The Kentucky vs. Kansas game was not an absolutely superb game but showcased quite a few potential first-round draft picks and even some second-round guys.
Here’s a recap of how they played and what to look for the rest of the season from these guys.
The 6-foot-3 point guard out of Overtime was absolutely spectacular in this game off the bench. He overshadowed the guard play of the starters and would have been on the floor longer if wasn’t in foul trouble for much of the second half. He finished with 18 points on 4-of-5 shooting from beyond the arc to go with two boards, three assists, and two steals. The offense flowed smoothly for Kentucky when he was on the floor and his defense was pretty solid when he wasn’t fouling the other team. He will be someone to keep an eye on if he steals away the starting job from DJ Wagner (who struggled mightily in this game).
Like Dillingham, Sheppard came off the bench and made the offense run pretty smoothly when he was in the game. He finished with 13 points, four steals, and one assist. He was impressive on the defensive end, sticking with his man well and not fouling too much. That shouldn’t come as a surprise as his parents, Jeff and Stacey, were Kentucky legends in their own right. He has phenomenal feel for the game and made the right play all night outside of two moments in the game. He could become a surprise one-and-done if he continues to play like this for the season.
The 6-foot-8 freshman is at or near the top of many draft boards right now. This was not a game that solidified his position, however. He was invisible for much of the game and finished with only one point on six missed shots. Edwards didn’t make any major mistakes but did not leave the kind of mark on the game that a player of his caliber is capable of leaving, especially in a game of that magnitude. He clearly has a ways to go, but did find ways to make an impact defensively. Once his shot starts falling, he should find himself sitting atop more draft boards.
The freshman point guard struggled in this game. He couldn’t seem to beat his defender off the dribble. Wagner wasn’t really finding teammates and didn’t finish at the rim well. He went 1-of-12 on his shooting and made two of his four free throws. One good sign is that he didn’t have any turnovers in the game. However, he will have to figure out how to beat even better defenders than Dejuan Harris — an All-Big 12 defender in his own right — down the line.
The 7-footer had the fortune of playing against a Kentucky team that did not have any of its own 7-footers available. All three were sidelined with injuries. That allowed him to feast for 27 points and 21 rebounds. It was the first time since 2003 that a Kansas player had recorded a 20-20 game against a top-25 opponent. The player in 2003? Nick Collison. Dickinson sealed well, grabbed some offensive rebounds for tough putbacks, and showed why he was such a coveted grab in the transfer portal. One of the few flaws that’s easily viewed for Dickinson is his lack of foot speed and how that hampers him as a defender at the next level.
This was a classic McCullar game. He didn’t shoot the ball particularly well (3-of-11 from the floor and 0-of-3 from beyond the arc), but he still ended up with a triple-double. McCullar found his teammates in transition, set them up incredibly well in the halfcourt, and played solidly for his entire time on the court. He is looking to take a Jalen Wilson-like leap himself this year as he becomes the focus of the backcourt for this Kansas team. This was certainly a good start.
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