The 2020-21 NCAA Basketball season is still up in the air due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but most fans are optimistic that the season will still be happening. The Kentucky Basketball roster is a new topic every year.
This upcoming year’s Kentucky basketball team is likely one of the more talented ones to come through Lexington in awhile. I know that Kentucky fans say that every year, but this is arguably a top 3 recruiting class that John Calipari has signed in his time at UK.
With a whopping nine new faces on the roster, this will also be one of Calipari’s least experienced teams ever. Keion Brooks is the only returning player from last year’s team who saw any playing time. Calipari signed 6 recruits and 3 transfers to add to this year’s roster.
With the roster being so fresh, I wanted to go over each player’s strengths and what they bring to the team. I believe that Kentucky has a player to fill every niche on the court, which is why I believe this is one of the more complete rosters we’ve had in a while.
Keion Brooks, Sophomore PF
Keion Brooks is the only player on this roster who saw the floor for Kentucky last season. He averaged 4.5 points and 3.2 rebounds per game. Keion is a 6’7 Power Forward who is versatile enough to play the Small Forward spot too.
He is capable of knocking down threes and was one of the more reliable mid-range shooters last season. Brooks is a good rebounder and can defend in the post and out on the perimeter. Many compare Keion to former Kentucky standout PJ Washington, who was also a versatile 6’7 Forward who could do everything on the floor. PJ Washington had an amazing jump from his freshman to sophomore year, so the belief is that Keion will see a similar boost in performance.
Dontaie Allen, Freshman SF
Dontaie Allen is a 6’6 wing/guard hybrid who specializes in his ability to score the basketball. He was technically on the roster last season, but sat out the entire year due to an ACL tear. He will see the floor for the first time in 2020-21.
The Kentucky native averaged a whopping 42 ppg in his final high school season, so scoring the ball is nothing new for the talented wing. He is a three-level scorer who can rebound extremely well from his position too. It’s unknown how much of his athleticism he retained after multiple injuries, so Dontaie is a big question mark for next year’s team. He is very capable of being a top tier bench scorer and eventual starter for UK. I think his path may be similar to UK legend Darius Miller’s.
Davion Mintz, Senior PG
Davion Mintz is a 6’3 Grad Transfer from Creighton. He will be a senior on this team and will provide leadership on this young roster. Davion averaged 9 ppg and 3 apg for the Creighton Blue Jays, and is most known for being able to facilitate the offense while limiting turnovers.
Davion is a capable shooter and playmaker, and rebounds well for his size. He’s not an uber-athlete, but gets the job done with serviceable speed and vertical. He’s known to be a disruptive defender as well, similar to Ashton Hagans. I’m not sure how much of an impact Davion will have statistically, but he’s a mature player who takes care of the ball and does everything the team needs from the PG spot. I’m excited to see what he can do.
Olivier Sarr, Senior Center
Olivier Sarr is a 6’11 Center who is transferring from Wake Forest. He is still awaiting an eligibility waiver from the NCAA, but people around the situation are optimistic that he will recieve the go-ahead to play on this Kentucky team.
Sarr averaged 14ppg and 9rpg for the Demon Deacons last year, and was an All-ACC selection. He turned in an especially great performance against Duke, totaling 25 points in the upset win over the Blue Devils. Olivier is replacing Nick Richards perfectly, as both players are similar in every way. Sarr is a superior post scorer and cleans up the glass very well. He’s an above-average rim protector as well. He was ranked as the #1 Grad Transfer in the country, and I’m excited to see what he can do.
Jacob Toppin, Sophomore PF
Jacob Toppin is the younger brother of Dayton Forward Obi Toppin, who is projected to be a top 5 pick in the upcoming NBA draft. Toppin transferred to Kentucky from Rhode Island, where he averaged 5ppg and 3rpg per game.
Calipari took Toppin entirely off of potential, and the 6’7 forward is a freak athlete and has a lot of offensive abilities that could be developed. He will be sitting out this year because of the transfer rule, but it was worth discussing.
Terrence Clarke, Freshman SF
As we start to get into the incoming Freshmen, I wanted to begin with Terrence Clarke. Clarke is a consensus Top 10 recruit in the entire country and will be one of the most impactful players on next year’s roster.
Terrence is a 6’7 guard/wing hybrid who brings so much talent to the table. He’s a relatively inconsistent shooter, but his feel for the game and elite measurables cause the game to be very easy for him. His long wingspan and incredible athleticism makes him an elite finisher, and he’s also an exceptional defender. Clarke possesses great court vision as well, and passes well enough be the primary ball handler on the team. Terence is a projected lottery pick in next year’s draft, and for good reason.
