For the first time since the end of the season we were able to chat with returning UK basketball players. P.J. Washington, Jemarl Baker, Quade Green and Nick Richards were all made available after deciding to return to Kentucky for their sophomore seasons.
Over 30 media members members made their way to the Joe Craft Center on Thursday afternoon. It just goes to show that UK basketball has more media coverage than any other program in America. All your favorites were there and despite it being June we had our first sense that the season isn’t too far away. Here are some notes from Washington, Baker, Green and Richards.
- Justify isn’t the greatest athlete he’s ever met. Washington said he’s played against LeBron James when he was younger and he’s the greatest.
- Washington hinting at Reid Travis and Ashton Hagans joining the program? “I like our roster now but I feel like if we include a couple more guys we’ll be great. It would be great for me. It would be great for the team. It’d be great for our program. There are great guys. The guys here and the guys coming in, so we’ll have great chance to get them but if we don’t get them we’ll be fine anyways. We have a lot of good players coming in.”
- Washington said his decision was as simple as not being a first round pick. If he had a first round promise he would have left. He didn’t so he returned, but said it was a great experience.
- “If you don’t win here a lot of fans don’t really like you, so you just have to come here and grind everyday.” Sadly there’s a lot of truth in that quote from Washington.
- Scoop Lemond was right and Washington hurt his hand in January diving for a loose ball. He said he thought he jammed it but when a trainer popped it back in place that’s when a tendon was torn. Washington said it impacted his rebounding and he had to play through pain. “It started hurting and I’d have to shake it off and keep playing. It was kinda hard at first but I got used to it.”
- Washington is more worried about getting in better shape than free throw shooting. “I’m confident in my abilities. I practice everyday. I get in the gym and work on the things I need to work on. I’ve just got to trust my work.”
- Washington was wearing a cast on his hand and it will be there until mid-July. “To not play is really hard. I always play basketball. Coming in here and watching these guys is kinda hard because I want to be out there. I know it’s best and I know I need to rest a little bit.”
- Calipari told Washington he wants him to do everything he did in the Kansas State game and work on his outside game for his sophomore season. Hit just a couple more free throws and that sounds pretty good to me.
- On his health: “It’s great. 100 percent. I’m good.” He said he’s feeling good and just trying to get himself in really great shape. Tipton said how close to really great shape “I’m on my way.” He said he will be fine conditioning wise come the Bahamas trip.
- Baker didn’t care about all the guards coming into the program. “I knew coming in there would be players coming in because there always has been. I’m just ready to get out there and play.”
- Baker didn’t consider last year a bad season for the team.
- When asked if he was a “mysterious man” to the team Baker added that he’s a mysterious player for the coaches, too. “I haven’t played in a game yet. It’s going to be a fun year, I’m really excited.” When the mystery is revealed Baker said we’ll see a really good player.
- Quade Green was asked who the best shooter on the team was and smiled but didn’t want to say any names (hinting it was him). Baker wasn’t so shy, “I don’t know why he wouldn’t comment on that. It’s me.”
- Green said he will play any position that UK needs him next year. This question was in reference to all the guards UK will have next season. Green said he will play the point, the two, the three and even the four, “If you need me to play the four, I’m strong enough to play the four.” Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that but you gotta love the confidence.
- Green looks forward to staying healthy this year. He had the eye injury and his back. He even said that he’s been banged up most of his career but added “This year I gotta stay healthy. It’s the biggest key for this team for me to stay healthy and to be that leader.”
- “I actually laughed at that one. That was hilarious, but I wasn’t paying no mind to it,” Green said about him possibly transferring to La Salle. He said he never thought about transferring and that he guessed the media started those rumors. Those pesky media members.
- Green isn’t worried about the other guards coming in next season and said everyone is hungry for next season.
- Green said the difference for next season is “everybody can shoot,” and that from positions 1-3 they will be great shooters.
- “I was hyped. I can’t really tell what I did but I was hyped.” Green said he celebrated when he learned P.J. Washington was returning. Any guesses how Green celebrated?
- Green said we probably won’t see the sunglasses during a game this season. SAD. Luckily pictures last forever.
- Richards was scared meeting Justify “You know, I was actually kind of scared. I was hoping he wouldn’t bite my finger off.”
- Richards said his confidence is “real high” right now. He went through a lot last year and is ready for this upcoming season.
- There was no hint to a Reid Travis addition from Richards but he’s still high on the frontcourt. “Next year’s frontcourt is a lot of talent between me, E.J. and P.J. It’s gonna be probably more athletic than last year. It will probably be more physical from last year, too, so you can expect that.”
- Richards rated the team’s season last year as a five out of ten. “We didn’t win a national championship.”
- Richards favorite game last season was the West Virginia game.
- “He’s an athletic-skilled big. He has his own game. I’ve never seen anybody really play like that before. He’s more of a finesse guy that has a little bit of athleticism to him,” Richards said about E.J. Montgomery.
- Richards has Brazil or Portugal in the World Cup. He was not happy he had to do media while the World Cup was going on TV.
- “People call him a social butterfly. He’s able to talk to anyone at any given moment. He’s always making jokes. He seems the same to me, he’s just not as fat as last year.” RICHARDS DROPS THE HAMMER ON QUADE GREEN (now called Quade Lean).