With Mohamed Bamba off the board, the mass majority of incoming college basketball freshman are now committed to their future programs. The Kentucky Wildcats likely now have their roster for the 2017-2018 season set. We know about the outstanding recruiting class and such. The biggest question now is who will the starting lineup be day one?
John Calipari always has his ways with his lineups, so nobody can be quite sure which direction he's headed with the team now. That will not stop anybody from putting in their best guesses. Here is A Sea of Blue's projected starting lineup for the 2017-2018 season.
With all of the point guards from last season's squad clearing ship, John Calipari had to look to a weak class of high school point guards to find his new guy. Fortunately, he got the commitment from Quade Green, who brings a new breed to the position this season. He's a player that has big-time heart and certainly will be one of the leaders of the locker room. His facilitating ability will ensure that the whole team eats, and scoring won't be an issue with him either. Green will undoubtedly be running the show all season long.
The commitment of Kevin Knox was perhaps the most shocking news throughout the entire recruiting stage this year. While nobody was expecting it, the addition of Knox is what propels this team from decency to legitimacy. He is an elite scorer that should fit right into the shoes that Malik Monk left at the two guard spot. Knox is long, can handle the ball, attack the rim and shoot proficiently from the perimeter. This will likely be Kentucky's best player next year.
PJ Washington will bring something to Kentucky this year that the program has not had since the National Championship team; an actual versatile small forward. Washington resembles a lot of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist with his athleticism, versatility, quiet demeanor and defensive capability. He can pass from the wing, score from the perimeter and inside, and rebound well as well. He may not make a ton of headlines this year, but Washington will be a tremendous factor this year.
I screamed versatility with PJ Washington, but Jarred Vanderbilt may be even more versatile. A Swiss Army Knife of capability, Vanderbilt is a lengthy forward with everything from point guard skills to down low scoring. Knox will likely be the team's best scorer, but Jarred Vanderbilt should be the team's best all-around player. He's exactly the kind of player that a championship team needs.
Word around the bush is that Nick Richards has been solidifying himself as the potential starting center next season. Richards is a raw talent but has the potential to be an excellent talent, especially with this team he's on now. He is a defensive minded big around the rim and will box out and grab his share of rebounds. As long as he stays continuously active throughout the season, Richards should be a great piece alongside the rest of the lineup.
There's something different about this group of Kentucky players than those of years past. There aren't many star players like Kentucky is accustomed to, but these guys have a blue collar nature to their games. They all have an incredibly close bound already, so you know team chemistry should not be an issue. These aren't necessarily one and done recruits either, so the bonds we have with these players should be a strong one by the time they leave Kentucky.