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What does Devin Askew’s transfer mean for Kentucky?

When he signed with the University of Kentucky and reclassified into the class of 2020, Devin Askew was originally seen as a developmental piece designed to keep things steady in year one alongside (supposed) superstars BJ Boston and Terrence Clarke before blossoming into a surefire college star as a sophomore.

Instead, both Boston and Clarke struggled and dealt with injury, placing a larger spotlight on Askew’s play as the primary ball-handler. As a result, the former five-star prospect’s flaws were magnified and criticism came early and often.

In short, the immediate and long-term goals with Askew both failed, as the freshman has now decided to transfer from the program after just one season in Lexington.

“I am thankful for the opportunity I had to play basketball at the University of Kentucky,” Askew said. “I am also thankful for the coaching staff as they provided an experience that contributed to my development in this game I love. My teammates will be my friends forever and I appreciate how they pushed me day in and day out to get better.

“With that being said, it will be part of my growth in this game to explore a new opportunity and enter the transfer portal.”

Askew leaves the program after averaging 6.9 points, 2.9 assists, 2.6 rebounds, and 2.0 turnovers in 29.0 minutes per contest as a freshman.

“This is the part of the business I hate,” UK head coach John Calipari said. “I wish I could coach every kid for four years, but I have to respect Devin’s decision and I do. I will always be here to help him. My hope – and I told him this – is that he takes the fight he learned here with him wherever he goes. He was a great teammate and improved in so many ways as the season wore on. I will be rooting for Devin as he takes this next step.”

What does Askew’s departure mean for the program?

Wasted development time

Before talking about replacements and the position as a whole, the long-term investment by the program into Askew’s future and the fruits of the guard’s work this season will unfortunately never be seen at Kentucky. Part of the reward for playing a struggling freshman nearly 30 minutes per game in a historically bad season for the program was that Askew would be able to learn from his mistakes and develop within the system for another one to three years. You take the bad early in hopes of gradual and consistent growth in the future.

With Askew leaving the program, there is no long-term reward for the short-term struggles. The staff recruited him to be a winner, fierce competitor, floor general and leader down the road, traits we rarely got to see in year one. At this point, it is what it is and was what it was.

Kentucky will now have to start from scratch at the point guard position while Askew continues to grow as a player elsewhere.

Askew was being recruited over

Now that we got that out of the way, are we so sure Calipari and the UK coaching staff don’t want to start from scratch at the position?

To open the offseason, the staff has gone out of their way to recruit plug-and-play starters at point guard and extend interest to other potential role players in the backcourt. Reaching out to the likes of Auburn’s Justin Powell – who ultimately committed to Tennessee – Minnesota’s Marcus Carr, Missouri’s Xavier Pinson, Western Carolina’s Mason Faulkner and high school recruits in TyTy Washington and Tamar Bates, along with signing Davidson guard Kellan Grady and pushing to bring back graduate transfer Davion Mintz, Kentucky certainly isn’t shying away from a complete reset in the backcourt.

As conference play ramped up, Calipari stressed that the team’s play at point guard wasn’t good enough and slid Askew over to an off-ball guard role, adding that the freshman out of Sacramento simply wasn’t “effective” with the ball in his hands.

“Here’s how I want Devin to play so you all know: I don’t want him to have a lot of dribbles,” the UK head coach said in January. “I want him to get it up and get away from the ball. The reason I like that is because away from the ball, he can make plays and he can make shots. On the ball where everyone is watching him, he’s not effective. He’s just not.

“… Less dribbles, get rid of the ball, go away from the ball and when it comes to you, make plays. Again, he’s a respectful kid, I just don’t know if he’s hearing what we’re trying to get him to do.”

Actively looking to recruit ball-handlers and lead guards with experience at this level, was the off-ball shift for Askew going to be a permanent one going into next season?

If you’re in Askew’s shoes, the writing is (and has been) on the wall that Calipari wanted serious growth and change at the position. There may have been a roster spot and scholarship available for him next season, but he would have to return knowing his role would be taking a significant hit going into 2021-22. And for that, you can’t blame him for wanting to explore his options.

Is a replacement imminent?

