Photo by Keyli Chisesi, Go Big Blue Country
Freshman guard Shai Gilgous-Alexander has been quite the surprise early in this season. A four-star recruit out of high school, Gilgeous-Alexander didn’t receive the hype and attention that his fellow freshmen teammates did but through seven games, he has been better than advertised.
Fans have become accustomed to the hyphenated names at Kentucky and it didn’t take them long to start referring to Gilgeous-Alexander as SGA. The Hamilton, Ontario native stuffed the stat sheet during the opening month of his college basketball career, posting an average of 9.1 points, 3.4 rebounds, 4.0 assists, and 2.6 steals. The only negative statistic is a rate of 3.0 turnovers per game.
The way he impacts the game in so many areas will remind you of Rajon Rondo, a former UK guard and current New Orleans Pelicans point guard. Rondo holds the UK record for most steals in a single season with 87 during the 2004/2005 season. SGA’s 18 steals this season is one ahead of the pace Rondo was on through seven games during his freshman season.
In addition to leading the Wildcats in steals, SGA leads the team in assists with 28. If he can cut down on his turnovers (21), his numbers would be even better but it’s hard to complain when he has 18 takeaways himself.
SGA’s best game of the season came last Sunday vs. UIC, where he scored a career high 14 points while matching a career high in rebounds (5) and assists (6). The 6-6 guard has been efficient offensively, connecting on 55 percent of his field goal attempts, including 50 percent from three-point range and 75 percent from the free throw line. Through seven games, he has only shot less than 50 percent on two occasions.
SGA’s development will be important to the Wildcats success over the remainder of the season. His length will create problems for opposing teams and if he cuts down on his turnovers, his impact would increase even more.