John Calipari is leaning toward a three-guard lineup at Kentucky.
And why not?
The Wildcats, No. 2 in the preseason AP Poll, feature two projected 2017 first-round picks in De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk, along with New Jersey native Isaiah Briscoe, a sophomore projected as a second-rounder in 2018 per Draft Express.com.
“We’re still trying to figure out combinations,” Calipari told reporters Friday. “I’ll do the same thing I did last game, play a lot of combinations. Don’t know if I’ll start three guards. I might start three guards this time, and then figure out some sort of rotation of how we want to do this.”
He said he wants at least one of those guards on the court at all times.
“I always want either Isaiah or De’Aaron on the floor at all times,” he said.
Kentucky could start Fox, Monk and Briscoe alongside freshman forwards Wenyen Gabriel (6-foot-9) and Bam Adebayo (6-10) a projected lottery pick in 2017.
With that lineup, Calipari figures to play an up-tempo attack at least to start the season.
“I’m trying to go at the pace that these guys (can handle),” Calipari said. “I don’t want to throw too much. I want them to worry about competing at a high level versus worrying about, ‘What am I supposed to be doing out here?’ Compete.”
After two games against Stephen F. Austin and Canisius, Kentucky faces Michigan State in the Champions Classic on Nov. 15 at Madison Square Garden. The Spartans feature their own group of stud freshmen, led by forward Miles Bridges.
More than 50 NBA scouts are expected at the Garden for that event, which also features preseason No. 1 Duke facing No. 3 Kansas.
“This is a process,” Calipari said. “This is November. It’s the first time these kids are doing all of this.”
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Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.