A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Incoming UK freshman guard Gilgeous-Alexander shines in annual Derby Festival Classic

By Keith Taylor
Special to NKyTribune

Kentucky’s future talent was on display last weekend, with guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander snagging Most Valuable Player honors during the Kentucky Derby Festival Classic at Freedom Hall in Louisville.

Gilgeous-Alexander scored 29 points, grabbed nine rebounds and collected six assists in 19 minutes to lead his Lightning team to a 122-109 victory over Team Thunder last Friday night. Gilgeous-Alexander also won the 3-point shooting contest prior to the contest, while sharing MVP honors Taveion Hollingsworth, a Western Kentucky University signee.

Kentucky coach John Calipari and his staff are busy on the recruiting trail this month (Bill Thiry Photo)

During the Nike Hoop Summit earlier this month in Portland, Oregon, Gilgeous-Alexander scored 11 points and is considered one of the Top 50 prospects in the Class of 2017. Gilgeous-Alexander played at Hamilton Heights Christian Academy in Chattanooga, Tennessee last season and averaged 18.4 points and 4.4 rebounds per game.

Incoming freshmen Jarred Vanderbilt, P.J. Washington, Nick Richards and Quade Green played in the Jordan Brand Classic. Washington scored 11 points, grabbed three rebounds, had four assists and collected a game-high six steals. Richards was 5-of-7 from the field and had 10 points, while Green added 10 points and six assists. Vanderbilt, had 17 points and grabbed five boards before going down with a leg injury. Vanderbilt is anxiously awaiting results from an x-ray expected to be revealed Monday.

Jermal Baker, a 4-star guard, was offered a scholarship offer by Kentucky’s coaching staff last week. Mark Smith and Pitt transfer Cam Johnson also received an offer from the Wildcats. Other players in the mix for Kentucky on the recruiting trail include Kevin Knox and Mo Bamba.

Willis shines at Portsmouth

Kentucky senior Derek Willis competed in the Portsmouth Invitational last weekend and scored 11 points, grabbed five rebounds and added five assists for Sales Systems, Ltd. Willis averaged 7.3 points, 4.7 rebounds and three assists per game for the team, which finished 2-1n in the prestigious event.

Read More at Keith's Blog

Read More at Keith’s Blog: Out of the Blue

Willis was one of 64 seniors in the country elected to compete in the 12-game tournament stretched over a four-day period. The event draws representatives from the NBA and international squads, in preparation for the upcoming draft.

Willis scored 13 points, had eight rebounds, a block and collected a steal in the Reeese’s College All-Star College Game at the Final Four in Phoenix, Arizona.

Schedule update

Kentucky will play Harvard for the first in history next season, The two teams will play each other in Saturday, Dec. 2 at Rupp Arena. Harvard is coached by former Duke standout Tommy Amaker.

Kentucky also will play Kansas in the State Farm Champions Classic and will take on UCLA in the CBS Sports Classic in New Orleans next season.

Complete schedule for the 2017-18 season has yet to be released.

Keith Taylor is a senior sports writer for KyForward, where he primarily covers University of Kentucky sports. Reach him at keith.taylor@kyforward.com or @keithtaylor21 on Twitter

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