The hype is building for the start of basketball season in the Bluegrass.
Like every year, expectations are high for the Kentucky Wildcats, who many believe are one of the top favorites to cut down the nets at the end of March.
While anything can happen, BartTorvik.com made predictions for the team, and it’s players using advanced statistics. Here’s a look at what they projected.
Projected Record based on known games: (22-9, 12-6)
This projection still needs some updating, but it’s safe to say not many Kentucky fans would be happy if the Cats drop six games in conference play and three-non-conference games. That means they’d likely lose to three teams from the group of Michigan State, Ohio State, Louisville and Texas Tech.
Freshman Dontaie Allen: PPG 0.6, RPG 1.7, APG 0.4
There has been some speculation that the Kentucky native could redshirt his freshman season as he bounces back from a torn ACL. However, according to the model, Allen will play and be the last man in the Wildcats rotation. While they don’t see Allen helping much on the scoreboard, they do see him grabbing close to two rebounds a game.
Junior Nick Richards: 3.5 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 0.0 APG
Will junior Nick Richards be the breakout star John Calipari’s been hoping he’d be for two years now? Not according to this projection. Bart Torvik sees Richards averaging just over three points per game with three rebounds. This would mark carer lows in both categories.
Sophomore EJ Montgomery: 4.0 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 0.3 APG
After going through the NBA Draft process, EJ Montgomery decided to come back for his sophomore season at Kentucky. While many believe this decision will help Montgomery become a first-round pick in next year’s draft, the model says it will actually hurt him. This projection has Montgomery averaging just four points and about four rebounds per game. This would be just a 0.2 point and rebound increase from last season when he averaged 3.9 points and 3.7 rebounds per game.
Graduate Transfer Nate Sestina: 5.2 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 0.6 APG
No one is expecting Nate Sestina to average 15.8 points per game with 8.5 rebounds like he did at Bucknell last season. In fact, if Sestina can provide five or so points per game off the bench with three rebounds life wouldn’t be too bad for the Wildcats.
Freshman Johnny Juzang: 6.9 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 1.4 APG
Many are dubbing Johnny Juzang the next Tyler Herro. Like Herro, Juzang is a lethal three-shooter and was a four-star prospect. This worked well for Herro who averaged 14 points per game and ended up as a one and done and NBA lottery selection. This projection tells us to slow down on that comparison. The model sees Juzang averaging near seven points per game with nearly four rebounds and just over one assist. While this would be a solid freshman year, it would likely keep him in Lexington for a sophomore season.
Freshman Keion Brooks: 8.6 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 1.5 APG
Perhaps the most underrated incoming player for the Wildcats this season is Keion Brooks. The 6-7 small forward has a dominant high school carer in Indiana that flew under the radar of some. Bart Torvik isn’t one sleeping, however, as they see Brooks putting together a strong freshman year averaging close to nine points with over five rebounds.
Sophomore Immanuel Quickley: 9.5 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 1.8 APG
Break out Sophomore season for Immanuel Quickley? This model says yes. Bart Torvik projects Quickley to average 9.5 points per game which would be a 4.3 point increase from the 5.2 points he averaged a year ago.
Freshman Kahlil Whitney: 10.4 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 1.7 APG
Kahlil Whitney figures to be one of the most important players on this year’s Kentucky squad. The model likes the incoming freshman to produce as they have him averaging 10.4 points per game with close to five rebounds and nearly two assists.
Sophomore Ashton Hagans: 12.6 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 4.4 APG
Arguably the most important player on the 2019-20 Wildcats is second-year point guard Ashton Hagans. Hagans did a lot of great things defensively for the Wildcats last season but struggled on the offensive side. The model likes Hagans to improve his scoring average from 7.7 points per game to 12.6 which would be a huge boost for the Wildcats.
Freshman, Tyrese Maxey 13 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 2.8 APG
The highest-rated incoming player for the Wildcats is Tyrese Maxey, who many project to be a lottery pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. It’s safe to say this model also has high hopes for the Texas native as they project him to average 13 points per game from his guard position.