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Kentucky has a clear ‘Big 4,’ but needs more

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.

Article written by Drew Franklin

I can recite every line from Forrest Gump, blindfolded. Follow me on Twitter: @DrewFranklinKSR

10 Comments for Kentucky has a clear ‘Big 4,’ but needs more

  1. Bluehender
    2:44 pm January 11, 2020 Permalink

    I love that sign…and I do believe it’ll have to be by committee Drew..encouraged by EJ today. Sestina should have gotten a couple more looks from deep imo. Hopefully Brooks and Whitney will be contributing come tournament time

  2. ukcamel
    3:12 pm January 11, 2020 Permalink

    I think EJ is a lot closer than Brooks or Whitney. He is above-average on defense (mostly because of his freakish length) and he shows signs on offense – that little hook was nice today and he had another finish at the goal on a step through.

    Brooks on the other hand seems lost to the concept of running an offense. The ball gets to him and all rhythm disappears. He then either takes a bad contested shot or he passes it out and we start over. I don’t think he isn’t trying, he’s just a freshman who plays like a freshman. He has huge upside.

    • dcforuk
      4:37 pm January 11, 2020 Permalink

      6 assists shows and demonstrates that EJ is active and not sulking. That is a huge contribution. His assist From the left wing to a running, cutting Nick Richards against UGA was a beauty!

  3. nocode96
    3:17 pm January 11, 2020 Permalink

    We are watching JNR become one of the best big men in the country, and IQ has turned some dirt of corner because he’s amazing.

  4. JT55
    4:13 pm January 11, 2020 Permalink

    Whitney and Brooks are waste of space right now. In order for UK to hit their ceiling, one of them needs to contribute.

  5. UKLugo
    4:42 pm January 11, 2020 Permalink

    I find it interesting that Cal has been starting Brooks at the 3 but the starter minutes have been going to Quickley. At this point, I think everyone, including Cal, knows that our best lineup includes the 3 guards. Cal, and most coaches, for that matter, don’t over value starting and like having a spark off the bench. Quickley provides that in spades.

  6. BigJohnC
    4:55 pm January 11, 2020 Permalink

    I believe it’s unfair to say Khalil “won’t be it this year”. Every other player gets a pat on the back and encouragement. “Ah, they’re freshman, they’ll come around”. He could very well turn a corner next game or two and become what we know he can be. I’ve got faith that he will have a major role before seasons end. IQ comes off the bench, I believe, because he brings what you need from the bench and that’s energy and scoring. He’s doing great coming off the bench and killing it. So keep riding that.

    • TonyMontana
      5:42 pm January 11, 2020 Permalink

      Whitney needs more minutes to start to get comfortable but they are hard to come by. I have faith in him, just hope he doesn’t get discouraged.

  7. N-UR-i
    6:25 pm January 11, 2020 Permalink

    Any chance one of these four return? I think IQ is the only possibility.

  8. Bruce Dickinson
    9:21 pm January 11, 2020 Permalink

    Quickley is amazing. We would be fortunate to have him back next year. I think Whitney will come around. Just taking more time than we like, but he is just a freshman.