VAUGHT: Gilchrist says defense a priority PT1

It's not hard for Michael Kidd-Gilchrist to describe what he thinks should be a fair expectation of him during his first season at Kentucky.

It's not hard for Michael Kidd-Gilchrist to describe what he thinks should be a fair expectation of him during his first season at Kentucky.

"A lot of defense, just being a team player on and off the court. Just winning is what I want to do. Whatever it takes to win, that's what I expect to do and what coach (John) Calipari should expect me to do," Kidd-Gilchrist said. He averaged 20.2 points and 11 rebounds per game for St. Patrick High School, which did not lose until the New Jersey state championship, last season. He was one of four finalists for the Morgan Wooten Award and Naismith Award given to the nation's top high school player. He was a consensus top-five recruit and played in both the McDonald's All-American Game and Jordan Brand Classic.

Picking Kentucky was not a hard choice for Kidd-Gilchrist. His cousin, Dajuan Wagner, played for Calipari at Memphis and spoke glowingly of his former coach. Kidd-Gilchrist has also watched the recent success players such as Derrick Rose, Tyreke Evans, John Wall and others have had playing for Calipari.

"I want to be a great player like them. It's also just the style and personality of Calipari. He has a great way about him. I love his style of play and I loved Kentucky. It was a pretty easy decision for me," Kidd-Gilchrist said.

It was an even easier decision for Calipari to want him because of his all-around game and what he can add immediately to the Wildcats.

"The biggest thing I want him to add to this team is a sense of urgency in practice, a work ethic in practice, just raise the intensity, the fire, the passion that we practice with," Calipari said.

"I've never seen him go anything but absolutely all out. What will happen is he'll either take over practices or guys will try to step up with him and then it becomes a team on fire, an absolute team on fire. So what I'm asking him to do is every day, I want him to raise that level that we practice with and raise the level that we play with."

Calipari already thinks Kidd-Gilchrist could be a defensive catalyst much like DeAndre Liggins was for last season's Final Four team. "I would say Michael can guard a point guard, a shooting guard, a 3 or 4 (forward) and if he has to a 5 (center)," Calipari said.

"First of all, he's got really long arms, so he may be 6-7, but his arms make him 6-9, 6-10. He's gone from playing post to moving out on the floor each year. He knows how to guard inside. On the outside, he gets down and he can give space, yet put his arms out there. He'll fight a two guard on strings because he's tough. He can guard every position."


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