By LARRY VAUGHT
Will Kentucky’s 2019 Mr. Basketball, Dontaie Allen of Pendleton County, play for coach John Calipari’s team this year?
He tore a knee ligament in December of 2018 and then broke his collarbone in an automobile accident last spring. He’s yet to play in a game and apparently has been very limited in what he can do even in recent practices.
“He’s practicing. He’s getting better,” assistant coach Joel Justus said Tuesday.
But will he play this season?
“I think Dontaie is working hard, you know, and everyone is on their own path and their own timetable,” Justus said. “When Dontaie’s ready and willing to be ready to go … I think for us there’s no rush on our part and I don’t know that there’s any rush there.
“You want to make sure you’re in the right frame of mind, the right physical state of mind, and we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.”
Yet not saying when Allen might be ready to cross that bridge and it is already the end of January pretty much tells me that there is almost no chance he’s going to play this year barring an injury to one of the other eight scholarship players coach John Calipari has left after the departure of Kahlil Whitney.
Instead, look for freshmen Johnny Juzang and Keion Brooks Jr. to possibly get additional minutes.
“I think a guy like Johnny Juzang is going to have an opportunity to play more minutes and he had some great minutes in the game the other day (at Texas Tech),” Justus said.
Juzang has started hitting shots. He doesn’t have to make 10 per game but if he can hit two to four in his limited minutes, that’s big.
Brooks had been playing really well before appearing to take a step back at Texas Tech — but now we know there was a reason for that.
“I think Keion Brooks was a little bit under the weather down in Lubbock, but I think he’s a guy that’s going to be thrust a little more into that kind of wing position, where (earlier) he was playing a little bit of a stretch four,” Justus said.
“I think for us, our guys come into the games and they’re all ready to play. I think you’re excited about Johnny. You’re excited about Keion. And those settings really, when healthy, both of those guys have had some opportunities taken away from them by illness and I think you move forward and hope that they’re all ready, that we’re all healthy tomorrow night and moving forward.”