clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Kentucky Basketball: Highlights and what we learned from win over Centre

Reviewing the Cats’ final exhibition game, plus some highlights!

NCAA Basketball: Preseason-Morehead State at Kentucky Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

The Kentucky Wildcats finished their exhibition play with a not-so-surprising 3-0 record and 36-point average margin of victory. While many Wildcats impressed, some were slightly unimpressive. Especially being against Thomas More, Morehead State & Centre; teams who likely will not be near as competitive with Kentucky as future opponents. Here are some takeaways about what we know post-exhibition play.

Who Calipari Can Count On

Kevin Knox

What more is there to say? Knox stands 6'9, 215 pounds and is quick enough to guard 2's & 3's but also big enough to hang with 4's & 5's. He's a matchup nightmare on both ends of the court and will undoubtedly be Calipari's go-to guy as the season evolves. Knox had a strong scoring showing the first game, erupting for 27 points. In the third game, while he just scored 15 points on a quiet night, he also pulled down 11 rebounds and shot 70% from the field. There aren't any weaknesses in his game and he'll only get better during his time at Kentucky.

Quade Green

This kid is exceptional. Green has been the floor general for Kentucky, dishing out 17 assists to just four turnovers during exhibition play. He also scored 9, 20 & 18 points on an efficient 16-23 shooting in those three games. He shot 7-11 from deep and will provide a consistent threat from behind the arc, something Kentucky will desire down the stretch. He's just 6'0 but has the command of the entire offense. As Kentucky fans continue to watch his game grow, they'll have a Tyler Ulis-like love for the young point guard.

Wenyen Gabriel

The team's one tried & trued veteran from a season ago will be one of Cal's most important players down the stretch. With endless hours spent in the gym and weight room this past summer, Gabriel has become much more efficient inside & out. With his best night coming in the third game (20 points on 8-11 shooting & nine rebounds), he showed BBN he came back to school to get better and lead this team.

Who Is Coming Along

PJ Washington

Washington has been one my more favorite players this preseason. However, I believe there are still a few things he can improve on, which should terrify future Kentucky opponents. At 6'7 Washington plays like a 6'11 center inside but can handle the ball like a 6'2 point guard. His toughness is unmatched on this Kentucky team and his motor at both ends of the court clearly drives this team. But his jumpshot will have to improve if Kentucky wants to play more versatile lineups down the stretch. Though he didn't record a turnover in Kentucky's third game, he had seven in their first two. Towards the end of the season, though, Kentucky will be able to count on him as their small-ball big.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

This kid's wingspan is as long as the London Bridge. His 6'6 frame & 7'0 wingspan is an opponent's nightmare at the defensive end of the court. While he's shown decent promise in running the offense & pushing the tempo, I'd like to see more consistency in his offense as the season progresses. However, out of the gate, Calipari can count on him as one of his best defenders.

Hamidou Diallo

Diallo's motor, like Washington, goes 100 MPH at both ends. His jumpshot has improved but could still use some work. His athleticism is nothing to be questioned as well as his work ethic. His five turnovers in the third game are a slight concern but nothing Calipari's coaching can't fix. Look for his shot & ball handling skills to improve as the season goes on and he propels into the lottery pick discussion.

Who Needs Some Time

Nick Richards

I'm probably least-impressed with Richards as we head into the regular season. He's had two very nice games and one game where it felt as if he was still in the locker room. However, the two nice games are misleading. If you watch the film, it's like he's out of it half of the time. His offensive & defensive awareness seems to be a few seconds late & his agility at both ends needs work. He has shown soft touch around the rim and at the FT line, though, which will be something Cal can exercise down the stretch if Richards can get his awareness on track.

Sacha-Killeya Jones

Killeya-Jones had a more than quiet freshman year. This preseason he's been slightly above average but has had the opportunity to truly shine in Rupp Arena. He's put up just 13 points & 22 rebounds in three games. Like Richards, his offensive & defensive awareness isn't quite game-ready. Don't expect much of Killeya-Jones to start the season and he might become more scarce once Jarred Vanderbilt returns.

Kentucky tips off their regular season next Friday, November 10th, at Rupp Arena against Utah Valley University. Tip-off is set for 7 P.M. EDT. For more updates on the Wildcats, check back at and on Twitter with @ASeaOfBlue & @MonJorgan.