NBA Draft 2012: A Closer Look at Kentucky's Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
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That sums up Kentucky's Michael Kidd-Gilchrist in a nut shell.
The Somerdale, New Jersey native won a high school state championship when he was just 15 years old playing next to current Cavaliers stud point guard Kyrie Irving at St. Patrick High School. He then proceeded to lead the team to a one-loss season without Irving his senior year, earned a gold medal at the FIBA U-17 World Championships, and won a national championship in his sole season at Kentucky.
"I just hate losing," he rationalized to a group of reporters at the NBA combine.
And you best believe his winning attitude is contagious.
In a January game against the unranked Tennessee Volunteers, the Wildcats found themselves down by a score of 34-28 at the intermission. Kidd-Gilchrist came into the locker room angry and inspired his team to come out strong in the second half and earn the hard-fought victory.
Former teammate and likely No. 1 pick Anthony Davis explained, "(He was) really feisty because we weren't playing like we were supposed to. That's just how he plays. You know he's got a will to win, and he brings a lot."
While he may have a calm demeanor off the court, the consensus second-team All-American performer is a tenacious animal on it. He does all of the intangibles—from setting screens to diving on the floor for loose balls—something rarely seen nowadays amongst star players.
Due to his excellent athleticism paired with his strong 6'8" frame and quickness, Kidd-Gilchrist is also a lockdown defensive player on the perimeter. His incredible motor allows him to go just as hard at the end of a game as at the beginning.
Teams at the next level will be asking him to guard the likes of LeBron James and Kevin Durant, but given his competitive nature, he will surely be up for the challenge.
Kidd-Gilchrist's best individual game of the regular season came in a New Year's Eve rivalry match-up against the Louisville Cardinals. It was a total slugfest from start to finish, with a whopping 51 total fouls called.
In other words, it was the perfect setting for the 18-year-old star.
MKG, as they call him, lit it up from the floor, going for season-highs in both points and rebounds—with 24 and 19 respectively—and helped Kentucky get the 69-62 win.
"He wasn't bothered as much as some of the others by the physical play," head coach John Calipari said. "He almost relished it."
Not that he needed it, but Kidd-GIlchrist had two more signature performances in the NCAA tournament.
The first came in the Sweet 16 against the Indiana Hoosiers. Coming off the worst performance of his collegiate career—a two-point, seven-rebound effort against Iowa State—he more than made up for it with his double-double of 24 points and 10 boards.
Kidd-Gilchrist's dominance continued into the next round when he scored 19 points on 7-of-10 shooting with five boards against the Baylor Bears. He went a perfect 14-of-14 from the free-throw line in these two games.
How good will Kidd-Gilchrist be at the next level?
His brilliant play clinched a second-consecutive Final Four berth for the Wildcats and earned him the recognition of being named the South Region's Most Outstanding Player.
With draft day coming up on June 28, Kidd-Gilchrist is currently projected to go either second or third overall. He claims, however, that he doesn't mind when or where he ends up going.
"One, two, 10, 11, 30, it doesn't matter to me," he told the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
Professional scouts are in love with the Kentucky forward's work ethic, winning ways, desire and defensive play. His scoring ability, on the other hand, is in doubt because of his poor jump shot and unconventional shooting mechanics.
The lack of a go-to move offensively may prevent Kidd-Gilchrist from ever becoming a superstar, though he certainly could be a great second banana-type player. In fact, he cited one of the game's best ever sidekicks when asked about a role model.
"I like (Scottie) Pippen," he stated. "I like Pippen's game a lot. That's old school."
The best case scenarios for him on draft day are to wind up either in Washington or Cleveland, the latter of which would likely have to trade up to acquire him.
With the Wizards, he would be able to play alongside former Kentucky star John Wall. Fast breaks with the two uber-athletic players would be nearly impossible to stop. He would also bring his winning mentality into a young club house that needs more positive influences.
If the Cavaliers are able to make a trade with either Charlotte or Washington to snag Kidd-Gilchrist, he would be reunited with Irving. He would help them establish their defensive mindset and be a huge piece to their rebuilding project.
Regardless, the future is bright for this gym rat and he is ready to prove to the world that he can win at the biggest stage in basketball.
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