Q&A: Dillon Pulliam talks about walk-on experience at program like UK

Jeff Drummond, Managing Editor
Cats Illustrated

Always a fan favorite among Big Blue Nation, one of Kentucky's two walk-ons for 2017-18 talks about the experience of being an important part of the program...  

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UK Athletics

On what it means to him to be part of the UK program...

"Growing up in the state of Kentucky, in Cynthiana, you dream of being part of this program. I spent countless hours as a younger kid working on my game and hoping someday I'd have this chance, so it means the world to me. It's been a tremendous blessing and something I try to embrace and enjoy every day. We have a great group of guys and a great coaching staff, so getting a chance to learn the game from them is a lot of fun."

On whether there was a moment when he decided to pursue this opportunity that he had any doubts...

"Not really. There's definitely been some eye-openers for me, though." (Laughs)

On the mindset of trying to improve as a player despite knowing that there aren't a lot of opportunities for playing time...

"I've definitely grown as a player these past three years. Getting to watch future pros and working against them in practice, it's fun to see how much it can help your game."

On what he can bring to the team in terms of leadership on a daily basis...

"One of my roles is being on the scout team. Once we get into the season, me and Johnny (David) and Brad (Calipari) actually learn all the sets and all the plays that another team will run. Sometimes it's 15 or 20 plays. In practice, we'll simulate all of those in practice, giving our others players a better idea of what to expect from the players they're about to face. That's the biggest role. Whatever they ask me to do, I try to embrace it and do it the best of my ability."

On if he recalls an example from last season...

"Yeah. Actually, last year when we played Michigan State, I was Miles Bridges, their great 3 man. (Laughs) On film, Miles did a lot of spin moves, so when we were going through the scout team stuff, I would do those spin moves the best I could."

On Coach Cal treating his walk-ons the same as his starters...

"Oh yeah, definitely. If you forget a play or mess up something in practice, he'll let you hear it the same way as anyone else on the team. The biggest thing that will get you in trouble is if you make a mistake that somebody else has already made. If you go and make that same mistake, that will set him off. He just taught you the right way after the first time. You have to pay attention and learn from your mistakes."

On having to learn so many new teammates this season...

"That first week I was trying really hard to remember all the names. It was really hard at first. We have eight new guys. That's pretty unusual."

On the outlook for this year's team...

"Really young, but really talented. We have as much talent as we've had since I've been here. I think once we find our identity, we'll be really good. The individual talent is great. We just have to learn how to play together and embrace how good we can be on defense if we want to win a championship."

On the most rewarding part of the experience...

"It's hard to name just one thing. The two SEC championships since I've been here were big. They were fun. Playing in the NCAA Tournament is a really great experience. But more than anything it's the relationships that you form and how you grow as a person."

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