The Kentucky Wildcats are a preseason top-five team and are clearly one of the favorites to cut down the nets in March.
As the team gets ready for the start of the season, they have installed the Noah Shooting System on top of the goals at the Joe Craft Center.
This is a system that measures shots in practice. It provides feedback on shot arc, depth, and left-right accuracy to correct jump shots in real time.
The system also uses facial recognition to track the quality and quantity of shots at every practice as the team works to becoming a better shooting team.
During SEC Media Day in Birmingham on Wednesday, John Calipari talked about this system and how they are using it to see who is putting in extra work.
Senior forward Jacob Toppin is the one living in the gym getting in extra shots and Calipari believes he will be the one to have a breakout season.
“Jacob leads the team with 2,800 shots in how long? A month or three weeks? Three weeks. He had 2,800 shots in three weeks,” Calipari said. “He’s living in the gym.”
Calipari also stated that good things come to his players that fully buy in to becoming the best version of themselves, just like Toppin has.
“Every player I’ve ever coached that lives in the gym, they’ve had breakthroughs. They had breakthroughs,” he said.
The next step for Toppin is to start initiating the contact and getting to the rim. Something Calipari refers to as a “car crash.”
“We’re trying to get him into more car crashes. You know car crashes? You drive and you create the car crash. You’re not getting T-boned. You’re T-boning that dude.”
Over the summer, assistant coaches Ron ‘Chin’ Coleman and Orlando Antigua expressed their optimism for a more physical version of Jacob Toppin.
“(He’s) a lot more physical, and by the time we play our first game. We hope that he’s even more physical,” Coleman said of Toppin. “He’s put on a little weight. He’s still working on that, continuing to add strength.”
“You’re going to see Jacob being more physical, playing lower,” Antigua said. “Getting into plays off of two feet in the paint area.”
Toppin gave us a hint of what we could see from him this season during the preseason trip to the Bahamas. Through the four games, Toppin averaged 16.8 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 2 blocks per game while shooting the ball at 53.3% from three.
If that is the Toppin we see this season, then we have to credit the extra work he has been putting in this summer, and that production will make the Cats a very hard team to beat.
Here’s to hoping this is the year we finally see the best version of Jacob Toppin.