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2007-10-23 Interview with William B. Keightley, October 23, 2007 AF008:2007OH198A/F754 01:04:01 William B. Keightley Oral History Project Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries University of Kentucky -- Basketball. Azubuikie, Kelenna. Barbour, Antwain. LeMaster, Preston. College athletes -- Recruiting. Keightley, William B.; Interviewee Suchanek, Jeffrey; Interviewer keightley_af_0754 1:|10(10)|16(4)|21(11)|28(10)|51(5)|62(3)|72(8)|79(4)|92(17)|101(28)|111(9)|122(5)|134(5)|155(13)|172(14)|178(10)|198(7)|204(9)|207(21)|213(7)|218(39)|225(11)|232(17)|242(4)|244(35)|249(3)|264(7)|274(20)|280(3)|293(41)|303(15)|327(5)|337(4)|361(20)|379(23)|408(7)|429(26)|450(6)|473(3)|496(7)|501(43)|507(35)|510(16)|513(26)|528(11)|545(28)|559(4)|566(28)|569(19)|572(12)|574(17)|583(32)|593(15)|607(11)|613(23)|616(15)|643(9)|655(3)|661(5)|667(13)|677(2)|691(12)|701(37)|712(14) audiotrans BKeight interview SUCHANEK: We'll go ahead and get started now. It is October 23rd, 2007. This is Jeff SUCHANEK and I'm interviewing Mr. William B. Keightley in his office in Memorial Coliseum and were going to try to finish up today on, on talking about some of the, some of our players who have played for UK basketball and uh, first thing I'd like to talk about today is Kelenna Azubuike. What can you tell me about Kelenna? KEIGHTLEY: Well. SUCHANEK: He had the chiseled body. KEIGHTLEY: Kelenna, you know, really, as a high school player on the national scene was not that highly recruited. And you know, he was a prolific scorer but really, you never would hear anything about him on the national scene and Tubby was acquainted with his dad and then I think Saul maybe, maybe had played with Kelenna in other sports when, when Tubby was in Tulsa and that's really how we got in on him was through the friendship with, with the kid and his family. And, you know, when, when Kelenna came here, I, I really didn't know that much about him at all. But... SUCHANEK: How could that, how could that be? I mean, he had a body when he came in here and you would think someone like that would've been on somebody's radar screen. KEIGHTLEY: Well uh, it's, it's amazing, you know what and again, he was such a quiet individual. Kelenna is another kid in a long line of kids that we've had here that was an outstanding human being. Kelenna's a total credit to his family and, you know, he went through a lot for his family and he's a very devout Christian because we have, for those that want to participate, a Bible study every Wednesday night when Tubby was here. And Kelenna never, ever failed to go to that Bible study. Never, I've never heard him use a profane word and he had the God-given body you know, muscular, strong, great-looking young man, really bright... SUCHANEK: I kept thinking, he must've hit the iron, pumping the iron when he was in high school. KEIGHTLEY: Well, you know what; he did everything so quietly that nobody noticed it. Not even, you know while he's here. Nobody really noticed him. And, and he was just, he was just a tremendous talent waiting to blossom. And it was unfortunate that he left us a year early but he felt the need to try to help his family. And, at that particular time, it didn't work out but he went out there and, you know, he was, he was young. When I say young, he was just 20 years old and he went out there and he worked hard quietly like he'd always had and take, take whatever life threw at him, he handled it. Never complained, and finally now, you know, he, he hit the jackpot. SUCHANEK: Yeah, who is he playing with? Portland? KEIGHTLEY: He's uh, no he's out with the, the uh, Clippers. SUCHANEK: Oh, the Clippers, okay. KEIGHTLEY: He signed a, a two-year contract and, you know, he had already some big games in the early practice sessions and he had some big games at the end of the year last year. SUCHANEK: I remember that. KEIGHTLEY: But... SUCHANEK: Well, he could always shoot. KEIGHTLEY: Yes. SUCHANEK: He had a good shot. KEIGHTLEY: Yes, he, he could shoot the ball. And you, you just absolutely won't find a better young man than Kelenna. He came, he came back by here this summer and stayed a couple of days, still look just like he did, he did the day he walked on this campus. SUCHANEK: Hard to improve on that body. KEIGHTLEY: You can't, you can't do it, you know? There's few people that have that and he was one of them that was blessed with it. SUCHANEK: Speaking of uh, players that, that were really in good shape, I, I once heard that Tony Delk had a body fat of 8%. Do you remember that? KEIGHTLEY: Yeah, well... SUCHANEK: And he used to cramp quite a bit. KEIGHTLEY: Yes he, yes. He, you know, he, he suffered cramps almost every game and, you know, today here in 2007 we've got a, a group of players that only have somewhere around 5 to 6% body fat. SUCHANEK: Oh really, wow. KEIGHTLEY: And, and one in particular now, I think of Tony, that you mention it, is really a, a fine young man that's playing for us now by the name of Jodie Meeks. He's bothered with cramps. In fact, just day before yesterday, right near the end of an extended scrimmage we had, he went in and leaped for a lay-up and came down and fell to the floor and grabbed his leg. Of course, you know, you're apprehensive when they do that but, but it was just a leg cramp. And that happened to him last year in a game that we lost at Vanderbilt, right near the end of the game. SUCHANEK: I remember that. KEIGHTLEY: He just, he made a basket and then he went down in a heap. He just cramped up and he, you know what, he jumps up and he, he, he wouldn't, he wouldn't take himself out of the game. Just like the other day out here. He limped and hopped back down the floor and played through it but you know if they are severe enough, you can't play through 'em. Kenny Walker had the same problem as Tony Delk. SUCHANEK: Is it