Cats want to ‘live up to standard’ in exhibition opener


Tammie Brown

Kellan Grady went up for a layup in Kentucky’s Blue-White game last Friday night at Rupp Arena.

By Keith Taylor, Kentucky Today

LEXINGTON, Ky. (KT) —For the first time this season, Kentucky will face an outside opponent and the Wildcats are excited about taking on Kentucky Wesleyan in an exhibition game Friday night at Rupp Arena.

“We’re looking forward to it, undoubtedly,” Kentucky guard Kellan Grady said. “We’ve had a good two months of practice. It’s been filled with competitive spirit amongst our team and we enjoy going against each other every day, but we’re looking forward to lacing it up against another opponent.”

Although a fifth-year senior, Grady admitted the contest will be a new experience for each member off the squad and knows to expect the unexpected.

“There’s always adversity in the game and see how we respond to that,” Grady said earlier this week. “As we get closer and closer to the first exhibition, the first official game, I think it’s important to be even more detail (oriented) and live up to that standard of Kentucky basketball.”

The exhibition opener will be the first collegiate contest for newcomer Bryce Hopkins, who said the Wildcats have been working on developing the right mix during preseason workouts.

“I would say chemistry is probably the biggest thing for us,” he said. “We just want to see who (jives) with each other and how different groups play with each other, and just basically figure out how each other how we play with each other and stuff like that.”

Grady, who spent four seasons at Davidson and scored more than 2,000 points in his career with the Wildcats, said his current cast of Wildcats have been trending in the right direction.

“We’re a together group,” he said. “We just have a tendency to migrate toward each other rather than apart. That’s been productive for all of us during practice so far.”

According to his teammates, Hopkins has been one of the biggest surprise contributors in practice. Grady said Hopkins is “very versatile” and added, “I’m not sure everyone was aware of before he got here to campus.

“I’ve always had a chip on my shoulder,” he said. “I felt like I was under-recruited, under-ranked and stuff like that. But I’m in college now — one of the best colleges in the country – and I can’t really focus on rankings anymore, but I’m just blessed to be in the position I am today.”

No longer looking back, Hopkins is looking toward then future.

“I just try to stay focused on and just control what I can control because I know if I have a bad game,” he said. “I mean I just can’t focus too much on it all day. I just got to stay focused on what I can control and just get in the gym, stay in the gym, get my shots and stuff like that.”

Gametracker: Kentucky Wesleyan at Kentucky (exhibition) 7 p.m., Friday. TV/Radio: SEC Network, UK Radio Network.