LEXINGTON, Ky. – Once an overlooked recruit coming out of high school, former Kentucky men’s basketball player Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is now an All-Rookie player in the NBA.
Gilgeous-Alexander made the 2018-19 NBA All-Rookie Second Team, as announced by the league Tuesday. He was the sixth-leading vote getter after leading the Los Angeles Clippers to the postseason with a brilliant first-year campaign.
The 11th overall pick of the 2018 NBA Draft is the 11th Wildcat in the John Calipari era to earn NBA All-Rookie honors. Gilgeous-Alexanders was joined on the All-Rookie Second team by Collin Sexton (Cleveland Cavaliers), Landry Shamet (Los Angeles Clippers), Mitchell Robinson (New York Knicks) and Kevin Huerter (Atlanta Hawks).
Former teammate and UK star Kevin Knox, who averaged 12.8 points and 4.5 rebounds for the New York Knicks this season, also earned All-Rookie votes.
The NBA All-Rookie Teams were selected by a global panel of sportswriters and broadcasters. The media voted for five players for the first team and five players for the second team at any position. Players received two points for each first-team vote and one point for each second-team vote.
Gilgeous-Alexander built on his breakout freshman season at Kentucky with a stellar rookie season with the Clippers. As the team’s starting point guard, Gilgeous-Alexander averaged 10.8 points, 3.3 assists and 2.8 rebounds, in addition to a solid 13.45 player efficiency rating.
According to the Clippers, among teams with a record above .500, Gilgeous-Alexander led all rookies in minutes per game (28.5) and scoring (10.8). He scored 20 or more points in eight games this season, including four of his last seven.
Two of those were in the first round of the playoffs against the two-time defending world champion Golden State Warriors. Gilgeous-Alexander posted 13.7 points in the series, including a career-high 25 points on 9-of-15 shooting in game four on the road. It was the most points in the playoffs by a rookie in Clippers history.
Gilgeous-Alexander shot 47.6 percent for the season and 36.7 percent from 3-point range.
The first-year success came after a tremendous season at UK in 2017-18. After moving into the starting lineup in early January of 2018, Gilgeous-Alexander averaged 16.4 points, 5.7 assists and 4.6 rebounds over the final 22 games of the season. Capped by his 29 points in the Southeastern Conference championship game, he averaged a team-best 21.0 points, 6.7 assists and 5.0 rebounds while shooting 55.3 percent from the floor en route to Most Valuable Player honors at the SEC Tournament.
Gilgeous-Alexander was named to the All-SEC Second Team, the SEC All-Freshman Team and the U.S. Basketball Writers Association District IV Team. He led Kentucky in assists with a 5.1 average, ranked fourth in the SEC and finished third on the all-time freshman assists list with 189, behind only John Wall (241) and Marquis Teague (191).
Defensively, Gilgeous-Alexander was a menace, averaging 1.6 steals per game. That was the third most in the SEC, and his 61 total steals are the third most by a freshman in school history, behind only Rajon Rondo (87) and Wall (66).
Gilgeous-was one of five Kentucky players to make their NBA debuts this season. Gilgeous-Alexander, Knox, Hamidou Diallo (Oklahoma City Thunder), Jarred Vanderbilt (Denver Nuggets) and Wenyen Gabriel (Sacramento Kings) from the 2018 draft class all appeared on an NBA roster this season. Additionally, former UK players Isaiah Briscoe (Orland Magic) and Isaac Humphries (Atlanta Hawks) also made their NBA debuts.
A nation-leading 33 Wildcats appeared on an NBA roster in 2018-19 with more on the way.
From the 2018-19 team, Kentucky stars PJ Washington, Tyler Herro and Keldon Johnson are all in the 2019 NBA Draft. Nick Richards and EJ Montgomery have declared but have left open the option to return to UK. Under NCAA rules, they have until May 29 to make a final decision.
Since Calipari joined the Wildcat program for the 2009-10 season, UK has produced 35 NBA Draft picks over nine seasons, nearly twice as many as the next-closest school (Duke). Included in the 35 are 26 first-rounders, three No. 1 overall picks and 19 lottery selections.