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Andrew Dice Clay’s UK Basketball Players’ Pre-Season Update

andrewdiceclay

For a lot of those reading this blog, the name Andrew Dice Clay means absolutely nothing. Even though at his peak, he hit a level of stardom that very few comedians in history have ever attained, now he is best known (if known at all) for some joke that will begin with “Hickory Dickory Dock” and then “AYYYYYY!” When Dice was at the height of his popularity, I was too young to know him and in recent years I have kept up with him only through his appearances on Howard Stern. He usually plays his arrogant persona, can be fairly entertaining (in part because Stern and his crew constantly poke fun at him) and I always try and tune in when he will be on the show. Today however I saw a new Dice, as I watched the Woody Allen movie “Blue Jasmine”. I will be up front here. In general I find Woody Allen to be the most overrated director/writer in movies. That isn’t a popular position for movie snobs to take, but with a couple of exceptions (Annie Hall, Midnight in Paris, etc) I find most of Allen’s movies tough to get through and amazingly self-indulgent. But because “Blue Jasmine” had Dice, Louis CK and Alec Baldwin (three folks I really like), I went and checked it out. I think it might be Allen’s best movie in 20 years. Cate Blanchett will get nominated for awards as the lead role, but the entire ensemble is solid and the movie was extremely well done. If it is still on in your area (unlikely) check it out, and if not, wait until it come On Demand. Some good films are coming (“Prisoners”, “Rush”, “Gravity”, etc) but this was a solid choice for a Sunday afternoon, even though we didn’t have nary a one “Jack and Jill Went up the hill” setup.

With basketball season right upon us, I thought it might be worthwhile (especially with a football bye week) to look at the buzz surrounding each of the UK Basketball Players. What follows is a collection of thoughts based in part on my observations and (in larger part) on talking with those around the program/those who have been in Lexington to see workouts. While the major work is still to be done and we will almost certainly see massive changes in all the players’ games before the season, here is a good primer as of right now:

JULIUS RANDLE

What can be said about Randle that hasn’t already? He is the most uniformly praised player at this stage in my time covering the team. What I have viewed has been unbelievably impressive and his ability to get to the basket and finish is as good as I have ever seen in college. Don’t believe me? Ask the experts. Jay Bilas said he is as good off one dribble as any player in his time as an analyst. Seth Greenberg says he has the best physical gifts since Lebron. Julius Randle is going to be a star, both at UK and at the next level. His physicality and penetration ability are unmatched and he can score on anyone. If he adds consistency on his jumper, he is unguardable and UK is unstoppable.

ANDREW HARRISON:

I will do what we rarely see and actually split the Harrison Twins up for this endeavor. Andrew Harrison will be the best Point Guard in America (along with Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart). My best way to describe him is to say he is a slightly less athletic John Wall, who can shoot just a notch below Brandon Knight while also having excellent passing skills. In short, he is the perfect combination for a John Calipari point guard. He is able to get to the basket on almost anyone and will be a great defender due to his size. One person who has seen him play often in Lexington told me, “if Julius wasn’t on the team, he would contend for First Team All American. As it is, I still think he finishes on the Second Team.” High praise indeed.

AARON HARRISON:

The surprise of the team for me has been Aaron Harrison. Always thought of us as the second Harrison, I am not firmly convinced Aaron will not only start, but have a huge role on this team. He is a great shooter (maybe the best on the team) and has the ability to get to the basket, while also being a top-level defender. With the amount of attention Randle/Andrew will get from defenses, I expect Aaron to have some huge scoring nights. In fact, for Kentucky to hit the next level as a team…to get into the “great” stage that UK has hit four times since probation (all of 96, SEC play in 2003, 2010 except for that damn West Virginia game, and 2012), Aaron Harrison has to be the guy who does it. If you believe like Jay Bilas, that great teams have at least three elite players, Aaron may be the most likely candidate to be #3. One college basketball commentator put it to me succinctly, “let everyone else talk about Randle and Andrew Harrison…they win the title because of Aaron Harrison.”

