LEXINGTON, Ky. (KT) — A familiar face was a visitor at Kentucky’s open basketball practice for media members and a holdover of NBA scouts who attended Pro Day on Monday.
Former Kentucky Mr. Basketball and Madison Central High School graduate Dominique Hawkins was on hand to catch a glimpse of the upcoming Wildcats ahead of Big Blue Madness set for Friday night at Rupp Arena.
Kentucky coach John Calipari was pleased to see his former guard in attendance and recalled the impact Hawkins had while he played for the Wildcats.
“(I) absolutely loved his competitiveness, his team-first approach, and the joy he brought into the building every day,” the Kentucky coach said. “It didn’t matter what was happening, he always had a smile on his face.”
Hawkins delivered a message to the current team. Calipari said Hawkins told the Wildcats to “enjoy every moment here and relish the opportunity.”
The following are some observations from the afternoon practice session.
Injury bug: Jacob Toppin, CJ Fredrick and Bryce Hopkins all appeared to be on their way back and took part in shooting drills and away from heavy contact. Lance Ware watched most of practice from the sidelines and didn’t participate on a regular basis. Georgia transfer Sahvir Wheeler had to be helped off the floor (left leg) after a defensive drill and didn’t return.
Physical presence: The addition of West Virginia transfer Oscar Tshiebwe will give the Wildcats a solid post presence this season. Tshiebwe ran the court well and he will be a player to watch this season. Damion Collins also was a surprise presence in the post, as well as Keion Brooks and Hopkins.
Shooters: Davion Mintz hasn’t lost his shooting touch and made 3-pointers with ease. Dontaie Allen looked bigger and stronger, while Fredrick displayed his shooting skills and the transfer was very comfortable launching threes at Rupp Arena. Kellan Grady has a nice running floater and also can fire up three-pointers.
Time off: Calipari said Monday night that “it’s been a really good two days in front of the NBA teams for our guys. (It was the) first time in the kind of environment for any of them, not to mention our first time in Rupp Arena and first (time) on TV this season.
“We’ll take the next two days off and then it’s Big Blue Madness time.”