With 16 assists and only four turnovers in exhibition play, Marquis Teague made a good first impression as Kentucky's latest freshman point guard. So good, in fact, that UK Coach John Calipari compares him favorably to celebrated and accomplished UK predecessors John Wall and Brandon Knight.
"He's ahead," Calipari said Thursday of Teague's development. "But he was more of a classic point guard coming in."
Calipari, whose team opens regular-season play Friday night against Marist, stopped short of proclaiming all questions answered about Teague.
"Till we're in a big-time game and the game's on the line and how he reacts, it's too early to tell," the UK coach said.
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But, clearly, Calipari is happy — and surely are UK fans.
"What I said to him was, he was really unselfish," Calipari said of Teague's play in the surreal 125-40 exhibition victory over Morehouse on Monday. "He didn't take a shot for the longest time."
The Morehouse game quickly dissolved into what could have been a shooting gallery. Yet Teague did not take a shot until the 6:31 mark of the first half. His three-pointer put the Cats ahead 54-6.
Overall, Teague took six shots, making five.
"You need that guy to be unselfish for our team to be unselfish," Calipari said, "and he's been unselfish."
No play in the Morehouse game typified Teague's sense of sharing more than a fast-break pass off the glass that trailer Terrence Jones dunked.
"I could have laid it in," Teague said before explaining why he didn't. "I'm a point guard. I want to get my teammates off first (and) make sure everybody's happy."
Jones was happy. On the play, Teague granted Jones' on-the-fly request to give him a dunk opportunity.
"When he was outletting it to me, he was screaming, 'Throw it off the glass,' " Teague said of Jones. "I heard him. So I did."
Jones called Teague a "natural playmaker when it comes to breaking down defenses and making passes. .... He makes it real easy for the rest of us."
Meanwhile, Calipari reminded reporters that Teague is off to a good start defensively, as well.
"He defends on the ball," the UK coach said.
Averaging 22.7 points and 5.9 assists as a high school senior, Teague said defense was not a priority before coming to Kentucky. It is when playing for Calipari, he added.
But as noted earlier this pre-season, Kentucky's lack of a proven backup point guard should act as a brake when it comes to aggressive defense.
"He wants to make sure I don't foul in certain games, like when we play Kansas," Teague said of next week's game in Madison Square Garden. "Stay in front without fouling."
Teague described himself as a point guard in progress. So far, he's happy with his play.
"I feel I'm doing good," he said. "I'm just trying to get everybody involved and play with high energy. You know, keeping control of things on the floor.
"Making sure I knock down open shots. Just keeping pushing the ball in transition more."
Pace — when to press an advantage in transition and when to go into a half-court set — remains on Teague's mind.
"Picking and choosing still," he said.
Scoring was not a priority, he said. "All I want to do is win," he said.
As a point guard, Teague plays a key position in team success.
"Real important," Jones said of point guards. "They start off everything, especially when it comes to the pace of the game."
Teague welcomes his leading role in a Kentucky ensemble that wants to be part of college basketball's grandest stage.
"I don't look at it as pressure," Teague said. "I just want to go out and perform."