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Kentucky Wildcats crack top 5 in ESPN College Basketball Top 25 poll for 2018-19

Depending on what happens with the NBA decisions, UK could have a case for the top spot.

NCAA Basketball: SEC Conference Tournament-Kentucky vs Georgia Billy Hurst-USA TODAY Sports

The college basketball offseason is in full swing, but it’s never too early to glance at what the 2018-19 season will look like.

While there is still a lot to be determined in terms of who’s staying in college and leaving for the NBA, we do have a good idea of what UK’s roster will look like. The Cats will have another talented team full of former and incoming five-star recruits, including E.J. Montgomery, Keldon Johnson, Immanuel Quickley, Nick Richards and likely Ashton Hagans, who is expected to reclassify and join UK’s 2018 class.

However, the Cats also have some key players testing the NBA Draft waters, including PJ Washington, Jarred Vanderbilt and Wenyen Gabriel.

UK’s spot at No. 4 in ESPN’s way-too-early top 25 poll for next season is largely because of those pending NBA decisions. But if UK were to get two or even three of those guys back, it could vault UK up to the No. 1 spot.

And the three players who’ve entered the draft without hiring agents -- Wenyen Gabriel, PJ Washington and Jarred Vanderbilt -- could announce their returns to Lexington, too.

If the latter happens, Kentucky will have a case for the No. 1 place in these rankings, despite losing Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Kevin Knox and Hamidou Diallo to the draft. And if they all go, Kentucky could still begin the season among the top-five teams in the country.

Here’s a look at how the entire top 25 played out:

1. Kansas Jayhawks

2. Villanova Wildcats

3. Duke Blue Devils

4. Kentucky Wildcats

5. Gonzaga Bulldogs

6. Tennessee Volunteers

7. Virginia Cavaliers

8. North Carolina Tar Heels

9. Nevada Wolf Pack

10. Michigan State Spartans

11. Auburn Tigers

12. Kansas State Wildcats

13. West Virginia Mountaineers

14. Virginia Tech Hokies

15. Oregon Ducks

16. Syracuse Orange

17. Michigan Wolverines

18. Loyola-Chicago Ramblers

19. Clemson Tigers

20. Florida State Seminoles

21. LSU Tigers

22. Mississippi State Bulldogs

23. TCU Horned Frogs

24. Butler Bulldogs

25. Purdue Boilermakers