Last night, in the biggest game of his life, Kentucky forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was held scoreless for the first 30 minutes. But after Louisville's Peyton Siva tied the game on a three-pointer midway through the second half, the freshman sensation scored two quick baskets that put the Wildcats up for good. He finished the game with nine points, all coming in late, crucial moments.
Kidd-Gilchrist is one of the NCAA's best players. He spent his first season contributing in almost every aspect to a team some believe might be the best college basketball has ever seen. With averages of 11.9 PPG (on just 8.2 shots per game) and 7.5 RPG, while delivering elite defense every minute he's out there, Kidd-Gilchrist has been a consistent force of ferocity.
One possible negative to take away from his only collegiate season has been the slightly alarming fact that as his minutes have gone up, Kidd-Gilchrist's FG% and PPG have gone down, according to StatSheet.com. Also, he's only surpassed the 20-point scoring mark two times.
But looking at these arguments from another angle, the fact that Kentucky's roster is filled with future NBA players may be a reason for the "tempered" scoring numbers. Also, his FG% and scoring didn't exactly fall off a cliff.
Most draft analysts predict the 6'7" forward will be a top three pick in the upcoming draft, and his ability to impact the game both ways makes him one of the surest high value selections to come along in a while. His game is high energy, attacking in transition, and finishing at the basket with incredible efficiency.
If there are any current NBA players who Kidd-Gilchrist could end up emulating, Luol Deng, Andre Iguodala, and Gerald Wallace would be the biggest names. He's a hard worker who should only improve as his career progresses. His versatile style would make him a perfect fit on almost any team likely to receive a high draft pick, but if he's picked by Washington and paired with John Wall, the situation could be extremely beneficial for everyone involved.
Ultimately, his success could be decided on whether he can defend the perimeter like those three All-Stars, knock down wide open shots, and create occassional offense on his own. There's no doubting the future for Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is a bright one.