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By LARRY VAUGHT
Former Kentucky assistant coach Joe Dean is now an analyst on Southeastern Conference TV games and has been preparing for the upcoming basketball season. Dean, the athletics director at Birmingham-Southern, offered these insights on UK during last week’s SEC Media Days.
Question: Did you vote for Kentucky freshman Julius Randle for SEC preseason player of the year?
Dean: “I did not. I picked Wilie Cauley-Stein of Kentucky on my top five. I just don’t know anything about Julius Randle. I hear he is incredible and if he is, I will congratulate him like Anthony Davis. I would not have voted Anthony Davis when he came in. I haven’t seen and don’t know. Maybe other media more of a feel. But I like to pick kids that have been in the league and proven they can play in the league. I picked Jarnell Stokes of Tennessee as player of the year. I think he is a tremendous player, great team player, high character kid.”
Question: Why did you put Cauley-Stein in your top five picks?
Dean: “I like his upside. I thought he really got better as the season went on. He is a 7-footer and when you see that guy was a successful receiver in football, that tells you the kind of athleticism he has. I like all the athletic attributes he has. He is long, he can shoot the ball facing (the basket), he is a shot blocker and I love his attitude. He is very coachable and team-oriented. I think he can be a leader on the team.”
Question: Will having more talent around him help him?
Dean: “He will probably get lot a little bit in all the talent. I would compare him to Patrick Patterson on Calipari’s first team. An older guy who had been through he wars that can kind of be the leader and player with experience who can talk to younger guys about what it will be like. I spent six years at Kentucky and you don’t understand the pressure that is there day in, day out when you are everybody’s biggest game. I don’t care how talented a freshman you are, you have no clue what that is like until you go through it. Go to Starkville, Athens and Gainesville and the crowds are sold out and all over you the minute you walk into the gym. To do that nine times (in the SEC) can be hard. That’s what they have to learn and Willie can be a leader.”