By LARRY VAUGHT
Three players that Kentucky could really use to elevate their level of play would be sophomore EJ Montgomery and along with Kahlil Whitney and Keion Brooks Jr.
Brooks has been the best of the trio recently due in large part to his energy and intensity — something that has seemed to be missing at times from Montgomery even though he was terrific at the end of the overtime win over Louisville. Whitney’s playing time has diminished the last two games as other players have been more productive.
“I think our focus is on every individual that’s here. It’s a process. Each guy is on their own kind of path, and that never wavers when you’re in our shoes as an assistant coach,” Kentucky assistant coach Joel Justus said Monday.
“When you make a commitment to a kid and to a family that you’re going to work with them from the day that they’re here, both on the physical and mental, and sometimes with young kids the mental is more important than the physical. They need confidence, and you know, Cal (John Calipari) has talked about that.
“Often times you build your confidence by getting in the gym, and I think that as a staff we’re pleased with where those guys are right now in terms of their commitment to improving and becoming their best version. When it’s their time to break through, it’ll be their time. Our staff, much like probably everybody in the Big Blue Nation, wants it to be yesterday, but hey, you know, we got to hope that it’s Tuesday night.”
That’s because UK plays its first true road game of the season tonight when it faces SEC rival Georgia, which has won four straight games and is coming off its biggest win at Memphis Saturday.
Brooks understands that the Cats need more from him, Montgomery and Whitney.
“We definitely have to step up to help this team reach its full potential. If we’re not playing well or we’re not giving it everything we’ve got, our team is capped and that’s not a good thing,” Brooks said. “All three of us are going to pick it up, we’re going to continue to push through and eventually, that light bulb will go on for us and we’ll be clicking on all cylinders.”