We’ve finally reached the point where college basketball preseason rankings are important, and people are paying attention. With that in mind, here’s a look at where the Cats sit in some of the preseason national rankings.
The Cats are ranked No. 2, behind only the Duke Blue Devils (eye roll) on CBS’ preseason rankings. The top highlight is Cal’s ability to reload once again after losing several players to the draft, graduation and transfers. The backcourt is also praised. Here’s exactly what Gary Parrish had to say.
The Wildcats lost three underclassmen to the NBA Draft -- plus Alex Poythress to graduation and Marcus Lee and Charles Matthews via transfer. But, as usual, John Calipari reloaded with a strong recruiting class featuring five five-star prospects. The backcourt of De'Aaron Fox and Malik Monk should be the most exciting in college basketball.
Rothstein has the Cats all the way down at No. 5 in his poll behind Duke, Villanova, Kansas and Xavier. Kind of surprising, given how great this recruiting class is, but he does praise Bam Adebayo, saying, “People will be comparing Bam Adebayo to Blake Griffin by Christmas.”
The Wildcats are ranked No. 4 in the Blue Ribbon top 25, behind Duke, Oregon and Kansas. Oregon is the surprise in this one, but it’s pretty clear that Duke is the preseason favorite across the board.
ESPN has Kentucky at No. 2, of course behind only Duke. ESPN did note that while Duke did a good job of recruiting, Kentucky did even better. A team that lost its soul in Jamal Murray and Tyler Ulis last season will come out unscathed due to the fact that this year’s class is loaded with future pros, and the Cats will be among the most formidable teams in the nation come March. Here’s exactly what Eamonn Brennan had to say.
Duke hoovered up the Nos. 1, 3, 10 and 16 prospects in a loaded incoming class ... and ended up No. 2 in the ESPN Recruiting Nation rankings. That shouldn't be possible, but such is life in the John Calipari era. The names change (goodbye Jamal Murray, hello to Bam Adebayo, De'Aaron Fox and Malik Monk!), but the pattern remains the same: Future pros show up, Calipari gels said future pros into a formidable unit in mere months, rinse, repeat. Which is why a team with so little left from last season's roster (save Isaiah Briscoe, Derek Willis and Isaac Humphries) can be conservatively penciled in as one of the nation's best four or five squads -- if not by November, then by March.
While I would have expected more polls to look like ESPN’s and CBS, where the Cats fall behind only Duke, I don’t think we can complain about the Cats being top five in every single one of these polls. It also isn’t much fun to be behind Duke in the rankings, but there’s an easy solution to that: win more games than Duke. All-in-all, I think we can be happy with where the Cats are at, and hope that Cal has built this team into one that is at the top of every poll at the end of the year.