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Calipari compares Dontaie Allen's explosion to Quickley, Gilgeous-Alexander: "It's not always going to be on your timetable"

Jack Pilgrim01/04/21

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Article written by:On3 imageJack Pilgrim
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To open the 2017-18 season, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander started in just two of Kentucky’s first 15 games before taking over as the team’s lead guard. From there, the former four-star prospect went on to earn All-SEC Second Team, All-SEC Freshman Team, and All-SEC Tournament, and SEC Tournament MVP honors before being selected with the No. 11 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft.

Just two seasons later, Immanuel Quickley started in just five of Kentucky’s first 15 games to open the 2019-20 season before becoming a permanent addition to the starting lineup. From there, the 6-foot-3 guard went on to earn SEC Player of the Year and All-SEC First Team honors before being selected with the No. 25 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft.

Both patiently waited for their time to shine, both capitalized on those opportunities and gave John Calipari no choice but to keep them in the starting lineup.

And according to the UK head coach, redshirt freshman guard Dontaie Allen showed he may be on a similar path following his breakout 23-point performance at Mississippi State Saturday evening.

“It took some time,” Calipari said during his call-in radio show Monday evening. ‘”Why didn’t you know from day one, coach?” How about, I didn’t know from day one about Shai Alexander? That took 10 games, not eight. I can go on. How about last year with Immanuel Quickley? “Why didn’t you know from day one?” Because you’ve got new teams and it takes time.”

For Gilgeous-Alexander and Quickley, they stayed the course and trusted the process, and the reward was substantial. If Allen – who went 8-13 overall and 7-11 from three in the double-overtime victory – continues to shine in his opportunities on the floor, Calipari’s hand may be forced in similar fashion.

“I also see them in practice, so I have a different vantage point, but I tell every kid, “You’re going to get your chance. Take advantage, be ready.” And it’s not always going to be on your timetable,” Calipari added. “Sometimes one guy’s misery is another guy’s opportunity, and that’s what happened in this case.”

He may not start right away, but if he continues to fight on defense and limit mistakes, he’s going to steal minutes away from players ahead of him in the rotation.

“Whether he starts or not, I told everybody, we all know he’s getting minutes,” Calipari said. “That means other guys are going to get less minutes, that’s how this works. If you’re the guy behind somebody, you’re going to get less minutes.

“Going forward, he keeps doing this stuff, defensively, he’s going to have the chance to go in there and let balls fly.”

While the star performance in Starkville was the first public display of dominant play for Allen, the UK head coach also confirmed that the Falmouth, KY native put on a show during the team’s secret scrimmage against Transylvania last week, finishing either 6-10 or 6-11 from three.

In fact, the performance was nearly identical to what we saw out of Allen against Mississippi State.

“In the last two or three weeks, Dontaie’s taken everything up a notch, it’s been great to see,” Calipari said. “The scrimmage we had, I think he was 1-3 or 1-4 in the first half, and everyone on the team, including me, was like, “Shoot the ball, man!” In the second half he went 5-7, he went 5-7. Almost clockwork of what happened in this game.”

While he’s had back-to-back standout shooting days against Transylvania and Mississippi State, Calipari hopes fans remain patient with Allen as he continues to earn consistent minutes and work his way up the rotation. He may not go out and light the world on fire every time he steps on the floor, but a few makes from deep every game is a fair thing to ask.

And if he’s able to convert, it’s a game-changer for Kentucky’s offense.

“I am so proud of him and happy for him. I know Kentucky is exploding for him,” Calipari said. “I’ll tell you, I told him, “You don’t have to make seven every game, but I’d like you to make three though?” … Dontaie’s shots, that hasn’t happened in one game this year. Let’s not put this all on Dontaie now. Don’t do that to him. Let’s just enjoy his growth as a player. He’s going to play. Believe me.”

“The biggest thing about it is, any time he shoots it, what do we all think? “It’s going in.” And so does the other team, and that’s why for our team, how he plays and what he does has so much value.”

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