Transfer Ansley Almonor will not be overwhelmed by UK fan base

Published 3:30 pm Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Kentucky basketball fans can sometimes overwhelm a player with their attention but that should not be a problem for Fairleigh Dickinson transfer Ansley Almonor.

“If people reach out to me, I am not too big for anybody,” said the 6-7 Almonor. “I am open to any opportunity and talking to anyone. That’s just my natural personality. I am a nice guy. If you want to talk to me, I will. I am not the most outgoing person but I am not shy either.”

He admits it did surprise him a bit when he had “thousands of people” following him after he became interested in transferring to UK to play for coach Mark Pope.

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“It was tough at first but I got used to it,” he said. “I am from a small town, a small school. We didn’t get that much coverage or recognition.”

Almonor made a school record 93 3-pointers at Fairleigh Dickinson last season when he averaged 16.4 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game to earn first-team All-Northeast Conference honors.

“I always thought I could play at the highest level. I was not always thinking about that but I knew if the opportunity came, I would jump on it,” Almonor said. “It was a pretty easy sell with Kentucky. I asked my questions. I wanted some feedback and to get the Kentucky vibe. It worked out perfectly.”

Almonor had never been to Lexington before  his official visit. He liked the “city vibe” but was surprised that Lexington was bigger than he thought. He also liked what the opportunity to play at Kentucky could potentially do for his basketball career.

“I want to play at the highest level to get me ready to play at the next level (NBA). I want to be able to enjoy the next level,” the Kentucky transfer said. “Shooting is my best strength. I have a good midrange game and can make plays with the ball in my hand. I use different angles and footwork.

“I have worked to develop my all-around game. My dad always told me to stay in the gym and everything you deserve will come to you. Just pray and work and good things will come. My dad always pushed me and gave me advice. He is my biggest supporter. Anything I needed in basketball he made sure I had it.”

Almonor played a “little bit” of soccer growing up but was literally too big for the sport so he turned all his attention to basketball.

He didn’t really know any of his new teammates when he arrived on campus last week other than text messages they had exchanged. However, building team chemistry under Pope does not worry him.

“It will come with time. Coach has a lot to put in for us this summer, so we are going to stay together and spend a lot of time together,” Almonor said. “Coach told me he had not promised playing time to anyone. Everybody is going to fight and get what they deserve.

“We have experienced players. People don’t really know how much that means. They see stuff on TV but when it comes to little details that can push you over the top and get a win, most people do not understand all those things. You can overlook that but our experience is going to be a team strength.”

Almonor had no connections to Pope but thought he was “really cool” and learned quickly that his new coach had “great energy” all the time.

Almonor admits NIL discussions came up when he was being recruited before picking Kentucky.

“That is part of the reason people want to leave because they are not compensated the way they want to be. That’s usually a big reason to leave and transfer,” he said. “Those (NIL) discussions happen before you get to school but Coach had the right answers.”

Almonor’s parents are from Haiti and he says they are excited about him being at Kentucky.

“My dream came true. They never imagined something like this could happen for me because this is so nice,” he said. “They definitely will come down as much as they can because they understand what a great experience being at Kentucky is for me.”