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Already UK’s hardest worker, Calipari predicts Adebayo will ‘be that guy’ by end of the year


By Keith Taylor
KyForward senior sports writer

At the moment, Bam Adebayo is Kentucky’s hardest worker on the court. John Calipari knows it and the entire team knows it.

“That is why he is making strides that are just crazy,” Calipari said Friday as the sixth-ranked Wildcats (14-2, 4-0 Southeastern Conference) prepare to take Auburn Saturday afternoon.

Bam Adebayo is averaging 15 points per game in the first four SEC games this season (Bill Thiry Photo)

Bam Adebayo is averaging 15 points per game in the first four SEC games this season (Bill Thiry Photo)

Adebayo’s transition to the collegiate game got off to a slow start, but it didn’t take long for Adebyo to make the adjustment. Adebayo tallied single digits in two of his first three games, but since then, he’s netted double figures in 13 straight games and scored 14 in the Wildcats’ 87-81 victory over Vanderbilt earlier this week in Nashville.

Adebayo, who scored 13 points in the first half at Vandy to help keep the Wildcats from a complete meltdown because of early foul trouble, said winning a close game on the road is what the Wildcats needed at this point in the season.

“We needed one of those, because we don’t want to have one too late in the season and it cost us, so I would rather have one early than late in the season,” he said. “We’re getting better as a team, as individuals and we’re all buying in.”

LINK: Hamidou Diallo practices with Cats for first time

Adebayo said the six-point victory also was a learning experience and said Calipari wants the Wildcats to develop more discipline in order to handle the adversity of playing on the road.

“We were relaxed when we got up and they came back, so it’s about focusing on discipline,” he said.

Read More at Keith's Blog

Read More at Keith’s Blog: Out of the Blue

Adebayo credited his recent improvement to “Camp Cal” which concluded earlier this week and said the workouts proved to be beneficial on and off the court.

“It’s helped me become a better player and a better teammate,” he said. “We all came closer as a family. We’re just working to win.”

In the conference opener, Adebayo scored a career-high 25 points and had eight slam dunks in Kentucky’s 99-76 victory at Ole Miss on Dec. 29. Since SEC play began, Adebayo has averaged 15 points per game against conference opponents.

Adebayo has gotten better at the free throw-line and made eight shots on 10 attempts against the Commodores and said he’s working to improve every phase of his game.

“(I’m working on) everything as usual — free throws, defense and offense — just the whole nine yards,” he said. “The main thing is just try to get better.”

In addition to his presence in the post, Adebayo also gives the Wildcats a viable presence on defense and the 6-foot-10 forward can guard both inside the paint and on the perimeter during a defensive switch.

“He is really good,” Calipari said. “He bounces (and) he stays in the stance. He can guard every position. He is getting fouled like crazy when he catches the ball. Like fouled. The last game was worst than this game, this past game. But, you know – and he is keeping his cool. He never changes anything.”

Although he hasn’t fully arrived, Calipari expects Adebayo to be the team’s best player in due time.

“By the end of the year, he will be that guy,” the Kentucky coach said. “That is my prediction.”

Gametracker: Auburn at Kentucky, 4 p.m., Saturday. TV/Radio: ESPN, 98.1 FM WBUL.

Keith Taylor is a senior sports writer for KyForward, where he primarily covers University of Kentucky sports. Reach him at keith.taylor@kyforward.com or @keithtaylor21 on Twitter


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