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June 24, 2013

Calipari expects Harrisons, Young on campus soon

John Calipari likes what little he's seen of his new-look Kentucky basketball team this summer.

He hopes that soon he'll see his full squad assembled.

Incoming freshmen Andrew Harrison, Aaron Harrison and James Young, who are not enrolled in UK's current eight-week summer school session, should arrive on campus soon, Calipari said on Monday's Southeastern Conference summer teleconference.

"I think they're going to come in this weekend, and what we're hoping is that they're able to flow into the six-week (summer school) session," Calipari said. "And if they're not, they'll stay a couple more weekends and they'll be fine and be here."

Calipari said that "the school year was longer" for the Harrison twins and Young, McDonald's All-Americans expected to play key roles for the 2013-14 Wildcats, and that "they had some things to finish up academically."

"But I'm excited about those three," Calipari said. "I wish they would have been here for the eight-week (session), but it's happened before with Nerlens (Noel) and some other guys we've had. They've had things to finish up, but they're fine."

NCAA rules limit Calipari's on-court observation of his team in the summer, but he likes the reports he's getting from the players who are on campus. The Wildcats, coming off a disappointing season that ended with a first-round loss to Robert Morris in the NIT, will welcome six total McDonald's All-Americans and return key contributors Alex Poythress, Willie Cauley-Stein and Kyle Wiltjer from last season's team.

"What happens is, now there's competition, now you really see guys blossom," Calipari said. "Right now, Willie's challenged by the other big guys. Alex is challenged by Julius (Randle) and the other guys. So all of the sudden, they've elevated their game, and you make an excuse, you'll be sitting."

The result, Calipari said, is that his team is "on a mission like some of my best teams have been on."

And this is a team with the potential to be among Calipari's best. On Monday he compared it to his first Kentucky team, led by freshmen John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins, saying it likely "won't be a great, great execution team because there's so many new guys," but that it can do things "athletically, physically, skill-wise" to beat teams even without superior execution.

"I will tell you, having talented players doesn't guarantee you win, but having bad players will guarantee you're gonna lose," Calipari said. "I think we have a talented group, but how good we're going to be all depends on how they come together or how hard they're willing to work for each other, how much leadership we get from within the team and some of the returning players. It should be interesting."

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