“Josh needed that. Now, did Brandon (Knight) need that? No. So there are other players that you can get them to the level – I’ve had great players that didn’t need that. But Josh did and it shows me that there are all kinds of ways of doing what we do.”
Now Calipari says he might have other players start doing extra workouts if they are not doing things the coach wants or the team needs.
“We’ve had a couple other guys that need to build their own self esteem and break barriers. It can’t be me saying it or you saying it or why not. So let’s just put them through the gauntlet. You either make it or you’re not making it. Figure it out,” Calipari said.
The Kentucky coach says he gets calls daily from coaches about Harrellson. He says even Auburn coach Tony Barbee, a former Calipari assistant, told him that pro scouts were mentioning Harrellson to him — something no UK fan could have expected when this season started.
“I’m proud of him. I’m happy for him. But again, I’m not one that likes to beat kids up. I’m not one that likes to have to have 3 1/2 hour practices. That’s not how I do it. But you know what? I hate to tell you but he needed something. He needed that,” Calipari said. “And that’s why you get the mediocre guys and you get them to play well.
“I like to get the most talented players in the country and make them play together, which is just as hard as getting average players and getting them to be good. Now I’ve found out there are certain guys you separate from the pack and you deal with them differently.”
He did that to some extent with junior guard DeAndre Liggins, who missed the first 10 games last year for disciplinary reasons. Now he’s being hailed as the nation’s top defensive guard by some college basketball analysts.
“DeAndre Liggins, think about it. If I can get him playing back to where he was a year ago — vciously go after, be the ball hawk, defend and do that. You know what he does now if he’s open? Shoots it. It’s in. Now here’s what you have, one of the best defensive players in the country who ball hawks and gets you three possessions a game that you would not get and if he’s open he makes every shot,” Calipari said.
“Now forget about what he does for us. Think about what he’s done for himself. And that’s what we’re supposed to be doing here. We’re trying to win every ball game, but you’re trying to develop these young people, build their self esteem and confidence.
“I’ve got a couple guys here I’m burying right now on them and I’m being right to the point because you’ve got to grow up, be a man. Man up. Change. My job is to get guys to change. If Josh didn’t Twitter, I would not have done it this way with Josh, and you know what, it would have been a mistake and he wouldn’t be as good as he is right now.”
Harrellson has enjoyed his resurgence and says he thinks both Calipari and himself deserve credit for his transformation.
“It is definitely 50-50. Coach Cal is the one that put me up to this, but I could have easily said, ‘Forget it I am not going to do it because it’s hard.’ I just stuck with it and it is all paying off now,” Harrellson said.
He also now believes he could have a future in basketball after this year.
“I think that I can play somewhere. Who knows where it will be, but right now, I am focusing on this season,” he said.
Footwork: Freshman Doron Lamb set a UK freshman record with 32 points in Wednesday’s win over Winthrop when he went 11-for-12 from the field, including 7-for-8 from 3-point range.
He said before the game that Calipari had been working with him on his shooting mechanics.