The Kentucky Wildcats are getting prepared for their first exhibition game of the season as they welcome Georgetown College to Rupp Arena on Friday night.
To get the season kicked off, John Calipari and his team took the time to speak to the media at this year's UK Media Day. While there are plenty of stories that could be written about the expectations for the season, one major question mark for this season is the health of the frontcourt.
Coach Calipari shed some light on the futures of the trio of big men, including Aaron Bradshaw, Ugonna Onyenso, and Zvonimir Ivisic.
On Big Z, he’s still going through a ramp-up period since he’s just now getting through his first full week of practice. Calipari also thinks Z will play in the team’s second exhibition game next week vs. Kentucky State but will not play this week vs. Georgetown College.
As for Onyenso and Bradshaw, Calipari said they’re continuing to work hard and “fighting” to get back on the court as soon as possible. He also stressed the importance of having them for rim protection, noting that his best teams at Kentucky have been strong in that department.
Clarifies he probably will NOT play Friday vs. Georgetown College.— Aaron Gershon (@agershon99) October 25, 2023
Could be ready to play vs. Kentucky State next Thursday.
"My guess is he's a little frustrated with me but there appears to be a lot of people frustrated with me." https://t.co/rT6BE4VWEi
"Love him. He's going to be so good for this team. He's a basketball player. Everybody that's come in contact with him loves him." -- RE: Big Z https://t.co/N2XnzKIHuc— Kyle Tucker (@KyleTucker_ATH) October 25, 2023
Calipari says again: All his 35- and 38-win teams, his Elite Eight and Final Four teams, "They all had rim protection." A reminder that he badly wants and needs at least one of his three 7-footers back.— Kyle Tucker (@KyleTucker_ATH) October 25, 2023
It has obviously been a wild offseason when it comes to the frontcourt. Bradshaw and Onyenso are both recovering from foot surgeries over the summer. The current expectation is that Bradshaw will return in the coming weeks, while Onyenso could be out a bit longer.
For Ivisic, there was obviously the school's own struggle with getting him into the University. Now the process has begun of getting him cleared for play by the NCAA. While there don't appear to be any hangups that would stop him from suiting up for the Cats, the process still has to be worked through. Not to mention getting him up to game shape, as he has only been on campus for a week.
This team has the roster to be very special. But without these big men, it could be a tough start to the season. Good to hear an update on when we can expect to see them take the court.
Today the media got to talk with Big Z— Dylan Ballard (@DylanBallard_UK) October 25, 2023
Check it out! pic.twitter.com/g9ar26Flny