COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — To be clear, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is not some hidden gem. He’s a consensus top-40 recruit in the Class of 2017 and rated a 5-star prospect by one of the four major scouting services.
However, there are seven guys on the Kentucky basketball roster who were higher-ranked recruits.
Only in Lexington could a guy like Gilgeous-Alexander, who was invited to try out for Canada’s under-19 national team this summer, could be considered under-the-radar or overlooked. Alas, he is. But teammates say that’s a mistake.
“He’s not one of the top-ranked players, but I think he’s really good,” UK freshman Kevin Knox told SEC Country. “He’s really good in pick-and-roll situations, he’s really good at changing speeds. I think he’s one of the sleepers on our team.”
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Knox and fellow Wildcat P.J. Washington, both of whom are trying out this week for coach John Calipari’s under-19 Team USA, agree on Gilgeous-Alexander. He’s been a standout in early workouts and pickup games at Kentucky, where the entire roster has already enrolled and gotten to work.
“His length, his height and just his feel for the game,” Washington said. “He can shoot it, he can get to the rack, create for others, and he’s just a big guy.”
Gilgeous-Alexander is a 6-foot-6 combo guard with a 6-10 wingspan. There could be times he’ll play point guard for the Cats, giving Calipari a chance to throw unusual length at opponents from every position on the floor.
His emergence in early workouts at Kentucky is no surprise to 247 Sports analyst Jerry Meyer, who boosted Gilgeous-Alexander into the top 20 of his final 2017 rankings and told SEC Country early in the spring that he might even be good enough to become a one-and-done.
Now Gilgeous-Alexander’s college teammates are beginning to see something similar.