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Scouting report for Kentucky signees Nick Richards, PJ Washington, and Shai Alexander

Last week, Coach Cal started his 2017 recruiting class off with a bang, signing five-star prospects Nick Richards and P.J. Washington. On Monday, four-star guard Shai Alexander pledged his commitment to the Cats, as well, moving Kentucky in sole position of the top recruiting class in the nation.

Though we’re still a year away from seeing these guys suit up in blue and white, let’s take a look at what they bring to the table and why the BBN should be excited about the additions:

Nick Richards

Nick Richards
Center | 6-11 | 235 lbs.
Manhasset, NY | St. Patrick’s
AAU: Expressions Elite
★★★★★
ESPN No. 12 | 5 C Top247 No. 15 | 2 C
Rivals No. 19 Scout No. 17 | 7 C

Strengths:

  • Athleticism
  • Defensive specialist
  • Elite rebounder

Richards is one of the most athletic big men in the nation, with the ability to run the floor and make plays on both ends of the court. Richards is a defensive-minded center, with an elite ability to block/alter shots at the rim, a characteristic that certainly separates the Queens native from the rest of the class. UK fans have loved defensive guys in the past, with Nerlens Noel, Anthony Davis, and Willie Cauley-Stein as the prime examples. Richards will be able to step right in and make a similar impact on that end of the floor.

Weaknesses:

  • Limited offensively
  • Very raw
  • Needs to put on weight

Outside of putback dunks/layups and alley-oop finishes, Richards is very limited on the offensive end of the floor. He makes a lot of highlight-reel plays strictly from inside the paint, but will need to develop touch from a few feet out when he gets to Kentucky. He has ridiculous upside, and I think the offense should come with time. Just don’t expect to see any Karl Anthony-Towns-esque post moves from day one.

Player comparison:

Willie Cauley-Stein/Tyson Chandler

P.J. Washington

P.J. Washington
Power Forward| 6-7 | 225 lbs.
Dallas, TX | Findlay Prep
AAU: Team Penny
★★★★★
ESPN No. 16 | 2 PF Top247 No. 16 | 6 PF
Rivals No. 17 | — PF Scout No. 14 | 1 PF

Strengths:

  • Elite rebounder
  • “Positionless” player
  • Work ethic/passion for the game

Washington will play a good bit at both the three and four next season under Coach Cal, as he’s extremely versatile. He’s a powerful athlete, attacks the basket with the best of them, and is great at finishing at the rim. Similar to Julius Randle, Washington was able to bully his way through defenders in high school, and will be able to do this at the college level. He’s a tremendous rebounder, runs the floor well, and simply knows how to get buckets. His work ethic is off the charts, as he’s never content with his current state; he’s always trying to get better and improve his game. He has fan favorite written all over him.

Weaknesses:

  • Shooting
  • Undersized
  • Ball handling

Many analysts consider him a “tweener,” as he’s a bit small for a PF, but too big for a SF. UK has had guys with major success that came in considered “tweeners,” so I’m not really worried about that on the college level. His shooting has shown improvement, but he’s still extremely inconsistent from beyond the arc. He sometimes gets sloppy with the ball, coughing up turnovers periodically when he puts the ball on the floor.

Player comparison:

Terrence Jones

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
Combo Guard | 6-4 | 170 lbs.
Chattanooga, TN | Hamilton Heights Christian Academy
AAU: Team Portis Wings Elite
★★★★
ESPN No. 44 | 10 PG Top247 No. 43 | 2 CG
Rivals No. 53 | — Scout No. 46 | 12 PG

Strengths:

  • Attacking the rim
  • Passing
  • Height

Though Tyler Ulis was certainly the outlier, Calipari loves his bigger point guards. At 6’4 (and growing), Alexander fits that mold perfectly, and will find great success in transition and attacking the basket. He sees the court extremely well, and knows how to find his target no matter where they are on the court. He’s raw, but after turning heads with impressive play on the summer circuit, he’s bound to have a ratings boost as he progresses in his senior campaign. He may not be the highest rated guard to come through Kentucky, but he’s proven that he belongs.

Weaknesses:

  • Three-point shooting
  • Weight
  • Limited offensively

Though he’s extremely explosive and gets to the rim with the best of them, his shooting from beyond the arc needs a lot of work. He has a nice pull-up jumper from midrange, but anything further back is extremely hit and miss. Depending on who you talk to, Alexander’s weight is anywhere from 160 lbs. to 175 lbs. Regardless, the dude needs to hit the weights his senior year and when he gets on campus. Against elite athletes, he’ll be overpowered and won’t be able to get to the rim as easily, which really limits his game on the offensive side of the ball.

