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TRANSCRIPT: CJ Fredrick discusses decision to sign with Kentucky, goals for 2021-22

Kentucky basketball continued its offseason satellite camp tour on Saturday with a trip to Park Hills to work with kids at Covington Catholic High School, the old stomping grounds of UK guard CJ Fredrick.

Fredrick, who was named 2018 Gatorade Boys Basketball Player of the Year in Kentucky and helped lead CovCath to its second state championship in school history, spoke to the media following camp to discuss his return to his former school, his decision to transfer to UK, playing at Rupp Arena again and his start as a star shooter, among other topics.

Check out the complete transcript of the conversation, followed by a full video replay.

On how it feels to be back at Covington Catholic…

It feels good to be back. I saw a lot of my old coaches, my grandma’s out here, my parents are out here, my uncle’s out here. It’s just good to be back to a place that’s home for me, interacting with the kids. They’re having a great time, and that’s what it’s all about, just being here and back at the school,l that was great for me. It’s really good to be back.

On his grandmother’s excitement about his return home…

She’s super excited, a little closer to home a little bit. My grandpa would have been really proud of this, to play on this team. He passed away a little bit ago. He was someone who was really special to me. I’ll be carrying him with me through this journey.

On being so close to home at UK…

It didn’t really hit me when I committed that I could just hop in the car and drive an hour and 15, an hour and a half and I could be home and see my family. It kind of hit me today, we came up and went to Saint E’s, met some of the nurses that were first hand COVID patients. Just driving up with the guys, bonding with them, seeing all of them here interacting with the kids, that’s when it really hit me that this was real, that I was going to be closer to home.

On his decision to wear No. 1 next season…

I wore it in high school, so I figured I’m coming back home, I wore one here, it was available, so I wanted to jump on that as quickly as I could. It’s just a number I’m familiar with, I had great memories wearing that jersey. I’m fortunate to be making more.

On wearing No. 5 at Iowa…

Honestly it’s just a jersey that was just available. It was better than like an 11 or a 12, so I jumped on 5. I’d rather wear single digits. I’ve just been wearing three, one my whole basketball career. The family number is usually three, but I wanted to step outside and do something different, be my own person. So I’m going to try to carry on 1 as long as I can.

On the passing of Terrence Clarke being a factor in his number change…

I never felt comfortable wearing 5 here. I just felt like, all he did for the university, the people and teammates he touched, I felt like it wasn’t really my place to take that away from him and his family. With their family, it should be their decision, and I really shouldn’t be wearing that. It was just a decision I made, I wanted to be respectful to their family.

On the difference between Kentucky and Iowa fans…

In Iowa, there are no professional sports teams either, so those fans are really good and go crazy for their team. They were great for me. But here, it’s a little different. BBN, these fans, they’re the best in the country, there’s no doubt about it. They’re great people, great fans. I’m really excited to play in front of them at Rupp this year. It’s a great fanbase, everyone knows that. Being back here, being a Kentucky player, it’s different for sure. It’s a little ramped up. You can just feel the excitement. Just really nice and cordial, I’m really excited to play in front of them.

On what he’s looking forward to the most at Kentucky…

Honestly just being in front of the fans. Being around the area kind of, I used to watch a lot of Kentucky games, and that place was crazy. Playing in a COVID season last year in front of no fans, I didn’t really like that. Not a lot of guys like playing in front of no fans. I’m just excited to play in front of fans again, especially fans like that.

On the importance of a strong fan presence at games…

I’m kind of a player that thrives off of enthusiasm and electricity in the arena. I’m just a competitor and I feed off that. I get really into the game, and when there’s fans, it just amps it up and it’s a lot of fun.

On his shooting…

I would like to consider myself a very good shooter. It’s something I’ve been working on since I was a kid. Still room to get a lot better, especially with the way the game’s expanding, you’ve got to be able to shoot a little deeper to stay on the floor. So I’m still working, hoping to become the best shooter I can be.

On when he started shooting…

I was two or three. I used to have these drawers you could slide in and out, and my mom said I would roll socks up and shoot into the drawers. That’s kind of when it started. My basketball has a really rich tradition of basketball. My aunt played at Xavier, my uncle played at Notre Dame, my dad played at a school called Rollins in Florida. Basketball has just been in my family. My uncle Joe and my dad taught me a lot about the game, so it really just started with my family at a young age.

On his decision to sign with Kentucky…

I just felt like it was the best opportunity for me to be the best player, best teammate and better myself. Ultimately this was the place I thought would be the best for me.

On how he got to be so competitive…

I would say my family. When I was young, we’d have family parties and my uncle had a full court hoop in the back. It was every man for themselves on that court. It was a lot of talking, I was always playing with my older cousins. Just a little bit of trash talk, nothing my grandma would want to hear.

On expanding his range…

Just trying to expand my range just a little bit more, shoot from the NBA line even more. A lot of that has to do with conditioning, so I’m really trying to work on my conditioning as much as possible. When you play a long game and you’re a shooter, your legs can kind of get tired. I’m just trying to get in the best shape possible so I can go all game and expand that range a little bit.