Speaking of replacements, the timing of Askew’s decision to enter the portal is certainly something to keep a close eye on. It comes just one week after Kellan Grady announced his commitment to UK, in the midst of Davion Mintz making his final decision on going pro or returning to Kentucky, and while contact ramps up with other standout guards in the transfer portal and at the high school level.

Does Calipari have a replacement in mind? The conversation between parties had to start somewhere, and as of today, there isn’t a sure-fire starter to take Askew’s place in the lineup. Think of how quiet UK moved with Grady just last week, or Mintz and Olivier Sarr last offseason, or Reid Travis before that. Wheels are always in motion even if it sometimes feels nothing is happening behind the scenes.

The public speculation with Marcus Carr (among other guard options) has grown in recent days, and new names are being added to the portal daily. And through back channels, it’s easy to gauge early interest on both sides, something that happens constantly throughout the college basketball world.

Askew’s departure was a significant domino to fall in Kentucky’s roster plans for next season, a hole in the rotation the staff will look to quickly replace with a high-level transfer. But does Calipari already have a specific player in mind? And just how far along in the process are they?

Maybe it’s time to call it quits on recruiting West Coast talent?

Back on March 31, 2020, Askew told KSR that he refused to be Kentucky’s next recruit from the West Coast to transfer out of the program, claiming to be “different” than the likes of Johnny Juzang, Jemarl Baker, Marcus Lee and Kyle Wiltjer, former UK signees under Calipari who ultimately decided to transfer.

“I’m different. I’m way different,” Askew told KSR at the time. “I live on the West Coast, but I don’t play like a West Coast player at all. Nope. I play like an East Coast kid. I like to be physical, that’s just my game.

“Even though those are all great players, all the players you named are great players and they all had fun while they were at Kentucky, they just wanted to do something that was better for them. But I’m different.”

Askew promised to stick around the program no matter how his freshman campaign unfolded.

“I know I’m going to fight through adversity,” Askew continued. “If I don’t get out after one year [to the NBA], I’m staying at Kentucky. I’m going to grind it out for sure.”

Fast forward just over a year, and Askew is officially in the transfer portal, leaving the program after one season. It’d be silly to hold off on signing a can’t-miss superstar no matter where they lived, but it’s worth noting that Calipari’s track record with West Coast talent hasn’t been the greatest over the years.

Article written by Jack Pilgrim

Follow me on Twitter: @JackPilgrimKSR

41 Comments for What does Devin Askew’s transfer mean for Kentucky?

  1. Dave C
    9:46 pm April 6, 2021 Permalink

    The first Turd in the proverbial punch bowl was him even considering reclassifying…much less actually doing it. Who thought that was a good decision? I don’t know if he just flat underachieved(lots of fingers available for pointing if that’s the case)or was he just over valued by our staff? I mean its not all on him, Boston, Sarr, and others came up tiny. But Askew was obviously in waaaaaaay over his head. I sure don’t atball like the fact that he’s cutting bait and taking his ball somewhere else…especially after vowing to do the opposite….but wish him well none the less.

    • CombatMedic_98
      8:42 am April 7, 2021 Permalink

      Good stuff. We have an overcrowded, overrated bunch of kids OVERHYPED and a bunch of misleading, money hungry people hyping up kids/industry/etc. that are ZERO stars into thinking they are 5 stars…and Cal is feeding into it…

  2. Big Sexy
    9:49 pm April 6, 2021 Permalink

    Wouldn’t have minded to have a PG in 2023 with 3 years experience.

    Hate to hear people complain about “one and done” players then complain when a Frashmanhas struggles.

    • TBW3011
      10:10 pm April 6, 2021 Permalink

      He’s not talented enough to play here. This year or in 4 years.

    • dcforuk
      10:25 pm April 6, 2021 Permalink

      That’s because of what Queen sang about:

    • Cletis75
      12:13 pm April 7, 2021 Permalink

      ….and TBW puts the exclamation on your post, big sexy! He looked better as a freshman than a lot of the seniors we have had looked in their freshman years. TBW already knows Askew’s ceiling based on a covid shortened season where he missed the whole summer of practices that he could have built on. How are you not making millions in the basketball world, genius?

  3. blueballs80
    9:56 pm April 6, 2021 Permalink

    On paper the roster looked promising and then we got harsh reality. Part of it is not knowing how these young guys develop. Fox, Monk,Wall,Cousins,Shai,Hero,Bam were cut from a different cloth. Times are changing.

