Wildcat Confidential: 2017-18 Wildcats dish on teammates, pt. I

In August, we sat down with 13 of the 14 Wildcats from the 2017-18 Kentucky men’s basketball team and asked them seven questions about their teammates, the upcoming season and Kentucky basketball in general. Below is part I of the players’ answers and, without divulging who said what, a few candid quotes that stood out from each subject. Yes, we got this idea from the folks at CBS Sports, who annually do a Candid Coaches series. (If an answer got 0.5 it indicates that the player couldn’t pick one answer.) You can read part II here.

Teammate who surprised you the most this summer …
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander – 6
Wenyen Gabriel – 3
Hamidou Diallo – 1
Kevin Knox – 1
Tai Wynyard – 1
Everybody – 1

Most athletic teammate …
Hamidou Diallo – 12
Nick Richards – 1

Strongest teammate …
Tai Wynyard – 6
PJ Washington – 4.5
Nick Richards – 2.5

Most versatile teammate …
Jarred Vanderbilt – 5.0
Kevin Knox – 4.0
PJ Washington – 2.5
Wenyen Gabriel – 1.5

Quotes that stood out

Teammate who surprised you the most this summer …
“(Shai) was a guy that flew under the radar kind of and I had never seen him play. I’ve seen a lot of these guys play. Once I got to play with him and against him, it shocked me how good he was. He’s a 6-(foot)-6 point guard, brings a lot to the table.”

“Shai, because I really didn’t see him a lot in the AAU circuit. Just seeing him every day, it’s really surprised me how good he is and how much people have slept on him. I’m just excited to see him play this year.”

“I haven’t really seen (Shai) play like that. You read a lot of stuff on paper and you don’t really think he’s a Kentucky player. So, just to see him dominate everybody on the court like that, that surprised me the most out of everybody.”

“Hami. Just because of the way he’s grown as a leader, the way his shooting has improved and everything. He’s really been incredible. I think being here the second semester last year was huge for him and just getting to go against guys like Malik (Monk) and (De’Aaron) Fox every single day. So yeah, he’s really impressed me.”

“I think Kevin Knox. His shot is really good, which I don’t think people understood about him. He really stood (out).”

“I would say Wenyen. Because Wenyen, coming from last year, he had a hard year, I would say, in my opinion. But now he’s relaxed, a more confident player and he’s more experienced with all of us here. So he’s been there. He’s done that, everything we’re trying to do and he’s trying to make it too.”

“Wenyen just because of how good he’s become over the summer, how much better he’s gotten. On the perimeter he’s shooting well and he’s driving, dunking, everything. So, definitely he has gotten a lot better.”

“I’d say Tai. I didn’t know anything about Tai before I came, but he’s shown me a lot since he’s been on campus.”

Most athletic teammate …
“Hamidou. For sure. Jump out the gym, great defender as well. Strong. He’s the most athletic.”

“Hamidou. He’s dunked a couple of ridiculous balls. Like, ridiculous. Like, oh my God.”

“Probably Hamidou. He just jumps out the gym. Every dunk he does his head is at the rim.”

“Hamidou. When a dude got a 44-inch vertical, I’m pretty sure he’s really athletic. One of the highest verticals probably in the country, to be honest. It’s fun to watch him dunk. I definitely give it to him.”

“Hamidou. It’s not even a question.”

Strongest teammate …
“Tai. He’s an ox.”

“Tai Wynyard for sure. His dad grew up, I think he was a lumberjack or something like that, I think it was, in New Zealand. He definitely comes from a strong family. I think he’s like 260, moves everything in the paint.”

“Probably Tai. Tai is pretty strong. The way he utilizes his weight. He just weighs on you. He’s a pretty big guy. The way he seals off just for rebounding and everything, he’s really improved.”

“Tai is probably the strongest on the team. Whenever he wants to, nobody can outrebound him. … Tai sometimes it’s hard to get rebounds over him.”

“Tai, definitely Tai. He just pushes everybody out of the way. There’s not a lot you can do. He gets every rebound so you just basically have to foul him.”

“P.J. Call him little Charles Barkley. He’s just like him. Built just like him.”

Most versatile teammate …
“I would say Jarred because he plays like Lamar Odom.”

“I’m going to have to say P.J. and Jarred because, like I said, they’re 6-8, 6-9, play pretty much any position, handle it, take it off the rebound, pass it, shoot it. They can pretty much do anything.”

“I’ll go with Kevin, because he’s 6-foot-9, 6-foot-10, can shoot the ball like a guard, can handle the ball like a guard and then he moves his feet really well. So he can guard other guards or he can guard big men, so he’s extremely versatile. But with a team like this, we have a lot of those guys.”