Reid Travis made a living punishing opponents around the basket at Stanford, evidenced by averaging a near double-double last year for the Cardinal and regularly creating “and-1” opportunities by drawing fouls.
But now at Kentucky for his final season of college basketball, John Calipari wants Travis to broaden his game in order to better position himself for a future in basketball.
“My thing with him is, let’s lose some weight. Let’s be more about movement,” Calipari said in an interview with Kentucky Sports Radio earlier this week. “You’re not going to lose your strength and your power but we need to get more movement, more perimeter stuff, even though, at the end of the day, we need a basket or a rebound, you’ve got to go for the ball.”
He added that motion will be key for the offense this year.
“The biggest thing is, I’m trying to get back to the dribble drive action. Everywhere I look, in the summer leagues and all this, they’re all running dribble drive. They’re running actions, motions into it, but that’s what they’re ending up with. ‘Here I come,’ lobs, skips — a lot of skips — a lot of threes. Obviously, the positionless kind of game. It’s where everything is going, which I’ve been saying for the last few years.”
Calipari also mentioned former Wildcats in the NBA who have transformed their bodies—particularly Bam Adebayo, Dakari Johnson, Isaiah Briscoe, Trey Lyles, and Alex Poythress—and mentioned that players have to make sure their bodies are in the right shape before the skills begin to play a role.
It will be interesting to see how Travis expands his game during his one season in Lexington. He has drawn some comparisons to former Wildcat Patrick Patterson, as an undersized big man who excelled around the basket but needed to develop a jump shot in order to find a niche in professional basketball.
Looking at Patterson’s career in Lexington, some similarities exist. Patterson, as a sophomore, averaged around 18 points and 9 rebounds and shot 60 percent from the field. He only attempted one three-pointer that year.
After John Calipari arrived in Lexington, Patterson expanded his game to the perimeter, attempting 69 three-pointers his junior year and connecting on 24 of them (34.8 percent). Patterson wasn’t a knockdown shooter, but he was good enough from the perimeter to stretch defenses and knock down open looks.
Looking at Travis’s career at Stanford, he has excelled around the basket, averaging 19.5 points and 8.7 rebounds per game last year. Last year was also the first year Travis attempted more than one three pointer, hitting 18-61 jumpers from behind the arc.
If Travis can continue to work on that area of his game and get close to Patterson-esque numbers, around that 34-35 percent mark next year, he can probably find a role in the NBA and be an even more dangerous threat on next year’s Kentucky team.