With the NCAA Tournament canceled due to the coronavirus, there is certainly a lack of closure on the 2019-2020 college basketball season. The Kentucky Wildcats certainly had the talent and grit to make a run, but we will never know if this group had what it took to bring home title No. 9.
However, that means it is time to look ahead to next year, right? Tyrese Maxey, Johnny Juzang, and Ashton Hagans are out of the equation for the 2020-2021 season. It is likely that Immanuel Quickley and Nick Richards are as well, and the smart money is on us never seeing EJ Montgomery in a Kentucky uniform again.
Having said all that, there could certainly be a few more additions via recruiting high school seniors and graduate transfers. So there are many different ways that next year’s roster could take shape. Given what they know, Sports Illustrated took their best shot at projecting Kentucky’s (and everyone else’s) ranking for next season.
Jeremy Woo of Sports Illustrated has projected Kentucky as the No. 6 team in their preseason rankings for next year. Again, this is based on his best guess about what teams will look like in November (assuming basketball happens then). He had this to say about the Wildcats:
“Tyrese Maxey and Ashton Hagans have both declared for the draft, and operating under the assumption Immanuel Quickley and Nick Richards also turn pro, Kentucky will look a lot different but won’t lack for talent. Much will hinge on how quickly SI All-Americans B.J. Boston and Terrence Clarke figure out how to play together, with both being scorers who like the ball in their hands, but having an unselfish guard in Devin Askew should help. Those three freshmen should have a lot of responsibility, with Keion Brooks and E.J. Montgomery returning to do the work inside. This is the recipe for a good team, albeit with some question marks.”
If EJ Montgomery does not return, that likely means Woo would have ranked the Wildcats lower. But John Calipari and his staff are known to be in the mix for several top graduate transfers, and rumored to be interested in others.
The rest of Woo’s top ten looks like this:
- Villanova Wildcats
- Gonzaga Bulldogs
- Baylor Bears
- Virginia Cavaliers
- Creighton Bluejays
- Kentucky Wildcats
- Duke Blue Devils
- Iowa Hawkeyes
- Kansas Jayhawks
- Texas Tech Red Raiders
There are so many questions right now that it is impossible to predict how these teams will shape up next season. But I guess that is why they call it the way-too-early rankings. Check out what SI had to say about all of these teams, and the rest of the top 25, here.