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KSR’s Takeaways From UK Basketball Pro Day

Photo via UK Athletics

UK Athletics

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.

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.

— Drew 

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?

West Virginia Mountaineers basketball head coach Bob Huggins would like to see the NCAA Tournament played in the fall.

— Tyler

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.

— Nick

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)

— Drew 

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.

— Nick

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.

— Tyler

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.

— Jack

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.

— Jack

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….

— Nick

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

— Nick

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.

— Jack

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.

— Tyler 

Article written by KSR

6 Comments for KSR’s Takeaways From UK Basketball Pro Day

  1. Jpcat15
    10:30 pm November 12, 2020 Permalink

    I was impressed with Allen, too. Watched him seemingly hit every shot in 5 minute shooting drill and then he shot with confidence in the scrimmages, too. Every single time he shot it I thought it was going in. Very athletic looking group.

  2. Section233
    11:45 pm November 12, 2020 Permalink

    Transfer guys are gonna be good this year and BJ looks like he could play point at 6’ 7 Wow! We say they’re loaded every year but man they look good this year.

  3. Catman Dan
    5:35 am November 13, 2020 Permalink

    My observations: Boston is by far the best player on the team and a sure-fire top 5 pick. He will lead them in scoring, but this team should have 5 guys averaging 12-16 ppg. Getting Sarr was definitely the key to this team being great. He’s very skilled, very consistent. Probably a notch above Nick Richards offensively, maybe a notch less defensively. Mintz will be the starter game 1, but Askew will be playing more by SEC play. He’s a gamer. Just plays so hard. Mintz is the quiet assassin type; he’s solid. Clarke will have games when he scores 20+ and a lot of games with under 10. He’s likely that guy we only see glimmers of his potential in a shortened year, but talented enough to be 1-and-done. Brooks sort of getting left out of the shuffle early as all these new guys find their role. He’s going to be a solid player, but not going to be one of their top 3 imo. Jackson will also take a lot of his minutes and will be hard to keep off the court because of his intangibles (rebounding/defense). Ware reminds me of Sacha Toppin, Allen, and Fletcher (and Ware) will all be fighting for minutes this year. Allen probably has a leg up to get the most (of these 4) with his shooting ability, but Toppin should play solid minutes too. This team is so long, but may struggle to score at times. But you can clearly already see who those main 7 guys are going to be (Boston, Clarke, Mintz, Askew, Brooks, Jackson, Sarr) when Cal cuts his rotation late in the year.

  4. JT55
    7:42 am November 13, 2020 Permalink

    As usual, if I were coaching against the Cats I’d pack the lane and force them to shoot 3s the entire game. I agree with Jimmy, they may struggle early but hopefully they’ll be a force by Feb/March.

  5. UKinIN
    8:04 am November 13, 2020 Permalink

    Because of Covid we need for the team to be good out of the gate. They don’t have to be great just avoid any clunkers. We have no idea how many games we’ll get this season. The Ivy League cancelled everything until next year. Who knows what other conferences will decide?

  6. Aar
    10:36 am November 13, 2020 Permalink

    Getting past the sad BBN news of yesterday, I can’t help nearly being giddy about this years men’s hoops team. I saw a team that has 8 legitimate starters who are playing the game on instinct both defensively and offensively and seem to be pretty well aligned with Cal’s style for this point in the season. The team also appears to have 3 really good backups who are quite gifted but are just not at the pace of the other 8 because the instincts are not there. I really like that there is enough shooting to keep defenses spread and it’s not just one or two Cats. Looking forward to what Cal does with these guys and the way the team evolves…