Kentucky’s Freshman Four

Halfway through the college basketball season the Kentucky Wildcats stand 11-2 as one of the top teams within the SEC. 

After losing in the second round in the NCAA tournament last season, John Calipari’s new front runners are looking to bring it all the way home. Justin Edwards , D.J. Wagner, Rob Dillingham, and Aaron Bradshaw, all new players, a part of Calipari’s dynamic program who he says has the drive and commitment it takes to succeed at Kentucky.

Freshman Guard D.J Wagner, son of professional basketball player Dajaun Wagner, has been showcasing his elite space creating skills and abilities of finishing strongly at the rim. Wagner suffered an ankle injury in their game against Miami during the SEC/ACC challenge but has been gradually showing his improvement since then. While averaging 12 points , 3 rebounds, 3 assists and over 40 percent from the field, Wagner is proving his needed role in Kentucky.

Calipari touches on his history with Wagner stating, “I have known D.J. his entire life and I’ve always wanted to coach him. Above all he is a competitor. He attacks the offensive end and is a versatile scorer, but he is equally as tough on defense.”

Kentucky is looking to make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament this year, and Wagner is showing that he is the kind of player that with consistency, he can lead the Wildcats in the postseason this year.

Freshman 6’8 guard Justin Edwards hasn’t been fully showcasing his talent within Kentucky. A guard who we’d envision going a top pick within the NBA draft just hasn’t been fully consistent. Averaging 9 points per game while shooting below 30% from the three-point range it seems there may be a need for a bit more development. 

The athleticism and skill is there, which is what a lot of scouts and fans are so captivated by, but the lack of consistency is what I fear will hold him back. When asked if Edwards will ever have his breakout moment Calipari stated, “He’s going to get there, sometimes it’s not on our timeline.”

Coming into the start of the season all of the sights were set on D.J. Wagner and Justin Edwards, but Freshman guard Rob Dillingham is making his way nto the limelight. 

Dillingham is averaging 13.7 points, 4.2 assists, 3.6 rebounds, and 1.6 steals per game while shooting 46.1% on two-pointers and a sniping 51.4% on three-pointers through nine games, a ridiculously high rate, especially on 3.9 attempts per game.

Dillingham’s undeniable NBA-caliber athleticism shines through in his remarkable speed and burst, contributing to his ascent on draft boards. Overcoming previous concerns from his high school days, his efficiency on the court is now a key factor in his rising stock.

Standing at 6’2 with a slender physique, it is crucial for Dillingham to consistently demonstrate his scoring ability against high-quality defenders, a challenge he’ll undoubtedly face in SEC play.

If he sustains this level of efficiency, there’s little question he’ll be seriously considered in the first round come June. Depending on the performances of Wagner and/or Edwards in the coming months, Dillingham might even find himself in discussions ahead of them.

After recently receiving SEC player of the week from his performance against Florida, Aaron Bradshaw has been a pivotal piece in showing up when the team needs it. 

Standing at sky scraping height of 7 ‘1, the forward, who was at the start of the season named  to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame’s preseason watch list for the 2024 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has been labeled a happy guy for his infectious personality rubbing off on his teammates. 

Considering, Bradshaw emits as the glue for Kentucky, blocking shots and nailing threes in closeout games. 

Brashaw is averaging 7.7 points per game and about 5 rebounds a game and while at view it’s a low stat line, his growth is only going up from there.

Kentucky’s strength doesn’t just stop at these four. Returning player, Antonio Reeves has been averaging 19 points per game and over 50% from the field contributing to a lot of the team’s success. 

Credit – Lexington Herald

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