For most, 29 points, seven rebounds and three assists in 37 minutes would warrant a night off or, at the very least, a nap. But according to Coach John Calipari, SEC Tournament MVP Shai Gilgeous-Alexander left Saint Louis and immediately asked when he could get back in the weight room.
“He’s asking the strength coach, ‘Coach, what time can we lift? I want to go lift?,'” Calipari said. “‘You just got the MVP of the thing and you played almost every minute.’ ‘Well, yeah, but let’s go, let’s get something in.’ And you wonder why he’s playing well?”
For those who have been following Cal’s comments about Gilgeous-Alexander all season, this isn’t out of character at all for the freshman – for the past few months, Calipari has consistently praised his work ethic. If you wanted to, you could find dozens of examples of Calipari commending the guard not only for his game-time performance, but also his dedication in the classroom, the film room, the weight room… you get the point. After Kentucky’s conference title-clinching victory over Tennessee, Cal once again applauded the tournament MVP.
“Here’s what he is: 7:00 in the morning, he’ll go in and get shots up, then goes to class. Never late for a class, doesn’t miss. He then will come up and watch film with the coaches. He wants to know where his turnovers are, what he’s got to do better, what do they say, so we can see it. Never misses a tutor. In the weight room, he’s the best in the weight room. On the court, when we practice, he brings it every day.”
And although Gilgeous-Alexander is also a freshman, Calipari recognizes he’s the role model this team needs – and he isn’t afraid to use Shai’s level of constant effort as the standard.
“If you want what he’s getting, then you’ve got to invest what he’s investing,” Calipari said. “If you invest a lot, you’re going to get a lot.”
And I think we can all agree, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander deserves a lot.