John Calipari is borderline giddy about this year’s basketball team. Whether he’s scoffing about the first practice on a CoachCal.com video or planning a train tour through the state, it is obvious that he things this group is special.
On the SEC Summer Teleconference for basketball coaches, John Calipari talked about some expectations for this team. One thing he noted is that he would like to see six or seven guys average double figures.
“I’d like to have six or seven guys in double figures scoring. There’s no one that’s going to average 25 points a game. You may get 25 in a game, but we don’t play through two guys. Everybody here is treated the same way.”
The 2011-2012 national championship team had four guys in double figures over the course of the season (Darius Miller just missed out at 9.9). The 38-0 team from 2014-2015 only had three guys that averaged over ten points.
So if this year’s team is going to get to six or seven, which players will it be? Here is a ranking of how likely each of the ten scholarship players are to average double figures this season.
1. PJ Washington
Let’s start with the guy that averaged double figures for Kentucky last season. Washington put up 10.8 per game as the third option in the offense last year. Sophomore PJ Washington will certainly not be the third option, and he will have the ball in his hands much more often.
In addition to being a focal point of the offense, Washington’s ability to get second chance points make it almost a certainty that he will get over ten points per game.
Also, he will make free throws. You heard it here first.
2. Reid Travis
There is another guy that averaged more than ten points per game last season, and that is Reid Travis who led Stanford with 19.5.
He was certainly Stanford’s best player and they needed him to put up big numbers to be competitive. He will not have the same pressure at Kentucky, but he will be more free to clean up the offensive glass and get his own buckets.
Travis will not average 19.5 points per game, but he will be in double figures in almost every game.
3. Keldon Johnson
If anybody has star power on this team, it is Keldon Johnson. He can shoot, he can create his own shot, and his ability to finish around the rim is superb.
Johnson very well may be the leading scorer on this team, and I think he is a lock to average more than ten points per game. But I had to give the nod to guys that had done it before.
4. Ashton Hagans
I do not think Hagans is a lock to average double figures per game, but I think it is likely. He can get wherever he wants on the court with the ball in his hands, and there will be games where he has to score for this team to win.
However, with all of the talent surrounding him I do not think he needs to put up big numbers for this team to be successful. But hey, Marquis Teague averaged ten points per game so Hagans should too.
5. Immanuel Quickley
This is where the list gets challenging, and is largely based on the role these guys earn. I think Quickley will see a lot of time at point guard and could see significant minutes at shooting guard.
Spending so much time on the court, especially considering that he is a strong shooter, lends itself to Quickley having the opportunity to put up decent scoring numbers.
6. EJ Montgomery
Montgomery is a stud, and to have a player like him coming off of the bench is the epitome of the “embarrassment of riches” phrase.
He could average 14-15 points per game off the bench. I think he is the athlete we all thought Nick Richards would be last year, and he has a beautiful left-handed jumper that can extend to the perimeter.
Montgomery getting into double figures would mean this team is crushing everyone. So I’d say there is a good chance both of those things happen.
7. Tyler Herro
This may be the biggest surprise of the list, as Herro is often looked at as the “other guy” in this year’s class (cough...Devin Booker...cough...Shai Gilgeous-Alexander).
Some analysts are projecting Herro is a starter. And if he gets starter-type minutes, I have no doubt that he will average double figures this season. He is a pure scorer and can score from anywhere on the court.
If Herro gets the minutes, the points are guaranteed.
8. Quade Green
I realize this is may seem odd since I projected Green as a starter, but I don’t think putting up big numbers will be his role this year. He also averaged 9.3 points per game last season.
However, there were fewer scoring options on the court last year. And Green’s role on last year’s team was to be a shot-maker when SGA penetrated. He will be more of a facilitator this season, and I think that will result in fewer shots for him.
Will Quade Green make big shots for this year’s team? Absolutely. Will he be in the top-five in scoring? Highly doubtful.
9. Nick Richards
Richards had a rough season a year ago. We saw sparks of his potential, but he largely crumbled in big moments and failed to improve at the expected pace.
Richards will benefit from having less pressure on him this season with Travis and Montgomery on the roster. But that also means fewer opportunities to score. With only 5.1 points per game a year ago, I do not see him getting much more than that this season.
10. Jemarl Baker
I think Jemarl Baker is a great shooter and a better overall player than most assume. I think there may be games where he puts up a lot of points in certain situations. However, I do not think that will be the norm.
Due to the overall strength of this back court, since platooning is unlikely I cannot see a path for Baker to get a lot of minutes. He will score some points, but he won’t see the court enough to average double figures.
Whew...that was tough. Tell me where I’m wrong.