LEXINGTON, Ky. – Who says No. 2 Kentucky can’t learn much about itself in an exhibition blowout of Division II Clarion? Wildcats coach John Calipari discovered something about freshman forward Bam Adebayo.
“Who do you think was by far the leader in rebound attempts?” Calipari asked Friday. It was Adebayo, and it “wasn’t close. And I’m able to say, ‘That’s why he will play!’ He goes (hard) 100 percent of the time, which is an outrageous number. And you would think in that game he wouldn’t because of who we played. He does. That means you play. That’s an effort thing.”
MORE CATS COVERAGE:
- Son Brad’s success has Calipari feeling like George Clooney at home.
- Kentucky hosting top-50 guard who could be first 2017 commit.
- Calipari offers open practice to fans who come on Bahamas trip.
The 6-foot-10, 260-pound Adebayo, a McDonald’s All-American who some believe could turn himself into the No. 1 pick in the next NBA draft, went for 13 points and 14 rebounds (5 offensive) in just 19 minutes against Clarion. But that isn’t what has Calipari excited.
“It’s how he’s practicing,” the coach said. “The kid works every day. He’s in there – one of the first in the gym. He’s got a smile on his face. Every day I walk in, I’ll give him a mean look and then he gives me a mean look.”
Then they both laugh and get to work. There’s still plenty of that to do. Calipari wants to get Adebayo to simply catch the ball in the post and attack the rim – no dribbling – and to become comfortable as both a passer and shooter from about 15 feet away from the basket. He has that range.
“He’s a great kid, but again, this is a process,” Calipari said. “This is November, the beginning of November. It’s the first time these kids are doing some of this stuff, and they’re going to be uncomfortable and they’re going to be wrong … 60, 70 percent of the time.
“Just play. Play hard, compete, battle, come up with balls, let’s get some easy baskets.”
It’s check, check, check, check and check for Adebayo on that list. The rest is sure to come. Teammate Wenyen Gabriel has quickly established a reputation as Kentucky’s high-motor guy, the man in ceaseless motion. But he’s just following Adebayo’s lead.
“Bam’s got a lot of energy. He’s very active on both ends of the floor,” Gabriel said. “When we start pre-practice, he’s got that energy and we’ve got to keep up with that enrgy. I think everyone kind of feeds off it.”