Top-50 Team Countdown: #2.Kentucky Wildcats
As usual, Kentucky brought in a stacked recruiting class, however, the thing that separates this Kentucky team from other Kentucky teams is that they have a good core of experienced players. Quade Green, Nick Richards, and PJ Washington all returned for their sophomore seasons, all three should be good this season. The Wildcats also add a stacked recruiting class with Immanuel Quickley, Ashton Hagans, Keldon Johnson, Tyler Herro, and EJ Montgomery. Those players should step in right away and become key players for the Wildcats this season. The Wildcats also did an unprecedented thing by going out and adding Stanford grad transfer Reid Travis, who looks to provide some production and leadership for the Wildcats this season. With the mixture of talent and experience this team not only should be the preseason favorites to win the SEC but they look poised to make a deep NCAA Tournament run.
The Wildcats bring back Quade Green, who mixes well with a great recruiting class filled with multiple great guards. Green should be the starting point guard for the Wildcats, he is a good shooter and passer, which both will be key components for Kentucky. Immanuel Quickley is a fast guard, who is great with the ball in his hands and is a lockdown defender, this could help him start for the Wildcats. Keldon Johnson might be the teams best pro prospect, he is a good shooter, while being a great driver, he could start at some point as the season goes along. Ashton Hagans reclassified to the 2018 class, he could take time to adjust, however, his great ball-handling skills combined with his speed should help him get minutes this season. Tyler Herro is a three-point sharpshooter, who will get minutes because of his ability to stretch the floor, he also can score off the dribble. Jemarl Baker had to redshirt last year with a knee injury, he is a good shooter which should help him gets some minutes. Overall this team is really deep in the backcourt, this should make for some good competition for minutes this season.
The Wildcats have two good experienced bigs in PJ Washington and Reid Travis, while they add EJ Montgomery and Nick Richards looks poised for a breakout season. Washington is a physically tough player, who can score at a high level inside, he should start at either the 3 or the 4. The Wildcats also brought in Stanford grad transfer Reid Travis, he has been a great player in the past, however, he will look to be a role player on a winning team. Nick Richards was not very well last season despite starting all 37 games last year, he has looked better already in exhibition games, he could start once again. EJ Montgomery is the teams highest-ranked recruit, he can score from anywhere and he is a great athlete, he could get a lot of minutes off the bench. The Wildcats have arguably the best frontcourt in the country, as Washington and Travis will be great, while Richards and Montgomery look poised to step in and play a big role this season.
Kentucky has a non-conference schedule that includes three marquee matchups this season, which will help them get a high NET rating. The Wildcats will begin their season on November 6th playing Duke in the Champions Classic in Indianapolis. They will play seven straight home games, before playing Seton Hall in the Citi Hoops Classic on December 8th in Madison Square Garden. The Wildcats will play Utah at home on December 15th, before they will head to Chicago to play in the CBS Sports Classic against North Carolina. The Wildcats will play at Louisville on December 29th in an in-state rivalry game. The Wildcats will also have a non-conference game against Kansas on January 26th as part of the SEC/ Big 12 Challenge. The Wildcats begin SEC play on January 5th playing at Alabama, their regular season schedule wraps up on March 9th with a home game against Florida. The SEC Tournament runs March 13th-17th, with the NCAA Tournament beginning on March 19th.
What to expect this season
The Wildcats have an extremely deep roster that should help them roll through most teams they will face and it’s so extremely deep that some people are thinking that the Wildcats could bring back the platoon system. The Wildcats should probably go around 12-1 or 11-2 in non-conference play, as they will be able to beat most teams, with the exception of Kansas, Duke, or North Carolina. The Wildcats should roll through SEC play this season likely going 14-4 in SEC play, which should help them win the league outright or share the league title. This team should be playing their best basketball in March, as usual, meaning they should probably win the SEC Tournament title, while they look poised to make a deep NCAA Tournament run that could be capped off by a National Championship.
PG: Quade Green
SG: Immanuel Quickley
SF: PJ Washington
PF: Reid Travis
C: Nick Richards
Key Reserves: Ashton Hagans, Tyler Herro, Keldon Johnson, Jemarl Baker, EJ Montgomery
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