We got our first real look at the new Kentucky Wildcats in a game-like environment tonight in the Blue-White Game, and just about everyone that took the floor impressed in one way or another.
That was with CJ Fredrick (leg) and Jacob Toppin (shoulder) both sitting out, so it’s clearly going to be a challenge for John Calipari to figure out the starting lineup and the rotations he’ll use this season.
As it turns out, Calipari already has three names in mind as far as the starters go.
Following the Blue-White Game, Calipari spoke with the media and said that junior guard Sahvir Wheeler, junior forward Oscar Tshiebwe and freshman guard TyTy Washington are likely to be in the starting five when games against actual opponents happen.
Calipari says looks like Wheeler, Washington, and Tshiebwe are good bets now for your five. Now they have to figure out those 3 and 4 spots, see who emerges from a lot of options/interchangeable parts.— Jeff Drummond (@JDrumUK) October 23, 2021
It’s been trending this way for a while, as Wheeler is currently the team’s best true point guard, Tshiebwe is easily the best center and arguably the best overall big man, and Washington is a gifted scorer who can easily make a big impact from the 2 or 3 spots, though he’ll also run the point some when Wheeler is out of the game.
On a comparison for Washington, Cal says he hesitates to throw someone out there, but “he can score on all levels.” Added that he’s a good passer, too. Played against Wheeler’s team in a recent scrimmage at practice and his team won without him scoring at all.— Jeff Drummond (@JDrumUK) October 23, 2021
As for the other two spots, fifth-year senior Kellan Grady and sixth-year senior Davion Mintz are likely the top contenders for the third guard spot with redshirt sophomore Dontaie Allen being a dark horse.
Then at the 4, it’s probably down to junior Keion Brooks and freshman Bryce Hopkins, though freshman Daimion Collins has been coming on in strong recently and is even showing he’s capable of being a legitimate threat from 3-point range.
Normally in a close battle, the safe bet is to go with the veterans, which is why I believe Brooks and Grady are the other two starters for Game 1.
So, here is my current guess for the starting lineup vs. the Duke Blue Devils on opening night:
- PG: Sahvir Wheeler
- SG: TyTy Washington
- SF: Kellan Grady
- PF: Keion Brooks
- C: Oscar Tshiebwe
All told, if Wheeler, Washington and Tshiebwe make up three starters, who do you think the other two should be? Let us know in the comments section!