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“Brandon Knight culture” could pay off for Calipari’s Cats this year

Tyler Herro.
Photo by Chet White | UK Athletics

By LARRY VAUGHT

If you are looking for a reason to feel even better about the Kentucky basketball season than you already do, then consider that coach John Calipari likes the “Brandon Knight culture” on this team.

Knight was a gym rat, a workaholic during his year at Kentucky. He wasn’t the most talented player Calipari has had — even though he was plenty talented. Instead, he worked to make himself a great player.

“That’s what this group that walks in here, they love being in the gym. They just love the game. They love getting better. They love competing,” Calipari said. “That’s fun for them. Not running around, (saying) ‘Can’t wait until this is over so I can go.’

“That’s not who they are. They love being in the gym. The teams I’ve had that way, normally, they’re reaching beyond what you think they should be able to do.”

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist had that mentality. Tyler Ulis had it. Devin Booker had. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had it. I think P.J. Washington has it.

Certainly freshman Keldon Johnson is a guy who lives in a gym along with Tyler Herro, who shoots in the morning and again late at night on his own.

” I knew Immanuel (Quickley) was like that. And then what you have is, when you start having those guys and Ashton (Hagans), all of a sudden, when you start having four and five, it starts challenging the other guys,” Calipari said. “When you’re not in there, they all know it. It isn’t like there’s a secret. It’s, these are the guys spending the most time at this.”

Calipari said it wasn’t close as to who spent the most time in the gym on last year’s team and Gilgeous-Alexander went from a non-starter to a lottery draft pick.

“It wasn’t close. He went from our 12th player who no one knew to a lottery pick. It’s good,” Calipari said.

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