Tip-off for Kentucky’s first game in the Bahamas is right around the corner. It’s hard to forecast exactly what we should expect to see in UK’s first game, but there are a few things I want to see from this team in their first performance in front of the Big Blue Nation.
1. Reid Travis in Beast Mode
The Stanford graduate transfer has earned plenty of praise from those who have seen him perform in practice. Known as one of the best interior players in the Pac-12, Travis will be put to the test right away. The Bahamas National Team features a frontcourt that is filled with grown men who should be able to match his physicality. If he can dominate the post against these guys, I’m confident he’ll do the same against UK’s SEC foes.
2. P.J. Washington Facing the Basket
While weighing an NBA decision, Washington waited to hear a first round guarantee. When that didn’t happen, Washington chose to return to UK to become a more well-rounded basketball player.
Since we saw Washington on the court at the NBA Combine, the physical forward does not look the same. He’s slimmed down to look the part of a player who can extend his offensive game to the three-point line. I do not expect (nor want) Washington to make a living at the three-point line, but two years ago I saw P.J. own AAU opponents in the midrange game. If he can become an effective scorer from 15-feet in, the pick-and-roll will be a dangerous component of Kentucky’s offense.
3. Ashton Hagans Larceny
Hagans does not deserve lofty expectations. After all, he should be preparing for his final year of high school instead of his first year of college. Making the transition from high school to college is even more difficult for ball-handlers. He will commit turnovers, but the explosive athlete should create just as many. Known as a pick-pocket, I want to see a few highlight-worthy dunks in transition as the result of Hagans’ perimeter defense.
After watching the 2017-18 Wildcats struggle to consistently make outside shots, John Calipari loaded up on shooters. Early reports suggest this could be his best shooting Kentucky team yet. Tonight we’ll find out if they’re right.