After watching them practice last night, Seth Greenberg came on the show this morning to give us his observations of the 2016-2017 Kentucky Wildcats. Seth teased fans with some quick notes on Twitter last night, but his ten-minute segment is chock full of great tidbits to get you excited for basketball season. In fact, I liked it so much I transcribed it for you…
Is Malik Monk the next Russell Westbrook?
“Monk reminds me a little of Russell Westbrook. He just gets after it. He’s got a terrific middle game, he can shake it and just elevate over you, he can get to the rim obviously. He’s got a strength about him, he plays on good balance. He shot it well yesterday from the three and just the manner in which he carried himself, I thought he was really good.”
“De’Aaron Fox is explosive — I mean, explosive!”
Fox has drawn comparisons to John Wall for his speed, which blew Greenberg away.
“De’Aaron Fox is explosive — I mean, explosive — in the open court, explosive off the bounce. Shot it well, not great. I’d like to see him get it up a little bit off his shoulder. He has a lot of different ways to finish at the rim. Willing passer.”
Best attitudes: Isaiah Briscoe and Derek Willis
“Isaiah really shot it well. I was really impressed by Isaiah,” Greenberg said. “The two guys I walked away being really impressed with in terms of the manner in which they carried themselves were Isaiah and Derek Willis.”
“Derek Willis is a different person”
The most promising thing I heard in Seth’s interview were his remarks about Derek Willis, whose confidence and work ethic have ebbed and flowed over the years in Lexington. Once a quiet, unsure freshman, Greenberg says Derek has blossomed into a strong, confident senior.
“Derek Willis is a different person. Derek Willis was the first guy in the gym and the last guy to leave. He was in the gym an hour before practice and stayed 30 minutes after, and worked — he wasn’t just getting up shots, he was working. He carries himself like a guy that knows he’s good enough now, who knows he can help Kentucky win, who knows that he’s a senior and, you know, he’s got a career playing basketball. He wasn’t that guy — remember, he was my assistant coach at fantasy camp his freshman year and he wouldn’t even get in the pickup games because he wasn’t sure, he wasn’t sure he belonged. He’s gotten stronger, more confident, but more importantly, just his body language was really, to me, really good.”
Isaiah Briscoe: “He knows he’s the voice right now”
Fox and Monk may steal the headlines in Kentucky’s backcourt, but Greenberg says there’s no doubt as to who the real leader of the team is.
“Isaiah, whether the ball is in Fox’s hands or Monk’s hands, or Isaiah’s hands, he’s the leader. When Cal wants to make a point, he’s asking Isaiah the question and Isaiah is basically giving the answer the freshmen need to hear, which is so important. We know he can get to the rim, we know he’s got a lot of different layups. He shot the ball much better, he can defend any position, he rebounds, all the things he’s always been able to do, but again, he knows he’s the voice right now. He’s an extension of Cal and I think that’s really, really important.”
Humphries didn’t practice, but “he looks in terrific shape”
Humphries was held out of practice due to some tenderness in his knee, but Greenberg was still very impressed by the 7-footer’s transformation.
“Speaking to the coaches and actually talking to Humphries himself, he looks better, he’s running better. Again, Kenny Payne does such a good job with the bigs. He’s willing to catch it on the block, he’s willing to have a go-to move. He’s finishing better. He looks in terrific shape,” Seth said, pointing out that when Isaac arrived at Kentucky last year, he was only 17. “I think he’s really going to have an impact.”
Bam’s attitude is not good, it’s GREAT
“Bam [Adebayo] really runs the floor. Hard to keep off the glass. Developing a go-to move on the block, I think they’re trying to figure out what block he wants to play on best. Shoots it much better than people thought. Will be able to protect the rim. Great — not good, GREAT — attitude. My impression after two different periods I’ve been with them for an extended period of time, great kid, great teammate, wants to do well, understands what this thing is all about and will be productive.”
Still trying to find a spot for Wenyen Gabriel
“Wenyen is interesting because I think his upside is really good. I think the challenge for John is where are we going to play him? Is he skilled enough to play on the perimeter, is he strong enough to play up front? Another guy who can run. Shot it well in the shooting drills, didn’t shoot as well translating when they went up and down the court. Just a live wire. Another kid who plays with a smile on his face, he’s a sponge.”
The best thing about this team? Their attitudes
“The guards are going to be really fun to watch and watch them develop. So aggressive, so explosive, so fast,” Greenberg said. “That core group is really, really good. Great attitudes. I was really impressed with the group in general, just how they carried themselves.”
After seeing them practice, Greenberg believes the Cats will win the SEC “without a doubt,” and will probably lose five games “at most” in the regular season.
Listen to the entire interview below: