Kentucky opened Monday’s basketball practice to the media, with restrictions that we not write or tweet about anything specific with regards to the two-hour-plus workout. Here are five impressions:
1. As expected, Kentucky’s frontcourt depth is beyond ridiculous. Dakari Johnson. Karl Towns. Marcus Lee. When Willie Cauley-Stein and Trey Lyles get fully healthy, opposing coaches may try to pass some sort size-limiting rule. Not only is the overabudance of bigs a positive on the offensive end, it will allow John Calipari to be more creative defensively. Some teams feel lucky to have one rim-protector. Calipari has four. Maybe five.
2. Institutional knowledge. Without getting into specifics, at one point Calipari told one of his freshman to watch what a non-freshman was doing in a drill. There couldn’t have been much of that last year, when Kentucky was composed almost entirely of freshmen. This year, Calipari can focus his instruction on the new players and have his points reinforced by what older players are doing. This is because he has older players.
3. Devin Booker can shoot. The recruiting services told this and at least in Monday’s practice it looked to be true. Booker appears capable of filling the James Young role, although his game may remind you more of Doron Lamb. His ball-handling could use a bit of polish, but nearly all freshmen can improve in that area when matched against college competition.
4. Tyler Ulis is small. The 5-foot-8 (maybe) true freshman looks even smaller when standing behind the trees in Calipari’s forest. Ulis is as advertised in terms of quickness and ball handling. Court awareness appears to be a point of emphasis. Once Ulis learns the strengths of his teammates — where to put a pass, for example — he’ll be especially dangerous.
5. John Calipari is moving around like John Calipari. When last we saw the Kentucky coach on a basketball floor, he had trouble getting around. His off-season hip replacement surgery has been a success. Crossed paths with him after the practice and Calipari said his hip is great — “And I can sleep,” he said.
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