ESPN broadcaster Tom Hart will handle the play-by-play duties for tonight’s UK Basketball Pro Day (7 p.m., SEC Network, don’t forget) and one of the perks of the job is Hart was allowed a glimpse behind the curtain at UK’s practice facility. One of the chosen few to see exclusive practice footage and attend a practice, Hart has seen more of John Calipari’s basketball team than anyone who will return our phone calls, so he made an appearance on Thursday morning’s show to share his takeaways from what he has seen in Lexington.
We’ll do a cheat sheet of his comments and then you can hear the entire conversation at the bottom.
Three best players: BJ Boston, Olivier Sarr, Isaiah Jackson.
Boston is the best player, Hart said, “but Olivier Sarr is amazing to me. He’s a seven-footer, he’s about 240 pounds but he runs the floor like he’s a wing. He plays above the rim like Nick Richards but he’s more refined than Richards is and he plays both ends of the floor. I don’t know what kind of pro career he’s going to have and I’m not saying he’s going to average 20 and 10, but I think SEC teams are going to have a really hard time handling his size.”
As for Jackson, Hart sees some Dennis Rodman in the freshman power forward. Hart said, “He never stops going, and you don’t have to run a play for him because he’s going to get an offensive rebound, he’s going to get a put-back dunk, he’s going to get every defensive rebound when he’s on the floor… On his own if he were playing the 5, he may be a little small because he’s 210 pounds, maybe, but next to Sarr those two dudes are going to dominate some teams on the inside.”
Back to Boston. Hart described him as, “great with the ball in his hands, he can get to the rim, he can play above the rim. I don’t think there’s a comparable player out there because his length is hidden, I think, on the floor because everybody on the floor is 6-7. Everybody, except for the point guard. This lineup is huge across the line. So it’s hard to see how good he is playing against his own teammates; it will be a lot more evident once he gets on the floor in the game because they’re not going to have a 6-7 dude that can guard him… He’s a mismatch problem for a lot of teams.”
Hart noted he didn’t see much of Boston’s perimeter game in the limited action he’s seen.
The other dynamic freshman wing, Terrence Clark, may need a little bit more time to get going.
“It might be a long runway to get him going and once we get into conference play he should turn out to be who he’s expected to be,” Hart said of the five-star talent.
So is it a Final Four team?
“I think right now it’s more of an Elite Eight team than a Final Four team. That doesn’t mean they can’t get there.”
Tune in to the entire interview for early thoughts on the point guard battle, a projected starting lineup and some promising words for Dontaie Allen fans.