Kentucky Wildcats: Detailing Most Comprehensive Roster Overhaul Yet


There is always a ton of turnover, every offseason, in Lexington. The Kentucky Wildcats college basketball program, the bluest of the blue bloods, sees its fair share of one-and-done and two-and-toodle loo every year. This year, you have a three-and-flee in there as well.

Factor in the transfer market, which seems to be getting busier by the season, and there’s a record (tied) amount of departures from UKMBB this spring. This past season, shortened by the covid-19 pandemic, saw eight players out the door, tying the 2011-12 and 2016-17 for the most all-time. You also have some incomings to discuss and analyze. Let’s take a look at who is gone and who is coming in to replace them.

He Went Pro:

Fr. G Immanuel Quickley (SEC Player of the Year, Wildcats leading scorer), So. G Ashton Hagans, Fr. G Tyrese Maxey, Jr. C Nick Richards (Cats’ leader in rebounding, shot-blocking and FG%) and So. F E.J. Montgomery have all declared for the NBA Draft.

The quintet have all decided to forgo the remainder of the collegiate eligibility, and thus aren’t doing any testing of the waters here. Since John Calipari assumed the reigns of the program ahead of the 2009-10 season, Kentucky has produced 38 NBA Draft picks over 10 seasons, far more than any other competing school.

That group includes a total of 29 first-rounders, three No. 1 overall picks and 21 lottery selections. This group however, has a lot of question marks when it comes to NBA Draft stock. Maxey could be a lottery pick, or he could slide into the late firstr round.

Montgomery is not projected to get drafted, while the trio of Montgomery, Hagans and Richards have a late first/early second round ceilling. They could go undrafted as well. For our latest NBA mock draft go here.

He Transferred Out: 

Fr. G Johnny Juzang entered the transfer portal and returned closer to home by joining UCLA. Fr. F Kahlil Whitney left school in mid-season and considered transferring elsewhere, or entering the NBA Draft. He opted for the latter, and signed with an agent meaning he’s in to stay. Right now though, he doesn’t seem to have very favorable NBA Draft stock.

Additionally, graduate transfer Nate Sestina applied for an additional season eligibility, but was denied by the NCAA on March 30.

He’s Back: 

For all intents and purposes, this is a one man category. Keion Brooks, who averaged 15 minutes a game last season, is the only rotation guy who returned.

He Transferred In:

Davion Mintz, a 6-foot-3 guard who played in 97 games with 79 starts for Creighton, is immediatley eligible as a graduate transfer. 6-foot-8 Rhode Island forward Jacob Toppin averaged 5.1 points and 3.9 rebounds per game last season. He’ll have three seasons of eligibility, starting in 2021-22.

While those numbers may not jump off the page at you, remember that his brother is Dayton’s Obi Toppin, the consensus national player of the year in 2019-20, and a likely lottery pick.

The Kentucky Wildcats Incoming Recruiting Class:

Even by their standards, Kentucky will be extremely young and inexperienced next year; provided we even have a college basketball season. (There are reports surfacing right now saying that the NBA is considering a return around Christmastime…and while that is depressing, hey, at least it’s major team sports in 2020).

Anyway the Kentucky rookies of next year, who became official in the fall signing period, include seven freshmen that make up the nation’s consensus No. 1 ranked recruiting class. Hence, the mass exodus from the bluegrass right now. Coach Cal is always an expert in churning, but it gets ramped up a notch in this cycle.

The incoming frosh of bluegrass state blue chips consists of BJ Boston, Terrence Clarke, Lance Ware, Cam’Ron Fletcher, Isaiah Jackson and Devin Askew.

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, the author of “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” regularly contributes to WGN TV, Sports Illustrated, Chicago Now and SB Nation.

You can follow Banks, a former writer for Chicago, on Twitter and his cat on Instagram.

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