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Gilgeous-Alexander and De’Aaron Fox together?

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (UK Athletics Photo)
The University of Kentucky men’s basketball team beat Tennessee 77-72 to claim the 2018 SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament championship at Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Mo., on Sunday, March 11, 2018.
Photo by Chet White | UK Athletics

By LARRY VAUGHT

Remember when you first heard that Kentucky freshman Shai Gilgeous-Alexander might be playing himself into the first round of the NBA Draft?

At first, it didn’t seem likely. Then Gilgeous-Alexander just kept playing better and better.

Now not only is he being projected as a first-round pick, but CBSSports.com’s Reid Forgrave has him going SEVENTH!

Here’s why:

“If the versatile Gilgeous-Alexander sticks around for a sophomore season and progresses at the rate that he can progress, he can be a top-three pick in 2019. I can’t imagine he’ll stick around, especially since he’s been the key for Kentucky’s remarkable turnaround over the past month and since his draft stock has rocketed upward,” Forgrave wrote.

“Over the past nine games, the Canadian has averaged 19.4 points, 6.9 assists, 5.3 rebounds and 1.6 steals, and has shot 55 percent from 3-point range. More importantly, he’s asserted himself as Kentucky’s go-to guy, which is something this team was missing earlier this season.

“He’s long and lean, with good-enough shooting and smart point-guard instincts. There’s tons of upside here. There’s a bit of risk, mostly with whether his thin body can sustain the physicality of the NBA.

“But I love the idea of pairing him with De’Aaron Fox for a dynamic Kings’ backcourt.”

I have a feeling UK fans would like that, too.

7 comments

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  1. SGA is not ready for the NBA, nobody on this team is. I hope he stays, bulks up a little over the Summer, and works on his 3 point shot. He also needs to pay more attention to what the defense is giving and not giving him. He tried to force plays that just were not there against KState. Another year at UK would help him become more NBA ready now that he knows what to expect.

  2. Larry you are right. The problem is it’s all too easy for all parties involved to agree it’s all about “what a player might be able(upside smh) to do in the future vs what can he do” 🙁

  3. SGA would make a mistake coming back to UK next year. His stock will never be higher. He has great instincts and a great knowledge of how the game is played. But he lacks speed. He changes speed very effectively which reminds me of what Rondo became. But Rondo has a lot more speed. And that just isn’t likely to improve a lot for Shai. Some kids are still maturing and will get faster at his age but I certainly would never count on that. His stock is high now and he will be drafted high. If he comes back that may not be the case. For one thing UK has some great guards coming in next season. Quickley is going to get a lot of playing time at the point. We could be looking at an overloaded back court which has hurt UK recruiting in the past. When guys like Booker can’t even start it makes recruits take notice. That team was overloaded at every position and as fun as it was I think it has hurt recruiting ever since. Shai should take the money and run. I can’t see how he could become better than he is right now. He’s a really good college player and his time is now to become a pro.

  4. I have three points. First, I think SGA should return to UK, shucks, all 5 freshmen should return as far as that goes. He can still improve as a player, get stronger, and work on his shooting. His time for NBA consideration will only get better with more college experience IMO. He will have valuable game experience at the college level than the incoming UK freshmen phenoms, a leg up if you will, having been in Calipari’s system for a year. While SGA did improve tremendously as the 2017-18 year progressed, I don’t think he is ready for the NBA yet. Second, I say put UK first for a change Calipari. Give the kid advice along the lines of returning to Kentucky in order to improve his game. Third, the One and Done scene is starting to hurt UK in many ways. For one, Calipari is losing some major recruiting wars more now. Many fans like myself are getting tired of a brand new team every year loaded with talent, but no experience. This is starting to take a toll on UK. It was very evident this year for sure. How about building a team of experienced players who have the goal of playing at UK a priority, with hopes of the NBA after 2, 3 or 4 years in Lexington. That said, I don’t look for this to happen due to Calipari’s continual emphasis on putting as many as he can in the NBA, ready or not. I will admit the money talks if offered. The NBA’s ability to lure college players away with big time offers early is hard to resist for these young men. I say staying in Lexington for a few more years, working on their craft, does not in any way diminish their goal of playing in the NBA. In many ways it would enhance it.

    1. With respect that’s the system Smith tried to employ at UK. It didn’t work that well. I believe UK does have quite a bit of returning talent this coming season and a lot of that is due to not having the top recruits come to Lexington. I actually admire Cal for putting the kids first. We wouldn’t think it was one bit strange for a professor to concentrate on getting a science student prepared for a job or any other type of student. That should be what college is about. Too often it isn’t and I cringe when I see certain coaches try to talk kids into staying in school when they are ready to go pro. Injuries happen and IMO most of the coaches who try to talk players into staying are doing it to further their own careers. For those players who are looking to get a college education by playing basketball then yeah they should certainly stay. But if you’re good enough to be drafted in the lottery, as SGA is, you’re a fool not to do it. You will receive life changing money as soon as you sign on the dotted line.

      I’m a dyed in the wool UK fan. I couldn’t tell you the last time I watched a pro game all the way through. But I still want to see UK players do well for themselves. And risking a career ending injury by coming back to school is just a bad choice IMO if you are a projected lottery pick. I would probably agree if a player was only expected to be drafted in the second round. Those players spend a lot of time in the G league making a meager living. But lottery picks get paid well from the start.

      The Cats will have a considerable amount of talent returning next year. SKJ improved a lot late in the year but he won’t be going pro. He could be the next WCS for UK. Gabriel will likely return as a very experienced junior. And if Knox actually does return then UK could be loaded again.

      I’d love to see SGA back again. But I think he likely won’t improve enough to get a better draft position. He possibly could drop in the next draft. He has an almost sure thing now. He plays so intelligent that I don’t know that he could improve all that much in college. I actually think Knox could improve a great deal. He has the physical skills but lacks the intelligent play of SGA. He got much better late in the season but he continued to make certain mistakes until the end. SGA played very intelligent and that’s the main thing a kid will get from college by staying longer. SGA is already there IMO. He reminds me a lot of Rondo with better shooting skills but less speed. It’s the way he changes speed that makes him a great player. I don’t know that he can learn to improve on what he’s already done. So I don’t think coming back is a good idea for him even though I’d love to see him back. It just wouldn’t be right for him IMO.

      1. Yes, SGA would be taking a gamble injury wise by coming back, but to say he wouldn’t get any better by doing so is a stretch IMO. I know he would get stronger physically. More experience at the college level, more weight, strength, and better shooting skills, etc. would only help him in a future NBA career as I see it. There is always going to be an NBA draft every year. These guys take a gamble by not going pro after AAU, or a stellar high school career anyway. The money could still be there if his skills are the same or improve dramatically. I still could not blame him for leaving early though if he indeed is a first round draft pick this year. That said, and strictly as a fan speaking, I for one hate the OAD era. Calipari better keep signing No. 1 recruiting classes. An easier route to take is to try and keep a few talented players around every year, and draft top talent too. Calipari is getting beat for top players now by other power house programs.

  5. Correct me if I’m wrong, I heard the Big East conference has put a rule in. if you sign up for any big East school you have to stay 2 years before you can turn pro. I heard about on ESPN, If that’s the case I hope SEC will follow suit.

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