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Kentucky Basketball Preview: Tyrese Maxey is exactly what UK needs

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Maxey brings the killer mindset and infectious attitude that every team needs.

UK Athletics

Tyrese Maxey

  • Class: Freshman
  • Height: 6-3
  • Weight: 198
  • Hometown: Garland, Texas
  • High School: South Garland High School
  • Recruit Rankings: No. 10 nationally, No. 2 combo guard in 2019 via 247 Sports composite rankings

Some of John Calipari’s recruits have had the perfect personality to play basketball for the Kentucky Wildcats. John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Devin Booker, Malik Monk, and even Tyler Herro. They have had the perfect combination of work ethic and swagger.

Other guys have had the perfect game to rock Kentucky blue. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Karl-Anthony Towns, Tyler Ulis, Jamal Murray, and De’Aaron Fox. We knew these guys were good coming in, but they left as some of the best to step on the court during the John Calipari era.

For the first time in a while, there is a guy on the 2019-2020 roster with the potential to crack both of these lists. Tyrese Maxey has both the game and the personality to leave his mark on Kentucky Basketball history.

Maxey was ranked as the No. 3 combo-guard in the 2019 class according to 247Sports, and he was ranked No. 10 or higher overall on almost every service. He was a McDonald’s All-American. And he won a gold medal for Team USA’s U18 team. He averaged 22.2 points, 6.3 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.7 steals as a senior and was named 2019 Mr. Basketball in Texas.

Maxey was initially recruited as a point guard early in his high school career, but would develop much more as a scorer than a distributor. Coaches then started looking at him as more of a two guard that can handle the ball whenever you need him to. He also rebounds the ball exceptionally well for a 6-3 guy.

“Really, really a kid that I watched in high school and I said he could be a triple double,” Calipari said of Maxey at media day. “Because he can rebound, he can pass it, he can score, he can steal balls, I mean there’s a lot of things he does. And there will have to be a point where he’s got to step up and do the things he’s capable of doing.”

Maxey really can do it all. After watching him play some pick-up this summer, I can honestly say that there is something different about his shot. He has a soft shot that he can hit from anywhere, and you can tell that he believes every shot is going to go through the net.

And while his assist numbers were not fantastic in high school, because he was needed to be the primary scorer, he is a point guard at heart. When you imagine Maxey driving to the basket and being able to distribute to Kahlil Whitney and Keion Brooks, kick out to Johnny Juzang and Immanuel Quickley, and throw alley-oops to EJ Montgomery and Nick Richards, you can see him really creating shots all over the court.

“He’s good,” Ashton Hagans said of Maxey. “He’s getting me better, I’m getting him better. I know we’re going to go out there and compete. I, Tyrese, (Immanuel) Quickley and Johnny (Juzang) go at it and argue every day in practice. We’re just trying to make each other better and get ready for the season.”

Maxey is also one of the most pleasant human beings you will ever meet. He always has a smile on his face, he is kind to fans, and appears to be a wonderful teammate. Watching him at a kids camp this summer, he went out of his way to make sure every kid got a picture with him. I have seen other players do this over the years, but he seemed to get real joy out of creating happiness for these young fans.

“I think it’s just a mix of my mom and my dad,” Maxey said of his happy demeanor. “It’s the way they raised me to be. If you wake up and get another chance at life, there’s no reason to be upset. So, I’m always happy. On top of that, I’m doing what I love every day, which makes it a lot better.”

Maxey’s potential is through the roof. He is expected to be the leading scorer on this talented Kentucky roster this season. He also shows up on almost every mock draft as a lottery pick.

With his engaging personality and his talent on the court, Maxey may end up being one of the most beloved players in the John Calipari era before it is all said and done. If he ends up leading the Wildcats to a national title, that is all but guaranteed.

Kentucky fans are in for a real treat with this young man, and we will all be formally introduced to him at Big Blue Madness on October 11th.