By Keith Taylor
Aaron Bradshaw is back on the court and the freshman center hinted that he will make his Kentucky debut sooner rather than later.
Bradshaw, who is recovering from a foot injury, returned to practice last week and took to social media Sunday night to update his status.
“I’m not allowed to say it (when I will return), but I’ll give you a week,” Bradshaw said on Instagram. “… I’ve been working out with the team, though.”
Bradshaw won’t play in No. 12 Kentucky’s showdown against eighth-ranked Miami in the ACC/SEC Challenge Tuesday night in Lexington. Based on his statement, he could return against UNC-Wilmington on Saturday or Penn a week later.
Kentucky coach John Calipari confirmed Bradshaw was working out behind the scenes following the Wildcats’ 118-82 win over Marshall last Friday night.
“Aaron’s been practicing but just not live,” Calipari said. “He’s been with us 5 on 0, drill work, all of that kind of stuff. He is just not the competitive man-on-man, body-to-body. We just haven’t started with him on that.”
Kentucky assistant coach Chuck Martin said Monday that Bradshaw is “in good enough shape to get up and down (the court)” and added Bradshaw will fit in the team’s current structure once he’s cleared to return to the court.
“I think his skill set fits the way we play,” Martin said. “He’s a seven-footer that can protect the rim defensively, which is what would be unbelievable for us without compromising on offense because he’s skilled enough to shoot the three, skilled enough to put the ball on the floor, which makes it really, really exciting for us.”
Martin added once Bradshaw returns, he will “alleviate pressure off” Trey Mitchell, who has been manning the post as the Wildcats await reinforcement in the paint.
“We’ve been asking (Mitchell) to play close to 35 minutes a night, and he’s been incredible in terms of not getting in foul trouble and and playing hard every possession,” he said. “I think, Aaron, you know, when we get him back, will help Trey out. We’ll be a better defensive team, I think, because we can protect the rim a little bit.”
Honors for D.J.
Kentucky freshman guard D.J. Wagner was named Southeastern Conference Feeshman of the Week, the league office announced Monday. Wagner averaged 25 points and 5.5 assists in wins over Saint Joseph’s and Marshall last week.
Wagner scored 22 points in the overtime win over the Hawks and then produced a career-high 25 points in the blowout over the Thundering Herd.
“I was just happy that we were able to win games,” Wagner said after the win over Marshall. “Everybody could see how good of a team that we’ve got. We still do. I’m confident in my teammates and they’re confident in me.”
Kentucky guard Reed Sheppard hasn’t been surprised by Wagner’s recent success.
“I knew he would – it’s nothing new for him. He’s a really, really good player,” he said. “It’s helped a lot now we have eight dudes that can just go and get a bucket and that’s really, really hard to guard when you go out on the court all five dudes, no matter what, can pass, dribble, and shoot – so it helps a lot. Now we just got to keep building off of it and just keep playing together and stay positive through it all.”
Gametracker : Miami at Kentucky, 7:30 p.m., Tuesday. TV/Radio: ESPN, UK Radio Network.
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