By LARRY VAUGHT
Most players come to Kentucky to play basketball hoping to win a national championship. Walk-on guard Isaac DeGregorio has the same dream for next season when he joins the one Wildcats but unlike his other teammates, he already has a UK national championship ring.
His grandfather, Joe, was John Calipari’s coach at Clarion University and the Kentucky coach has remained in close contact with him. When Calipari has a team make the Final Four, Joe DeGregorio gets tickets. When Kentucky won the 2012 national title, Joe DeGregorio got a national title ring.
“Him and coach Cal are super close. He talks about Cal all the time. Coach Calipari does an amazing job sticking with his roots. He calls my grandpa every so often and my grandpa really appreciates that,” Isaac DeGregorio said.
“Grandpa has a national title ring from 2012 and he gifted me that ring. I keep it in my dresser drawer in a case.”
Will he bring it to Lexington with him?
“If it fit me, I might wear it but it is way too valuable for me to lose,” Isaac DeGregorio said. “It might make it to Lexington with me but I am not quite sure yet.”
The UK walk-on is not quite sure the first time he met Calipari but has been around him often. He thinks the first time might have been when his dad was coaching high school basketball and Calipari came to watch one of his players and he just happened to be at the same practice.
His older brother went to Kentucky and DeGregorio went to several UK practices with his grandfather when they came to visit his brother.
“After my brother’s graduation (ceremony), we went to a practice and then Cal’s house,” Isaac DeGregorio said. “I have been to like three or four practices, so I am pretty familiar with how he coaches and what he expects.”