because they don't get enough fluid? KEIGHTLEY: That's, see, that's the general consensus. Every time you have a timeout, they just try to force water down 'em and, you know, I don't know. We've got all kinds of theories and sports drinks and whatever. They're supposed to help your body recover but like I don't want to knock sports drink but just like I always tell these people, "We won five national championships on water." (SUCHANEK: laughing). So you can't throw a little coloring in it and say, "Hey, this, this makes your body recover in a hurry." SUCHANEK: We used to take salt tablets. Do they still take salt tablets? KEIGHTLEY: Well, yes, we have here at this, at you know, years ago. We, you know, back to that, when I was in the service, and in that extensive training, that salt tablets were everywhere, by every fountain. You'd go up and gouge you out four or five and take 'em. And, you know what, I'm not certain about some things. We're so advanced today that we have not run away from some of the older systems that actually worked. Such as water and salt tablets. SUCHANEK: Reintroduce it. (SUCHANEK: laughing). KEIGHTLEY: That's right. Yes we'll try, yes. We'll try something new today, a drink of water. (SUCHANEK and KEIGHTLEY: laughing). SUCHANEK: You mentioned, with Kelenna, he had some personal things going on in his life. I know his, I think his father had heart surgery or heart transplant surgery? KEIGHTLEY: He had a heart transplant. SUCHANEK: And also, he had financial trouble, as well. And I think that's one of the reasons that Kelenna left early. KEIGHTLEY: That absolutely was. He had uh, you know, and his mother is, is a certified medical doctor and, and a wonderful woman and very, very close-knit family. But you know, Kelenna became their breadwinner because the mother they had, he had two brothers and, and a sister and they, they were very close-knit family and it was unfortunate that he had, you know, that he, he felt the need to leave. SUCHANEK: If he would have stayed his senior year, do you think he would've been a first round? KEIGHTLEY: Oh, he would've been a lottery pick. Yes, he would've been a lottery pick. SUCHANEK: Let's talk about Antwain Barbour. KEIGHTLEY: You know, Antwain was a guy that blossomed as a senior in high school. He actually was not a starter as a junior in high school and uh... SUCHANEK: Was he from E-town? KEIGHTLEY: He's from E-town and he's another one of the kids in a long line of kids we've, that we've had, had a great personality. And he, he went to junior college and was highly sought after and, of course, nationally we had an advantage because we knew Coach Haire, who coached him in high school. And then, being from the state and he was a phenomenal shooter but, you know, when he, when, when he came in here, he never did really get comfortable in our offense and never, and never produced. SUCHANEK: It seemed like he, he wanted to, he would have been better in, in a faster offense. KEIGHTLEY: He, he, he did in a hurry. Yep, that's what he wanted to do. And, when he'd get in a game, he couldn't wait, you know, to get a shot and... SUCHANEK: And then he couldn't hit it. KEIGHTLEY: And then, he couldn't, you know, he was pressing. He just wasn't relaxed. But, you know, he's uh, he tried, well, he never, he couldn't latch on in the pros but he's played in various places overseas, like I say, in most cases, it's a polite way to say you're unemployed. But he puts up great numbers and he's, he's another kid that he's a joy to see because he never, he never had a day that he wasn't happy. SUCHANEK: What kind of student was he? KEIGHTLEY: He was a, he was a, a, just a passing student. Let's put it that a way. SUCHANEK: Did he graduate, or not? KEIGHTLEY: No, he hadn't graduated. SUCHANEK: Okay. KEIGHTLEY: Yes, you know, he went to the junior college and sometimes that does a, gets ya', it'll get you eligible but it also puts you further behind because there is no comparison between JuCo and the courses that you gonna have to take before you graduate and when you get to college you're, sometimes you get lost in that shuffle. SUCHANEK: Is there more pressure now from the administration on the coaches to get their players to graduate? KEIGHTLEY: Oh yeah, the NCAA, you know now, puts pressure on the coaches. It's highly important because if you don't graduate X. amount of your students, you stand to lose a scholarship. And, you know, even everybody that leaves your program early, you know, like Randolph Morris who is going, he is going to graduate. So he, you know, he don't hurt us but, you know... SUCHANEK: How long, how long do they give them to graduate? Six years, is it? KEIGHTLEY: They, they, they have, I think it's seven years. SUCHANEK: Seven years? KEIGHTLEY: Yes. SUCHANEK: Okay. Um hum. How are we doing? KEIGHTLEY: What's that? SUCHANEK: How's our program... KEIGHTLEY: Oh our, our program is, is, is doing, doing well. SUCHANEK: Okay. KEIGHTLEY: Yeah, it's, it's, it's, you know the coaches, that's the reason every day they, they have to encourage they don't miss classes and, and Coach Smith was adamant in that because if you miss a class or a tutor there is, there is some little remedial punishment awaiting for you because, you know, there's not, not much, much excuse for not going to class. SUCHANEK: Of course if you've, if you've practiced twice in one evening it might be hard to get up for the eight o'clock class. KEIGHTLEY: But we know that (KEIGHTLEY and SUCHANEK: laughing) we know a lot of people were working two shifts just to, to exist in society and they have to get up to keep their job so, that away with a student, he's got to get up to keep his scholarship so he don't have to work two shifts when he gets out of here. I'm assuming that's the logic in that. (SUCHANEK: laughing). SUCHANEK: Have they, have they been told that? KEIGHTLEY: Oh yes. (SUCHANEK and