Many fans were inching closer and closer to the panic button after a disastrous week for UK fans last week. With Zion Williamson committing to Duke and back-to-back losses for the Cats, there was a growing increase in concern about what to expect come March. Fortunately, last night, the Cats bounced back and avoided a three-game losing skid defeating Mississippi State 78-65.
This win was propelled by strong efforts from PJ Washington (22 pts/8 rebounds) and Shai-Gilgeous Alexander (16 points/6 assists). Kevin Knox also pitched in 19 points, including shooting 4-4 from the 3-point line. The game was tightly contested for a while, but the Cats used a late second half push to finish off the Bulldogs. Early on our defense was so-so, but key turnovers late helped fuel this 13 point victory. Our three-point perimeter defense shined holding Mississippi State to just 5-29 from beyond the arc.
Kentucky basketball improves to 15-5 (5-3 SEC) on the year and have finally built some confidence. This comes just in time as we head to Morgantown this Saturday to take on #7 West Virginia, who’s coming off a tough road loss to TCU. (Read Keith’s recap here.)
Is Shai Gilgeous-Alexander Going to be a One-and-Done?
Alexander has exceeded expectations this season, turning the heads of pro scouts. He’s been arguably our best contributor and his talent is no longer deniable, begging the question: Will he be a one-and-done?
My gut is telling me no. I believe that he’s coming back for a sophomore season despite his success this year. The inconsistency in recent mock drafts deter me from thinking he’s leaving after this season. Some have him as high as 11th overall, and some in which he’s not even in the first round. I wouldn’t be surprised if he went and worked out and got evaluated, though.
Add the fact that we should get a good number of these guys back, and the recruits coming in (maybe more coming) are exciting. Alexander should want to come back for another year running the backcourt, and contend for a national title. Next year, I see SGA’s stock rising to a potential top-15 prospect across all draft boards. His ability of using his length to his advantage on both ends of the floor will make him an exciting prospect in the coming years.
UK Basketball Recruiting
- EJ Montgomery update: After missing out on Zion Williamson, Coach Cal has set his sights on the 6th overall ranked (on 24/7 Sports) E.J. Montgomery. Montgomery is 6-10 power forward who has shown to have back-to-the-basket potential on the offensive end. On the other end, he shows promise as a potential rim protector for the Cats. With the class thinning out, look for the Cats to make a move on this up-and-coming prospect.
UK Football News
- Coach Stoops and company are set to hire former Arkansas WR coach Michael Smith to replace Lamar Thomas. Read more on the newest addition to the coaching staff here.
- Kentucky released their early enrollees for the 2018 class: QB Terry Wilson, P Max Duffy, DB Stanley Garner, LB DeAndre Square, and DB Domonique Williams.
Cats in the NBA
- The NBA All-Star reserves were announced, marking a total of four Wildcats in this year’s game. Demarcus Cousins (fourth appearance) and Anthony Davis (fifth appearance) were both named All-Star starters for the Western Conference. Karl-Anthony Towns received his first (of many) nomination this season as a reserve, teaming up with Davis and Cousins on the West. John Wall makes his fifth appearance for the East. The last time there were four All-Stars from the same university was 1983, a feat accomplished by UCLA.
- Devin Booker plans to participate in the 3-point shooting contest during this year’s All-Star Weekend. Booker has shot a career high 38.2% from beyond this arc this season, for an average of 25.0 PPG.
Also, on behalf of all of us here at B3, we want to extend our thoughts and prayers to the victims of the Marshall County High School shooting yesterday.