Ah yes. The practice report.
Not long after the summer thirst of UK basketball news gets slightly quenched by the pick-up hoops hype train, we start seeing CoachCal.com put out real practice reports of how things are going with the newest group of Wildcats.
'New' is especially the case this year with one of the greatest recruiting classes ever assembled going at it in the Joe Craft Center. Any bit of news to sneak out from there during the summer is treated like a report of where Kevin Durant will sign or who Taylor Swift is now dating.
So when the first practice report of the year comes out, Kentucky fans flock to read it like the Herald-Leader the day after a national title win. Big Blue Nation was treated to a nice glimpse of next year's team on Wednesday night with CoachCal.com's first practice report, which we read and noted the following:
*Derek Willis is practicing and looking impressive. With Willis' offseason incident still lingering, there's been no word from UK as to what his punishment will be. It looks like being suspended from team activities is not happening, and he's made sure to make an impact in practice.
Willis looked good offensively, but also looked good on defense and made a few plays there, one being on Malik Monk. Quicker guards really gave Willis issues thus far in his college career, so him being able to guard guys like Monk and other elite college guards will be huge to him taking on a bigger role with this team.
*Speaking of Monk, this was pretty sweet:
Malik Monk pic.twitter.com/J0lOGNARJ4— Kentucky Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) June 29, 2016
He continues to showcase the Derrick Rose-type of explosion and quickness we saw so often during his high school career. Monk may play shooting guard at UK, but he's fully capable of playing the point at a high level.
*You've probably heard by now that Isaac Humphries has looked really good in workouts. As surprised as some are to hear this, it's really no surprise at all when you think about it. Isaac arrived late on campus last year, spent the early part of the season just getting his conditioning up and becoming acclimated to college ball, yet still managed to make big impacts against Duke and Texas A&M.
Think of what Isaac would look like with a full offseason under his belt. That's what we're hearing and seeing in practice reports and pick-up chatter.
*The NCAA allows former players to return to campus and practice their college team. That's something we don't hear much around UK, but the Cats took advantage of it this week with DeAndre Liggins practicing with the current crop of Cats. The reigning NBA D-League Defensive Player of the Year, Liggins can really teach these youngsters a thing or two about getting down in a stance and locking down whoever is across them. I think Briscoe is poised to become a very similar player to what Liggins was as a junior while helping UK reach the Final Four.
*Speaking of, Briscoe also continues to show out in workouts while displaying the kind of leadership Calipari has stressed the sophomore guard must show. This is Briscoe's team, and he's done a great job showcasing such thus far. he's also continuing to show that balanced offensive game he showcased in NBA workouts, but didn't see much of his freshman year.
*Barring injury, De'Aaron Fox will fall in line with the already-long line of star points guard Calipari has coached. He continues to make highlight-reel plays on offense and be a pest on defense. While he may not do any one thing as great as John Wall, Brandon Knight or Derrick Rose, Fox does everything well enough to the point he's just so good at making an impact in any way possible.
*Overall, just having the entire team already campus is a big deal for this team. Last year, we didn't see Jamal Murray, Tai Wynyard and Isaac Humphries not make it to campus until after the summer. Every year, there's typically several guys who don't make it to campus until late summer or early fall, but everyone is on campus now, which is huge for developing team chemistry and just bonding as a group.