Kentucky hasn’t been practicing long, but someone that has been able to watch a chunk of the practices spoke to KSR about what they’ve witnessed through the first few days of practice for the 2018-2019 season. Luckily we were able to see almost all these guys in the Bahamas just two months ago, but
Here are the highlights:
I’m told that he could be one of the best bigs in the country. He’s supposedly taken a major leap from March and all the best parts we saw from Washington in year one could become the norm in year two. Although Washington is noticeably slimmer he hasn’t lost any power and he’s “making everything” around the rim. One point of emphasis for Washington was working on his outside game and I’m told his shot is more consistent and things look better from the perimeter, but the biggest change is Washington being able to put the ball on the floor and attack the rim. “He’s going to live at the line.”
No word if his free-throw percentages are better, but he was 63 percent in the Bahamas and I’m guessing it’s going to be slightly better than that, but not above 70 percent on the season.
I was told that at some point this season it’s going to click for Hagans. You see flashes (more than what we saw in the Bahamas) but they’re somewhat inconsistent. He will be UK’s best defender and is easily the Cats most athletic guard. Personally, without the intel of the guy at the practice, think Hagans will be an absolute star, but it still seems like for every two good plays Hagans has, he makes a silly mistake.
Offensively I’m told not to expect much scoring from Hagans besides in transition where he is “John Wall” like fast.
We didn’t get to see much of him in the Bahamas so I was most excited to hear about Montgomery. Supposedly he’s a little ways behind Washington and Travis, but that shouldn’t be all that surprising considering five months ago Montgomery was in high school. Montgomery’s ability to spread the floor is going to be what gets him on the floor and changes the aspect of Kentucky’s offense.
But I’m also told Montgomery’s touch around the rim was really impressive. He was getting pushed around by some of the bigger players but Montgomery is going to be an underrated shot blocker.
We joked about on our morning radio show that Tyler Herro is going to be the best scorer in college basketball. It’s a joke somewhat mocking the hype from Herro’s Bahamas trip, but I was told that he will be UK’s best scoring guard and it wasn’t particularly close. I find that fascinating that Herro can be in that position given how inexperience he is, but it speaks to his talent level. The hype train for Herro won’t be slowing down anytime soon.
I was told something I wouldn’t expect- supposedly what would slow down Herro offensively is length. He felt less comfortable shooting or dribbling and pulling up, and felt more obligated to attack the rim where he had mixed results finishing at the rim. Again, I was still told he was UK’s best scorer, but length may be the answer for opposing defenses.
But Herro has really taken steps defensively even over the course of two months. “He won’t be a liability” I was told. So, there’s that. I guess we’ll see.
He will be UK’s highest draft pick and supposedly that’s not up for debate. He has morphed into the leader on UK’s team and he’s always barking at teammates to pick it up and keep the intensity at a high level. His outside shot is what it is, he will hit some shots and miss some shots (badly). But Johnson is also an elite defender and is going to murder someone on a dunk this season. The biggest takeaway was his leadership in my opinion, we know he’s going to be a star.
I was told that outside shooting shouldn’t be a weakness for Kentucky. My guy didn’t say UK had the best shooters in the country and it won’t be Calipari’s best outside shooting team, but the way the team is built “they will have loads of open shots, and if they make them they will blow teams out and if they miss it will make things tighter”. In my opinion with how loaded UK’s frontcourt is teams are going to put an emphasis on stacking the box and making sure they try and slow UK down on the glass. That means Herro, Green, Quickley and the others will have chances to hit open shots.
It’s worth remembering that this is a small sample size and we’re still over a month away from the first game, but the general notion is this team is going to be elite with Washington, Johnson and Herro leading the way and a great cast of guys surrounding them.
Is it November 6th yet?