The 2019-2020 college basketball season is right around the corner, and all the preseason talk is starting to amp up.
Now that we are just weeks away from tipoff, Rob Dauster of NBCsports has put out the first detailed preseason ranking.
So, where did Kentucky land in this ranking?
The Michigan State Spartans clocked in at #1, as they are returning all but 3 players from a year ago.
One of the returning players is star PG Cassius Winston, who is coming off a season where he averaged 18 points and 7 assists a game. He was also named the Big Ten player of the year.
Dauster had a lot of good things to say about the team that Tom Izzo will have this season.
“Michigan State has all the pieces to go out and win a national championship this year. They have shooting. They have size. They have talented veterans in starting roles with promising younger pieces ready to push them for minutes. They have a Hall Of Famer running the show in Tom Izzo. And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the fact that they have this kid who just so happens to be the best player in college basketball this season. Cassius Winston, ever heard of him?”
One question mark that Dauster noted was the depth of the bigs for the Spartans as they are losing Nick Ward.
“If there are concerns here, it’s that the Spartans are a little bit thin up front. Xavier Tillman is ready to take over the five-spot in a full-time role with Nick Ward gone, but the bigs behind him are young”
Right behind the Spartans at #2 is where you are going to find the Kentucky Wildcats.
We all know the talent that Kentucky lost from last year's’ team. However, the Cars are returning a ton of talent as well as bringing in some of the top-rated freshmen in the country to fill out the roster.
Dauster is aware of just how talented the backcourt can be for the Cats with the return of Ashton Hagans and Immanuel Quickley, as well as the addition of Tyrese Maxey.
However, like Michigan State, the question mark going into the year is going to be the frontcourt, as we don’t know what we are going to get from the bigs.
“Surprise, surprise: Kentucky is loaded again, especially in the backcourt. Ashton Hagans returns for his sophomore season where he will be joined by Tyrese Maxey in what may end up being the toughest, most competitive and best defensive backcourt in college basketball. Immanuel Quickly, Kahlil Whitney, Johnny Juzang and Keion Brooks will give John Calipari more than enough weapons to keep defenses guessing on the perimeter; those practice battles to earn playing time are going to be fun to watch”
“The big question mark is going to be in Kentucky’s frontcourt, where E.J. Montgomery will look to take a P.J. Washington-esque step forward and Nick Richards will, hopefully, live up to his five-star potential. The addition of grad transfer Nate Sestina from Bucknell will provide some depth and experience where the Wildcats really need it. It will be interesting to see if Coach Cal makes the decision to play small this year, because he certainly has the roster to do it”
When you look at the schedule, you will see that the Cats and Spartans are going to face off on opening night of the college basketball season and it is going to be a fun battle to watch.
In particular, I am excited to see how a second year Ashton Hagans matches up with a proven and very talented guard like Cassius Winston.
As for the rest of the preseason top-25, you can see how it all rounded out here.