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ESPN No. 44 Shai Alexander commits to Kentucky

Former Florida commit Shai Alexander is staying in the SEC, committing to Kentucky on Monday morning.

Alexander, who decommitted from the Gators in October, chose Kentucky over Syracuse, Texas and UNLV. Florida also remained involved after the parting of ways last month. Forty-three schools reached out to Alexander once he decommitted, sources told ESPN.

Alexander, a 6-foot-5 point guard, is ranked No. 44 in the ESPN 100. The Canada native plays at Hamilton Heights Christian Academy (Tennessee).

"It was fast-paced, that's for sure," said Zach Ferrell, the head coach at Hamilton Heights. "Just a ton of phone calls and interest at the beginning, then his family kind of shortened the list from there. It looked like one or two schools every day, coming in and spending time with him, watching practice."

The relationship between Alexander and Kentucky moved quickly, with head coach John Calipari offering him a scholarship after going to watch him on October 31. Alexander then took a visit to Lexington on November 4.

"With Cal coming down and spending time with him, they tried to use all the time that they were allowed, to build the best relationship with him," Ferrell said. "They showed him how, in the past, they've played with multiple guards and the fact that they need to bring in more than one guard next year. Basically, 'This is what we've done in the past with multiple guards, and this is how we see you fitting into that mix.'"

Kentucky has prioritized the point guard position in the 2017 class, shuffling through a variety of targets over the last six months. Five-star Trae Young (No. 15) has been atop the Wildcats' board since the summer, but he is planning to wait until the spring to sign and is also strongly considering Oklahoma and Kansas. Kentucky also brought in Quade Green (No. 22) and Tremont Waters (No. 32) for visits, but Green also has Syracuse high on his list and Waters committed to Georgetown.

Alexander, who has a 6-foot-10.5 wingspan, has continued to improve in the last year, rising up the rankings as a junior and then stringing together quality performances in the spring and summer. He averaged 15.8 points, 4.8 rebounds and 4.8 assists in two events with the Arkansas Wings AAU program, and also put up 7.8 points and 5.4 assists in the FIBA Americas U18 Championship for Canada.

"Outside of his physical ability, he handles it great, is great off the ball screen. He has a great feel for the game," Ferrell said. "What separates him a little bit is he plays with great pace. He plays with a very even keel. He doesn't get sped out of his comfort zone. Going forward, especially at the next level, he'll be able to compete with that added intensity, as well as eliminate noise that can surround you in college basketball."

Alexander joins a Kentucky recruiting class that was ranked No. 6 heading into the weekend. The Wildcats added five-star frontcourt prospects Nick Richards (No. 12) and P.J. Washington (No. 16) last Thursday, the first two commitments for Kentucky in the 2017 class. In addition to Young and Green, Calipari can now focus on the wing positions, where he is eyeing Kevin Knox (No. 7), Hamidou Diallo (No. 11), Lonnie Walker (No. 19) and Jarred Vanderbilt (No. 23).