KEIGHTLEY: laughing). SUCHANEK: Yeah, I think you're right; Barbour never did fulfill his promise. KEIGHTLEY: No, no he did not. SUCHANEK: And, I think that you are exactly right because it never look like he was comfortable with that offense. KEIGHTLEY: No, he just, it just happens to some people, you know? We've had some really potentially great players that never got comfortable. SUCHANEK: How about Bernard Cote? KEIGHTLEY: Oh, Bernie had, Bernie the Canadian. You know, at the time we recruited him he, he didn't have great stats in Canada but yet, he was a very bright young man and was a hard worker. He came in here and, you know, he's a guy who never missed class. Always had a high GPA but he had some back problems and that curtailed his productivity here at Kentucky, you know, and he, he transferred, went to Northwestern and actually, really never did play any because of that back problem. SUCHANEK: How, was he here one or two years? KEIGHTLEY: He was here two years. SUCHANEK: Two years, okay. (Loud phone rings and background). That's you. That's good. Yeah, I saw in the paper where a couple of guys broke their noses? Perry Stevenson and... KEIGHTLEY: Yes, yes. And not only that, we got two managers with broken noses. SUCHANEK: Oh, you're kidding. (SUCHANEK and KEIGHTLEY: laughing). I'd like to be an ENT doctor right now. KEIGHTLEY: Sanford Archer, over at the med center, has got a land off his business suddenly. SUCHANEK: Well, I had mine rearranged a couple of times but never broken. KEIGHTLEY: Well... SUCHANEK: How about Preston LeMaster? KEIGHTLEY: Well, you know, we just consider him a local boy and a son of Jim LeMaster. Of course, that was a famed member of Rupp's Runts, you know, he's from, well Jim was from Bourbon County and, of course, yeah, I guess, Jim still lives in Bourbon County but he's just a local, local kid who was a good player. He could have played as a starter at many, many Division I schools. SUCHANEK: Oh, really? KEIGHTLEY: He, but, you know, he's just like his dad. His dad was same way. He, his dad was skilled enough to play at about an college he wanted to play at but he stayed here as a member of Rupp's Runts, never complained and that's what really made Rupp's Runts was that bunch of players that was on that squad. They were all talented players but they kept the peace. They didn't complain and they were very supportive and unselfish and Preston falls right into that category. It's a hereditary trait. He was, he was plenty skilled enough to have played a lot of basketball at, at any other school and I would've liked to have seen him played a little bit more here. But, it didn't work out and Preston is a, is a happy kid now. He's, just this year he's got a, he's an assistant coach at Bourbon County, which is his home school. So it looks like the table is being set for things down the road for Preston LeMaster who most deservedly should have everything that life could give him. SUCHANEK: Who were some of the, uh, on the flip side, who were some of the, the bigger complainers about not getting playing time? Has it been more of a recent thing? KEIGHTLEY: Well, well, I don't know, it's, of course, as I've stated, in the early years, you, you didn't complain because you didn't want to lose your scholarship. But, you know, you have players that transfer for various reasons. Some of them be, you know lack of playing time such as maybe Rekalin Sims but, by and large, we, we, you know, have not lost too many just because of lack of playing time. The ones that's transferred, most of the time, have been victims of their own making. Rather than being a skilled player that wasn't getting to play enough. So... SUCHANEK: Was there anyone that was proved to be a distraction or disruption to the team? KEIGHTLEY: I, no, not, not, not really. You know, the coaches we've had are too competent to let that sort of thing happen. So, I'm sure, you know, they're, they're people that, that we would like to see transfer but you never encourage it because you give 'em that scholarship and maybe you made a mistake in your judgment but you honor, you have to honor your mistakes as well as the good ones that you do make. SUCHANEK: I know during Pitino's years, sometimes he would recruit more people than he had scholarships for and I think the, the perception was, there was some guys on the team that, you know, he was encouraging to leave, so to free up the scholarships. KEIGHTLEY: Well, most of the time, you know, there's a lot of coaches, you know, Denny Crumb, he's spent a lifetime, you know, of having more people sign than he really had scholarships for. But, most of the time, the players that are marginal and if you sign maybe a couple of more than what you normally might sign, they, they read the handwriting and if they truly want to play, they're willing to take a little step down and go somewhere else to, to give it a shot. And, of course, the quality of kids has a lot to do with that. You know, you just can't say, "Hey, you got a great kid" and tell him, you know give 'em a scholarship and then next year you just can't say, "Hey, you just got to go somewhere else." You know, I know that if they, most of our kids would be the quality kids that would speak with the coaching staff and discuss their future and our coaches you know, I know is upfront enough to tell 'em what the situation looks like but we never turn one out that didn't want to go. SUCHANEK: I was going to ask you to too, has any player, do they come in here and talk to you confidentially and say, you know, "Mr. KEIGHTLEY, I, you know, you think it would be an idea if I can go somewhere else at play?" KEIGHTLEY: Well yeah, yes, you know, they did, yes in, you know, in their juvenile, roundabout way. Yes they, they will discuss it and, you know, it's not a like down at the old country store. We sit down and have a round robin discussion. We have