We are roughly four months from the 2022-23 college basketball season, and yesterday, ESPN’s Jeff Borzello updated his Way-Too-Early Rankings. Kentucky dropped from No. 3 to No. 4 in the new version. Why? Since Borzello’s last update, Drew Timme announce he’s returning the Gonzaga, prompting the Bulldogs to jump from No. 6 to No. 2. North Carolina remains No. 1, and Houston fell from No. 2 to No. 3 ahead of the Wildcats.
When it comes to Kentucky, like all of us, Borzello is excited to see what Senior Jacob Toppin brings to the table this season.
One of the more intriguing storylines entering next season for the Wildcats involves Jacob Toppin and whether he is poised for a breakout season. Toppin has shown flashes of his ceiling — 16 points against Vanderbilt in 2021, 14 and eight against LSU, and 13 and six against Alabama last season — but has not yet produced consistently enough to be a surefire starter. He has elite physical skills, though, and in the two games last season in which he played more than 30 minutes, he averaged 10.5 points and 6.0 rebounds. Granted, it was just the two, but he didn’t look out of place.
Whether he takes the next step could determine how John Calipari’s lineup looks in 2022-23. Five-star recruit Chris Livingston is more of an offensive threat and has good size at 6-7, while Illinois State transfer Antonio Reeves and CJ Fredrick provide shooting ability in a potentially smaller lineup.Jeff Borzello, ESPN
For now, Borzello projects that Sahvir Wheeler, Cason Wallace, Antonio Reeves, Chris Livingston, and Oscar Tshiebwe will start. The four-game trip to the Bahamas will give John Calipari and the squad a head start on experimenting at the three and four positions. So far this summer, KSR is hearing that Toppin has taken a major step forward in practice, emerging as a leader and showing off an improved shooting touch. That said, Reeves and Livingston have reportedly also been impressive. Good problems to have as we look forward to the 2022-23 campaign.
Kentucky will face at least six teams in Borzello’s Top 25:
Michigan, who the Cats will play in London, is just outside at No. 26.
Kentucky Basketball in the Preseason Rankings
Here’s a rundown of where Kentucky ranks in all of the Preseason Top 25s on the interwebs:
- ESPN (Updated 6/28): No. 4
- CBS Sports (Updated 6/18): No. 4
- Sports Illustrated (Updated 6/18): No. 4
- Jeff Goodman (Updated 4/5): No. 7
- Seth Davis (Updated 6/2): No. 1
- Jon Rothstein: No. 5