After just one day on campus with Kentucky basketball’s 2020-21 roster, John Calipari is giddy about his team’s potential for greatness.
In an interview with Andy Katz of NCAA.com, Calipari said he’s desperately hoping the upcoming season is played because the roster is loaded with talent.
“We’ve got to play because I have a really good team,” said Calipari. “Again, we’ve got to [help] make them a good team. We’ve got a great group of players who are great kids, they’re wired and driven. They’re here to sacrifice and share. None of them came here saying they’re going to be ‘the man,’ like, “You’re going to give me all the shots.” There wasn’t, “We’re playing through you” or “We’re gonna run [everything] for you.” That’s not what it is.”
As wired and driven they are with win-first mentalities, Calipari made it clear that in terms of pure talent, this group has the potential to be special.
“This group, aside from being givers, sharers, servant leaders at a young age, they’re really talented,” the Kentucky head coach said. “Like really talented.”
The biggest challenge he’s looking forward to this year? Watching the growth from day one to the end of the year, as the Kentucky program added nine new faces this offseason with BJ Boston, Terrence Clarke, Devin Askew, Isaiah Jackson, Lance Ware, Cam’Ron Fletcher, Olivier Sarr, Davion Mintz, and Jacob Toppin.
“I’m excited about it, nine new guys,” Calipari said. “Keion [Brooks Jr.] is the only returner that played, Dontaie [Allen] didn’t, he was a redshirt. So really, we only have Keion, one guy returning. I’m saying it because I’m excited about what this group can become.”
Just last week, Calipari expressed similar excitement in the upcoming roster during an appearance on KSR.
“We have to play this season,” Calipari told KSR, “because I do have a good team. Whew, we gotta play. … You guys have no idea how excited I am to get in the gym with my guys.”
“Look, to come here you know you have to have a certain level of talent,” Calipari continued. “But the second thing you have to have is, you really have to be into your team and sharing and your whole thing in your mindset is, how good can I be, how good a teammate can I be? And so sometimes we will lose kids that are being told other things: that to be here, that’s what it is.
“This group is all bought into that, both feet. Their parents trust us with their child, and we’re really good. We got some really good players. So I’m sitting here saying, [having a special group] has happened three or four times, but let me tell you what those teams have done. The teams you’re talking about became unbelievable teams. Teams. That’s, like I said, where the work comes in.”
Time for No. 9?