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Tyler Herro as good of a defender as Keldon Johnson? John Calipari thinks it’s possible

If Herro becomes a great defender with his offensive capabilities...mercy... (also what opponents will be saying).

Jason Marcum - Sea of Blue

The summer of Tyler Herro was one to remember.

The four-star guard out of Wisconsin arrived at Kentucky with a lot of fanfare, and that went to another level during the Bahamas trip. There, Herro was easily the best player at Paradise Island as he torched the rim at will with his long-range shooting.

That led to Herro getting seemingly every kind of praise imaginable, including comparisons to Larry Bird.

That was a bit much, but there wasn’t any question that Herro showed he was a star that was going to make a major impact for a championship-contending Kentucky team.

However, one thing that Herro didn’t get any praise for was his defense. He clearly had some work to do in that area, but the good news is Herro was fully committed to becoming the best version of himself.

During the trip, assistant coach Tony Barbee said that Herro was the hardest worker on the team.

It sounds like that hard work is paying off on the defensive end.

On Thursday, John Calipari met with the media to preview the upcoming season. One of the most positive developments to come out of it was Calipari talking about how far Herro has come on the defensive end.

Calipari actually said that Herro is better defensively than he thought originally, and while Calipari thought Keldon Johnson would be better defensively, he is unsure who’s better between Herro and Johnson.

That’s saying a lot, as Johnson was regarded as one of the best defensive players in the Class of 2018, and he was widely expected to be the first or second-best defender for this Kentucky team.

What we saw in the Bahamas did nothing to disprove that theory, but hearing Herro is getting to that level is a major development. If his defense can come close to his offense, forget being a first-round NBA Draft pick next year. He may very well sneak into the end of the draft lottery.

Saying all of this, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The season hasn’t even started yet, and there’s still a ways to go until Game 1 against the Duke Blue Devils.

But I like my team.

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