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Player Development and The Kentucky Effect: “That’s why you come to Kentucky”

Kentucky fans in attendance for Saturday’s matchup against Ole Miss were treated to a limited-edition poster featuring all of the former Cats who are playing in the NBA. The Kentucky effect, you could call it. For the fans, it’s a cool poster and a great keepsake. For Kentucky’s current players, it’s motivation.

That’s why you come to Kentucky. You want to be a pro,” Immanuel Quickley said after the game when asked if he could envision himself on that poster in the years to come. “As an individual player and as a team, you work hard to reach your goals here, and one day reach the NBA.”

After the game, Ole Miss head coach Kermit Davis said John Calipari doesn’t get enough credit for that aspect of the program. Sure, he’s known for the one-and-dones, but Coach Cal’s ability to actually develop those players into NBA-caliber competitors is often overlooked.

“I don’t think [Calipari] gets enough credit for player development. We played Quickley last year, had a great game in our place [and] he was probably a no factor in that game,” Davis said.

He’s right. On the road against Ole Miss last year, Quickley recorded five points in 19 minutes with one three-pointer and two free throws. This time around, he earned 17 points. A similar comparison can be made for Nick Richards. In his first outing against Ole Miss, he didn’t score a single point. The next time around, he managed six. This year, that number jumped to 16, and that wasn’t even that great of a night for him.

“They get so much attention on the one-and-done guys, but the guys who stay in the program get a lot better and he is one of them,” Davis said about Richards. “He may be the best center in college basketball.”

“[Calipari] is always known to push guys to the NBA after their first year, but people don’t give him enough credit for guys that stick around and actually want to improve their game,” Richards said after the game.

Richards may be this year’s star student when it comes to player development, but he’s done his homework. He knows he’s not the first.

“It’s not just me. You can see guys like Tyler Ulis; when he came back for his second year, he was probably one of the best point guards in the country. Willie Cauley-Stein was one of the best forwards in the country his last year. Derek Willis – he was a guy who came through and made a lot of big threes down the stretch for them in his last year,” Richards said. “So yeah, I think he needs more credit for player development.”

That’s why you come to Kentucky.


Article written by Maggie Davis

I love sports, podcasts, long walks on the beach and Twitter (@MaggieDavisKSR)

11 Comments for Player Development and The Kentucky Effect: “That’s why you come to Kentucky”

  1. Righteous1
    8:02 pm February 15, 2020 Permalink

    This article brings up an excellent point on the Kentucky Effect! Ambassador Calipari should have negotiated for incentives in his contract for NBA Draft Lottery picks instead of either Final Four appearances or NCAA titles!

    • JASUN74
      8:51 pm February 15, 2020 Permalink

      Maybe you should just enjoy watching the Kentucky Wildcats play basketball while they’re here!! If you think Cal doesn’t live and die with every win and loss your more crazy than I thought! I know you’re a fan or you wouldn’t be here, so why can’t you just be a fan and not a hater all the time? I’ve saw you’re a pretty cool person when you want to be! Lol

      I just believe if you’d let yourself go though the season and realize it’s a process, enjoy the ride and understand everything Cal does is to have them playing the best basketball in March, you would enjoy it more. Just a little advice for you and I know you don’t want it but there it is anyway. Hehe

      Honestly, and I know I’m not alone here, but I do understand being frustrated sometimes earlier in the year when they’re all just learning how to play together, however, this is the way it’s been going on for ten years! By now we should all understand how Coach Cal does this and everything is designed to become their best by March. This team hasn’t come close yet to being the best it can and when it does, LOOK OUT!!!

      Anyway, hang in there my brother! We’re the luckiest fan base in the country and it’s not close! I know some would love Cal to just get the best five players every year, but that’s just not how it works!! Cal has brought in, and continues to bring in some of the greatest young men in the country, they’re all respectful and love their mommas, they’re well mannered and just great kids all around! I’d rather win or lose with the kids we have than buying some of these shady kids who only care about themselves!!

      You have a good one man and enjoy some of our former players who are in Chicago representing Kentucky! Did you see BAM win the Skills Challenge!! Lol. Said he’s going to give his trophy to his Momma!! If that don’t put a little pride in your heart, I don’t know what could. Go Cats!! All Cats!! Past, present and future Cats!!

    • kentuckybackupplayer
      8:56 pm February 15, 2020 Permalink

      Or he should have done wins, nobody has won more games since he has been at UK, Cal leads the whole of college basketball as the winningest coach and also has been inducted in the hall of fame and has a national title. I would stop calling him Ambassador and start calling him King because he is the king of winning since he has been our coach.

    • nocode96
      8:56 pm February 15, 2020 Permalink

      God, you’re a miserable prick. (Not you Jasun, the guy you were entirely too nice to with your reply)

    • 4everUKBlue
      8:57 pm February 15, 2020 Permalink

      What the hell do you care Righteous/Slater1? You pray for Kentucky to lose so you talk sh!t, whether it makes any sense or not. Your obsession with Cal is really creepy and you need to get professional help.

  2. JASUN74
    8:13 pm February 15, 2020 Permalink

    I’m telling you all this as lifelong Kentucky fan, this team hasn’t even touched the surface of how good they can be this year! They beat an Old Miss team today who needed to win bad and was hungry! Of course we had one of our worst shooting games of the season today, but we absolutely did what we needed to do to win! If we could’ve hit just three more threes, the game would’ve probably looked like a blowout because Old Miss would’ve had to rush and play faster than they wanted to.

    Anyway, this was actually a great win and has to help their confidence knowing they can have a nightmare shooting night and still win. I can’t believe they’ll have another game shooting like they didn’t today so it all up from here. This is one of Cals better coaching jobs if you ask me and I really think they’re going to do something special in March. Everyone is starting to play team basketball and I can’t wait to see how it ends. Woooo!!! Go Cats!

  3. michaelb
    9:13 pm February 15, 2020 Permalink

    That should be the worst shooting of the year at least jeez . Silver linings here lol

    • JASUN74
      10:07 pm February 15, 2020 Permalink

      Yes! I’m with you Michaelb! An SEC WIN is very hard this time of year, everyone needs to win bad and everyone always wants to beat Kentucky no matter when they play! I say great win and the team is coming together at the right time!

      Honestly, I’m excited as I can be about what they could do! With this year not having a team that’s clearly better than everyone, there’s probably 10 teams that have a chance to win. I love our teams chances as good as anyone’s.

  4. BluKudzu
    10:22 pm February 15, 2020 Permalink

    LSU lost. Auburn lost. Does that put UK in first place in the SEC?

    • JASUN74
      4:56 am February 16, 2020 Permalink

      Yes Sir my brother!! It’s all coming together. No let downs and keep working hard! I see a lot of effort plays going on right now and when they all start playing great at the same time ( and shooting the ball a little better), it’s good to be fun to watch.

  5. Looother
    2:58 pm February 16, 2020 Permalink

    So why did Kahlil Whitney come to Ky?