With a new year comes new predictions. On Friday, Rivals’ Corey Evans wrote out seven bold predictions for college basketball in 2019. While a couple of his prognostications pertain to this season, most of them extend to the 2019-2020 basketball cycle.
Of course, it would be difficult to discuss big things happening in college basketball without mentioning the Kentucky Wildcats. Although Evans does not believe the Cats will win the national championship this year or bring in the top recruiting class for 2019, he does predict that Kentucky will be ranked as the top team going into next season.
This is what he had to say about the Wildcats going into 2019-2020:
We hear this story every summer that Kentucky will enroll a number of highly lauded prospects only to see its lack of early cohesion and untimely shooting nip them in the bud. Next year will be different. Tyler Herro, Immanuel Quickley, E.J. Montgomery, Jemarl Baker and Nick Richards will all return, and PJ Washington and/or Ashton Hagans could do the same. Kentucky will enroll alpha-males in Tyrese Maxey and Khalil Whitney and will land another five-star talent and grad-transfer between now and September, setting the Wildcats up to be the top-ranked team in America.
On the surface, that sounds great. He predicts a Kentucky team will be loaded with returning talent and supported by star freshmen, instead of the other way around. However, he makes a lot of assumptions.
Sophomore Nick Richards has turned out to be a different guy than Bahamas Nick Richards. Yes, he could certainly turn things around and be the prospect BBN expected last season. But given the current culture of Kentucky basketball, will we really see a five-star player return for his junior season in Lexington? Based on recent evidence, that seems unlikely.
Evans also believes EJ Montgomery will return for his sophomore season. Given Montgomery’s skill set, a scenario where he comes back for year number two likely means he showed no improvement over the course of the season. That would be a huge blow to this team, who very much has a chance at a Final Four run.
What would you rather see, Big Blue Nation? Do you want to see Richards and Montgomery ball out and push this team deep into the tournament in March? Or would you rather them under perform in hopes that next season could be special?