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By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky coach John Calipari knows last year will help Ryan Harrow as he follows a line of talented Calipari point guards — Derrick Rose, Tyreke Evans, John Wall, Brandon Knight and Teague — all of whom have been first-round draft picks.
“He got beat up. He played against a pit bull (Teague) every day who was letting him know,” Calipari said. “I want Ryan to be best lay-p shooter in the SEC. I don’t need any cuteness. Get to the basket and shoot layups. If they absolutely back off like they tried to play Marquis, he shoots better. But I want him to shoot layups, which means you play through bumps and keep going. That’s what we want.
“The good news is that you have Archie (Goodwin) who can play the position, too. We have flexibility. We can do things with Archie and Julius (Mays). You could do three guards and two bigs.”
Harrow knows exactly what message Calipari is sending to him about shooting layups — and he’s taken it to heart.
“I think he is saying getting into the paint and take the bumps and still finish the layup or make the layup. He knows that I can score and that I can shoot pretty well. But me going into there and taking the bump and still getting a shot off is what he wants the most,” Harrow said. “I know a big part of this team is going to play around me. It is not because it is me, but it is because I am the point guard. That’s a big responsibility for coach Calipari’s team, because he feels how far the point guard goes is how far the team goes. I think I am up to the challenge. I have been working hard and been waiting long enough for it as well. I am just ready to get out and play.”
Still, following the legacy of the last five Calipari point guards can be a daunting task.
“It is definitely cool. I am not scared at all, because I feel like I definitely have the skills to be that next point guard in the line coach Cal has had,” Harrow said. “I don’t think I should think of it like Derek, Tyreke, John, Brandon and Marquis. That will put too much pressure on me, and I don’t want to have that because it will only make me not do well. I am happy to be out there playing and being that point guard.”
Even though he has yet to play a game at Kentucky, Harrow is now one of the team’s veterans. Sophomore Kyle Wiltjer is the Wildcats’ most experienced player returning from last season, but he played sparingly. Julius Mayes has played more college games than anyone, but he did that at North Carolina State and Wright State before transferring to UK for this season. Junior Jon Hood has played some, but missed all of last season with a knee injury.
“I guess you could say that I am one of the old guys now,” Harrow laughed and said. “I guess I am kind of old, but I am so goofy you would think I was one of the freshmen the way I look and how I talk. You would think I was a regular freshman just watching how I act.”