The media met with two players and the coach from all 14 SEC teams in a conference room in a hotel in Nashville on Wednesday. Kentucky coach John Calipari had by far the most cameras, phones and recorders pointed at him when he spoke (in the video below you can see part of the enormous crowd). The UK players were “veterans” Wenyen Gabriel and Hamidou Diallo. Here are five interesting nuggets that came from the session.
1. John Calipari said, “Two days ago we practiced and it was our best practice. We scrimmaged and I left thinking, ‘I love this’ we are going to be alright.” Calipari added that he still has anxiety about individual players improving and that he still has his feet on the panic button, but the good practice made him take his hand off the panic button.
2. Calipari was asked if Shai Gilgeous-Alexander could be the starting point guard his response, “Yeah, Oh yeah.” The Kentucky coached, who has had a lot of elite point guards, then commented on both freshmen point guards starting with Gilgeous-Alexander, “He could start. Quade is doing fine too but they’re competing for that and I would say they’re both going to play.” Everyone assumed 5 star Quade Green would be the starter a point, now there is some doubt. Even if Green eventually takes the job Gilgeous-Alexaner’s play will obviously be needed for UK to have a successful season.
3. Speaking of Quade Green, Calipari said he has impressed with his shooting stroke, “Right now, Quade, I’m basically telling him if you’re open shoot, because he’s one of our better shooters.” You could take this as a positive or a negative. A point guard who can shoot is a valuable weapon, but Green doesn’t have the reputation of a dead eye shooter and if he is one of the better shooters on the team what does that say for the rest of the squad.
4. Wenyan Gabriel is a top three player on the team right now. Calipari, “Wenyen is not even the same player I would say Wenyen’s one of our top three guys. His energy is unbelievable. He’s making baskets, easy plays. He’s the relentless guy I recruited.” Gabriel tailed off during conference play, if he can keep up the energy all year long he could have a very productive season.
5. The players had some fun. Hamidou Diallo was asked by a reporter if it was okay for the media to call him Hami. He said we could, then added that everyone can call him that because so many mispronounce his name.
Hamidou Diallo on his name pic.twitter.com/HCz343Cr5y
— Curtis Burch (@curtisburch) October 20, 2017
Both players were asked who had the best hair. Diallo and Gabriel gave themselves the nod. Gabriel wouldn’t name the 2nd best but Diallo tabbed PJ Washington.
You can hear more for Calipari, Gabriel and Diallo in the videos below.