UK Men's Basketball

A sneak peek at the Cats' new class

UK freshman Brandon Knight, a McDonald's All-American from Florida, was named Gatorade National Player of the Year.
UK freshman Brandon Knight, a McDonald's All-American from Florida, was named Gatorade National Player of the Year. ASSOCIATED PRESS

Not too long into Monday night's Kentucky hoops practice, John Calipari said something that to the ears sounded weird, but to the basketball side of your brain made perfect sense.

"We want your feet moving fast," said the Kentucky coach, "and your mind moving slow."

Two weeks into the Cats' preparations for their upcoming exhibition trip to Canada, plenty of those young minds are spinning and spinning.

But as Calipari himself might say, "That's OK."

They're supposed to be spinning, especially when they are on a team as young — gifted, yes, but definitely young — as Calipari's second Big Blue edition. Six of the 10 players Calipari has out on the floor are true freshmen. Five are on scholarship; walk-on Jarrod Polson being the sixth.

One practice last week, and then again Monday night, the coach opened the doors for some media members to take a look. After witnessing that pair of practices, some impressions of the newcomers:

Enes Kanter: It's "Eh-nes," not "E-nes." Or at least it is to Calipari. You can see why the scouts are drooling over the 6-foot-10 Turk. Kanter is nimble and big, though not as big as his predecessor, DeMarcus Cousins. (Who is bigger than Boogie?)

Kanter appears a little unpolished in the post — he showed some perimeter skills in all-star games — but he has some good moves off the block. It's not yet known whether Kanter will be eligible to play in Canada, but these practices are no doubt doing his transition a world of good.

Doron Lamb: Not sure I saw the freshman guard miss more than a handful of shots in both practices combined. Lamb is near automatic on the floater, which has already caused Calipari to compare the New Yorker to Chris Douglas-Roberts, the former Memphis star.

Ah, but he's learning. At one point, Lamb drove the lane and missed a contested shot. Calipari blew his whistle for another teaching point.

"You thought you were going to get bailed out," the coach told Lamb. "You're at Kentucky now. The officials are not going to bail you out."

Brandon Knight: The point guard out of Miami looks different sans the dreadlocks he sported on the way to being the Gatorade National Player of the Year. His hair cropped close, Knight can fly. Not sure he's John Wall fast, but then that's asking a lot.

Knight exhibited brief bursts of brilliance, especially in the open floor. But at times he looked a bit confused. And probably should be. "This is all new," Calipari told his team.

Terrence Jones: Obviously still bothered by a bad ankle, the Oregon native might be 6-foot-9, but he wants to play like he's 6-4. Right now, he's hanging on the perimeter. He wears a shooter's arm sleeve on his left arm, his shooting arm.

Last week, Jones threw up an air ball from the corner and Calipari immediately blew his whistle.

"Close that door," the coach told a manager. "There must be a breeze in here."

Stacey Poole: Listed at 6-5, the Floridian doesn't appear to be much taller than the 6-4 Lamb. Poole also likes the perimeter, but you can tell he has slashing ability. He's wiry and appears to have the makings of a good defender.

As for the holdovers, Darius Miller appears improved. Josh Harrellson battled Kanter down low. And Jon Hood drew high praise from Calipari when he aggressively played through a bump on an offensive drill.

"That's a big step, Jon!" yelled the excited coach.

But DeAndre Liggins owns the early lead for most improved player. The junior made several nice drives in the dribble-drive, one in which he fed Kanter for an authoritative one-hand slam.

"You've got to do it together, guys," Calipari said. "Do it together, and you have a chance to win every game you play."

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