Calipari says Kentucky can't reach potential unless BJ Boston improves: "He's got to be better"
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Calipari says Kentucky can't reach potential unless BJ Boston improves: "He's got to be better"

Jack Pilgrim12/14/20


Article written by:Jack PilgrimJack Pilgrim
Just glancing at the season stats and game logs, one would assume Kentucky freshman guard Brandon Boston Jr. is having a standout season. Leading the team in points (14.4) and steals (1.4) per game, along with sitting in second in total rebounds per game (6.2), the five-star prospect's numbers are solid on the surface level. Watching the games, though, it's clear Boston's play has not lived up to the hype. Shooting just 38.4% overall and 19.2% from three, the freshman guard has taken 73 shots and 13 free throws to score 72 points. More often than not, he's been a high volume shooter with poor shot selection, with many attempts coming early in the shot clock and in crucial game situations. The raw talent and potential is there, it always has been. Boston very well could end up being the best and most important player on the team by year's end. But for now, for Kentucky to take the next step forward and play winning basketball, the talented freshman has to be better. "BJ played fine, but he's got to be better," UK head coach John Calipari said on his call-in show Monday evening. "For us to be what we need, he's got to be better. Shot selection, being tough, doing the things he's going to have to do." Calipari said he's showing Boston past game film of players like Kevin Knox to give him an idea of where he needs to be and how to take the next step forward as a player. And moving forward, he's going to run similarly designed plays to put him in better positions to succeed. "We're showing him tape of some of the other teams, how they played on the perimeter. How'd Kevin Knox play? How'd this guy play? How'd that guy play? We're running some of the same stuff," Calipari said. "What are you doing when you're in those situations? This is unique stuff, so we're grabbing whatever we can to help these kids and get them in the right frame of mind, be able to play winning basketball. "I want them to walk into a game knowing, "We can win this, but we're going to have to do this together. We're going to have to fight for 40 minutes. We're going to have to play like we played in the second half against Notre Dame, can't play like we did in the second half against Georgia Tech." Part of the solution is avoiding situations where Boston has to overthink as as a ball-handler and keep his focus on what he's best at: scoring the basketball. "He's got to understand less bounces. We've had guys in his position who very rarely bounced the ball, they just scored," Calipari said. "Tyler (Herro), Keldon (Johnson), Jamal (Murray), Malik (Monk). You don't have to go two bounces. In high school you're not looking for, "What do we have here?" You're like, "Let me have it, let me do this." It's not just him, it's all the high school kids. "Now you find out, "The guy's stronger than me, he's just as good as I am, he may be quicker than me." Today he was better in practice, and we've got to get it from him." Even if his shot isn't falling and he's struggling offensively, Calipari wants Boston, along with the rest of the team, to focus on doing the dirty work and making plays elsewhere on the floor. When Kentucky made its run late in the second half against Notre Dame, the team's "fight and fire" was there. Keep that up moving forward and momentum can shift back in UK's favor. "Forget about offense, what happened to us in that stretch is, we guarded them. There was fight and fire, diving for loose balls," Calipari said. "If you dive for loose balls and you take charges, you look like a tough player. If you don't do any of that, you don't look tough. At all. It's easy. So we did loose ball drills today. "I'm doing whatever I can to get these kids in the right frame of mind."

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