By LARRY VAUGHT
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is the only player in Kentucky’s 2017 recruiting class who is not a five-star recruit. The Hamilton Heights (Chattanooga, Tenn.) point guard is a four-star but ESPN national recruiting director Paul Biancardi is a fan and thinks he will do well at Kentucky.
“I love him because he is steady. He is a solid, consistent player,” said Biancardi. “He’s a strong athlete, a good open shooter. He does a great job creating shots for others. He’s not an overwhelming athlete, but he’s good enough because he thinks the game. He understands the game, which is huge. He is not blazing fast, but he’s fast enough.
“I think he and Quade (Green) will make a tremendous backcourt. It won’t be John Wall and Eric Bledsoe or Malik Monk and De’Aaron Fox, but they will complement each other and play well together. He’s the type of guy you will see at Kentucky for a period of time and it would not surprise me to see him end up a NBA draft pick.
“He can lead the team in assists. I like that he can see over traps, over the defense. He can see around defenders and he will shoot it and make shots. He’s going to be a very good player for Kentucky and John Calipari.”
Biancardi says Green has gone from a stocky, scoring guard in Philadelphia when he was younger to a true point guard who is one of the best passers in the country.
“He understands not only how to deliver passes, but how to use his dribble to make passing angles work,” Biancardi said. “His nature was to be a scoring guard. His size made him a point guard. He changed his game the last two years and thought about assists and running his team.
“He did a good job making that radical change but his DNA is to score and his mentality is to put the ball in the basket. He can shoot it. He has to use a pull-up jumper because he has to be careful going to the rim because he is small.
“He is a high level competitor. He understands how to take care of teammates first. He is great to be around, loves the game and really helps a team win. He is a great character guy and him and Alexander should play well together.”
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Kentucky signee PJ Washington of Findlay Prep likes the 2017 recruiting class that he’s part of but he believes there is more to come as he continues to recruit Mohamed Bamba and Kevin Knox, two of the nation’s top 10 players in the recruiting class.
“I feel like we are close to getting them. I am working on it,” Washington said last week during the Kentucky Lake Showcase in Marshall County.
Knox visited Kentucky when the Cats lost to Kansas, the same weekend Washington was also on campus for an unofficial visit.
“I felt like he liked it. He is talking like he really liked it. I feel like we are in a higher place (with him) than these other schools and we will get him,” Washington said.
Some have speculated that Washington and Jarred Vanderbilt, another signee, are similar players to Knox and there might not be enough playing time for all three.
“I am not even worried about that right now,” Washington said. “I know we are going to play together great. Coach Cal will find the right system for all of us to do great things on the court.”
What does he like best about Bamba?
“Just his wingspan. He blocks everything, rebounds everything. I have been talking to him and trying to get him to UK. Texting, calling, all of it. I want him with us,” Washington said.
But how many five-star players can one team sign in one year?
“I don’t know, but we are trying to get them all,” Washington said.