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Kentucky Basketball Film Room: Tyler Herro’s rise to beloved star didn’t take long

It’s not that the Big Blue Nation didn’t expect Tyler Herro to be good. They just didn’t expect him to be this good this quickly.

Jason Marcum - Sea of Blue

After an impressive showing in the four games that Kentucky dominated the competition in the Bahamas, John Calipari’s expectations for Tyler Herro have been made quite clear.

When you get the ball, shoot the ball.

And when you shoot the ball, you expect that shot to go in each time you shoot it.

“I grabbed him, and I said that’s what I want from you. I want you to expect every shot to go in,” Calipari said after the final game on Herro and his ‘swagger’, via Jon Hale of the Louisville Courier Journal.

“The only thing I told him was, ‘You can’t hold the ball because you’re going to be shooting balls. You can’t then shoot balls and hold the ball. Either let it go or get rid of it or give it to somebody. You’re not going to mess with it, because that’s not fair to these guys.”

In the four games Herro played in, he averaged 21.8 minutes a night and scored 17.3 points per contest on 57.5 shooting, including 44.4 percent from long range. (He also made all 15 free throws he took, too.)

The easy comparison for a kid like Herro on such a talented team is Kyle Wiltjer on the 2011-12 that won Calipari’s first and only national title. That team of course had arguably the best basketball player not named LeBron James in the NBA today in Anthony Davis, but Wiltjer had a key role in that rotation: when he got the ball, he shot the ball ... and shot it well.

Herro’s not as big as Wiltjer, but he’s miles ahead in the athleticism department. Herro showed the ability to make shots from deep, along with his knockdown mid-range shooting. He’s not afraid to get to the rim either. Not many on this current roster are.

Kentucky came out of the Bahamas looking like one of the best teams in the nation and Herro was a main reason why. Let’s take a glance into what made him stand out in the Bahamas.

That mid-range game you’ve read up on him is no joke

Believe it or not, there’s still a place in the game of basketball for the mid-range jumper.

Sure, it’s not the most analytical-friendly shot in the game, but it can be an effective one, especially when you can shoot the 3 well.

Herro’s clearly one of the best shooters on this team and it’s not just his ability to make shots. It’s also his ability to get to spots on the floor where he feels comfortable shooting the ball.

I liked this jumper from Herro because he did this all in rhythm and fluidity. Herro brings the ball down the floor in transition and slows his dribble down, appearing to want to pull up from deep. He shows his defender a bit of hesitation, takes a big left-to-right crossover dribble and gets to the right elbow to drain the jumper. That’s a kid getting to a spot on the floor where he feels comfortable.

It’s clear Herro has a preference and some comfort within his game at getting to or around the nail. The thing that’s noticeable too with Herro’s jumper is that he has a good base and gets off the floor high when releasing his shot. He’s already 6-foot-5, so good elevation on your shot attempts just makes you even tougher to try and block.

There was a clutter around this jumper, but Herro gets to where he wants to shoot quickly, rises and cans the jumper at the free throw line. It looks like a tough shot, but he made it look really easy.

This read to me like a drill in practice with Herro shooting this contested jumper. Nick Richards hauls in the rebound and looks for the outlet pass to start the break off a miss. Ashton Hagans spots Herro and fires a pass to Herro, who already looked like he had in mind what he wanted to do: drift to the corner and fire up a shot.

The thing that stuck with me is how Herro gets his feet set and rises so quickly without any hesitation. Being a good shooter is more than just what the ball looks like coming out of your hands. Having a good, clean base with that jumper is so vital and Herro has that.

Of course, Herro can also let it fly from deep, too

The bulk of Calipari’s offense is his guards and wings playing in the pick-and-roll/pop and letting them create for themselves and others.

In this possession, Herro gets the ball way out top with plenty of time left on the shot clock. You can see him call for Richards to come out and set a screen. Richards sets a good screen, allowing Herro some space to operate. He sees the big is sagging off, potentially worrying about the drive. Herro stops, pops and cans the triple. Easy as you’d like.

Again, when you get the ball, shoot the ball.

Keldon Johnson hauls in the miss, brings the ball down the floor and kicks to Herro. San Lorenzo did a lazy job picking up everyone coming down the floor in transition and Herro made them pay with a triple from the right wing. It can be that easy at times.

You’ll see a few triples like this one this year. When Herro’s playing confidently and with that swagger Calipari wants out of him, you’ll get some makes like this that will likely send Rupp Arena into a frenzy. This is just a shooter feeling it with this transition 3.

(Also, when you get the ball, shoot the ball ... again.)

I had a feeling that Tyler Herro would be a really nice piece for this team with his shooting, but he showed some potential not only as a defender, but as a cutter within the offense, too.

Kentucky’s going to be one of the best teams in the nation all year long and it’s because of pieces like Herro that make this team so special already.

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