The evolution of DeAndre Liggins

"I'm proud of him. He's doing well academically; he does everything he's supposed to. I want him to talk more; I want him to be more of a leader. He's a leader by how hard he plays, but we need more than that on this team. We need more than that."

Earlier this week John Calipari discussed DeAndre Liggins and his evolution as a player and a person. Calipari said of Liggins, "He's trying to figure it out too. We're all trying to figure out where we're plugging everything in and how we play off one another. But I've said this before, and I'll say it again, I've coached a lot of players, and there's a few in my mind that I'm as proud of as though they were children, and he's one of them. He came from a tough environment, tough background, hard for him to trust. First year was a debacle for him. But, he trusts me, and he's made unbelievable strides from a guy who can't shoot, ‘you have to get rid of him,' is what I was told when I got the job. ‘Get rid of him.' To a guy who's maybe our best shooter. You think about what I just said. We have to get him to play with more emotion defensively, but the reason he can't is he's playing so many minutes at the pace that he's playing. But my friends have all called, from (Charlotte Bobcats head coach) Larry Brown, to others, that say, ‘We love him, because he can defend at multiple positions, he can make shots.' Again, the trust factor for him is a hard one, for our team to trust a coaching staff and he's got to talk more. He's got to be more verbal, he's got to be more connected to his teammates. Right now it's kind of our team and not just him, you've got this guy, that guy, that guy and DeAndre. That's our team, versus this, and that's a hard thing for him to give up, sacrifice and bring it together. But I'm proud of him. For us to have the kind of year we're going to have, he's a big part of it."

Calipari, who recruited Liggins out of high school, discussed DeAndre's progression from a high school player to a collegiate junior; and the areas the Wildcat needs to improve.



"Well I liked him because of how he played. I knew he didn't shoot the ball particularly well, but we were a slashing team and that's how he played and I thought he played extremely hard. Yet again, there are guys like him that if you go to a high-low offense where they have a guy in the high post and a guy in the low post and you can't drive and slash, you look like how he looked. But I always liked him and I thought he was a nice kid. I knew the background was tough and all those things. But it's a neat thing, you understand that when a young man like that, like a Joey Dorsey, like a Tyrone Weeks, who had unbelievably tough backgrounds, and to make it, to survive it, to come to the point they're in college is amazing. And then if you can get them to grow and blossom and trust and love and all those things, you look at it and you say, ‘You know what, that's a special thing.' I'm proud of him. I'm proud of him. He's doing well academically; he does everything he's supposed to. I want him to talk more; I want him to be more of a leader. He's a leader by how hard he plays, but we need more than that on this team. We need more than that."

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