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Where Kentucky stands in ESPN’s top 25 projection for next season

Kentucky drops ten spots according to ESPN.

NCAA Basketball: Mississippi at Kentucky Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

After the mass exodus of the Kentucky Wildcats roster during the month of April, Kentucky is only looking at a sophomore Keion Brooks Jr. that is coming back with any experience. That caused the Wildcats to drop in ESPN’s Way-Too-Early rankings to No. 15.

Kentucky was initially tabbed as a top-five team prior to the departures of Maxey, Quickley, Hagans, Richards, and Montgomery, but now they are seen as barely as a top-15 team, according to Jeff Borzello.

Kentucky sees the biggest drop since the first iteration of the rankings. We said at the time the Wildcats had the most up in the air in terms of personnel decisions, and, well, it didn’t go exactly as coach John Calipari had hoped. When the dust finally settled, only Keion Brooks Jr. was left standing from a year ago. Tyrese Maxey, Ashton Hagans, Nick Richards and Immanuel Quickley are all going pro, while EJ Montgomery also entered the NBA draft process, Kahlil Whitney left school in January, Johnny Juzang transferred to UCLA and Nate Sestina used up his eligibility. That leaves Brooks, who averaged 4.5 points.

Don’t feel too sorry for Calipari, though. He brings in the No. 1 recruiting class in the country, led by five-star perimeter players B.J. Boston, Terrence Clarke and Devin Askew. He also added some experience in Creighton grad transfer Davion Mintz and has Kentucky squarely in the mix for Purdue grad transfer Matt Haarms. It’s going to take time, but Kentucky will be an SEC title contender when all is said and done.

Elsewhere in the SEC, Tennessee checks in at No. 13, Florida at No. 19, and Arkansas at No. 21.

If Kentucky were to land Purdue grad-transfer Matt Haarms, one would have to assume that, that would catapult the Wildcats to a top-10 preseason ranking and the No. 1 team in the SEC.

If Kentucky were to start next season ranked outside of the top 10, it would be the first time In Calipari’s tenure at the school that Kentucky has done that.