Gilgeous-Alexander leaving for NBA

Published 10:10 pm Monday, April 9, 2018

LEXINGTON (KT) — Shai Gilgeous-Alkexander is going to the next level and won’t be coming back.

Gilgeous-Alkexander became the second Kentucky to declare for the NBA Draft and hire an agent, joining Kevin Knox as the two of three players who have declared for the draft. PJ Washington announced his intentions of entering the draft last week, but won’t be retaining an agent, leaving the door open for a possible return next season. Sacha Killeya-Jones announced his plans to transfer and was granted a full release from his scholarship earlier Monday.

“After talking to my family, my parents and my coaches, I would like to let the world know that I’ll be entering the 2018 NBA Draft and I’ll be signing with an agent,” Gilgeous-Alexander announced live on ESPN’s SportsCenter Monday night. “I always have high expectations. I knew if I put the work in, like I did during the season behind closed doors, anything would be possible.”

Gilgeous-Alexander averaged 14.4 points last season and was impressive in the postseason, averaging 20.7 points and 6.3 assists per game.

“Shai’s development is a story I’ll tell our players for the rest of my career,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said via Twitter. “When we talk about building your own confidence and conquering yourself, Shai is the perfect example.”

Prior to the season, Gilgeous-Alexander wasn’t considered a draft prospect, but his emergence as the team’s starting point guard during the regular-season elevated his status and put him one the road to the next level sooner rather than later. Gilgeous-Alexander now is considered to be a lottery pick in the draft.

Gilgeous-Alexander’s improvement was the result of his commitment to working out beyond what was required by the team’s coaching staff. Despite the demands, Gilgeous-Alexander kept a normal class schedule and didn’t miss a beat in the classroom.

“You’re talking about a kid who had the physical tools and had the potential to be in this position, but he elevated his game because he woke up at 7 a.m. every day to work out, was the best in the weight room, watched film and never missed class,” Calipari said.


LEXINGTON – Kentucky men’s basketball forward Sacha Killeya-Jones will transfer from UK, it was announced Monday.

Killeya-Jones will be granted a full release with no restrictions.

“The past two years at Kentucky have been an amazing journey and I want to thank all of my coaches, teammates and fans who made it possible,” Killeya-Jones said. “After much deliberation with my family, I have decided that it is in my best interest to ask for my release and explore other opportunities at this time. Thank you for your support through this process.”

Killeya-Jones, a five-star recruit from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, came to Kentucky as a heralded McDonald’s All-American and was a part of two Southeastern Conference Tournament championships and one regular-season crown.

“It’s never easy for me seeing a player go, especially when it’s someone you’ve seen grow as much as Sacha has and someone you want to continue to coach,” UK coach John Calipari said. “I truly believe Sacha was just starting to find out who he is and that his best days are ahead of him. I still believe that whether he’s here or someone else.

“With that said, when a kid comes to me and believes what’s best for him is somewhere else, they always have my full support. We want what’s best for these kids and will always do whatever we can to make sure they can pursue their dreams. Our staff wishes Sacha nothing but the best.”

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (KT) — Although Kentucky’s roster has dwindled significantly in less than a week, Kentucky coach John Calipari is reloading for next season and perhaps beyond.

On Tuesday morning, less than 24 hours after point-guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander announced his intentions to enter the NBA Draft and hire an agent, the Wildcats received a commitment from 5-star prospect Ashton Hagans, the top point guard in the 2019 class.

“BBN, have you enjoyed breakfast the last couple days?” Calipari tweeted. “We like to be transparent at Kentucky, but let me say this: No one truly knows what we are doing until it’s done. Finished yet?”

Hagans told 247Sports that Kentucky was his top destination.

“It’s my dream school and I feel like I can get the job done there,” he said.

Hagans is expected to reclassify to the Class of 2018 and join the Wildcats next season, helping fill the void vacated by Gilgeous-Alexander. Hagans, a 6-foot-3 point guard from Covington, Georgia, reopened his commitment weeks before Mark Fox was fired at the University of Georgia.

“He’s a beast,” Fox told ESPN. “He’s bigger and more powerful than anybody at his position. He gets to the rim and can finish, and is an excellent and instinctive passer. (He is also) a great kid.”

On Monday, E.J. Montgomery, also a 5-star recruit, announced his plans to attend Kentucky. Montgomery originally committed to Auburn, but reopened his recruited after the FBI investigation broke last fall. Montgomery chose the Wildcats over Vanderbilt and Duke.

“He wanted to be in a winning program and be pushed every day,” Montgomery’s high school, coach Larry Thompson, told SEC Country. “The thing that pushed E.J. over the edge was the track record with coach Cal and some of those higher guys he was able to recruit and develop,” Thompson said. “They spoke a little bit about (Anthony Davis). He’s a kid that was shorter and had great ball-handling ability, then grew. E.J. is kind of in the same mold. [Kentucky’s staff] mentioned it and that’s one of the comparisons E.J. made himself, that he kind of patterns his game after AD.”

Montgomery joins Hagans, Keldon Johnson, Immanuel Quickley and Tyler Herro as part of Kentucky’s incoming class next season.

On Tuesday, junior Dillon Pulliam, a walk-on with the Wildcats during the past three seasons, announced his plans to enroll in the Carnegie Mellon master’s program after graduating with a bachelor degree in computer engineering and computer science.

During the past two weeks, Tai Wynyard and Sacha Killeya-Jones have been released from their scholarships, while Kevin Knox and Gilgeous-Alexander have declared for the NBA Draft, with plans to hire an agent. PJ Washington also has opted for the draft, but isn’t hiring an agent, leaving the door open for a possible return next season.