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Lot to like about Cats at Pro Day, but John Calipari warns about need for more toughness

John Calipari. (Jeff Houchin Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

John Calipari’s team is going to have plenty of athleticism. That was obvious watching Kentucky’s sixth annual Pro Day Sunday night on the SEC Network.

The Cats have seven players with a wingspan of over 7 feet led by junior center Nick Richards. It also included freshman Dontaie Allen, who I didn’t realize had quite that much reach.

It was also obvious that Kentucky might be a better shooting team than many believe. Bucknell graduate Nate Sestina was sensational during the 3-point shooting drill. He went 20-for-24 during the drill and must have hit 12 or more consecutive shots at one point. Sestina was expected to give Calipari a big who could stretch the floor and he may do that and more — he also has a 33-inch vertical jump.

And 6-6 freshman Johnny Juzang has the size to shoot over most players but with his quick released he should have no problem getting shots off it he lets it go as quickly and smoothly as he did at Pro Day. Calipari often talks about shooters but correctly joked during the show that Juzang could be a “maker.”

Just like he did at UK’s Media Day, Calipari said his team will need time to develop and won’t be at its best until January or February — the norm at Kentucky except for the 2011-12 and 2014-15 seasons.

Calipari did sound one warning when talking to SEC Network analysts Seth Greenberg and Jimmy Dykes.

“We have a talented team. We just have to get a little bit tougher,” Calipari said. “But I’m telling you, I really like the group.”

The coach also warned that his “young kids aren’t ready” for big-time settings yet and that returning players Immanuel Quickley, EJ Montgomery, Ashton Hagans and Richards have to carry the team early in the season.

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