Sacha Killeya-Jones considered for a starting role after Kansas game


Hamidou Diallo #3 of the Kentucky Wildcats drives down the lane during the game against Kansas on Wednesday, November 15, 2017 in Lexington, Ky. Kansas defeated Kentucky 65-61. Photo by Carter Gossett | Staff

Chase Campbell

On Thursday, after UK basketball’s 73-69 loss to No. 4 Kansas on Tuesday, head coach John Calipari, forward Wenyen Gabriel and guard Hamidou Diallo addressed some burning questions the media had in a press conference.

Is Sacha Killeya-Jones being considered for a starting role?

Calipari didn’t give a definitive answer to this question, but he did say that he liked the role Killeya-Jones played against the Jayhawks in Chicago.

“What I liked was his energy,” Calipari said. “He tried. He was in the gym after we got back that day, I opened the window and he’s down there, he’s the only one in there shooting free throws. He is more committed than he’s ever been in his life.”

Killeya-Jones filled the stat sheet against Kansas, picking up eight points, grabbing nine rebounds and blocking three shots.

“I think [the Kansas game] emulated what he’s been doing in practice,” Gabriel said. “He’s had a couple good practices leading up to that game, and we expected a good game out of him.”

WATCH: Wenyen Gabriel full interview

How is the young team recovering from the loss against the Jayhawks?

Both the players and Calipari said the team grew a lot in Chicago by playing another top five team.

“It was a great game,” Diallo said. “We didn’t come away with the W, but it was a good learning experience for us, and we’ve just got to learn from it and get better.”

WATCH: Hamidou Diallo full interview

Calipari said that he thought the team might lose by much more heading into the United Center, so he was extremely pleased with how they fought. They responded to two large Kansas runs, one in the first half and one in the second, still losing by four points. The ninth-year UK head coach found their determination to be a large positive, even if the execution wasn’t there.

Gabriel said that the loss was still on the team’s mind because it’s only a couple days after the game and that this was an extremely young team. However, the team is growing in the face of defeat, said the sophomore forward.

What does Calipari think of his place on the new Ad Hoc committee for college basketball?

Earlier, it was announced that Calipari was going to be one of fewer than 20 people involved in college basketball to be placed on a new committee that will try to fix the issues surrounding the administration and organization of NCAA basketball.

Calipari said that he just wants to be a “voice for the players,” because he doesn’t want the entire conversation to revolve around the sport and the administration. It’s his belief, he said, that the organization should be centered around bettering the lives of the student-athletes that play the sport.

The Cats will take on Eastern Tennessee State University at 7 p.m. on Friday.