Top takeaways from UK men’s basketball at Big Blue Madness


Redshirt Freshman Hamidou Diallo dunks the ball during Big Blue Madness on Friday, October 13, 2017 in Lexington, Ky. Photo by Carter Gossett | Staff

There’s one main takeaway from the Big Blue Madness scrimmage Friday night: this year’s Cats team is as athletic of a team as I’ve ever seen, from any school.

From Hamidou Diallo throwing down windmills like they were layups, to Wenyen Gabriel finding a way to dunk every time the ball came near the rim, the UK fans in attendance weren’t disappointed with the show that was put on. In fact, they may have been overwhelmed, as they could only muster a murmur and a golf clap when Shai Gilgeous-Alexander threw an alley-oop off the backboard to himself.

Past the theatrics, however, there are real nuggets of information on where the team is at this point. However incomplete they may be, fans got to see strengths and weaknesses of several players on the team.

The forwards Kevin Knox and P.J. Washington lived up to their five-star hype, as they moved with an ease and a grace that 6-foot-9-inch and 6-foot-7-inch players probably shouldn’t possess. They found it easy to glide down the lane, even with the occasional contact that came when the Cats decided to play defense. Washington scored his fifth point by getting a rebound and throwing down a windmill before touching the ground.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander seems to be the team’s most focused player, if he’s purely being evaluated from the Big Blue Madness scrimmage. While he was good at being flashy, tossing no-look passes and shooting threes with ease, he also displayed excellent court vision.

Star point guard Quade Green displayed the problem that head coach John Calipari said he had during media day: he repeatedly took too long to get rid of the ball. He would drive to the middle of the lane and get under the basket, but would let the defense reset itself before passing it to a covered teammate. He had a hard time creating for others.

Struggling occasionally as well was Knox, who shot more jumpers than Calipari probably would’ve liked. Calipari raved about Knox’s improvement in their last practice and his increasing tendency to drive. However, during Big Blue Madness, he shot several threes that could’ve been good drives to the basket instead.

Without their presence due to injury, not much can be said on the current playing ability of guard Jemarl Baker and forwards Tai Wynyard and Jarred Vanderbilt. However, if they have even a similar athletic output as what the fans saw Friday night, the Cats will likely be just fine.