WILLIE CAULEY-STEIN

From my eyes, Cauley-Stein has improved quite a bit offensively and now has the ability to score from the low block (which he did not do well last year). But honestly I am not sure that will matter as he probably won’t be asked to do it very often. Cauley-Stein has two jobs…be long and athletic (getting lobs a la Anthony Davis) and be an elite defender. He will do both extremely well. He is being pushed hard by Dakari Johnson and they are very different players. But ultimately Willie’s length will probably make him the starter and the key ingredient to what Kentucky wants to do defensively.

ALEX POYTHRESS:

No one is talking about Alex Poythress…really no one ever does. And I am unsure why that is. He missed the scrimmages/practices during the Calipari camp due to a nagging injury, but his body is still impressive and he looks to be in tremendous shape. His battles this summer with Julius Randle were all anyone talked about around Lexington and everyone agrees that Alex stepped up his game to compete. People forget that Poythress was once projected as the NUMBER ONE PICK IN THE DRAFT. Yet for some, he is an afterthought. The best part about this season is if passive Alex makes an appearance, he will be on the bench. I expect him to have a very good year. The key will be whether he can do that while also playing with Randle. They are used to going at each other every day, but for UK to have its best lineup, they will need to play together. I am looking forward to seeing practices where this takes place, because this year Alex has a chance to show us what he did not too often last year.

DAKARI JOHNSON

Someone close to the program told me not long ago, “people don’t realize how good Dakari is…I mean he is really good. We haven’t had a talent like that around here since Demarcus.” What that means is that UK has a player who will completely dominate the low post. He gets every rebound…and I mean EVERY rebound. The physicality that Dakari shows will be the perfect compliment to Willie’s length and in some situations they will play together and there will be zero interior scoring by the other team. Dakari is a future lottery pick and if he shows off his offensive game this year, he will be a one and done. But on this team full of talent, not all of his skill will be display. I suspect more than any other player this year, he improves exponentially as the year goes on and his minutes and production increase dramatically by March.

JAMES YOUNG:

Young is the wildcard for me. He is a great player and on virtually any other team in America, he is the go-to star. On this team however, I think he will be a secondary option more often than not. He is explosive getting to the basket and a good shooter. However he probably has the most to learn about playing on the college level and with great teammates (think about blending in Archie Goodwin with the 2012 title team). Almost everyone who watches the team comes away with the same issue with Young…he holds on to the ball too much and plays too much one on one. If he limits this and finds his role within the team, he will have a big year. He is the player who most needs to be coached to reach his potential and I think his progression will be the most fascinating during the year.

MARCUS LEE:

Energy guy. That is what Kentucky is looking for from Marcus Lee this season. They want to see the athletic big man who goes after every loose ball, is a force on defense and plays with reckless aggression. He is not going to be a big scorer this season, but that is not what UK needs. They need a ball of energy who does the dirty work while their stars shine. As one told me, “Marcus knows he will be in college for more than one year…so he isn’t worried about going for numbers and instead is wanting to learn and do what the team needs.” Marcus is crazy athletic and if not for Dakari, would get every rebound. I don’t expect a ton of scoring but he is another player who will be a much specimen in March than he is in November.

DOMINIQUE HAWKINS:

The above eight guys will, absent some huge change or injury, play in virtually every game. The question that remains to be seen is Hawkins. Dominique has been a pleasant surprise since arriving in Lexington and was the point guard for most of the summer. He battles Andrew Harrison every day in practice and as one person told me, “sometimes Dominique goes and gets the best of him.” His size can be limiting but he plays much bigger (and stronger) than you would think. He wants to not only be the backup point guard but to play well enough that this can mean 10-12 minutes a game. If that happens, then UK has depth to match all of the other traits and their ability to become elite is even more assured. Early in the year, you may not see a ton of Hawkins. But at some point he will get his chance and when that happens, he will be able to decide how much time he gets going forward.

