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Monday, June 24, 2013

Calipari expects remaining freshmen to reach campus soon, praises summer competition

The start of the 2013-14 men’s basketball season may still be almost five months away, but the next Wildcat team is already taking shape.


Five of the eight incoming freshmen are already on campus with Aaron Harrison, Andrew Harrison and James Young arriving as soon as this weekend.


“I think they’re going to come in this weekend, and what we’re hoping is that they’ll be able to flow into the six-week (summer school) session,” said UK head coach John Calipari on the Southeastern Conference summer coaches’ teleconference Monday. “And if they’re not, they’ll stay a couple more weekends and they’ll be fine and be here.


John Calipari shows off the new Wildcat Coal Lodge. (File photo by Jon Hale)

John Calipari shows off the new Wildcat Coal Lodge. (File photo by Jon Hale)

“I’m excited about those three. I wish they would have been here for the eight-week (session), but it’s happened before with Nerlens (Noel) and some other guys we’e had. They’ve had things to finish up, but they’re fine.”


As for the players already on campus — including sophomores Alex Poythress and Willie Cauley-Stein — Calipari thinks the effect of added competition is already starting to show.


Calipari’s 2012-13 team featured only eight players who arrived at UK on scholarship. After a season-ending injury to Noel, the Cats’ bench grew even shallower.


Depth should not be an issue for next season’s team with nine former McDonald’s All-Americans on the roster.


Calipari said the problems that arose from a shallow bench during the 2012-13 NIT season taught him a valuable less about how to assemble his team in the future.


“I did it somewhat to protect some of the guys in the program, and you really can’t do it that way,” he said. “You’ve got to have the full complement. What happens is, now there’s competition, now you really see guys blossom.”


Cauley-Stein is being pushed in summer workouts by 6-foot-10 freshmen center Dakari Johnson and 6-foot-9 freshman forward Marcus Lee. Workout battles between Poythress and freshman forward Julius Randle have already garnered discussion from fans and those around the program.


“It’s a short period of time right now, but what you see is they’re on a mission like some of my best teams have been on,” Calipari said.



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