Where Does Kentucky Go From Here?

Another draft, another Kentucky laden fill for all of the Wildcat lovers out there. John Calipari has had a first round selection in each of the last 10 NBA Drafts and he shows no sign of slowing down. After watching the McDonald’s All-American game, and doing some research into some of the top prospects in this upcoming class, I see a lot of 2 year talent rather than one and dones like there were this past year. This will never stop Calipari from delivering the talent to the NBA, but maybe not at the clip we are used to seeing. Let’s take a look at his roster for next year including the incoming crop of 5 star freshman

Starting 5

Point Guard- Quade Green (Incoming Freshman)

John Calipari has made a habit out of bringing in point guards with a lot of speed and great vision on the court. While Green might not have the speed of a John Wall or De’aaron Fox, he has a much better shooting touch than either man had at this point in their careers. His vision on the court is excellent and he will continue the tradition of playmaking point guards in Kentucky.  I could see him staying for 2 years and give Cal a point guard for the future.

Shooting Guard- Isaiah Briscoe (Junior)

Briscoe is the kind of player Calipari needs every four years.  He might not be a great NBA prospect, but he is the kind of player that will come in early and stay late to work on his game.  He was the player that held the team together last year and has flashes of scoring prowess when needed.  He might be undersized at the 2 guard position, but don’t be surprised to see him start over some of the incoming freshman next year due to his leadership and will.

Small Forward- Kevin Knox (Incoming Freshman)

Can you say Malik Monk 2.0? Knox is the going to be the best pure scorer on the team next year.  He has great size at 6’9″, a quick release, and the ability to get to the rim. As most freshman, he is going to need some time to get used to the college game but, with quality progress, I could see him being one of the few one and done prospects that will see a high-grade in the 2018 NBA Draft.

Power Forward- Wayne Gabriel (Sophomore)

Gabriel made the right decision by coming back to school this year.  His size makes him an intriguing prospect but he needs to add some bulk to his frame to become a dominant four in the NCAA and the NBA.  He should see a huge uptick in playing time this year as well with Bam Adebayo now in Miami.

Center- Nick Richards (Incoming Freshman)

Nick Richards is a rim protector in every sense of the word.  He’s a long 6’11” with great instincts on the glass.  He is not much of an offensive threat, but with Knox, Green, and Briscoe carrying the scoring load, Richards just needs to pull rebounds, guard the basket and take his shots when they come.

Key Contributors

Issac Humphries (Junior)

Humphries is your typical 7 footer who can step out from range and knock it down like a guard.  He is not great on the glass or inside given his size, but when he gets rolling, very few players can stop him from scoring.  He will give Gabriel a run at the PF position but ultimately I see him as a quality 6th man who could give either Gabriel or Richards some rest.

P.J Washington (Incoming Freshman)

Washington is an interesting case.  I wanted to put him in my starting 5 because he has the look and the measurables to be a starter on this team, but I hesitate with the idea that he needs some work handling the basketball.  I see Gabriel starting the season with this position in hand, but don’t be surprised to see Washington join the starting lineup if Gabriel starts to falter in any way.

Jarred Vanderbilt (Incoming Freshman) 

There is so much size from 3-5 it’s not even funny. Vanderbilt is another 6’8″ body that can guard from the 2 to the 4 with no hesitation.  He has to work some on his mid range and long-range shooting but would be the perfect fit for a late stop situation.  Vanderbilt might see more minutes in the 3 role rather than inside due to his versatility as a defender.

 

Overall this class does not have one or two huge stars (besides Knox) that a John Calipari is used to having but I could certainly see this team looking like the 2013-2014 team where most, if not all, of them stay an extra year to build and grow. It seems like this might be a bit down year for Coach Cal, but we have seen him pull magic out of his hat before with players that didn’t seem like the type of talent he is used to recruiting. It is wayyyyyyyyy to early to make any predictions but we will see where this team ends up come March.

 

 

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