After the Mississippi State game on Tuesday, John Calipari floated the possibility of playing Dontaie Allen this season. The former Pendleton County star has been working towards getting back into game shape after having surgery to repair a torn ACL a year ago and suffering a broken collarbone in a car wreck in April. After watching Allen in practice this week and talking with associate head coach Kenny Payne, Calipari told reporters he is still hesitant to burn the freshman’s redshirt, even after Kahlil Whitney’s departure a few weeks ago.
“I’m not sure he’s ready yet. He’s going hard, but he’s never gone this hard. Now we need to see if he’s in any kind of shape. I asked Kenny [Payne], he said, ‘I don’t think he’s ready yet.’ So, we’ll see.”
“We don’t know how this is all going to play out. So, I don’t want to say [he won’t play this season], but what I don’t want to do is use a year of his eligibility for no reason. There’s got to be some reason we’re doing it.”
Calipari said Allen’s conditioning is improving, but he’s also catching up on the Xs and Os of the system, which his teammates are helping him with in practice.
“He’s behind in what we run and knowing all the stuff that we go through. He’s behind, but he’s trying. The great thing about this team is, we’ve got a bunch of great guys that are talking to him. ‘Go down, stay down, you’re coming off me.’ ‘Yeah, this time, on that pass!’ So, it’s funny to watch but you kind of let it go because I do want them to be coaching each other.”
When asked, Calipari said he liked the idea of college basketball adopting college football’s redshirt rules, which allow players to play up to four games (one-third) of the season without risking their eligibility; however, his concern will always be about what’s best for the player, not the program.
“It’s not about me and it’s not about the program; it’s about him. If you want to say, let’s do what’s right for us, you stick him in the game and hope he helps you win. If he doesn’t, you don’t play him anymore or whatever. I’ve said to him, ‘You get yourself into great shape and then we make a decision and we’ll make one based on what you think.'”