When four-star guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander committed to Kentucky back in November of 2016, many expected him to be nothing more than a solid role player for the Wildcats as a freshman.
He was a fringe top-30 prospect in the nation, and wasn’t known for being a stellar shooter or scorer. What we all expected from the 6-foot-6 guard with a seven-foot wingspan, however, was for him to come in and provide stellar defense and provide quality minutes while five-star point guard Quade Green got his rest on the bench.
When he got on campus, we heard whispers that Gilgeous-Alexander was not only the surprise of the summer, but that he may make a run at the starting point guard position over Green.
25 games into the season, he has been Kentucky’s best player, and it might not even be close.
When you take a look at the Kentucky record books, his status as team MVP is only confirmed further.
After his 19-point performance last night, Gilgeous-Alexander has scored 327 total points in a Kentucky uniform, good for No. 29 on the all-time freshman list. If he keeps up his season average of 13 points per game (despite averaging nearly 17 points per game over the last six games and over 15 per in conference play), he will score 405 total points just by the end of the regular season, good for No. 22 on the all-time list. Continue that pace into conference play, and he could end up in the top-15 on the all-time freshman scoring list.
In the assist department, Gilgeous-Alexander is already the No. 9 passer on the all-time freshman list. If he continues his pace of roughly five assists per game (again, we’re being conservative here), the freshman guard would finish the regular season with 145 assists at No. 5 on the list. Tyler Ulis, Andrew Harrison, Rajon Rondo, Brandon Knight, and De’Aaron Fox are all guys he could potentially pass in postseason action to make it into the top three. (Fox is currently third on the list with 165 assists as a freshman.)
Gilgeous-Alexander just tied Terrence Jones and Aaron Harrison with 43 steals on the season, good for ninth all-time for a freshman. If he continues his pace at 1.7 assists per game, he would pass Nerlens Noel, Eric Bledsoe, and De’Aaron Fox to jump into the top four just by the end of the regular season. Add in the postseason, and SGA passes Anthony Davis to make it into the top three, with John Wall’s 66 steals in the No. 2 slot looking possible.
Oh, and for good measure, Gilgeous-Alexander is also in the top-15 in free throw percentage and top-35 in field goal makes.
The season hasn’t been as peachy as we all hoped it would be, but Gilgeous-Alexander has been one of the few bright spots, and his value to the team has been massive.
Without him, who knows where the Cats would be right now…