141890036 Rising Star: Kentuckys Michael Kidd Gilchrist

(credit: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

By: Mark Chalifoux

The NCAA tournament has seen some stellar games, but the only team to really stand out thus far is the tournament’s No. 1 overall seed, Kentucky. The Wildcats boast a lineup stock full of the nation’s best young players, led by player of the year candidate Anthony Davis.

Right with him, though, is freshman forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. While Davis will likely be the first pick in the NBA draft, Kidd-Gilchrist will be right behind him. His numbers won’t shock you because he’s on a stacked team and he doesn’t worry about filling the stat sheet, but he is a guy that brings a lot of intangibles to the court. Also, his numbers aren’t bad, either. He averaged nearly 12 points and 7 rebounds this season for Kentucky and he’s stepped his game up to the next level in the past two tournament games.

He scored 24 points (it helped that he went 10-10 from the free throw line) and put up 10 rebounds in a win over Baylor to get to the elite 8. His ability to finish in transition helped Kentucky turn the matchup into a laugher. The output was more than his first two tournament games combined (11 points in the first two rounds) and he followed that up with 19 points and 5 rebounds against Indiana to lead Kentucky to the Final Four.

He’s shown the ability to take over games and he has NBA scouts excited because he’s a good, energetic wing who can score and play tough defense. His jumpshot still isn’t where it needs to be, but Kidd-Gilchrist can definitely finish from the multitude of chances his team creates and can get to the rim with ease.

Anything can happen in the Final Four, especially since Kentucky is playing it’s archrival in the semifinals. Still, it’s just as likely that the Wildcats could win the National Title running away, and if that happens, you can bet that Kidd-Gilchrist will look more like the player we saw in the last two games and not the one from the first two games of this tournament.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist highlights

Mark Chalifoux is a contributing writer to CBS Local Digital Media and can be reached at mark.chalifoux@gmail.com and @markchalifoux on Twitter.


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