NEW YORK — Former Kentucky point guard Marquis Teague called current Kentucky point guard Ryan Harrow to offer support after the Wildcats lost to Notre Dame Nov. 29.
“I called him, I talked to him, I just tell him, ‘Just play your game, don’t worry about what nobody’s saying or anything like that,’” Teague, now a rookie with the Chicago Bulls, told SNY.tv Friday before his team met the Knicks at Madison Square Garden.
“Just like he’s good and all that.”
Teague said he called Harrow on the suggestion of several Kentucky coaches.
“I was talking with some of my coaches,” Teague said. “They was like, ‘Call him.’ I just called him to make sure was good.”
An N.C. State transfer, Harrow is averaging 4.3 points and 2.7 assists for the currently unranked Wildcats. He missed four games earlier this year because of health and family reasons. He is coming off a season-best 12 points on 6-for-13 shooting in a Dec. 15 win over Lipscomb.
“He seemed like he was alright when I talked to him, he seemed like he was good,” Teague said. “He sounded like he was listening, like he was taking it in.”
Harrow has followed a long line of one-and-done Calipari point guards including Derrick Rose (Teague’s Bulls’ teammate), Tyreke Evans, John Wall, Brandon Knight and Teague, who helped lead Kentucky to coach John Calipari’s first NCAA championship last April.
Asked if he thought Harrow felt pressure living up to that hype, Teague said:
“I mean, if you look at it that way. I tried not to look at it as pressure. I just wanted to play my game, just don’t worry about no other expectations or anything like that because he’s not me, he’s not Brandon, he’s Ryan Harrow.”
Teague said he hasn’t been able to watch many Kentucky games, but is surprised they’re unranked.
“Yeah, that’s crazy,” Teague said. “You know, we were always one of the top five teams or something like that for the last two years, and that’s just kind of crazy. They need to get that back up.”
Teague said he’s spoken a few times to Calipari, who is optimistic the team will improve as the season progresses.
“He just was like, they’re going to be good come the [NCAA] tournament,” he said. “They’ve got a lot of work ahead of them.”
Teague played on a Kentucky team that sent six players to last year’s NBA Draft, including three freshmen.
Yet next year’s roster could feature Calipari’s greatest recruiting class ever if he lands power forward Julius Randle and/or small forward Andrew Wiggins to join Andrew and Aaron Harrison, James Young, Marcus Lee and Derek Willis.
But could Kentucky utilize a team with three strong wing players — Aaron Harrison, Young and Wiggins — with everyone getting playing time and being happy?
“Coach Cal, if anybody can figure it out, he can figure it out,” Teague said. “He puts some great teams together, made them play together. He’ll figure it out, they’ll be good.”
As for Teague himself, he’s averaging 1.9 points and 1.5 assists as the third-string point guard behind Kirk Hinrich and Nate Robinson while Rose remains out. He has played solid defense against Boston’s Rajon Rondo and Deron Williams of the Nets.
“I’m loving playing for this team,” Teague said. “They’re a great team, and I’m just trying to get better each and every day.”