EVERYONE ELSE:

Last year we loved the play of Jarrod Polson and from what I have seen this summer, he looks like the same player as a year ago. The problem is that the talent at his position has improved dramatically. I expect we will see Jarrod get some clock, especially early and be in a battle with Hawkins for the backup role. His issue, like last year, is defense. However with Cauley-Stein/Dakari/Lee behind him, he will have some ability to be protected in ways he was not after Noel’s injury. Jon Hood is healthy but faces the problem of a ton of talent at his position. I expect he will get his chances, as he has in years past, but it is up to him to come in confident and take advantage. I always feel like Hood needs one break, one game where the shots fall, to have a chance to contribute. Hopefully that comes for him this year. Derek Willis is unlikely to see many minutes this year but I have to say that he has been impressive to me. I watched him play a few times this fall and every time, he has looked like he belongs on the court with all these stars. His athleticism can be shocking and the key is to develop his skill set. Before all is said and done, I think you see Derrick make an impact at UK. I am just not sure it happens this year.

So that is my take after a month or so of seeing/talking/hearing about the team as it currently is constituted. I think the starting lineup at this point would be Harrison/Harrison/Poythress/Randle/Cauley-Stein. But it wouldn’t shock me to see Young sneak in for Poythress or Dakari for Willie. Either way, this team is going to be loaded and I can’t stress just how good I think the Cats can be. Predicting the fortunes of a team is difficult, no matter the group. While I am not yet confident enough to do as I did in 2012 and predict a title (I did that in part because of the weaker national landscape and UK’s title drought), I think this team is right there with 2012 going into the year. I can’t wait till they get started.

Article written by Matt Jones

40 Comments for Andrew Dice Clay’s UK Basketball Players’ Pre-Season Update



  1. katfaninyourface
    10:31 pm September 22, 2013 Permalink

    Thanks MJ I’m pumped –Young will be huge against the zones we will likely face.



  2. cotton
    10:33 pm September 22, 2013 Permalink

    I haven’t seen them play together yet. But I suspect you might be right when you say,…”But it wouldn’t shock me to see Young sneak in for Poythress or Dakari for Willie.” And I suspect you might be wrong when you say about James Young,…” I think he will be a secondary option more often than not”. Young and Dakari are players!!! Poy and (to a lesser extent) Willie still have a lot to prove,..after one full year. Jmho. In any event,..it’s going to be fun. Go Big Blue!!!!



  3. Teachable Mo'
    10:37 pm September 22, 2013 Permalink

    Take the Money and Run, Bananas, Everything You Wanted to Know About Sex, Sleeper, Love and Death, Annie Hall, Manhattan, Radio Days, Purple Rose of Cairo, Bullets Over Broadway, Crimes and Misdemeanors, Broadway Danny Rose

    All are fantastic movies. There are several right below these in quality. How many good movies has your favorite director produced? How many good movies does a good director usually produce?

    And Andrew Dice Clay wasn’t hugely popular. And he wasn’t even that big for very long.



  4. tuxedo park
    10:51 pm September 22, 2013 Permalink

    Dice was huge. He was maybe the second hottest stand up behind Eddie Murphy for the span of a few years in the eighties..



  5. sterve
    10:56 pm September 22, 2013 Permalink

    What about EJ Floreal? I know he won’t be a “star” by any means, but I figured he’d at least be mentioned. I heard he’s been doing alright



  6. BeforeHisTime
    11:07 pm September 22, 2013 Permalink

    What I remember about Clay is that he wore a black leather jacket, but he wasn’t a cute greaser like the guys of “Grease”. He also smoked during his act, but what did him in was that he said dirty things about women in a time before gangsta rap. Early casualty of PC.



  7. bigcatstanding
    11:12 pm September 22, 2013 Permalink

    Great news can’t come soon enough, it’s going to be a year that BBN won’t want to forget anytime soon. GO BIG BLUE



  8. SeaCat
    11:21 pm September 22, 2013 Permalink

    Thanks Matt.
    Nice to hear Aaron will be super, sad to hear James Young
    is a bit like Archie. Sounds like Dakari has been the upside surprise.
    But, Cal said he has seven starters, with two more pushing.
    I can think of the best seven with Lee being one pusher.
    I can’t think of the other pusher. Is it Hawkins?



