No player has garnered more positive buzz in the preseason than Shai Alexander. The 6-6 combo guard was recruited to play the two at Kentucky alongside Quade Green, but he’s been so good in practice as of late that’s he’s making a case to start at point.
“Oh yeah,” Cal said. “He could start [at point guard].Â Quade’s doing fine, too, but they’re competing for [the starting job]. I would say, they’re both going to play.”
Part of the reason Shai stands out is his seven-foot wingspan, second only to Hamidou Diallo among guards in the Calipari era.Â Calipari says that wingspan is a game-changer on defense.
“With his wingspan and all that stuff, he’s really disruptive. Really disruptive.”
Wenyen Gabriel agrees.
“Iâ€™ve said it before. Shai, I really thought he surprised me over the summer and he just kept it rolling ever since. Heâ€™s really into this. His focus is right. Heâ€™s got the length, all you need. Cal tells him every practice, ‘You have a 7-foot wingspan.’Â Heâ€™s a talented player and he can shoot the ball. Heâ€™s learning the game like the rest of us. Weâ€™re still putting the pieces together but I think Shaiâ€™s going to be a really good player. Whether he starts or not, heâ€™s going to have a big role on this team.”
Like Calipari, Gabriel said Shai’s wingspan can be a catalyst for the Cats on defense.
“Itâ€™s an advantage, definitely, for the rest of us. Heâ€™s bothering the point guard, which makes it really hard for the other team to get into it. Our defense really starts with the point guard in that aspect. We all feed off of that.”
Hamidou Diallo agreed that Alexander’s competitiveness has stood out in practice.
“Shai can definitely play point guard,” Diallo said. “He’s a great player. He can play multiple positions, one or two. He’s been bringing it everyday. He’s very competitive. He and Quade have been battling it out everyday. Two great point guards going after each other. Both of them, I feel like, want to see each other play and they’re fighting for minutes.”
Solution: Quade plays point on offense, Shai guards point on defense.
For fun, check out a chart of the wingspans of the guards of the Calipari Era below:
|Player||Height (with shoes)||Wingspan|