  4. kentuckybackupplayer
    10:28 pm April 6, 2021 Permalink

    it means we will have a guard that can penetrate the paint and pass to the open man for a shot.

  5. zoupman
    10:29 pm April 6, 2021 Permalink

    Wouldn’t hurt my feelings, if we never get another kid from Ca or one who reclassifies.
    Don’t seem to work out.

  6. drbigblue
    10:37 pm April 6, 2021 Permalink

    The kid did the right thing transferring! I wish him the best! Him coming to KY was a bad decision! Hopefully, Hopefully Calipari will leave KY and we can get a good coach, like the big Blue Nation had had like Rupp, Petino, Hall… not some jackoff one and done, feed the NBA coach like Cal!!!!

    • 4everUKBlue
      9:09 am April 7, 2021 Permalink

      LOL drjackoff, of the three you mentioned only one of them won more titles than Cal and he coached in a vastly different era.

    • Cletis75
      12:21 pm April 7, 2021 Permalink

      Yes. Because Pitino that you named was so successful against Calipari and his system. He has navigated this era of Basketball so well in its evolution, that he made it all the way up to Iona, the pinnacle of college basketball!

  7. BlueBanker18
    11:43 pm April 6, 2021 Permalink

    No more west coast kids and no more reclassifications, please.

    • ukyelecteng
      12:29 am April 7, 2021 Permalink

      No more cal, please

  8. just a guy
    12:49 am April 7, 2021 Permalink

    It means nothing has changed. Kid comes in, promised the PG spot after missing on elite recruit. Kid isn’t as good as advertised so he gets blamed for bad season and told it’s in his best interest to look elsewhere. We then scour every nook looking for either a OAD freshman or a one year left to play grad transfer. It’s a new roster all over again.

    Rinse. Wash. Repeat

    • Axel72
      2:12 am April 7, 2021 Permalink

      It certainly appears that way, at this point I want them to be watchable because last season was anything but…

  9. Bigblueswami
    1:27 am April 7, 2021 Permalink

    I’d be willing to go west coast in the transfer portal… Darrion Trammell from Seattle.

  10. Axel72
    2:10 am April 7, 2021 Permalink

    This I have to follow, who is giving a scholarship to him, he was terrible shot more airballs from 3 than he hit. I hope he has a secondary plan for a career because bball ain’t it, I played against kids at the Y that would have taken the ball from him every time he touched it. I feel bad for the kid he is DII average at best, no loss in this transfer. It will be interesting to see who gives him a shot. His best bet would have been to stay and learn from a real PG and get a degree.

    • kjd
      6:02 am April 7, 2021 Permalink

      Basically you’re saying Cal is not good and at evaluating talent. Cal screwed the kid by encouraging reclassification.
      Kid made the right decision to leave.

    • Axel72
      10:03 am April 7, 2021 Permalink

      No kjd that’s not what I am saying, that would be silly he did fail on this one and in my opinion BJ as well, Askew should have stayed in HS, BJ everybody else wanted him too, so that’s not really on Cal, and I am not a fire Cal guy either. He does need to adapt to get UK banners instead of worrying about how many go to the NBA, the NBA is a joke paying millions to guys playing absolutely unwatchable basketball, not to mention the other obvious blunder they made last season in Orlando. We are a college sports stated the NBA is not relevant to many UK fans.

  11. Aar
    4:14 am April 7, 2021 Permalink

    I’m challenged to see positives for BBN in this offseason. The trend appears toward low roster continuity and an assemblage of players with their own agendas above any team or Big Blue commitment. If we could count on players to spend 2-4 years at UK, I’d be really excited about the incoming Freshmen and transfers but we just don’t live in those days. Really surprised to see UK in anybody’s Way Too Early Top 25s. I think this is a team that needs to earn everything on the court. It needs to be a hungry and humble team but I’m not seeing it. Hope it’s just my line of sight.

  12. CahillsCrossingNT
    5:37 am April 7, 2021 Permalink

    Nothing but more mediocrity is on the way.

