Yesterday, the media, NBA scouts, and Dominique Hawkins had the opportunity to take a closer look at the 2021-22 Kentucky basketball team (just wanted to clarify since we are a football school now). My first impression, I seen a better basketball product yesterday than at nearly any time last season, with the exception of the Florida/Keion return game.
Let’s take a dive into yesterday’s practice.
The most notable news from yesterday’s practice was Sahvir Wheeler’s injury.
Towards the end of practice, transfer guard Sahvir Wheeler suffered a left ankle injury. While the severity of the injury has yet to be announced, Wheeler was helped to the bench, not putting any weight on the ankle/leg initially. Later, he was helped to the locker room, putting minimal weight on the ankle but walking with the help of others.
Lance Ware did participate in Sunday’s UK Pro-Day, but yesterday Ware only took part in pre-practice shoot-around, not in any part of practice.
CJ Frederick and Jacob Toppin participated in parts of practice, but were limited as they did not participate in any contact drills.
A five-star McDonald’s All-American coming out of high school, Collins is a freakishly long and bouncy big man. With that being said, temper your expectations.
Collins has the tools to be a great player and while I believe he will make an impact, especially with his 7’5 wingspan (third-longest in the Cal era and just 3/4 in. shorter than Anthony Davis), I do not anticipate for it to be soon.
Collins seemed to play a bit timid in practice, which will improve as he puts on more muscle, but more worrisom was seeing his thought process with some defensive rotations. The positive part, this can be corrected with good coaching and we have some of the best.
Shooting and A Rejuvenated Offense
I know it’s just a practice and we have heard it from Calipari a hundred times in the past, but this team can shoot the ball.
Kellen Grady, Dontaie Allen, Davion Mintz, CJ Frederick, and TyTy Washigton. That is a list of five consistent perimeter threats on this team and that is something that no other team in the Calipari era has ever heard. With that being said, that list doesn’t include the perimeter threats in the frontcourt.
In terms of the frouncourt shooting, don’t expect Tshiebwe and Collins to contribute much in that category, but Bryce Hopkins, Keion Brooks, and Jacob Toppin were shooting with confidence. At one point, Hopkins made 18 of 20 threes in the five-minute shooting drill.
This is undoubtedly the most experienced team Cal has had at his time at Kentucky and there are several players that could fit the role of leader. The three that stood out today were TyTy Washington, Keion Brooks, and Bryce Hopkins. They were the first ones to pick up their teammates.
That’s not to mention Sahvir Wheeler and Kellen Grady who had leadership roles with their previous teams and are capable of being leaders in their own right.
With so many players with leadership skills, I expect this team to hold each other accountable to a level we have not seen before with Cal. Furthermore, If one player is having a bad night, it is good to know that we have others that can lead and pick the team up.
- I am not sure if Coach Rob Strong or Sahvir Wheeler was the shortest man on the court.
- Spurs’ scout was very old fashioned, as he was the only scout evalutaing the players with pen and paper only on the sideline for practice today.
The football team is the focus of the Commonwealth at the moment, but basketball season and the Kentucky Revenge Tour is just under a month away as the Cats will play Duke on Nov. 9th.