Coming into the 2018-2019 basketball season, there weren’t any bonafide superstars on head coach John Calipari’s roster.
After a few games, there were certainly a few candidates in regards to the team’s leader but no sure-star that most national championship contending teams usually have. However, as Kentucky completed their 10th game of the season on Saturday, they may have found their superstar.
Rewinding back to their ninth game of the season, which was a loss to the Seton Hall Pirates in the Citi Hoops Classic, Keldon Johnson hit what would’ve been the shot of the year for Kentucky. The freshman nailed a half-court, buzzer-beating three to send a hard-fought game to overtime. Though the Wildcats suffered a late loss to the Pirates, Johnson’s late-game heroics didn’t go unnoticed.
A week later, the Wildcats returned home to host the Utah Utes in search of a much-needed win. Fans quickly saw that one familiar face wasn’t going to let the trend be two straight losses for the Big Blue faithful.
Johnson netted five threes in the first half, scoring 15 points. His first half outburst gave Kentucky a sizable lead early on in the game that allowed full control in the win. In the second half, he went for nine to total a game-high 24.
After the game, Johnson said he was just “shooting with confidence,” and he has his teammates’ full trust.
“My teammates just kept telling me to keep shooting, don’t think about it, and just let it go. After I hit the first shot, I knew it was going to be a good day.
“I had some great practices this week. I just felt that it was time to transition all of the hard work that I’ve made in practice.”
The team also shot well from behind the arc, making 12-21 for 57%.
“We’ve really been practicing and emphasizing just getting others involved in practice,” Johnson said.
In regards to Johnson’s own confidence, it seems as if he’s ready to take the reigns.
“I’m comfortable with the offense coming through me,” he said. “I know every night may not be my night. However, I think that I can make the right play and get my teammates involved.”
With the NCAA transcending to a wing-focused league, Johnson’s assertion is just what Kentucky needs.