a manager or two and everybody has a little input into it. Just opinions and... SUCHANEK: I mean, has, has any player ever come to you and said, you know, "Mr. Keightley should I transfer?" KEIGHTLEY: Well, they'll ask, well, most of the time they say, "What do you, what do you think my future is here?" The haunted: And you're, you're upfront with them? KEIGHTLEY: And I always say, "Well, you know, I, the best that I can tell you is, it's probably what you're going to make it." That's about the best answer you could give 'em. Parents sometimes, you know, cause unrest with kids now and that's only, you know, only natural and that starts in little league play. You know, your kid's just not playing enough and it's the coach's fault. He needs another coach. You know, back to talking about Preston LeMaster, you know, one, you know, a question sometimes leads to, to something that just happened this week. Herky Rupp called me and his son, Chip is got, got a kid. He is about oh, 9 or 10 years old. Of course, that's Herky's grandchild and Chip is in, is in the medical supply sales. He's doing quite well. But he supposed to be the coach of, of this, you know, little league team. And Herky called me to ask me what I thought about Preston LeMaster if he might be interested and would he be a good person to call to see about helping Chip coach that team. And, you know what, since you asked me about the, about Preston and we go back and talk about his dad, that shows you what high esteem LeMaster family was held in the Rupp family. That he would call and ask if, specifically about President LeMaster because I know he, you know, Herky's retired and I guess he's thinking about who, you know, would be a good, clean, hard working person kind of an example to coach his grandson. So he thought of Preston LeMaster. SUCHANEK: Pretty, that's a, that's a pretty high accolade. KEIGHTLEY: Yes it is, yes. SUCHANEK: Here's another fellow that also came with a, with a, almost with a football player's body and that's Ravi Moss and we talked about him actually playing football. KEIGHTLEY: Yes, yes. SUCHANEK: But he, he was somebody who was unheralded when he came. KEIGHTLEY: Oh yes, yes, he was, you know, Ravi was most valuable player in that Class A Tournament they used to have, well, they still have it, the small schools. But Ravi was one of the more fierce competitors that you can ever put on the floor and he was the same way in practice and you know when Ravi was here on an academic scholarship, and he was a walk on. SUCHANEK: I remember that. KEIGHTLEY: Yes, and but, Ravi was one of the better athletes and, in one of the more inspirational guys that we had in the period of time that he was here because there was no quit in his body. And, you know, he was another, well he was a role model and its, he, he still lives. He, he's in, into pharmaceutical sales at this time and doing quite well. He presents himself well, he's articulate and, you know, just a, a quality person that again, he is another one that probably, maybe should have played more minutes than he played that there's not enough minutes for everybody, you know. SUCHANEK: Well he played quite a few when he was a senior. KEIGHTLEY: Yes he did, yes. SUCHANEK: In fact he started some games when he was a senior. KEIGHTLEY: Yes he did and he, I'll tell you, he always, he was the type of player that gave you, when you brought him off the bench as a substitute, he picked your team up instead of weakening your team. Because of the enthusiasm and energy that he added to, to the starting team. And, yes, he, he is one that was quite overlooked. SUCHANEK: And here's another fellow that may be one of your favorites, Brandon Stockton? KEIGHTLEY: Oh, oh, little, little brother. Yes, little brother came in here last Friday, I guess I was and he's, he's, he's going to play (phone ringing loudly in background) let me see if it's not a follow up on that other thing. SUCHANEK: Unintelligible. Brandon Stockton. KEIGHTLEY: Brandon Stockton, yeah, back to Brandon. SUCHANEK: Was he from Hopkinsville or Bowling Green? KEIGHTLEY: He, Glasgow. SUCHANEK: Glasgow, okay. KEIGHTLEY: Yes, Glasgow. You know, he was a little fellow about 5'9' was, was a fine basketball player just a, you know, little in over his head size wise not with this heart. But another in a long line of, of really great academic students and, of course, he graduated, no problems about 3 1/2 years. That's about how long it took him to do it. But now he is, he has a position here in town, I, working with some in the restaurant business but he is still trying to play basketball in that developmental league. And I told him the other day, I said, "Son, just lay that ball down" because last year he played with the Knoxville team in that CBA or developmental league and it don't, you know, it's just not going to happen. SUCHANEK: He's just too short. KEIGHTLEY: Like I told him, know what, he could write his own ticket because he's such a good representative. Not only that he's, this year he has signed on with the Pikeville, no, it's the Eastern Kentucky Miners. SUCHANEK: Right. KEIGHTLEY: Eastern Kentucky Miners. He is going to be a member of that team. SUCHANEK: Any other players, former UK players on that team? KEIGHTLEY: Well, you know, they did, they drafted Obrzut I guess, got off there pretty light. SUCHANEK: Yeah, who was that? KEIGHTLEY: That's uh, was the basketball operations person for women's basketball. SUCHANEK: Did she say they're going to scrimmage guys? KEIGHTLEY: Yeah, today, there is something I don't understand about this, this women's thing, really. Yes, so many, most, most colleges, the coaches for women's teams... SUCHANEK: Are men. KEIGHTLEY: Use men, no, use male players to practice against. SUCHANEK: Oh, really? KEIGHTLEY: Now, I really don't understand this. SUCHANEK: Well, who did they get? KEIGHTLEY: We are trying to