Kentucky's Blue-White Scrimmage: 5 Takeaways

Five takeaways from Kentucky’s annual Blue-White Scrimmage:

Whose Team? The Big Blue Nation fell in love with fiery freshman point guard Tyler Ulis during the Bahamas summer exhibition tour – and he figures to bring a lot to the table in his first season at UK – but the Cats’ leader is clearly sophomore point guard Andrew Harrison. He looks like he picked up where he left off last season with a mindset to aggressively attack the basket with little or no wasted motion or floor-pounding dribbles. Harrison is in great shape, and looks more explosive than ever. He even did a nice job defensively against the smaller, quicker Ulis, the type of opposing guard who gave him fits at times last season.

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The Most Talented Cat? It’s hard to argue with Karl-Anthony Towns at this point in time. The freshman forward/center from New Jersey looks to be everything he was advertised to be when Scout named him the No. 4 prospect in the Class of 2014. In retrospect, that may have even undersold him. At 6-foot-11 and 255 pounds, he’s ridiculously skilled on the offensive end of the floor. The defense will be a work in progress, but when he can give you 20 points, 13 rebounds, three blocks and two assists against the type of competition he faced Monday night, one wonders what he’ll do when he faces a schedule of opponents that don’t have anywhere near the type of big man personnel that UK boasts.

Blue Platoons: Calipari started Andrew Harrison, Aaron Harrison, Trey Lyles, Towns and Willie Cauley-Stein on the Blue squad, which is thought to be Platoon No. 1 going into the season. The Twins confirmed that the unit has been playing the most together in practice, and remains unbeaten in scrimmage situations. Platoon No. 2 started out with Ulis, Devin Booker, Alex Poythress, Marcus Lee and Johnson. Later in the game, Calipari shifted Poythress to the Blue squad, and he seemed to respond much better to playing with the Twins. But don’t expect him to be switched permanently, though, without some additional moves. UK coach John Calipari said he wants to find balance between three veterans and two freshmen on each of the main platoons.

Which Begs The Question… Is there room for a 12-man rotation? Coach Cal, who notoriously prefers a rotation about half that size, says sophomore guard Dominique Hawkins and sophomore forward Derek Willis both deserve to play. The UK boss specifically cited Hawkins’ defensive ability as one of the main reasons the Cats slowed down Michigan’s Nik Stauskas in the NCAA regional final and helped put his team in the Final Four. He likes Willis’s length and ability to “come up with balls,” in addition to being a perimeter shooting threat from the wing. Based on Monday, though, it seems like both guys will have to bring more to the table to get into the mix. It’s going to be interesting to see how they fare in the exhibition games beginning Sunday against Pikeville.

Will Free Throws Worry BBN Yet Again? While the winning Blue squad knocked down a solid 79 percent at the line (26 of 33), the White bunch was abysmal at 35 percent (6 of 17). Of particular concern is Johnson, a player you don’t want to see negated in late-game situations due to this shortcoming, but he can’t play down the stretch if he’s going 1-for-9 at the stripe. An optimist may point out, however, that Calipari noted Johnson has been much, much better at the line in practice than he was last year.

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