Given how his season has unfolded, it can be easy to forget that Sacha Killeya-Jones was one of four McDonald's All-Americans who joined the Kentucky program this summer.
While fellow freshmen De'Aaron Fox, Malik Monk, Wenyen Gabriel and Bam Adebayo have all thrived for the Wildcats, Jones has not appeared in UK's last seven games and has not logged double-digit minutes since Nov. 28 against Arizona State.
That has many fans wondering what's up with the Chapel Hill, N.C., native. After all, high school All-Americans are supposed to "succeed and proceed" at Kentucky.
"Still working. He's trying," UK head coach John Calipari said Friday prior to the Cats' practice for this weekend's matchup with Georgia. "Guys are ahead of him right now, and it's a hard deal. Now you've got to fight your way through practice to get ahead because you're not going to get in the game before a guy who's beating you in practice. It just doesn't work that way. So he’s a little bit behind."
The 6-foot-10 Jones had some good moments in November, including a 12-point effort against UT-Martin and a six-rebound game against Arizona State. He is averaging 2.7 points and 2.1 rebounds per game, numbers that aren't too different from that of backup center Isaac Humphries, but the latter has played in all 26 games for the Cats and logged 145 more minutes.
Jones has also slipped behind redshirt freshman Tai Wynyard, who has earned more recent minutes in the rotation by providing a more physical presence around the basket.
Making matters even more difficult, an illness caused Jones to miss several practices and games against Georgia and Florida.
Despite the setbacks, Jones remains upbeat, according to Calipari. Hold off on those obligatory transfer rumors.
"You know, I’ve had some individual meetings with him and talked to him," Calipari said. "Like he said, ‘I understood coming here that this was going to be hard, so I’ve got to work through it.'"