UK’s Televised Practice a Preview of Coming Attractions


Kentucky plays on a college basketball stage unlike any other. This group of Wildcats got its first glimpse of the spotlight on Sunday night.

For the third consecutive season, UK held a nationally televised practice. This year’s edition was attended by approximately 90 NBA personnel representing all 30 of the league’s teams.

Before the Cats even take the floor in front of fans at Big Blue Madness, they got a feel for the pressure of the big stage on which they’ll play all season and an understanding of the phrase “only at Kentucky,” especially UK’s highly touted five-member freshman class.

Before ESPNU went live, the Cats went through drills they’ll see again in the NBA Draft process. Measurements and times were not made available, but the team’s athleticism was plain to see even with the naked eye.

Malik Monk, unsurprisingly, was a standout. Following a first attempt that had his teammates laughing and cheering, the device measuring the vertical jump had to be set higher to accommodate his ridiculous jumping ability.

Once the pre-practice drills were done, it was mostly a regular evening of practice, save for extra time spent on scrimmaging, both 2-on-2 and 5-on-5. That’s by design. John Calipari wants his team to play the same regardless of the environment once the season starts. Instilling that kind of approach starts now.

As almost every UK practice does, Sunday’s began with the Perfection Drill and others that are Coach Cal staples. Then came spot shooting before a long stretch of 2-on-2 work. The final hour of practice would be spent with pick-and-roll work, the Five-Minute Shooting drill and 5-on-5, first with a pick-and-roll focus and last an emphasis on motion.

Metz Camfield of CoachCal.com has extended impressions of the on-floor action, but one unmistakable takeaway from Sunday evening was the leadership of Isaiah Briscoe. Rarely did a minute go by without the sophomore guard asserting himself vocally in showing he has taken Calipari’s challenge to step up in that department to heart. The Cats are taking Briscoe’s cue in that regard, as the gym was loud with encouraging chatter from start to finish.

Fans watching at home, meanwhile, were treated to a sneak preview of a UK team expected, per usual to contend for a national championship. Twitter was abuzz with gratitude at the return of basketball.

Fans will have plenty of opportunities to watch and read about the Cats during a busy week for Kentucky basketball. Thursday is Media Day, where the Cats will be swarmed by reporters ahead of the start of the season. Then comes Big Blue Madness on Friday, which will be televised live on the SEC Network at 7 p.m.

Kentucky basketball is back, indeed.