Briscoe, Wynyard discuss new season

Kentucky forward Tai Wynyard dunks the ball during open practice prior to the first round of the NCCA tournament at Well’s Fargo Arena on March 16, 2016 in Des Moines, Iowa. Photo by Taylor Pence

Kevin Erpenbeck

Kentucky players Isaiah Briscoe and Tai Wynyard spoke the media on Wednesday about the upcoming season, what they learned from last year and what their expectations are as a team.

Some of the more interesting quotes from the session came from Briscoe, who spoke about his NBA workout experience, what he learned from the system and ultimately why he decided to come back. Briscoe took advantage of the new NBA Draft rules that allow declared players to return to school if they have not signed an agent.

The 6-foot-3 sophomore felt it was best to return to UK to improve his game after testing the NBA waters and having a long talk with assistant coach Kenny Payne about his future.

“In a way it was kind of hard because I was doing so well in the workouts,” Briscoe said of the decision. “But I think the conversation that me and KP had brought everything to the light and made it more obvious that it was good for me to come back to school.”

Briscoe now leads group of talented freshmen and an athletic frontcourt that includes McDonald’s All-Americans De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk. Briscoe said he’s aware of what is expected of him as a second-year player surrounded by talented freshmen and echoed a mindset that sounds similar to that of last year’s team leader Tyler Ulis.

“I just have to lead by example, “Briscoe said. “That’s one thing that’s on and off the court. These freshmen came in and they look up to me. Even some of the guys (from) last year look up to me and come up to me for questions and things like that. My main focus this year is lead a young group.”

The biggest thing that Briscoe wants to improve on as a player is his shot. Feedback from the six NBA teams he worked out with all pointed to the point guard needing a better shot if he wanted to be taken in the first round of the NBA draft.

Last year, Briscoe shot an abysmal 13.5 percent from beyond the arc and 46.0 percent from the line. He averaged 9.6 points and 5.3 rebounds per game and was second on the team in assists (107) and steals (35).

While Briscoe said he actually surprised some NBA teams with his shot during the workouts, he knew he still had to prove he could hit shots regularly.

“Going back to school and showing them that I can shoot consistently wouldn’t hurt me at all,” Briscoe said.

Meanwhile, Wynyard is returning to UK after redshirting his first season as a collegiate player. The 18-year-old from New Zealand participated in the FIBA 3-on-3 U18 World Championships for his home team for the second straight year this summer. Wynyard was the third top scorer in the tournament this year and helped New Zealand finish fourth.

With the experienced he gained from playing overseas and the half season of collegiate play under his belt (he enrolled at UK in the spring last season), Wynyard said he’s prepared for the gigantic spotlight that is playing at Kentucky.

“It’s just a huge step up from any other basketball I’ve ever played in my life,” Wynyard said. “I’ve played on my national team and all that type of stuff, but it’s just a huge step up coming to Kentucky. It’s just a lot different.”

You can check out both Briscoe’s and Wynyard’s responses to other questions from the media session here.