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By MIKE MARSEE
Another crop of fresh faces is coming to the Kentucky basketball program, and coach John Calipari is counting on each of them to help the Wildcats in different ways as he reconstructs a team that could see six of the players who helped win a national championship last season players drafted into the NBA later this month.
Calipari shared these thoughts about some of the newcomers Monday during his visit to Boyle County High School for one of his summer satellite camps:
Question: How might center Nerlens Noel be different from last season’s center, Anthony Davis, and how do you think you will use him?
Calipari: “Hopefully in the same way as we used Anthony. Hopefully he ends up leading the nation in blocked shots. But what I’m trying to tell him is you want to be a player who happens to block shots, not a shot-blocker. Anthony was a player who happened to block shots versus being a shot-blocker.
“But it’s nice when you have that, you have Willie Cauley, you have Kyle Wiltjer, you have three guys that are 6-10 or better that you have in the program. That gives us three guys with pretty good size along with Alex and Archie, who have pretty good size, too.”
Question: Little has been said about center Willie Cauley, but might his upside be greater than most because he will be playing only basketball instead of splitting his time between basketball and football?
Calipari: “And tennis. He’s one of those guys who can play all sports. He could play soccer. And he’s excited. The best part with him, he’s up to 230 (pounds) already, (and) he’s excited about getting after the weights and getting after the conditioning, because he knows that he’s never done it. And he said to me, ‘I can’t wait to get started, so when I go home in eight weeks, people are going to look at me and say, ‘What happened?’’” That’s him saying it to me.
“And I told him, ‘You’re going to be going by mirrors in about three weeks, four weeks, looking at yourself in the mirror, taking your shirt off so you can see yourself. That’s all part of a guy like him growing.”
Question: Is it possible Cauley’s family and friends might not recognize him when he goes home at the end of the summer?
Calipari: “I’m hoping that’s the case. So does he.”
Question: What do you think power forward Alex Poythress will do best?
Calipari: “I don’t know how this team will piece together. I do think the stuff I’m doing this summer is going to really help, because we will be a European(-style) team. Our four man is going to be our best 3-point shooter, maybe the best in the country, and he’s a four man. So now how do you guard this stuff?
“You have a guy at the rim you can throw lobs to, you can’t help off the four. Our twos and threes can score the ball. Having an opportunity for Ryan Harrow or even Archie or even Julius (Mays) to play some if we need to. And we’ve still got Jarrod Polson, who got better.”