While inexperienced in other areas, UK basketball has elite dunkers


Sophomore forward Sacha Killeya-Jones goes in for a slam dunk during the game against Harvard on Saturday, December 2, 2017 in Lexington , Kentucky. Kentucky defeated Harvard 79-70. Photo By Genna Melendez | Staff

While they are the youngest team in the nation, the UK basketball team is also one of the most athletic. To find this out, one would only have to look at the array of dunks that players like guard Hamidou Diallo and center Nick Richards seem to effortlessly jam on defenders.

In their 79-70 win over Harvard on Saturday, Diallo nearly finished a dunk that had already sent the Rupp Arena crowd into a frenzy during the buildup.

“I jumped out of my seat, I thought it was good,” guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander said after the game. “If he put that down, it would’ve been crazy in the gym.”

Diallo later redeemed himself by driving baseline shortly after and finishing a two-hand stuff against the Crimson.

Richards also had his fair share of athletic jams, grabbing an offensive rebound and jamming it in the face of a Harvard defender shortly after tipoff. He got a technical immediately after for what he said to the player that he dunked on, but the Rupp Arena crowd was already fired up by the play.

In the second half, Richards got another highlight by finishing an alley-oop over a flailing Justin Bassey, who jumped into Richards and got put on a poster as a result. Richards would finish the game with nine points on three made shots, two of which were his dunks.

“It’s definitely fun and exciting to get a dunk, and you know, get your little scream afterwards,” forward Sacha Killeya-Jones said. “That’s something that I personally enjoy, I’m sure everybody else does too.”

Killeya-Jones also wanted to dispel any thought that the team goes out of their way to dunk on opponents, saying that it isn’t something they’ll go out of their way to do in place of a layup or a better shot.

“But if you got one, may as well,” he said.

Diallo has already made the SportsCenter Top Ten plays during their last outing against UIC, and only time will tell if a Cat finds themselves back on that list for a thunderous dunk any other time this season.

Gilgeous-Alexander has a prediction on when that will be for Diallo.

“Next game,” he said. “Next game. He’ll get it next game.”

“Next game” is against Monmouth, who they’ll take on at Madison Square Garden in New York City, near Diallo’s hometown of Queens and Richards’s high school in Hillside, New Jersey. They’ll play at 12 p.m. on Dec. 9.