Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is the rare one-and-done prospect out of Lexington who was not a five-star recruit.
The 35th-ranked prospect in the 2017 high school class started the season behind Quade Green at the point but eventually outplayed him and by year’s end became the team’s most capable dribble penetrator.
In 37 appearances last season, the six-foot-six combo guard averaged 17.1 points per 40 minutes on 57.9% true shooting and assisted on 28.8% of Kentucky’s scores in his 1,248 minutes.
Other than his one year of college basketball, the native of Toronto, Ontario also has 117 minutes in the 2016 U18 FIBA Americas and an appearance at the 2017 Nike Hoop Summit of experience under his belt.
Gilgeous-Alexander is not a particularly impressive athlete in terms of speed and explosiveness. Those limitations might lead to a coach viewing him as more of a wing and having him run point only in alternate lineups, which is how John Calipari used him earlier in the season.
But the 19-year-old showed through the conference part of the schedule that he’s a very resourceful player off the dribble, making up for his lack of burst with an advanced skill level, proving himself able to get by his man on craft more often than not and leveraging his length to finish in traffic at an above average clip, while also creating for others at a pleasing rate as well. At least over the first few years of his pro career, he should be given multiple chances as a lead guard.
He’s a natural running an offense, having shown good feel for controlling the rhythm of the game, in terms of finding the right balance between passing ahead to speed up the pace or walking the ball up to run organized half-court sets.
On the other end, Gilgeous-Alexander’s defense declined once his responsibility on offense increased. He’s a smart player, who uses his length to make plays in the passing lanes and can execute strategies that ask him to switch on the fly, but isn’t quick enough to match up with smaller point guards and not yet strong enough to deal with bigger wings.
(Check the rest of the post at RealGM)