Brandon Boston, Freshman SG
Brandon Boston is the other Top 10 recruit that John Calipari is bringing in on next year’s roster. He’s ranked higher than Clarke in some instances, and is arguably our most talented player. Every John Calipari team has that one player who puts up tons of points and is known as the go-to scorer, and Boston has the ability to be that guy this year.
He’s a lanky 6’6 guard who can move to the SF spot if necessary. He lacks muscle, but possesses incredible scoring ability. I predict him to be our best 3 point shooter on this team. With his long wingspan, Boston is able to be a solid finisher and defender. He rebounds well and has an above average ball-handling skill. Boston is also projected to go in the lottery next draft, so he’s going to be one to watch for sure.
Devin Askew, Freshman PG
Devin Askew is the 3rd 5 star recruit to be coming in for this year’s class. He’s a 6’3 PG who specializes in running the offense and creating plays for his teammates.
Askew is an amazing playmaker, and passes the ball very well. He’s not overly athletic, but makes up for it with crafty ball-handling and elite vision. Devin can knock down threes and get to the basket, where he has nice touch finishing at the rim. I think Askew is the wildcard for this team, as he’ll either be really good, or won’t make much of an impact as a freshman.
Isaiah Jackson, Freshman PF
Isaiah Jackson is considered by most services to be a 5 star prospect. The 6’9 Forward out of the state of Michigan is an exceptional shot-blocker and rim-runner.
He’s not the most polished player offensively, but can score the ball relatively well. He’s a very skinny and lanky player, but has great instincts and will block a lot of shots for this team. Jackson is a solid rebounder due to those instincts as well. I think that Calipari will find a ton of use for Isaiah, but it may not show up in the scoring column.
Lance Ware, Freshman PF
Lance Ware is another Forward that is considered a 5 star by some services. He’s a lanky PF who has a relatively polished offensive game with great rebounding potential.
Lance isn’t particularly amazing at any one thing, but with a little polish and work from the coaching staff, he can become a real problem on the court. Lance reminds me a lot of EJ Montgomery, but possesses a better motor and more heart. I’m not sure how much of an impact he will have as a freshman, but he could end up being a valuable rotation player, if not more.
Cam’Ron Fletcher, Freshman SF
Cam’Ron Fletcher is the lowest rated recruit for this year’s class. He’s a 6’6 super-athlete who can jump out of the gym. Unfortunately, Kentucky hasn’t had much success with players like Fletcher, with the most recent bust being Kahlil Whitney.
I think Fletcher is oozing with potential, but doesn’t come across as an instant impact guy for this team. He’s an unpolished scorer and relies mostly on his athleticism when scoring the ball. I do think his build and athleticism makes him an above average defender with the potential to be an elite defender. If Fletcher trusts the coaching staff and is patient with his game, I think he’s going to be an exceptional 2-3 year player for the Wildcats. Let’s hope that it happens.
My Predicted Depth Chart:
This is who I believe will start next season, and how I think the bench depth will look.
PG: Davion Mintz, Senior
SG: Brandon Boston, Freshman
SF: Terrence Clarke, Freshman
PF: Keion Brooks, Sophomore
C: Olivier Sarr, Senior
6. Devin Askew, Freshman PG
7. Isaiah Jackson, Freshman PF
8. Dontaie Allen, Freshman SF
9. Lance Ware, Freshman PF
10. Cam’Ron Fletcher, Freshman SF
Biggest Weaknesses of This Team:
There are a few things that I see as glaring issues on this team right now. The lack of depth at the Center position is the biggest issue. If Olivier Sarr gets into foul trouble or needs to sit out, then Isaiah Jackson or Lance Ware will have to fill in that Center spot, and they’re both undersized for that position. I don’t think either of them could handle banging in the post with some of these big bruisers in the SEC.
Another issue will be the three-point shooting. Outside of Brandon Boston and Dontaie Allen, no one on this team is considered a top-tier three point shooter. Davion Mintz shot in the low 30% area from three at Creighton. Freshman Devin Askew is supposedly a solid shooter as well, but definitely won’t be a sniper. Everyone else is either inconsistent from three, or doesn’t shoot them at all. Hopefully this won’t be much of a problem.
All-in-all, I’m pretty excited for this team. We have a decent combination of experience and young talent. We have one of the best big men in the country in Olivier Sarr, and a duo of elite freshmen in Clark and Boston.
We’re returning a talented in-state native in Dontaie Allen, and have solid guard-play with Mintz and Askew. Brooks, Sarr, Ware, and Jackson are all good rebounders and rim-protectors, and we have plenty of playmaking as well.
I think this is a very well-rounded and talented team, with the opportunity to make it very far this year. John Calipari hasn’t sounded this excited about one of his teams since 2015, with the undefeated Karl Towns team. Let’s bring home #9!
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