"He's a heckuva a player. He's mature, he's cool, he's strong, he can shoot under pressure, he doesn't turn the ball over and he's so mature. This guy is a player. "
That's what former LSU coach Dale Brown had to say about reigning Kentucky Mr. Basketball Anthony Hickey of Christian County, a freshman on the LSU basketball team that the Wildcats face tomorrow in Baton Rouge.
Brown, speaking on today's "Leach Report" radio show, said he's been impressed by the job coach Trent Johnson has done in rebuilding the Tigers.
"They're a very good defensive team. And he has good depth. He has about five players (on that bench) and they're extremely good backups," he said. "They don't have the talent Kentucky does."
Brown had some talent-laden teams at LSU, with the likes of Shaquille O'Neal, Chris Jackson, Kenny Higgs, Rudy Macklin, etc. And he knows the fallacy of doubters who say any coach can win with big-time talent like Kentucky gets.
"I think a lot of people underestimate John's ability to coach. I think he's really outstanding. And if you can't like John Calipari, you can't like anybody," Brown said. "Kentucky's got a great one there--one they'll never forget."
UK IMG radio network analyst Mike Pratt says LSU is a "big-time threat" in this matchup. Pratt said wins like the one LSU had over nationally-ranked Marquette give the Tigers. "They know they can play with top teams," he said, adding that Kentucky "better bring it mentally and they better bring it defensively."
Who does Anthony Davis remind you of--not just in terms of former Cats but all former SEC stars? We put that question to longtime SEC TV voice Tom Hammond on the radio show.
"Nobody," Hammond replied. " I don't know that I've seen a package (of skills) quite like that. He has exquisite timing. That's what I like about him. He can block the ball at the height of its release and often keep it in play. And he has such a great demeanor. He's always on an even keel. I don't know that we can compare him to anyone.
"Shaq blocked a lot of shots but I don't think he had the timing that Davis has. It's tough for me to go back and think of somebody has those particular skills--and is so young. And he's only going to get better," added Hammond.
Before he went to national stardom with NBC, Hammond covered UK sports for many years for WLEX-TV in Lexington, giving him a basis for comparing coach Calipari's style to all of the UK coaches back through Adolph Rupp.
"To me he handles the media the way coach Rupp used to," said Hammond. "He sort of tells everybody what they should be thinking. He guides the media and fans and that reminds me (of coach Rupp)."
In two of his last three games, freshman point guard Marquis Teague has produced two of his best single-game assist totals. And one of the best-ever UK point guards, Kyle Macy, says that's exactly the right course for Teague to follow this season.
"If your point guard is taking the second-most attempts, he better be a pretty good shooter--ala a Brandon Knight. With this team, (he) doesn't need to really put points on the board, unless it's late in the shot clock. Then, they can't really back off of him and he can use his speed and quickness and get to the rim. The main thing is get everybody else involved and get the offense running right," Macy told "The Leach Report" audience.
"Scoring from the point guard position--with this team--that should be one of the last things the point guard is thinking about. There are just so many options," Macy continued. "It's amazing to me that Anthony Davis, as well as he's playing, is last on the team in field goal attempts. If I'm a point guard, I'm getting him the ball every chance I get. I want my big guys (who do what he does on defense) to be real happy."