Injured Kentucky “big” Reid Travis will not only play in the Southeastern Conference Tournament. He’ll also show no ill effects from the knee he sprained at Missouri three weeks ago.
That was the glowing update UK players gave reporters Tuesday.
“He worked out with us yesterday,” Tyler Herro said. “I think Reid is going to come right back and fit right back in.”
Monday’s workout lasted about an hour, Herro said. How did Travis look?
“He was doing pretty much everything we were doing,” Herro said. “I thought he looked pretty good.”
Travis made the same impression on Ashton Hagans.
When asked what should be expected of Travis, Hagans said, “The same thing he was giving us when he was here.”
Travis is averaging 11.3 points and 6.9 rebounds this season. He’s been credited with providing a stabilizing presence as a graduate transfer. Plus, he’s drawn praise for setting effective screens and being a physical counter to Tennessee forward Grant Williams.
Travis has not played since spraining his right knee during the Feb. 19 game at Missouri. When asked how Travis looked in Monday’s workout, Hagans said, “He looked like he was just back. Back to him.”
UK Coach John Calipari spoke more cautiously on his radio show Monday night when asked for an update on Travis. Calipari speculated that Travis would come off the bench and play four or five minutes at a time. Besides getting re-accustomed to game action, Travis has not done any cardio conditioning, Calipari said.
“He’s got to get his feet underneath him,” the UK coach said.
But Herro echoed earlier comments by UK coaches in saying Travis has been diligent in his rehabilitation.
“He hasn’t taken days off where he’s sitting around,” Herro said. “He’s always rehabbing or doing something. Keeping active. So I think he’ll be fine.”
The winner is …
UK players reacted to the news of individual awards.
PJ Washington was named to the All-SEC First Teams in votes by media and coaches. He said he was not disappointed that Grant Williams of Tennessee was named SEC Player of the Year.
“I’ve had a great season,” Washington said. “I’m just focused on the main goal. Individual goals don’t really matter to me.”
The main goal? “Winning the national championship,” he said.
The coaches voted Keldon Johnson as SEC Freshman of the Year and included him on their All-SEC Second Team.
“I worked hard,” Johnson said. “I definitely think I put the time in. I deserve an award like that.”
Herro was voted Newcomer of the Year by the media. He also made the coaches’ All-SEC Second Team and All-Freshman Team.
Hagans was named Co-Defensive Player of the Year by the coaches. He shared that honor with LSU point guard Tremont Waters.
“It was a big accomplishment,” Hagans said. “That was probably one of my goals coming into here. I’ve just got to stay focused and try to take this team to another level.”
Tide or Rebels?
UK will open SEC Tournament play in Friday’s quarterfinals. The Cats will play the winner of Thursday’s game between Ole Miss and Alabama.
Hagans broke from custom and said he and his teammates had a preference in opponent.
“You know, we all want Alabama,” he said. Alabama beat Kentucky in the opening game of league play.
“That was a tough one, so we want to come back and be prepared for that one,” Hagans said. “But, you know, Ole Miss. Two really good teams. Two really good coaches.”
Besides being co-Defensive Player of the Year, Hagans made the SEC coaches’ All-Defensive team.
He was reminded that had he not reclassified to the class of 2018, Hagans would be preparing for the senior prom rather than taking bows for SEC basketball awards,
“That’s a good one,” he said with a laugh. “Yeah. Yeah. And it’s true. I wish I could throw on a little suit right now. But we’re going to wait on that.”