This came to me while watching the game last night and some post on the game thread. During the first half the announcers mentioned the scenario of “imagine if Kihei had go to UC Davis?” and that got my wife and I talking about what would Kihei have looked like if he played at UC Davis and never made his way to Charlottesville. We both came to the conclusion that he would not look like the player he is now or the one he is developing into.
First the obvious he would have never been a National Champion at UC Davis so that’s obvious. But more interestingly I don’t he he develops into the individual player he is under a different coaching staff. UVa gave Kihei the opportunity to learn side-by-side with 3 players all plying their trade in the NBA right now. He’s openly mentioned how Ty helped him in his development last year. He is also benefiting from learning at the hands of CTB he’s a former NBA pg with a ton of knowledge. The staff are developing his game throughout his time at UVa. This is common of most programs but perhaps the style of play and the shift in roles are forcing him to learn and develop some areas of his game that were not his normal go-to moves.
While plenty of other programs offer similar resources it takes finding the right fit for each individual player. At UVa I believe the staff found a way to not only maximize Kihei’s ability but they raised the potential ceiling he had. Part of that was by force of playing with better players and exposure and part of it is coaching etc.
Either way, I think Kihei is becoming one of my favorite players to watch because I feel like he is growing before my eyes. What I expected of him as a 5’8 recruit changed after watching him scrap and fight last season. What I expected of him as a seasoned first year heading into the tournament is different than what I expected of him heading into his second year on a team in flux, and what I expect of him now is far different than what I thought he was capable of even in December. I’m not sure I remember a case when I’ve seen a player not only grow into his expectations but actually move the bar continuously.