One takeaway stood out above the remainder after watching Kentucky’s four-game romp in Toronto final month: thank goodness Antonio Reeves got here again. No less than that will need to have been what UK followers had been considering as Reeves hit an absurd 56.3% of his 3-pointers whereas main the Wildcats to a 4-0 document in the course of the exhibition tour.
Reeves confirmed why he’s so important to Kentucky’s 2023-24 outlook as he earned MVP honors whereas averaging 23 factors per recreation and spearheading UK’s sequence of victories over under-23 squads representing Africa, Canada and Germany. He’s the one returning participant who has began a recreation for the Wildcats, and his presence is important for UK given the roster’s youth.
With the Aug. 1Croatian middle Zvonimir Ivisic, UK is ready to have eight scholarship freshmen on its roster this season. Even by the requirements of Fifteenth-year coach John Calipari, who has constructed a program round freshman expertise, that is a hefty quantity.
And it is coming in an period when faculty basketball is extra veteran-oriented and less-reliant on freshmen than at any level in latest reminiscence. Thus, Reeves’ choice to return following an offseason of flirting with leaving stands out as probably the most optimistic roster improvement of UK’s 2023 offseason.
As faculty basketball’s offseason participant motion cycle involves a crawl, it is time to begin breaking down the rosters of the game’s prime packages. For this installment, we’re looking at Kentucky and attempting to decipher what the lineup might appear to be when the season begins for the Wildcats, who’re ranked No. 16 within the.
John Calipari has coached at Kentucky since 2009, however this season may be probably the most important. Gary Parrish and Matt Norlander break down the Wildcats in our Summer time Shootaround sequence. Subscribe to Eye on Faculty Basketball, which is on the market without spending a dime on the Audacy app in addition to Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts and wherever else you take heed to podcasts.
Projected beginning lineup
1. D.J. Wagner
6-3 | 175 | Fr.
Wagner completed the 2023 recruiting cycle ranked No. 6 within the class, in line with 247Sports. He’s the son of former NBA guard Dajuan Wagner, who Calipari coached at Memphis. He is additionally the grandson of Louisville legend Milt Wagner. The third-generation star flashed his offensive playmaking prowess in Toronto, averaging 14 factors and 4.8 assists in the course of the journey. When he signed, Calipari described Wagner as a “versatile scorer” who’s “equally as powerful on protection.”
2. Adou Thiero
6-6 | 200 | So.
Outdoors of Reeves, Thiero is the one scholarship returner on Kentucky’s roster. He did not commit till Might of final 12 months however discovered the ground in 20 video games as a real freshman, logging 9.5 minutes per contest. He was a starter in the course of the GLOBL JAM however should struggle to maintain that distinction because the freshmen acclimate to Calipari’s system. His physicality and flexibility differentiate him from the opposite guards and provides him the possibility to shine as a defender and rebounder.
3. Antonio Reeves
6-5 | 205 | Fifth 12 months
After transferring in from Illinois State final season, Reeves developed into Kentucky’s offensive engine because the season progressed. Within the 18 video games between Jan. 7 and March 10, he averaged 16.9 factors per recreation on 41% 3-point capturing. Reeves began simply 14 of 34 video games in his first season with this system however looks like a lock to start out full-time and play 30 or extra minutes per recreation this season. He is the one veteran within the again courtroom and shall be relied on for management and environment friendly manufacturing.
4. Justin Edwards
6-8 | 190 | Fr.
Because the nation’s No. 3 prospect, Edwards edged out his teammates for the excellence of highest-ranked prospect in UK’s loaded freshman class. His size and flexibility units him other than the guards within the class as he is a wing with the power to play the 4. Given the comparatively lean make-up of UK’s roster, it stands to purpose he’ll log time at energy ahead. Edwards averaged 14.5 factors and 6.5 rebounds in the course of the GLOBL JAM.
“I actually like how lively he’s defensively and his want to rebound each ball,” Calipari stated when Edwards signed. “He already has an important understanding that he can positively affect successful with out scoring.”
5. Tre Mitchell
6-9 | 225 | Graduate pupil
The unceremonious ending to Bob Huggins’ teaching tenure at West Virginia opened the door for Mitchell to switch exterior the traditional portal window. The Mountaineers’ misfortune turned Kentucky’s jackpot when he picked the Wildcats in late June. Mitchell averaged 11.7 factors and 5.5 rebounds for WVU final season after stints at UMass and Texas.
He isn’t a hefty bruiser like departed star middle Oscar Tshiebwe. However he’s expert and may house the ground in methods Tshiebwe could not. Working example: he is a profession 34.7% 3-point shooter and made 8 of 18 tries from deep in the course of the GLOBL JAM. He ought to assist open up the ground for UK’s gifted guards.
6-3 | 180 | Fr.
Sheppard emerged as a shock on the Toronto journey. Amid a sluggish offensive begin within the opener, he dished out six assists and picked up two steals in 17 minutes. Over the subsequent two video games, he scored 14 and 18 factors whereas persevering with to thrive in different areas. He completed as UK’s chief in assists at 5.8 per recreation whereas additionally grabbing 1.8 steals and blocking 1.3 pictures per recreation.
Sheppard is the son of Kentucky legend Jeff Sheppard, however the four-star prospect is way over a pleasant legacy story. He’ll problem for a beginning position.
“He is right here as a result of he is a extremely good participant who might help this crew win,” Calipari stated.
7-0 | 210 | Fr.
Following Tshiebwe’s choice to show professional, the trail to a major early position appeared clear for Bradshaw. Then got here phrase in June that he’s the beginning of the season due to a fractured foot. The damage presents conditioning challenges, that means Bradshaw might face a prolonged ramp-up course of even after he is cleared.
Then, there’s the query of whether or not a participant who landed at No. 12 in amay have the urge for food to threat additional damage to play a partial season of school basketball when an expert payday is looming. What, if something, UK will get from Bradshaw within the 2023-24 season is the largest query looming over this roster getting into the 12 months.
6-2 | 160 | Fr.
Ranked the No. 20 prospect within the class, Dillingham simply missed on five-star standing within the 247Sports rankings. Nonetheless, he ought to have ample alternative to contribute as a freshman. Although he struggled capturing within the exhibition tour (31%), Dillingham dished out 3.5 assists per recreation vs. simply 1.3 turnovers.
“Rob has the power to make good selections, can create for others or get his personal shot,” Calipari stated when he signed. “He could make contested layups, which opens the courtroom for him offensively.”
6-11 | 225 | So.
Onyenso was a late addition to UK’s 2022 recruiting class, performed in simply 16 video games as a real freshman and entered the switch portal after the season. Finally, he selected to return. After Tshiebwe turned professional and the Wildcats whiffed on Hunter Dickinson within the portal, the outlook for Onyenso improved a bit earlier than he .
Given Bradshaw’s unsure well being scenario, there’s at the very least an opportunity he might issue prominently into UK’s rotation. If he does, count on him to swat a bunch of pictures. In simply 111 minutes final season, he racked up 16 blocks, which equates to five.8 blocks per 40 minutes.
Jordan Burks | 6-9 | 190 | Fr.
Joey Hart | 6-5 | 180 | Fr.
Zvonimir Ivisic | 7-1 | 220 | Fr.
Burks and Hart had been three-star prospects, whereas Ivisic was a late addition from Croatia whose prolonged body shall be helpful in follow. Finally, this trio appears unlikely to crack the rotation in 2023-24. However they every have an opportunity to become long-term contributors, in the event that they stick round. Of the three, Burks seems to have one of the best shot at taking part in early since he logged 17.3 minutes per recreation in the course of the GLOBL JAM.