1. Early Workouts Will Focus on Individual Drills
Recent NCAA rules allow basketball coaches to do a limited amount of work with their teams prior to officially beginning practice in October. Calipari said Thursday that he's eager to work with his new team, which includes a handful of veterans and yet another top-rated recruiting class.
"I'm excited to get going," he said. "The two hours per week (permitted by the NCAA), more than half of it will be individual workouts. Now, you may say, 'You're allowed to do team. Why wouldn't you do team?' We're not ready for team stuff yet.
"Whether it be Bam (Adebayo), whether it be Wenyen (Gabriel), whether it be Sacha (Killeya-Jones)... Even Isaac (Humphries), who's way better. Like, when you see Isaac now, you're going to say 'My goodness.' He's not even the same guy. (But) they all need individual work. So do the guards. If I split it down and it's 40 minutes, I'll probably do 40 minutes of team and it be just 40 minutes of dribble-drive drills, just teaching them how to play and teach them how to attack and be balanced and throw lobs and do that stuff."
Calipari also noted that sophomore guard Isaiah Briscoe has put in a considerable amount of work on his shooting skills. The Cats' expected leader heading into the 2016-17 season shot just 43 percent overall, 14 percent from the 3-point line and 46 percent at the free throw line as a freshman.
"You don't have to be Steph Curry," Calipari told Briscoe. "You just have to be better than you were."
Despite those numbers, the New Jersey native still averaged 9.6 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game while being hailed by Calipari as perhaps the best defensive guard in the country.
"People forget how big he was for our team a year ago," Calipari said. "He kind of got overshadowed."
2. Calipari Ready To Hit The Recruiting Trail
The UK boss noted he will be leaving in early September for a five-day recruiting run that will likely take him to 12 different states. The 2017 recruiting class figures to be one of the most important in recent years for the Cats due to the presences of two seniors (Derek Willis and Dominique Hawkins) and several underclassmen who could be prime targets in the NBA Draft.
UK is expected to sign a minimum of six players for 2017.
"I've got to get done what I gotta get done because if I'm not in the first week, what do you think these other schools will say? 'Well, if you were important to him, he'd have been here already,'" Calipari quipped. "So I've got to go and just hit three states in one day."
Calipari said he's currently targeting "about eight or nine kids." Among the main prospects are: centers DeAndre Ayton (Scout ranking 1), Mohamed Bamba (2) and Nick Richards (17); small forward Kevin Knox (7); shooting guards Hamidou Diallo (10) and John Petty (44); power forwards P.J. Washington (14) and Jarred Vanderbilt (15); and point guards Trae Young (22) and Quade Green (25)
3. Willis Won't Miss Game Time
Kentucky senior forward Derek Willis will not face a suspension resulting from his June arrest for public intoxication in Boone County. Calipari indicated that Willis' punishment would be handled internally and that "Derek knows that he's under a different eye now than he was, but I'm not going to tell you specifically what we did and didn't do. I'm not going to write your stories and do all that stuff, but obviously, he and I have talked a few different times."
The 6-foot-9 Mt. Washington native averaging 7.7 points and 4.0 rebounds as a junior. He is UK's leading returning 3-point shooter at 44 percent (53 of 120).