By Keith Taylor
Andrew Harrison had his share of ups and downs last season.
The Kentucky guard was criticized from not being a team player, to taking too many shots to his body language on the floor. Adjusting to the college game proved to be a challenge for Harrison.
Despite his struggles, Harrison caught on to John Calipari’s offense toward the end of the season and helped lead the Wildcats to the national championship game. One year later, Harrison has developed into a team leader and has become more vocal.
“Andrew has taken on a great leadership role,” Calipari said following his team’s 121-52 rout of Georgetown College Sunday night. “He's unbelievable right now. He's talking to me. He feels good, comfortable giving me ideas and stuff and that's how this eventually has got to be his team and their team and not mine.”
In two exhibition games, Harrison took just five shots but made 7 of 8 free throws, and dished out 15 assists, including nine against Pikeville. Harrison also had just two turnovers.
As a team leader, Harrison also has impressed Calipari with his leadership skills.
Harrison made sure Kentucky fed the ball to Trey Lyles against Georgetown and told the coach to "make sure they find Trey."
“He did that today,” Calipari said. “The other thing he was talking about is if these bigs run the court, we’ve got to give it to them. Dakari (Johnson) flew one time and Tyler (Ulis) slowed it down. No, if that big guy runs, you run right there and try to throw him the ball to reward our bigs for running.
“Think about it, every time we're on there, it's either Dakari flying, Willie flying, Karl flying, Marcus Lee flying. Your bigs better fly. And you better be playing more than two bigs. You better be playing four or five big (guys).”
Going into Friday’s season opener against Grand Canyon, Harrison said the Wildcats are ready to open the regular season and are “far ahead of last year.”
“I feel like I have gotten better,” he said. “We worked so hard in the offseason that I feel like we have confidence. I feel like I am the best guard on the court and I can make my team better.”
Keith Taylor is award-wining sports editor for the Winchester Sun in Winchester, Ky. Keith was named Top Newspaper Columnist in the 2014 Readers Choice awards in Winchester and has won numerous awards from the Kentucky Press Association, with first-place awards for Best Column in 2000, 2009 and 2012. He has won 19 first-place awards and several second-and third-place awards in his 23-year career. He was runner-up for Kentucky Sports Writer of the Year 2008-10. Keith resides in Richmond with his wife Rhonda and is a member of the Berea Church of God, where he serves on the church board.