Predicting Kentucky’s 2020-21 Basketball Team

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Today’s Roster Outlook is one I’m very excited for.

I’d wager to say that the entire BBN is pretty disappointed with the way this season ended. Kentucky was just hitting their stride and looked to be one of the favorites to win it all this year. The players and Coach Calipari were confident that they could make a legitimate run in the tournament. Unfortunately, that won’t be happening due to the tournament getting canceled over coronavirus concerns.

Regardless, the upcoming Kentucky basketball season should excite any Kentucky fan. With the possibility of over half the team returning, combined with one of Kentucky’s best recruiting classes in a while, it looks to be an interesting basketball season for the Wildcats next year.

Today, I will be making my own predictions of what the team’s roster will look like next season.

We’ll start with players that I believe will leave.

Roster Outlook: Players Leaving

Nick Richards, Center

Nick was a junior this season, meaning he would be coming back for a rare 4th year at Kentucky if he were to return. He had a breakout season and took the SEC by storm as one of its best players. He finished third in SEC Player of the Year voting and has likely raised his draft stock substantially. He’s currently projected to be a second round pick, but a solid combine performance could catapult him into a late first round selection. I think a fourth year would help Nick a lot, but I doubt it happens. He’ll take the momentum from this season and go to the NBA.

Immanuel Quickley, Combo Guard

Immanuel is an interesting case to me. He won SEC Player of the Year and was the leading scorer on this year’s team. He’s a pure scorer and a solid defender. Unfortunately, I’m not sure Quickley’s game translates well to the NBA. He’s not remarkably athletic and is undersized for a shooting guard. If he were to play PG in the NBA, he doesn’t have great handles and never really showed an ability to be a play-maker either. Despite this, many believe that Immanuel could be a surprise first round pick. I think having Quickley back for one more year would make us the favorites to win the ‘ship, but I’m not sure it happens. There are whispers that Quickley’s father would rather him stay in college to get his degree, so we’ll just have to see. As of now, I see him leaving.

Tyrese Maxey, Combo Guard

I think this one speaks for itself. Maxey is a projected lottery pick, so I doubt he comes back.

Nate Sestina, Forward

Not much to this one. Sestina is a senior, so he’s gone.

Roster Outlook: Players Returning

Ashton Hagans, Point Guard

This may come as a surprise to some, but I don’t think Hagans will get drafted if he declares. He had a rough end to the season and GM’s are worried about character issues due to the drama. He doesn’t have a reliable jumpshot and isn’t an amazing ball-handler, so one more year may put him in first-round conversation for the 2021 draft. This may end up being an Isaiah Briscoe situation, where the player leaves anyways, but I think Hagans could use another year. We also don’t have a pure PG on the roster for next season if he leaves, so we really need him to come back.

Keion Brooks, Forward

Keion showed flashes at times this season but never really broke out. He’s not even close to being in consideration to get drafted so I think it’s obvious he comes back. Keion reminds me a lot of PJ Washington in terms of his game, so I foresee a big jump from freshman to sophomore year. Keion will be big for us next season.

EJ Montgomery, Forward

The big issue with next year’s team is that we likely won’t have a pure Center holding down the middle. EJ is 6’10 and unless we get a grad transfer Center, he will be our tallest player. I see EJ filling in that Center role and having a big third year.

Johnny Juzang, Wing

Once Juzang got some confidence, he was a valuable shooter for this team. As a sophomore, I can see Johnny’s role increasing. He’s a lanky guard with good defensive and rebounding potential. If he can get consistent with that jumper he could be a massive piece for next year’s squad.

Dontaie Allen, Wing

Allen didn’t play this season due to injury, but he got to train and learn the system all year. He’s a pure scorer and a well-rounded player. Dontaie is also a Kentucky native, so it’ll be cool to see what he can do for the Big Blue. I think he has a ton of potential.

Roster Outlook: Incoming Recruits

Player Rankings are from 247 Sports.

