As has been the case most years under John Calipari, the Kentucky Wildcats will have a new primary point guard this coming season.
Following a player like Tyler Ulis is no easy task, not to mention just being ‘the’ point guard for Kentucky Basketball. However, this is the job that freshman point guard De'Aaron Fox is set to take on this season.
Ulis is now in the NBA following a successful sophomore season where he averaged 17.3 points and 7.0 assists per game, while earning SEC Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year Awards.
Some believe Fox can have that kind of impact this season, but Calipari is in no way expecting the freshman to do what Ulis did.
“I haven’t figured out, is he (Fox) going to have the ball as much as Tyler. I haven’t figured it out yet,” Cal said in his preseason Q&A with the media. “Now let me say this: As I watch him, he’s going to have the ball.
“But Tyler had it, would say 97% of the time, and he probably needed it 98%. But this is totally different and last year it was a little bit of Jamal (Murray), who we end up finding out, the way we wanted him to play, which is both with and without the ball, ended up benefiting him.”
Ulis and Fox are significantly different players, so there's no reason for anyone to expect Fox to be what Ulis was, and Fox shouldn’t strive to be what Ulis was.
Fox comes in to UK with more prototypical point guard size at 6'3-6'4 and 175 pounds with blazing speed, while Ulis left Kentucky at 5'9 and 150 pounds and was more quick than fast.
In fact, Calipari is more willing to compare Fox to former Wildcat John Wall, who also used lightning-fast speed to blaze past opponents, but Cal also knows Fox has to work to contain and harness his gifts correctly to become a great player.
“De’Aaron with the ball now, he can get to the rim. He’s getting more physical. He can create contact,” Cal said. “He hits and then shoots. He’s not flailing. You just watch him in there.
“His pace of game is too casual at times. Like my thing is, there are times he can look as fast as John Wall. John Wall knew that was his No. 1 weapon, and he used it all the time; probably too much.
De’Aaron hasn’t figured out that should be his No. 1 weapon. It’s a weapon he’ll use every once in awhile, but it’s really hard to run that fast all the time. ‘So I’ll run that fast—the rest of the time, I’m so good with the ball I don’t want to run fast. I’m going to slow down so he catches me so I can—so there’s stuff.’
“But he’s going to have the ball. He’s going to be in pick-and-rolls. He’s going to be in play-making decisions. He can score the ball too.”
One thing is for sure, and that is Fox will be one of the funnest guards to watch in college basketball this season.