If you are a fan of Wildcat basketball you have been totally engrossed in this unique summer season in the world of the University of Kentucky.
Unlike last summer when the world was shut down, locked up, and trying to navigate a pandemic, this summer has been heating up with news, rebuilding of a staff, restacking a roster, and doing what was a missing ingredient in the team last season – the Kentucky Factor.
Sure, we have all followed the news, and we have seen the reports of how Coach Cal has been rebuilding the Wildcat team for a Revenge Tour after the year that was.
Along the way the news has continued to be good with the return of Keion Brooks coming back for a junior season, Davion Mintz, last year’s leading scorer, the rest of the returning players, incoming transfers, and top recruits, gives one hope for a much better season.
Apparently it isn’t over yet as the roster still might get an additional bounce if Kofi Cockburn, the Second Team All-American that averaged 17.7 points and 9.5 rebounds per game last season at Illinois, decides to join the AirCal squad in Lexington.
Whether there are more additions or not, the early numbers are intriguing. This team is one of the most experienced teams that Calipari has ever put on the court for UK. This combo punch of returning veterans and transfers allows Kentucky a season that returns 42% of its minutes, 41% of its scoring, 39% of the rebounds, 42% of the assists and slightly over 60% of the 3-pointers from a season ago. The roster includes players that have made 367 career starts, which is the most ever for a Calipari team. Prior to this year, the team with the most career starts on the roster was the 2014-15 team with 164.
There is a lot to be excited about as the team suits up for a new season. Still, one of the most exciting things to see is the Kentucky Factor that was mentioned in paragraph one. What is it? Well, there is probably a lot of other names that it could be referred to, but it is what it takes to make a team great. It is that element that John Calipari didn’t have the opportunity to pour into the team last year. The Kentucky Factor is the meshing and blending of amazing talent with an understanding of what it means to be a servant leader.
Cal said earlier this summer, “I want them to see the impact they have the minute they put on the uniform, the impact they have in the state and the responsibility that goes along with it.”
The previous summer the world was quarantined and hidden away behind masks. This summer has found the Wildcats out in the community. Pillar, St. Elizabeth, Ashland, summer camps, visiting with individuals with special needs, children’s centers, hospitals, encouraging caregivers, and encouraging those making the community a better place has been a part of the way the Wildcats are working out this summer.
Not only does it connect the team to the community it helps the team build community among itself. The willingness to serve alongside of and serving each other translates to a better chemistry that shows up in the heat of battle. That is the Kentucky Factor and is something that Cal understands and does so much better than most.
The Summer Season is encouraging and makes the Revenge Tour a stronger possibility.