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From Big Blue Nation to burnt orange, Devin Askew looking for freshman reset at Texas

After a rough year with Kentucky, Askew can learn from older players at UT ‘and I embrace that’

Texas guard Devin Askew, who transferred from Kentucky during the offseason, can spend this season learning from college basketball veterans like Marcus Carr, Andrew Jones and Courtney Ramey.

The most interesting thing about Devin Askew’s one-year Kentucky experience is that he doesn’t want to talk about his one year at Kentucky. At least not publicly, it seems.

“I had fun,” the new Texas guard said Wednesday. “I was playing basketball, so there’s not much more to say. I was having fun. I love the game of basketball and got to play. Had fun.”

A quick Google search reveals… oh dear. Big Blue Nation is ruthless.

Askew was born in Los Angeles, loves Thai food and, being the superstitious sort, plays with a $5 bill in his left sock. The 6-foot-3 athlete was the consensus No. 1 point guard recruit in 2021 as coaches all over were begging for his services.

More:Texas has jumped into the men's basketball transfer portal. Will the Horns find success?

But Askew reclassified and entered college one full year early, and Kentucky coach John Calipari was quick to anoint him the starter. Askew started 20 out of 25 games, averaged 6.5 points and 2.9 assists per game.

Kentucky had all sort of systemic problems last season while crashing to a 9-16 finish. Askew took the brunt of fan criticism because, fair or not, he was the point guard. He jumped into the transfer portal and quickly decided on coming to Texas.

Kentucky's Devin Askew, left, talks with head coach John Calipari after Askew was called for a technical foul during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Missouri Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021, in Columbia, Mo. Missouri won 75-70. (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)

“Honestly, I just wanted to win. I love winning,” Askew said when asked again about Kentucky. “Obviously with the culture here, it’s something they embrace and really take pride in. I wanted to be a part of it.”

Texas coach Chris Beard is all about silver linings. In Askew, Beard sees a player who essentially spent his senior year in high school playing college basketball — at a powerhouse program, no less. In Beard’s mind, Askew is now a freshman.

What makes it even better from Askew’s perspective is that every college athlete got a free year of eligibility because of the pandemic.

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“Now he’s at Texas. We don’t know what to call each other. I don’t know if he’s a Covid freshman or a sophomore Covid… something,” Beard said. “I know he’s one of the best young players in college basketball. There’s going to be a major role for him on this year’s team.”

Askew wasn’t about to head home. He played for the well-known Mater Dei in Santa Ana, Calif., and was the Orange County Register boys’ player of the year for the 2019-20 season. 

“I honestly wanted to stay as far away from California as possible,” Askew said. “Yeah, there’s not really many positives coming out of there. Coming here was probably the best thing for me.”

Calipari loves the one-and-done athlete and builds his program around them. Beard doesn’t have to lean as heavily on Askew. Minnesota transfer Marcus Carr is UT’s likely starting point guard, and the Horns also have veterans Andrew Jones and Courtney Ramey. 

It’s almost as if Askew can be a freshman, someone who makes mistakes and learns and grows, without the pressure of an entire fandom criticizing his every move. 

UK's Devin Askew makes a pass as the UK Wildcats took on the visiting Florida Gators during the second half at Rupp Arena on Saturday evening. Feb. 27, 2021

“It’s honestly amazing,” Askew said. “I get to learn from a lot of older guys who have a lot more experience than me, and I embrace that. Just learning from them every day, picking their brains and watching them, it makes me a better player. It makes all of our young guys better players for next year’s team. So I embrace it. I love it.”

Once the Kentucky questions subside, Askew’s personality is likely to shine through. Beard called him a competitive player. “He brings energy and pop into the room,” the coach said. 

No doubt, Texas is a fresh start. Askew wore jersey No. 2 at Kentucky because he’s worn that number his whole life. 

This season with the Horns, Carr is wearing No. 2. Askew is wearing No. 5.

“What I would tell you from Dev, he’s all about the right things,” Beard said. “He literally is a guy that’s running his own race. Every day, he finds value in improving. He plays possession by possession. I don’t think he’s looking too far ahead. I know he’s not looking behind anymore.

“I don’t want to put all the weight on his shoulders,” Beard added. “But I’ve got no problem telling you if he stays the course, he’ll end up being one of the all-time greats.”

Contact Brian Davis by phone or text at 512-445-3957. Email bdavis@statesman.com or @BDavisAAS.