develop women athletes and how can they get better standing on the sideline watching five guys out there playing against five of the women? How, you don't give them a chance to develop. I mean, I don't understand that part about the, about the situation. SUCHANEK: Well they, they probably want to play against; I don't know what, what male players are getting, if their intramural players or what? KEIGHTLEY: Well, they just get, you know, students like you advertise here for walk on and it takes a special type kid to want to come in here everyday to scrimmage against the girls. But they, they've been doing this for several years. Of course the guys are stronger... SUCHANEK: But their... KEIGHTLEY: You know, it's more competition. SUCHANEK: But, but they are not, they are not a team. KEIGHTLEY: But they're not developing, no, you know you may be up in seven or eight girls and you got another seven or eight that's not getting a chance to develop that all. SUCHANEK: Right, even if you substitute freely. KEIGHTLEY: Yes, yes, it just, I mean it doesn't make sense to me but I'm not in that business so... SUCHANEK: You know, I don't know, are, are, are these male players running plays or are they just freelancing because I mean it's different when you're playing against a team that's got plays. KEIGHTLEY: No, no they just, freelancing, yes. SUCHANEK: You're not learning anything there. KEIGHTLEY: No, no, nothing. SUCHANEK: I can't imagine they're setting picks or anything of that nature. KEIGHTLEY: Yeah. SUCHANEK: Oh well. KEIGHTLEY: But, you know, like you've said before, that old adage, it's, you know, coaches do certain things like it's a, monkey see monkey do, you know? This coach does it and the next thing you know, this coach does it and the first thing you know, all the coaches thinks that's the way you do it. SUCHANEK: Well, it's the same thing in, in baseball or football, even. Everyone tries to emulate the last winner. KEIGHTLEY: Yes, right. SUCHANEK: Everybody tried to do the West Coast offense, remember? KEIGHTLEY: Yes, yes. SUCHANEK: In football. KEIGHTLEY: And now, it spilled over to country music. (SUCHANEK: laughing). Every singer tries to sound like the last one that sung. And unfortunately, they all sound alike. And none of them can really sing. (SUCHANEK and KEIGHTLEY: laughing). SUCHANEK: Not like (unintelligible), right? KEIGHTLEY: We really get in, we getting into this thing pretty deeply now. Not unlike college coaches, men's. When we have redefined our positions on the floor, which I've talked about I'm sure several times in this, the 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. I started with two forwards, a center, and two guards. But now, you can't be really a two if you're a one. Heaven forbid. SUCHANEK: Right. All ones want to be a two. KEIGHTLEY: Yes, that's it. That's right. (KEIGHTLEY am SUCHANEK: laughing). SUCHANEK: No one really wants to be a one. KEIGHTLEY: But most, most coaches don't care if one can't score and I don't understand that either. SUCHANEK: That's right; well at least our last coach didn't. (KEIGHTLEY and SUCHANEK: laughing). KEIGHTLEY: Well... SUCHANEK: He didn't, he didn't recruit shooters anyway for that, for that point guard position, did he? KEIGHTLEY: Yeah. (KEIGHTLEY: laughing). SUCHANEK: Wayne Turner and its... KEIGHTLEY: Yes, well... SUCHANEK: And Hawkins? They couldn't shoot a lick. KEIGHTLEY: Yeah, right. (KEIGHTLEY: laughing). Yes sir. SUCHANEK: But you were saying about the East Kentucky... KEIGHTLEY: Miners? Yeah. They are, they drafted Obrzut and... SUCHANEK: I thought he was going back to Poland? KEIGHTLEY: What is today? This is Tuesday. Woo called me last Friday. He is, he's still with the Pacers, and he is on that, you know... SUCHANEK: Developmental school? KEIGHTLEY: Conditional contract? SUCHANEK: Yeah. KEIGHTLEY: And he still, he is still sticking with them. SUCHANEK: How about that. KEIGHTLEY: Which is quite encouraging. SUCHANEK: We'll maybe they've got him facing the basket. KEIGHTLEY: They might yeah, you know, they might put him on their taxi squad, you know, that injured reserve I think is what I think they choose to call it and they keep him around for practice and that sort of thing. And you got to hope that, you know, he'd be great for that. Because he brings you a lot of, no jumping ability, but he is so strong and takes up so much space that he, he is a great practice player. SUCHANEK: Well, and maybe they are, they've got him facing, facing the basket instead of playing with his back to it. KEIGHTLEY: Yeah, that, that is truly helpful to Woo. SUCHANEK: Because he can shoot the ball. KEIGHTLEY: He can shoot it, yes. SUCHANEK: For a big man he's shooting down at, at the rim. KEIGHTLEY: Yes, but... SUCHANEK: Speaking of people shooting down at rim, how about Shagari Alleyne? KEIGHTLEY: About what? SUCHANEK: Shagari Alleyne? Shooting down at the basket? KEIGHTLEY: Oh yes, Shag man, yes, yes. Old shag man, I see he got cut by the 76ers in a hurry. We were talking about him the other day. He, he's another kid I wish could find something that he could really do in life and I don't know what, what it would be at this time because he's a pleasant young man. SUCHANEK: He just can't play. KEIGHTLEY: He just can't play. Just, just cannot play. And, you know I have no idea I'm sure somewhere, somebody, maybe they will, maybe they'll pick him up to travel with the Globetrotters or somebody like that, you know? Like the Washington Nationals used to, they used to supply the competition. SUCHANEK: Right. KEIGHTLEY: Which they never, ever beat 'em but... SUCHANEK: Well, I think they beat 'em, yeah I think they beat 'em two or three times, early, early in their existence when they really played a game. KEIGHTLEY: Yeah. (KEIGHTLEY: laughing). SUCHANEK: Of course no one thought Manute Bol could play, either. KEIGHTLEY: No, they did, that's