UK Basketball held its annual Pro Day with a special socially-distanced edition in Memorial Coliseum. Scouts from all 30 NBA teams watched on from above via Zoom while Big Blue Nation tuned in from home via the SEC Network, and these are some of KSR’s takeaways from the event:
250 days passed since we last saw Kentucky Basketball on television. Two hundred and fifty days since you sat down to watch the Cats. No SEC Tournament, no NCAA Tournament, no summer, no Big Blue Madness (not yet, at least), nothing.
It was so good to see the team again, even if it’s the first time seeing this particular one with new faces everywhere.
John Calipari’s rocking a Kentucky waterfall
We knew Calipari’s been growing his hair out during quarantine, but tonight, we got a great view of that flow. Look at those little curls:
Looking a little bit like his buddy Bob Huggins, no?
Who is that guy again?
A question I found myself asking so often throughout the night, I had to pull up the UK basketball roster to see who is who. Our first look at this team, the first Google was to see who in No. 11 was wearing the tiny shorts. Once I learned that was Dontaie Allen, I discovered there was also a No. 10, Davion Mintz. I fear that this will not be the only night I need to have the basketball roster handy during games, and you know what, there’s nothing wrong with that.
We got some strength and agility numbers
UK will release all of the strength and agility numbers in the next few days, but SEC Network gave us ones for Olivier Sarr, Jacob Toppin, BJ Boston, and Isaiah Jackson.
This team is longer than the Rupp Arena ice cream line*.
It’s tough to learn a lot about the team watching a pro tryout, but we don’t need a real game to see the length on John Calipari’s new team. Shooting and ball-handling and passing and all that stuff we saw in drills may not travel from an open Memorial Coliseum to a game in Rupp Arena, but that length will travel everywhere and it will create chaos for opposing offenses. If they’ll commit to it, Calipari will have one of the best defenses in the country with more length on the bench if necessary.
(*pre-pandemic, of course)
Keion Brooks looked not too shabby
For a guy who hasn’t practiced that much this preseason, Brooks moved effortlessly up and down the court. I almost forgot he had a calf injury until he shared in an interview with the SEC Network that tonight was the most he’s done in a practice all preseason. You can see his full comments here, but it sounds like everything is progressing nicely for him to be ready for the season-opener.
It’s settled: BJ on the court, Brandon off it
There’s been some confusion on what to call BJ Boston, BJ or Brandon, but tonight, he settled it with Tom Hart. It’s BJ on the court (so, “BJ Boston makes a three”) but Brandon off it (“Hey Brandon, how about that three you made?”).
Let’s just go with BJ.
BJ Boston is Kentucky’s star
Kentucky is loaded with talent, but Boston is far and away the biggest and brightest star. With a pure shooting stroke and scoring ability at all three levels, the 6-foot-7 freshman is going to have several 20-plus point games this year en route to a top-ten draft selection in 2021.
Enjoy him while you can, BBN.
Dontaie Allen will be ready to play
After watching Allen work out on several occasions and talking to those closest to the Falmouth, KY native this offseason, it became clear rather quickly that he was physically and mentally ready to return to the floor for real competition. But how much of an impact was he going to make from day one, especially with how talented and deep this roster is?
Allen came in tonight ready to shoot, taking and making several quick-trigger threes during 4-on-4 and 5-on-5 runs to close out Pro Day. If he shoots with that much confidence during the season, he’ll earn real minutes on this team.
Lob City, Lob, Lob City
Wildcat Lobs are back in a big way. This lengthy, athletic team looks like some of Cal’s original Cats. Hindsight lends to exaggeration, but it’s not crazy to say 50% of Anthony Davis’ points were came from lobs. In recent seasons there haven’t been enough lob-passers or receivers to create a beautiful, consistent connection. Even though these were only five-on-five scrimmages, between Mintz and Askew in the backcourt, Toppin, Sarr and Jackson in the frontcourt, the alley-oops in transition will happen early and often. Speaking of Isaiah Jackson….
Isaiah Jackson EXPLODES
“Bouncy” is a term often used to describe a great leaper. The problem with that adjective is that is how I would also describe Kirby. Isaiah Jackson is no fluffy video game character. This man is a powerful force in the paint. Now I understand why there was so much preseason hype surrounding the freshman from Michigan.
Photo via UK Athletics
All aboard the Isaiah Jackson hype train
Yeah, sorry. I can’t contribute to a takeaways post without claiming my seat on the Isaiah Jackson hype train. With elite length, bounce, rebounding, and defensive instincts, I just don’t see a scenario where Jackson isn’t playing legitimate minutes by the time conference play rolls around.
The kid is good. Really good.
Seeing basketball was really fun, but after today’s events, I’m probably going to have to watch that again later.
Today was our first chance to see this Kentucky Basketball team on the court, and don’t get me wrong, it was so, so nice; unfortunately, the death of John Schlarman and the surprise retirement of Matthew Mitchell cast a pall over the day. The news about Mitchell broke about an hour into the event, meaning I missed most of the five-on-five scrimmaging, including the moments that made Calipari yell in joy. When the dust settles, I’m looking forward to going back and watching it all over again.