Calipari says 2019 will be a breakout year for returning players
Top takeaways from Friday’s interview session with Kentucky’s returning basketball players:
▪ Of course, Kentucky’s returning “bigs” saw how PJ Washington breathed life into the premise that a player can significantly boost his NBA Draft profile by playing another season of college basketball.
But Nick Richards downplayed the premise that Washington’s example served as a factor in his decision to return to UK for a third season.
“Everyone has their own path,” Richards said.
Meanwhile, EJ Montgomery suggested Washington’s example was one he could follow. Earlier this spring, UK Coach John Calipari said Montgomery could even surpass the improvement made by Washington as a sophomore.
“Definitely realistic,” Montgomery said. “I feel I can do a lot more on the court.”
Richards and Montgomery played limited roles as backups to Reid Travis and Washington last season.
Calipari went so far as to say Richards should try to develop into a uniquely impactful big man.
When asked about seeking that standard, Richards said, “I’m up to the challenge.”
▪ UK players dismissed the longer three-point shot that will be used in college basketball next season. Earlier this week, the NCAA announced that the line will be moved from 20 feet, nine inches to the international distance of 22 feet, one and three-quarter inches.
“Not a problem,” Montgomery said. “I’ve been shooting NBA threes all summer.”
▪ Among players returning from last season, Immanuel Quickley made the most three-pointers (30) and shot the best percentage (34.5 percent).
“Honestly, I didn’t think I shot that well . . . ,” Quickley said. “I’m capable of shooting a lot better.”