5 Star Wing Terrence Clarke (#1 SG, #4 Overall Player)

Clarke is the prized recruit in this class. He’s a long guard who can play the 2 or the 3. Some say he’s gifted enough to run the Point if needed. He’s a good defensive asset and a solid play-maker. He’s 6’7 and skinny, but very athletic. He doesn’t have a great jumper, but it’s serviceable. It’s possible that Clarke is our best player next season.

5 Star Wing Brandon Boston (#2 SG, #7 Overall Player)

Boston is the player I’m most excited about. He gives off a Kevin Durant/Brandon Ingram vibe. As a lanky wing who can score from anywhere, Boston will likely be similar to some of the scoring machines that Kentucky has had in the past. Tyler Herro, Jamal Murray, and Malik Monk all come to mind. He’s got great handles for a wing as well. I think Boston will play the 2 for us, and could be our leading scorer in 2020-21.

5 Star CG Devin Askew (#6 CG, #25 Overall Player)

I’m a bit skeptical about Askew. He doesn’t fit the mold of the typical Calipari PG. I would say he’s more like Immanuel Quickley in terms of playstyle. Obviously, Quickley was amazing this season, but I’m not sure how much Askew will live up to that. After watching a lot of his games, he doesn’t seem to excel at anything in particular. I hope I’m wrong, but if Askew is the only PG for us next year, I might be worried.

4 Star PF Isaiah Jackson (#3 PF, #28 Overall Player)

I think Jackson should be rated higher than he is. He’s a long and lanky big man who can stretch the floor out to the midrange. He’s a good shot-blocker and rebounder as well. Jackson could probably play the Center if we needed him to, but would be slightly undersized at 6’9. His lack of weight could be an issue also.

4 Star PF Lance Ware (#5 PF, #31 Overall Player)

Ware is shooting up the rankings and could end up getting his fifth star before next season. He’s like a combo of EJ Montgomery and Julius Randle, if you can imagine that. I like Ware a lot, and think he’ll be important for us.

4 Star Wing Cam’Ron Fletcher (#11 SF, #46 Overall Player)

I can’t lie, I’m not too confident about Fletcher. He doesn’t have much of a jump-shot, and relies solely on his athleticism when playing. He’s a freak of nature athletically, but he reminds me too much of Kahlil Whitney. I’m not sure how much of an impact he’ll have for us next year. I hope I’m wrong.

Roster Outlook: Potential Grad Transfers:

Harvard PG Bryce Aiken (17 PPG, 2 RPG, 2 APG)

If Hagans and Quickley both leave, I think Aiken should be a top priority for Kentucky. He’s a former 4 star recruit, and oput together a nice career at Harvard. He’s obviously smart, and we need someone to run the point. I would love to add Aiken to next year’s team.

Aiken is really the only player I could see grad transferring as of right now. There will obviously be more Grad Transfer decisions later in the year, so it’s hard to speculate. I think if Nick Richards leaves, we need to target a grad transfer Center if possible.

Predicted Roster:

Starters:

PG: Ashton Hagans or Bryce Aiken

SG: Brandon Boston

SF: Terrence Clarke

PF: Keion Brooks

C: EJ Montgomery

Bench:

6: Isaiah Jackson, PF

7: Devin Askew, CG

8: Johnny Juzang, SF/SG

9: Lance Ware, PF

10: Dontaie Allen, SF/SG

11: Cam’Ron Fletcher, SF

Conclusion:

Obviously, this is simply speculation on my part. I wanted to do an early roster outlook to help us get over this abrupt end of the season. We don’t know how the draft process will shake out. Certain players could surprise us with decisions to return. Some players that we don’t expect could enter the draft. We may land random grad transfers or recruits. There are some 2021 recruits who could be considering reclassifying, so that’s always a possibility. We may lose certain players who could decide to transfer because of playing time.

At the end of the day, I am very excited for next season. I think that no matter how things turn out, we’ll have a nice mix of young talent and experience on next year’s squad.

The BBN is thirsting for another championship, so let’s hope that happens next year!

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