clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Dontaie Allen and Jai Lucas preview Florida

Kentucky will need Allen’s hot shooting to beat the Gators.

Dontaie Allen UK Athletics

The Kentucky Wildcats will look to remain unbeaten in SEC play when they hit the road Saturday to face the Florida Gators.

Ahead of the game, assistant coach Jai Lucas and redshirt freshman guard Dontaie Allen met with the media to preview Round 1 of Cats vs. Gators this season. Lucas actually began his college career at Florida before finishing it at Texas, so Saturday will be a bit of a homecoming for the former Gator in his first season at UK.

Here is a recap of what they had to say via UK Athletics.

Jai Lucas

On what to expect from Keion Brooks Jr. in his first action …

“We’ll just kind of wait and see. He had a good practice yesterday. And it’s hard because he hasn’t been necessarily practicing. He’s been doing some conditioning and stuff like that and we’re going right into at Florida. I think that might have been his last game 10 months ago that he actually played was at Florida. I do think he’ll get in a little bit in the game and we’ll just kind of go from there. We’re not expecting much from him. He hasn’t played. He hasn’t practiced. But the one thing that we’re excited about is his energy, and it sounds crazy, but his kind of upperclassman leadership with him only being a sophomore but him being one of the returning players. It’ll kind of help us with our poise a little bit.”

On Terrence Clarke’s injury status …

“Terrence has been seeing the doctors and he’s been with medical staff and it’s just something he has to work through every day and continue to get him to a place where he’ll be able to play and try and get him as pain free as possible. The biggest thing right now is just getting him in the treatment that he needs, and he’s in there every day, every morning. He’s in there a lot. He’s doing what he needs to do. We have a great medical staff and a great trainer. So, I think the biggest thing is just getting to a point where he’s able to play through the least pain as possible.”

On if Clarke will be available to play on Saturday …

“I would say at this moment, I don’t think so. I think it’s up in the air, but I would probably tend to say no.”

On how long it will take to get Brooks back to full strength …

“Well, you know, he’s done a good job of doing what he’s been able to do while he was having restrictions and stuff. So, he’s done conditioning. He’s done individual workouts and stuff like that, but it’s different when it’s five-on-five in a game. It’s so much harder to compare practice to a game, and just the constant movement and transition from offense to defense to banging and stuff like that. Hopefully, it won’t take as long as it typically does. You’d expect him to be a little bit quicker. I think it’ll take a while because we’re into conference play, third conference game, and we’ve played a bunch of games and he’s kind of been out. So, I think it’ll take him a little bit to get his feet under him as it would anybody.”

On if Coach Calipari addressed the events at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday with the team …

“The biggest thing, Coach has done a good job of just letting the guys express their feelings and how they feel and what’s going through their mind and things like that. That’s something, you know, he gives them the ability to do. He always says that it’s a players-first program and he really does run it that way. He did a good job of listening to them and their concerns and their thoughts. That’s the biggest thing, just having these open conversations to let them kind of express themselves. I think we give them a safe place to do that.”

On his feelings on returning to Florida …

“It’s not one of the games I have circled. Now, there’s another one I’ve really got circled and that will probably be the tougher one (emotionally) at the end of the month. This one is not as bad. It’s a whole new staff there. I don’t really–I know Coach (Mike) White and some of the guys from recruiting and stuff like that, but it’s really only one person, the trainer, that was there when I was there. I kind of see myself more as a Texas alum because that’s where I graduated from. But Florida does still hold a place in my heart, but it’s not the same kind of feeling as it would be going back to Texas or something like that.”

On Florida …

“They’re good. They’ve got good guards. They do a good job at spreading the floor and trying to create mismatches in that sense of finding somebody that they think they can attack. The big kid, the transfer from Michigan, Colin Castleton, has been playing really good. They’ve done a good job at getting him the ball. I think a big thing for us is are we going to be able to guard the ball and stay in front in one-on-one defense? So, we’ve just been preparing for that. I haven’t been in the league long, but I have watched Florida with the connection there, it’s probably one of their best defensive teams as well that I’ve seen them have in a while with some of the stuff they’re doing defensively, switching and things like that. I think it’ll be a good challenge for us.”

On the leadership ability of Brooks …

“It’s just his demeanor and how he carries himself. He walks it like he talks it. The things he says is what he does, and I think the guys kind of gravitate towards that. He’s a genuine person in that sense, and that’s what you kind of need in your leaders. So, when he says something everybody is quiet, and they listen. That’s a big part of it, and I think it’s just his approach. He comes in and he works every day, does whatever you ask him. Whatever you ask him to do, he will do. I think a lot of people respect him for that and I think that’s why he kind of has a hold on the team and they look at him as the leader. He is the only returning player, so he’s the only one who knows kind of what it’s like to play for Cal and kind of what this program is about.”

On how he approaches the description of the fan base in recruiting …

“It’s Kentucky. You come here because it is the highest level of college basketball. With everything there’s going to be the pros and cons. Like you said, people will probably try and negatively recruit against us. But kids we recruit, the way Coach Cal recruits, and the staff recruits, they understand what they’re coming into and the expectations and everything that comes along with it. It’s something that he does a great job of laying out in front of them. Even when we were talking about the job and everything, he explained it to me too. So, it’s something that you kind of embrace and it’s something you kind of want if you’re a competitor.”

