Quade Green and Hamidou Diallo have been the guards grabbing headlines for the Kentucky Wildcats.
But don’t sleep on Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. The 6-6 Canadian combo guard was originally committed to play for Mike White and the Florida Gators but he reopened his recruiting and soon after committed to John Calipari and the ‘Cats.
Gilgeous-Alexander made an impression during the High School All Star season by playing 21 minutes in the Nike Hoops Summit and scoring eleven points. He followed that up by dominating the Derby Festival Classic in Louisville by scoring 29 points and winning the three point shot competition. He was by far the best player at the event.
In his Meet the Wildcats profile over at Coachcal.com, Shai comes across as a player that is extremely driven to improve every aspect of his game, including his outside shot which was considered a weakness:
That’s probably what a lot of people think is one of my weaknesses in my game [his shot], but I’ve put in a lot of work and I know I can shoot it so I was confident that I was going to win,” Gilgeous-Alexander said of the 3-point contest. “And then the game I was the only Kentucky guy in the game so I just wanted to let all the other guys know we’re separate. Like, it’s a different level out here. And that’s what I did.
With the departure of Isaiah Briscoe, De’Aaron Fox, Malik Monk, Dominique Hawkins, and Mychal Mulder, the Wildcats are extremely inexperienced at the guard positions. The only guard with any experience at all is Diallo and he only practiced with the team.
The work ethic of Gilgeous-Alexander is going to be important as he along with his backcourt mates strive to grasp Cal’s system and the rigors of playing in college basketball games. To help preparation, he opted to not tryout of the U19 Canada Team, which defeated Team USA in the semi-finals and won the gold medal, in order to stay in Lexington and focus on his freshman season.
Shai may end up being like Eric Bledsoe in regard to his recruit ranking compared to his talent and ability. Cal will need Shai to make an impact right away with his ability to play both guard positions. Quade Green is the presumptive starter, but I won’t be surprised of Gilgeous-Alexander pushes for that honor.