Under John Calipari, the Kentucky Wildcats churn out multiple first-round NBA Draft picks virtually every season and that will likely be true of 2018. After teammate and fellow freshman Kevin Knox declared his intentions to enter the 2018 NBA Draft last week, talented guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander used ESPN’s SportsCenter to announce that he will follow suit on Monday. Gilgeous-Alexander will sign with an agent and follow his dream to the NBA.
The 6’6 guard did not enter college with expectation of a one-and-done campaign (landing at No. 31 overall in the 247Sports composite recruiting rankings) but, by the end of the 2017-2018 season, Gilgeous-Alexander was Kentucky’s best player and virtually assured of a landing spot in the first round. He averaged 14.4 points, 5.1 assists and 4.1 rebounds per game during his only college season.
Beyond that, Gilgeous-Alexander brings an appetizing combination of NBA-ready traits to the table. Given his size, there is the potential for Gilgeous-Alexander to occupy both guard spots at the next level, though the potential for him to handle full-time point guard duties is perhaps the most enticing. He is an impressive defensive prospect, using a wingspan reported at seven feet to his advantage, and a 40.4 percent shooting clip from three-point range provides optimism for an expanded offensive game when he arrives in the NBA.
It is far from a lock to suggest that Gilgeous-Alexander will be a lottery selection but he is a consensus top-20 pick with upward mobility and a skill set that will endear him to NBA teams in the coming days. It remains to be seen as to which Kentucky freshman will come off the board first in June but Knox and Gilgeous-Alexander should be gone before the back half of the first round arrives.