Kentucky Wildcats Basketball: The New Season Starts Now

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February 12, 2013; Gainesville, FL, USA; Kentucky Wildcats head coach John Calipari reacts against the Florida Gators during the first half at the Stephen C. O

John Calipari held a press conference yesterday to officillay move on from the 2012/2013 season and start to focus on the 2013/2014 season.

Here are some highlights:

Sophomore center Willie Cauley-Stein

Willie Cauley has a chance to be one of the better players that I’ve ever coached. Is not delusional at all. Understood how far he had come. Understood how far he needed to go. Understood he could have been a first-round draft pick. He knew. But he came back anyway. Because he wasn’t delusional.

Sophomore forward Alex Poythress

Alex Poythress learned a lot about himself and where he’s going to have to take everything to be the player that he wants to be…Again, wasn’t delusional. He knew, I have to change. I have to take this to another level. If he does, and the competition brings out the best in him, it is scary how good he can be. He’s not close to where he needs to be. Believe me, he wants to do well. I don’t believe I can tell individuals – if they got a 4.0 GPA, I can’t say those things, but he did well academically. He’s a conscientious kid. This overwhelmed him. It overwhelmed him. You think about yourself, if I put you in there. It wouldn’t overwhelm you? There are kids that come here that take longer.

Freshman point guard Andrew Harrison

Great size, great ability to get to the rim, great skill level with the ball, has a mentality of a point guard where he’ll get everybody involved. But again, we’ve got to learn more. I’ve got to get him here and say, what is exactly the best way for him to play because your point guard has got to score also, which he does. I think the Dribble Drive and pick-and-roll for him, he plays with great pace already, is really going to be good for him.

Freshman shooting guard Aaron Harrison

Aaron Harrison, big guard, can score the ball, should be and will be and is expected to be and will be demanded to be a lock-down defender. With his size, with his athleticism, one we can play a big zone. Two, we should be able to press because we’re going to be so big with our guard play and whoever we put up there. But it will start with Aaron. We know what he can do scoring the ball, but we want him to other to do other things and again, help define his game.

Freshman forward/center Dakari Johnson

Dakari Johnson, I watched him two summers ago folks, and I’m going to tell you, he had a knee issue and I looked at him and said, ‘I’m not so sure.’ Then I watched him a little bit later, and I said ‘Wait a minute.’ Then I watched him later in the season, could not believe it. The line of improvement for Dakari is like that. He’s a kid that will get up at six in the morning and work out. He’s a great student. He does all the things, and he wants to be better. He was on a team that there were times he wasn’t getting the ball. Never said one thing, ran that court, posted up. When he did get it, he did good things. He’s got great skills and his seven-foot tall.

Freshman forward/center Marcus Lee

Marcus Lee averaged a triple-double for the season. Like 11 blocks, like 15 rebounds and 18 points. Pogo stick, active, high energy, 6-11, long armed. Another player who, again, wanted to be here. These kids all wanted to be here. This is where..They wanted the challenge of this, and they wanted to do it together. So when you look at Marcus Lee, you say he could have gone somewhere…He didn’t want to go. He wanted to come here and take on this challenge.

Freshman forward Julius Randle

Julius Randle, truly a hard worker who can play multiple positions, who can play inside and out. He’s a beast. He’s an alpha beast who will drive the team. Has a little bit of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist in him, in a different way. In my mind, there are good players out there, he’s as good as any of them.

 

Freshman forward/shooting guard James Young

James Young gives you that 6-7 wing who flat can shoot the ball. Some of the issues. Again, we shot a high percentage. When you looked at our numbers from last year, our defensive numbers, our shot-blocking numbers, our offensive percentages, you would say we should have won more games. But, we weren’t as skilled as we needed to be, especially at crunch time. We weren’t as skilled. We weren’t as physically dominating as my teams in the past. This team should be.

Kentucky football player Ashley Lowery will return to school and starting taking classes again in June. The Wildcat safety was in a terrible car accident that maybe 99% of people involved would have come away with a serious injury. Lowery miraculously came away unscathed. He was thrown 100 feet from his car after he took a turn too fast. He has no broken bones, did not suffer a concussion or any internal damage.

No word yet on whether or not he will be playing football for the Wildcats this fall. But that doesn’t matter right now. It’s good to see him getting his life back to normal.

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