With Quade Green leaving town, everyone is curious as to what will happen with the backcourt rotation for the Kentucky Wildcats moving forward.
Somehow, even though Green has sparingly filled the point guard role, the questions have shifted to whether or not Ashton Hagans and Immanuel Quickley can do what it takes to have this team ready come tournament time.
This past week, 247 Sports’ Evan Daniels offered up his take on Kentucky’s point guard situation. Daniels had promising things to say about each freshman ball-handler.
“I think with Hagans, he really brings defense and toughness,” said Daniels. “He’s shown that he can be a very good on-ball defender, particularly against UNC Greensboro. He’s good in transition, can get to the rim and he’s a good finisher. The biggest weakness is just his lack of shooting ability.”
Hagans is shooting just 38.2% from the floor and has made only one of seven attempts from behind the three-point line. While the Wildcats should not need him to be a sharpshooter, he does need to finish better inside the arc to be a credible threat on the offensive end.
The problem is that the rest of roster is shooting poorly as well. The only guard shooting over 40% from behind the three-point line was Quade Green (42%), and he is gone. Tyler Herro was expected to be a guy that could hit shots consistently, but he is shooting an abysmal 28% from deep. Quickley is not much better at 33%.
“He’s got good size and length and quickness, and he’s also a pretty solid on-ball defender,” Daniels said of Quickley. “He’s pretty dangerous in transition as well. In terms of his biggest concern, though he improved quite a bit as a shooter in high school, to date he hasn’t shot it that well this season.”
Daniels believes that if the other guys on the roster would start hitting shots as they are capable of doing, this back court would be just fine.
Evan also commented this week on all of the recent criticisms of John Calipari’s recruiting. In his regular #AskEvan Q&A on Twitter, he got several questions about whether or not Coach Cal has lost his touch.
What is wrong with Cal?— austin spears (@austinspears1) December 11, 2018
In Daniels’ opinion, most of the negative perception is coming from Kentucky’s loss to the Duke Blue Devils instead of recruiting.
“So here goes … I think some of this is overreaction,” Daniels said. “Here’s why: The expectations for this year’s Kentucky team were high. They were to be a title contender and a dominant one at that. While Kentucky sits at 7-2, they certainly haven’t been dominant. But it’s early.
“To throw fuel on the fire, the team Kentucky fans hate the most (outside of Louisville) right now is Duke. Duke blasted Kentucky the first game of the season and is the current media darling, and rightfully so. Then throw in the fact that Kentucky lost out on James Wiseman and the natives are restless.”
However, he is quick to point out that the 2019 class already has two top 10 players in Khalil Whitney and Tyrese Maxey in addition to a Kentucky native that is still on the rise in Dontaie Allen. Has Kentucky’s recruiting really fallen off the point where it is not good enough to win? “I’m not entertaining that,” Evans wrote.
Daniels noted that Kentucky currently has seven McDonald’s All-Americans on the roster, and it would be eight if Ashton Hagans had not reclassified. The next highest total on any team in the country is five (Duke).
“So I’m not listening to any arguments that Kentucky isn’t recruiting well enough,”Daniels said. “Have they been getting top 5 players? No. But they’ve been getting really good players and their roster would rank three to five talent-wise in the country.”
While he is 100% correct in his assessments, I fear Big Blue Nation will be having none of that positivity until a top 5 recruit is landed or banner No. 9 is hanging in Rupp Arena.