  9. Dustin
    11:27 pm September 22, 2013 Permalink

    #8, Dakari, and Young are the non starters Cal refers to as the two starters off the bench. And. Harrison, Aa. Harrison, Stein, Randle, Poythress are the actual starters



  10. Dustin
    11:28 pm September 22, 2013 Permalink

    Or possibly switch Poythress with Young, but either way those are the 7 “starters” Cal is talking about IMO



  11. Dustin
    11:30 pm September 22, 2013 Permalink

    Lee is surely one pusher I must agree, not sure about the other but I would say Hawkins or EJ would have to be the other. Sorry #8 misread your comment



  12. dddUP
    11:31 pm September 22, 2013 Permalink

    Nice to hear Matt has seen the Harrison twins play great defense. Saw them several times in high school, and the knock I had was on-the-ball D. I thought they were elite recruits offensively, but just good recruits on defense. It may have been high school effort, but they relied on their length and quick guards blew by them. I always felt part of it was the AAU attitude that comes out when some stars view the high school games like normal players view church league. If the twins play D like Matt says, other teams better get ready for a nightmare ’cause we’re blowing ranked teams out of the gym.



  13. SoCal Will
    11:40 pm September 22, 2013 Permalink

    For grins put Randle at the 3 and Willie at the 4 with the twins and Dakari and the team is physically dominant at every position. Plus, all five are talented enough to be 1st round draft picks. Holy Cal!



  14. Tim Kathlina
    11:56 pm September 22, 2013 Permalink

    By February, any gap experienced teams have over this team will be closed and Kentucky will have no serious rival after. This team will cruise to #9 in March.



  15. KentuckyGentleman
    12:01 am September 23, 2013 Permalink

    Who doesn’t know about Dice Clay he is a legend!
    www.



  16. BlueNotes
    12:15 am September 23, 2013 Permalink

    Matt, I hate you and I love you.

    One, I’m jealous – this was the stuff I used to do back in the days of the LOD and everyone would rag on me… . “Rainbow breaks down….” (Of course, I would be RIGHT!)

    Two, you do a great job, and there’s little I would add. Well, that’s not true, I probably would have added some comments about hands, footwork, and HOW the players would be used in the dribble drive – but what the hell – NICE JOB!



  17. ukfan
    12:37 am September 23, 2013 Permalink

    That post just got me more hype than any post in the history of KSR… my god can it please be basketball season already!!!! 😫



  18. ukfan
    12:40 am September 23, 2013 Permalink

    8. Sad to hear that Young is a bit like Archie? Are you crazy!!??’ Archie would of flourished on a team where he didn’t need to be “the guy”, just like Young will do. A comparison to Archie Goodwin isn’t a bad thing, the kid is in the NBA for crying out loud.



  19. jpg
    12:45 am September 23, 2013 Permalink

    Great write up!

    “Before all is said and done, I think you see Derrick make an impact at UK. I am just not sure it happens this year.”

    That is my favorite line from the piece. I think everyone agrees that it wont be this year, but the good news for UK is that he is a 4 year guy. He even likened/compared himself to Darius Miller when Cal was recruiting him.



  20. Blue Jesus
    1:02 am September 23, 2013 Permalink

    Now let’s just hope we can avoid the dreaded injury bug!

    (Knock on wood)



  21. SeaCat
    1:22 am September 23, 2013 Permalink

    18 look at what Matt said about Young/Archie,
    Too much one on one, not a good team player.
    Did Archie ever pass to another player?



  22. Calfan2
    1:27 am September 23, 2013 Permalink

    Great article Matt, enjoyed it. These Cats are going to roll from the start and never look back. Hang the Banner, take the check. Go Cats !!



