Yes, Kentucky Football is 6-0 for the first time in 71 years. BUT, there is a basketball team with high expectations about to embark on its own season. Following the program’s tumultuous 9-16 record from a year ago, Kentucky Men’s Basketball is ready to make its return to the top.
We got our first look at the 2021-22 roster late Sunday night as UK held its annual Pro Day at Rupp Arena (read Jack Pilgrim’s takeaways here), and now we have new preseason rankings on Monday morning. Jeff Borzello over at ESPN released his updated Way-Too-Early Top 25 college basketball rankings. Kentucky didn’t see any movement though, staying at No. 9.
Here’s what Borzello had to say about the ‘Cats.
The biggest disappointment in college basketball last season, Kentucky should bounce right back into the Final Four conversation. John Calipari built this year’s roster a bit differently than in the past, going all-in on the transfer portal as opposed to stockpiling five-star freshmen. Don’t worry, Calipari did that too, landing two top-20 recruits, point guard TyTy Washington and forward Daimion Collins. But the transfers will make a bigger impact this season. Kellan Grady (Davidson) should be the best of the bunch, bringing experience, scoring and high-level shooting ability. Sahvir Wheeler (Georgia) led the SEC in assists, while CJ Fredrick (Iowa) was potentially the best shooter in the portal. Oscar Tshiebwe (West Virginia) is the X-factor: he was outstanding as a freshman, but took a step back last season. Calipari also brings back five players from last season’s rotation, led by double-figure scorers Davion Mintz and Keion Brooks Jr. Mintz started 21 games last season and Brooks has shown flashes of his potential during his two seasons in Lexington.
Projected starting lineup:Jeff Borzello, ESPN
Sahvir Wheeler (14.0 PPG, 7.4 APG at Georgia)
TyTy Washington (No. 14 in ESPN 100)
Kellan Grady (17.1 PPG at Davidson)
Keion Brooks Jr. (10.3 PPG, 6.8 RPG)
Oscar Tshiebwe (8.5 PPG, 7.8 RPG at West Virginia)
The 2021-22 season is rapidly approaching, with Blue Big Madness scheduled for this Friday and the Blue-White Game the following Friday.
Below is the rest of Borzello’s Top 25
- North Carolina
- Ohio State
- Florida State
- St. Bonaventure
Next In Line:
Oklahoma State, Virginia Tech, Texas Tech, Michigan State, Colorado State