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Kentucky Basketball: What to watch for this summer

Kentucky is expected to be good next year, but that doesn’t mean they have everything figured out this offseason.

NCAA Basketball: Kentucky Blue-White Game Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

With the NBA Draft decision deadline having come and gone, we now know a lot more about next year’s Kentucky team than we did before. We have the vast majority of the roster figured out, knowing that Jarred Vanderbilt and Wenyen Gabriel are gone, and PJ Washington is returning.

But we still have questions that will eventually need answers. Here are the top three questions facing the Wildcats going into the summer.

Reid Travis watch

John Calipari’s team i already deep and talented for next season, but reid Travis could be the missing piece to this being a true national championship contender. It’s clear that Kentucky wants him badly, and Travis is a player that can take them from being a contender to a favorite to win it all.

While the early buzz made it seem like Kentucky was a lock to land him, Travis will set up his visits in late June with Kentucky and Villanova. Once the visits take place, I don’t think we will have long to wait until he decides what he wants to do, but don’t count out the Big East Wildcats in this race.

Ashton Hagans reclassification

Hagans will be a critical part of the 2018-19 team if he is able to reclassify to the 2018 signing class. As the No. 1 point guard in the 2019 class, a move to 2018 would give Kentucky one of the best backcourts in the nation, as he’d join former five-star recruit Quade Green, five-star signee Immanuel Quickley and four-star signee Tyler Herro.

Hagans is still getting the school work done to get him into the 2018 class. If he’s ready in time, Kentucky will be a significantly better basketball team with his addition. If they can’t add Hagans, Kentucky’s backcourt will still be good, but Hagans would be a legitimate contender to take the starting point guard spot over Quickley and Green.

The sophomore growth

Quade Green and Nick Richards are going to provide a veteran presence on next year’s team, but they’re not going to be the outright starters at their positions.

Green will have to compete with the loaded backcourt I just mentioned, and Richards might have to compete with five-star big man EJ Montgomery, as well as Stanford Cardinal graduate transfer Reid Travis (if he transfers to Kentucky) depending on how the frontcourt positioning plays out.

The two were stars coming into Kentucky, but neither really excelled in their freshman year. So the question becomes, how much of an advantage will they have after a year at Kentucky, and will John Calipari give them any sort of preference as sophomores?

PJ Washington becoming a leader

Speaking of sophomores, PJ Washington is expected to be Kentucky’s leader next year. This summer will be a good indicator of whether or not he’s ready for that role. As the team begins workouts and practice, Washington will likely emerge as the team’s leader early.

He’s expected to be the best returning player, as he’s the top returning scorer and rebounder (he averaged 10.8 points and 5.7 rebounds) so Calipari will likely look to him more than any other veteran player this year.