On how teams are defending Dontaie Allen differently after his breakout game …

“It’s completely different, because you know, the sample size going into Mississippi State was so small. So, you maybe didn’t even have him on the scouting report depending on how many people you put on the scouting report. And then the difference with Vandy is whenever a guy hits seven 3s, he’s going to be on the scouting report. Each game his coverage and his stuff will become a lot and a lot harder for him to get shots and create shots. But the one thing about Dontaie and having him on the court is that you have to account for him. The defense has to know where he is, so it kind of opens up the court a little bit and creates driving lanes, eliminating people helping on the post and stuff like that. That’s one of the other bigger things about him being out there is his ability to just do that alone.”

On Devin Askew’s progress …

“Pound-for-pound he’s probably our hardest worker. I’d put him and BJ (Boston) in that same category. I think the thing with Devin is that the transition from high school to college is a big leap, especially when you miss an extra year of high school. It’s just going to take a longer time for him to understand how much the game changes and how fast it is. With that gap, you lose a little bit of your maturity, a year of confidence, playing and being able to dominate at a high school level which gives you extra I guess swagger that you get coming into college. When you come into college, and you have struggled early, and you have to kind of reinvent yourself and your game that’s kind of what he’s done and he continues to do. The biggest thing with him is just continuing to get the game to slow down and for him to see stuff that you need to see as a point guard. He’s getting better at it. It’s just taking time. It’s expected. He’s a freshman that wasn’t in any true real buy games where you can go through those things and get the extra kind of reps of seeing that stuff before you jump into the fire. He was thrown into the fire early and he’s done a good job of continuing to work and really just trusting the process.”

Dontaie Allen

On the differences between last season and this season with being able to bond as a team with COVID …

“I think the pretty obvious differences are there’s no fans, there is not as many going out to team meals as normal just because we’re trying to stay in a bubble. So, I would just say things like that, and obviously it’s different but I feel like we’re doing the best we can with the situation.”

On what went through his fans when fans groaned when Brandon Boston Jr. missed a shot last game …

“I don’t like that. That’s my teammate. That’s my brother. At the end of the day, I’m always going to have his back. I feel like everyone in BBN, everyone should be there for him and support him during this time because when he’s doing good, I think people are going to switch and they’re going to be supporting him. I think everybody should just stay positive with him.”

On how he would compare the defense Mississippi State played against him vs. the defense Vanderbilt played against him …

“I noticed later against Vandy it was more of a face guard, so I’m going to have to do things to get open as far as just maybe running hard and maybe taking different routes. I feel like the first team (Mississippi State) wasn’t really as prepared, but the second team (Vanderbilt) was a little more.”

On what adding Keion Brooks Jr. to the mix does for the team …

“You all definitely saw him last year. I think you know a little bit of what he brings to the table, but coming back in his second year, he’s gotten bigger, stronger. He’s become more of a leader for us. He’s going to be a great piece added for sure.”

On if John Calipari’s assessment of his defense motivates him and if he agrees with what he was saying …

“For sure. He talked about things as far as game planning, so I knew I had to do those things. I just had some breakdowns. I would definitely agree with the things he was saying.”

On if there is anything a team can throw at him that he didn’t see in his high school career …

“No, not really. In high school I was getting triple-teamed, so there’s not much really different. It’s on a different level so it’s going to be an adjustment and I’m going to have to work harder to get open. I’m just going to do anything to help my team win, to be honest.”

On if he feels like Coach Calipari is harder on certain players …

“I think he’s hard on everybody. I don’t think it’s certain people. It’s just, he wants everybody to be great so he’s going to coach everybody accordingly. In practice he’ll tell me little things like, ‘Shoot the ball.’ Like, he’ll say I’m second guessing into a shot fake into a pull-up. He’ll just be like, ‘Shoot the first one,’ because he feels like I’m open. I think just things like that. I think everyone is pretty even. It depends on how you take it. Like, how coachable you are. That’s going to depend on how much you think you’re getting coached hard. If you’re not coachable, obviously you’re going to take it a little bit harder.”

On how his presence on the court opens up things for other players now that they have to respect his shooting ability …

“I think the big thing from my perspective is just going in the games and doing whatever it takes for the team to win. I mean, as far as game planning, obviously having a shooter out there will space the floor, but at the end of the day I just want to do whatever helps the team win.”

On how hot he was at Mississippi State or if that was just “Dontaie being Dontaie” …

“I mean, I’m a shooter. I can say I was hot, but I’ve definitely had games like that in the past. Like, shooting is what I do.”

On his thoughts on what happened at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday …

“Honestly, I’ve seen a little bit of it on social media, but I haven’t read into it enough to give an opinion.”

On his brother, Tredyn’s, Senior Night and him approaching 1,000 career points …

“I just told him to really have fun. At the end of the day, basketball should be a fun game. I’m proud of him for being even 15 away from 1,000. That’s a huge milestone at any point in anybody’s career. I just told him I’m proud of him and to have fun.”

On how he’s been able to maintain his mental health during these difficult times …

“I think mental health is huge. I think if you ask anybody that’s going through it, even a little bit—obviously there are variations of what people are going through in different ways. But everybody’s going through. I’ve even gone through it last year (with sitting out because of the injury). I think that’s what has prepared me more for a year like this with COVID. I went through it the year before so now I’m fine. I’m doing better so I can help other people.”