BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WDRB) -- How much respect is Kentucky getting in the Southeastern Conference? Despite having never seen him in a college game, league media voted Wildcats freshman Julius Randle the conference's preseason player of the year on Wednesday in balloting announced at SEC media days.
And that's despite there being no consensus among NBA scouts visiting UK's practices that Randle is even the best player on his own team. Willie Cauley-Stein, Andrew Harrison and Dakari Johnson were second-team All-SEC picks.
"We've had 40 scouts visit practice in 10 days and they're all saying James Young is our best player, may be our best player in the country," Calipari said. "So I get them together and say, 'How do you all feel about that? Julius how do you feel? Andrew (Harrison)? Aaron (Harrison)? Marcus (Lee)? Dakari (Johnson)?' Because next week it may be someone else. Can you all deal with that? That's why you came to Kentucky. And that's why they all came together. It'll be interesting, but we have a good group."
In fact, Randle is the league's preseason player of the year, but didn't even attend the event. Calipari brought sophomore Alex Poythress.
"I guess that just shows how much people respect Julius' game," Poythress said of the preseason vote.
UK was the runaway choice to win the league. Again. Calipari said that with his depth, he doesn't expect there to be a dominant player in the traditional sense. But he made one interesting prediction for his team.
"I think on this team we'll have seven guys get 25 (points) or more in at least one game, maybe two," Calipari said. "They have that much ability, and that's the way I'll coach, that if somebody gets hot we'll keep giving it to him."
Calipari said Randle is progressing, but that he's pushed the big man out of his comfort zone. Instead of parking him under the basket, Calipari has asked him to play on the outside more, challenging him to improve is overall game for the next level.
"We're asking him to do things he hasn't done before," Calipari said. ". . . He doesn't have the swagger because he's playing a way he hasn't played. But he's still pretty good. . . . He's a great kid. He cramped up yesterday in practice. I'm in my office, 10:30, 11 o'clock at night I look at in the gym and he's in there. The next day at 10:30 in the morning, sweating, and then we have media day and then we have practice and at the end he's cramping up. No kidding. Kid, stay off the court a little bit. But he's a driven young man, and he's done well."