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Devin Askew may not be the most explosive guard the Cats have (or have had), but he’s going to be one of the smoothest

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Devin Askew comes to Lexington from a premier powerhouse in Mater Dei and of course with any Kentucky guard, the expectations will be high. It’s warranted because he’s got .

HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL: AUGUST 10 Nike Academy Showcase Game
Devin Askew may not have his name in lights like BJ Boston and Terrence Clarke have coming to Lexington this season, but make no mistake about it, he’ll be a valuable piece for the Cats if and when there’s a season to be played.
Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Devin Askew

  • Class: Freshman
  • Height: 6-3
  • Weight: 195
  • Hometown: Santa Ana, California
  • High School: Mater Dei High School (CA)
  • Recruit Rankings: No. 32 nationally, No. 7 point guard in 2020 via 247 Sports composite rankings

When you have two stallions in BJ Boston and Terrence Clarke as your featured stars of the rotation in a season that still has more questions than answers unfortunately, there needs to be a third piece to help them set the tempo (or table in fun hoop speak).

Enter freshman guard Devin Askew from Mater Dei, one of the historic high school programs located in California that has produced a good amount of college and pro prospects over the decades, including former Kentucky target and current NBA player Stanley Johnson.

Boston and Clarke have garnered much of the recognition for Kentucky’s potential in this upcoming season, assuming there’s actually a campaign to be played in a few months. However, Askew’s commitment to Kentucky was a rather important one, as the Cats now have two floor generals to make life easier for their explosive wing duo that will get plenty of buckets.

Over the next few weeks as the season draws closer, we’ll be taking a dive into what Kentucky’s probable rotation will look like for the 2020-21 season, breaking it down player by player, starting with a player that I personally think can become one of the most reliable and overall heady players in the SEC and possibly the entire country at the point guard position.

Devin Askew (during his junior season at Mater Dei)

33 games played, 25-8 overall record (9-1 in conference play), 16.7 points, 4.9 rebounds, 6.3 assists and 1.8 steals per game with a 1.95 assist-turnover ratio. (Ashton Hagans had a 1.85 assist-turnover ratio last season.)

He’s not John Wall or Derrick Rose in terms of speed and raw, freakish athleticism, but Askew’s frame is basically NBA-ready already

Askew’s listed height and weight is 6-foot-3, 195 pounds, which, to put that in perspective for you, John Wall was listed at 6-foot-4 and 184 pounds before he arrived in Lexington. Derrick Rose was listed at 6-foot-3 and 190 pounds during his one season at Memphis with Calipari.

When you watch him play, it’s clear to see how good of a body Askew already has. He’s got a great frame that’s ready for the college level and the way he plays the game is absolutely suited for him to have success for the Cats this season.

What makes Devin Askew fun?

Well, see, that’s the thing.

Askew’s not a guy that’s gunning for 30 being a ball-dominant guard (although he can do that if his team needs him to) and truthfully, that’s what makes him a joy to watch. He’s not an overly explosive, quick-twitch player, but he plays under control and loves to get others involved while still playing within the game to get his. That’s exactly the kind of player Kentucky needs, along with Davion Mintz transferring in to help solidify that floor general role for this year’s Cats.

One of my favorite traits about Askew is how under control he plays in pick-and-roll/pop actions. He’s always trying to find a big on a roll and is good at doing it.

I wanted to slow this GIF down just a bit so you can really see how good (and smart) of a player Askew grew to be over his three seasons at the high school level.

Askew “takes” the screen initially bringing the ball down the floor, goes between the legs to set up his defender and use his lateral movement against him to use his patented right-to-left crossover and drive towards the basket. He does a great job of selling the shot and delivers a semi-no look find to his big that was sitting low on the weak side for an easy score.

The Cats find themselves in ruts sometimes because the ball slows down and doesn’t move quick enough within the offensive set. Askew’s passing abilities can help negate that.

When Askew did play off the ball within half-court sets for Mater Dei, he would run a lot around the floor and more often than not, he would find himself free off pindown screens, like you see here. For a lot of star prospects at this level, it leads to shot attempts, including Askew at times. In this play, it’s a quick show-and-go screen and Askew takes a quick dribble and fires a great pass for another easy bucket.

To use recent examples, there’s some Ashton Hagans and Immanuel Quickley to Askew’s game. This definitely feels like a Hagans-type of play in driving to the rack and getting airbourne to deliver a tough, but good wraparound pass for a score.

Mater Dei was tough to stop at times because of their seemingly endless length up front and with Askew’s penetration being a problem if he got deep into the lane, it brought some easy buckets for the bigs. (Also, when you’re able to drag a 6-foot-11 sophomore away from the lane because you have floor-spacers at the 4 and 5, well, that’s just an added bonus.)

I loved this play from Askew for a couple reasons: 1) he draws in the big with the hesitation dribble and then the blowby to force a rotation down and 2) when he gets to the rotation on the right block, he elevates and finds his rolling center for two.

Another added reason I liked this play is because when you watch Askew play, he’s not going to make things hard on himself by taking tough shots. He’s gonna look for the best shot, which is a true common trend in MD’s attack. They didn’t play at warpspeed like Sierra Canyon (Boston’s school). They basically forced teams to play at their pace with sound movement offensively and defensively.

Even when Askew’s teammates aren’t ready for this passes, you come away knowing he made the right play. It’s easy to see why Calipari and his staff liked him on the recruiting trail.

This should’ve been a bucket, but Askew’s pass wasn’t caught and it should’ve been.

I mean, even Patrick Mahomes doesn’t complete every pass, even though it feels like he does. That’s what it like when Askew finds a rhythm on the floor and it’s not just necessarily shooting the basketball.

Turning defense into offense is going to make John Calipari and his staff very happy.

I just threw this one in here because, like, look at this play. It’s lovely. Kentucky’s one of the best teams in the country every year turning defense into offense. Askew’s going to fit right in.

Oh, and yeah, he’s not a bad athlete at all.

Potential outlook for Askew and his role in Kentucky’s plans

Askew will probably be the (freshman version of) Tyler Ulis of this year’s bunch and what I mean by that is, he’ll be the game controller off the bench as the backup point guard that could see starter minutes. He’s got a solid shooting stroke that reminds me a bit of Immanuel Quickley, especially if he sees a couple shots go through the rim.

(Don’t tell him he’s overrated either because then he’ll just cash home a 3 to silence the entire gym if he has to. You shouldn’t have said anything, Westlake.)

As soon as Askew brought the ball up the floor on this possession, Harvard-Westlake fans chanted, “Over-ra-ted!” This is how that possession ended.

But, his importance will be seen in keeping the Kentucky Wildcats’ offense under control while Mintz sits, at least early on while the bunch works out the kinks in the early portion of what’s likely going to be a strange season for everybody in terms of COVID-19 protocols. Mintz brings valuable experience from a good Creighton program, but just like Mintz, he can play off the ball if Calipari wishes to put the ball in Boston and Clarke’s hands more to sink defenses into their drives and movements on the perimeter.

If you watch Askew’s games in the CIF, one of the common phrases on Askew is how under control he is. He never appears to be in a hurry. Everything he does feels like he does it at the pace he dictates, which, sounds like Ulis, huh?

He’s a smart player, a “winner” as Paul Westphal liked to call him during Mater Dei broadcasts this past season and doesn’t need to score 30 to see how good he is. Kentucky can absolutely use his contributions and he should provide quite a few throughout a potential season.