For years coach John Calipari has been scolded for his use of one and done players in college #Basketball. Many claim that these young men cannot grow into real men in just one year of college. John Calipari has always had a different mindset. Players come to Kentucky for one reason: to get to the NBA. This year didn't appear to be any different, with the arrival of highly touted recruits Bam Adebayo, DeAaron Fox, and Malik Monk in Lexington.
But key contributions this year have come from older players off the bench, and will prove to be important come tournament time
Derek Willis -- Kentucky's Sharpshooter
It's almost unfathomable to think that this guy played on the same team as Julius Randle and Willie Cauley-Stein, since they've both been in the NBA for a good period of time now. If anyone has watched any #UK basketball this year, they know that when Derek Willis is open there's a strong chance he's putting it in. He's shooting nearly 40% from 3 and 50% from the FT. When Malik Monk heads to the bench he is by far their most reliable shooter from deep. He can do a little more than just shoot, too, as he proved with this rim rocking jam against South Carolina:
Derek Willis... HAVE MERCY! pic.twitter.com/tsFY29Py8K— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) January 22, 2017
Expect Willis to be a big part of #UK when tournament season rolls around..
Andrew Hawkins and Mychal Mulder give Kentucky grit
Hawkins has been around some of the young #Kentucky greats as well. He and Willis are the only two remaining members of the team from 2013-2014. Hawkins brings experience and strong defense off the bench. He sees major minutes when anyone is in foul trouble because of his versatility to defend. He can knock down the occasional 3 ball as well. Mychal Mulder is a guy that, while his numbers aren't overly impressive, he's playing behind Malik Monk. Whenever his number is called, he's ready, and this man can flat-out shoot it from deep. Mulder is a phenomenal athlete that plays above the rim, and can make things happen on the fast break as well. Expect to hear his name a little bit more in March when the Wildcats need him to help them win it all.
Isaiah Briscoe -- the calming presence
It's a bit of a stretch calling Briscoe a veteran since he is only a sophomore, but he's got that savvy veteran feel about him. He is not the best shooter, but he always seems to find the right gaps, whether it be for his own basket, or a lob to the big fella, Bam Adebayo. It's clear that Briscoe is the one leading the huddles and giving his team instructions. He is averaging 14 points, 4.5 assists, and 5.5 rebounds a game, and shooting 48% from the field -- a five percent improvement from last year.
Kentucky has great young talent and a great coach, but that alone will not win you a national championship. Kentucky is going to need big contributions from their veterans if they want to end up in Phoenix come March.