right. Yep. SUCHANEK: And he, he made a career in the NBA for... KEIGHTLEY: Yes he did. SUCHANEK: Five or six years. KEIGHTLEY: Yeah, he made five or six years. He made some money. SUCHANEK: Yeah. KEIGHTLEY: And I expect, well, Yao Ming, I guess, is another of the freaks of nature that has made good money and then we've got another one coming and that's going to play with who is at Milwaukee Bucks? SUCHANEK: A Chinese player? KEIGHTLEY: Yeah. SUCHANEK: Yeah, he's real tall? KEIGHTLEY: Yes, he... SUCHANEK: 7'- 4"? Or something like that? KEIGHTLEY: Yeah, 7'-4" or 5", something like that. SUCHANEK: Yeah, I haven't seen him play yet. KEIGHTLEY: I had a, I don't know if we discuss this, I, I think we did, I had really a good friend, you can't say a man in Japan is your good friend but he, he, he was and is but I haven't heard from him for an extended period now but, a 7' 6" guy. Did we talk about Cheebe Okayama? SUCHANEK: No. That's the first time I've ever heard that name. KEIGHTLEY: Yes, Cheebe Okayama. He is, he weighed 310 pounds and was 7'-6" and he had take this medication to control his growth hormones and, and, well, I guess he, he's got to take it the rest of his life but he, he came to the United States and he played for Portland. This has then, let's see, '78, '76, 24, it's been about 30 years ago. He stayed in the states for about two years in Portland but he was so big he couldn't run, had bad knees but one of their real, one of the real bright Japanese people that I ever met and he was such a freak of a nature. It's like traveling with a sideshow just to, you know, travel with him. SUCHANEK: How, how did you meet him? KEIGHTLEY: The national team, Japanese national team came here in early '78 and stayed a month. And, I got acquainted with all those Japanese Olympic Team is actually what they were. And their team was in the developmental stage at that, that period of time and Cheebe was, was kind of a project but he, he was with that national team and became a real good buddy of mine. He, he spoke rather fluent English but he was such a caring, loving individual. And then, when I, I went to Japan three different times and always hooked up with Cheebe and chummed with Cheebe while, while I was in Japan. I even went to, we were in, let's see, what was the, in Kyoto, that's the city that was spared in World War II. I went to Kyoto with Cheebe, we went, there was some kind of days they were celebrating. You know, they're big on dragons and that sort of thing in Japan. And I went with Cheebe and Cheebe was doing the lantern dance. That's where you dance with these lights or candles or whatever on 'em and you try to see how low down you can go and keep those things balanced and it was something hilarious. The people, you know, the Japanese were in awe of Cheebe because of his size and his demeanor. And, of course, me being, me being an American with him, that, that created a little more excitement because a lot of people around Kyoto, unlike Tokyo. Tokyo is like being in San Francisco but you get into some of those outlying cities and they don't see, you know, very many Americans or hadn't back at that time. But, you know, that was very, they were very, very interesting trips. And Cheebe got married and I wish I had their picture here to show you of Cheebe and his wife. Beautiful Japanese girl. SUCHANEK: So you stay in touch? KEIGHTLEY: Yes, yes. SUCHANEK: What were you doing in Japan? Just on vacation or... KEIGHTLEY: No, we went, we went basketball connected. SUCHANEK: Oh, okay. KEIGHTLEY: They, Japanese are trying to develop basketball. I'll tell you who's made a career out of Japanese basketball is a very successful college coach here in the United States, Pete Yule, from out in California. And they call him Peter Son over in, in Japan. But you know, like I told you, I think, see we talk so much it's hard to say what I might have told you. SUCHANEK: Well, we've got a bunch of players go over there. KEIGHTLEY: Yes. SUCHANEK: And be successful. KEIGHTLEY: Yes but... SUCHANEK: Johnson was one of 'em. KEIGHTLEY: Like I, you know, I've said basketball is a relative new sports to start with. As I said, you know I've only actually, in my lifetime, only missed 36 years of basketball. (KEIGHTLEY and SUCHANEK: laughing). But, and, you know, I as I say (phone ringing loudly and background) the Americans really introduced basketball... SUCHANEK: After World War II. KEIGHTLEY: Yes, yes. That's won't work. It's not necessary. It just quits ringing. It quits. SUCHANEK: Really the, to wrap up this session and, I guess as the season goes on, and after this season we'll, we'll visit again and talk about this past year but I've always been interested in, in the relationship between UK and its former players. You know, once they leave here, whether they leave early or they gradually (phone ringing loudly and background)... KEIGHTLEY: Whatever that is. (KEIGHTLEY and SUCHANEK: laughing). SUCHANEK: I was wondering about the relationship between, you know, UK and its former players. Does UK, the athletic department, make an effort to stay in touch with her former players? Do they ever lend them any kind of assistance? Not monetary but, as far as maybe finding jobs (phone ringing loudly and background) or something of that nature? KEIGHTLEY: Yeah. (Unintelligible). He helped us get Antoine Walker. SUCHANEK: Okay. Well then you should talk to him. He might help you out again. (KEIGHTLEY and SUCHANEK: laughing). KEIGHTLEY: You can't never tell. SUCHANEK: That's right, anyway, UK and its relationship with its former players. Can you talk about that a little bit? KEIGHTLEY: Yeah, yes. SUCHANEK: I know they, they stay in touch with you and I was wondering about the athletic department, in particular. Is there anything that they, they do to try to stay in touch? KEIGHTLEY: Well, you know, I think we probably here, society has changed, you