Legion’s leaving; freshman guard to transfer from UK

After an afternoon filled with speculation and rumors, UK head coach Billy Gillispie confirmed last night that freshman guard Alex Legion will transfer from UK.

“It’s unfortunate and not what I wanted to hear, but I understand,” Gillispie said in a statement.

“We met with Alex and his mother Friday, and she informed us of her desire to seek a release for her son,” Gillispie said. “Shortly after that meeting, Alex told me that he still wanted to be a part of our program. He played in the game against North Carolina Saturday and seemed happy when I spoke with him Sunday.”

UK Athletics spokesman Scott Stricklin said Legion would be released from his commitment to UK. If Legion enrolls at another school for the spring semester, he will not be able to play in any games until January of the 2008-09 season because of NCAA rules.

Legion, a 6-foot-5 guard, has averaged 17.5 minutes per game while earning two starts in six games this year. The Inkster, Mich., native was part of a four-man recruiting class that ranked in the top 25 by many recruiting services. Legion was the No. 44 recruit in the class of 2007, according to Rivals.com.

“You always hate to lose a valued member of your program, and Alex was definitely that,” Gillispie said. “He has tremendous potential as a players and a student, but most importantly, he is a wonderful young man. We hate to see him leave, but if he can be happier elsewhere then all you can do is wish him the best.”

FOX Sports broke the news yesterday just after 4 p.m. citing an unnamed source. Gillispie, who missed practice yesterday to attend the funerals of former UK players Ralph Beard and Tommy Kron, said during his weekly radio show last night that Legion did not practice yesterday.

Gillispie would not confirm or deny the rumors on the show, only saying that there was “definitely some credence” to the report. At the time of the radio broadcast, Gillispie said he had not spoken with Legion since Saturday’s North Carolina game. He confirmed the transfer after meeting with Legion last night.

Legion did not enter UK’s game against North Carolina until the 11:06 mark in the second half, but Jeff Goodman of FOX Sports said Legion’s decision to transfer was not based on playing time.

“Whoever gets it earns it,” Gillispie said following the UNC game when asked why Legion sat out the first 28 minutes of the game.

Rodney Legion, Alex Legion’s father, had no comment on his son’s transfer as of last night, saying that he “doesn’t have much contact at all” with his son.

Staff writer Eric Lindsey contributed to this story.