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Leadership, mental toughness are Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s biggest takeaways from Kentucky

Shai has what it takes to be successful at the next level.

Buffalo v Kentucky Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was highlighted on the most recent episode of Evan Daniels’ podcast, “The Sidelines W/Evan Daniels.” Daniels interviewed a scout from his 247Sports team about SGA and his potential moving into the NBA, but he was also able to speak to Shai about his time at Kentucky, the NBA Draft process, and what basketball means to him.

According to 247Sports’ recruitment site, SGA was a top 40, four-star recruit. Many of those players do not end up leaving college for the NBA after a year, and very few of them that do end up in the lottery.

SGA appears to be an exception to that rule, as he is projected to be selected in the 11-14 range of the NBA Draft on June 21st. How did playing at Kentucky for John Calipari help him exceed expectations in college and prepare him for an NBA career?

“What he really does is teaches you to be a pro,” Gilgeous-Alexander said on the podcast. “To work for coach Cal and be successful you have to be mentally tough. I think he does a great job of that, preparing you for the next level.”

When asked about his successful freshman campaign in Lexington, SGA cites hard work and not taking his situation for granted as the key to his development at Kentucky.

“During Christmas break, I went home and watched a lot of film,” SGA said. “I tried to take advantage of the situation I had for the rest of the season.”

Leadership is another element of Shai’s game that shined at Kentucky.

“I felt that I needed to step up as a leader,” he said. “I felt like that is what we were lacking the first half of the year and earlier on we didn’t have that definitive leader.”

SGA led the Wildcats to an SEC Tournament championship, which he noted as his favorite moment of the season. He also led the team in assists, steals, free throw percentage, and 3-point percentage in addition to being second in scoring and minutes.

Gilgeous-Alexander may not have been the most talented team on Kentucky’s roster last season, but he was easily the most important. His ability to defend, get shots in the paint, and stay mentally tough in big moments will definitely translate to the next level.

Check out Shai’s interview with Evan Daniels below, and you’ll be reminded of how much you are going to miss having him in a Kentucky uniform next season.