USC's Kelley says Cats will miss Rondo

USC's Kelley says Cats will miss Rondo

How much will Kentucky miss Rajon Rondo? Most UK fans, and many college basketball analysts, don't think the Cats will miss him at all. If anything, the theory is that Rondo was a disruptive force last year and even though he was a first-round NBA Draft pick and UK's best all-around player, the Wildcats will be better without him.

How much will Kentucky miss Rajon Rondo? Most UK fans, and many college basketball analysts, don't think the Cats will miss him at all. If anything, the theory is that Rondo was a disruptive force last year and even though he was a first-round NBA Draft pick and UK's best all-around player, the Wildcats will be better without him.

However, one player who played against Rondo for two years — South Carolina point guard Tre Kelley — has a different answer and different insights.

First, I asked him in Rondo's early success with the Boston Celtics had been a surprise to him. "I don't think so. He's that good," Kelley said. "He has to work on his outside shooting ability, but as a ballhandler and decision maker he is one of the best players I have ever played against. I actually underrated his ballhandling ability last year. It was great. It was superb every game against us. He could handle the ball with the best of them. He's also very athletic and smart. That helps him in the league. As athletic as he is, that's what the NBA wants. He's one of the best athletes I've seen. He's also one of the best defenders I have ever played against."

Will Kentucky miss him more than fans realize? "Definitely. He brought so much impact to the Kentucky basketball program. He didn't always put up great numbers, but he played in a system that didn't let him get great numbers. He pushes 94 feet and hawked the ball all the time. You don't replace that," Kelley said.

Does that mean Ramel Bradley, UK's projected starting point guard, won't impact games the way Rondo did? "Definitely not. He doesn't have any of the skills Rondo has. He's probably a better outside shooter, but Rondo has all the other things that he doesn't, especially on the defensive end. Rondo can rebound. He can play great on the ball defense. He gets into passing lanes and steals a lot of balls. If he had played four years, he would have been all-time steal leader in the SEC. Bradley won't do that," Kelley said.

So he would rather face Bradley than Rondo? "Definitely. Personally, I would rather play against the best and I wish Rondo had stayed. But for my team's sake, I am glad Rondo is gone. I never got a chance to really be friends with the guy, but I know he is really good. He looked like a good person from all I could see and anyone who doesn't think Kentucky will miss him is wrong," Kelley said.

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