By now, you’re aware of just how young next season’s team will be, which makes the few returning players even more important. Wenyen Gabriel is Kentucky’s leading returning scorer, with 4.6 points and 4.8 rebounds in 17.8 minutes per game, but on today’s show, outgoing senior Derek Willis said he believes another big man will turn some heads next season: Sacha Killeya-Jones.
“I think the kid with most potential on the team didn’t play hardly at all this year, Sacha,” Derek said. “Without a doubt. He has all the skill, all the potential’s there. You have to work with that stuff. He’s been in the gym, doing his thing but it’s hard for someone that young.”
Sacha barely saw the court this season, which was surprising given all the preseason hype. Anyone who watched the team play before the season began would tell you that Sacha was the most exciting player on the court, but that performance didn’t carry over to games. After four years at Kentucky, Derek knows better than anyone how tough it can be to stay motivated when you don’t get a lot of playing time.
“It was hard for me to come in and see the end goal,” Derek said. “Once I started getting on the court and feeling like I was really contributing, then that was when I was like, okay, I’m going to work a little harder and a little harder and that’s when I started staying in the gym more.”
With an offseason to build confidence, Derek thinks the sky’s the limit for Sacha.
“Without a doubt, that will help anyone,” Derek said of more time in the gym. “He’s super athletic, he has a lot of bounce to him. His jump shot right inside the three-point line looks good. It’s all there, he just has to put it together for himself.”
Listen to Derek talk about Sacha around the 38-minute mark.