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Kentucky fans shouldn’t forget about Keldon Johnson

ESPN’s #6 player in the nation is coming to Lexington ready to compete for a starting position in 2018-2019.

Basketball: Spalding Hoophall Classic Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

There seems to be a buzz amongst Kentucky fans for the arrival of 2018 signees Tyler Herro and Immanuel Quickley, as well as the new 2019 addition in D.J. Jeffries, but what about Keldon Johnson?

To me, it always feels like he is the forgotten recruit of this class. But with his size and skill set, I cannot imagine a scenario where Johnson is not playing meaningful minutes next season.

I expect him to start for the Cats as a freshman. That remains the case no matter who chooses to return to Lexington from the current 2017-2018 roster. The kid is that good.

ESPN has Johnson ranked as the 6th-overall best player in the nation and the 2nd-best shooting guard behind New Albany’s Romeo Langford. Johnson was selected as a McDonald’s All-American and will play for the west squad in the historic game on March 28th in Atlanta, Georgia.

The various festivities at the all star game should allow the Big Blue Nation a good look at exactly what type of player Keldon is going to be. I will be eager to hear the reports from the practices on how Johnson handles himself against some of the other best players in the country.

The actual McDonald’s game can become more of a show than it is a competitive basketball game. So typically, the practice reports really help build an accurate perception of a player’s true abilities.

Immanuel Quickley was also selected as a McDonald’s All American but will play for the East team, opposite of Keldon.

Johnson and his 6’6, 200-pound frame are built for high level basketball. Scouts describe him as an ultra competitive athlete that can finish through contact. He has led his high school team to a 35-3 record and a near triple double in his last game on March 2nd.

Playing at a national powerhouse like Oak Hill Academy should prepare Johnson well for the bright lights at Kentucky. The Oak Hill Warriors, coached by Steve Smith, play an impressive national schedule that forces young players to grow up fast.

Notable Oak Hill players who signed with Kentucky are Rajon Rondo and Doron Lamb. The school represents the gold standard of high school basketball.

Let’s assume that Shai Gilgeous-Alexander leaves for the NBA and all of the other guards return for another season at Kentucky. Where would Keldon Johnson fit in?

Kentucky fans are still feeling the pain of Hamidou Diallo’s inconsistent play. That is probably putting it nicer than many others would. The bottom line is that the Cats struggled this season, in large part, because Hami did not produce at the level he was expected to in the shooting guard role.

This created a ripple effect that caused the other players to over compensate and force the issue on offense. I believe the shooting guard position will be up for grabs in the fall and Keldon Johnson will capitalize on the opportunity. His body is ready for college right now and he has a reputation to score the basketball efficiently.

It gets me excited thinking about a Kentucky team with depth at the guard position like the 2018-2019 Cats could have. It is reasonable to anticipate Quade Green, Hamidou Diallo, Tyler Herro, Immanuel Quickley, and Keldon Johnson all sharing minutes next season. All 5 of those guards each change the game in different ways. What an incredible variety of weapons that John Calipari could have at his disposal.

We still have business left for this year. But it is hard not to get pumped up for how good Kentucky can be a year from now.

What player are you most eager to see in blue and white next year?