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Kentucky Wildcats Morning Quickies: Basketball Roster Roulette Edition

That time of year has come when players make decisions about the NBA Draft, and the roster implications for Kentucky are profound. Can Calipari compensate?

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

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen of the Big Blue Nation, and welcome to the Tuesday Morning Quickies.

Today’s topic for discussion will be the comings and goings of Kentucky players to the NBA Draft. Recent news reports have Ashton Hagans leaving Kentucky and staying in the draft, which is not really a surprise to anyone, especially considering the sour note upon which this season ended.

We have also recently learned that Tyrese Maxey, also to nobody’s surprise, has decided to stay in the draft. Johnny Juzang and Khalil Whitney have transfered away from Kentucky, leaving only the decisions of Immanuel Quickley, Nick Richards and EJ Montgomery still pending.

With the news today that Kieon Brooks is returning to Kentucky, Kentucky is left with only he and Dontaie Allen, who red-shirted last season, on scholarship if the remaining three stay in the draft as is widely expected. In most seasons, we could expect at least one of them to return, but the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic has made their entry into the draft seem more likely than not.

That leaves Kentucky with potentially two returning players and six incoming freshmen. The high number of new players is nothing special for Coach Cal, but having only eight schoarship players available is somewhat unusual and undesirable because it makes practice scrimmages quite problematic.

Still, it’s nothing that we haven’t seen here before. Most of last season Kentucky went with a short roster, and there have been other years when Kentucky struggled to field a proper two-squad scrimmage. But even so, with the quality incoming freshman recruiting ranks depleted of top talent, Calipari & Co. will no doubt be looking to find somewhere a talented player, hopefully a big, in the transfer portal.

Enter news of former Purdue big man Matt Haarms, a 7’3” center whom Kentucky as contacted as soon as he announced his intentions. Haarms, if he decided to come to Kentucky, would certainly make a big impact on the roster condition, both from an experience and physical size standpoint. There are suggestions of another wave of transfer students coming, so it is possible that UK could pick up more than one to help round out the team.

Remember the old, apocryphal Chinese curse, “May you live in interesting times?” Seems apropos in more ways than one...

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