This afternoon, Joel Justus filled in for John Calipari to preview tomorrow’s trip to Mississippi State, and while I already shared his thoughts on Isaiah Briscoe with you, there were plenty of other interesting quotes to share. Five, in fact.
1. He continues to be impressed by Bam Adebayo’s work ethic
Justus has raved about Bam Adebayo in past media opportunities, and he did again today, telling reporters Bam’s got so much potential that Kentucky fans won’t see his best basketball before he leaves.
“I think any time we talk about Bam, I don’t believe, and I don’t expect, that anyone here is going to see Bam’s best basketball. I think hopefully we can get him to be his best version right now before he leaves us — whenever that time is. Bam is a guy that comes in every day and just has a tremendous desire and thirst to be the best he can be, and then also have others around him be at their best.”
2. Mulder is “a little desperate”
Mychal Mulder scored 12 points on Saturday, the most he’s scored since the UT-Martin win back on November 25. Justus said Mulder improved a lot during Camp Cal and is now “playing maybe a little desperate.”
“Mychal had a tremendous Camp Cal. Over the break Mychal was more competitive. He was one of the most competitive guys in practice during that time, and it’s paying off. I believe that Mike is playing maybe a little desperate with his career coming to an end here in the next couple months. I’m happy for him, personally, with what he’s done. You see him putting in time. You see him getting to practice a little earlier, staying a little later. And by Mychal being better he’s making our team better.”
3. Hamidou Diallo was excited by his first game in Rupp
When asked how Diallo’s adjusting to college life, Justus said the newest member of the team was just excited to be in Rupp for a game on Saturday.
“A little bit of everything. I had asked him before — you know, sometimes kids are able to come to a game, whether it’s an unofficial or an official visit, before they get here. He’d been in Rupp Arena, but it was not for a game. For him to be in there, he was excited. That’s what I asked him. He had been to other college basketball games — been to great atmospheres. So I think for him it was neat to see it. Obviously I’m speaking maybe for him in that. But just in the short conversation that I had with him pregame, he was excited. You know, he’s here for the right reasons: to become his best version. He knows that it’s a process and you can’t skip steps. And sitting, watching and learning is a big part of that. Hami’s an extremely bright, inquisitive young man. I think these next couple of months are going to be critical for his development and being the best he can be.”
4. Quinndary Weatherspoon is Mississippi State’s Isaiah Briscoe
Justus called Briscoe the “straw that stirs the drink” for Kentucky, and when asked, said Weatherspoon — who won SEC Player of the Week earlier today — does the same for the Bulldogs.
“He’s a tremendous player. He’s obviously in a little bit of the same role as maybe as what we were just talking about with Isaiah, with a group of inexperienced players. He’s a guy that is able to provide maybe some stability for that group with (IJ) ready coming off the bench. You have a little bit of that with our seniors. So I would say that they’re a team that’s very similar to us. I would say he’s a guy who is a big part of their success and having that burden of success and failure is a big burden for college basketball players, especially at a young age. He seems to be handling it quite well.”
5. How did he explain this tweet?
ðŸ”ðŸ”ðŸ”ðŸ” and we are still hungry #whowantstobenext
— Joel Justus (@UKCoachJustus) January 16, 2017
Last night, Nick Richards, Quade Green, PJ Washington, and Jarred Vanderbilt were all named to the McDonald’s All-American Game, prompting this cryptic tweet from Justus. When asked about it today, he played coy.
“I’m not sure. I was just hungry last night. [Laughter] I hadn’t eat all day. We practiced and I was out of town for a little bit. I had a cup of coffee and a doughnut so I was hungry.”