Academics Too Tall a Task for Alleyne

June 6th, 2006
Pick a reason why Shagari Alleyne, Kentucky’s 7’3” senior to-be, didn’t enjoy schoolwork. Maybe the small desks were uncomfortable, or the stares of classmates were distracting.  Maybe he had nothing to wear. Or perhaps his alarm clock is broken.


Whatever the excuse is, it has proved to be his last. In late May, WLEX, a Lexington TV station, reported that Alleyne was ruled academically ineligible, and his status for next season was still up in the air. The news came on the heels of a season in which Alleyne was suspended at least twice for academic violations.  


Then, the UK athletic department reported on June 7 that Shagari has been granted a release by Coach Tubby Smith, and will transfer, although his destination is still unknown.  The question here for UK fans may be just this – who cares?


Alleyne is a player who has simply wasted an opportunity he probably should have never had in the first place.  After three unimpressive years, he boasts career averages of 2 points and 1.3 rebounds per game. On a team desperate for rebounding last year, the tallest man in the conference played more than 10 minutes in a game only three times, and registered 13 DNPs.  Think they’re clearing out a space for him in the UK Basketball Hall of Fame?


This is a guy who not only showed little remorse for his mistakes, but also that he can’t learn from them. He was suspended at least seven times in his UK career for academics. The UK media guides even listed a different major for him all three years he played.


He accomplished virtually nothing on the court to help the team, short of the occasional blocked shot or awkward dunk. He proved to be a sideshow for the UK fans, which cheered his entrance into the game as they would cheer a small child who makes a free throw in the halftime contest – more of a novelty than a player.    


On top of that, he never seemed to be aware of his shortcomings. Clearly delusional about his own capabilities, he continued to talk about “leading my team to the Final Four”, and “being an impact player”, down to the end.


As far as his transfer, Shagari should have simply waved a white flag to announce his decision. He clearly couldn’t cut at UK, on or off the court, and simply took the easy way out.  Tubby spoke about “cleaning house” after last season, and this seems like a good step for both parties. Shagari, despite his enormous size is not a Division I player. He would be better suited at a small D-II school, where his height could adequately cover for his lacking skills and mobility.


Meanwhile, UK is better served to forget Shagari ever donned a uniform in Lexington. He was said to be a project player when he arrived, and now he’s leaving as a project player, having never shown any sign of development. Given a golden opportunity to learn under one of the game’s greatest coaches, and play for a prestigious university, Shagari threw it away, and now is having to leave with his tail tucked beneath his legs.  Here’s hoping he can find a good situation, or maybe even take some time off, just to get everything together.


And maybe get that alarm clock fixed.