Player comparison:

Andrew Harrison


We’re only three signees into the 2017 recruiting class, but it’s already looking like yet another top 1-2 class for Coach Cal. With guys like Quade Green, Mohamed Bamba, Trae Young, and Hamidou Diallo still undecided, the potential is there for yet another elite Kentucky team, regardless of who leaves after this season.

Article written by Jack Pilgrim

Follow me on Twitter: @JackPilgrimKSR

16 Comments for Scouting report for Kentucky signees Nick Richards, PJ Washington, and Shai Alexander



  1. shelby
    8:36 pm November 16, 2016 Permalink

    Love this class already; but damn–all 3 have the same weakness: shooting, might wanna land st least one or two guys that can shoot the ball .



    • kycats13
      7:45 am November 17, 2016 Permalink

      EXACTLY, I know a lot of wonderful people with great attitudes and work ethics, that “like” to play basketball, that can’t shoot and are overweight, just don’t want them playing for Kentucky.



  2. Rick_S
    9:19 pm November 16, 2016 Permalink

    They all have one thing in common..They can’t shoot..Need Green and Young at the guards..both are goot to great shooters..Then add Knox as a SF .He can shoot too…



    • Nick Roush
      9:55 pm November 16, 2016 Permalink

      One thing you should know about this class: none of ’em can shoot. Never seen a No. 1 shooting guard that can’t shoot, but that’s exactly what Hamidou Diallo is. Green and Young might be the only two with a solid stroke



  3. a21CATSfan
    10:30 pm November 16, 2016 Permalink

    With the fall recruiting period winding down, we know a little more about the CATS ’16-’17 roster outlook. Still assuming Calipari, David, Pulliam, Wynyard, Killeya-Jones and Humphries aren’t going pro, we will add 3 more pieces to that core. Currently Gilgeous-Alexander will slide into a starring role in the backcourt and Washington and Richards will round out an impressive front court. We will have virtually unlimited scholarships (7) to go after a shrinking group of elite talent: Trae Young, Quade Green, Hamidou Diallo, Kevin Knox, Mohamed Bamba and Jarred Vanderbilt. GO CATS!!!



    • a21CATSfan
      10:33 pm November 16, 2016 Permalink

      ’17-’18***



    • WatchutalkinboutWillis
      8:14 am November 17, 2016 Permalink

      Nice analysis. I think you are right about who will be returning. It is strange but because of who has committed and who is returning I think that getting Bamba (although ranked highest) is least important. I really hope Green, Young, and Knox commit to UK. I think Diallo is going pro if possible.



  4. 3 fan
    11:01 pm November 16, 2016 Permalink

    We need shooters shooters shooters



  5. Angelo
    2:04 am November 17, 2016 Permalink

    What shooters has Cal had at U.K.?? Lamb… sort of. Monk has had one great shooting game. Cal has done pretty well with meager outside shooting.



    • Angelo
      2:06 am November 17, 2016 Permalink

      Booker never got the chance…



    • UK Big Board Update
      2:46 am November 17, 2016 Permalink

      Never got the chance? Stop talking.



    • Catsby80
      8:23 am November 17, 2016 Permalink

      are you drunk? Lamb, Booker, Murray, just to name 3.



  6. Jiminy Crickets
    8:05 am November 17, 2016 Permalink

    what I don’t understand is how a kid becomes the #1 or #2 shooting guard in the nation without the ability to shoot? Prior to his injury, Charles Matthews was considered the #1 SG, of course after he was injured, and couldnt drive to the basket, his ratings dropped significantly because of that inability to shoot.

    the scouting report on UK is the same every year. Sag and make them shoot. Calipari loves super athletic guys that usually cant shoot. Cals teams usually have 1-2 “threats” on the team, but his best teams had 1-2 sharp shooters. Outside shooting will be the demise of this team if someone besides Monk cant hit an outside shot



  7. nicky
    8:22 am November 17, 2016 Permalink

    Cal’s only Nat. Championship came when he had THREE good to very good shooters on the team and played significant minutes

    D. Lamb 47% from 3
    D. Miller 38% from 3
    K. Wiltjer 43% from 3