Top four takeaways from Blue-White scrimmage


Quade Green puts up the three-pointer during the Blue-White game on Sunday Oct. 21, 2018, at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Connor Woods | Staff

In the annual Blue-White scrimmage, UK’s men’s basketball players are pitted against each other. Here are my top takeaways from that event:

1. UK’s bigs are a problem.

In the Blue-White scrimmage, John Calipari employed a three-big lineup of Nick Richards, Reid Travis and P.J. Washington. Washington was matched up against Tyler Herro, and bullied him in the post as the veteran (blue) lineup took off and almost immediately built a double-digit point advantage. In the second half, when matched up against Herro, Washington was perfect from the field and scored all but four of his 19 points.

According to center Richards, Washington could even play the shooting guard position if he had to, at least on defense. A lineup featuring one of the many UK point guards and all four bigs, even if that lineup wouldn’t have much range, could exist.

As for the other bigs, they had outstanding days on the floor as well. Richards swatted away five shots. They shot over 60% combined. Travis had a 27-point, 13-rebound outburst dominating performance, even though he’s the smallest of the group (height-wise). The big men on this team are interchangeable, can score and can play together. Every one of them is going to be a problem.

2. Ashton Hagans is already developing his confidence

As someone who graduated high school early and reclassified to join the Cats this year, Hagans’ jump in maturity on the court from the Bahamas to now is astounding. He’s still the annoying, frustrating defender that fans saw back then, but his offensive confidence is starting to soar.

On one possession, he took a pull-up three in transition. Calipari even compared him to De’Aaron Fox, telling Hagans that he needs to use his elite speed to get to the basket quickly. Hagans was blocked twice by Richards, quite emphatically, but he kept throwing himself into scoring positions. With more polish, that aggressiveness will pay off, especially for someone so young.

He will need his shot to become more consistent if he hopes to play at the next level, however. That’s a long way away from now, and he’s still teeming with potential.

3. This team will lead the SEC in rebounds

There, I said it. It’s not that hot of a take until the SEC is recognized for the talent that it is, but the Cats will lead them all on the glass. It will be in large part because of Richards’ and Travis’ superior positioning for rebounds, but also the hustle of guards. Quade Green had four rebounds, two of them offensive. Hagans had four rebounds. Herro had five. They were in extended minutes, but numbers like that show that guards are crashing the glass.

Of course, there are the bigs as well, and they played fantastically. Richards and Travis combined for 29 rebounds, and there isn’t much more to say about that.

4. This team is ready to play. Now.

At this time last year, the Blue-White scrimmage was a bunch of young guys running up and down the court, unsure of where they belonged in this astounding, historical program. Hamidou Diallo suffered cramps so severe that he was having his calves rolled out on the sideline as he yelled in pain and laughed at how out-of-shape that team was.

That team eventually won the SEC Tournament.

This year, there were no cramps. No stops for injuries. The players ran up and down the court, unhindered, and pushed for most of the scrimmage. Herro even dove out of bounds to save a ball, and then immediately re-entered a play to shoot a corner three. That’s hustle you don’t often see from a brand new freshman before his first college game.