Kentucky Basketball has been on a cold streak in terms of winning titles, yet it seems like this year is shaping up for another title. When Calipari arrived, Kentucky was at their lowest point since Ricky P took over. Rick brought back the winning culture that Kentucky was so accustomed to but in a way, they lost it Tubby. Tubby was a great guy, some might say a great coach, but he failed at Kentucky. His only “great” team was 1998 and one could argue those were Rick’s players and he underperformed in 2003 when Kentucky should have won their eighth. Cal stepped on campus and changed that immediately. With Wall, Cousins, Bledsoe and then the following year getting Knight, then Davis, MKG, etc…Cal changed Kentucky yet he has only won one title. But that’s about to change.
For only the second time in the Calipari era, Kentucky returns four players who averaged double digits in minutes and more than 4 points per game. The last time that happened? Kentucky went 38-1* and got screwed in the Final Four with a non call on a shot clock violation. Now to sit here and say this team will go 40-0 is just outrageous, but they can make a run. They return their guards in Ashton Hagans and Immanuel Quickley who both improved tremendously as the season progressed. They both could be apart of the best backcourt in college basketball next season along with Tyrese Maxey. Tyrese Maxey has an uncanny ability to get to the rim. Think of John Wall with the ability to shoot outside of 15 feet. He’s going to be a special player and I can see him assuming the starting role at point guard if Hagans is underperforming.
The bigs are definitely improved. Not only do we return Nick Richards and EJ Montgomery but Kentucky adds special talent to help them out. Kahlil Whitney is the player I am most excited for next season. After watching hours of his highlights, he reminds me of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist with the jumping ability of Hamidou Diallo. Expect two alley-oops a game and several players’ careers being ended by getting dunked on. Along with Whitney, Kentucky brings in Keion Brooks, Dontaie Allen, Johnny Juzang, and Nate Sestina. Allen could be a legit player once he is healthy, and Keion brings on a special skill set including rim protector. Juzang could be this years Tyler Herro will his shooting ability and Sestina brings the experience and the shooting/defensive ability needed.
I do think Kentucky is missing a piece. Hopefully that is filled with Kerry Blackshear or even N’Faly Dante but even without those players the team will be be a threat. They’ll be preseason top 5, but with one of those we could see them skyrocket to the #1 spot. All I know is I’m very excited for this year…let’s get 9.