Five takeaways from attending a Kentucky basketball practice
Last night we were given the opportunity to sit in on a full basketball practice and interview a few of the players prior to the Bahamas trip. The practice lasted almost two hours so it is impossible to cover everything that happened. So I decided to condense it down to five main takeaways.
- Reid Travis was impressive– The transfer from Stanford was impressive in his interview before practice and displayed a great deal of maturity in his response to questions. He will provide tremendous leadership to a very young team and that will pay off as the season rolls around. On the court he is built like truck but what impressed me was how light he seemed to be on his feet. He ran the floor faster than expected and also surprised me with his ball handling skills. He displayed a strong face up game and capability to put the ball on the floor and get to the basket. He also made several long-range jump shots on the night. More than anything it was how hard he went during every drill that impressed me most. Fans are going to love watching him play this season and it will be hard for Cal to keep him off the court.
- Ashton Hagans can ball– Hagans could have been entering his senior year of high school had he not chosen to reclassify but you would have never guessed that last night. He played with poise despite being in attack mode at all times on offense and defense. He may not be as fast as De’Aaron Fox in the open court but in the half court his speed is eye-catching. Watching him blow by defenders was reminiscent of John Wall at times. If he is determined to get to the rim there is not much a defender can do to stop him without fouling him. He is long, athletic and quick and he is an impact maker on both ends of the floor. In my opinion he is the clear leader for getting the majority of minutes at the point guard spot.
- Quade Green means business– He has worked hard this summer to transform his body and that was clear last night. After practice he took his short off and he is ripped. On top of that he was really getting after both Ashton Hagans and Immanuel Quickley on defense in a way that he rarely did last season. Having been with Cal for a season he was able to help out the freshmen guards on several occasions during practice. What I liked most from Quade was just his demeanor, which seemed to be laser focused on the task at hand. I would still put my money on him being in the starting lineup next season but either way he is going to play a key role in this teams success.
- Cal doesn’t just roll the balls out– Cal haters love to say that he doesn’t coach and just rolls the balls out. Anyone making that claim has never watched him lead a practice. He was constantly blowing his whistle to stop play to make small corrections and tell players what they needed to do. When a player did something the right way he would often stop to praise the player and point out what they did right. It was two straight hours of constant activity and yelling that had to be exhausting. I walked away with an even higher level of respect for Cal and what he does.
- Tyler Herro is going to play– Anyone expecting Herro to ride the bench this coming season is in for a bit of a surprise. His skill set is very unique on this team and he gives them an offensive weapon that will open up the floor for all of his teammates. His one dribble pull up jumper was a thing of beauty and his form from beyond the arc is as pure as any Wildcat in recent memory. Defensively I felt that he held his own enough to not be a liability on that end of the floor and that is the most important thing for him to get on the floor. His performance in the Bahamas will tell a lot about the potential role he could play next season.
If you missed our player interviews from yesterday check them out below.