Once again, John Calipari and his Kentucky Wildcats are one of the youngest teams in the nation. Since adopting the one and done culture he and Big Blue Nation have to adjust to having a new team every season. There has also been a lot of speculation about if this may be his best class ever. The question we all are asking is “Can a team this young win the National Championship?”
After another season where his best players have moved to the NBA, Calipari has to start from scratch. One of the keys to being successful in college basketball is having experience. Bringing in eight freshman with six returning players who haven’t played much, experience is the thing they are lacking. This is nothing new for Calipari since he gets his teams to come together and play for each other. Although they lack experience one thing they certainly don’t lack is talent.
Known for being a great recruiter, Calipari has done it again bringing in the number one recruiting class in the nation. The two highlights of this recruiting class were landing SF Kevin Knox and bringing back SG Hamidou Diallo. With these two at shooting guard and small forward they will be a nightmare duo for any team.
Diallo to this point is most known declaring for the 2017 NBA Draft after joining UK halfway through the year. After getting feedback from scouts he decided to return to Kentucky adding even more fire power. At 6’5″ and an insane 44.5 in. vertical, he might be the most explosive player in the nation. By the time his tenure at UK is over, he is expected to easily be a lottery pick in the draft.
The commitment of Kevin Knox was the biggest shocker of this recruiting class. At 6’9″, Knox brings a different dimension to the team then they’ve had in recent years. His size is comparable to a young Giannis Antetokounmpo with a jumper. The skills that he brings to the table could make UK real contenders in March. If he develops like BBN is hoping for, Knox will easily a lottery pick in next year’s draft.
At point guard, UK picked up one of the best incoming guards in the nation in Quade Green. Green is a true point guard, a leader. Although he may not be the biggest guard he brings unteachable skills to the team. He can run the show and be an extension of the coach on the floor. Green is also a great passer with amazing vision. The skills he brings to the team will compliment the others greatly.
One of the biggest question marks for the team this season will be down low. Sophomore Sacha Killeya-Jones and incoming freshman Nick Richards will be the big men of the future. The thing is Killeya-Jones and Richards are both unproven. Killeya-Jones didn’t get much playing time last season so his ceiling is unknown but he has upside. They both can bring shot blocking and a presence down low that can alter shots. Not many teams will want to get shots up over two seven footers in the paint. BBN has high hopes for these big men.
Expectations at UK as usual will be to bring home title number nine to the program. If this team can accomplish that they will forever be legends in Lexington. Realistic expectations for this team are SEC Champs and at least a trip to the Elite Eight. We’ll see if they live up to expectations when they open their season Nov. 10th against Utah Valley at Rupp.