LEXINGTON, Ky. – Thanks to the return of a few key veterans and addition of five top-25 recruits, Kentucky basketball’s summer workouts have been “really competitive,” assistant coach John Robic said, “and that’s something we’re encouraged by.”
Appearing on the SEC’s summer basketball teleconference in place of head coach John Calipari, who is out of the country recruiting, Robic provided a brief preview of the 2016-17 Wildcats.
“Workouts have been going great. Guys have been in the gym. I think it’s a hungry group that is really, really getting along right now,” he said, “which is really encouraging to see so early.”
Robic singled out sophomore guard Isaiah Briscoe, who pulled out of the NBA Draft at the May 25 deadline, as an emerging leader for UK. Getting feedback from the pros seems to have helped fuel his growth.
“I think that’s a natural reaction,” Robic said. “He went through the process and gained a lot of valuable information, and that’s what the rule is there for. He fully took advantage of it and is working on the things that they told him he needed to work on. He’s striving for that.”
Robic twice declined Monday to comment on senior forward Derek Willis’ recent arrest for public intoxication or any potential punishment. Calipari has so far not commented on it publicly either.
“The only thing I will say is we educate our players to the best of our ability and that’s something we take a lot of pride in,” Robic said. “Hopefully the guys will listen and learn.”
He did say Briscoe, Willis and fellow senior Dominique Hawkins have helped the newcomers get acclimated to school, workouts and practice in the three weeks that all 15 UK players have been on campus together.
“It’s a nice blend,” Robic said. “I think those guys right now are showing the younger guys the way – the way that we’d like it done here.”
Five-star freshmen De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk in the backcourt and Bam Adebayo, Wenyen Gabriel and Sacha Killeya-Jones in the frontcourt will ease the loss of three NBA draft picks. Robic wouldn’t give early impressions of them individually, but he and Calipari are clearly excited.
“They’re a great group of young men that are really, really talented – very, very athletic,” Robic said. “We have really good size with this group that is in here right now. You can really tell a difference in the size of our team … and what it’s done is it’s made the workouts and the practices much more competitive, especially near the rim. (UK can be) a really, really good defensive team because of how long we are.”
* Follow Kyle on Twitter @KyleTucker_CJ. Reach him at Kyle.Tucker@ajc.com.