know, out of the past when people came here they, if they left, as we talked of earlier, so many former athletes stay here. But, you know, once they left, if they lived out of state, they rarely ever had contract with 'em. But, I think it was because of the period of time. It was primarily left up to, we'll say, the former athlete to stay in touch and then, you know the administration, it's hard for them to have time to stay in touch with, well, like right now, we have something like 522 athletes. And, of course, back, I'd say, you know, 30 years ago, we probably only had maybe 250. But still, every year, you know, that just multiplies. It goes up into the thousands. So really, it's kind of up to the former athlete to stay in touch. And I know, I stay in touch but, you know, they call and I doubt if they call the athletic director because (KEIGHTLEY: laughing) that's kind of a little funny. Well yeah, it's funny. When I went into the University of Kentucky Hall of Fame and we were introduced at a football game we had all of the, you know, the first members of the Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame. I, I made that group. So, they lined us all up on a yard line at the football game and I'm standing next to Rick Kestner from Belfry, Kentucky. One of the, one of the better ends we ever had here. But, he's really a fun guy so, you know, if you're, if you're an ex-athlete about, probably only about 10% ever remember who you were because the years pass by and you got a new breed of fans. But anyhow, you know, when they introduced me I got, I got a pretty good ovation (SUCHANEK and KEIGHTLEY: laughing). And, you know, one of the guys standing, I forget who it was, standing next to Pelphrey said, "Damn, did you hear that ovation for KEIGHTLEY?" Old Kestner said, "Well, I'll tell you why he got it. I just lettered three years, he's lettered 44." (SUCHANEK and KEIGHTLEY: laughing). That's been about three years ago. But, I know, you know, Mitch is, is, he really, he wants to bring all of the ex-athletes, keep 'em in touch. We're having now, like this year, we're bringing back three national championship teams. Now, we've had a reunion maybe a few years back for all of 'em but, you know, were keeping it renewed. SUCHANEK: When did that start? KEIGHTLEY: We have uh, well, that really, you know what? That really didn't get started until back in the late 70's. SUCHANEK: Bringing teams back? KEIGHTLEY: Yes, to bring teams back. But, you know, this, this weekend, were bringing back the 1977 football team. That was one of the better football teams we've had with Derek Ramsey, Art Still. SUCHANEK: Was that Fran Curci's team? KEIGHTLEY: Fran Cerci and they'll all be here this weekend. And, you know, I look forward to seeing them because Fran and his staff's offices were here at the Coliseum. And, as I told you earlier, I used to get to know all the football players like I did the basketball players. SUCHANEK: Right. KEIGHTLEY: But, you know, we're bringing back the 1948 Rupp team, the national championship, and, you know, that numbers dwindled considerably. We're bringing back 1958 and then 1978. We gonna bring back the '58 team for the Seattle exhibition game because that's who we beat for the national title. So they, they will be in, in about a little over two weeks. SUCHANEK: Well, you've been here for the, a lot of the, a lot of those years that, that, you know, Kentucky now looks upon as tradition. And, and you're actually looked, looked at upon as a, a state landmark, almost. (SUCHANEK: laughing). A historical figure. KEIGHTLEY: Well... SUCHANEK: You know, and that's why, that's one of the reasons we wanted to sit down and get your memories about all that time but... KEIGHTLEY: Yes, yes. SUCHANEK: But, you know, the history of, of UK basketball, the tradition, is one of the things that they always bring to new recruits, when they're trying to recruit players. The tradition here and you been a part of all of that. KEIGHTLEY: Yes I, you know, when I look back now, I never, ever expected to happen. I never expected to be here anything like this many of years. And it's something to me, you know, that grew on me as times went along and, and it, as I've stated earlier, it afforded me the opportunities to meet people from all walks of life. And its, you knows, it's nothing that I've ever accomplished other than just being a human being. It's, I've tried to be congenial with people and, and, of course, I, I, I love people. I like to be around people. SUCHANEK: Have you always been like that? KEIGHTLEY: Yes, no I've, no, I've always been that a way. But, the, I guess, the bottom line is, Jeff, I never, ever tried to be anything else but just me, every day. I'm, you know, I'm exactly, you know, it's like when I use the English language. I know the English language pretty well but you know what? I use the language as I knew it when I was a young person growing up and I still talk the same way and still do the same things and never, you know, never failed to speak to anybody you see, don't care where it is. And it really bothers me when you speak to somebody say in the hallway of the Coliseum and, I'm speaking to young people now, and I say good morning and they don't respond. I have, I have a problem with that. Because I know they've got a problem. It's not my problem, it's theirs. So they've got some kind of problem that I wish they could overcome. SUCHANEK: They have issues. (SUCHANEK: laughing). KEIGHTLEY: That's right. You can't be happy that a way. SUCHANEK: Do you still enjoy your job? KEIGHTLEY: What's that? SUCHANEK: Do you still enjoy the job? KEIGHTLEY: Oh yes, yes sir. SUCHANEK: Still enjoy coming to work out 4 o'clock in the morning? KEIGHTLEY: Yes, I really, you know, one of my pet peeves is to be, even think about being late for work because you may miss something. You know, when you get in this, in this