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Dontaie Allen discusses 2020-21 Wildcats

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“I’m ready to work my hardest, work my tail off just to get things done here.”

Dontaie Allen UK Athletics

This week, several Wildcats have been virtually meeting with the media to preview the 2020-21 edition of Kentucky basketball.

On Friday, it was redshirt freshman Dontaie Allen’s turn to meet with the media as he discussed his team, as well as the joy of finally being healthy as he looks to show the world what he’s truly made of.

Here is a recap of everything Allen had to say via UK Athletics.

On how excited he is to finally get back on the court …

“Honestly, at this point last season I was obviously going through things with my knee, even a little bit with my collar bone. But, at this point I’ve been going at it really hard all summer. I’m just ready to get out there, honestly. I even talked about it last year, I’m so excited honestly. It’s kind of built up. I’m just working really hard in practice.”

On what he can add to this roster …

“I think a big thing is shooting. But even that just working hard on both ends of the ball, being a good leader on and off the floor to all of the freshmen coming in because I’m A sophomore and I have a little bit of experience. So, I feel like I can help in that department.”

On how he IS balancing being a leader as a returner but one who has yet to see action …

“I think I can share with them what Coach Cal expects, which is pretty much going hard at all times and not really taking plays off. I didn’t play in any games, but I was always around it being literally right in the huddles. Just knowing what is expected I feel like from that aspect I can share with that and in practice. It’s basically just a lot of small things that I can share.”

On how practicing late last season helped with his confidence …

“It was good. At first I was just starting out a little slow just because I had the knee injury. So, I wasn’t as fast or as in shape as I am now just because I’ve been working at it and getting back into the right shape, even better I believe. It’s done a lot of great things. I’ve been working hard all summer and I can’t wait to get out there.”

On how close he was to getting into a game last season …

“It was around the time that we were short players. I know the Tennessee game they mentioned putting me in. Another big time was at Florida, at Florida. They mentioned about putting me in. I’d say those two times were the times that I was like, OK, I might check in.”

On how the adversity he has faced has shaped him …

“I learned that I am very resilient. I’ve never gone through really anything like I’ve gone through the last three years. I think, honestly, it’s made me a stronger person. That can only carry on to the court. I think just that is going to bring a lot of good things to come on and off the court. It’s kind of a blessing in disguise.”

On being a player from the state recruited to play for the Wildcats …

“My biggest goal is to go out there and work as hard as I can. I don’t feel like there’s any added pressure. You can say there’s added pressure because you’re from Kentucky, but this is just where I want to be. This is the culture that I wanted to be in. I’m ready to work my hardest, work my tail off just to get things done here.”

On when the last time he played was and how he anticipates feeling getting on the court for the first time …

“Last time I played was sometime in December senior year, so 2018. As far as coming back like (riding) a bicycle, I think this is another, like, props to the culture here. Every practice is like a game. You’re going against five stars. You’re going against everybody. Like, everybody is hooping. Everybody is working hard. A lot of games might be like that, but a lot of games aren’t going to be like that. These are all like high-level players and you’ve got to work hard every day in practice. I’m on my own, and because of that, I’m going to be in prime shape for the games.”

On how he compares himself as player pre-injury to the player now …

“He’s better.”

On what he’s seen from his new teammates and getting to know a whole new group of guys …

“Honestly, it’s been good. Obviously, it’s been different just getting to know all the different personalities, all the different guys, but that’s the culture here. That’s what I’ve kind of seen. Like, literally, what was it February, had a whole different team and then you step on to campus in June or July and you’re like, wow, there’s 10 new guys. That’s just the culture. That’s why it’s such a success here. Clockwork.”

On if this team has a buzz and if it came be special …

“I think this team does have that (opportunity to be special). Honestly, you can see glimpses in practice of offense and defense, but the big thing is going to be our defense. Our defense is really, really, really good. That’s not even taking away from our offense, but our defense is just there. I just feel like we’re going to keep growing and keep getting better as the season progresses.”

On his impressions of new assistants Bruiser Flint and Jai Lucas

“Coach Flint, he is very outgoing. He’s a character. He’s very knowledgeable. In the early stages of getting to know him, he shares that knowledge. That’s a big thing being a hungry basketball player, being a hungry mind, wanting to get better. He’s someone that’s right there. And the same thing with Coach Lucas: very knowledgeable, young. I’m just glad those kinds of guys are in our program and I’m glad I’m getting to know them more and more and I just can’t wait to learn from them.

On how being a different player will show on the court …

“I think just knowing where I’m from. I had a couple of injuries obviously and went through a lot of things, but just knowing that every day you’ve got to—it’s almost like your life’s on the line. That’s kind of the mentality that I’ve got. Like, my life is on the line every day and if I don’t give that kind of effort into it, I’m not going to make it. Or if the team doesn’t do these types of things, we won’t be successful as a team. Just getting my mind in that kind of mental space has gotten me stronger. I’m just more consistent in that way.”

On if the injuries showed him that basketball can be taken away so easily …

“I think early on that was very apparent because it can be taken away. I still haven’t been able to play in any games since 2018, the end of 2018. That’s how easy it can happen. But just the mindset is going to be the big thing that helps me.”