It’s pretty clear Kentucky has four guys it can rely on each game. We can now expect something out of Ashton Hagans, Immanuel Quickley, Tyrese Maxey and Nick Richards in each game; and if we don’t get it, Kentucky can lose to anyone. Those four have to be on in some capacity.
All four were dialed in in today’s win against Alabama, highlighted by… well, pick your favorite. Ashton Hagans flirted with a triple-double with 15 points, nine assists and nine rebounds, but it was Immanuel Quickley leading the team in scoring with 19 points and a beautiful 5-of-6 performance from outside. Or maybe you’re more of a Nick Richards person like myself; he had his seventh double-double of the year with 13 points and 11 rebounds. Maxey, he had 13 and four rebounds. That’ll work.
Outside of the Big 4, Kentucky needs someone to show some consistent contributions too. Today it was EJ Montgomery and his eight points, six assists. Keion Brooks is another candidate to be a fifth contributor, but he only scored two points with no rebounds in a starting role against the Crimson Tide. That ain’t it. Kahlil Whitney wasn’t it today either — and won’t be it this year. Nate Sestina helped out with six and four, and Johnny Juzang was MIA for a third straight game.
All that is to drive home the point that Hagans, Maxey, Quickley and Richards are big time players right now. Give them all of the minutes. But it’ll take more than four to finish the year strong, so that other tier needs to have someone else emerge as a fifth or they can do it by committee.
Calipari will probably have a lot more to say about this in his press conference coming up. Until then, please respect Junior Nick Richards because he has been fantastic.