If you’ve watched the Kentucky Wildcats play their first four basketball games of the season, you’ve seen some pretty fun basketball.
You’ve seen Reed Sheppard shine in the Kentucky jersey that his father wore 25 years ago. You’ve seen the Wildcats shoot more 3-pointers and embrace a more modern style of basketball that’s paid off so far.
But you’ve also seen both DJ Wagner and Justin Edwards — Kentucky’s two best recruits — struggle to score the basketball and find a rhythm in Kentucky’s rotation.
While the sample size is less than a handful of games, should head coach John Calipari be concerned?
Following the win over Stonehill, Calipari talked about some of his star freshmen struggling to start the year and how he can help guide them to play with more confidence as the season continues to unfold.
Highly encourage you to listen to this three-minute clip. John Calipari explains the expectations are what makes Kentucky great.— Tristan Pharis (@TristanUda) November 18, 2023
"The weight of the world, it's always been here for every player... There's an expectation. I tell them, 'It's not changing, you gotta learn to deal… pic.twitter.com/EFtZ6TY49m
Wagner finished Friday night’s game with just nine points on 3/9 shooting (3/8 from 3-point range after hitting his first two attempts) and three assists with as many turnovers.
Edwards also scored just nine points, making 4/8 shot attempts. But he missed all three of his 3-point attempts and had just one assist to two turnovers. All of this on a night when Kentucky scored 101 points.
Wagner and Edwards are both averaging less than 10 points per game, which isn’t terrible. The concern (if there even is one) is more so their efficiency levels, highlighted by their combined 1/18 effort in the five-point loss to Kansas.
Coming into Friday night’s game, Wagner was shooting 31% from the floor and only 11% from the 3-point arc. Add in making just 50% of his free throws, and there’s your explanation as to why he’s not scoring as much as “expected.”
Edwards is shooting a bit better percentage from the floor at 40%. The same goes for the free throw line at 83%, but his 3-point percentage is also way too low at 18%. Considering they rank third and fourth in minutes played, Kentucky really needs both players to make significant improvements at the offensive end of the court.