Coming out of high school as a consensus five-star recruit and top five player in the nation, Zion Williamson essentially had his pick of the litter when it came to choosing which school to attend. While traditional powerhouse Kentucky made a serious pass at the generational talent, he ultimately ended up teaming forces with fellow top recruits R.J. Barrett and Cam Reddish to form a super-team at Duke.
Meanwhile, Tyler Herro was a top recruit in his own right, just not as nationally recognized or highly ranked as Williamson. Despite being a four-star recruit and the 37th ranked player in the nation, Herro came into Kentucky (after decommitting from Wisconsin) as the lowest ranked player in the Wildcats 2018 recruiting class.
Zion Williamson Heaped Praise on Kentucky’s Tyler Herro During Recruiting
It would seem only fitting that Duke and Kentucky would face off in their first game of the season. Well before the matchup, Williamson spoke a bit to the media regarding Duke’s expectations on the year and more importantly, just how good Tyler Herro is.
Specifically, regarding Herro, Williamson had some extremely high praise, saying:
“Tyler is like probably the most underrated player in our class. He’s a very smooth and skilled scorer and I feel that goes unnoticed sometimes.”
Duke would go on to throttle Kentucky 118-84 and make a statement to the world that they were the team to beat in college basketball this year. To Kentucky’s credit, however, they worked back hard from the loss and put together one of the best seasons in the nation, earning a second seed in the NCAA Tournament.
How Tyler Herro’s Recruitment has Helped Kentucky’ March Madness Run
Traditionally, Kentucky has always been known as a defense-first team under John Calipari. With the exception of the Anthony Davis season and the infamous “platoon” year, Kentucky mostly struggles with consistent scoring despite having a top recruiting class year in, year out.
Enter Tyler Herro, whose outside shooting and reliability as a secondary scoring option for the Wildcats have been invaluable. In fact, Herro’s play has only gotten stronger as Wildcats have rolled into March Madness. While initially serving mostly as an off-ball scoring option early on in the season, Herro has developed into a secondary ball-handler for the Wildcats and has seen his assist numbers steadily rise up throughout the year.
The combination of consistent outside shooting and a secondary playmaking option have given the Wildcats a different dimension to their offense. Able to step up and make plays when PJ Washington is off (or injured), Herro helps keep defenses honest and stops them from sagging off the three-point line to protect the paint. In prior years, opposing defenses have loaded up the paint against Kentucky to stop drives to the rim. This year, Herro’s floor spacing allows Kentucky’s elite athletes to attack more easily without facing a double or triple team.
At the end of the day, it looks like Zion Williamson was right back in April of 2018. Tyler Herro has turned out to be one of the most underrated players in his class and is a crucial component to Kentucky and their deep run into the March Madness tournament.