Whistle. Clipboard. Snarl.
Transylvania's Brian Lane thought about adding another item to the usual coach's toolbox when Dillon Pulliam played for him last season.
"Great kid," Lane said. "Brilliant student. I almost had to bring a dictionary to practice to make sure I used words correctly."
Now that Pulliam is a walk-on at Kentucky, it will be John Calipari's brain that is teased.
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Pulliam did not recall Lane actually bringing a dictionary to Transy's practices, but he said the wisecrack had what comedian Stephen Colbert used to call truthiness.
"One practice, I did something wrong and he got on me," Pulliam said. "He was, like, 'Dillon, you need to plug that in the chemical equation a different way.'
"He's funny," Pulliam said of Lane. "He's a really good coach, though."
A computer engineering major, Pulliam figures to give UK's team grade-point average a healthy boost. He shied from saying exactly what his GPA was at Transy. "I did really well in the classroom," he said with a let's-move-on tone.
When asked if he had a 4.0 GPA, Pulliam again was vague. "I took care of business," he said.
Later, a third attempt to pin Pulliam down led to a bit more specificity. "It was above a 3.9," he said. "Let's say that."
On the court, Pulliam averaged 4.8 points and 3.4 rebounds for Transy last season. "One of the few freshmen I've had who was already physically strong enough to come in and play," Lane said. "He was already in good shape."
Pulliam had a good reason to be physically fit. He is the first cousin of Royce Pulliam, CEO of the Lexington-based Global Fitness Holdings and its 30 Urban Active clubs.
He said he transferred from Transy to UK, in part, because he was already going to be taking two classes at UK this school year.
"So coming here allows me to get the degree I want," he said, "and also be a part of the Kentucky basketball program, which is really like a dream come true."
The chance to transfer to UK was a "no-brainer," said Pulliam, who grew up in Cynthiana rooting for Kentucky.
"I'd watch the game, then have my little goal out and shoot on it," he said. "When I was 5 or 6, I had a little 6-foot goal in the basement. I'd have the TV over here. I'd be shooting on the goal while I was watching the game, dreaming of hitting that last shot."
And how often did he make the clutch shot? "More often than not," he said with a smile.
Pulliam, a 6-foot-3 guard, reached the 1,000-point mark as a player for Harrison County. He made a school record nine three-points in a game. He was class valedictorian.
While sitting out this season as a transfer, Pulliam hopes to eventually contribute on the court as well as in the classroom. He said he expected to spend time this year practicing and lifting weights. "Also I'll be keeping my grades up," he said.
As for his playing style, Pulliam said, "I hustle a lot. I'll battle on the floor for loose balls.
"I guess most people would describe me as a shooter. In high school, I was always a shooter until about my junior year."
At that point, Pulliam became strong enough to drive to the basket.
"I guess if most people would describe me, it'd still be as a shooter," he said. "And, definitely, I'll just be in the right position. I play smart.
"I'm a basketball player just like everyone else. I'm just going to work hard."