NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Blue Ribbon College Basketball editor Chris Dortch covers Southeastern Conference basketball — and writes for nba.com — was in Nashville for the SEC Tournament.
Dortch shared his thoughts on several UK related items Friday before the Cats played Vanderbilt:
Question: How would you rate the overall job Calipari has done this year?
Dortch: “Under the circumstances, he's done well. Some may dispute me, but those would be people who don't understand basketball. Coaches always look better when shots fall. This hasn't been one of John's better shooting teams. He's also been challenged to get his players to consistently defend and play with the aggression he prefers. And we haven't even gotten to the Nerlens Noel injury yet. That was critical.”
Question: What UK player has been the biggest surprise to you this year?
Dortch: “I probably expected more consistency out of Ryan Harrow, not based on his previous performance but based on the fact Cal signed him. Cal seems to have had a little success with point guards recently.”
Question: What UK players are back next year, which ones are gone to the NBA?
Dortch: “It wouldn't surprise me if all the freshmen left. But if they asked my advice, I'd tell them to hang around and win a national championship before you take your place in the real world.”
Question: What UK player has improved the most?
Dortch: “Julius Mays, maybe? All of the freshman have had their highs and lows. Frankly, I thought, like probably every other UK fan did, that, based on Cal's track record, these guys would be playing like seniors come March. That hasn't happened, but yet the Cats still have every opportunity to play in the NCAA Tournament. That has to account for something.”
Question: What do you know or have you heard about the recruits UK has coming in?
Dortch: “It's the most talented group Cal's yet brought in. Is it the toughest group he's signed? The most basketball savvy? That remains to be seen. But from a sheer talent standpoint, this is a haul for the ages. All the positions are covered. And the scary thing is, Kentucky's not finished yet.”