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Shai Alexander starts at PG over Quade Green in UK Basketball opener

Shai Alexander continues to be the surprise of the 2017 class.

Jeremy Chisenhall

We have our first surprise of the Kentucky Wildcats’ 2017-18 season.

In UK’s season opener vs Utah Valley, freshman Shai Gilgeous Alexander drew the start at point guard, along with PJ Washington, Hamidou Diallo, Kevin Knox and Nick Richards.

That is the spot that Quade Green has been projected to have ever since he committed to UK in November of 2016. But while Green has looked great in the exhibition slate, so too did Shai, who has been the biggest surprise of the 2017 class for UK.

The 6-5 Canadian has drawn consistent praise throughout the offseason, preseason, and in three exhibition games, so much that it’s no real surprise to see him not starting.

Shai has certainly looked like one of the 5-6 best players on this team, so it won’t be surprising to see him starting a lot of games this season, whether it’s at the point, shooting guard or even on the wing.

But even when Alexander did make a start at point guard in the preseason, Green was still expected to have the job for at least the early portion of this season, but Alexander appears to be winning the battle thus far.

“They go after it in practice,” freshman Kevin Knox said of the point guard battle on Friday. “Both of them are really competitive. They know they’re fighting for that starting spot. They both bring so much to the table. Quade’s passing, his vision, his three-point shooting, his IQ.

“Then you’ve got Shai’s defense. He gets in the lane and passing, there’s just so much both of them bring. When they’re both on the court at the same time they can bring a lot of trouble to guards.”

For Green, he’ll still get starter’s minutes throughout the season. He is also too good to keep off the floor, even as a true freshman.