On John Calipari’s honest approach during the recruiting process…

That was something I really respected from Coach Cal and the entire staff. They had a plan for me and they also talked about things I need to work on. One of those things, as I said earlier, is being in the best condition I can be. Trying to play a whole game without getting tired, that’s only going to help my game out. The best shooters can play a whole game without getting tired, they’re the ones that make it. Just continuing to get in the best shape I can be and working on my shot, working on my ball handling so I can help spread the floor a little bit.

On dealing with being injured…

I had a really tough injury this past year. It was just something really naggy. I had plantar fasciitis in my left foot and it mentally and physically took a lot out of me. Waking up in the morning trying to take a step and I’m kinda collapsing. That’s tough. I’m trying to practice then play. It took a lot out of me mentally. Just being in the training room all day. But after the season I was able to rest about a month, month and a half. Because the only thing you can really do is rest for that injury. So I’m just starting to get back. This week was my first week of actually running and doing some stuff. So I feel great.

It was tough during the season, I kinda just had to battle through it. Live in the training room and get as much treatment as I could. It was tough. I did miss some games because it was a little bit too much. Towards the end of the year I pretty much just willed it out, give it everything I could.

On being identified as mainly a shooter…

I’ve been labeled that my whole life. I don’t really listen to it, I just try to be a complete player. Do it all levels: score it, pass it, get in the lane, make plays for others, if I’m open knockdown shots, try to be as smart as I can.

Especially at Kentucky, you’ve got to make shots. It’s just something I’m going to continue working on.

On being back home in Kentucky…

Just being here, being back home, it brings back really good memories. Seeing some of the kids that I actually worked with at a camp at Cov[ington] Cath[olic], it’s really cool seeing them. I’m just trying to do whatever I can to help these kids be the best player they can be. But to answer your question it’s a lot of fun to be back especially seeing my family here, seeing all my old coaches here. So now that I’m closer hopefully I can get here a lot more.

On the move-in process…

It was fairly easy actually. We had a lot of help moving in and I was really appreciative of that. Move-in went really well. Meeting the guys has been going well. It’s still early so we’re building that connection but I’m really excited to be here and just continue to create a relationship with the guys and get ready to roll this summer.

On scrimmaging after not being able to last summer…

It’s been a lot of fun. I’m sure for everybody. Last year it was really hard just to get all your guys in the gym. Last summer, one guy gets COVID everyone has to kinda quarantine and no one can get in the gym, so we didn’t really have summer workouts last year. Just felt like someone was always quarantined. So just being able to do this and see how the guys play, it’s a lot of fun, it’s really fun for me just being back on the court again and getting up and down, just playing again is something fun for me because I’ve kinda been off all summer and all offseason.

On the importance of summer workouts…

It’s huge. It’s where you build connections, it’s where you build relationships because you know you’re in the gym all the time. So I think with COVID last year that took away from a lot of things, especially with a team like Kentucky. I’m sure that would be really hard during a COVID year–you can’t really build that relationship. But this year we’re starting to get back on the court a little bit and continue to build those relationships.

On which players are standing out in practice thus far…

I think everybody looks good. Daimion (Collins) looks really good, Bryce (Hopkins) looks really good, TyTy (Washington) also very good. Everyone is very good. I just think we have a complete team. We’ve got athletes, we’ve got rebounders, shot blockers, shooters, playmakers, we got a little bit of everything.

On having teammates who already understand how to play the college game…

Like I said I think it’s a really complete team. There’s a little bit of mixture of some new guys that have kinda played a couple of years on the big stage so they have a little bit of experience. Then you bring some guys from last year who have experience and then really good freshmen. Just really well-balanced talent and experience.

Article written by Jack Pilgrim

Follow me on Twitter: @JackPilgrimKSR

7 Comments for TRANSCRIPT: CJ Fredrick discusses decision to sign with Kentucky, goals for 2021-22

  1. zoupman
    11:36 pm June 7, 2021 Permalink

    This is guy from Cincinnati, who played for a private school in Ky. Red flags anyone?

    • MrFlip41129
      12:11 am June 8, 2021 Permalink


    • kuhlkat
      1:44 am June 8, 2021 Permalink

      He moved to Ky and went to CovCath,
      Are there laws against that jackweed?

    • Tom Bombadil
      7:42 am June 8, 2021 Permalink

      UK adds a homegrown shooter…Who won a state title! Was Mr Basketball of Kentucky! He WANTS the challenge! He lives nearby and you talk “red flags anyone?” Zoup you sure are piece of work!! GTFOH!!! Oh my!!!
      Welcome aboard CJ
      GO CATS!!

  2. bigblue98
    8:15 am June 8, 2021 Permalink

    I’m raising the red flag on zoupman’s intelligence. KSR should make him answer an intelligence question before he is allowed to post. If that were the case we would be free from his posts.

  3. millertim
    8:46 am June 8, 2021 Permalink

    Really looik forward to watching this young man torch the nets from deep. Like Allen, he’s a threat to score wherever he catches the ball!