Six prospects in Kentucky’s recruiting class were more highly regarded than Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, but by the end of last season, he had established himself as arguably the Wildcats’ best player and top prospect. The Hamilton, Ontario, native didn’t join the starting lineup for good until early January, but it didn’t take him long to prove his worth as a scorer and playmaker while leading the youngest rotation in the country.
While Kentucky may have fallen short of its preseason expectations as a championship contender, Gilgeous-Alexander leaves Lexington as the latest member of head coach John Calipari’s long line of distinguished point guards.
The Crossover’s Front Office breaks down Gilgeous-Alexander’s strengths, weaknesses, NBA comparison and more in its in-depth scouting report.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, PG, Kentucky | Freshman
Height: 6’6’’ | Weight: 180 | DOB: 7/12/98 (19)
Stats: 14.4 PPG, 5.1 APG, 40.4 3FG%
• Favorable physical tools for a perimeter player. Measured with a 7-foot wingspan. Has great hands and feet.
• Makes good use of length and agility on defense. Hounds ball handlers at the point of attack. Does a good job swiping at the ball and getting into passing lanes.
• Savvy ball handler who uses stop-start dribbles and hesitation moves to wrong-foot defenders.
• Shows good craft around the rim. Able to navigate shot-blockers in the paint and finish.
• Has potential to develop into a long-range threat. Converted at a 40.4% clip from three on a limited number of attempts at Kentucky but also shot well from the free throw line (82.2%).
• Lacks playmaking polish. Sometimes looks like he’s attacking set defenses without a plan. Can get stuck in no man’s land and end up picking up his dribble.
• Tends to get loose with the ball. Turned it over on about 20% of his possessions last season.
• Not clear that he will be an above-average long-range shooter at the next level. Only attempted 1.5 threes per game.
• Needs to add mass to his lean frame in order to hold up against bigger athletes. Won’t have as much value switching on defense if he doesn’t get stronger.
Shai Gilgeous Alexander could be Kentucky’s next NBA star (January 2018)
Player comparison: Dejounte Murray
It’s easy to envision Gilgeous-Alexander developing into one of the better backcourt defenders in the league, but his future at the other end of the floor is hazy.