Kentucky Basketball: John Calipari Talks Leaders and Meshing, James Young On His Way

Andy Lyons

John Calipari is surprised by the early meshing of his team and the emergence of early leaders. Also, news from James Young's high school coach about his eligibility.

In his Three Point Shot blog post on ESPN.com, college basketball writer Eamonn Brennon had some interesting quotes from head coach John Calipari about the development of his new team and the emergence of the leaders:

Kentucky coach John Calipari said he can already tell who his leaders may be for the upcoming season. Calipari said freshman Julius Randle and the Harrison twins, Aaron and Andrew, "are going to be the leaders.'' He said Randle has already proven in summer workouts just how much of an impact he'll have for the Wildcats. Calipari added freshman center Dakari Johnson has been the surprise so far and is producing at a higher clip than the Wildcats thought. What does this mean? "(Sophomore) Willie (Cauley-Stein) is going to have work for it,'' said Calipari about his returning big man getting challenged for minutes. Meanwhile, the other high-profile returnee, forward Alex Poythress isn't being asked to be a leader for Kentucky. "I just need him to play,'' said Calipari, "just play. He's not going to be a guy who stands up and tells people where to go. He's not that vocal. He just needs to play. Our leadership will come from one of those freshmen.'' Calipari said he's been impressed with the overall chemistry of this group, meshing quicker than he imagined.

This is music to the ears of Wildcat fans that just suffered through a season in which leaders were an endangered species, especially after Nerlens Noel tore his ACL.

A few thoughts on the comments:

  • Andrew Harrison being tapped as an early leader is a must. A John Calipari point guard has no other option than to be a leader. Last season was a prime example of what happens when a Cal point guard is meek and unwilling to take the reins.
  • Julius Randle continues to be the early story on this team. Remember, he was battling Jabari Parker as the top player in the 2013 recruiting class until Andrew Wiggins decided to reclassify. Everything coming out of Lexington about this kid has been positive and exciting.
  • Willie Cauley-Stein is being worked by Dakari Johnson. If Randle has been the big story, Dakari has been the most surprising. He is much more talented than previously thought and has the work ethic of his high school teammate Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
  • Alex, just worry about playing basketball. Sounds like a plan.

In some other news coming out about the upcoming team, James Young's high school basketball coach was a guest on The Leach Report this morning. Coach John Pleasant reassured the Voice of the Wildcats that Young will be on campus soon and that there are no issues with his academic qualifications.

This information runs contrary to popular blog and message board rumors that have been perpetuated by a certain rival fan base. Rest easy ‘Cat fans; James Young and the Harrisons will be primed and ready for Big Blue Madness this October.

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