  23. doohnhoj
    2:34 am September 23, 2013 Permalink

    I think it’s safe to say that Jon Hood has played with more talented players than any college basketball player in history



  24. bosshogg24
    6:51 am September 23, 2013 Permalink

    Very good job Matt, breaking down each player, thanks for the report!



  25. yesterday's wine
    6:58 am September 23, 2013 Permalink

    Enjoyed the write up. It will be fun watching this team progress.



  26. ukfan
    7:00 am September 23, 2013 Permalink

    21. Archie didn’t pass because he didn’t have anyone to pass to! that’s my whole point!!! Had he been on a team like 2012 or this year he would of flourished in the offense and been nothing but a HUGE contributor to the team.. If he was in the potition James Young is in his career at UK would of been completely different, much more successful. Archie had to take all the shots when he was here, he was like one of two scoring options with Mays being the other. Don’t debate me you’ll lose. And just because Matt says something doesn’t mean it’s gold and everyone should praise it, it’s only an opinion and everyone has them.



  27. Mark
    7:50 am September 23, 2013 Permalink

    Thanks for the update. I am trapped over here in Eastern North Carolina so KSR is one of my few spots to get real UK news. The season will be here soon! Go Cats!



  28. SeaCat
    7:58 am September 23, 2013 Permalink

    UK Fan: I want Young to be compared to MKG, just sayin…



  29. Micki DeMoss's Mustache
    8:06 am September 23, 2013 Permalink

    Any word on how much Brian Long is appreciating this year’s team?



  30. Errbody
    8:35 am September 23, 2013 Permalink

    For Young, a comparison to MJ would be best. Lol j/k… (But seriously.)



  31. louie
    8:36 am September 23, 2013 Permalink

    I totally 100% agree ukfan! We should be so lucky to have Archie Goodwin coming back this year when he is not our ONLY option to actually take a shot. Archie was/is GREAT!!! James Young will be even better, since he will smoke a few threes this year. James is also a rebounder,..and I suspect he can play D. It’s gonna be fun. But like you,..Archie Goodwin is in the NBA and rightfully so!!! Some of these folks need to get off Archie’s case. They are obviously the ones that don’t understand the game.



  32. willy nelson
    9:52 am September 23, 2013 Permalink

    if polsons problem was defense then the rest of the rest of the team couldnt guard a fence post. matt, ive seen you play. your not qualified to evaluate any player.



  33. Shhheeeeiiit
    10:22 am September 23, 2013 Permalink

    Archie was great, he was on a not very good team and was not much of a leader. His biggest problem was when he got out of control and tried the big finishes that ended up looking stupid. The thing is he will be a better NBA player than he was a college player. Young is going to be on an awesome team. I bet he surprises people. Life is so boring without basketball.



  34. Jughead
    11:18 am September 23, 2013 Permalink

    Zelig. Brilliant.

    I hate your pancakes.



  35. kybigblue
    11:36 am September 23, 2013 Permalink

    Look for Johnson to play more in the closing minutes when UK is getting fouled as a team tries to cut into their lead.



  36. Doo Doo Brown
    1:25 pm September 23, 2013 Permalink

    Aechie didn’t pass because he was either selfish or had a really low basketball iq. Achie didn’t have anyone to pass too? What about on those 2 on 1 breaks where he kept the ball every time instead of passing to a wide open teammate?



  37. bunny
    3:34 pm September 23, 2013 Permalink

    Thanks for the update, Matt! Reports like this is why your website is so successful. Can’t wait for the season to begin. Go Cats!!!



  38. Eric
    3:48 pm September 23, 2013 Permalink

    Polson is better than Hawkins. Ask anyone on the team



  39. Steady
    7:01 pm September 23, 2013 Permalink

    Louie, I know nothing about basketball, but I know I’m happy Archie Goodwin isn’t here this year.



  40. Deacon
    8:49 pm September 23, 2013 Permalink

    Late to the party commenting, but what is Poythress’ nagging injury? Is it serious?