Tony Barbee Press Conference Wrapup

May 28, 2015

New assistant coach Tony Barbee met with the media on Thursday to discuss his new role with the UK men's basketball team and more. Barbee was elevated to assistant coach last week after serving as the special assistant to the head coach during the 2014-15 campaign.

Tony Barbee Media Opportunity - May 28, 2015

On being able to work directly with the players ...
"It's exciting for me to be back in the mix and working with the guys. It's why we do what we do obviously: to help the kids grow off the floor as well. Basketball and passion is what we do as coaches and to be able to get back on the floor, work with the guys individually and help the team in that way is exciting for me after a year off."

On if he looked at head coach opportunities and if there was any reluctance to be in his new position ...
"No, not at all. I looked at some of the opportunities that were out there. I see myself as a head coach and want to get back in that role, but now that I'm an assistant I'm going to do that to the best of my ability and help Coach in any role that he needs me to fill."

On making mental notes and observations on the current players when he was special assistant to the head coach ...
"I saw them every day. It was hard sitting there every day and not being able to help the guys in that role, but obviously I got a great feel for all of the returners and what they bring to the floor as players."

On why he decided to come back as an assistant coach and not pursue the opportunities that were out there ...
"Because of my relationship with Cal and the impact that he's had on my life, not just as a coach but personally as well. I've known him since I was 15 years old and that's been well documented. There were some TV opportunities that I had out there, but I wanted to stay connected to the game in a coaching role. Even though the coaching role wasn't available when Coach Cal asked me to come and help him in the special assistant role, I didn't hesitate because of the relationship, how strong it is and how far back it goes."

On if Coach Calipari has changed over the years ...
"He really hasn't. He's as intense today as he was when I played for him when he was 30 years old. The intensity is still there with the love and competitive spirit for winning. The passion he has for teaching and growing on and off the floor and the love that he has for them, I haven't seen any change."

On if he knew he wanted to do this when the job opened up ...
"Yes. I didn't know if Coach was going to give me the opportunity, but if he did, then I was going to be ready to step back into that role."

On his abilities as an assistant coach ...
"All I know is what I can bring to the table and that's my ability to recruit, coach, help these young players grow on and off the floor, and help this team achieve the ultimate goal. I think that's why Cal hires any of his assistant coaches to help him in that way."

On if there was any hesitation to getting back out on the road with the grind of recruiting every day ...
"Not at all. I think if you speak to any head coach, that never changes. When you go from an assistant coach to a head coach or a head coach to an assistant coach, you better grind every day. Whether you're an assistant coach or a head coach, it doesn't matter. You still have to get the work done.

On recruiting differences between UK and other schools ...
"Kentucky is the ultimate, so obviously when you have the UK on your chest, it's an advantage. And we'll do everything to continue the recruiting success that Coach Cal's had here."

On the personnel coming in for this upcoming season ...
"We're excited. I know I'm excited about it, I know Coach is excited about it. When you look at the returners and what they bring to the table, get Alex (Poythress) back healthy. I think the leadership that Tyler can provide coming back in that point guard role, you look at what Marcus Lee brings to the table, and obviously Derrick (Willis) and Dominique (Hawkins), them now having the experience to step in whatever role Coach sees for them. And I think we're all excited about the newcomers as well. So we're excited about the team we've got coming back."

On Alex Poythress' development ...
"We haven't seen him now for a couple of weeks since he went home for the summer, but he looked good. He was walking good. The gait looked good. I know he's still in the middle of his rehab, and the best thing about it is he's got time. He's doing his due diligence as he works through the rehab to get back healthy."

On Mychal Mulde r ...
"It's hard for me to say because I've never seen Mychal play. I just know the reputation, looking at his stats, he's a big-time shooter. He's a guy who shoots well over 40 percent from the 3-point line. He can really score from that guard-wing position. We expect him to step in and do what he did at Vincennes."

On any surprises in his year at UK ...
"No surprises. I played here as a player and coached here numerous years. Being on the inside, you see the passion of the fans on the outside. It's just good to be on this side of it for once."

On the one-year contract and if it gives an opportunity to move on to another head coaching job ...
"No, that was the contact that was put on the table. I signed it with the terms that they put down. I want to fill my role, support Coach and help him continue to chase championships here at Kentucky."

On learning while being away from coaching for a year ...
"I think you always learn. You're always trying to grow in this profession, whether it was the year away, being a head coach for eight years or being an assistant for 12-13 years. If you're not trying to grow and learn, then you're going to become stagnant. I've always been a student of the game. I took the opportunity to really study tape, other teams' opponents we played, and watched Cal and some of the things where he's changes where I wasn't really around him on a day-to-day basis for eight years when I was a head coach. You see how coaches change and grow. That's one of his strong points is how he adapts year after year to his personnel. Seeing how he did it with this last team was unique."