When you think of the forwards who have played at Kentucky under Coach John Calipari, one word comes to mind – greatness. Patrick Patterson, Terrence Jones, Julius Randle, Trey Lyles, Kevin Knox, PJ Washington – all Wildcat legends who left behind a legacy that nobody in Big Blue Nation will ever forget. This past year, Coach Calipari brought in the next great forward – one that the entire fanbase will come to love. Enter Chris Livingston.
A Body and Background Built for Greatness
Chris is a 6’6’’ bulldog, weighing in at almost 200 pounds. Livingston enters the collegiate level blessed with a body and frame that will help him adjust to the innately more physical game better than 99% of all other incoming freshmen. Add in his skill and talent level, and Livingston should absolutely thrive right off the bat. In the final recruiting rankings of this past year, he ranked 10th on Rivals, 11th on 247 Sports Composite, 12th on ESPN, and 19th on ON3. He also earned a spot in the McDonald’s All-American Game, as well as the Jordan Brand Classic.
Livingston is from Akron, Ohio, and is considered the best player to come out of that city since Lebron James. He spent his high school years at the prestigious Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson, Virginia – a school whose alumni list includes Kevin Durant, and Carmelo Anthony, as well as former Kentucky standouts Rajon Rondo, Ron Mercer, Doron Lamb, and Keldon Johnson. Playing at Oak Hill will bode well for Livingston’s transition to the collegiate level – as his alma mater is known to be the greatest high school basketball program of all time with nine national championships. It’s fitting that he would end up at Kentucky – the greatest college basketball team of all time – where he can help lead the program to its ninth national title next season.
Will He Rise to the Occasion?
In his senior campaign at Oak Hill, Livingston averaged 17.1 points, 8 rebounds, and 2 assists per game. In an interview with the Courier Journal, 247 Sports analyst Travis Banham said about the incoming freshman forward, “If Chris rises to the occasion like he can, then he’s going to be a productive guy who will score the basketball, who will make some shots. He’ll defend, he’ll rebound, he’ll get out in transition. He just has that talent and ability to impact the game in a wide variety of ways if he’s going to be determined to do it on any given day.”
When Livingston arrived on campus in Lexington, he stated that he would love to play the 2-guard position. While he may not have the jumpshot (yet) to actively and consistently take on that role, putting him in scenarios where he has height, length, and athleticism advantages over his defender (which he would against most college 2’s) could help him thrive in driving to the basket, especially in coach Cal’s famous dribble-drive style of offense.
At the Jordan Brand Classic this past spring, ESPN interviewed Livingston mid-game. When asked what the Big Blue Nation can expect out of him when he steps on campus, he said, “Someone that plays hard and can do it all. And has love for the game. I’m going to do my thing when I first get there and continue the whole time that I am there. Go Big Blue Nation!”
As of right now, you can expect Livingston to be another one-and-done freshman. The majority of NBA Mock Drafts have him within the 20-30 range. If he has the season everyone knows he is more than capable of, and really takes control of scoring the ball and plays solid, consistent defense, he can easily move up the draft board into the lottery. Big Blue Nation and Coach Cal have high expectations for Livingston, and this season will go from good to great if he lives up to them.