building, like as early as I was here this morning, you know, 5:15, I would have missed A.J. Stewart had I, I been any later. (KEIGHTLEY and SUCHANEK: laughing). SUCHANEK: And his great quote, right? KEIGHTLEY: Yeah, that's it. SUCHANEK: I'm getting better. KEIGHTLEY: That's right. So, you know, you feed off of that for the day. SUCHANEK: But when you started in this job back in 19... KEIGHTLEY: 61. SUCHANEK: 61, and, and people think of UK basketball, you're also part of that face of UK basketball in this state when they think of UK basketball. They think about Adolph Rupp, Joe B. Hall, Rick Pitino, Tubby Smith, Billy Gillispie, and Bill KEIGHTLEY. When you started in '61, did you ever imagine that he would be the face of Kentucky basketball? KEIGHTLEY: Oh well, no, no. I never thought of it. SUCHANEK: Are you surprised at, at your notoriety? KEIGHTLEY: You know, yes, I, I really am. You know, I really, really and this is wonderful, you know, I really can't go anywhere that I'm not going to see somebody that, that knows me and it, it don't take long. But, you know, that's surprising to me, yes. It's got to be. I never, you know, it wasn't something, you know, that I try to exploit to basketball. It just happened. SUCHANEK: How many speaking engagements to you do a year? KEIGHTLEY: Well, you know, I, Jeff I, I probably do maybe 25 maybe. But it, it's not that I mind to speak but it's, it's the travel part of it and, and I'm so involved here in the daily operations that, you know, I feel the need to be here rather than sitting in a car traveling for two hours someplace to speak (loud phone ringing and background) to maybe 75 people for 30 minutes when I could stay here and see that many people in an hour. (SUCHANEK and KEIGHTLEY: laughing). Oh that's, I don't even know where 423 is. (Referencing a phone call). (SUCHANEK: laughing). SUCHANEK: But being in the position you are in, in the face of Kentucky basketball, do you feel like extra pressure on yourself when you go out and, and, or you get invited to speak? Do you feel like you have to even though you may not want to or do you feel like when you're making a presentation there's a little pressure on you to represent the athletic department? KEIGHTLEY: Well yes, you know, like when I get the, the invitations or phone calls or letters, I feel like it's, it's my duty. And I feel like if I turn it down I've, I've let people, well, at least let somebody down that, that wanted my presence. And yeah, there, there is some pressure with that. You know, you really, you really want to, you want to be there yes, but inwardly you wish you didn't have to go. SUCHANEK: Right. KEIGHTLEY: Yes, and... SUCHANEK: Of course once you get there, you enjoy yourself. KEIGHTLEY: Oh yeah, you're going to enjoy yourself because you enjoy people. You know, this, as I say, it's off the record and it's not off the record. Lots of times, like now, when I go to our football games, it becomes a chore. Because I, you know, it, it's difficult for me to, to sit and, and watch a football game without interruptions and, which, which is good that you're recognize, but which is bad. The fact that you really can't relax and enjoy what's at hand at the time the same way a lot, very true of going to restaurants to eat. SUCHANEK: Well, I was just going to say, you know, a lot of these professional athletes hate to go out to eat because they're always besieged by autograph seekers or people who want to talk to them and they, they can't have an uninterrupted meal with their family. KEIGHTLEY: Yes, you know, I rarely go out to lunch. When I come here I just stay because if I go, well say, Wheeler's Pharmacy. I go in, I know practically everybody there so, you know, we're talking across counters and, and, and, that's, that's all good. SUCHANEK: But still, it's almost like having to be on for 24 hours. KEIGHTLEY: Yes, yes, yes. SUCHANEK: It's hard. KEIGHTLEY: Your go button's on that's for certain. Yep it is. SUCHANEK: And, do you feel like the athletic department appreciates what you do? KEIGHTLEY: Oh yes, I, I know they do. SUCHANEK: Okay. KEIGHTLEY: Yes I know that. Yep they, yep they, that's, I fully understand, you know? I've always supported everybody we've had in the department because this is the University of Kentucky and if it's the University of Kentucky then I'm going to support it regardless of who it is. So it, they, they, they appreciate what I do and they don't have to tell me because I know they appreciate it. I mean I see it in the way, you know, that I'm accepted with them and whatever, whatever I, you know, would want to do, which is not going to cause them any expense to ask 'em to send me different places because I really don't want to go. I want to stay right here. It's uh, we've been blessed with great administrators, we really have. And as I've said before, if in living my life I, if I can retrace my steps and do it all again, I'd gladly packed up and started it over today. SUCHANEK: Even, even going down to... KEIGHTLEY: And still be happy. SUCHANEK: Paris Island? KEIGHTLEY: I'd go through it again. (SUCHANEK: laughing). Yes siree, every step, every drop of sweat. Yes sir, every one of 'em. But still, I'd want to be back where I am here today, too. So... SUCHANEK: That's right. Well, I think we'll go ahead and stop there. (SUCHANEK and KEIGHTLEY: laughing). In the last interview of the series, Keightley continues his discussion of players in the early to mid-2000s, including Kelenna Azubuike, Antwain Barbour, and Preston LeMaster. He discusses his role as confidant and advisor to players, and the increasing push by Athletics Director, Mitch Barnhart, to keep in contact with former athletes. Keightley ends the interview reflecting on his long tenure at UK, his treatment here, and the sometimes inconvenient notoriety he experiences in public. UKAW; University of Kentucky Men's Basketball