Kahlil Whitney got a lot of advice about what to expect after he decided he wanted to play for coach John Calipari at Kentucky. However, the freshman wing player knows exactly what was the best advice for the season that has just started.
“Cal knows what he is talking about He is right about almost everything. Even though some players might talk back to him or get angry with what he says, he is usually right and I plan to remember that no matter what happens this season,” said Whitney.
Calipari has said he’s “excited and refreshed” about this season where he can blend returning players Ashton Hagans, Immanuel Quickley, E.J. Montgomery and Nick Richards with a talented group of newcomers again like he has the past ten years at Kentucky.
Some UK players believe that the team’s most athletic player is freshman forward Keion Brooks Jr. Brooks likes the “interchangeable parts” that Calipari has at his disposal this season, one reason UK was ranked as high as second in some preseason polls.
“Coach Calipari has a good problem on his hands to see how he can move us all around,” Brooks said. “I’ve always made sure that I am effective in different spots, but a lot of us are that way because coach Cal has a good track record with players like that."
Last year’s team just missed a trip to the Final Four Despite losing three NBA first-round draft picks (PJ Washington, Tyler Herro and Keldon Johnson) off that team,Q uickley believes this season can be special.
“I think we will be an excellent defensive team, especially with Nick in the middle blocking shots as he can I think with our size and athleticism, we will be able to hold a lot of of offenses in check,” Quickley said. “Offensively, I would hope we are better because that is the goal to get better each season. We lost a lot, but I think we can make up for it.”
Obviously, so does Calipari. Time after time, he’s stated how much he “likes his team” in the past two months. Like most years, he’s emphasizing that UK won’t hit its peak until late January or February. He does have one concern — how will his team respond to physical play that Calipari knows will be coming. “If you get roughed up, can you still play, can you still perform? Do we have the physical, mental toughness?” Calipari said. “So the main thing for me will be how do we rebound and how tough are we physically? But I do really like this team.”