Gilgeous-Alexander heading for the NBA Draft


Kentucky freshman guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander waits for the ball during Kentucky’s open practice on Wednesday, March 21, 2018, in Atlanta, Georgia. Kentucky will play Kansas State in the Sweet 16 game in the NCAA tournament on Thursday, March 22, 2018. Photo by Arden Barnes | Staff

Kernel Sports Staff

After a breakout freshman season, guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander took to SportsCenter on Tuesday to to declare for the 2018 NBA Draft.

Gilgeous-Alexander will also hire an agent; therefore, he is ineligible to return to UK. Gilgeous-Alexander finished his lone season at UK averaging 14.4 points, 4.1 rebounds and a team-high 5.1 assists per game.

When Gilgeous-Alexander first came to UK, many projected him to be a multi-year player, but after his freshman season he projects to be a lottery pick in the upcoming draft. 

Gilgeous-Alexander started the season coming off the bench, but an injury to Quade Green thrusted Gilgeous-Alexander into the starting lineup in early January, and he started the final 22 games of the season.

In those final 22 games, Gilgeous-Alexander averaged 16.4 points and 5.7 assists per game. He emerged as one of the top players for the team along with Kevin Knox, who has also decided to turn pro.

“Shai’s development is a story I’ll tell our players for the rest of my career,” UK head coach John Calipari said. “When we talk about building your own confidence and conquering yourself, Shai is the perfect example. You’re talking about a kid who had the physical tools and had the potential to be in this position, but he elevated his game because he woke up at 7 a.m. every day to work out, was the best in the weight room, watched film and never missed class.”

Some of Gilgeous-Alexander’s brightest games came during UK’s SEC Tournament championship run, highlighted by a 29-point, seven-rebound and three-assist performance in the championship game against Tennessee.

Gilgeous-Alexander was named the SEC Tournament’s most outstanding player, the fifth player in the John Calipari-era to do so. Gilgeous-Alexander was also named to the All-SEC Second Team and All-SEC Freshman Team by league coaches.

“I couldn’t be more proud of him and I know that whatever team gets him is going to get a young man that will bring a winning mentality,” Calipari said.

With Gilgeous-Alexander’s departure, that will leave the point guard duties up to Green and Immanuel Quickley for next season. The backcourt for next year’s Cats will also be adding Tyler Herro, Keldon Johnson and Jemarl Baker to help make up for the loss of Gilgeous-Alexander.