What Devin Askew's decision to transfer from Kentucky means for 2021-22 roster
LEXINGTON - Scratch one name off the list of potential point guards for Kentucky basketball next season.
Freshman Devin Askew, who started 20 of 25 games this season, has decided to transfer.
"I am thankful for the opportunity I had to play basketball at the University of Kentucky,” Askew said in a UK news release. "I am also thankful for the coaching staff as they provided an experience that contributed to my development in this game I love. My teammates will be my friends forever and I appreciate how they pushed me day in and day out to get better.
"With that being said, it will be part of my growth in this game to explore a new opportunity and enter the transfer portal."
Askew's departure ends an up-and-down year at Kentucky that saw him take much of the criticism from fans for the team's abysmal 9-16 record. After graduating high school a year early to enroll at Kentucky, Askew averaged 6.5 points, 2.9 assists and two turnovers per game.
He twice lost the starting point guard job, once to freshman Terrence Clarke in December and once to senior Davion Mintz for the final three games of the season.
Still, Askew, a California native, insisted late in the season he would not leave Kentucky like a handful of other west coast players had in recent years.
"I’m not one of those kids," Askew said in February. "I’m here for good, staying here."
With Askew's departure, the last five players signed by Kentucky from the west coast have elected to transfer before finishing their eligibility. Former Wildcat Johnny Juzang, a Los Angeles native, transferred from Kentucky to UCLA after the 2019-20 season then led the Bruins to the Final Four last week.
"This is the part of the business I hate," Calipari said in the release. "I wish I could coach every kid for four years, but I have to respect Devin’s decision and I do. I will always be here to help him. My hope – and I told him this – is that he takes the fight he learned here with him wherever he goes. He was a great teammate and improved in so many ways as the season wore on. I will be rooting for Devin as he takes this next step."
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How Devin Askew's transfer affects the 2021-22 roster
While Askew's father had told at least one reporter since the end of the season the plan was for his son to return to Kentucky next season, a possible transfer had been rumored behind the scenes for weeks.
Kentucky has signed four-star point guard Nolan Hickman in the 2021 class and could return Mintz thanks to the NCAA's extra year of eligibility. John Calipari is also believed to be pursuing other high-level point guard targets in the transfer portal as he looks to address the need for a lead guard that can consistently drive to the rim and create shots for his teammates.
If Mintz returns and Kentucky signs a transfer point guard, Askew's would have faced an uphill battle for minutes next season, though he still could have contributed. Former Wildcat Immanuel Quickley faced a similar situation after a poor freshman season and still blossomed into the SEC Player of the Year and a first-round draft pick as a sophomore.
Now, the need for Kentucky to sign a transfer point guard increases. The Wildcats have been linked to former Minnesota star Marcus Carr, but he is testing the draft waters before deciding whether to play another season of college basketball at another school.
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Kentucky signed Davidson guard Kellan Grady as a transfer last week, but he is viewed as a strong scoring option off the ball rather than a lead guard to initiate the offense.
Mintz proved in the final three games he could play point guard if needed -- he totaled 23 assists and three turnovers after taking the job from Askew -- but he lacks the driving ability Calipari typically wants from his primary ball-handlers.
Email Jon Hale at email@example.com; Follow him on Twitter at @JonHale_CJ.