Two Lead Guards Battle It Out In Lexington
What: (22) Tennessee at (18) Kentucky
When: Saturday, January 15th
Time: 1:00 PM ET
How To Watch: ESPN/WatchESPN
If you look at the top of most mock drafts recently, there aren’t a lot of guards going high in the lottery. Jaden Ivey from Purdue will likely be a top-5 pick, and Wisconsin’s Johnny Davis should also go in the top ten if he keeps playing at this high of a level. Other than that, the next guard on most big boards is the G-League Ignite’s Jaden Hardy.
This weekend, though, we get a chance to take a look at two of the top leading guards in the country. Kennedy Chandler is a smaller guard for Tennessee who plays at an up-tempo pace and has the leadership attitude you need in great point guards. He will be facing off with TyTy Washington from Kentucky. Washington has been playing off-ball a lot for the Wildcats this season, but I think it’s safe to assume he’ll be asked to handle the ball a lot at the NBA level.
Both of these players are fearless leaders and like to play up-tempo. With that being said, who doesn’t play up-tempo anymore? Anyways, Chandler is on the smaller side, standing only at 6’1 and weighing in at well under 200 lbs. His biggest strengths are literally his strength, play-making ability, and scoring. He is not afraid to get physical with much bigger guards and is a tight perimeter defender. He can score the ball from all over but will need to get more consistent.
This season for the Volunteers, he’s only shooting 43% from the field and 34% from three. However, he has a solid shooting motion, so there’s reason to believe he’ll be able to improve on that at the next level. Chandler is going to play Washington straight up and will be aggressive with him, as he can get lazy with his ball-handling at times. The key for him, and Tennessee for that matter, is to take risks when defending, but not so much that he’s giving wide-open shots from the perimeter. He’ll push the tempo for head coach Rick Barnes, but he also needs to stay out of foul trouble throughout the game.
Washington, on the other hand, is more of the full package. He’s 6’3″ and looks even bigger than that on the court. Kentucky head coach John Calipari has found a way to use Washington effectively while minimizing his mistakes. On top of that, the guy is just a hooper. He has a great shooting form that will only improve at the next level. He’s also very quick with the ball and blows by a lot of defenders rather easily. On the defensive end, he’s also very aggressive. Washington excels on the defensive end thanks to his quick first step and instincts.
Watching Chandler and Washington go back and forth all afternoon on Saturday sounds like a great time to me. Overall, Kentucky is the better team, but this is a great opportunity to watch Chandler and Washington when they need to be playing at their best. Oh, and it doesn’t hurt that Tennessee and Kentucky hate each other.