When it comes to the success of the Kentucky men's basketball team, what is Michael Kidd-Gilchrist's most important attribute?
Defense. Rebounding. Leadership. Scoring. It's hard to know what the right answer is, which means the right answer is most likely that there is no answer--because it's not any ONE thing that makes MKG such an important cog in John Calipari's Big Blue machine. The sum is greater than any individual piece, in the case of Kidd-Gilchrist.
And it makes for an interesting discussion when it comes to things like All-America teams, Player of the Year awards and the like. Do you vote first for Kidd-Gilchrist or do you vote for fellow UK freshman Anthony Davis?
"I think (he) has had the biggest effect on winning," replied veteran college basketball scribe Mike DeCourcy of The Sporting News, when ask why he opted for Kidd-Gilchrist on his midseason All-American first team. "He's been a very impressive player in every respect. I think Anthony is a terrific player and don't forget, we had Anthony on our preseason first team. And I think it's quite possible Anthony could wind up on the first team by the end of the year."
Kidd-Gilchrist has played some of his basketball in the Cats' biggest games. 12 points, nine rebounds against Kansas. His first career double-double (17 points, 11 boards) in the one-point win over North Carolina. Against Indiana, he went for 18 and nine while also guarding the Hooisers' best perimeter player. And in the win over Louisville, Kidd-Gilchrist had 24 points and 19 rebounds (the highest total at UK in six years).
CBS' Clark Kellogg was courtside for Kidd-Gilchrist's tour de force against UofL.
"I think you start with his attitude and his tenacity. He plays with tremendous heart and focus and purpose. When you do that, you have a chance to impact winning," Kellogg said.
There's that phrase again--"impact winning." And MKG does it in a variety of ways.
"He enjoys playing defense, he's a tremendous rebounder. He plays with an enthusiasm that is contagious. 24 (points) and 19 (rebounds) for a guy who is not an interior player is just off the charts," Kellogg said on "The Leach Report" radio show. "This kid is more than just a producitve player. He wants to lead other players to their best level of play.
"That was as strong a performance as I've seen in a long time, especially for a freshman," Kellogg added.
So what does Kidd-Gilchrist think about all of this praise?
"It doesn't drive me at all," he said. "It's good to know. My family and friends drive me the most. I just feed off them."