The Big Blue Lowdown

Insight, Analysis and Expertise on All Things Kentucky Basketball

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The Rebirth of DeAndre Liggins

The BBL is incredibly excited about the transformation on display from DeAndre Liggins.

Liggins came to UK as a consensus top 25 high school recruit but was thoroughly handcuffed and stymied during his freshman year by former coach Billy Gillispie. In Gillispie’s grind it out, yeoman style, Liggins’ tendency to try to force the spectacular play did not do him any favors. By the second half of the SEC season last year, D-Liggins was all but an afterthought in Kentucky’s rotation.

At the start of this season, Liggins faced the prospect of sitting the entire semester as punishment for off-court issues, possibly academic in nature. No one other than Coach Cal and DeAndre himself know what the real story was behind his unofficial suspension. But it doesn’t matter anymore. Since becoming “eligible” Liggins’ emergence as the team’s sixth man has been nothing short of remarkable.

His play off the bench has been marked by high energy and outstanding hustle. He’s also become an absolute defensive stopper. Every time out, he offers a flurry of deflections and batted balls, and he has shown a knack for the blue collar play, diving on the floor and fighting for every loose ball. With his non-stop ballhawking, Liggins seems to be everywhere at once and his defensive intensity is currently best on the team.

We’ve always known him to be an excellent passer with amazing court vision. That part of his game was already on display last year. But now he has improved his jump shot to the point where he can consistently make the open three. In fact, his form is good, and if his feet are set he is deadly from behind the arc. With his long, athletic 6-6 frame, he’s also a solid rebounder who can mix it up in the paint. All in all, Liggins is on the verge of becoming a bigtime weapon.

It’s clear to the BBL that Calipari has been instrumental in his improvement. He is focused and playing much more from within the team concept. Everyone knows how good Cal is at assembling the pieces to a great team. But he deserves a ton of credit for his personnel management and ability to get kids to buy in. Liggins is a case study of this fact.

Right now he’s a little tentative as a ballhandler and creator, but that is understandable given the talent and skill level of the players around him. Still , we look for great things from DeAndre in the future and wouldn’t be surprised at all to see him become UK’s featured player by his senior season.

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