    • Thetruthshallsetbennyfree
      8:19 pm April 7, 2021 Permalink

      I know right, Duke will still suck next year. Maybe you should charge K less when he pimps you out, then he’ll have more money to buy recruits with.

  13. UKFanSC
    8:07 am April 7, 2021 Permalink

    I would submit one thing it means is we should be very careful about elevating high school juniors into our starting lineups. This kid was never ready, and may never be for a roll like ours.

    • UKFanSC
      8:07 am April 7, 2021 Permalink

      “Role”……spellcheck sucks

  14. TonyMontana
    8:29 am April 7, 2021 Permalink

    The same people on here talking about how Askew is not good enough to play at Kentucky will be the exact same people talking about “Fire Cal” when Askew is lighting it up at another school next year.

  15. Bigblueswami
    8:40 am April 7, 2021 Permalink

    Well…. if that does happen… it would at least bring up the question… why are players not developing here…. but do somewhere else?
    I’m not on the “Fire Cal” bandwagon but it will be a legit question to ask.

    • ukcamel
      8:56 am April 7, 2021 Permalink

      To be fair, Cal developed PJ, Quickley, WCS, Ulis, Nick Richards and many others as multi-year players who made big contributions to UK and were drafted into the NBA.

      I do agree that there are a few head scratchers where it seems others succeeded where Cal failed. But I’d say that’s true for pretty much every coach that recruits high level talent.

    • 4everUKBlue
      9:12 am April 7, 2021 Permalink

      Other programs have had their head scratchers too…see dook, they’ve had their share as well.

    • Cletis75
      12:32 pm April 7, 2021 Permalink

      It’s called time and experience. Different kids mature at different speeds. Darius Miller looked terrible his freshman and sophomore years to me. Looked like a newborn colt trying to walk his freshman year. His junior year you could see the evolution beginning. Senior year he was a key piece of the championship puzzle. Jorts couldn’t do anything for 3½years. Has a coming out party against Uoflol, after camp Cal and becomes dominant by tournament time and becomes a 2nd round pick, when he could hardly catch a bounce pass 6 months prior.

    • Thetruthshallsetbennyfree
      8:22 pm April 7, 2021 Permalink

      According to Cahills Duke players only suck when he hasn’t.

  16. millertim
    8:50 am April 7, 2021 Permalink

    Again, the frustration of submitting an innocuous comment about impact of Askew’s departure “awaits moderation”, yet some of the filthiest language and name-calling from some on here goes uncensored… Hopefully this comment slips by the idiotic algorithm this site uses—Askew should never have been the starter at the beginning of the season. Many, like myself, saw this and voiced my objections before the first game. Mintz was obviously the better option and still is. Coach Cal did not run a fair audition for the position b/c if he had, Askew would not have seen much playing time. Anyone with any conception of major D-1 talent could see that Askew was never ready to drive the Ferrari…

  17. Wade
    9:30 am April 7, 2021 Permalink

    Askew was not going to play here period today yesterday or 4 years from now. Don’t know what cal saw in him or if he was forced bc of boston and Clarke’s struggles. Kid does nothing well to build on. Our team needs a overhaul and pg is most important position. We were extremely soft last year and weak all around . Cal is clearing house as he should and he needs to try and retain Clarke mintz and Jackson as well as get 2 more transfers a guard and a wing. Create real competition and use all your scholarships available. Sometimes you see matchups don’t work so sometimes different guys will thrive in different roles or struggle. I like having young guys come in but we need to start keeping quality players a few years and start recruiting better but stop relying on these freshman so much. Next year will be fun cal is going to shock the world.

    • ThankfulCat
      10:06 am April 7, 2021 Permalink

      It would really shock the world if Clarke came back since he’s hired an agent and left town

  18. CALfacts
    9:42 am April 7, 2021 Permalink

    All in all, when a young man leaves it hurts the team. All the time invested in him could have been time with the development of others. As we have seen the past six years now, developing kids is the way to go along with the one and done.

  19. JT55
    10:08 am April 7, 2021 Permalink

    Next year’s team is still missing several pieces. They have alot of work to do.

  20. friendsofcoal
    8:22 pm April 7, 2021 Permalink

    I’m sure Cal probably nudged him into going a different direction for the good of himself and the team. I hate seeing anybody leave but I think it was the right thing to do for Askew.