After a year of cancellations, delays and countless on- and off-court adversities, the Kentucky basketball program is hoping to hit reset and return to normalcy during the 2021-22 season.
Despite UK’s season ending just over one month ago on March 11 – the official college basketball season ended just last week on April 5 – Kentucky is already in the process of finalizing plans to get its players back on campus to start preparing for next year. In fact, an unofficial June 1 return and arrival date has been set for the team, UK signee Nolan Hickman Jr.’s father, Nolan Hickman Sr., told KSR on Thursday.
“They actually apologized because it’s been a bit delayed. They know when they want them in, they want them in as soon as possible for summer school,” Hickman Sr. told KSR. “We’re planning to send Nolan to summer school, just waiting for the dates to be finalized, but we’re thinking it’s going to be June 1. We’d like Nolan to report – just for us – the family is planning to get there early for orientation and to prepare for the first day of school. We’ll probably get down there late May to get settled in, get comfortable for that June 1 start.”
And unlike last year’s arrival for the team, which was met with strict health and safety protocols that included a prolonged quarantine and isolation, followed by individual player shootarounds, then followed by one-on-one coach and player workouts, and again followed by non-contact group sessions before actual team drills began, the plan for this year is to have a “regular” offseason schedule. Whatever they can do to get back to having a “normal season,” the staff is hoping to make that happen.
“The plan is, the staff has mentioned that they want to move along like it’s a regular year with no COVID, things like that,” Hickman Sr. told KSR. “They want it to be like years prior, where guys can get in there, get their routines, individual workouts, things like that, building up to full-on practice. They want to come in as best they can to make it a normal season.”
Last season, players didn’t arrive on campus until June 28, with select players not making it to Lexington until mid-July. Coaches weren’t even allowed to start working out with players until July 20, and even then it was only individual drills and skill development with contact practices limited to four hours per week. Full contact, five-on-five scrimmages took even longer to get rolling.
Seeing the results of the 2020-21 season, it’s clear the Kentucky coaching staff went back to the drawing board this offseason in hopes of returning back to the program’s winning ways in 2021-22.