Kentucky’s DeAndre Liggins has gone from little-used role player to the top defender in this year’s Final Four. Coach John Calipari’s more than a little happy about it, too.
“You have a 6-6 player with long arms who can guard a point guard, a 2-man, a 3-man, and if I wanted him to, he could probably guard the 4,” Calipari said Friday. “Whoever is hurting you, he can go guard.”
That defensive ability earns him the difficult task of slowing down (stopping?) UConn guard Kemba Walker, the quickest and most explosive scorer remaining in the tournament. That makes him one of the most crucial aspects to the Wildcats’ weekend.
But that’s far from Liggins’ most interesting aspect.
The junior’s driven by the memory of his late brother, Maurice, who was shot and killed two days before Christmas in 2002. From a fantastic profile story by Yahoo! Sports’ Jason King:
Shortly after he committed to Kentucky four years ago, DeAndre Liggins texted former Wildcat Ramon Harris and asked if he’d mind giving up his No. 34 jersey. Liggins wanted to honor his brother. Harris obliged and, soon after enrolling in Lexington, Liggins had Maurice’s image tattooed on his right shoulder.
Each time he swishes a 3-pointer, makes a steal or dives for a loose ball – a Liggins trademark – the junior guard said he feels his brother looking down on him from heaven.
“When he died,” Liggins said, “I felt like I had to carry on his dream. This is what he wanted to do. I’m living his dream for him. Hopefully I’m making him proud.”
It’s a fantastic read about the Liggins brothers’ relationship, DeAndre’s path and time at Kentucky and more. Give it a read.
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