Shai Gilgeous-Alexander came to Kentucky as a four-star prospect, the second-lowest ranked player in the 2017 recruiting class. He leaves UK as a projected lottery pick, thanks to one spectacular season in Blue and White.
SGA flew under the radar at the start of the season, until his breakout performance against Louisville. The Cards could not contain Shai. He made 9-of-16 field goals to finish with 24 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals in a 29-point victory at Rupp Arena.
Following his phenomenal performance against Louisville, Quade Green’s three-game absence forced Gilgeous-Alexander to take his play to another level. The Texas A&M and Vanderbilt games went down to the wire. When others fell to the wayside, he was Kentucky’s most consistent contributor. Shai combined for 38 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists to help the Cats slip by with a pair of valuable SEC wins.
Shai saved the best for last. His postseason numbers were incredible, averaging 20.7 points, 6.4 assists and 5.6 rebounds per game.
Gilgeous-Alexander was named Most Valuable Player of the SEC Tournament after a 29-point performance against Tennessee. He flirted with a triple-double in the first round of the NCAA Tournament and only missed two shots in the second round to score 27 points against Buffalo.
Shai’s freshman season may not be revered as one of the greatest, but his stats stack up pretty well against other freshman point guards in the Calipari era.
Nobody expected Shai Gilgeous-Alexander to be Kentucky’s most consistent player in 2018, but through hard work and dedication, he developed into a potential lottery pick. His growth through one season will be a model that Calipari will point to for years to come.