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Men's Basketball

Three Things Kentucky Basketball Has Been Elite at This Season

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Photos by Chet White | UK Athletics

Yesterday, I wrote an article that talked about Calipari still not playing a modern offense. Despite the flaws I pointed to, this team does three things very well on the offensive end, and maybe better than anyone in the country.

Rebounding, Notably Offensive Rebounding

Calipari has always put an emphasis on rebounding and so has Oscar Tshiebwe. Averaging a nation-leading 16 rebounds per game, Tshiebwe is a large reason that Kentucky is the best rebounding team in the country.

The Cats rank first in rebounds per game, first in total rebounding percentage, and second in offensive rebounds per game.

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In his tenure at Kentucky, Calipari has consistently had UK as a top rebounding team, but this may be his most impressive offensive rebounding team yet. Statistically, this year’s team is averaging 16.7 offensive rebounds per game, beating out 2009-10 with 14.2 per game, and 2013-14 with 14.1 per game.

Getting Shots Up

This season, Kentucky has been able to get a lot of shots up. Currently sitting second in the nation, the Cats are shooting 68.6 shots per game, only behind College of Charleston’s 69.3.

This is impressive because despite playing faster than in recent years, Kentucky doesn’t necessarily play at a fast pace, but instead they are getting their shots from the offensive glass.

With the second-chance opportunities that the Cats are hustling for, they are capitalizing on them. Converting on second-chance opportunities at the second-highest rate in the country, and overall, shooting a top 40 field goal percentage.

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The combination of getting up a lot of shots up and shooting a good percentage, will obviously help you beat teams.

Sharing the Basketball

When you have a group of players that are unselfish and willing to share the basketball, you are going to have a consistent offense as you don’t have to rely on the scoring of one or two players. Kentucky is proof of that as they average 17.1 assists per game, sitting top 25 in the category.

Sure, Sahvir is the facilitator as he is the nation’s assist leader (8.7 assists per game) and produces nearly half of the team’s assists. However, there are four players averaging double figures. These players consist of Washington, Tshiebwe, Brooks, and Mintz, with Grady nearly in that category with 9.3 points per game.

With the offensive options this team has, they can truly have the next man-up mentality and still produce as a team.

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When you can rebound, shoot, and share the basketball better than the other team, you have a very good chance of being a good basketball team.

While they have played inferior competition thus far, Kentucky is going to get the opportunity to show how good they are as the schedule becomes more difficult to finish December and into the SEC schedule.

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BB Recruiting

No. 1 Point Guard Robert Dillingham Chooses Kentucky

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UK Athletics

The Kentucky Wildcats just added a significant piece to their 2023 recruiting class, No. 1 point guard Robert Dillingham, choosing Kentucky over Auburn, Louisville, and USC.

Back in December, Dillingham had originally elected to stay home and committed to NC State. This came as a last-minute surprise, as Dillingham held seven 247 Sports Crystal Ball predictions to Kentucky just 48 hours prior to his decision.

However, Dillingham decommitted from NC State back in March after the school received NCAA violations. Upon reopening his recruitment, UK assistant coach Chin Coleman told Dillingham, “I’m not gonna lose this time,” and he held true to his word.

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In Dillingham, Kentucky is getting an extremely talented player that many have started to compare to long-time No. 1 recruit DJ Wagner, who Dillingham has even expressed interest in playing alongside.

Despite his small 6-foot-1, 165-pound frame, Dillingham is the perfect modern point guard, possessing elite speed, finishing ability, ball-handling skills, and perimeter shooting. Collectively, these attributes make Dillingham the dangerous offensive weapon that he is and gives him the confidence to score at all three levels.

With that said, Dillingham does not rely on his scoring ability to make an impact, as he is also willing to make the extra pass and put his teammates in positions to succeed.

In addition to his electric style of play, Dillingham possesses an alpha mentality and toughness. However, Dillingham does need to build on his frame and improve on the defensive end, as he can lose focus at times.

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Dillingham joins Reed Sheppard to give the Kentucky two 5-star recruits and moves the Wildcats’ recruiting class into third place in the 247 Sports rankings, behind Duke and North Carolina.

If you are unfamiliar with Dillingham and his playstyle, watch this breakdown and get up to speed on the most recent Wildcat commit.

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Men's Basketball

Former Kentucky Strength Coach Turns Heel and Says “Go Cards”

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UK Athletics

Back in late April, it was announced that the men’s Kentucky basketball program and former strength coach Rob Harris had parted ways.

Harris had been with the program for eight seasons and while no reason was ever officially given for his departure, it can be attributed to a combination of recent lower-body injuries, receiving a technical foul for a scuffle at Tennessee back in February, and a public video of him having an outburst at his daughter’s basketball game.

While Harris is looking for a new position, Louisville is looking for a new strength and conditioning coach. Could the two join forces against a common enemy, being Kentucky?

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It certainly looks like Harris would be on board. On Wednesday afternoon, Harris made a heel move and tweeted his support of Kenny Payne and the Louisville Cardinals.

If Harris does join the staff, it will be another another piece to reviatlize the Kentucky-Louisville rivalry.

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BB Recruiting

Kentucky Expressing Interest in 2024 Top 100 In-State Recruit, Travis Perry

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In the 2023 class, John Calipari has already secured a commitment from Reed Sheppard, the best prospect in the state of Kentucky and ranked top-25 nationally.

Looking ahead to the 2024 class, Calipari is already showing interest in Lyon County’s Travis Perry, who is ranked as a top-two prospect in the state and ranked in the top 100 nationally.

This past weekend, Calipari was in attendance for the Titans-Rockets Classic to see Xavier Booker – who has made an astronomical jump in the latest recruiting rankings – and was also given the opportunity to watch Perry.

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The Lyon County product must have left a lasting impression as Travis’s father, Ryan Perry, says that Calipari has been in contact “quite a bit” this week. On top of that, Travis and his parents – who are Kentucky graduates and admitted Wildcat fans – are planning a visit to Kentucky this weekend to talk with Calipari and tour the campus.

To those who follow Kentucky high school basketball Perry’s name is very recognizable. Playing varsity since his seventh-grade year – averaging 20.6 points per game that season – Perry has scored 3,189 career points and is well on his way to breaking the state record of 4,337 points, held by “King” Kelly Coleman.

What is Perry’s motivation? “I’m just trying to get one more point than the other team, because I gotta ride home with my dad. And that’s the coach, and I don’t want to have to listen to him complain the whole way,” Perry told Ben Roberts of the Herald-Leader.

Perry currently holds offers from Creighton, Ole Miss, Iowa, and Purdue among others but expect his recruitment to continue heating up. Since last weekend’s event, Juwan Howard and Michigan have also expressed interest.

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Check out Perry’s highlights as he went head-to-head with Sheppard and North Laurel in last summer’s Titans-Rockets Classic.

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