clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Where Wildcats stand in new ESPN preseason top 25

New, comment

The Wildcats were slotted in at No. 12, two spots behind the Tennessee Volunteers.

Jason Marcum - Sea of Blue

UK Basketball isn’t the typical men’s basketball program. They’re the exception to the rule.

After seeing all five starters leave with a handful of other players as well, the Kentucky Wildcats will be bringing in the nation’s best recruiting class. As freshman will lace the starting five, there’s isn’t much concern about the team’s potential in Lexington.

While not to this level, UK has dealt with similar flips in leadership before.

The quick development of these recently-graduated high schoolers is partially what makes John Calipari so great. Sadly though, the Wildcats aren’t expected to be as good as many fans wish.

In the most-recent top-25 ranking by ESPN’s Jeff Borzello, Kentucky came in at No. 12.

They were the second SEC team ranked with Tennessee barely edging the top ten, coming in at No. 10. Four teams from the conference cracked the top 25 with LSU and Florida being ranked within the last five.

That said, Borzello didn’t go too much into the high upside found within the incoming class, but he did not how it’s not the typical high-drama offseason for the Cats.

“In an unusual twist, Kentucky didn’t have much early-entry drama — but it was only because nearly every Wildcats player made his decision much earlier in the offseason. Only Keion Brooks returns from a year ago, but John Calipari added experience in the form of Creighton graduate transfer Davion Mintz — and potentially Wake Forest transfer Olivier Sarr. And it’s Sarr who holds the key to how good this team could be next season. The third-team All-ACC big man is hoping for a waiver to play right away, but no decision has been made by the NCAA yet. If he’s eligible, Kentucky is a borderline top-five team heading into the campaign. If not, there’s still plenty of talent. Five-star freshmen Devin Askew, B.J. Boston and Terrence Clarke are all likely to start, with Boston expected to make the biggest impact due to his high-level scoring ability. But there will be questions down low if Sarr isn’t eligible. Four-star Isaiah Jackson would be forced into a bigger role, and while he’s an elite defensive player, it might be premature for him to start from day one,” he wrote.

The Wildcats added two top-ten prospects and will start, according to Borzello, four that are ranked within the top 35. This team has potential to be among the best in the league, but with no Ashton Hagans or Nick Richards to lead the way, there will certainly be growing pains along the way.