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Kentucky Wildcats Basketball: Recruiting, NBA Draft and Roster Update

Everything you need to know regarding Kentucky’s roster turnover for the upcoming season.

NBA: Los Angeles Clippers at Phoenix Suns Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

It was an unhappy ending to the 2017-2018 season for the Kentucky Wildcats.

Following losses by Arizona, Cincinnati and Virginia, they had arguably the easiest path to the National Championship game. However, they fell short in the Sweet Sixteen to the Kansas State Wildcats.

A poor ending didn’t linger for long, as head coach John Calipari has been recruiting harder than anyone to rebuild his team in an attempt for another postseason run next spring.

Though a few Wildcats have hired an agent and entered the upcoming NBA Draft, Calipari has made visits to and scored multiple recruits for the upcoming season.

Since it’s been one crazy month following the month of Madness, here’s a breakdown of what Kentucky’s been up to.


It was known for the majority of the season Kevin Knox would likely be a lock to be selected in the lottery of this year’s draft.

However, stories leaked following the Cats’ postseason exit that Knox was considering a return for a second season at Kentucky.

It was rather odd, but a consideration at least made some sense. If Knox returned, he would have likely seen his stock skyrocket in what is expected to be such a weak 2019 class.

But instead, he elected to take his talents to the next level.

One player on Kentucky’s roster, one who most would say that before the season was the least-likely pro, also signed an agent and declared for the draft. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander shocked the world with his mid-season arrival in big time moments for Kentucky. He solely carried the Wildcats to an SEC Title and all the way to the Sweet Sixteen in the Big Dance.

It would be nearly impossible to sustain his heroics for all 30+ games next season, which led to him declaring for the draft with hopes of also landing in the lottery.

Hamidou Diallo was a player that had his name in last year’s draft. However, after “testing the waters,” he elected to return for a full season at Kentucky. While receiving much hype before the season, it was a rather disappointing stretch for Diallo. His draft stock fell out of the first round and it would likely be considered a “reach” if he were selected early in the second.

There weren’t just draft-departures this year from Kentucky. Big men such as Sacha-Killeya Jones and Tai Wynyard both requested their release from the program with intention to transfer.

Neither received a significant role on the team and with Nick Richards, along with other big men either returning or starting their career at Kentucky, both would struggle to see the floor.


As I said before, Calipari has been hard at work over the past few weeks. He’s recently snagged surprise commit E.J. Montgomery along with what should be a strong backcourt of Keldon Johnson and Immanuel Quickley. Tyler Herro, an under-the-radar signing, has heavily blossomed over the past few months.

But that’s not all.

Calipari has been working twice as hard on his 2019 class. Not only has he scored an in-home visit with top-recruit James Wiseman, but also snagged the top point guard Ashton Hagans who is also likely to reclassify for the 2018 season.

It’s rumored that Tyrese Maxey, the second ranked point guard, is also leaning hard towards Kentucky. That’s not including D.J. Jeffries who is the eighth best power forward in his respected class.

Right now, Calipari and his staff are in Dallas for the first round of Nike EYBL sessions. There, he’s getting an up-close look at most of UK’s 2019 recruits, including Jeffries, Wiseman, Maxey, Jalen Lecque and Vernon Carey.

We should hear about several recruiting developments while Calipari is in Texas.

Up In The Air

For now, Jarred Vanderbilt, P.J. Washington and Wenyen Gabriel are all “testing the waters” of the NBA Draft. However, none are expected to be first round draft picks, let alone ranked in the top-50 prospects.

While at least one is expected to return for this coming fall, it wouldn’t be a shocker if Gabriel went ahead and left to explore his opportunities overseas.

Another question surrounding the team is Quade Green’s future in Lexington. With a surplus of highly talented guards coming in, his competition would be stout.

However, Calipari has voiced a sense of urgency for Green to stay.

Current Roster

For now, we’ll say that Green is staying on the roster for next season. With that said, here’s a look at what the roster currently looks like for next season:

  • PG Quade Green
  • PG Immanuel Quickley
  • SG Tyler Herro
  • SG Jemarl Baker
  • SG/SF Keldon Johnson
  • PF E.J. Montgomery
  • C Nick Richards

Calipari is far from done, but for now, Big Blue Nation will have to wait for the players to make their decisions regarding their futures.