I just want to take a second to personally thank The Fox for his March performance even though he came inches short of reaching the Final 4. He was unequivocally the most underrated and least talked about Kentucky player of the John Calipari era, and during this tournament he stepped up to lead the Wildcats while simultaneously derailing the Lonzo Ball hype train all by his lonesome.
The comparisons to John Wall are easy because of his Kentucky roots but they’re also extremely accurate. While Wall is coincidentally having his superstar breakout season with the Wizards, Fox was reincarnating the former Kentucky guard with a similar build and very similar style of play. The knock on Fox all year has been that he can’t shoot, and while his shot is nothing to write home about it’s every other part of his game that’s transcendent at the college level.
With his devastating quickness and elite ball handling Fox can get into the paint at will. Once he gets there he’s developed a floater that seemingly falls 9 out of every 10 times and if there’s nobody home he’ll finish at the rim with the best of them. The only way to try and stop him was to double him at the top of the key which led to mismatches and open shooters around the court.
His 39 points against UCLA Friday night was incredible for both the talent and skills he showcased as well as the competitive fire he encapsulated. On one hand you had Lonzo Ball who’s been crowned the Next Big Thing by every analyst across the country. On the other you had Fox who’s been billed as a great guard but NOWHERE NEAR the level of guys like Ball, Markelle Fultz, and even Dennis Smith to a lesser extent. So while it was obvious De’Aaron Fox was out to prove the haters wrong, it was the passion that he has for the game that really drew me in these past few weeks.
Now I know it’s often difficult to read into other player’s emotions but here’s Lonzo Ball’s comments after the Kentucky loss where he declared he was going pro.
I’m sorry but that does not seem like a guy who’s heartbroken to me. Kentucky players are always labeled with the 1-and-done shtick and that they just show up to school as a 1 year formality before they turn pro. But Lonzo seemed like the one who didn’t really give a shit and is just ready to take his “brand” to the next level.
Meanwhile, here’s De’Aaron Fox after the North Carolina loss two days later:
I’m not saying you need to cry to make me believe that you care, but those two reactions to a loss couldn’t have been more polar opposite. Fox is my favorite type of college player, someone who has immense talent but some imperfections that leave a chip on their shoulder. Someone who steps up in the biggest moments and the biggest games to try and carry his team. It’s sad we won’t be able to watch The Fox on the prowl for just one more year at Kentucky. What’s even more sad is while De’Aaron Fox is crying, Coach Calipari cares more about his brand (30 for 30 doc coming out soon on him) and gives 0 fucks because he has 5 new 5 stars coming in to replace his current crop.
Out with the old, in with the new. But no matter who’s next in line for Coach Cal’s blue chippers, I’ll take some comfort in the fact that there will always be only 1 Fox.