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Shai Alexander picks Kentucky Wildcats: Breakdown and Highlights

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UK snags their first backcourt commitment in the class of 2017.

Canada Basketball

The Kentucky Wildcats have scored a pledge from Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. He announced his pick Monday morning at a ceremony at his high school. He also announced his decision on Twitter:

In addition to Florida, whom Alexander recently decommitted from, UNLV, Texas and Syracuse were also in the running. Alexander got calls from 46+ schools since his decommitment as he was becoming a hot commodity, but UK was able to seal the deal quickly.

The 6-5 guard out of Hamilton Heights Christian Academy in Chattanooga (TN) becomes the third commitment in UK’s 2017 class and their first from a guard. This was one of the quicker recruitments we’ve seen at UK under John Calipari.

The relationship between Alexander and UK moved quickly after he backed off his pledge from Florida on Oct. 17. Calipari then offered him a scholarship after going to watch the combo guard on October 31. Alexander then took a visit to Lexington on November 4, then committed on Nov. 14.

This past summer, Alexander played for Canada in the FIBA U18 Americas and averaged 7.8 points, 5.4 assists and four rebounds in five games. He also averaged a team-high 15.8 points and 4.8 assists for Wings Elite on the Nike EYBL circuit.

Depending on which recruiting service you read, Alexander is listed as either a shooting guard or point guard. His AAU coach believes the point is where he’ll play in college.

“He’s a true point guard, very long, athletic, excellent shooter,” Alexander’s Canada AAU coach Dwayne Washington told gainesville.com. “They measured his wingspan at Florida at 6-10 ½ with a 32-inch vertical leap. He’s a very unselfish kid and a good leader.”

Scout.com ranks Alexander as the 46th-best prospect and the No. 12 point guard. ESPN ranks him 46th overall and the No. 10 point guard. Rivals ranks him 53rd overall.

In a class hat may see UK could 6-8 top-25 prospects, Alexander is a solid prospect to help fill this class out while giving the Cats depth at point and shooting guard.

Here is Alexander’s ESPN scouting report:

Strengths: Gilgeous-Alexander is a long and athletic guard that is quick with the ball in his hands. He pushes on the break and can create for himself or teammates. in the have court he is excellent in drive draw and kick situations and has a nice mid range pull up of the rhythm dribble with range to the arc. Gilgeous-Alexander has very good shot making ability. He also has the size and athletic ability to defend both guard positions as well.

Weaknesses: Gilgeous-Alexander will need to continue to add strength in order to not get knocked off the ball when attacking and be a productive on a consistent basis on which he is more than capable.

Here is what Draft Express had to say about Alexander back in April:

Strengths

-Excellent size and length for a guard prospect – 6' 5.5” with a 6' 9” wingspan.

-Tremendous defensive potential. Quick feet, active hands, long arms. Has the tools to defend both guard positions if he's able to fill out.

-Quick first step. Doesn't need a ball screen to beat his man off the bounce. Shows an ability to play at different speeds.

-Able to drive both right and left. Will occasionally use his off hand to deliver passes.

-Length helps him finish around the rim despite his slight frame. Doesn't shy away from contact as much as you'd expect.

-20.8 points, 5.9 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 1.8 steals, 1.2 blocks, and 3.0 turnovers per 40 minutes on 73.3 2P% and 42.9 3P% in five 2015 Adidas Uprising games.

-Not a great shooter at this stage but his shot isn't broken. Gets solid rotation.

Weaknesses

-Very thin at 171 pounds. Fairly narrow shoulders. Will most likely always be on the lighter side. Struggles to finish through contact. Gets overpowered on defense at times.

-Raw offensively. Lacks advanced combo moves at this stage.

-Not a great decision maker on the move. Can get tunnel vision. Still figuring out how to mix scoring and playmaking. Struggles with the simple play at times. A ways away from being able to run an offense with any consistency.

-Struggles to make shots from the perimeter. Very low release point. Misses left and right. Shot isn't broken but it isn't a weapon at this stage. Turns down jumpers. Not very comfortable pulling up off the dribble.

-Would benefit from adding a floater.

-A year old for his class.

Outlook: With his physical attributes, quickness and defensive versatility, Gilgeous-Alexander was one of the most intriguing long-term prospects on the BioSteel All-Canadian roster. The late bloomer is far from polished offensively, but Gilgeous-Alexander has enough potential on that end to eventually develop into a slashing guard who can find teammates on the move.

And here are some of the most recent highlights of the new Cat:

UK now hold three commitments in the Class of 2017, including five-star center Nick Richards and five-star forward P.J. Washington.