There hasn’t been a player at Kentucky like Michael Kidd-Gilchrist in a long time. He is young and talented, yet humble and soft spoken. He is a freshman, but the bigger the game and the tougher the opponent, the more the ball belongs in the hands of MKG.
His high character is not something you see in a player of his caliber. We are used to brash and cocky in the sports culture where a player knows that he is better than everyone else. We have had our share of them at Kentucky in recent seasons and some would argue that there are a few of them on the team right now; Kidd-Gilchrist is not counted as one of that type of player. He goes against the grain.
Maybe it was his upbringing that forged his make-up. He was forced to be mature at a younger age than most as he lost his father in a tragic shooting and was raised by a caring mother and a doting uncle that encouraged him to be great at everything he does. That uncle, whom he shares the surname Kidd as a tribute, died suddenly of a heart attack the day that Michael was to sign his national letter of intent to Kentucky.
All that he has done since he has stepped foot in Lexington is earn the praise and admiration of his fans, the national media, his coach and his teammates. All of it is much deserved as he continues to be the play maker in big game situations. Here are his stats for Kentucky’s three biggest games of the season:
Versus Kansas: 12 points, 9 rebounds, 3 blocks, 1 steal, 4 assists
Versus North Carolina: 17 points, 11 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 block, 1 steal
At Indiana: 18 points, 9 rebounds, 2 blocks, 2 steals
He is getting it done on the court as impressively and as consistently as any freshman in the country. He is even rivaling preseason All American upperclassmen as the best player in the country.
As well as he has been playing he has also been as wonderful with his attitude. After Darius Miller put on a gutty performance to defeat Old Dominion, Kidd-Gilchrist went to John Calipari and told him to start Miller in his spot. He was not concerned with his numbers or how diminished playing time could hurt his draft status; he was concerned with giving his team the best chance to win basketball games.
Of course John Calipari told him that he would remain in the starting line up. His infectious attitude and spark is essential in what Kentucky wants to accomplish this season which is high energy, high motor basketball.
Kidd-Gilchrist is that rare player, much like a Chuck Hayes or a Jeff Shepard, that combines skill and talent with work ethic and determination. He won’t ever quit playing hard and no matter what mistakes he may make, he will make up for them ten fold on the next play.
I will be a pleasure to see what magnificent things he will bring to the team this season. He fell short one game short of a championship with his high school team last season. That season was well documented in the fantastic documentary Prayer for a Perfect Season. Nobody on this team wants to accomplish the goal of winning a national championship more than Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. And winning one might come down to the game being in his hands. I for one would be extremely confident in the outcome.