to step away from program

Calipari, the 12th-year Kentucky coach, said in a series of tweets that Fletcher “needs to reflect and do some soul searching to get his priorities in order” and the culture at Kentucky “WILL NOT CHANGE.”

Fletcher played two minutes in the loss and is averaging 8.7 minutes of playing time per contest. After being subbed out with about three minutes to play, he was seen on the CBS broadcast crying at the corner of the bench area. A few minutes later Terrence Clarke mouths “Cam left?” with clear surprise on his face.

Clarke also appears upset and was consoled on the footage broken down by Kentucky Sports Radio. Calipari was caught shaking his head in dismay.

Fletcher apologized for outburst

Calipari said after the North Carolina loss that Fletcher had apologized for his emotional actions, calling it “immaturity.” Fletcher took to Twitter later to apologize directly to fans.

“I was frustrated and let my emotions get the best of me,” he wrote. “I always feel I can help the team. I am a team player and it hurts to see my team struggled. That’s why I was frustrated and my emotions peaked.”

Fletcher wasn’t the only player in a foul mood on Saturday. No one wanted to speak to the media so injured sophomore Keion Brooks did instead, per The Athletic. The program has a history of displeased players in recent seasons.

Kentucky is back on the court against Louisville on Saturday. The Wildcats begin SEC play against South Carolina next week.

Fletcher praised Calipari’s honesty during recruitment

The 6-foot-6, 210-pound forward signed to play at Kentucky over Missouri. He ranked in the top-40 by ranking websites. Upon signing his letter of intent, he praised the program and Calipari to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

“Right from the start of the recruiting process (Calipari) told me the truth,” Fletcher said. “He told me as a freshman nothing was going to be easy. I liked that.”

He also mentioned to the Post-Dispatch potentially leaving the school after one season to join the NBA. Fletcher is 6-for-11 from the field, including 1-for-4 from 3-point range, with 13 rebounds, three assists and two turnovers. His five steals are tied for third on the Wildcats roster behind two players with seven each.

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