Report Card: Kentucky Wildcats
The 6’1’’ guard out of Orangeville Prep in Ontario became an instant favorite amongst Cat’s fans, teammates, and coaches alike. Murray averaged 20 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 2.2 assists in each of the 36 games Jamal played on Calipari’s Wildcats. As a freshman, Jamal broke former Wildcat, Brandon Knight’s single-season freshman scoring record. Number 23 was named a third-team All-American by the Associated Press, a freshman All-America selection by the Sporting News and the U.S. Basketball Writers Association, and was chosen to be on the All-SEC First Team, amongst several additional special distinctions. Additionally, Jamal became the first freshman in UK history to score 30 or more points in three consecutive games. Murray’s 113 made 3-pointers finished just 4 shy of former Cat Jodie Meeks. The Canadian guard also showed strong rebounding skills to complement his scoring touch while averaging 35.2 minutes per game. His signature celebration is the “bow- and- arrow”. After only one season at the University of Kentucky, Murray has opted to take his talent to the NBA, and will be part of this upcoming draft.
The 5’9’’ guard displayed strong flashes of brilliancy during his sophomore year at Kentucky. This past season, Ulis averaged 17.3 points, 3 rebounds, and 7 assists per game. The Chicago native achieved several prestigious awards as well. Tyler was a first-team All-American, was named the Southeastern Conference Player of the Year by league coaches and the Associated Press, and was awarded the SEC Defensive Player of the Year, amongst additional achievements. Although Ulis lacked the height that typical college basketball players possess, he more than made up for it during his tenure on the court. Tyler aided UK’s highly successful backcourt, and was a monumental leader on and off the court for his teammates. To add to his current list of distinctions, Ulis was a finalist for the Wooden Award list, and the Bob Cousy Award. Tyler has decided to follow in Murray’s footsteps, and has opted to take his talents to the NBA. Unfortunately, speculation has been surfaced regarding a serious hip injury that Ulis currently has. This may disturb some NBA teams from picking him early during this talented draft year.
The 6’11’’ Haiti native failed to impress for long stretches during his maiden year at UK. Labissiere averaged 6.6 points, 3.1 rebounds, and .3 assists per game. Originally thought to be the top player in the 2015 recruiting class by coaches, college basketball fans, and sports publications, Skal received very few minutes all year long. Skal’s combination of three key components, “size, athleticism, and shooting” did not pay off during his short time playing at Kentucky. By the middle of the season, Calipari removed Skal from the typical starting lineup. Although Skal showed flashes of promise, he was too inconsistent for the majority of the college basketball season. Often, Skal appeared timid when going in for a rebound, and although his shot was fairly accurate during practice, this did not directly correlate to success on game days. Skal has opted for the NBA Draft, along with Tyler Ulis, and Jamal Murray. Although Skal has slipped down mock draft boards, hopefully his strong pre-draft workouts will allow him to be drafted by the middle of the first round.
The Newark, New Jersey native helped solidify UK’s backcourt this past season. The freshman guard averaged 9.6 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 3.1 assists per game. Isiah lead all Kentucky guards in rebounding, recorded two double-doubles, and provided elite defense during the course of the season. Although Briscoe had a positive season playing for the University of Kentucky, he did not necessarily play up to the ranking he earned when he committed to UK. Briscoe’s shooting percentage was rather low, and his poor jump shot only complemented things. Thankfully, his ball-handling skills, and elite defense helps supersede his other struggles. Although Briscoe originally opted for the NBA Draft, he decided to withdraw from the draft, and has decided to return to UK to undergo his sophomore season. His strong leadership should definitely complement this year’s talent that Coach Cal has brought in.
Although the Wildcat’s loss to Indiana in the second round of the NCAA Tournament was an early elimination for Coach Calipari and company, the Cats will come out strong next year. Regardless of the difficult matchup too early on in the tournament, UK players did not play well enough to win this game. Coach Cal provided his strong leadership and helped his team grow on and off the court throughout the course of the season. Coach Calipari’s many years of elite recruitment continued, as he was able to lure several top prospects to the Bluegrass State for next season.
University of Kentucky Class of 2020