At midnight, the embargo was lifted on the preseason Kentucky Basketball interviews, meaning your timelines were flooded with interviews with John Calipari and the Cats. Matt, Ryan, and Drew’s interviews with the players took place about a month ago. I listened to the recordings and came away with so many observations, I had to break them into two posts. If you missed Part I earlier, click here to check it out.
Marcus Lee has taken Skal Labissiere under his wing
When asked about the summer pick-up games, both Marcus Lee and Skal Labissiere discussed how much they’ve learned from going head-to-head with one another.
“We play each other all the time,” Skal said. “It’s been really good. He’s been making me better. I’ve got a learn a lot from him. He runs the floor like a deer. He’s been really pushing me hard at practice.”
Marcus’ response, as you might expect, was incredibly thoughtful. Even as a junior, Marcus said he’s learning things from the talented freshman.
“It’s great,” Marcus said. “Going against someone that is so willing to work out, so willing to do better that when he does stuff, we can feed off each other. We’re of the same body type and know how to work around each other. When we go through things, I can teach him how Cal wants things. He can do a move I like and I can try it out. I can imitate that.”
Jamal Murray is really, really close with his dad
Murray maintains that his decision to come to Kentucky rather than Oregon came down to the last minute and the deciding factor was distance. After listening to him talk about family — his father in particular — I genuinely believe that.
“It mostly came down to distance and how easily my parents could come see me and my little brother. It’s not that far for them. I need my dad and he needs me. We’re very close. He’s been training me my whole life, so he’s put me in the position I’m in today. So I need him.”
I’ll never get tired of hearing other players rave about Tyler Ulis
I’ll be honest with you: I’m not ready for basketball yet. The excitement surrounding the football program and the lingering heartache from last year have me holding the round ball at arm’s length. …Until I hear Tyler Ulis’ teammates rave about him.
“Tyler, there’s so many good things you can say about Tyler,” Skal said. “He’s, in my opinion, one of the best point guards in the country. He’s just a leader on the court. He doesn’t like to lose and he facilitates the game for his teammates, makes it really easy for his teammates. He likes to win.”
Alex Poythress didn’t get many opportunities to play with Tyler last season because of his injury, but it sounds like can’t wait to get on the court with him this season.
“I feel like I play real well with Tyler,” Alex said. “I feel like he does a real good job of seeing when people are open, finding people, and just orchestrating the whole offense. So I’m really excited when we start playing to play with him.”
Ulis had the PERFECT answer when asked why he’s THE point guard on a team full of point guards
One thing Kentucky won’t want for this season is point guards. John Calipari currently has three on the roster in Tyler Ulis, Jamal Murray, and Isaiah Briscoe; however, in every conversation leading up to this season, Calipari has only referred to Tyler Ulis as the point guard of his squad. Why? Ulis’ answer is perfect.
“Maybe it’s because I’m tiny,” Ulis quipped. “I can’t play any other position.”
Ulis also had one of the best breakdowns of how Kentucky will balance guard play this season.
“They’re both very good players. They’re point guards too and they’re on my team and they’re great,” Ulis said of Briscoe and Murray. “I’m a point guard. I’m going to be considered a point guard because I’m smaller and I’m a natural leader, I feel like, and those guys can score more, play off the ball.”
Ulis added there will also be a time when Murray or Briscoe will bring the ball up and he’ll play on the wing, similar to how he and Andrew played alongside each other at times last season. But to clear up any confusion, “I’m the smaller guy so I’m going to be the point guard.”
The bromance between Ulis and Briscoe is real
“That’s my boy,” Ulis said of Briscoe. “We’ve always been cool, but we’ve never really been around each other, so him here being with me, we’ve gotten real close. That’s my boy.”
Briscoe (Ulis’ boy) returned the love.
“We have a big brother, little brother relationship,” Briscoe said. “Of course, I’m the big brother, I have to be. But it’s just be fun. He’s been teaching me a lot, what to expect in the game, how to represent yourself outside of basketball, and becoming a better person overall.”
At the risk of this sounding like a bromance novel, Briscoe said the chemistry between himself and Ulis has been cultivated with several late night sessions at the Joe Craft Center.
“Amazing,” Briscoe said when asked how the two will play together. “We play now and I think we do pretty well. Even off the court, we’re always with each other. We compete with each other in here. One a.m., two a.m. in the morning, we’re in here playing one-on-one trying to get each other better. The only people in here. We’re going to push each other to be the best we can be and hopefully good things happen.”
Isaiah Briscoe claims he’s stopped talking trash
Isaiah Briscoe was voted the biggest trash talker in the 2015 class by his peers, but the freshman guard insists that’s in the past.
“That was my high school days, you know,” Briscoe said. “I’m maturing my game, I’m a different person. I’ve just gotta remain hungry and humble.”
Yeah, I don’t buy it.