Bahamas will bea new experiencefor Cats’ Johnson

Published 10:30 am Thursday, August 2, 2018

LEXINGTON (KT) —Keldon Johnson has never traveled outside the United States. The Kentucky freshman will get the chance when the Wildcats travel to the Bahamas next week.

Johnson, one of six newcomers on Kentucky’s roster this season, is looking forward to his first overseas experience and considers the opportunity “a blessing.”

“I just want to thank Kentucky for that, Kentucky basketball, (University of) Kentucky for doing that for us,” he said prior to an open practice for media members Wednesday night. “I think it’s going to be an amazing time.”

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Johnson hasn’t been overwhelmed by the hype during his first month on campus and “expected it.”

“It pretty much comes with Kentucky basketball. I think that I am prepared to handle it well,” he said. “Knowing that I have people behind me that are supporting me, I mean it’s not really hard coming up here and speaking my mind because I know I have people supporting me from the back.”

Johnson considered an inside-outside threat, said the team’s workouts leading up to the overseas trip “has been amazing” and have helped elevate his game to another level.

“Day-in and day-out we’re going after each other as if we weren’t teammates,” he said. “I think that’s a great thing.”

Johnson said the Wildcats, who have been working on team schemes as opposed to individual workouts, won’t be a disappointment next week, considering it will be the first time the squad has played together against outside competition.

“We’re going to have a lot of energy,” he said. “I I think we’ll be a fun team to watch and I definitely think we will show (the fans) a good time.”

Although the practice time has been limited because of NCAA rules, Johnson said his biggest challenge has been getting used to the speed of the game. During a practice session Wednesday, Johnson was active on both ends of the floor and put on a dazzling display of dunks during the team’s ally-top drills.

“(The biggest adjustment) has been how fast things move,” he said. “I wouldn’t just say with college basketball, but with college in general. It’s is fast, school and everything moves so fast. I think that’s another reason why our team has become so close, because we’re making that transition period where we have to transition to college, so we’re asking a lot of questions to the older guys on how they made that adjustment better and easier. (The veterans) have taken us under their wing and it’s helped us a lot.”

In addition to his ability to play on the wing, Johnson considers himself a “physical player” and doesn’t mind contact underneath the basket.

“I love to get down and get (the basketball) and tat’s what I do and I will do whatever it takes to win,” he said.

Kentucky coach John Calipari likes the makeup of his team and is confident the Wildcats will put on a sold showing in the Bahamas, one his team can build on leading up to the season opener.

“(Coach Cal) is pretty excited and we’re excited as well to play for coach Cal,” he said. “With the team and who we have right now and the chemistry and stuff like that, we’re all buying into what coach wants coach Cal has to say and I think we will be very special.”

Although Johnson isn’t sure where he will play next week or in the future, he is willing to do whatever it takes for the team to be successful. Johnson said he “brings a lot of energy to the practices” and “keeps everybody on their toes.”

“We’re all going out there to win, so we’ve all got to play,” he said. “Wherever he needs me to play, I’m going to do it. I just have to do what I can do. I just go off on how I feel on the court. Everybody goes with the flow. Once the bar is so high (in practice) everybody goes to match that intensity.”